I am a little late in posting this Sunday’s “Literary Libations”, but it seems that this weekend ended up being filled with libations of other sorts! There was a lot on the social calendar for this weekend, and my Saturday went by in a bit of a blur, without much free time to be had. We planned a 1970′s murder mystery party (smaller than the one I had for my birthday, but whether it was due to the script, the venue, or the combination of people attending, it actually turned out to be more complicated to get 16 people ready to act out a game than it was for a group of 30), and although The Guy I Am Currently Dating did most of the work, murder mysteries are actually extremely complex events. People always cancel at the last minute (we had 4 friends cancel on less than 24 hours notice), and it’s really analogous to putting on a play and having cast members all call in sick.

I try very hard not to get frustrated, as I know this is going to happen at every event, but in the world of theatre, the saying “The show must go on” reigns supreme. I’ve made it through a show with laryngitis (Ricola is a temporary fix), with a few broken toes (sustained in Act 1 when a set piece ran over my foot.), with a fever of 103, with migraines, after sobbing all day because my personal life was a mess. and even when an immediate family member was in the hospital with a life-threatening injury.) I take the same approach to event planning. If I make the commitment, there are just very few instances in which I won’t show up. A few weeks ago, I was screaming and crying and having a horrible fight with my boyfriend at 7:30. By 8, I’d fixed my makeup, put on my social smile, and was hosting a dinner for 15. Even the night my pulse was so high and I was so dizzy I had a hard time standing and walking, I still made it through two or three hours of the planned event before we went to the ER.

I often feel unappreciated, because organizing events means you have to be “The show must go on” person, the person who is there and on time and organized and congenial, no matter what…but everyone else isn’t under the same obligation. People cancel when they’re sick, when they can’t afford to go out, when they don’t feel well, when they’ve had a bad day, when it rains, and when they’re tired. I’m normally a very empathetic person, but I think after years and years of a perspective of “You just have to work it out, no matter how you feel.”, I lack some of the requisite ability to understand why people cancel at the last minute. It’s just that that’s never been an option for me. Even when I was very, very ill for nearly a year, I still forced myself to plan events. It bummed me out that I couldn’t always stay out late, or drink with my friends, or go to the club or a concert…but I felt like if I didn’t hold on to the important things in my life, I really would lose everything. I felt as if, even if I were very ill and wondered if I might die, I still wanted to be remembered as the kind of person that did things to make other people happy. However frivolous, perhaps entertaining people is just my little way of trying to make my immediate world a better place. I am sometimes sad, because I wonder if anyone sees that, or thinks about it at all. I think most people just think “Alayna doesn’t really like to sit still.”

If I ever cancel anything on less than a few days’ notice, you know something really bad has happened. It’s hard for me to forget that things that, for me, require a lot of time and work and energy, are optional fun activities for everyone else. I definitely feel for professional party promoters and event planners, because getting everything in order and then counting on people to show up is a really tall feat. In the end, it almost always works out…but, I mean, people “no-show” and cancel the day of for seated wedding receptions. I’m pretty sure I would have a nervous breakdown. *laughs*

In any case, after last night’s event and some well-deserved drinks after everyone was gone (The Guy I Am Currently Dating made us leave early, which for me, is 2 AM. :P ), I managed to come home, get some sleep, and then get up to attend his Meetup. I am a firm believer in karma, because a friend we don’t see very often had forgotten to bring cash for food. I suggested to The Guy I Am Currently Dating that we lend him a few bucks for lunch, especially because he’s a young kid whose life has been in major upheaval this year, and I really feel for him. After we told him not to worry about the situation, we’d cover him, it happens…we met a bunch of lovely new people, and some of them decided to buy lunch for the entire group of people who were still in attendance at the end of the event. They didn’t tell anyone. When people went to pay the bill, the waitress just mentioned someone else had already taken care of the tab. I thought that was so incredibly awesome. It’s actually pretty rare when you see someone practice a random act of kindness for someone who isn’t a good friend, and it kind of restored my faith in the potential for people to really be genuinely nice towards one another.

