Thursday, May 29, 2008

- Introducing...Leena Hyat

I met Lee in one of those virtual encounters that are commonplace now, but remain conceptually amazing to me: the links we forge from shared interests and common passions without ever actually meeting – or needing to!

The internet also allows us to virtually check each other out – so I visited one of Lee's blogs, Tote Bags 'n' Blogs (Join us for the latest news, views, and reviews from authors on authors...) and found a boatload of posts from authors I know & love. She has her finger in a lot of pies, with websites, reviews and a business but took the time to share her thoughts – though she noted she was more used to being on the publishing rather than the writing side of a post!

One of the best jobs in the world…

When I was young, I wanted to be a writer and an artist. I wanted to create. I wanted to fill the world with color and beautiful words that touched the soul: words that inspired strong emotion and also made you smile; colors that evoked passion and shouted ‘Look at me! Here I am!’

My favorite places to hang out included the art room at school and the library. I could get lost in both. I didn’t have to worry about not being good at fractions or formulas… or conversation. 

But my roots belong in a conservative family where art and writing didn’t sound like promising careers and professions like medicine, law and business administration did. I held out for art college but then life happened and here I am today with a business administration background, a whole lot of color and lots of wonderful words to get lost in.

I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world. I work with some of the best, award-winning authors in the romance industry on administration, publicity, and promotion. My clients range from the newly published to the fully established, New York Times bestselling authors, and every day I’m surrounded by a lot of words… and a lot of gorgeous colors, too.  I’m doing everything I love to do most. It’s perfect and totally suits me.

I fell into this job quite by accident – it’s funny how life often leads us in a roundabout way to the path we were always intended to take. I’ve been an avid reader since forever, and several years ago, just after my husband and I moved to Washington state, I was looking for a fun hobby as a way of making some new friends. I happened across a website looking for reviewers. 

I still remember the first book they sent me to review. It was a 600 page eBook… Yikes! I didn’t think I’d get through it – 600 pages of reading at my computer?? Gah! But I did get through it. And I enjoyed it too. 

I guess I had a knack for reviewing because pretty soon I was reading and reviewing over 14 books a month and loving every minute. It was fun and it got me really interested in learning about writing and publishing industry.

It also made me start getting ideas about putting pen to paper for my own stories. But again, life happened. I reconnected with a then-category romance author at a book signing and like a typical aspiring writer, I got into an email correspondence with her over the next several months. 

She just happened to need some help with the business side of writing due to her packed schedule and time constraints and asked if I could help. It was only supposed to be for a short while because I wanted to get back to my own writing… but I fell in love with the job and word of mouth from my clients sealed the deal.

I still work on my own writing when I have time, but I’m not in any rush for now. I’m having way too much fun with my day job! I’ve got a small website and I deal with authors and readers every day. I get to do all the fun stuff like watch an idea for a story grow step by step and bloom in full color. I’m lucky enough to help with research, read chapters or brainstorm through difficult scenes, design bookmarks and flyers, set up contests and plan fun ways to publicize the book. 

As a team, the author and I get to work on different ways to keep her/their name in front of readers, even during months when there is no new book on the shelves. We come up with smart ideas to get the most bang for her buck and still make an impact on the reader in a strong way. It’s interesting and unpredictable in so many ways, it keeps me on my toes and keeps me smiling – in color!

So tell me, when you think back to your childhood hopes and dreams, did you ever think then that you’d end up in the profession you’re in today?



Anna Campbell said...

Lee, lovely to see you here. And how fantastic to see a photo of you at last. You and I have been talking to each other for ages over at Tote Bags! What a lovely blog - I still pinch myself that my childhood dream to be a writer and see my books on shelves has come true. Unbelievable! So I think often the child knows stuff perhaps the adult forgets or gets scared of or tries to ignore. I hope we do see a book with your name on it soon! I'll definitely buy it!

Thank you so much for all your support for the romance community. You're such a fun person to work with!

By the way, can you tell us how you got interested in romance? Were you always a reader or are you a recent convert?

Trish Morey said...

Lee, it's so great to see your smiling face and to hear your story, you're more often helping others tell theirs!

Isn't it funny how life brings us around to where we wanted to go? I always fancied myself a writer, which is no doubt why I became a chartered accountant - lol. Now instead of fooling around with spreadsheets, I get to sandwich my characters between them - much more fun:-))

I'm looking forward to my next blog on Tote Bags n Blogs on June 18. That day will be the fifth anniversary of my selling to Harlequin M&B, so it's a red letter day for me. See you in June!

