Guest Blogger Leigh Duncan

05 Oct

Romance author Leigh Duncan spent years moving about the country, but now calls Central Florida’s east coast her home.  Rancher’s Son, her fourth book for Harlequin American Romance is a December release.  Rodeo Daughter, was an RT Magazine Top Pick! for June 2012 and will be re-released in a Larger Print edition for the sight-impaired on November 1st.  Leigh is a long-time member of Romance Writers of America and serves as the published author (PAN) liaison for the Space Coast Authors of Romance (Florida STAR).  She belongs to several other RWA chapters, including the Washington Romance Writers, and is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America on-line women’s fiction chapter.  To learn more about her, visit

Where Did You Come From?

It’s fall in Florida, but you’d never know it from looking at the thermometer.  At our house, the air conditioner runs full time.  In fact, an influx of migratory birds is the only sure sign that summer is on the wane.  Yesterday, an enormous hawk landed in our front yard.  The day before, a flock of red-headed woodpeckers took over the trees.  Within the next week or two, this year’s robins and butterbutts will fill my back yard.  They make the most delightful racket.

With all these visitors, I’ve been asking, “Where did you come from?”  But I’m not always talking about the birds.  Most often, I’m talking about heroes and heroines.

Where do they come from?

Every writer must figure out what drives their books.  Some authors are plot-driven.  Others, action-driven.  My stories begin and ends with the characters so I’m fairly safe in saying they are character-driven.  And because I write romance, I usually “see” the hero or the heroine first.

How does that happen?

When I least expect it.  I’ll be shopping, cleaning, cooking—whatever—and realize I’ve been thinking about, or even having a conversation with, someone I’ve never “seen” before.

That’s how Rancher’s Son came to me.  I looked up from my computer to catch a mental image of a cowboy moseying along on horseback behind a herd of cattle.  At the time, I was knee deep in edits for another book, so I just gave him a nod and went back to work.  For the next couple of weeks, though, he kept popping in.  Each time, he revealed a little bit more about himself.

I learned he was strong, opinionated, ruggedly handsome.  That his ranch had been in his family for four generations.  Okay, so now I was really starting to like this guy.  But then he said his ranch was in Florida. 

I have to admit, I was skeptical.

It took some digging, but I learned that Ponce de Leon brought the first cattle to Florida—seven head of Andalusians.  Despite mosquitoes and floods and heat, people have been ranching here ever since.  Today, Florida is home to over a million head of cattle.  It’s the third-largest beef-producing state east of the Mississippi.

Okay, so back to my hero.  Finding just the right girl for him and making him work hard to earn her love, that became my job.  But I didn’t go easy on him. He had to prove he was strong enough, honorable enough, to have his heart’s desire.

Did he pass the test?

You’ll have to answer that question for yourself.

As for me, lately someone else has snagged my attention.  A baseball player, a pitcher.  But I think there’s a lot more he needs to reveal about himself before I can sit down and write his story.

I hope he does.  I think I’ll like him, too.


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20 responses to “Guest Blogger Leigh Duncan

  1. Judith Keim

    October 5, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    Leigh, I’m so excited to have one of the Florida STARs stop by…We’re all so pleased by your success! It’s a little chilly here in Boise, so you’re blog will help warm us up!

    • Leigh Duncan

      October 5, 2012 at 8:34 AM

      Judy, Florida’s loss is Idaho’s tremendous gain. Miss you! Thanks sooo much for inviting me to the Gem State Writers blog today. What a lovely site! I hope the people who stop by will take a few minutes to browse around and become familiar with this great group of writers.

  2. Janis McCurry

    October 5, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    I’m thinking about my writing at odd times. I’m waiting on a customer and wondering what my scene goal is. Or how I’m starting a key scene. The “thinking” prep part for me is always before I sit down at the computer. Much like the conversations you start with a new character, I start with “what if” and go from there.

    Thanks for guest blogging on GSW, Leigh.

    • Leigh Duncan

      October 5, 2012 at 8:36 AM

      Thanks for having me here, Janis! There are so many different approaches to creating characters and scenes. I’m glad you’ve found one that works for you! Happy writing!!

  3. Kristen

    October 5, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    Love that cover, Leigh!

    • Leigh Duncan

      October 5, 2012 at 8:38 AM

      Because my editor kept referring to Rancher’s Son as “your Christmas book,” I actually expected a Christmas-tree-and-presents scene on the cover. What Harlequin’s Art Department came up with was so much better, this cover is my favorite of all my covers.

  4. Debbie Fisk

    October 5, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Leigh, I loved your other books. I can’t wait to read this one!

    • Leigh Duncan

      October 5, 2012 at 8:38 AM

      It won’t be long now, Debbie. Rancher’s Son will be available on November 27th.

  5. Stephanie Berget

    October 5, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Thanks for posting, Leigh. I love cowboys, so I’ll check out Rancher’s Son. I get glimpses of my characters, too. That’s the fun of writing.

    • Leigh Duncan

      October 5, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      Stephanie, one of the absolute best things about writing for Harlequin American Romance is that I get to write about cowboys. Rough and tumble, gritty or sweet, what’s not to like about cowboys?

      As a cowboy fan, you might also want to check out Rodeo Daughter, available now as an ebook from all the usual sources. It was an RT Top Pick for June and I recently found out that it’ll be re-released as part of the larger-print series in November.

  6. Lara Santiago

    October 5, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I can answer the question, Leigh. Your hero rocks! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. And I’ll be keeping my eye out for the baseball pitcher, too. 🙂

    • Leigh Duncan

      October 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM

      Oh, Lara, you are super sweet! Thanks! Next to cowboys, I love, love, love baseball players. I’m working on a story right now that features a former minor league pitcher, and what a hunk he is. 🙂

  7. maryvine

    October 5, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    I wish I could get a glimpse of my hero early on. I usualy start writing him and then he all of a sudden appears in my mind’s eye. Usually different than what I thought of him before writing.Thanks for blogging with us!

  8. Leigh Duncan

    October 5, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Mary, everyone has made me feel so welcome at Gem State Writers. It’s been a true pleasure to be here today.

  9. Karen Ann Dell (@K_A_Dell)

    October 5, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Hi Leigh! I loved Rodeo Daughter and can’t wait to get Rancher’s Son. I always seem to start my books with the hero, too. He has to incubate a while in my head before he sees the light of day on a page – but then he often takes over and runs away with my story!

  10. Leigh Duncan

    October 5, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Karen, you write such wonderful heroes that you should let them run! Thanks for stopping by today.

  11. Cynthia D'Alba

    October 5, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    I so looking forward to your baseball hero! I bet he’s a yummy as all the ones you’ve been “introduced” to!

  12. Leigh Duncan

    October 5, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Hey Cyndi! Yes, I’m taking a tiny break away from cowboys to write this baseball player’s story, but I just turned in a proposal for three more cowboy stories and I think each one is more fun than the last.

    Don’t you love the Gem State Writers site? I get lost in all the terrific pictures.

  13. Clarissa Southwick

    October 7, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    Hi Leigh, I loved hearing how you work and all the contrasts with Idaho where we just got our first cold snap. Thanks for guest blogging at GSW.

  14. Corina Mallory

    October 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I bet there are some fascinating differences between the ranching life in Florida, and the ranching life here in the west – different breeds and different feeds and different potential disasters. What a great way to put a new spin on an old genre!


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