However, none of this has anything to do with this week’s guest interview, except to explain why I am so late! :) I’ve certainly not forgotten, because I’m thrilled to have author Leigh Boyer as my guest on “Literary Libations” today. Leigh (which is a pen name, as the author has chosen to make the protagonist of her novel the actual author of the novel, allowing her to take on a life of her own.) is an incredibly accomplished woman in a number of different fields, and can definitely hold her own in any conversation. I’ve immensely enjoyed getting to know her via e-mail over the past few weeks, and her novel,
“From Wall Street With Love”
is well-written, engaging, and entertaining.



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I asked Leigh to chat a bit about being an author who not only is quite knowledgeable in the field of finance and economics, but a highly-educated, well-traveled Francophile with a penchant for James Bond. I have no doubt that after reading her interview, you’ll have found a new book to rush out and read.

1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

I grew up in the heartland of this great country but now I live in the most powerful city in the world. I am currently writing the continuation of Leigh’s adventures.

2)
Unlike some of the other writers I’ve profiled, I’ve actually been privileged to read your latest work, “From Wall Street With Love”. I found it to be unique, even in assigning it a genre. I’d describe it as part Wall Street expose, part James Bond, part Suze Orman, and part Carrie Bradshaw. What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?

This book is a unique retelling of the life inside one of the “too big to fail” banks during the height of the financial crisis (2008- 2009). Other books have discussed this time period in an academic or analytical way, which quite frankly goes over the heads of most people…myself included. I wanted to write about the emotions, the mood, the craziness, and the real-life experiences of someone going through this period of upheaval.

3) Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being. Do you find there’s a certain level of risk in publishing a book where the title character is, essentially, modeled on your own life experiences? What type of feedback have you received about the book, especially from those who know you in real life?

I wanted to blend real-life experience with fun, inventive, fictional plot lines. So, my friends and former colleagues, not knowing what was real and what wasn’t… have often responded by saying, “Wow- does your husband know about your affair?” I then laugh and explain that that part never happened. They are usually very relieved. So, I take it as a good sign that all the experiences were rather believable… seen through the eyes of those who knew me during that period of my life.

4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

My past books, written in my real name (which will stay a mystery), were non-fiction. All three were published by traditional publishers. When it came time to find a publisher for this book, my literary agent was not interested in “chick-lit” and the process of finding another agent was one that I remembered to be very labor intensive. So, I decided to self-publish instead. I was actually totally impressed by the services provided. I highly recommend the experience. Before, I had no control over the book cover for example but this time around, I could control all aspects of the process.

5) Leigh is an interesting, dynamic, and compelling character. In which ways is she a pretty accurate portrayal of who you are as a person, and in which is she an exaggeration or simply a character? Did you find that your understanding of her as a character changed or grew as you moved further into the writing process?

Leigh is my alter-ego. She and I totally share the Midwestern vs. cosmopolitan issues. Her life however is MUCH more exciting than mine. I covet it!

6) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? What most made you want to get out there and share this story with the world, and what do you hope others take away from it? Do you feel you have another book waiting to be written?

I am inspired by real-life events that are stranger than fiction. I have regaled my friends and family with my life stories… and I wanted to expand the circle. I think that anyone who has an interest in knowing what it is like to work on Wall Street would want to read this novel.

7) You’re a highly-educated, driven, and successful woman in a career path that’s largely male-dominated. Do you think that our society is making it easier for ambitious and talented women to succeed, even in fields that once were considered “the old boys’ club”? What has been the biggest obstacle that you, as a woman, have encountered on the road to success?

Actually the “old boys’ club” has been quite supportive. I have found the biggest obstacles have been put up by other women. I don’t understand why more women don’t support other women. Give me a room of men anytime.

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favorite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

I love all kinds of “chick lit” books. They are my guilty pleasure… like The Nanny Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and the Bridget Jones series. But, a book I am reading now that I can’t put down is Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. Every page shocks me in some way.

9) What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer? For what would you most liked to be remembered?

I would love to be successful in melding a “guilty pleasure” book with a serious subject matter: to be able to inform while entertaining. If I am successful in doing that, I will have accomplished my goal.

