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Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Heather Leonard!!

Today we’re welcoming another Rebelle, 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Heather Leonard, whose wonderfully-titled manuscript, BLESS YOUR HEART AND OTHER SOUTHERN CURSES is nominated for Best Paranormal Romance.

Heather Leonard is a civil rights employment lawyer/mediator who writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy in her ever so sparse free time. If she were a super-hero (and she wants to be because capes are this year’s must have fashion accessory), her superpowers would be the ability to find the best bottle of cheap champagne and answer all questions relating to Harry Potter trivia. Her weaknesses would be the inability to resist good champagne and Harry Potter trivia challenges. She also likes to talk about herself in the third person, as this bio indicates.

Here’s a blurb for BLESS YOUR HEART AND OTHER SOUTHERN CURSES:

Mix Stephanie Plum with Harry Dresden, add a Southern twist, and you’ll have Hazel Matthews. Living in the buckle of the Bible Belt poses challenges for closeted witch Hazel Matthews, (although she prefers to be called an “elemental engineer” or “skilled in chance reduction technology” due to the baggage associated with the “w” word).

When the untimely death of her former fiancé threatens to renew an old battle between the Diaspora (remnants of the supernatural beings who have turned Birmingham, Alabama into a magical Casablanca) and the Mystikos, a secret society dedicated to destroying all magic but their own, Hazel must find the killer to keep the peace. Forced to choose between using the magic her religious upbringing has led her to believe will damn her soul or allowing a supernatural witch hunt to threaten those she holds most dear, Hazel learns if the power within her will save or destroy her.

What a fun and fresh premise!! And with some very interesting cultural depths. I can’t wait to hear more!!

Heather’s sitting down for a chat with us today so we can learn more about her and her book. I’ve got sweet tea and slices of lemon icebox pie to pass around (mimosas, too, for anybody who wants one!!), so grab one of the rockers here on the front porch, and join us!

(Oh, and if anybody wants to throw out a few Harry Potter trivia questions, Heather and I can compete to answer them, ‘cause Harry Potter trivia is my jam, too!!!!)

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Welcome, Heather! It’s great to have you with us!

It is my honor and pleasure to be on the blog today and to answer questions about myself and my book. Quite honestly, I’m still in delirious shock from becoming a Golden Heart finalist, so the fact I can string together a coherent sentence is a minor miracle.

Clearly you can string together a lot more than just a sentence, or you wouldn’t be a Golden Heart finalist! Like I said above, I love the title of your Golden Heart nominated book!! How did you come up with the idea?

Photo by acnatta / Andre Natta (profile) – A rear view of Vulcan, CC BY 2.0, Link

I started writing BLESS YOUR HEART after noticing some of the imagery around Birmingham, my home town, that made the city look like a supernatural casserole. We have a large steel statue of Vulcan (that moons the area of town where I live), a central intersection that forms a pentagram, and other pagan statues, symbols and art in prominent parts of the city. Keeping all this mind, my thoughts drifted to Birmingham’s nickname, the Magic City. I had always heard the city got the nickname because it sprang up overnight, like magic. I began to wonder, what if the city sprang up overnight because of magic. From that initial question, the story fell into place.

Oh, that’s so cool!! I’ve always wondered why it was called the Magic City, and that’s a great take on it! So you grew up in Birmingham. That’s a city with deep history in the Civil Rights movement, and you’re a civil rights lawyer. How does your work with the law blend with your work as a writer?

I am civil rights lawyer who represents victims of discrimination and harassment. I frequently go to trial to hold employers accountable who have violated federal antidiscrimination laws. The two careers, writing and the law, have benefited one another. After I started writing, my trial skills improved dramatically because I learned how to tell a compelling story that captured a jury’s attention and persuaded them to adopt the theme of my case.

My legal practice introduced me to some of the most colorful situations and characters you could ever imagine. Lawyers have some of the best stories because they are representing people in extreme conflicts that defy the imagination. For example, there was the case in which I was involved about a missing horse testicle. It was nuts! (wah wah wah – cue the gong)

Wow! I love the synergy there. I’ve always thought that lawyers have to be good at constructing narrative, and telling a gripping version of events. I hadn’t really thought about it as a source of stories themselves, but of course it must be. Do you have a new Work-In-Progress? Care to share what it’s about?

I’m editing and revising a story about a real estate agent to super villains. It isn’t like Zillow lists lairs, hollowed out volcanoes and fortresses of doom. World domination would never allow the time to comparison shop. I’m hoping that I can have it ready to enter the 2018 Golden Heart, unless fortune smiles upon me and some angel of an editor decides that BLESS YOUR HEART should be the next book she or he must buy.

