by Timothy Pike
“I’m an expert,” says author Leah Lindeman when I ask for a fact few people know about her, “at placing a little bit of everything on one plate without spilling it.” Particularly useful, she says, “when I’m out at a potluck event and there’s loads of food to try.”
This uncommon skill is probably also useful for balancing the many hats she wears on top of her head: one for writer, another for publicity agent (for herself), and the biggest one for both mother and teacher—she’s homeschooling her four small children, who are all under the age of seven. “I always knew I wanted a family at a young age,” Leah tells me. “I had my first daughter at nineteen and the other three followed. I’m now twenty-six.”
Leah, her kids, and her husband live in “middle-of-nowhere Bainsville, Ontario,” placing her about an hour’s drive away from her hometown of Montreal. But it’s a journey she doesn’t mind. “Long drives give me the time I need to formulate characters, plots, and settings for my novels,” she says. “I still go into the city from time to time to creepily observe random strangers for material and inspiration.”
And for even more material and inspiration, she also has, you know, all of Canada.
Just like any young author who’s proud of her country, Leah is currently in the midst of penning a thirteen (yes, thirteen)-part series about her homeland. “I just published my second one in the series so…eleven more to go,” she says, making it sound easy. “Each book in the series is set in a different province or territory of Canada, in a certain historical time period.”
It’s called the Canadian Reminiscence Series, and Leah plans to release one book every two years for the foreseeable future, as well as tour each province. I’ll leave the math up to you, but I have a hunch this is going to keep her busy for a while to come.
“I’m a very determined individual,” Leah tells me. “Once I put my mind to something, it gets done.”
Leah remembers clearly when the desire to write first struck her. “I was on my trampoline in my backyard staring up at the clouds,” she recounts, “when all of a sudden, words began to string themselves together in my head about the scene before me. Then every day, I’d go for walks and write poetry in my head. I’d memorize the lines and write them down in a hurry when I returned home so I wouldn’t forget them.”
Her parents, recognizing her gift, wasted no time in enrolling her in the Institute for Children’s Literature in Connecticut. “I did the coursework for about two and a half years,” she says. “I learned to sharpen each novel and story aspect.”
At that point, it seemed nothing could stop Leah as she charged ahead in pursuit of her newfound passion.
Then one day, as rain drizzled steadily from a gray sky, a letter arrived. The return address set Leah ablaze with excitement: it was from a literary agent she had recently approached about her manuscript. Visions of an imminent publishing deal flashed before her, and the hope she felt in that moment instantly chased away the dreariness outside the window. Heart pounding, she opened the letter.
Dear Ms. Lindeman,
We are sorry, but…
It was a cruel twist of fate, and Leah was crushed. She’d worked so hard. On that cold, bleak day where raindrops trickled from the sky like tears, Leah suddenly wanted nothing more than to quit. To leave her writing dreams behind, walk away, and never look back.
But by refusing to believe what she calls “the lie”—the idea that she wasn’t good enough—she was able to pick up the pieces of her first rejection and press on. “There are so many reasons an agent will reject you,” she says, “and a lot of them don’t have anything to do with your work not being good enough. Even if that was the case, it became my incentive to prove the lie wrong.”
To prove it wrong, she got right to work. “Fear is one word that doesn’t enter my vocabulary too often,” she says, which means that when Leah wants something, she goes out and gets it.
By refusing to believe “the lie”—the idea that she wasn’t good enough—Leah was able to pick up the pieces of her first rejection and press on.
Case in point: she now has two novels and a novella published and on the shelves. Her latest, a historical fiction novel called Wisps of Gold, is a story set in 1871 British Columbia at the tail end of the Cariboo Gold Rush. And according to Leah, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park to write.
Given her penchant for verbosity, you wouldn’t think Leah would ever be at a loss for words. But like many writers, Leah still finds that one of her greatest challenges is figuring out what comes next in a story. “There were lots of days when I sat in front of my laptop, completely blank on what I was going to write,” she admits. “The simple remedy is to just start writing something—anything—even if it’s complete garbage.”
Her words, not mine. “Garbage” is the last word I’d associate with this talented writer, who also happens to be an award winner. Indeed, she took home the Challenge Choice Award in the 10K Novel Writing Challenge for a historical fiction work-in-progress titled, at least for now, Ghost of My Heart. It’s about a woman who “finds a haunting memento from the past that dares question what she believes to be true”—and I dare say, it’s coming along nicely.
As for the books she’s already published, it’s clear that Leah has studied up on how to promote them and expand her author footprint. “I did a bunch of book signings at Chapters—the main bookstore chain in Canada—in three different provinces,” she says. “One of the managers uploaded my book into the nationwide system, so it’s available to buy in print and e-book.”
Leah was even able to pitch several libraries on acquiring her work. “A big part of that is asking to speak to their acquisitions librarian, who can direct you on the process,” she explains, revealing that she even approached a school district. “My first novel, Redeemed From the Ashes, was recently catalogued into the Halifax School Board as an available resource to teachers. This gives an opportunity for me to have my book read by students, and then to visit with these students in their classes.”
Brilliant, without a doubt. But it doesn’t end there. “I’ve been on quite a few radio shows due to Radio Guest List,” she tells me. “It’s a site that showcases different radio shows and what kind of people they’re looking to interview for their segments.”
So what’s next? Television, of course! “I definitely need to do more research on how that world works and the best ways to pitch producers,” Leah says. “It requires research to know what kind of stories they like to cover.”
“I’m a very determined individual,” she continues, further proving that you can’t keep a bold, action-oriented writer like Leah out of the spotlight for long. “Once I put my mind to something, it gets done.”
I believe that. And we’ll check back with her in twenty years or so to see whether her series is almost finished, but in the meantime, you can catch her sweeping across Canada—maybe even on TV—taking the entire country by storm.
And if you like what you read, be sure to give Leah a mention on your blog!
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