10) There are still a great number of younger Americans, even those who are ambitious and focused on being successful and self-sufficient, who do not really understand the role personal finance plays in creating a secure future. Obviously, this is an issue that goes beyond being able to balance a monthly budget and pay bills on time. What is the most important advice you have to give to the 21-40 year-olds out there about creating economic stability during one of the most substantial financial low points Americans have seen in decades?

I think the biggest lesson this recession has taught us is to be prepared for the worst. The sense of permanency that our parents had is gone. No longer do most people work for the same company for their lifetimes. Workers are disposable and so are the companies that employ them. With that said, we need to reduce our debt burden and make sure our emergency savings account is adequately funded because we live in an era of instability and uncertainty.

11) Do you enjoy other types of media and artistic creation, such as television, magazines, movies, music, fashion, social media, etc.? What are some of your favorite things?

Take a look at my Pinterest site – you can see for yourself. 

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

I’m a Libra. I like things in balance and prefer to avoid conflict.

13) What’s the most memorable thing (either positive or negative) anyone has ever said to you regarding your work? If you had one piece of advice for young, aspiring writers, what would that be?

A colleague said this after reading the book, “You have a gift. I know that writing is hard, and not lucrative. I hope you are inspired to write more.” I think her comments are right on. Writers need to write because they love it. If they are doing it just for the money, they may be disappointed. But, if they truly love it and are doing it for that reason – the compensation will come – sometimes in the form of money, sometimes in other ways that are more rewarding. Another thing I would strongly recommend to a new and/or young writer is to ask for help. In my case I hired my former editor from my last non-fiction book. I knew I needed help in writing fiction, since the format and writing is so different. She was brutal in her criticism but so valuable to the final product. I couldn’t have produced this novel without her.

14) When it comes to teaching today’s young women the value of both personal and financial independence, what is the most important thing you’d like for our generation to keep in mind? Other than yours, what books would you recommend to the average 25-year-old woman who wants to take control of her financial life?

With financial independence, you have more control. People who find themselves dependent on others for their financial support are at the mercy of their financial patrons. If you desire to control your own destiny, financial independence is critical. Read “Please Send Money: A Financial Survival Guide for Young Adults on Their Own.” This book teaches young adults the most important money lessons they need to know.

15) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.

Oh, I’d be delighted if they did that! Anyone can purchase a paperback copy or download a Kindle version from Amazon here. But, if your readers have gotten this far – they should have a little extra treat – here’s a 50% off discount code if they purchase the paperback through CreateSpace (the Amazon-affiliated publishing format I used): Code “WSTF5282” This code is good through the end of June. Hopefully, they will want to add “From Wall Street With Love” to their summer reading lists. I’m still pretty new to the social media thing, but I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool… Here’s where you can find me online and I welcome any and all comments, friends, fans, etc:


* Website: http://bit.ly/leighboyer

* Goodreads: http://bit.ly/13XwTB0

* Facebook (me): http://on.fb.me/UVn8hB

* Facebook (the Book): http://on.fb.me/YU2CBq

* Pinterest: http://bit.ly/Y8f6zh

* Twitter: @boyerleigh

* Twitter Hashtag: #WallStLove



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Leigh Boyer is an accomplished professional with experience in the financial services domain. She is currently Asia Pacific editor for Entrepreneur Today—a magazine dedicated to helping new entrepreneurs make their dreams become reality. She is former Director Of Metropolis Financial’s Office of Corporate Citizenship and oversaw a global commitment to fund financial education projects. Prior to that, she was accepted into the highly competitive internship program with McLean Investments in New York City. She is the author of a critically acclaimed personal finance book, The Metropolis Money Guide.

Ms.Boyer received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Stanford University and her Master’s in International Finance from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. She currently resides in Hong Kong.

A few weeks ago, a writer by the name of Troy Jackson was kind enough to run an interview with me on his blog, and I got a lot of positive feedback from said appearance. Since it’s really not that difficult to get me to like you—all you have to do is give the impression that you like me and think I’m fabulous in some way—I promised to return the favour and have Troy over here as a guest on Jaded Elegance.



