The Next Big Thing Blog Hop – Leta Blake, Dancing Shoes


Amelia C. Gormley, the author of the wonderful Impulse Trilogy, tagged me to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which was incredibly kind of her! Thanks, Amelia!

What is the working title of your book?

The original working title was Spanish Dancing Shoes, but over time it’s been shortened to just Dancing Shoes.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Keira and I have been working on our fairy tales series for the last year. After completing Earthly Desires, and while Keira was hammering out the details of Ascending Hearts, our upcoming tale based on Jack & the Beanstalk, I started reading the story City of Blind Delights by Catherynne M. Valente. Something about it sparked a whole fairy tale world in my head–nothing like the world of her story, but a world all the same. That all came together while reading The Twelve Dancing Princesses to my daughter at bedtime, and inspired by both, the flow of the book came easily at first.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fairy tale romance/erotica.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I don’t have any particular actors in mind, but I did create this Pinterest inspiration board to help guide my focus while writing the story.

This is Matteo.

And this is Ópalo. Well, except that his hair is actually pink feathers.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

In an effort to discover where his sisters disappear to at night, Matteo follows them to a new world and finds a new life he never expected.

Will your book be self published, published by a small press, or represented by an agency?

Assuming that all goes according to plan, the book will be published by Ellora’s Cave as part of Keira’s and my Tempting Tales series.

How long did it or how long do you anticipate that it will take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Too dang long! Haha! But there were several reasons for that. First, I stopped in the middle of the book to work on a long-running work in progress and that got us off track for a little while. Then we thought we’d really like to have a Christmas tale out this year, so we made a stab at that for a month or so, but in the end it was just not viable and we basically scrapped it. Third, the book was fighting us because it wanted to be longer than the novella length first two books in the series. Once we gave in to how long the book wanted to me, the characters really opened up and started sharing more with us. So, all in all, a first draft took about six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

You know, I’m not sure I’ve read another book quite like this one. We are trying to keep each book in our series unique. I suppose that in terms of the kind of fairy tale world, the romance, and the sexual nature of the book, the closest really would be the other two in our series, Earthly Desires (inspired by The Light Princess) and Ascending Hearts.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?


I believe I covered that above to a large degree, but I wanted to give a quick nod to Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series for giving me the kick in the behind I needed to start writing and working on this series with Keira. I’ve had several ideas for fairy tale reworkings for years, but last winter I indulged in a rewatch of The Storyteller as a kind of Christmas-comfort-winter-warmth and it lit me up inside with all kinds of ideas. I’m sure Jim Henson never intended someone to get inspired by his show and write a lot of gay romance and erotica, but that’s what happened. We owe it all to Jim Henson. Haha!

What else about your book might interest the reader?

I think it is imaginative and surprising. If you’ve read other reworkings of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, I can guarantee you that this one is different in substance and style. It’s a sweet, spring book, and I’m hoping we can have it out in April or May, because it just seems like the kind of thing people should read when flowers are blooming.

This is where I was supposed to link to four more blogs. But I’m only posting a link to one (wonderful! awesome!) blog. Apparently, otherwise, the buck stops here, because everyone I asked except Nisha-Anne–and I asked a ton of people–have already done this and so, just like in P.E. class when I was a kid, I was the last chosen for the game. *sniff sniff* Haha! No worries. I suppose that it had to eventually peter out. I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t round up even more participants. Oh well! Thanks, Amelia, for this opportunity! It’s better to have been chosen last than never to be chosen at all?

Check out Nisha-Anne D’Souza on January 2nd! She’s the author of the book Calling Pomegranate and a brilliant woman. I’m sure that her work in progress is going to be worth waiting for!

Ascending Hearts Cover Art!


Keira and I are totally thrilled with the cover for our next novel Ascending Hearts! The marvelous Dar Albert is responsible for it and we could not be more pleased with her work! This is the Pinterest Board we sent her for inspiration and we think she did an amazing job capturing the spirit of it! Thank you, Dar!

More details about our upcoming release soon!

I <3 My WIP (Though It Kicks My Ass)


I don’t blog about my writing very often, mainly because I don’t feel that I have anything helpful to contribute to the blogosphere on the subject. Part of the reason for that is I’ve been stuck in Work In Progress limbo for quite some time and it’s a kind of hell all its own. I end up in this space from time to time–multiple WIPs in the pipeline with no clear ending in sight for any of them. It’s during these stages when blogs on writing usually bring me down. I mean, all of these authors who seem to crank out work after work all blog with authority about just how I, too, can improve my output if I only do something specific like outline better, have a notebook that details everything about my characters before I set down the first word, write linearly, set aside a specific time every day (despite my day job and my motherhood responsibilities) to write, and basically become a totally different person/writer.

