Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thanks for dropping by

Many thanks to those of you who stopped by the Harlequin Open House yesterday. And especially, the Harlequin American authors' chat last night. If I missed you during the chat, I'm sorry. Things were flying across the screen, weren't they? But it was so much fun that I can't wait to do it again!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harlequin Open House this Wednesday

Harlequin is hosting an Open House—with prizes and give-aways—Wednesday, December 15th. Details for this all-day event are at, but I wanted to let you know about my part in this wonderful party. I’ll be joining a couple of other Harlequin American Romance authors in the chat room from 7-8 pm EST Wednesday. I hope you can join me there. This is my first on-line chat, and I'm so excited that I've been invited to the party! Won't you join me there, too? I'd love to see some familiar names!

Accessing the chat room is as easy as, well, pie! Just get onto the internet and type in the browser line. A log-in sheet will appear momentarily and you’ll be asked to Log in. Type whatever name you want to be “known by” in the chat room. It’d be nice if you made it something I could recognize so I can give you a shout-out. Though the screen asks for a password, there’s no password necessary. Yay!

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be placed in a Waiting Room. From there, use the pull down menu (click on the Waiting Room bar at the top of the page and other chat rooms will appear), to select the chat room you want to visit. Hopefully, there will be one that says “Harlequin American Romance”. Look at the bottom of the screen. That’s where you’ll type your comments/ask questions/etc.

So, come on over to the Harlequin party! See you there!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Awesome Corn Pudding Recipe

I treasure my grandmother's recipes. She was born, raised, and lived most of her life on a farm in southern Alabama. Though I try very hard to follow her recipes, my results always fall short of hers. I think it has to do with the eggs she gathered from nests that morning, or the unpasturized, un-whatevered, milk and butter that came from a cow she milked herself.

But one recipe I have had success with came, not from my grandmother, but from my husband's great aunt. She used to fix this Corn Pudding dish every time we visited. Preparing it yesterday for my local RWA chapter's holiday party brought back so many good memories.

Oh, and the pudding? Several at the party--including the fabulous Roxanne St. Claire and the amazing Kristen Painter--said it was to-die-for. Enjoy!

Awesome Corn Pudding a la Leigh Duncan

1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
3 tbs. flour
1/2 cup sugar (or less, if you like)
2 cups milk (I use 1 can evaporated and add enough reduced fat milk to make the 2 cups)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups creamed corn (I buy a frozen "roll" of creamed corn and defrost it)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Melt butter in 9" square pan or oven-safe casserole.

Whisk eggs in large bowl. Whisk in flour, sugar, milk and salt until smooth.

Stir in corn. Immediately pour into prepared pan.

Bake 45 min. - 1 hour, until pudding is firm or doesn't slosh when the pan is gently shaken.

If the top starts looking too brown, tent aluminum foil over the casserole until it finishes baking. Do not let the aluminum rest on the pudding or it will rip off the beautiful crust.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Flash Mob at the Mall

According to Wikepedia, a flash mob occurs when a rather large group of people gather in a public place—like a mall or a stadium—where they put on an unexpected performance…and then disperse. Of course, it’d be pointless without someone there to record the event and post it on YouTube.

In this case, I’m so glad they did:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Busted Rodeo

Well, phooey! Hubby and I didn't get to the rodeo afterall. The entrance fee was an almost-reasonable $12, but...according to Friday's paper, admission also required $12 to get into the fair taking place on the same grounds and $5 per person for parking. Yikes! That's a lot of moo-la to put out for a small rodeo.

Not to dispair, though. I've checked the calendar, and there are a surprising number of rodeos in the sunshine state. Arcadia, Orlando and the Silver Spurs in Kissimmee (don't ya just love the names of Florida towns?) are all in our future. We'll mosey on over to a couple of them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Writin' and Ropin'

I'm back to work on Rodeo Daughter and falling more in love with these characters with every word. And what's not to love? She's a Family Law specialist who once won a gold buckle on the rodeo circuit. He's a driven prosecuting attorney whose ex-wife sues for custody of their little girl. Any guesses on who the ex- hires as her attorney? Today, I'll introduce the four-year-old who can go from sweetheart to brat on a whim...and fun ensues!

Tomorrow night, hubby and I are pulling on our own boots and spurs and heading out because the rodeo is in town. Pictures to follow!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

This week was a great week for breathing in and breathing out.