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Yes, yes, I do interview male authors once in a while. ;P In fact, Troy’s writing couldn’t be more out of the realm of what I typically write and/or read, being that he’s a sci-fi lover who writes supernatural fiction with a historical element. However, with all the friends I know from different geek-related events, and DragonCon, I’m certain that more than a few people I know will find his work far more compelling than the stuff I usually write about.

Ironically, I’m posting this interview quite early because tomorrow I’ll be accompanying The Guy I Am Currently Dating to the Atlanta Browncoats gathering (a monthly brunch meeting for people who have a love of the show “Firefly” and generally all things sci-fi. Nobody there will ever talk to me about a single show I watch on a regular basis. *laughs* :P ) So, once again, Universe, you have perfect timing.

In addition to his proud geek status, outstanding writing abilities, and interesting personality, one of the things you have to find endearing about Troy Jackson is his snarky sense of humour. Well, if you’re me, you have to find it endearing. I’d like to think if you’re reading this, we share the same level of respect for snarky humour.

That being said, I present this week’s willing victim for this lovely little feature. By the time you read this, I’ll likely be half-awake and having a Bloody Mary. For maximum enjoyment, may I suggest you do the same?


1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?

Troy Jackson — aspiring author and father. I was born in Grand Rapids, MI, but moved to the Atlanta, GA area when I was 3. I have lived there ever since.

I began writing when I was very young, but “professionally” I’d say the last couple of years. I am currently working on my second novel of The Elementals series.

2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What genre do you write, and who do you consider your ideal reader? What is it about your writing that makes it stand out from the pack?

My debut novel, The Elementals, was released in October of 2012. In a nutshell it is a fictional tale that uses actual historical events that occurred in ancient China some 2200 years ago. I simply add my own supernatural twist to a time period that very few know about. If action, fantasy, supernatural, historical fiction, or historical fantasy is your thing, than this might be for you! Many of my novels in the future will likely fall into similar categories. The ideal reader I would say is, of course, one who enjoys that sort of sub-genres, but it is also meant for ages 13+. There is nothing gratuitous in it, but some of the actions scenes can be a little…descriptive?

As for what makes my writing stand out from the pack… I have always enjoyed history, but found it rather dull as far as how it is written. So I felt it could use a little… spicing up! Even after I finish this trilogy (yes, I plan on there being three books in this series), I’ll be doing similar things in the future.

 

3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.

History. Soothing music. Powerful movies and TV series. Gripping novels.

The Elementals was born out of a single scene that would replay in my head over and over and over again a few years back. It ends up being the very first chapter in the book. From there I tied it to a historical figure that I learned about back in a college history class, and built the story around him. The First Emperor of China is little-known in the United States, but he is truly a fascinating figure.

4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?

Being new to the industry I knew that it was a major uphill battle to try and find a traditional/trade publisher. But I tried for about 8 months. Being an impatient person I did not want to wait any longer, so after rejection letter #20 I decided to go the self-publishing route.

The benefits of going the self-publishing route would certainly include the ease of it all. The company I went with, Virtual Bookworm, was very responsive, answering my many amateurish questions with a smile. They also put everything together for me and I had to do very little during the process. When I finally got a hardcover and paperback copy of my novel in my hands I was impressed. The quality was something that I was a little worried about, but they did a superb, professional job. I would be proud to have it sitting next to others in a Barnes and Noble bookstore somewhere in the world.

The drawbacks would be what most authors run across when they go this route. First, it is money out of your pocket. Money you may never see again, because it is such a difficult market to get your foot into. People don’t realize that VERY few authors ever really “hit the big time” and make a decent living out of writing. I decided to do it right from the very beginning and I hired my own graphic artist to create the book cover, which I am very happy with, and have numerous compliments on. But that is not cheap, either. Also, and it is an absolute must I believe, but I hired an editor and she did her best to tear it up to help build my novel into a readable story. That is also not cheap. Outside of that, as far as the publisher I chose is concerned, I think the only complaint I would have is that they did very little marketing for me. I have had to do about 98% of the marketing, and that is not something I am accustomed to. But I am learning!

