This month’s blog features author Leah Dobrinska, a Small Town Romance and Cozy Mystery writer. She’s releasing her second book in her Mapleton series on Tuesday, April 5, named Good To Be Home. I loved the first book, Love at On Deck Café, so I’m first in line to read her next one.
The answers to my questions about her writing world are ones I need to keep reading for a reminder of keeping perspective at times. She shares such spot-on advice that she’s learned from publishing and shows her ability to remain centered and true to herself. We can all admire that in a person.
What gives you energy and joy?
My kids! Well, I guess they both give and take away my energy. Ha! But seriously, I’m so inspired by them and their resiliency and willingness to forgive and laugh and have fun. They are the reason I write. I want them to know that their words—their stories—are important, and the world needs who they are. We have a blast together, and not only are they my “why” but they’ve also given me some great one-liners for my books.
Let’s see…other things that bring me joy and revitalize me are reading and running. Going to my book club is the highlight of my month. I love reading in community, and discussing books is good for my soul. I firmly believe that to be a decent writer I need to also be an active reader. Many times, when I’m feeling drained with my own creative projects, I’ll slip into the pages of someone else’s work and find inspiration there.
And I’ve always been a runner, but I got back into the regular habit last summer. I don’t go fast and I don’t run far, but it’s one of the best ways I know to clear my head and lift my spirits.
Talk about a life lesson you have learned while on the path to publishing your book(s).
Whoa boy. So many lessons. It has been a trip! I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned is to focus on the things I can control. So much of publishing a book is out of my control. Will my book land? Will it be overshadowed by another book releasing on the same day? Am I targeting the right group of readers? Will people leave reviews? Will they share my stuff on social? Who knows! I can’t force any of that. But what I can do is go back to the words. I can control what I’m putting on the page. That’s where I find deep joy and purpose, so I think the whole publishing process was a good lesson in remembering why I write. It’s not for accolades or popularity. I do it because I feel more like me when I’m creating. No publishing mishaps can take that away.
The publishing journey has also been a great reminder that comparison is a thief of joy. I’d much rather be celebrating fellow writers (and people in general, really) than pitting myself against them. In a similar vein, I’ve also learned that while writing and publishing is a solitary endeavor, it’s way more fun (and so necessary!) to do it as part of a greater community. I’ve met some amazing people who are fellow writers, and their encouragement and support has meant the world. We’re not meant to go through any aspect of life alone, and the publishing journey is no exception.
How do you quiet your inner critic? (the voice of internal negativity)
I pray. I remember that my worth is not tied up in what I do, but in who I am as a human being whom God created. I also take a step back. Usually my inner critic is being stoked by external things I’m consuming—social media, blogs, reviews. So, I’ve found it’s healthy and good for me to turn those things off every once in a while.
I’m also blessed with an amazing husband, family, and group of friends who serve as an incredible support system. They help me remember that life is bigger than books, that failure is okay, and that I’m loved. To be honest, I love that most of my real life people don’t know what an ISBN number is or what it means to get a Kirkus review. They keep me grounded and remind me that no matter what happens or how down and critical I’m feeling about my work, there’s more to life than that.
Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.
I write love stories, but in many ways, my books are also love letters to the communities I’ve been blessed to be a part of. I started writing novels while my husband was in the Marine Corps and we were living many states away from home. But I chose to set my stories in a place very reminiscent of where I grew up. They always say to write what you know, and I know small town living!
I think I was craving that feeling of belonging—of home—and I knew I wanted that to be an important theme for my characters. Everyone can relate to longing for home or longing for a soft place to land. We find that in many ways—through our actual families, or friends who become like families, or our romantic partners. In all of my books, you’ll see my characters undergoing that search for home and their place in the world.
In a really neat way, all the goodness and beauty of small town living that I tried to write out in my stories has been exemplified in real life in the way people from my community have supported me and my book. I’m so humbled and very grateful. I hope that anyone who picks up one of my stories will feel at home within the pages and will be encouraged to love on the people in their real lives, too.
Oh, and on a slightly less meaningful note, I’m a Taylor Swift lyric junkie, so I think I’ve managed to sneak in a TS lyric-inspired sentence somewhere in each of my books.
What is your next project or goal? If it is a book, tell us about it and when you hope to publish it.
I’ve got a lot of projects up in the air at the moment. Launching Good To Be Home this month has me itching to get back to Mapleton. I’m currently in the process of editing book three in that small town romance series. It’s set to be published this fall. It’s a holiday romance that will feature two minor characters from Good To Be Home. If you read that one, you should be able to figure out who I’m referring to!
I’m also drafting book four in the Mapleton series. It’s giving me a run for my money, mostly because I want to do these characters justice. Their love story is so gorgeous in my head. Now, I just have to make sure it translates to the page!
I also got a book deal! My debut cozy mystery will release on December 6, 2022 from Level Best Books! I’m putting the finishing touches on it now before I’ll turn it over to my editor. Then it’ll be all hands on deck to get that book out into the world. I can’t wait to share more about this project, but right now, my lips are sealed…
Okay, well maybe a *little* teaser wouldn’t hurt, right?! The setting for the cozy mystery was inspired by the northern Wisconsin resort town my family used to visit each year, and it features a protagonist whose job has a lot to do with books. Oh, and it’s tentatively titled Death Checked Out. More to come… 🙂
And I, for one, can’t wait, Leah! Thank you for imparting your sage views on the blog. I know my readers will be able to take your thoughts and apply them to their own lives in multiple ways.
More ways to connect with Leah:
NEWS: My next novel, The Visitor, is coming out in less than 2 months! You can preorder now for your Amazon Kindle. If you would like the paperback, June 1 is right around the corner.
Back cover info:
Fiercely independent Mary Pontrelli is blindsided when the New Orleans building housing her New Age store and upstairs apartment is listed for sale. Worse yet, a developer wants to destroy it and her high school ex-boyfriend—ahem, nemesis—is leading their charge. But this budding sweet spot for that weasel from the past can’t happen since traitors never change.
The best chance Mary has to save her cherished French Quarter building is to join forces with the other business owners whose livelihoods are also at risk. Too bad she avoids teamwork at all costs. Thankfully, a mystical new customer who shares Mary’s lost Italian heritage may be able to help alter her stubborn patterns. And, learning about the city’s history and her own Sicilian roots from the shopper may prove beyond merely engaging.
Even so, acquiring trust in strangers and accepting assistance requires more bravery than any societal expectation she’s challenged in her life. But if she doesn’t depend on her community and learn forgiveness, she may lose her career, home, and deeper relationships. No eccentric spirituality or heritage lessons can fix this…right?
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2 thoughts on “Interview with Author Leah Dobrinska”
This was such a fun interview! Thank you again for featuring me, C! You’re the best. 🙂
It was my pleasure! I really enjoyed it. 🙂