Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Leona Pence, Hemphill Towers

AUTHOR: Leona Pence
BOOK TITLE: Hemphill Towers
GENRE: Romantic Suspense

Please tell us about yourself. 
I’m a lifelong resident of Illinois, and at the present time, I’m looking out my window at seven inches of freshly fallen snow. Since I use a wheelchair, building a snowman is not an option, but I love watching my spaniel/mix puppy playing in it for the first time. I’m a widow with four children who have blessed me with twelve grandchildren and two great grandsons. (Yep, I’m old.) I am a Mentor in one of eight classrooms in an online 7-week writing course called F2K (Fiction for 2000), sponsored by Writer’s Village University. The next session starts January 15, should anybody be interested.

When and why did you begin writing? 
I didn’t start writing until after my husband’s death in 2006. Turning to my computer to save my sanity, I made online friends to email and chat with. In the summer of 2008, two online friends and I decided to project ourselves back to younger career women. We described a love interest, and I was supposed to write a short, humorous story. Words just kept flowing, and three months later, I had written the first draft of a novel.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? 
I read a great deal using a kindle app on my computers. Online pool was an addiction for a while, but now I only play sporadically. Being in a league was too time consuming. And Facebook…yikes…very time consuming.

I have a nine month spaniel-mix puppy named Luna who has captured my heart, but she’s started sailing over the back yard fence. I’m hoping an electronic fence will teach her to stay home.

What are your thoughts about promotion? 
Promotion, to me, is a necessary evil. It’s harder than writing a book and more stressful. Maybe, if I wasn’t deaf and in a wheelchair, it would be easier. I have an ebook signing scheduled for March, and I’m very nervous at the thought of meeting people face to face.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it? 
I kind of have writer’s block now. I can’t seem to concentrate on my current WIP, and I hope after doing a January blog tour, I’ll be able to settle down and write.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it? 
Mainly, I learned what words not to use. My bane is way too many pronouns, too many subplots, and the dreaded passive voice. I learned the hard way to keep a notepad with descriptions of my characters. Those eye colors are hard to remember.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them? 
MuseItUp Publishing, and I got lucky. A mutual friend wrote Lea on my behalf. Thank God, she must have seen that she could make a decent author out of me.

What is your marketing plan? 
Thus far, I’ve had interviews aired by three local television newscasts. I had a write up in the newspaper on the day of my book launch. I have more interviews pending, a blog tour, twitter and Facebook pages, ink pens with my cover image, and business cards that I pass out.

What are your current projects? 
I’m writing a second novel using characters from Hemphill Towers.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog,
Blog:  http://leonaschatter.blogspot.com/

What genre do you write in and why? 
Romance mostly, because I’m a romantic at heart and love happy endings.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 
Hemphill Towers is a fictional city somewhere in Illinois. It’s about three friends who are coworkers at an advertising agency; their lives, loves, and adventures. It involves art, wine forgery, stalking, and even the Russian Mafia. Birdie Orwell’s story takes place mostly in Italy after she’s swept off her feet by a handsome Italian winemaker.

What gave you the idea for this particular book? 
When I first started writing, I had no idea where it would lead. Plot twists came in my dreams, and I wrote what popped in my head. Because one friend chose the name Federico for her love interest, I decided to set her storyline in Italy.

What comes first: the plot or characters? 
It was definitely the characters. They ran with the story

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book? 
I sent out fifteen installments to family and friends over a three month period, as I wrote each one. Probably two years later, I put it through a novel workshop group in Writer’s Village University for critique. And wow, all the rewrites that ensued. Then one friend and I exchanged our chapters for one on one critique. Then, Lea worked her magic. From start to finish took five years, but much of the time, it sat on the shelf waiting for somebody to give me a swift kick to work on it. I never dreamed I’d ever be a published author.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
I wrote about an advertising agency, art museums, wine, the Russian Mafia, and then realized I knew nothing about them. It did require a good deal of research. I have an online friend in Rome who works at the American Embassy. She checked over the part set in Italy for accuracy.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
I don’t think writing violent scenes would bother me. But highly sexual ones would, due to my grandchildren who read what I write. I just asked my nineteen year old grandson if it would bother him if I wrote highly sexual scenes. His answer was a resounding YES! Lol

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release? 
Hemphill Towers is my debut novel.


What do you do when you’re not writing? 
I read, chat, play pool, and mentor at F2K when it’s in session.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel? 
I read a lot of romance books, and I hate constant bickering and misunderstandings between the hero and heroine. You won’t find that in Hemphill Towers.


        Riley stopped at the ladies room while Stella went to see if her jacket was still around. She bumped against something metal and felt herself falling.

        Two strong arms grabbed her as she plopped unceremoniously on someone’s lap. She looked up into a pair of quizzical blue eyes that seemed to be asking what on earth she was doing. She didn’t realize the man was sitting in a wheelchair until he said in a baritone voice,“Do you want to go back over the chair arm or shall I point you toward the front?”

           Shocked, Riley simply sat and stared. Finally, his arms lifted her up, placing her beside the chair. She had never felt so tongue-tied in her life. The man's eyes sparkled with amusement as he took in her embarrassment.

           "I'm terribly sorry. I have no idea what happened here.” Riley regained her composure and noted how handsome this deeply tanned man was.

          He smiled up at her. “I think you sat on my lap. Are you okay now?'

          "Yes, thank you I should be.asking if you are okay."

        “Don’t worry about me,” he said, as he handed her a card. "You can call and check on me later."
         She spotted Stella returning with a quizzical look on her face, and no jacket.

           “Did I really see you sitting on that man’s lap?” She grinned at Riley’s obvious bemused expression.


  1. Penny, thank you very much for having me on your blog today. I'm looking out my window at a lot of snow. It's only -8 degrees out there.
    I'm having hot coffee and delicious Date-Nut cookies and staying warm.

  2. Leona, you have my sympathy over the snow. I really dislike it. The excerpt from your book is great. Made me smile. Good luck getting on with the next. Publicity eats into one's time. Anne Stenhouse

    1. Thanks, Anne. I don't mind the snow half as bad as the bitter cold. They say yesterday's temperature of -13 is the coldest it's been in 20 years.

      Yep, promotion sure takes away from writing time. I envy people who are organized and plan their day to include it. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Nice excerpt! I don't envy you your snow at all!

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. Snow is really beautiful coming down though. As long as I don't have to go out in it, it's not too bad.

  4. Great interview, Penny and Leona! I've had the pleasure of knowing Leona online for a few years now. She mentored me at F2K (and does a fab job of it) and still keeps me on my toes as a mentor myself. I'm so inspired by her writing journey and I LOVED Hemphill Towers. I really can't wait for the sequel, though I understand how hard it is to promo AND write. I can't seem to do both simultaneously either, so you're not alone! :)

  5. Thanks, Mysti! You're an inspiration to me and a darned good F2K mentor. I'm glad you liked Hemphill Towers. I loved all three of your books.

  6. Awesome interview Leo!! Loved reading your book and I'm patiently waiting for more!! :)

    1. Thank you very much, Rinman. My next book is coming along slowly, but I intend to work on it as soon as my upcoming blog tour is finished in February.

      Glad you stopped by.