Leigh A Hartman is an ever-learning, ever-growing writer who fills her time with many hobbies related to such things. Aside from avidly reading and blogging her days away, she’s working on two manuscripts with two very different genres: historical adventure and science fiction. Her home library most definitely reflects titles with similar influence.
Though rebuilding the Victorian’s world is a continuing passion for her which began in 2016, her newfound enthusiasm is attempting to forget science fiction worlds which already exist with the sole purpose of building her own. Leigh’s real life job is in the retail biz, lifting heavy products and helping customers. But she’d much rather turn writing into her permanent position.
Q: Your website is great, and I’ve enjoyed so many of your blogs. How long have you been blogging and what do you enjoy most about it?
A: First of all, thank you so much. I get very little feedback concerning posts and content in general, so I appreciate your comments. When the idea for blogging first came about late in 2016, its original center was history. Specifically, Victorian history. Colors were dark, accents were gilded, and I realized very quickly that I was absolutely not qualified to run a blog like that.
So I sat on it for a year (the stats for 2017 are quite dismal), played around with my host’s functions, and other blog post ideas. Throughout 2018 I also experimented with blog post series (ie Research It, Music That Drives My Writing, Roast My Post, and Star Trek specific posts) and had a lot of fun with those. Things finally came together in 2019 - you see, these things take time - when I finally became confident in my blogging style.
Knowing how to use your voice in a blog post is just as important as it is in a manuscript, perhaps more so. Blogs are visual, instant beings with a life all on their own. Posts are a direct reflection of the writer, so it’s very important to not only be confident in yourself, but to stay away from language which could confuse readers. By that I mean this: it’s a tricky thing, balancing knowledge and humility and avoiding bias as best as one can. That’s what I enjoy most about blogging - the challenge of all of the above.
Q: Your website address is anotherhartmanauthor.com. Are there other people in the family who love writing?
Answer: Oooh I’m so glad you asked this! I come from a family of creatives. It just took me a while to figure out my own path. For years my uncles did puppetry for local churches and even traveled around the tri-state (we’re from Pennsylvania) area to do shows. Now, in all our later years, many have continued that path of creativity.
My uncle, Bob Hartman, is a published children’s Christian author who lives in England. One of his books was even used in a Jeopardy! episode about five years ago. How cool is that? Titles of his include
The Wolf Who Cried Boy, Angels Angels Angels All Around and The Lion Storytelling Bedtime Book.
His brother, my uncle Tim Hartman is an actor who’s starred in countless productions, big and small, between Pittsburgh, PA and NYC. In fact, he wrote the prayer for the film The Fault In Our Stars on the spot, right before filming. He’s a cartoonist, writer, and many children know him from doing assemblies all across Pittsburgh since I was a child myself.
I’ll stop there, but, as you can see, writing is in my blood. I just wish it hadn’t taken me this long to get started.
Q: What is your favorite genre to read, and what book has impacted your writing the most?
Answer: Since I decided to unplug my television for good in April 2020 (you can read about it here), I read over a hundred books last year (both physical copies and eBooks). This year I upped last year’s original goal of 50 to 100. I’m currently sitting at 14/100 books read on Jan. 17th, 2021.
My favorite genres are: fairy tale retellings (preferably if they’re set in the Medieval, Victorian or Regency eras), historical adventures, and historical (clean) romance. Extra points if any of those are combined with each other! Some favorite authors (in no particular order): Melanie Dickerson, Sally Britton, Jessica Scarlett, Joanna Barker, Deeanne Gist, Jody Hedlund, Michelle Griep and Karen Odden. Oh, and Jen Turano.
Q: You’ve shared on your website that you don’t have any of your manuscripts ready for query (that truly is a scary word), please share with the readers where you are on your writing journey. Do you have any advice to share with other writers who are struggling?
Answer: In 2018 I finished a novella titled For One Night at the Winter Garden. Back then, I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever written. However, I didn’t know how to write a query letter, a proposal, or even a business email to agents. Not only that, but that manuscript certainly was not the greatest thing ever, or even query-ready. It’s one thing to have confidence. It’s another to be humble enough to listen to what others are telling you.
I shelved that WIP, even though I still love its concept. And, you know what? It was eerily similar to Karen Odden’s, A Dangerous Duet and I hadn’t even read hers until a few weeks ago. So I’m really glad to have found her work; learning when to let go and giving yourself grace are both hard lessons. There is nothing new under the sun, they say. But don’t let tropes (even ones you deem overused) intimidate you.
These are the things I’m still learning with my writing journey. Even though I lost the drive to write for a good year and a half, I channeled that energy into reading, blogging and highlighting my fellow authors. Don’t ever be afraid to give back.
Q: How did you arrive at your love of writing? Can you remember the first thing you ever wrote? What do you enjoy about the writing life and what is your current project?
Answer: As a child I logged in many hours of learning Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, back when floppy disks were still used. I’d sit at the family computer in the corner cabinet of our dining room, teaching myself how to format, space and write a document.
The first thing I ever wrote? It was probably Star Trek related. I inserted myself into so many stories with characters from my favorite franchises. Only later did I learn what that’s called: fan fiction. In college I wrote fan fiction based on the finally-ended show Supernatural, and even wrote a full screen play for credit in a class.
Even though my dad doesn’t see writing as a viable, sustainable career (something he’s made a point of telling me), I finally decided to turn my hobby into a goal in 2016; the same year I published my website. I love my dad, but I knew if I didn’t at least try, I’ll never know what could happen. My current project (working title: Under Star and Sea) will attempt to combine several loves: science fiction, fairy tales, and adventure.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your blogs?
Answer: This will be the shortest answer of all I’ve given. It’s simply this: anyone, and I mean anyone, can write. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can start up a blog. In fact, I have several blog posts written to help someone get started if they’ve never blogged or created content before - Why Maintaining a Website is (Totally) Worth the Effort. I also hope the posts help them forget all the noise the world has to offer. For a little while, at least.
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