I love that idea!! The humor you bring to the paranormal genre is awesome. Thanks so much for being with us today, Heather! Before we say goodbye, what question do you have for the readers of our blog?

For summer movies, my rules are I want to laugh and be awed with amazing special effects or dazzling explosions. I’m a child of the 80s, so it isn’t Summer without a blockbuster action film. For books, my reading criteria is similar – I want to laugh and be taken on an adventure to some place or situation that I’ve never experienced. What is your criteria for a beach read? What do you recommend as my next read? Remember, I need the book to bring the funny.

Awesome question!! I can’t wait to hear the answers. And folks, don’t forget to throw out a few Harry Potter trivia questions for us as well!!

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Connect with Heather Leonard on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HNLeonardAuthor/

Twitter: @HNLeonard

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heathernleonard/

47 responses to “Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Heather Leonard!!”

  1. Darynda Jones says:

    Congrats, Heather, and OMG your ms sounds ERMAZING!!! Dude, I want to be on your newsletter so I will be informed the moment it comes out.

    Your bio is beyond awesome, too. So fun! And Birmingham i the Magic City? How did I not know this. Now I want to visit and check out all the places you talked about.

    But kudos to you on your job. I’m so impressed with every aspect of this post. Just super duper congrats and thank you for joining us.

    And GREAT interview, Elisa! You got skills, baby!

    But, seriously, Heather, keep me updated on your first sale and release date. For reals. *fist bump*

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    • Heather Leonard says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I love your Charley books, so you don’t know how much this means to me!

      Newsletter . . . need to get on that . . . after much coffee. MUCH. COFFEE.

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  2. “After I started writing, my trial skills improved dramatically because I learned how to tell a compelling story that captured a jury’s attention and persuaded them to adopt the theme of my case.”

    I love it! Congrats on the final, Heather, and I’m sure you will not need to worry about entering the Golden Heart in 2018. Both your stories sound amazing. Be ready to pitch them both. Good luck!

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    • Heather Leonard says:

      Thank you so much! I presented at a trial skills webinar earlier this year and recommended to everyone to buy GMC. I can’t tell you how many lawyers raved about how the book helped them in terms of crafting not only opening and closing statements, but also in determining witness order and presentation of evidence.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      I love this, too!!!

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  3. Alexis Daria says:

    Heather, you had me at “Mix Stephanie Plum with Harry Dresden” — can’t wait to read this!

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  4. Oh my god, I want to read this book SO BADLY. Also, I think I love you. Harry Potter? Cheap Champagne? But, darling, NO CAPES! Did we learn nothing from The Incredibles? 😉

    Congratulations on your final and good luck in Orlando! Hope to meet you there and geek out over Harry Potter. Are you going to Universal while you’re there?

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  5. Heather Leonard says:

    Thank you! I understand very well the danger of capes, but we must take risks to be fashion divas!

    I really want to get over to Universal. I am going down to Orlando early to take a deposition (mixing work and pleasure), so hopefully I can squeeze it in.

    Hope to meet you in Orlando. Can never geek out enough over HP.

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  6. Tracy Brody says:

    Well if you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet – go! No cape, but cute line in there about fashion accessories and lots of special effects and explosions. For funny, but no explosions, there’s Kristan Higgins. My books aren’t published yet, but I mix some funny with explosions. 😉

    Your book sounds so interesting and funny – we need more of that funny these days. Almost all the previews for other flicks before Wonder Woman were dark, gritty, and scary. I’ll pass on those to read your book! Look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

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    • Heather Leonard says:

      Tracy – what Kristan Higgins book should I read first? Every time I’ve seen her speak, she’s made me laugh and cry. I can’t wait to start reading her books.

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  7. You make me want to plan a trip to this mystical Birmingham! Can’t wait to read the book!

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  8. Congratulations on your GH final, Heather, and buckets of Ruby love! Capes. Yes. Mine shall be flowy and flouncy.

    Funny summer reads: I’m in the middle of Bryn Greenwood’s ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS which is so NOT funny, hence I’ll give you my go-to for the smiles, anything by Liane Moriarity. And yes, BIG LITTLE LIES is that good. Joy & Peace!

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    • Heather Leonard says:

      Thank you for the rec! I’ve been holding off watching BIG LITTLE LIES because I heard the book was fantastic. It just moved to the top of my must read pile.

