Friday, September 29, 2017

October Reading Challenge: Thin Mints

Once again, October is rolling around, and I'm behind on my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. So I thought I'd bring back the "Skinny Books Reading Challenge". I pulled together a nice stash of books that will help put a dent in my "completed" pile. Some were from the library, some I bought, some were sitting dusty on my shelf, and some were recommended by my children. I'll take *almost* anything; variety is the spice of life.

Last October I read 4.75", so this year I decided to bump it up to a solid 5". My reading pile consists of childrens books, classics, humor, writing wisdom, middle grade, and inspirational.

The Thinner The Better

Here's the breakdown:
3.) Tex by S.E. Hinton - Young Adult Classic
5.) Yiddish Wisdom Compiled by Chronicle Books - Humor and Inspiration
9.) Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt - Middle Grade Classic


"Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be." ~ Unknown

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

From Bulgaria with Love: Etsy Shop Open!

A Bulgarian Summer

I spent a wonderful summer abroad with immediate and extended family. We were in Aachen for a week, Paris for a week, and Bulgaria for six. We stayed in Sofia, Bansko, Plovdiv, Sinemorits, Tryavna, and Lovech. There was plenty of inspiration but no quiet time for writing. Instead, I did a little reading and a lot of blackout-poeming.

Home Again - Lake Washington!

42 New Illustrated Blackout Poems!

I came home with forty new blackout poems, leaving two behind in Sofia, Bulgaria. One I gave to our new friend, Stefan, and another I left with my mother-in-law, who likes cats.

Mountain Roads
Listen to my name on those mountain roads.
If I need to go somewhere, I drive.

Before you enlighten me about respect,
Flick the TV back on.

I uploaded several to my Etsy shop, ESPIALdesign, which is now open for business. 50% of the proceeds will go to a charity near and dear to me, the American Heart Association. Buy a blackout poem and support a good cause!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Greetings from Bulgaria!

I've been traveling for over six weeks now in Europe and forgot my password to my blog, so I've been MIA for quite awhile. Luckily my personal IT guy helped me out (thanks, honey!) and I'm here--briefly--to say "Hello!" and "See you soon!"

Otherwise, I'll see you on Instagram (StaciaLeighAuthor) where I've been posting my blackout poems.

Hope everyone is having a great summer! Pictures to follow...sometime soon.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

ETSY Shop Open for Another Week!

New blackout poems have been added to my ESPIALdesign Etsy shop for your shopping pleasure. If you're interested in purchasing, the shop will be open for one more week only, closing on June 26th. That's when I hang out my "Gone Fishin'" sign for the summer. Fear not, though, it will open again in early September. Until then, enjoy!

Challenge for Week 7: Name That Tune
Let Music Inspire You!

Remember Mr. Cool, Mr. Ten Below?
He clutched his palm and turned white.

I'm pleased to announce that I've sold quite a few! 50% of the proceeds go to a good cause, to the American Heart Association. If you're curious about what's selling, I'm currently keeping a running tally here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Weekly Blackout Poetry Challenges

Check out @blackoutpoetrychallenges on Instagram for weekly blackout poetry inspiration! Anyone can participate, and if you do, don't forget to tag #bpchallenges so your work can be found by the group.

Challenge for Week 1: "Home"
No rules. What does home mean to you?

Her house was tugged through the grass to the clay.
She pulled herself, trying not to slip back on the worthless flower pot.

Challenge for Week 2: "Walk the Line"
All the words must touch in a vertical line.

He frowned at her,
Buckled his seat belt,
Patted the steering wheel. 
She loved his truck. did he,
So he bit back the comment that soon,
He'd show her what his truck could really do.
Take the corners like a boss and sling mud.
"Ready?" he asked the truck.

Challenge for Week 3: "The Great Cover Up"
Blackout words using something other than pen, pencil, paint, or ink.

Buzzed on the coffee,
Watching, busy, grinning.
Stop thinking!

Challenge for Week 4: "Rhyme Time"

The perfect shower
Was a long song.