One other thing I thought of is the stigma attached to a self-published novel. Because ANYONE can self-publish a novel, there has been a glutton of terrible novels out there over the years, and given some of the good, legitimate self-published authors a bad rap. It’s a huge hurdle that I am having to overcome, but I am confident I will!

5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?

Troy Jackson — in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe

Sorry, that’s my corny attempt at humor. Hey, my four-year-old finds me funny….sometimes!

No, as I mentioned before I would say I began to “professionally” write a couple of years ago. After reading and doing a great deal of research on how the whole process goes, what sort of pitfalls to avoid, etc. I put together a vision of exactly what I was going to do, from start to finish. And it ended up happening almost exactly how I envisioned it. And yes, The Elementals is my first publication.

6) What do you consider to be the most challenging part of the creative process?

The most challenging thing would be finding the time and not getting so easily distracted. I laugh at myself often, saying that I have “writer’s ADD”. I might begin writing, and then my wife, my dogs, my daughter, something on TV, some dorky computer game, or many other things distract me.

7) What is the part of the process that comes the most naturally to you?

The actual writing. Or I should say the first draft. I picture the scene playing in my head like a movie scene, and then begin to write it. I can fill in the blanks later if I need more description.

8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?

Robert Jordan, author of the greatest fantasy series of all-time (in my humble opinion), The Wheel of Time. Unfortunately, Mr. Jordan passed away in 2007 and we will never again hear further tales.

9) All writers face rejection at some point. What is your most memorable (either in terms of a painful lesson or funny anecdote) experience that came about through rejection? What did you take away from that experience?

Nearly all rejection letters that I received (and what I read from other authors out there that got similar replies) were form letters. “Thank you for submitting your novel, Mr. Jackson, blah blah blah, but it was not for me.” Or perhaps “I could not do it justice.” Unlike some authors, I don’t get mad. I learn from it. I understand that agents and publishers receive THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of queries every year, and they have very little time to grab what they feel is the cream of the crop. Besides, an agent has to be very careful, because it is their neck on the line, their reputation on the line, when they peddle an author’s work to a publisher. So you really have to stand out and have something very marketable. Even the best authors out there will tell you they were rejected dozens, if not hundreds of times before they ever found someone to take them on.

10) If there were one thing you’d like to improve about your life or your writing at this point in time, what would it be? Ultimately, where do you see yourself with your writing further down the line?

Quit being so distracted. In the near future, the next couple of years I plan on completing The Elementals trilogy. After that, I have a dozen other ideas for novels that I would like to put pen to paper on.


11) You maintain a blog where, among other things, you interview other authors about their creative experiences. What have you learned through doing this? Has getting to know other authors and listening to their stories helped you improve as a writer, or feel more inspired?

My blog is housed on my main website at: http://www.tempestworks.com. I have seen other authors and bloggers interview authors and other members of the industry, and I thought it would be a fantastic way to meet others with similar aspirations. Learning from others’ experiences, I feel, is a great way to improve my own writing.

12) What’s your Zodiac sign?

Virgo

13) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.


Website/blog

Goodreads

The Elementals on AMAZON

The Elementals on Barnes and Noble

Facebook

Twitter

Thank you for having me!



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I’d like to thank my fabulous guest, Troy Jackson, for stopping by to chat about all things literary, and his well-reviewed publication. He really is a wonderful indication of the positive direction in which the indie publishing scene is headed, one focused on more imaginative and higher quality works, rather than the desire to sell poorly edited 99 cent Kindle books. It has been a pleasure to speak with someone intelligent and insightful, and I hope many of you–especially those who love sci-fi and fantasy– will take the time to read his work. Also, do take the time to explore Troy’s blog, as both the aesthetic appeal and content are certain to draw you in.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all next Sunday, where we’ll have a change of pace, and our guest author will be composing a post especially for this segment rather than doing a traditional interview.

Are you an author or other creative being who’d like to be featured on my Sunday Literary Libations corner in some fashion? Don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail at ladyguenevere@gmail.com