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  9. suzanne says:

    I LOVE your world building!!! Realtor to Villains. Elemental engineer! And inspired by Birmingham. Your imagination is Ali Baba’s cave. Can’t wait to read your books!!

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  10. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Heather! Lovely to have you with us!

    I’ll have to think of some funny books and movies to recommend (Guardians of the Galaxy, of course…)

    And now for a Harry Potter trivia question for you (I’m starting with an easy-ish one): What form does Hermione’s patronus take?

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  11. Heather Leonard says:

    Thank you for the rec! I’ve been holding off watching BIG LITTLE LIES because I heard the book was fantastic. It just moved to the top of my must read pile.

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  12. Elisa Beatty says:

    Okay, another Harry Potter trivia question (anyone can answer):

    What did Dumbledore leave in his will for Ron?

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    • Amanda Kin says:

      A deluminator? Love you Heather! You have the best most refreshing book ideas and I know one day we will be laughing about the “time before you were published” 🙂

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  13. Elisa Beatty says:

    NObody should have gotten me started on the Harry Potter trivia. Gotta throw out another:

    What is Dumbledore’s full name?

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  14. Jennifer Henderson says:

    Heather, I lol’d at your horse testicle story (and deliciously terrible pun). I think perhaps a series set in a law firm might be in your future?

    For a book that runs the gamut from belly laughs to “pass me the tissues”, I recommend Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. It’s the latest Bridget Jones book.

    And… Albus is his first name, right?

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Correct so far, Jennifer…but he has some very specific middle names, too!! Let’s see who knows them, in order.

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      • Heather Leonard says:

        You know I’m sitting over here, armed raised in the air like Hermione wanting to answer . . . but I’ll wait a few minutes before blurting out the answer.

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    • Heather Leonard says:

      Jennifer – you should have seen the trial. There were visiting judges from Russia who were brought in to watch as case as an example of an American trial. They came in just as we had projected a giant demonstrative of the equine reproductive system onto a wall of the courtroom. You could never write this b/c nobody would believe it!

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  15. Heather Leonard says:

    Okay, I waited five minutes – Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

    But what are Dumbledore’s siblings’ names?

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  16. Melonie says:

    I cannot wait to read your GH book, and the book you’re currently working on, and the book after that… I’m with Darynda, sign me up for your newsletter, sugar!

    So with you on the need for a book that makes me laugh – I really really need that in my life more than ever. I think Jennifer Crusie books are great summer reads – lots of humor to go with the heart. I know “Bet Me” is usually everyone’s go-to Crusie, but “Welcome to Temptation” and “Faking It” are two I think of right away.

    Can’t wait to see you in Orlando and drink Disney champagne! 😉

    As for the HP trvia – I’m sure my 14yr old would get this, but all I can remember about the names of Dumbledore’s siblings is that they both start with “A” as well (like Albus).

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      *waves arm wildly* ARIANA AND ABERFORTH!!!

      You were right, Melonie, all A names.

      Thanks so much for being with us today, Heather! It’s been a blast, and you’ve already turned Darynda Jones into a fan girl, so you’re clearly on the right track!!!

      Good luck in Orlando!

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    • Heather Leonard says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Melonie. Can’t wait to raise a glass with you in Orlando!

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  17. C.R. Grissom says:

    Heather, you had me at your title. Seriously, best book title ever! I can’t wait to read your story. And thanks for all you do in your day job.

    Yesterday I read an article on Pop Sugar about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and all the cool things to do at Universal Studios, Orlando. I’m so dang excited.

    Here’s the one thing that struck me about the series. JK had everything mapped out, and from what I understand, entire histories written of her characters. But the one thing she overlooked was Ron’s hand-me-down wand. In her effort to show the lack of gold in their Gringott’s account, Ron was given a wand Percy [?] no longer wanted.

    Wands become vital to the story. The wand chooses the wizard, but this tiny little detail about Percy choosing a new wand thereby passing his old wand to Ron always struck me as one of those things an author of a viral and wildly popular series must do a palms up on.

    Did anything strike you as a detail that might have been overlooked with our beloved HP series?

    Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando.

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    • Heather Leonard says:

      Great catch about Ron’s wand. I had never thought of that. There were always details I wished had been explored more in the books. I always wanted to know more about James as an Auror and Petunia’s history with Lily. Those books are so special, and I love re-reading them, but I miss the excitement of waiting for the next book and what new information it would bring.

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  18. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Like Alexis said…you had me at “Mix Stephanie Plum with Harry Dresden” 🙂

    Congrats and best of luck to you!

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