Challenge for Week 5: "Tribe Tribute"
Pick your favorite blackout poet (bees__buzz)
and emulate their style

It's about trust.
You need to step through the fire.

Challenge for Week 6: "Love Is..."
Use the phrase as your inspiration.

She kissed his lips,
And his world crumbled gently,
In the tender moment.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fabulous Five: Blackout Poems

The world wanted to see you.
Even the dirt was covered in goosebumps.

When all was dark,
Worries could get back in
And last 4ever.

The right words were barriers.
"I like Bozeman, so I'll be doing the driving,
not him," she said quietly.

The rain rolled down her cheek
And fell into a dream.

The princess searched the court for teeth and red eyes.
She couldn't risk her neck again. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Currently, More Love in the Library

Right beside Dealing with Blue on a King County Library shelf, is its sister book, Riding with the Hides of Hell. It's a young adult, adventure-love story packed with biker goodness--or badness--and is a great choice for a pool-side read. It's quirky, fun, and has a strong heroine who kicks butt, literally.

A choice read!

Desperately seeking acceptance from her father--a motorcycle club president--the adventurous Miki Holtz eagerly agrees to his request: drive his friend's injured son to Burnout Rally. Best call to duty she's ever had, since the son, the surly Will Sullivan, is her soul crush. But every time she's tried to make a love connection with him, there's been trouble. And as tough luck would have it, this bike ride is no different; dangerous rivals are lurking in the shadows ready to wreak havoc. Can Miki survive long enough to make Will see that she's his one and only while on a road trip from hell?

The balloon couple 
Were starting to look romantic.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Straight Versus Curly Apostrophe

What I'm not talking about is apostrophe usage, because that's a bigger matter handled well by the Purdue Owl. What I am talking about is a smaller, more trifling matter, one I'd stumbled across while formatting my manuscript in preparation for independent publishing.

It all started when I met a lovely woman named Kate Harold at the PNWA conference last year who was a fellow finalist in the childrens book genre. We became fast friends and soon began swapping online critiques. Turns out, she is not only a writer, but an editor for a family and patient hospital blog, and with her background, she helpfully pointed out the inconsistent style of apostrophe in my work. Here's the gem she sent me:

KATE: "The straight apostrophe is used online in web content; the curly one is for printed pieces. This is totally minor, but it’s something I always have to proof for with anything that goes to print, so it always stands out to me."
ME: "Thank you for the detailed feedback. I just type along, so I'm not sure how it changes, but something to be aware of since I’ve never seen (noticed) this before."
KATE: "[It] drives graphic designers nuts!" 

It's minor, but now I seem to be hyper-aware of this little bit of punctuation; I've spotted it in a pretty popular indie book I'm reading, and I can't get it out of my mind! Here's a snapshot of the straight and curly in the same paragraph:

Straight and Curly Apostrophes

So, if you're indie publishing, you have one more teeny-tiny thing to worry about. Curse me for sharing or thank me, your choice. But it is what it is!


"The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance my deride it, but in the end, there it is." ~ Winston Churchill

Monday, June 05, 2017

Currently, in Love at the Library

Want to delve into a teen love story this summer while you're basking in some vitamin D? Prefer something quirky, easy and fun? Dealing with Blue is now live at the King County Library! If you're local, whip out your library card and check it out.

Living with her mom and hiding secrets, the dutiful and loyal Suzy Blue yearns to break out of her claustrophobic home. The first step to freedom is getting her drivers license, and when her cute neighbor, J.J. Radborne, offers her a deal--help him make his ex jealous in exchange for wheels--Suzy jumps at the opportunity. Being his fake girlfriend wouldn't be a hardship. But too soon, pretending turns into love and complicates her plan. How can she stay when freedom means leaving her small town?

Here's my latest blackout poem from a recycled "proof" page of Dealing with Blue:

A horrible idea was regret.
Say the word...tender, pulsing.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fabulous Five: In Blackout Poetry Land

He was busy getting his boot grounded
For new memories.

Going to Montana with a grin
Truck on the road
I drive just fine
Hand resting by the open window.

