I'm outta here…

“Most of us are too scared to make ourselves stand out.” -Deb Pang Davis a.k.a. Cococello on Twitter earlier tonight (quoting Laura Roeder)

My response was “I think terrified is a better descriptor.” I know. I am. So very.

Perhaps it is the inherent photojournalist in me, to blend, be an observer, inobtrusive. The problem is this other project I have been working on really requires that I scream from the rooftops and demand attention.

SO today I am coming out: full reveal, all hands on deck, all cards on the table, lifting the kilt, so to speak. I used to say I didn’t want to share the details of my project because I didn’t want anyone to steal my idea. The reality is I didn’t want anyone to laugh at it. I have been a photographer all my life. But for as long as I can remember I have also been a daydreamer. Long detailed stories that would take hours to think up and days to finish. Complete with twists, turns and a full cast of characters. I have always wanted to write novels, but my fingers could not keep up with my mind, no matter how hard I tried.

Until now.

I like to thank my Auberry because when she was little I couldn’t put her down. Stuck at home holding her for reasons we won’t get into, my only contact with the world was through parenting chat rooms and email. I can still type one-handed just about as fast as I can with two. Then came Facebook chats, yahoo messenger and the like. Speedy typing was essential. A couple years ago, my daughters were sucked into the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, and I was dragged along (go team Edward!), but they left me wanting which brought me to a web search and finally Teresa Mederios vampire series.

I had never read a romance novel. Ever. I thought the covers (old-school muscle-bound graspers and weak women gaspers) were silly and the content must be representative of that. I WAS WRONG— I liked that book. I took my newly acquired Sony reader and downloaded all the romance the Denver Public Library would allow (20 books at a time, as it turns out). Back then the only romance they really had was Lisa Kleypas and Teresa Medeiros. It just so happens that these two writers are quite the historical romance mavens, and their novels were such an amazing inspiration if only to know that I wasn’t doing something completely outlandish or ridiculous. (Do books DO this?) I mean I grew up on a stiff dose of Stephen King‘s terror and Anne Rice’s vampires. That’s really about it, and while their novels tend to all have themes of romance and relationships in them, they are not romance novels. I was hooked on the genre, and beyond that, the novels gave me the itch to tell my own stories.

Then in March 2009, I had a dream. That dream was so vivid I remember it still, as well as the words I could hear above it, “She ran as though the hounds of hell were on her.” I sat in the chair my mom bought me a decade ago, with my trusty Macbook Pro, turned on some of my favorite dramatic music and typed that line, then another, and another and one line at a time I wrote a romance.

Then in May— actually I have the exact moment:

It was done.

A romance has a definitive algorithm. It’s simple really; two main characters one male, one female— well, there are other scenarios, but I speak of the most basic— a boy and a girl. There’s the possibility of drama, comedy, tragedy, some sort of difficulty and multiple obstacles to overcome but in the end the guy gets the lady. Always. Any other scenario and we aren’t talking romance. It’s probably what draws so many to the genre, and don’t kid yourself about that either— romances are popular. They make you feel good on the last page, and you know they will. No matter what happens in the middle you get your happily ever after.

But I digress, probably me trying to convince you to stop snarking at me. Regardless, what I wrote is a novel in the romance genre. Boy gets girl. (and boy howdy does he!) I told many people I was writing a book, everyone on Facebook and twitter knew I was writing a book. I could not manage to tell people what kind of book I was writing. SO. There it is, I’m out of the romance closet.

On to part two; I’m a photographer. Once the novel was complete and in the hands of my editors I realized someone was going to make some cheesy Fabio-era windswept sigh of a cover for it. gag. I decided if anyone was going to make that cover, it was going to be me. I wrote the damn thing after all. It’s mine (control freak). Seemed logical. So I started the casting process last October, and since then the project has grown from being the cover of the novel, to being fully illustrated. Because, after all, I need a hook. I need a way to get people to choose my book, and if I want to be successful with new media (I am a journalist after all, and watched the demise of the Rocky that year) I need to fully embrace it.

The iPad was released earlier this year, there are books that integrate video, called vooks (I dunno if I’m keen on this idea) so why not an illustrated novel, after all there was a time when many novels included illustrations. We have the means to produce a fully illustrated book at no major printing expense, why not do it. Since then I have completed six major studio shoots to illustrate the novel, and have (hopefully) one final shoot before it’s finished. The novel has actually morphed into a serial, six smaller books that tell the story of two brothers, and their future wives (because the boy ALWAYS gets the girl in a romance, remember).

I have placed the images with the text in inDesign, ready to export to a final ePub novel, then sell on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online eBook stores as well as an iTunes app. So there it is. I wrote a romance novel. I’ve been shooting the illustrations for this novel for the past year, as well as editing and placing them, while designing the overall appearance.

There, it’s out. All because I happened to be paying attention to Tweetdeck when the über fabulous @Cococello tweeted a rather simple little blurb about fear.

My heroine, Francine, is fearless. So I am including an image of her portrayed by my dear friend.


©2010 Jenn LeBlanc all rights reserved

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc all rights reserved


It’s time to start screaming.

If you are interested in more about the Novel <click.

7 Responses to “I'm outta here…”
  1. OMG!!! Jenn!

    First, I can’t take credit for that tweet 🙂 I was in the middle of a preview for a course and the woman who deserves credit is Laura Roeder. She is awesome and in my haste, I forgot to attribute that piece of wisdom to her. (My apologies Laura!).

    But the message resonated with me and that’s the beauty of twitter, isn’t it? Yes!

    I LOVE that you write a romance novel. I LOVE that you are making pictures for it and you have all these plans to distribute and … you are planning for success. That is huge.

    I’m thrilled for you and can’t wait to see it.

    Big fearless hugs.

    • Jenn says:

      oo! I’ll add credit to her. Without you I wouldn’t have seen it though, so you still get credit for moving me to action. Thank you for the wonderful words. So very much appreciated. 🙂 J

  2. Cora says:

    ❤ I love that you have branched out. You do beautiful work in every aspect of your life.

  3. E says:

    I could fill this box with my awe and amazement over your determination, drive and tenacity (all of which are thankfully contagious). But I won’t. I’ll just say: I couldn’t be more proud of you!

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