Trish Morey said...

Hey, I see Anna's here too!

Cooee Anna.

Susan Stephens said...

How wonderful to have an opportunity to bang the drum for one of my favourite people!

Lee, you were the first person to review my very first book for Harlequin Mills & Boon, A Spanish Inheritance. I can still remember how thrilled I was that you should want to do so.

Now I am proud to call you my friend- and I'm sure you know that you are my invaluable support at the business end of writing.

No author could have a better or more loyal, trustworthy and truthful aide beavering away on their behalf while they do battle with the blank screen or with those revisions!

Lee, you're simply the best (and I LOVE your photo!)

Your grateful friend,


Liz Fielding said...

Hi Lee

How great to put a face to the name! You are such a great supporter of the romance writing community and I enjoyed reading your journey.

I had two burning ambitions as a kid. To act and to write. I've done both, but like most people had to tow the family line and train for the sensible day job. I am soooo glad now that I learned to type properly! And the shorthand comes in handy, too. :)

Bronwyn Jameson said...

Hey Lee. It is lovely to see your picture and to read your story. I think I first "met" you on cataromance (remember the box of books, the seawater, the tears?) and since then at writerspace and now Tote Bags which I love because of the fab collection of authors and voices and blogging topics. I'm looking forward to meeting you for real!

As for your question, I also grew up in a family where artistic endeavours were not considered jobs, but when I look back every job I had involved writing of some sort. Even in the most practical or technical jobs, I was the one writing the help notes and tutorials!

Writing romance = much more fun.


Margaret McDonagh said...

Lee, it's lovely to see you here and so wonderful to put a face to the name after so long.

Like you, I've always had my nose in a book and the library was my favourite place to be. Books are a gift and reading a lifetime joy no matter who or where you are or what your circumstances.

I had ambitions as a child to work with animals but it wasn't to be. However, I always knew I had to write. I have so many characters in my head jostling to get out! Being published is something I give thanks for every day.

You do such a grand job for us authors with your website and the wonderful Tote Bags N Blogs blog. It's my first port of call each day when I switch on my computer!

Thank you so much for all the support, you are very much appreciated.


Helen Bianchin said...

Lee, how lovely to see you here.
We go back a while, and your genuine enthusiasm for the romance community and the authors who write romance is legendary.

I'd like to thank you for your support, and for Tote Bags .. it's a great way to keep in touch with fellow authors. Hope we get to meet in person one day!

Nancy Warren said...

Hi Lee

How nice to see you here on Isabel's blog.

You are such a great supporter of writers and of romance writers in particular. Thanks for all you do.


Michelle Styles said...

How lovely to see you here Lee.

I agree wit hAnna campbell that my childhood dream was to become an author, and then once I had discovered them -- a roamnce author.
I still remember the time that my mother scolded me for reading romance novels...
I love it that romance novels can provide so many people with a way to escape and perhaps dream a few dreams that they would not have considered otherwise.

Larissa Ione said...

Hi Lee -- I agree with Anna...great to see a photo of you and put a face with the name! :)

Like many here, my dream has always been to be a published writer, and here I am! I love my job and wouldn't trade it for anything!

Hope you're having a great weekend, and thanks for all you do!

Christine Rimmer said...


What a beautiful post. And so true. For me, writing was the thing that happened on the way to being an actress. I dreamed of a life on the stage, but I always wrote--journals and short stories and poems, just for myself.

In the end, I discovered the writing really satisfied me so much more than acting did. So here I am, writing my 66th book! Who knew?

Sandra Marton said...

Lee and I have known each other in cyberspace for years. We've talked on the phone. And yet, for all that, we've never met! We're hoping to change that at RWA in San Francisco this summer.

Lee is one of the best reviewers in our genre. Her love for romance always shines through, as does her excitement for a story and its characters.

I hope Lee fulfills her dream of becoming an author--but I also hope she continues offering the wonderful business and promotional support for which she is so well known and admired.

Jessica Inclan said...

Hi, Lee.

It's nice to see your face and read about what brought you to do the work you do. I've appreciated the work we've done together thus far, and I hope for much more.