Her house was tugged
Through the grass to the clay.
She pulled herself,
Trying not to slip back
On that worthless flower pot.

He frowned at her,
Buckled his seat belt,
Patted the steering wheel.
She loved his truck. did he.
So he bit back the comment
That soon he'd show her
What his truck could really do.
Take the corners like a boss,
Sling mud.
"Ready?"he asked the truck.

Perched on the edge is an epic start.
Just dive in at the beginning.

Interested in seeing more? Visit me at Instagram, Etsy, and Facebook

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Having Fun with the Backhanded Compliment


I entered Riding with the Hides of Hell into the writing contest put on by The BookLife Prize (at $99 a pop) and with every entry comes a critic's report. Entrants are able to use quotes from their reports for publicity if they're properly attributed to The BookLife Prize, which I've faithfully done below.

My overall score was a moderate one, something to be proud of but certainly not enough to brag about. I wish I could rave about my highest points, but unfortunately, they sound like backhanded compliments, leaving it difficult to pull out a good marketing quote.

Hello? Is this thing on?

I guess if I wanted good-feels about my book, I should have called my mom!

9/10 for originality:
"At its essence, this book tells a familiar story: two kids finding their places in the world and falling in love. However, Leigh mixes that straightforward YA structure with motorcycle gangs and a fair amount of gender role reversal with the protagonists. And this works to create a book that is anything but standard fare." ~ The BookLife Prize 

9/10 for character development:
"Will and Miki both have strong voices and clear motivations for their actions. As with all good YA protagonists, readers will root for them to stop being such drama queens. And readers will root for them to finally figure out their issues with one another." ~The BookLife Prize

There ya go! My characters are a bunch of drama queens, but at least the reader gets to root for them to stop being so! Lol.

Now I'm not being sensitive over here, or a Neggie-Nellie, because I know writing is a tough business, and as the saying goes, "This isn't my first rodeo." So I'm having my go at a bit of fun.

On another note, Writer Beware wrote an interesting and fair article about The BookLife Prize and the comments are worth a read, too. I certainly don't begrudge the $99 entrance fee (*cough*) because reading and critiquing is hard work! I know, I've done my "fair share." And I understand why The BookLife Prize words their critiques in a slightly negative way. They can't have their good name splashed on every book! It's the yin and the yang of it.

Click Riding with the Hides of Hell to read The BookLife Prize's full assessment.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Short Love Story on Wattpad: Love on LaSalle

Here's my first short story set in the Flathead Valley, called Love on LaSalle. Want a quick zap of love while on the go? Check it out on's less than 1500 words long.

Five-Minute Mac Cover

This was an entry for a contest due a month ago, and since there was no rule saying I couldn't share it with the world, I decided to put it out on Wattpad, which was a nice way to figure out the nuts and bolts of that social outlet. Here's the description:

Marcia has resorted to hiding her things in her tiny pull trailer ever since her jerk boyfriend, Nick, has demanded that she throw her stuff away to prove her love. She's better off without him. Then Chase, a free-spirit camper from next door, saunters over with ideas that have her questioning love and second chances. 
This is a snapshot into Marcia and Nick's relationship as their love tips on the rails. It's set in an RV park in Montana's Flathead Valley.
This story is about Suzy Blue's parents from Dealing with Blue, when they were young and carefree.

Monday, April 24, 2017

From the Art Docent: Tin Foil Owl

How can one incorporate metal into a third grade art project that doesn't require loud hammering and sharp edges? Thankfully, I came across an awesome blog called Make It...a Wonderful Life that offered up an amazing idea using tin foil. Sign me up!

This was a two part lesson, because I needed time for the glue to dry in between. So the first part included the following:
1.) simple line drawing of an owl on cardboard, using familiar shapes: oval for the body, upside down triangles for the forehead and beak, circles for the eyes, and more ovals for the wings and toes. No details! 
2.) We set that aside, then worked on a Zentangle-type project to explore patterns and details that the kids might want to use later on in the tin foil assignment. 
3.) While half the class worked on creating patterns, the other half outlined their owls using tacky craft glue. Then the kids alternated until both projects were done.