Let’s add a layer of blue over this whole story, why don’t we?

The fact is, I’m the writer that I am. I can outline, make index cards, create Pinterest inspiration boards, do character-building exercises out the wazoo (and I will) but I think that I’m always going to find that I write in layers, more like an oil painter, and not in any type of linear fashion. I need to find a way to be okay with that. For example, I’m on the ninth draft of one of my WIPs and on this pass-through I saw gaps I’d never noticed before, easy places that I could drop in a paragraph, or change a conversation in order to strengthen the character’s motivations or the emotional impact for the reader. I suppose other writers see those places and write them in from the beginning, but that is apparently not how I work. Again, I need to be okay with that.

Be okay with being a tattooed skeleton wearing a flower crown, okay?

Awhile back, CB Wentworth made a post listing all that she loved about her current WIP. She said:

The practice is meant to revitalize creativity for the project, while also helping to keep the focus on what is working in the story. Essentially, the Love List is a collection of everything a writer loves about a WIP, whether it be characters, setting, the writing process, or anything that gives a reason to keep writing!  This is the ultimate individual motivator that will give your muse a supreme kick in the butt!

In an effort to appreciate the writer that I am and not beat myself up about the writer I wish I could be, let’s do this!

Things I Love About My WIP

1. Our Pinterest Inspiration Board! So many great and inspirational pictures!

2. The fairy tale world we’ve created. It is beautiful and hopefully readers will find it as imaginatively engaging as we have writing it.

3. Despite their initial reluctance to be forthcoming with me, I’m loving the characters. They’ve been slow to open up, necessitating more reworkings than almost anything I’ve ever written, but now that they’ve deigned to give me a better idea of who they are, I’m growing to love them a lot.

4. I love the ending. I admit to wondering if the end will be satisfactory to some because it leaves the HEA for the epilogue, but I think that it will be a nice change of pace and, most importantly, works for these characters.

5. I love some of the character building exercises that I’ve found while trying to needle these characters into talking to me. I believe they will come in handy in the future.

6. I love how hard this work has been. Even though in some ways I wish it was easy, I do feel a great deal of satisfaction whenI locate a problem in the story and then find a way to fix it. It’s like that wonderful snap of a puzzle piece fitting into place, and the general satisfaction that comes from that.

7. I’ve enjoyed how hard I’ve had to think. Usually, characters are very open with me, but there were many scenes in this WIP where I had to sit for a long time with the characters and say, “Okay, I’m listening. Tell me how this event made you feel. What are you going to say here?” It was a slow thing, but it definitely took me through some of the paces that I often manage to skip simply by having outspoken/loud characters to begin with.

8. I look forward to having it done. When it’s behind me, I think I’ll look on it with a lot of love and fondness.

What about you all? Are there any things you love particularly about your current Work In Progress? Let me know in the comments!

The Inspiration


In the past, I’ve almost always been most inspired by music and I tend to write while listening to a specific playlist. When suffering from the occasional writer’s block, music has most often been the source of breaking the inspiration free again, providing me with solutions to the problems, and setting me off on another rush of creativity.

Recently, though, I’ve found another source of input very inspiring. Photographs. As most artists have been doing of late, I’ve started making Pinterest boards that correspond with my writing. It has become a huge source of inspiration for me, though, unlike music, the boards don’t seem to help me problem-solve, but merely help me visualize how I want to describe things and people, and to help establish the atmosphere and vibe of the story.

As an example, working on a recent fairy tale for our series, Tempting Tales with Ellora’s Cave, I found the following image incredibly inspirational, even if this castle and these swans don’t appear at all in the story. It was the magical, fairyland, unreal atmosphere that I wanted to capture.


I’ve got pin boards for Fairy Tales in general, boards for specific stories like Spanish Dancing Shoes and The Frog Prince, and boards for random and currently unplaceable inspiration.

From the Spanish Dancing Shoes board.

A potential future protagonist from the Inspiration board.

If this isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

From the Frog Prince board.


Feel free to follow me at Pinterest and get a glimpse of the beautiful things I’m using to juice up my inspiration, or, heck, just for some pretty pictures.