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Back in March 2019, Jenn sat down with Leslie Scott, to talk about book two in her Arkadia Fast, Contemporary Romance series: Hot Lap. A third book was just released in that series, and Jenn and Leslie sat down to chat about Full Tilt Boogie and more!
Jenn: It’s been a year and a half since the last time we sat down to talk, and you just released another book in August. Tell us what’s been happening in the interim.
Leslie: Oh my goodness, so much.
I revamped my brand and my website, so that it encompassed me as a writer, not just a romance writer.
I won an award for my soon to be released Urban Fantasy novel.
Jenn: Congratulations on the award!
Leslie: Thanks! I am going indie, with Black Water Magic (the UF novel I just mentioned), as you said Full Tilt Boogie FINALLY came out… And I’ve got three other novels in the works, right now. So, yeah, the writing cave has been a madhouse
Leslie: That’s about it. lol
My son is thirteen and in middle school, so he’s mostly doing everything himself. Which gives me more time to write.
I’m also doing more writing workshops and the like.
Stepping into the Indie Publishing world has been really time consuming and stressful for me. And there were some hiccups and roadblocks earlier this year that sort of ground everything to a halt.
Jenn: I hear that a lot from authors moving to Indie Publishing – it’s stressful and time consuming.
Leslie: I had to take a bit of a step back, play some video games, go camping with the family (we love our RV), but pretty much I’m a writer and a mother, those are the two biggest things in my life.
And it really is. I’ve heard large house traditional publishing is, too. But I come from a laid back, small press, where the stress level is low. At The Wild Rose Press, I’m responsible for marketing my finished product and writing it. Everything else, they handle. Formatting, Editing, Cover Design, Distribution, payment, etc.
Jenn: So, the transition to Indie – at least, the marketing part – is already there in your toolbelt?
Leslie: Yes. Thankfully.
Though, book marketing is ever changing. So, I’m constantly learning and trying new things. I’m looking forward to running Amazon Ads with Black Water Magic. I can’t do that with my current books, because the publisher uploads them not me.
Jenn: Have you always wanted to write and publish your work?
Leslie: Since third grade.
I actually never thought I’d self publish, but the trend of authors who make money seem to be a hybrid published deal (so self and trad published). I figured, this is a career so why not try.
Jenn: Who are the major influencers in your life and philosophy?
Leslie: Oh wow.
My mom and my son are big influences for me to write. The kid gets more excited when I get good reviews than I do. And he loves to tell everyone I write. Mom is constantly wanting to read what I write.
Jenn: That’s awesome that you have so much support close to home!
Leslie: In the industry itself, I have this web of writer friends–some best sellers, some pre-published that really keep me going.
For instance: Melissa Sercia and I switched to each other’s published genre and decided to self publish AT THE SAME TIME. So I wrote an Urban Fantasy and she wrote a Romance. And we are taking this journey sort of together, which has been super cool. But that family feel of my writing tribe is an influence. But there really isn’t one author or authors where I was like “I want to be like them.”
Jenn: Talk about fun!
Leslie: I guess,because I was always a writer. Nobody I’m trying to emulate, just getting my stories on paper.
Jenn: Whatever works to beat that procrastination habit, right?
Leslie: And my philosophy, according to my kid, would be “Get to Work!” which is true. Like you said, to beat that procrastination habit. Which he has inherited. So I say those three words, a lot.
Jenn: The mantra of every school-at-home mom?
Leslie: Indeed. But, I apply it to writing. I’ve met so many pre-published writers who I constantly tell, “If you don’t finish the book, it’s never going to be published.” No matter how many conferences you go to, classes you take, books you read, if you don’t “Get to Work” it’s not going to happen.
It took me a decade to figure that out.
Leslie: Once I did, the ideas and the stories keep going. Since 2017 (When The Finish Line was released, my first novel) I’ve finished 10 books.
Jenn: Awesome. That’s a LOT of books in 3 years.
Leslie: Now, not all of them are published (or worth being published), obviously, but getting to work gets that first draft finished.
Heh, you should see my outline notebooks. I outline ideas/novels in spiral notebooks (I’m addicted to sparkly school supplies). I have, right now, two filing cabinet drawers full.
