Bio

Author Kathie Leung

Author Kathie Leung

I wrote a book and I liked it.

Okay, Katy Perry I’m not.

I consider myself a storyteller more than an author, a born talent that my late father had preserved on audio tape back before I could even print my name. Thankfully that talent has improved. I distinctly remember a very long segment where I breathlessly said, “And played, and played, and played…” Embarrassing.

Speaking of family, I come from an arts-minded family. My father painted, sketched, played baritone while minoring in music; even whittled, creating an amazing Christmas present made of balsa wood of Pinocchio complete with an interchangeable nose that “grew” and his sidekick, Jiminy Cricket.  Mom’s talents come in a frosting tube and under the sewing needle. She’s decorated all three kids’ wedding cakes, many birthday cakes, and a very memorable bachelorette cake that after creating, she swore she’d never do again. I think it took her a week to get the red out of her cheeks after delivering that one! I’ll tell you this, toasted coconut has a whole new meaning now. We all played musical instruments and at one time in our younger days, played together in a community concert band. Dad on his baritone, Mom: coronet, my brother played trombone, my sister-the saxaphone (even won a scholarship in high school to a music camp for a week!), and me? The flute. I wanted to play clarinet (no idea why, now that I think about it because I don’t care much for reed instruments) in the worst way, but the specialist that came to our school to “fit us” for instruments decided that with my former buck teeth (years of braces changed that), I would be better suited for a flute where my embouchure would improve the alignment of my teeth whereas a reed instrument would only exaggerate it.

Pursuing a career in writing never really occurred to me. I had a penchant for writing and spent many hours doing so whenever I could eek the time out in my hectic life to do so, but get published? Make some money off doing so? Nope, didn’t see that one in my future. After meeting my husband, I joined an online service’s community leadership team, moving from one area to the next as the service continued to grow, expand, and then die. My final assignment landed me in a short story group that held competitions weekly in what we now refer to as flash fiction. Not only did I get to read the submissions and select those that would move on to the finals, but I got to critique the stories and–write some of my own for submitting. That led me to National Novel Writing Month (for those not in the know, it’s a thirty-day period, in this case, the month of November, where writers are challenged to write 50,000 words). One of my co-workers asked if I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo and I thought she was talking about some sort of Mork from Ork fan club! Naturally, I checked it out and decided, what the hey? I’ll give it a shot. I did, much to my family’s annoyance (it’s a lot like putting a phone to your ear; the very second you do, it’s Mom, Mom, Maawm! or Honey, dear, HEY!), completed my very first NaNo challenge with a story titled And Then There Was Sam . . ..

And then there was another NaNoWriMo and another and another. In the meantime, the web design business I fell into became too frustrating for me. After several conversations with my husband, I threw in the towel. The kids (we have twin boys) were getting older and gone longer with school and other activities, the bills were adding up, and we talked some more about what kind of work I would get into that could be flexible enough for me to be the stay-at-home mom my husband and I agreed we would do for our kids throughout their childhood. “Why don’t you pursue a career in writing,” my husband said to me.

Silly man. I’m guessing he thought I’d laugh it off and look for something more lucrative.

But I didn’t. With his encouragement, I went back to school, taking four classes that I felt, as a writer, would help me best gauge if this was the path I should pursue. I signed up for public speaking so that when I went on book tours and did interviews, I could be grace under fire and be able to think on my feet. Of course I took a creative writing course and then a critical thinking class (again, goes with that grace under fire theory), and finally a Native American Literature course. I took the latter course because, of all genres and styles of writing, I think that the Native American style of storytelling the most inspiring and the most like my style of writing. The symbolism, the sense of community, the religious and ceremonial aspects were all elements I wanted to learn more about and weave into my own style. Sadly that class didn’t make the mark and I dropped the class but kept the tome and wrote a poem that ended up being published later that year.

I’ve had several short stories and poems published with an anthology soon to be published where my story, Put a Ring On It will be printed. And I’ve gone back to rewriting And Then There Was Sam . . . which has since been retitled and has gone through an entire evolution of changes. That’s spawned a prequel, The Murder of Jane Doe which might eventually be woven into the original novel. I’ve penned short stories that I’ve published online through my former website, kathieleung.com, including: The Unobtainable and Their Survival

After completing my creative writing class and while waiting for my professor to start up the promised critique group, I decided to start my own writing group. I spent a few weeks harvesting local names of people on Facebook who listed “writing” in their profile and sent out a blanket invitation to join the writing group I planned to start. In January of ’09, the first members of the Chico Writers Group met at a local coffee shop. Interestingly, the professor I’d been waiting upon walked into the shop just before the first of the group arrived. I told her what I was doing and, thankfully, received her blessing.

The group struggled, grew, got a bit too big, got revamped, grew even bigger and then dwindled at twice the speed it grew. Three years and six months later I decided to call it quits. One moved out of the area, another needed to focus on family and the small kids underfoot, another had felt the effects of the recession and the rise in gas (and had the furthest to travel) and so we were all in mutual agreement, sunsetting the group in July of 2012.

Best decision ever because, after all that time and the struggles of trying to get one project or another out the door to debut in traditional print, on a whim and narrowly making the deadline, I submitted (more on a dare than anything else) a short story to an independent press with lofty plans of a themed anthology. My story, Put a Ring On It, became one of the ten 10K word stories to make the cut. The anthology, Second Avenue Second Hand, published by Lemon Twist Press out of Canada, is due out sometime this year (2013). And I’m fast approaching completing a novel that I hope to seek representation for and traditional print publication.

The genres I write in include horror, mystery, suspense, thriller, and literary.

Currently I live in the hot, hot, hot northern California Sierra Foothills along with my firefighting husband, our twin teenaged sons, a Cairn Terrier named Maximus Goatus, “Max” (named due to his underbite that gives him a profile resembling a goat) and our rescue kitty from Hollywood that’s since grown into a fat rat cat, a Bengal, we named Nemesis (because she really is our nemesis), AKA Nemmie. And yes, we all have Facebook pages! When I’m not writing, I’m trying to convince my husband to fill in our green sludge pool, watching our kids earn their way into college playing lacrosse, and supporting the club they play for serving as the web administrator and volunteer team photographer.

ETA: Update! We’ve added yet another rescue pup, this one from the high kill shelter in southern California. She’s a terrier mix, tiny (the shelter put her at five months old, however when taking her to our vet, we learned they were off by four months), and more of a people dog. We named her Llamini since she has a neckline and face much like a llama, Mini for short. Turns out she has more of an alpaca appearance, so perhaps we should rename her to Minicaca. And, drum roll, the boys are just finishing their first year of college, playing NCAA Division II lacrosse. It is quite the experience for all of us, them being thirteen-hundred miles away from home, us missing their games (and more importantly, them), and not having mom and dad reminding them to stay on task with their classwork and practices.

I can be reached via my Facebook page (http://facebook.com/AuthorKMLeung), on Twitter (@kathieblog), or via email by using my contact page (click CONTACT above).

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