Outline Drawing with Tacky Glue

Let It Dry

In the second class, the kids were given their dried projects, a tube of glue stick, a piece of tin foil, a paper towel, and an etching stick (or use a dull pencil). Part two consisted of:
4.) Smear a decent layer of glue stick to the surface of the owl project. 
5.) Lay down the sheet of tin foil and with a fingertip wrapped in paper towel (so as not to mar or tear the foil), rub the foil onto the glued cardboard. Start in the middle and work your way out, burnishing the foil into place. Find the dried tacky glue edges and mold the foil gently. 
6.) Use the etching stick (or a dull pencil) and with a light touch, score the foil with details (remembering Zentangle-type patterns from the first lesson). 
7.) Each student then took their turn wiping their project with shoe polish (the kind with the sponge applicator) to give the tin an antiqued look.

My Finished Project

I had a bit of a problem using the shoe polish. At home I applied a liberal coat and immediately wiped it off, which removed everything. I tried to let the polish sit for awhile, maybe a minute or two, and then when I wiped it, it all came off again, leaving no antiquing affect. The third try, I left if on for five minutes or so, and the shoe polish had dried. I couldn't remove it, and it left dark brown blotches (insert eye roll). What was I doing wrong? I had to get out the steel wool to remove most of it, but I managed to get the antiqued affect I was looking for. Check out the image above.

When in class, the shoe polish dried very quickly, and I barely had time to remove it before it started setting up. It was the same bottle, so the only thing I could think of was that perhaps when the bottle of polish was full, it was a lot more "liquidy," which took longer to dry. As the shoe polish in the bottle was reduced, it came out more foamy and thick and dried a lot quicker.  

Some pieces looked a lot more rusty than others, but overall, I was quite pleased. It was a fun project!

Students' Work Mounted for Art Walk

Students' Work

"Observe and reflect and become a little wiser everyday." ~ Author Unknown

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fabulous Five: April and Fools

I guess I use the word "fool" a lot in my writing. I wanted to get a blackout poem posted for April Fools Day, but instead, decided to dedicate the entire month to all the fools out there, whether they be a dunce or oblivious to the obvious or someone who rushes into things or even a person without skills. I think we all know what it feels like to be a fool or to be fooled.

Enjoy! And know that everyone starts off as one...but hopefully they don't stay that way ;)

Everyone knows his number.
It was written on a big truck.

Serious? What a fool,
choosing Mr. Easy
over the universe.

She'd soon pickup a fool
with a cup of ice and a lemon.

The only way out
Was to ask a little fool
Could you help me, please?

The big fool waited for the light,
half aware of the kiss.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Or shame on you, again ;)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Fabulous Five: A Tribute to the Road

Every morning and afternoon, I walk around the streets and avenues of my neighborhood. If there's no rain, then I take my ever-sun-loving Cherriers, Tilly and Tango. My phone camera is usually ready as I search out my the next close-up shot to share on Instagram--Come visit me! Poop bag in hand, two 10-pounders pulling on the leash, glasses to contend with...but somehow out of a bunch of blurry pictures, I manage to get a decent one.

We had some road construction/pipe fixing thing going on, and the finishing touch was filling the cut marks in the asphalt with black tar, and as the pictures show, it's turned into my latest fascination. On rainy days, the droplets sit poised on top. On sunny ones, the tar is shiny and reflects the light. Then there are the tread marks and thick, gloppy drips, which create great textures.

Now with spring break looming, a bit of wanderlust calls. I feel a road trip coming on... 

The Road has Legs

Rain Drops on Road Tar
Time to see the details. A time for reflections.

Yin and Yang
It's dark and light, good and bad.
It's balance...or maybe it's just a blob.

It's that crazy tar on the road, reflecting the sun.
I nearly got ran over by the school bus.

Get outta my way...I'm Riding with the Hides of Hell!
Ready for a road trip. Whoot!


"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination." ~ Roy M. Goodman