Jenn: So you’re both a planner AND a back-to-school junkie?
I love my planner, I Love my pens, I love my notebooks, I color code my book notes, I’m addicted to post it notes
Jenn: *cough cough* We won’t talk about post-it notes… I have stacks and stacks and stacks of notebooks, post-it’s, moveable flags…
Leslie: Yup. We should start a support group.
Oh! They brought back Lisa Frank stuff this year. Eight year old me lost her mind at Walmart. Mr. Scott was like, “Save some for the kids, okay?”
Jenn: That hasn’t quite made it this far west yet. Thankfully. The 15 year old would go nuts. As it is, I buy about 4 times as many school supplies as she does.
Leslie: lol… The 13 yo is male and only has one school supply request: mechanical pencils.
I have ten different types of Sharpies. So, yeah, I have way more supplies.
Jenn: What other books or authors have influenced your writing? Especially the Arkadia Fast series?
Leslie: Hrm … Abbi Glines and her way of encompassing the way it feels to be that college, young person was a big deal.
But my biggest influence for the Arkadia Fast series were street racing Youtube videos.
(and Mr. Scott watching them)
Jenn: Mr. Scott is a huge racing fan, as I recall.
Leslie: And he is a car nut and races and we’ve been to street races. Yup.
He just got a new toy (a 69 Ford Truck) that he’s dropping a new motor in.
Jenn: Their toys only get more expensive, the older they get, right?
Leslie: Truth. A fact I point out to him when he tells me I need to slow down buying highlighters on Amazon.
Jenn: Since we’re talking Arkadia Fast and your most recent release, If you had to explain this series in one sentence, what would it be?
Leslie: Fast paced, energetic romance.
A reviewer for InD’Tale Magazine used that line to describe it once and was so perfect, I kept it.
I wanted energy and emotion at a high rate of speed for the reader. I didn’t want to give them a chance to put any of the books down.
That’s way more than one sentence, oops.
Jenn: You definitely accomplish that.
For our readers who are unfamiliar with your work, could you give us a quick elevator pitch for each book in the series?
Leslie: OMG, I hate pitches
Leslie: The Finish Line is about love and family, and how a young woman navigates all those things under the shadow of tragedy and loss.
Hot Lap is about finding your family, even if it’s in an un-traditional manner. And that we create our own families out of those we love.
Full Tilt Boogie is finding home, when it’s always been there. And that sometimes your dreams are different than you imagine and come in a snarky, surly package.
Jenn: I think Noah is, by far, my favorite of the Arkadia boys.
Leslie: That was my favorite book to write of any I’ve written.
Mainly because Breanna is not your traditional romance heroine.
Jenn: She isn’t. Not by a long shot.
Leslie: And I almost made that elevator pitch for you just two words: “Crotch Fruit.”
Jenn: *snicker* That epithet is going to stay with me for a long, long time.
Leslie: Hahaha me too! Someone told me to take it out and I was like, “No, because the reaction is totally natural for her.”
Breanna is definitely nonconforming and does her own thing. Which makes her the exact opposite of her sister Raelynn (from The Finish Line) and in truth, Full Tilt Boogie is Breanna’s redemption. Because she’s sort of a jerk in TFL.
Jenn: How challenging was it to create a likeable heroine that has been so disagreeable in previous books?
Leslie: Very. But that’s why it was so much fun. I can’t write hollow characters. I want them to be beautifully flawed and Breanna is a perfect example of that.
In Full Tilt Boogie I got to examine her actions from The Finish Line, find where they came from, and realize they came from a place of love. She’s young, hot headed, and makes a lot of mistakes, but she loves her family and wants them ALL to be happy. But she’s selfish.
Noah teaches her how to be less selfish. Which is part of growing up and one of the most challenging parts of writing New Adult books.
At that age, we are all a good deal selfish and immature. Throw in love, sex, hormones, and life challenges and its like a ticking emotion bomb.
Jenn: And Noah delivers those lessons beautifully.
Leslie: Awe thanks.
Also, I really wanted to twist the trope that I wrote book one with.
Raelynn was pining away from Jordan from the jump. It was cool to show the readers that Noah had been doing the same thing, even in Hot Lap — when he was a pain in Breanna’s ass (as she says).