On Thursday, my good friend Kristen Painter and I jumped in the car and took a little ride across the state for the Novelists, Inc. (or NINC) conference in St. Petersburg. There, the focus was on breathing in—or taking in—information about the explosive growth in electronic publishing and what that means to the average writer. From every side we heard that change is coming and traditional print publishers are struggling to adapt to a digital marketplace. Industry professionals listed areas where publishers needed to make changes: Make books available in both print and e-formats; release back lists in e-formats; train authors to use social media tools, like Facebook and Twitter. I have to admit, as a Harlequin author I felt some warm fuzzies when Donna Hayes, CEO of Harlequin Enterprises, repeatedly said, “We already do that.” Check, check and double-check.

On Saturday, it was time to breathe out—this time sharing the story of my road to publication at the monthly meeting of First Coast Romance Writers in Jacksonville, FL. Let’s face it, selling a manuscript to a major publisher can be a daunting task. According to the statistics, less than one in a thousand writers makes the leap from “aspiring” to “published” author. We all get discouraged along the way, but why can’t you be the one who makes it? I did, and if my story inspires just one promising author to stick with it, then a three-hundred mile car trip is worth the effort. From what I heard and saw at FCRW this weekend, quite a few of their members are ready to make that leap.

By the way, FCRW’s annual contest, Beacon, is short on entries and has extended its deadline until Friday, October 15th. For more information on this all-electronic contest, go to:
Contests are a great place to test your work, and finaling in one is a short-cut to getting your work before an acquiring editor or agent. Or in the Beacon’s case, both.

Monday, October 4, 2010

If You Thing POV is an Economy Car...

So, I was talking with a couple of my writing pals about the mistakes we made as beginning writers, and I came up with this list of things every romance writer needs to know. Take a moment. Enjoy a laugh.

- If someone says “head hopping” and you think “rabbits,” you’re not ready to publish.

- If you think POV is a new kind of economy car, you’re not ready to publish.

- If your manuscript includes the phrases “swashbuckling hero” or “ripped bodice,” you’re out of touch with today's market.

- If you think goal and motivation are the same thing, you could use a workshop or two. By the same token, if you’ve never heard of Deb Dixon, you’re not ready to publish.

- If someone says your story needs GMC and you go looking for car dealerships, you’re not ready to publish.

- If you think a black moment has something to do with the stock exchange, you’re not ready to publish.

- If you think conflict is an argument, you’re not ready to publish.

- If you’re writing romantic suspense and don’t have a villian, you’re not ready to publish.

- If the hero of your series contemporary doesn’t appear before the third chapter, you’re not ready to publish.

- If you think HEA is a sexually transmitted disease, you’re not ready to publish.

- If your hero and heroine fall in love at first glance and lovingly hold hands right through their happily-ever-after moment, you need to join RWA and educate yourself on romance in today’s marketplace.

- If you chose to write romance because you thought it was easy, you’re not ready to publish.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Leigh's Best Moments of the 2010 RWA Conference

That's fellow Harlequin American author Laura Bradford and Yours Truly on the big screen at the amazing Harlequin party Friday evening. And below are some of my fav moments from the 2010 RWA Conference.

Biggest thrill - Debbie Macomber stopped in hall to speak with me… And she knew my name!

Best news - My editor, Laura Barth, wants to see more of my new proposal and thinks the story is on the right track. Yay!

Best Business News - Sales of romance books are up 7% and publishers are buying! E-books are bringing romance to wider markets.

Best Moment – As the RITA finalists were announced, I turned just in time to see Barbara O’Neal grab Christopher Robin’s hand. So touchingly sweet. Such a well-deserved win!

Best Banquet – The first, of course. Lunch-time Thursday, the meal included herb-crusted chicken with baby patty pan squash. (The same chicken with a different sauce was slightly less wonderful on Friday, and definitely not so wonderful on Saturday night. LOL)

Best coffee - The first cup I poured myself on Monday home.

Best new friends - Met with several Harlequin American Romance authors who, like me, have just a couple of books under their belts. C.C. Coburn, Megan Long, Laura Bradford, Dominique Burton and Barbara. I am so proud to be among this group of fabulous writers.

Best and Most Nerve-wracking Moment - Meeting my editor, Laura Barth, in person for the first time. I shouldn't have worried. She's even more encouraging and receptive in person than she is on the phone and in her emails.

