Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Long time away

It has been a lot longer than I realized since I have posted on the blog.  Sorry about the long absence.  Since I last posted, I took a management position in my "real" job and needless to say life has been crazy busy!  On the writing front, this month is the one year anniversary of Cat's Eye Marble.  I cannot believe how fast the year has flown by!  To celebrate, I am doing a special through the end of the month.  Get an autographed copy mailed directly from me!  Paperbacks are $10 and hardbacks are $15.  There is an additional $3 charge for shipping and handling.  Hope over to the book's facebook page and Inbox me if you would like one.  https://www.facebook.com/catseyemarble2012?ref=hl

More exciting news:  I am currently working on the sequel to Cat's Eye Marble!  There was much debate about whether Dani lived or died on that airport floor.  My blog readers are one of the first to know, she lived :)  But how does she keep going after everything and will the long arm of the law reach her?  You'll have to wait and see how the rest of her story plays out when Mirrors is released.

Trying to stay warm and toasty in Alabama,
Leeann Smith

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Latest review of Cat's Eye Marble

Cat's Eye Marble

Cat's Eye Marble
Author: Leeann Smith
Publisher: Friesen Press
Publication Date: November 2012

Book Description:
Dani learned much too young that fairy tales do not exist for some kids. With an abusive, alcoholic mother that blames her daughter for her own shortcomings and a father that turns a blind eye in order to maintain his own sanity, Dani’s only means of survival is to escape within her mind. After five years of living in hell, Dani finally catches a break. A new family, a new home, and a new life give her the childhood she never had. Just as it seems her life has turned around, fate has other plans. When it all unravels, a teenage Dani sets out on her own. With nothing left, she finds an unlikely hero ready to rescue her from herself and her past. Will Dani be able to put her ghosts to rest or will the past force her to a last resort—revenge?

Cat’s Eye Marble is a heartbreaking journey showing the power of a child’s mind to survive the unspeakable as well as what happens when the walls of defense come crumbling to the ground.

Idgie Says:
The first thing you think when you finish this book is "Thank God it's fiction". Unfortunately there's far too much of this same story out there in the world.
This child goes through absolute hell and when she finally finds salvation with a good family, that unexpectedly turns on her like a rabid dog also. That someone who was so loving and kind could change their stripes so completely took me aback and at first I felt the story went too far, but then I thought about how many people have surprised us all with hidden personalities until it was too late.

It's a heart-wrenching story that's appalling and horrific and you feel so much anger towards so many of the characters - for their cruelty, the lack of caring, the avoidance of the obvious. A young girl mistreated by so many, with so little years of joy and peace. The end is violent and unexpected, but in reflection not unrealistic.

But saying that - the fact that you feel this anger and horror means that the author has done an excellent job of bringing these characters to life.

Good job.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why write a book about this subject manner?

"Child sexual abuse is a global public health problem and can no longer be considered a taboo that societies are reluctant to address."  Excerpt from the Afterword of Silent No More:  Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky.

I just finished the Kindle version of this book, of which I highly recommend, and it reminded me why I wrote Cat's Eye Marble.  I think almost every one in America has heard at least something about the Jerry Sandusky case in the past couple of years.  I had never heard of the man, not that I remember, until it hit the media.  I have never been a Penn State fan so the impact it had on me was different than what it would be for those loyal to the Nittany Lions.  What struck me was the incredible sadness for his victims and the amazing courage it took for those young men to come forward.  Victims of child abuse, even as adults, often fear not being believed.  These young men not only had to take on their abuser in court but a portion of the nation as well.  Thankfully, they succeeded legally.  But does that mean their fight is over now that their abuser will spend the rest of his life in prison?  Sadly, they are still left with the burden of overcoming the scars left behind. 

Child abuse is an epidemic with devastating consequences.  Statistics on child abuse vary from organization to organization but the general numbers are that one in three girls and one in five boys are sexually abused during their childhood.  These numbers are based on REPORTED cases.  Stop and think about that a moment.  The next time you are in a restaurant with your friends or family, take a moment to look around.  How many people sitting in the room with you had their life altered by abuse?  And keep in mind, there are many victims that do not report their abuse.  I wrote Cat's Eye Marble in honor of all survivors of child abuse but especially those that never told.  Prior to writing the book and after its release I have had many people tell me their stories of child abuse.  Most of them endured long term abuse and more than a few began their story to me with, "I've never told anyone this before,"  I wanted to convey for them, the horrors of abuse, not only physically but also the emotion price that is paid.  Many that have read the book have told me the characters seemed so real that they cried for Dani and despised other characters in the book for what they had done to her.  Although the book is fiction, sadly, many of Dani's experiences are reality for an enormous number of children. 

