Monday, November 19, 2012

Creating The Children's Story Place Blog

My aunt, Judy Ziegler, and I share a blog that posts free stories for children. She is a professional illustrator who has published children's books, designed nurse scrubs, and has her own line of doggie greeting cards (that's just the tip of the ice berg on the variety of work she's done!). I am blessed to be able to create stories with her, especially because one, she rocks and two, our styles compliment each others.

We started the blog as a fun creative outlet for us to do together, and as a way to provide entertainment for children.  Also, it gives readers the opportunity to know about our work.  Recently, we decided to turn the free on-line stories into self-published, paperback books.  Another exciting way for us to work together.

The self-publishing will be done through  They don't charge for the process, just take a percentage of each one sold. The books will even be sold on Amazon with a USBN.

Judy came up with the idea over a year ago. Slowly but surely, we've been writing and illustrating the stories in our spare time. Now we have twenty-four great and often silly stories for kids.  We just posted one about a bear who longs to fly and how he goes about getting what he wants. It's up there with the silly stuff.

I love that Judy and I have been able to do this together. And I'm lucky to have such a talented relative to work with!

Heather Leigh

Friday, November 16, 2012

Last Chapter

Today is the day. Today is the day that I will be putting the finishing touches on the last chapter of my first Young Adult Novel.  Since January, I have been discovering new characters: how they respond to situations, their personalities, what happens to them and how new friendships and love feels.  I've cried with them over deaths, laughed at silly jokes, and been swept away by what they've gotten themselves into.  It's going to be hard to let go.

Of course, I won't truly ever let go. Oh sure, I'll set the book aside as it is being critiqued by my friend and ex-Creative Writing teacher.  After his tough, enlightening comments, the characters and I will share some revision time together.  And then more revision episodes as it goes on to my agent and eventually (I hope!) to an editor.

But the intimacy will never be the same.  Soon others will be entering our land, our story. It will no longer be just me and the characters that I created--a clause here: I have two fabulous incredible critique groups who have also helped to mold this story.

So, please, Spirit Guardian of Writers, let this book be highly successful so that I can begin a part two of Emily Capot: Reader, Resister and Friend.

I'm off to write.

Heather Leigh

Friday, November 9, 2012

Revisions never end

People have asked me when I know a story is done. There are really two questions here. One is, when am I done with a story. Two, when is the story done.

I am done with a story when it has sucked out the marrow from my bone, when my children think that I am part of the computer, when the dog has gained 10 pounds because I can't find the time to walk her, bills are late because I was too busy writing to send in the envelope, my house and dust bunnies are one, and when the thought of writing more of it puts me in a zombie frame of mind.  That is when I know that it is time to take a break from the story.  A break. This means handing it over to someone whom I trust to edit/critique it for me.

And then, about a month later, I feel the story pulling at my brain. Telling me where I screwed up and how to fix my messes.

When the story is done is when it is published and I can't change it even if I don't like something in it.

So, like being a mother, a story is never really done.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Can't Sleep

Ever get so excited with a new story idea that you can't sleep? Sometimes I get up and write at three in the morning.  The story will nip and yelp and whimper, like my Australian Shepard on Fourth of July, until I am forced by unwritten words to stumble to my desk and let it be told.  The story then becomes its own creature, needing to be written to fully exist. And I am obliged, as Doctor Frankenstein, to bring it to life.

But why at three in the morning?! Does the story have so little respect for the teller that it does not care about the tiredness that I will face for the rest of the day? For my children, who will have to deal with a grouchy mother?  Where is the exchange of love?

Well, the love comes later. It comes later when I discover that, perhaps, the story has enough merit to have been worth a day of sluggishness.  But be warned, next story that wakes me in the middle of the night: you had better be damned good!  Because I love to sleep for an entire night, and I will lash out at a dull stupid tale that dares to wake me just as a prank

Heather Leigh

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The First Time

I was an expert at writing stories until I started writing them.  It seems so easy: beginning, middle and ending.  Character and/or situation changes by the end. The beginning points to the end. Practice daily. Write what you know.  Just write. What could be easier with the rules all lined up before me? It should be like taking a first grade math test to get into Harvard.

But then, on the first try, I had to figure out if I wanted a first person or narrator telling the story. And how to begin? Jump into the action or set up the scene with grounding and descriptions.  What was the problem going to be? How would it be fixed? How do I keep a reader wanting to read more?

Wow, there was more to this than I thought. A lot more. In fact, this might actually take work and dedication and learning. Geesh Louise, no body told me there was work involved in writing children's books! Who knew?

And here is the truly crazy part. Seems that the more I write my own stories, analyze others, and get critiques, the more I discover that there is a deep ocean of stuff that I don't know about writing.

Okay, no this is even more crazy. After all of this knowledge that I've discovered I don't possess, I still love to write. Wow, guess I really am insane.

Heather Leigh

Thursday, November 1, 2012


How do I show a character's personality?

The side characters, the one's who are different or odd, seem relatively easy. They follow the role they have taken on--they follow their own way of seeing things, talking, standing, smelling and voting.  If they are funny, they pretty much stay funny. If it is a crazy witch with a heavy cackle and warted nose, her personality is already defined--I just have to write down what she's up to when she makes an appearance.

But the main hero? For the most part, his personality is generally more subtle, like ripples rather than waves.  I don't want to just tell a reader what the hero is like, what is going on in side, I want to let it flow out like a trickle that becomes a stream that becomes a river and eventually flows into an ocean of deep personality.

And he is supposed to evolve at the same time.

How do I do this?