Best Vicarious Moments - Hearing all about the VIP treatment the Dolphin GM lavished on good friends Roxanne St. Claire, Kristen Painter, Lara Santiago, Kresley Cole and Louisa Edwards. Oh, to be a few years younger and blonde! There’s not much I can do about the years, but there’s a bottle of Clairol Golden Ash in my future. See you in New York, girls!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Cody's: First Family of Rodeo

Mosey on over to the Harlequin Authors blog and check out the great new mini-series, The Cody's: First Family of Rodeo. For all ya'll cowboy fans, this month's release is Dexter: Honorable Cowboy

Go to:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Harlequin Authors' Blog

I'm talking about Florida's theme park attractions on the Harlequin Authors' blog. Stop by at:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day! My thanks go out to all who have given so much to keep our country safe. My prayers, for all who do the same today.

If you have a free moment today, stop by the Harlequin American Romance blog and read my post about the end of a (television) series at:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recipe for a First Sale

Today, I'm sharing my sure-fire recipe for publication at the Women's Fiction chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Drop by their blog at As always, I'd love to hear what you think about my recipe and how it compares to your own.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why Do We Write?

Why do we write? Whether you write or read romance, hop on over to Riding with the Top Down ( and see what authors say about the motivation behind their writing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Woo Hoo! The Officer's Girl is #1 among Series Romances on

Bestsellers in Harlequin American Romance
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1. The Officer's Girl (Harlequin American Romance Series) by Leigh Duncan
(1 customer review) | 1 customer discussion
In Stock
Price: $4.99

13 used & new from $3.74

Dear Friends, Family, and Fans,

There were times when I thought this day would never get here, but persistence, hard work—and a lot of luck—have paid off. The Officer’s Girl is officially in stores and available for order on-line today! I’m practically giddy at the concept of walking into a book store and seeing my book on the shelves.

It seems a few of the book stores were so eager to have my book on their shelves that they filled the Harlequin displays with copies of The Officer’s Girl a few days before the official release day. Which is why I can share this photo taken Sunday at the Barnes & Noble in Melbourne, Fl. Do you recognize the beaming face of a new author?

Over the next six weeks, I’ll be holding several book signings, beginning with one this Friday in Boonsboro, MD where I’ll be joining Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Roxanne St. Claire, Ruth Langan/RC Ryan, Gail Barrett, Ellen Dugan, Susan Donovan, Lavinia Kent, Michelle Monkou, and Christine Trent at the Turn the Page Bookstore & CafĂ©. To see a complete list of book signings and appearances, visit the News Page on my website at

For all of you who’ve hung in there and kept the faith for me, thank you! I hope you enjoy The Officer’s Girl. Drop me a line at to let me know what you think of it.

Reviewers love Harlequin American Romance The Officer’s Girl by Leigh Duncan:

Gives “beach read” a whole new meaning (in a good way).
Romance B(uy) the Book

A heartwarming novel…very believable characters…secondary characters (are) brilliant.
CK’S Kwips and Kritiques

A strong story from its stormy beginning to its happy ending.
Coffee Time Romance & More

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Whooo-eee! The Officer's Girl hits the book shelves in 5 days! In honor of this momentous occasion, I'm talking about what it takes to write a book (hint: It Takes A Village) over at Everybody Needs a Little Romance ( Drop by and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Officer's Girl.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hey, Everyone! Sorry I haven’t had much to say the last couple of months. I’ve been pouring all my efforts, and most of my words, into my 2nd book for Harlequin American, Catch of a Lifetime. My editor would really like to have it on her desk April 15th, so I’ve been working, working, working to get it finished. The good news is, I’m almost done. Yippee!

The other fabulous news is that my debut book, The Officer’s Girl, will be available in less than two weeks! April 13th is “release day” for this lighthearted romance, and I’ve been thrilled by what the reviewers have had to say about the book.

Becke Davis of Romance B(uy) The Book made The Officer’s Girl a featured review and said it “gives the term ‘beach read’ a whole new meaning” (in a good way, of course!).

Coffee Time Romance says, “Leigh Duncan creates a strong story from its stormy beginning to its happy ending. The setting is a fabulous choice and the description so realistic that I could almost smell the s’mores at the (hurricane) shelter. I loved that the storyline revolved around two strong-minded characters.”

Kwips and Kritiques gave The Officer’s Girl a rave review saying it “is a heartwarming novel (which) gives us a glimpse into the lives of very believable characters who are trying each day to work through the challenges and monkey wrenches that come their way. I really enjoyed the attention to the emotional development of both Brett and Stephanie, as well as the way that each event had consequences that moved the plot in certain directions. The secondary characters of the twin girls was brilliant, allowing us to see a softer side of the two protagonists.