You write romance, (and really awesome romance, at that!) and Arkadia Fast isn’t all you have in your backlist. You mentioned that you’ve written 10 books since The Finish Line was released in 2017. What other books or stories can we find with your name on them?
Leslie: Right, now, other than Arkadia Fast, I have the novella Two Hearts, One Stone.
Jenn: I think Two Hearts was the first of your books that I got to read.
Leslie: And the Urban Fantasy, Black Water Magic, to be released sometime this year (soon, I say, soon!)
Readers LOVE Stone.
Jenn: Because he’s awesome.
Leslie: And because of that love, my current Work In Progress is another cowboy novel. This time, a series.
Well, one reader did not like him.
If you go look at the reviews, she minces no words when she calls him a man whore. (I still laugh about this)
Jenn: Meh…. I can’t think of anyone (real or fictional) that is loved by EVERYONE that meets them.
Leslie: Indeed not, but it’s still funny. I think if I elicit some sort of reaction (good or bad) in a reader … I’ve done my job.
Jenn: What are some of the major ideas that you incorporate into your books, and your life, in general?
That’s the core of all my books. It doesn’t matter what genre, what style, family is important. And family is what you make it. You don’t have to be born into it.
And that’s my real life. My closest family member outside my household is my ex-stepsister. Our parents (her mom, my dad) were divorced two decades ago. But, we’re still family.
Jenn: You’ve mentioned your Urban Fantasy, but will we be hearing more from the Casey family?
Leslie: I don’t know.
I had planned on staying with just the Casey Siblings. Then I had an editor want three more. But, then that editor left the publisher. (a look behind the curtain here) … When she left, that put things up in the air and they’re still there. I have ideas/outlines for three more Arkadia Fast novels. But, I’m really not sure if they’ll get written anytime soon. As I’m working on three other series (including the UF) right now.
Jenn: You’ve mentioned this Urban Fantasy coming soon. Tell us a bit about Black Water Magic.
Leslie: Black Water Magic is the story of Teagan Blackwater. It’s magic, murder, mayhem, cursed witches, and demi-demon bikers. A sexy look at the supernatural community of Firewater Springs, Florida.
Jenn: That sounds like fun!
Leslie: Teagan’s grandmother Nola, is the Swamp Witch of Florida. But, Teagan comes home one night to find Nola murdered. Digging into the whys and the hows, she opens up a world of secrets and the like she never expected. Basically, she has to navigate her messed up love life, the death of her only family, and newfound powers.
Jenn: Growing up on a whole other level?
LOL but I took the ensemble cast of characters that is my style and applied it to the paranormal universe. I envision spinoffs galore.
Jenn: Sounds like a fertile garden for more stories.
Leslie: Book two is already in the works, and the first spinoff series is already outlined, and I’m thinking of doing a YA Spinoff via my website and NL. Just off this series, lol.
Jenn: In our last talk, you mentioned getting into the Radish fiction app. Did that take off?
Leslie: Okay so, that’s where BWM came from.
Jenn: Gotcha. So was BWM initially released as a serialized novel?
Leslie: Never released, actually. As I was writing it took on a life of its own and became a novel, not a serial.
Actually came two novels, lol.
Is there anything else that readers should know, or that you’d like them to know, before delving into your books?
Leslie: Hrm. I tend to write on the steamy side, but also I’m big on feeling and emotion. And I don’t always make things pretty. I’ve tackled PTSD, alcoholism, drug addiction, and sexual abuse in some degree in my books.
So while some may automatically think romance is fluff, mine isn’t.
Jenn: I think there’s a lot more to romance than fluff, but I’m biased.
Leslie: Same, lol.
Jenn: How can readers find you?
Leslie: Readers can find me one my website (which is new and pretty, yay)… http://lesliescottwrites.com, where they can also subscribe to my newsletter. My blog and Newsletter are why you can get all the current details of what I have going on. On social media I am most active on Twitter (@leslieSwrites), but also on facebook.com/lesliescottwrites.com
Jenn: Thank you so much for joining us today, Leslie. It has been, as always, a pleasure talking to you!
Leslie: Thank you for having me, I love chatting with you. It’s always a good time.