What got me going in this work--what my family gave me--was reading. Reading was so high on the list of activities in our family, and it's just a jump and a lot of learning to get to the writing part. So I will always thank my mother for instilling that, for bringing words to life for me.

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Lee
Thanks for letting me in on "Your inside scoop". Yes, isn't it funny how we find our passions and professions, often by accident. I'm sure glad you found yours. You do amazing work and are so accomodating! And even though we've talked on the phone, now I can put a face to that sweet voice!

I guess I was always a writer at heart, but didn't think it were possible for me. What did I know about publishing? But now, 13 years later, here I am. I love writing because I've met such fantastic people who have the same loves.

Happy Blogging!!

Carrie Alexander said...

A love of art and writing and reading...pretty obvious why I like Lee so well. It's great to see one of our best romance ambassadors "out front" for a change! Thanks to Isabel for making that happen. :-)

Michelle Monkou said...

Hi Lee

Glad to see you blogging for YOU!

Writing as a profession was never my dream. But I wrote for pleasure from elementary through high school. The skill came easy to me and I didn't feel I had to work hard at it...unlike Calculus and other dastardly subjects.

I'm proud to be one of your clients and love your energy and ideas.

Isabel - Thank you for providing this platform.

Michelle Monkou

Susan Mallery said...

Hi Lee--

Great to see you here!! My childhood dream was to be a poet/doctor. Actually poet part was for me, the doctor part for my dad. :)

I'm not sure how I ended up with a degree in accounting!!

But before I graduated I started writing romance and I knew I was right where I belonged.

As you know, I love working with you!! I would be totally lost without you!!


Tracy Wolff said...

Hi, Lee :)

It's so fabulous to learn more about you-- you're doing a wonderful job, btw, of beautifying the world with your work.

My childhood dream was to be a teacher, a romance novelist and a mom-- funny, isn't it, when life gives you exactly what you ask for? Of course, I'd kind of figured I'd end up with at least one girl in the mix, but my three boys and I are muddling along ;)

Jessica said...

Wow, great post. Sounds like you have an awesome job. :-)

Jessica said...

Hey, Tracy. I've got three boys too. Fun, right? lol I'm still holding out for a girl, though.
I've always been a voracious reader. When my news editor said I should write a book it was like a flash bulb going off. Gee, I could get paid to write! :-) So now I'm now I'm on that road. It was so nice to here about your journey to where you are, Lee.
I can't wait to check out your blog.

Lee Hyat said...

Wow. I'm deeply touched and overwhelmed by the generous support and kind comments from everyone. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and say such lovely things! It means a lot to me. :)

Lee Hyat said...

Anna, you asked about my interest in romance... it goes way back to when I was 12. I got hooked on romance thanks to Barbara Cartland and Betty Neels made me a life long fan. Romance is in my blood. They'll have to bury me with my books so I'll have plenty of time to read in the afterlife! :)

Isabel Swift said...

Wow! I didn't know what a treat this would be when I "persuaded" (hey, no physical force was used!) Lee to post.I love seeing everyone & hearing their stories.I'm so pleased I could host. Thank you, Lee--and everyone--for making it happen.

Lucy Monroe said...

Hey, the pic! You are, as always, gorgeous. :)

Did I think I'd be a romance author when I grew up? Well, after I was done being a missionary, a televangelist and a senator. LOL


Anne McAllister said...

Isabel, thanks so much for featuring Lee! It's been such a pleasure to "meet" her cyberspatially, and I'm hoping to do so in person this summer.

Lee, I think your blog at Tote Bags is so much fun and I love reading all the different posts from various authors. You have allowed us to make so many connections with readers and other writers. Thank you so much.

It was fun to read how you got into reviewing and doing what you're doing. Keep on keeping on!

Isabel Swift said...

Anne, Michelle, Nancy, Carrie it was a delight to host Lee, thank you for your kind words. As you can tell, I am not nearly as organized as Lee (I blame my lack of background in administration) but happy to host guest posts when the spirit moves!

Donna Alward said...

I'm late to read the post...blame moving and revisions, but when I saw a pic of Lee I knew I had to.

Lee's going to be helping me with some of my work as well and it took very little convincing...just a few wonderful e-mails from other authors saying how wonderful she is. I've really enjoyed blogging over at tote bags!

As far as knowing what I wanted to do...well I did, then I did the "sensible" thing for a while, and then I decided to do it for me. I'm incredibly grateful every day that I now get to call this my JOB!