I hope you’ll read The Officer’s Girl and let me know if you agree with the reviewer’s assessment. Check out my website,, for places to buy the book and a list of appearances, starting with April 16th when I’ll join Nora Roberts, Roxanne St. Claire and Charlaine Harris for a book signing at Turn The Page in Boonsboro, MD.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm blogging today on the Harlequin American Authors' site. I'd love it if you stopped by and left a comment:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Author Susan Crandall joins us today to talk about her latest release, SLEEP NO MORE. Sue is the author of ten romantic suspense and women’s fiction novels, and the winner of several writing awards, including the prestigious RITA.

So, Sue, tell me about your book.

SLEEP NO MORE is the story of Abby Whitman, who was a sleepwalker as a child, setting a fire that destroyed the ancestral home and scarred her younger sister for life. Abby's sleepwalking passed with puberty, but the guilt did not. She lives alone, structuring her life to insure that if her sleepwalking reoccurs no one else will be in harm's way.

Now Abby's mother has recently died, her sister is being her usual manipulative self, and her father is showing signs of Alzheimer's. And her sleepwalking has returned.

One night Abby awakens behind the wheel of her van at a fatal accident. Sleepwalking, or more specifically, sleep-driving, is the only explanation she can come up with for her presence at the scene. But it soon becomes clear that there was a third party involved, and that person begins making threats for Abby not to tell what she saw. But Abby has no recollection of the accident. She seeks the help of afamily acquaintance and psychiatrist, Jason Coble to try to figure out what happened at the accident and why someone is threatening her.

Abby's journey toward truth and self-forgiveness uncovers long buried secrets in both her family and her town. Secrets someone will go to any lengths to protect.

That sounds facinating, Sue. I see you’re the author of ten novels. When did you first begin writing?

I didn't actually begin writing until I was in my thirties. My younger sister sort of dragged me into it. She came to me one day with a stack of paper and admitted she'd been writing in secret and wanted me to look over her work. Being the older sister and an avid reader, naturally I had an opinion. We worked on some stories together, then she stopped writing, but I was totally hooked. I could no more stop writing than I could stop reading. The first novel I wrote solo was RITA and National Readers Choice winner, BACK ROADS.

What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

I absolutely love the beginning stages of writing a book. I love the brainstorming, the research, the exploring of possibilities, the laying awake at night pondering "what ifs." It's the stage when everything is possible and you aren't yet hampered with the reality of making all of the parts work.

My least favorite? This may sound contradictory, but it's the blank page, the blinking cursor waiting like a teacher with a tapping foot. It's that stage between all of the daydreaming and actually having something concrete to work with. It's the place where you have to begin to make the real choices that will chart the course of your character's journey. Once I have something started, it's fun to work with it, expand, delve more deeply into my characters.

Sue, this year I sold my first book, The Officer’s Girl, to Harlequin American. And recently, Harlequin bought my second book for a 2011 release. What advice do you have for people like myself, who are just starting out in their writing careers, and for aspiring writers?

Because my son is writing his first novel, this is an easy question; I give the same advice on a weekly basis:

1) Read widely, and read like a writer. When an author has elicited a particular emotion from you as a reader, take the work apart and figure out how he/she achieved it. Study the story construction, the pacing.

2) Continually hone your craft. Learn from workshops, classes, and just chatting with other writers.

3) Learn to trust your writing instincts. We writers are filled with self-doubt, constantly questioning the quality of our work. If you're a writer, there is something special inside you that lead you to it. Don't follow every suggestion made by everyone who has glanced at your work. Carefully evaluate criticism. It's a valuable tool, but it must be weighed.

4) And lastly, put on your armor and send your work out there into the world. No one is going to come knocking on your door and say, "I heard you're writing a book. I'd like to publish it." Yes, you'll probably receive rejections. That's all part of the process.

Now that SLEEP NO MORE is on the book shelves, what is next for you?

I'm focusing on two novels. One is a mainstream women's fiction. The other is a slow-boil psychological suspense. I'm having a great time with both of them!

Good luck with those new books, and I’ll definitely put SLEEP NO MORE on my shopping list. Sue, thanks so much for stopping by. It's been a pleasure talking with you today!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

This is Leigh, raising a cyber toast that 2010 brings happiness and success and all good things to each and everyone of us!

I hope you’ll join me throughout the year as I chat about new books and the authors I’ve discovered—some old friends and some new ones. I look forward to talking about the impact writing has had on my life and I’d love to share with you all the great things that are going on in our lives.

Check back with me on Monday, January 4th for a special interview with Susan Crandall, author of Sleep No More.