Based in Central Florida, Leslie C. Halpern is an award-winning poet and essayist, entertainment journalist with more than 4,000 published articles, and author of several books of nonfiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in hundreds of print and online publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, Orlando Sentinel, Markee Magazine, True Romance, Fitness, Storytelling Magazine, Salt Lake Tribune, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Mentor & Protege (from whom she won the Grand Prize Mentor Award for Essay Writing).
She teaches a film course in the Senior Tars Enrichment Program at Rollins College, writes regularly for several online sites, maintains a pop culture and entertainment blog called “Seen It, Done It, Reviewed It: The Blog” at www.LeslieHalpern.com/blog, and serves as vice president of the Orlando Area Poets, the local chapter of the Florida State Poets Association.
Leslie earned a Master of Liberal Studies degree from Rollins College and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Kentucky. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including First Place Humorous Poetry Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Editor’s Award for Poetry from The Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Association of Florida, Distinguished Service Award from Florida Literacy Coalition, Outstanding Contribution to Literacy Award from Seminole State College, and was named a Royal Palm Literary Award Semi-Finalist for her 2016 book 200 Love Lessons from the Movies.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to become a writer when I was in the third grade and had my first poem published in the school newspaper. It felt great!
How long does it take you to write a book?
I write two kinds of books: adult nonfiction and children’s poetry. My nonfiction books generally take about 12 months to 18 months to research and write. I can write a children’s poetry book in six months or less because there’s so little research involved – just lots of creative fun.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
My work schedule is crazy busy when I’m focused on writing a book. I’ll research and write around the clock when I have a question that needs to be answered or the creative inspiration strikes. It’s difficult for me to do much other writing when I have a book project in the works, but somehow I manage to get it all done. Usually, I sacrifice sleep and house cleaning when I’m on a deadline. Actually, I sacrifice house cleaning even when I’m not busy writing a book.
How do books get published?
I’ve pretty much tried it all. I’ve had books published with a traditional publisher, an academic press, a niche publisher, a hybrid publisher, and through self-publishing. I’ve worked with a high-powered New York literary agent on two of my books and published without an agent on the others. Each type of publishing has its benefits and drawbacks.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I get inspiration to write my nonfiction books and poetry books simply by interacting with other people and paying attention to what they say and do, and what I say and do in response to them. I’m also inspired by art, such as film, theater, painting, and literature, to expand my ways of thinking and connect the dots between ideas.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy watching comedy/romantic comedy/science fiction movies and reading books in my spare time. Not so coincidentally, most of the nonfiction books I’ve written have been about the film industry and many of the books I read are poetry. I immerse myself in things I love by reading, watching, thinking, and writing about them. I also enjoy gardening, which is something I have never written about.
What is your go-to food/beverage when you are writing?
Coffee. Definitely coffee. It really sharpens my thinking and gives my hand a brief rest from typing. I don’t like crumbs in my keyboard, so I tend to not eat while working that much. An exception would be chocolate or nuts – or better yet chocolate-covered nuts—they don’t make crumbs, and it feels like a reward.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I was surprised by the subjectivity of readers. For instance, with my humorous children’s poetry books, including the latest, Silly Sleepytime Poems, 9 out of 10 kids will laugh out loud at the poems. So what about that 10th kid who only smiles? What does it take to make him laugh? The same thing applies to my adult nonfiction. All my books contain humor, but comedic sensibilities differ in people, and I realized there’s no way to please everyone with my humor, information, ideas, or opinions. Hey, the joke’s on me!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve had 11 books published so far. My two favorites are the most recent book, Scantily Clad Truths: Essays on Life with Clothes (and without), a collection of humorous personal essays about my life and career, and a book I wrote in 2003 titled Dreams on Film: The Cinematic Struggle Between Art and Science, which was the first book ever written on that subject.
What is the most rewarding part of being a published author?
The most rewarding part of being a published author is the connection with other people. I can share my knowledge, ideas, and creativity, and then have them share their own insights about what they’ve read in my books. I often give talks and presentations about my books for this reason; feedback is great for learning about my readers and improving my writing. Connecting with people also gives them the opportunity to respond with their own ideas about a subject we both enjoy discussing.
What advice would you give a novice writer who wants to take on the task of writing their first book?
Don’t expect your first book to be a best-seller. You need to find your voice, build a platform, find an audience and market your book. Unless you’ve got a major publishing house patting you on the back and padding your bank account, you’re not likely to achieve best-seller status with your first (or second or third) book. Be patient and keep writing.
What advice would you give a novice writer who is about to edit their first draft?
Read it over repeatedly checking for errors and ways to improve the manuscript. Allow others to read your work before publishing it. Enlist friends first, and then writing associates. Finally, hire a professional editor before going to press. Grammatical mistakes and typos are the marks of an amateur.
What advice would you give a novice writer who is struggling to find reviewers?
Reviewers are doing you a favor to read your book and potentially set it apart from the thousands of other new book releases clamoring for attention. You are not doing them a favor by letting them read your book. Never expect a book reviewer to buy your book first, in addition to reading it, writing a review, and posting it online or in a print publication.
This collection of true stories explores various subjects with a common thread: clothes. In each case, clothing – or a lack of it – leads to an unexpected conclusion. “It will all come out in the wash” isn’t the case with Scantily Clad Truths, where deeply stained souls may never come clean – even with a detergent booster. From panty lines to punch lines, these and other scantily clad truths are revealed in 15 essays that provide the occasional, though well-deserved, dressing down.
- Published: July 5, 2018
- Genre: Nonfiction/Humor/Personal Essays
- Number of Pages: 110 pages
- Print Format: Paperback and Kindle
Who is your favorite character(s) and why?
Betty White. Yes, the real Betty White. She was so sweet and adorable when I met her. She’s in the essay titled “The Dress.”
Favorite Quotes (from the book)
Excerpt from the Essay “The Legend of Mary Lou”
Mary Lou also was proud of her sexual prowess. Boys were strictly prohibited from visiting our rooms, except during specified hours on the weekends, but that didn’t deter her. She befriended the resident advisor by replenishing her pot supply on a regular basis free of charge, so the RA grudgingly permitted Mary Lou’s male visitors access to our room. She sometimes used my bed to entertain her guests while I unknowingly studied at the library. The more I complained about it, the more private parties she hosted in my bed, so eventually, I just kept quiet and did my laundry several times a week during her busy season.
Places where your book has been recognized.
I had a public reading by invitation at The Short Attention Span Storytelling Hour hosted by Stardust Cafe & Video and Writers of Central Florida and Thereabouts. I had a public reading by invitation at Femme Du Monde: A Celebration of Female Artists at The Venue in Orlando, Florida. Scantily Clad Truths received highly favorable reviews from Midwest Book Review and MyShelf.com. The book also has been recognized in the Orlando Sentinel, The Florida Writer, and Of Poets & Poetry.
Any other tidbits you would like to share.
Many of the personal essays in Scantily Clad Truths were previously published as newspaper or magazine articles. These articles have been adapted into personal essays based on my three decades as an entertainment journalist.
Where can your book be purchased?
Is your book listed on Goodreads?
What makes your book stand out among the other books in the genre?
Scantily Clad Truths is humorous on the surface, and for those willing to dig a little deeper, the book offers some insights into people’s behavior based on how they choose to present themselves to the world through their attire.
What would you tell a potential reader (teetering on the fence) to sway them to read your book?
Open the book and get ready to laugh!
Social Media Links
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