I hope that all readers that became so emotional reading the book do not forget those emotions.  I want you to hold onto it and use what you felt to help a child.  Did you cry?  Did you hurt for Dani?  Did you want to rescue her?  Did you hate and become enraged at her abusers?  Did you wonder why no one saw what was happening to Dani and come to rescue her?  Did you wonder how one child could endure so much?  I don't have the answer to how to make child abuse extinct, unfortunately, but I do know that everyone has the power to make a positive difference in a child's life.  If you suspect a child is being abuse, please do not turn a blind eye or assume that someone else will report it.  Please do not assume that because someone is a pillar in the community, allegations could not be correct.  If nothing else, I think the Jerry Sandusky case has hopefully taught us, that child abusers don't have a certain "look" that tells us they are dangerous people for our children to be around.  Many are masterful at fitting in society and fooling the adults around them.  They live life with multiple personas.  This is why we must keep a watchful eye open for our children.

Today is the day to make a difference in a child's life,
Leeann Smith

p.s.  As always, I welcome any and all comments.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Free Read Alert!!!!!

Financially tapped out from Christmas but still want a good book to read? Here's your chance! Get your IPhone, IPad, and IPod Touch ready! In celebration of my youngest daughter's birthday, Cat's Eye Marble will be FREE to download on Wednesday, January 16!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Great article about the book from the Franklin County Times

Spruce Pine woman fulfills writing dream

When Spruce Pine resident Leeann Smith was asked by an Army recruiter in the 10th grade what she wanted to do when she was older, the only thing she could think of being was a writer.
The now adult Smith has worked in the healthcare profession for many years – a world driven by facts, figures and truths, which is a far cry from the creative realm of storytelling.
But even though she still works in healthcare, Smith has finally lived up to her 10th-grade ambitions and become a writer.
Cat’s Eye Marble, Smith’s first book-length story, hit shelves a little more than a week ago, and she said she’s still having trouble believing the whole process is real.
“I keep wanting to pinch myself and see if I’m dreaming,” Smith said. “I still can’t believe I have a book that has been published and that people I don’t even know are reading it.”
Smith said she first fell in love with writing at the same time she fell in love with reading, which was pretty much instantaneous from the time she read her fist book.
“Being able to take someone into another world is just a wonderful talent and something I just love,” she said.
“I wrote when I was younger and on into high school when I worked for the Journal Record covering football games.
“I was probably my editor’s worst nightmare because I wanted to use lots of adjectives and dress the story up, and all they really wanted was a cut-and-dry replay of events and the scores.
“That creative element was just there and it was hard not to let it loose, even on a football story.”
Smith’s creativity was still a large part of her life, but it wasn’t something she acted on professionally, and soon she had pushed the idea of writing to the back of her minds.
“I wasn’t thinking about writing very much, and I certainly wasn’t thinking about writing a book,” she said. “As simple as it sounds, it really just happened. It wasn’t a conscious decision.”
The storyline for Smith’s book focuses on a girl named Dani who was the victim of child abuse and a very hard life. The story chronicles Dani’s life and the measures she has to take to make it through each day and the ability of a child to use his or her own mind to escape such harsh realities at such a tender age.
Smith said she classifies the book as “reality-based fiction” because even though the characters, their names and the places are fabricated, the story is based loosely on the real-life story of a person Smith met.
“A few years ago, a person I was talking to opened up to me about the abuse they had experienced as a child and it was just unfathomable,” Smith said. “It broke my heart.
“I saw her as a survivor and admired her for how far she had come, and her story just stuck with me.”
As a way to deal with the overwhelming emotions from hearing what circumstances this person had to overcome, Smith said she just began writing.
“I wrote a lot of things down and pretty soon a storyline began to evolve,” she said. “I played around with the story for about two years and it wasn’t really going anywhere so I just pushed it out of my mind.”
Smith said she didn’t give the story much more thought until this spring when a seemingly mundane activity brought it right back to the forefront of her mind.
“This spring I decided to plant a garden in my yard, and as I was tilling up the ground, something caught my eye,” she said.
“What I had dug up ended up being a clear and orange cat’s eye marble that reminded me of the marble I had when I was a child.
“I started thinking about how I used to play with those marbles and how I would imagine they were crystal balls that could take me to far off places and let me see all kinds of fun things.”
That was when it hit her.
“All of a sudden I realized that children who are the victim’s of abuse, like the person who inspired this story, have to employ those same kinds of tactics just to survive – to use their own minds to escape reality out of necessity rather than just for fun.
“At that moment, it just all fell into place. I put my tiller down and went inside, dirty, muddy clothes and all, and wrote the first two chapters of the book.”
Once the story locked into place, Smith said the words flowed easily and she had finished the book in a matter of months.
She then began navigating the self-publishing process with the help of her editor, Cassie McCown, and soon had the book signed on to be published by Friesen Press.
“I knew I wanted to have the book published because I wanted people to take two things away from this story,” she said.
“One, I wanted those who are the survivors of child abuse to know they’re not alone. So many of them feel so lost and as if they are all alone in their struggles and I want to be a voice for them. I want them to know there are people who care about their story.
“Two, I want to help people who have never experienced child abuse or personally know someone who has to be able to understand this on a more personal level. I want them to be able to walk right alongside Dani on her journey and feel what she feels.”
Smith said the reason she feels so strongly about this is because it is a subject that is usually swept under the rug.
“You hear the statistics but then you just go on with your life, not really considering that those numbers are actually people.
“Child abuse is an epidemic in our country, and even right here in our county. It goes on more often than people realize, mostly because people don’t want to talk about it or report it or get involved. But it needs to be discussed, and if my book impacts even one person, I’ve met my goal.”
To celebrate the release of the book, Smith will hold a book signing at the Russellville Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
Copies of the book will be available as well as snacks and a special gift for those who attend.
“This has been such an amazing process and I’ve already gotten such great feedback,” Smith said. “The book reached my publisher’s best seller list already, and I’ve had people tell me how emotional the book was for them, which is great to hear because that means I conveyed my message.
“I grew up in Hackleburg and now live in Spruce Pine so this isn’t something a small-town girl like me expects, but I’m enjoying every minute of this process.”
In addition to the book signing, copies of Cat’s Eye Marble can be purchased at Barnes and Noble, at www.friesenpress.com, and on Amazon.com in hardback, paperback and Kindle formats.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My first book signing :)
It was great to see everyone today at the Russellville Public Library!  I feel so honored everyone took time to come out and celebrate the launch of Cat's Eye Marble with me!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where the title of the book came from....

Several people have asked me where on earth the title for Cat’s Eye Marble came from so I wanted to share this with everyone.  And, yes, it is a true story, some things I just couldn’t make up into fiction if I wanted to. (lol)  The story line for the book had been running through my head for a couple of years but I just could not seem to get it to come together.  Then in the Spring of this year, while in between jobs, I decided to plant a garden.  As a kid I always swore I would NEVER plant a garden.  I hated working in the garden because it was hot, dirty, and there would a million bugs everywhere you turn.  Okay, confession, the dirty part really didn’t bother me since I was a tomboy but the bugs completely freaked me out.  But as most Southerns find upon reaching adulthood, no matter how bad you try to fight it, we all seem to have something engrained in our DNA that drives us to plant something, anything, at the first hint of warm weather.  Hmmm….now there is a good basis for a scientific study.  Sorry, getting off track a bit.

So in early April I got out my tiny tiller and began breaking up part of my yard.  For those who know me personally, you know, I do absolutely nothing small scale.  This endeavor was no different.  Now, just as a side note to those wanting to turn part of your yard into a vegetable garden, especially an enormous one, grass and weeds do not take kindly to being uprooted and will force you to till, and till, and till, you get the picture.  About the tenth time of breaking the dirt up I was exhausted but quite proud of myself.  Not wanting to risk one single stray weed surviving, I gave it one last run through and I am glad I did because that was when I found my treasure!

It was midday; the sun was directly overhead, when I caught a glimmer of light reflecting off something in the dirt.  I initially thought it was a piece of glass. When I picked it up I found it was a dirt caked marble; a cat’s eye marble, clear with orange swirls in it.  I found myself mesmerized by it.  It triggered a childhood memory I had forgot so many years ago.  I could remember sitting in my room as a kid playing with a pint jar of marbles for hours.  The image was so vivid it was as though I had gone back in time to 30 years ago.  When I was a little girl I would pretend the cat’s eye marbles I had were crystal balls that could tell my future and that each marble held a different picture of my future in it.  I can’t tell you how long I stood in my would-be garden that day staring at that long forgot marble I had unearthed but I can tell you, the storyline for the book came to me instantly.  I slipped the dirty marble into the right pocket of my grungy work pants, went inside, and wrote the first two chapters of the book.  (Yes, I left the tiller sitting where it was.  Luckily, I did remember to at least turn it off.)
I decided to tell this story because of something that happened to me earlier this afternoon that amused me.  We, as adults, are often amazed at the imaginations children can have or how they can become attached to certain things like they are good luck charms.  But children aren’t the only ones that carry that ability of magical thinking.  We as adults do, also.  How many of you have good luck charms or do things that you believe will bring you luck?  Oh, come on now, go ahead and admit it.  I have carried the marble I found that day in the garden in my pocket every day since.  It has become my good luck charm.  Only this afternoon did I realize how much I thought of it that way when it went missing!  Yes, I wigged out. (Blushing a bit to admit this.)  I was frantically trying to find it.  Luckily I found that it had rolled off my desk and was hidden in a dark corner underneath.  I cannot tell you the relief I felt when I slipped it back into my pocket. 

The moral of this story?  Being childlike is not the same thing as being childish.  Find something from your childhood that made you smile, and fall in love with it all over again!  Happy reading everyone!

Leeann Smith