Leanna Renee Hieber is an author, actress, and playwright whose works are predominantly set in the Victorian Era and have gothic and fantasy elements. Leanna has won four Prism Awards and was included on Barnes and Noble's bestseller lists for The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. We caught up with her just in time for All Hallows' Eve.
What draws you to young adult fantasy writing?
I've always been a fantasy reader, and the critical journeys in Young Adult fiction are so vibrant. You're catching characters at their first really big trials and coming-of-ages; it's a thrilling and satisfyingly epic place to be, and when you throw in fantastical and paranormal elements, it makes that rite of passage all the more compelling and rich with possibility.
A large portion of your work is gothic and set in the Victorian Era. What keeps you coming back to this genre and time period?
I believe I'm a reincarnate Victorian, that some sort of past life or echo has driven me to this absolute fascination and adoration with this time period since I was a kid. My first novel was set in 1888, I began writing it somewhere around the age of 12. Thanks to a wonderful literature teacher, I discovered Edgar Allan Poe at an early age - his language spoke to my soul and I saw the world, and still do, with his same strangely beautiful eyes.
Apart from being a writer, you are also an actress and a playwright. Does the creative process change based on the medium?
Absolutely, they're all very different beasts. I love shifting from one to the other but have to allow myself a bit of re-entry from one to the next. Being an actress is natural and I get to use my outgoing side; being a novelist I get to tap into the epic storyteller within me; being a playwright is hardest. I find that the struggle to say meaningful things and create a reality on stage with limited words and resources is the most difficult thing to do.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Be persistent and stay strong. The business and the art will make you question a lot of things and peck away at your confidence. Your desire to see your writing out in the world has to outweigh any fear or insecurity.
What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Persistence. Not believing in writer's block, not waiting for "the muse" - you just have to make a story happen for yourself by sheer discipline.
In the spirit of Halloween, will you share your scariest paranormal experience?
Being in the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA and hearing sounds I can't explain both outside and inside the hotel room. Fascinating, but unsettling too.
What's the most beneficial part of having a website? How has it helped you as an author?
In this day and age it's vital, you simply cannot be in the business– any business –without a website. A website is the fundamental part of marketing, and without it, readers would have no other way of knowing advanced information about releases, appearances, press, mailing lists, story order, etc. All of that information is so important in building a presence.
If you are looking for a spooky Historical Fantasy, check out Leanna's new book: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart. For a taste of her literary style, there are several links to free reads on her website.
Jimdo readers chime in: Have you experienced unexplained phenomena? Share your encounters in the comment section below!
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You may have noticed that The Blue Room has been on a hiatus. It's because we heard your suggestions and we're making huge improvements! Watch Powen and I (Julia) below for further details, and notice the much improved audio and visual quality.
Missing us? We'll be back, shortly!
For this week's dose of Jimdo: JimdoTV Episode #3 - A Cup of Quijote Coffee
The third episode of JimdoTV is here! This time we feature Quijote Coffee, a coffee roasting plant not far from Jimdo HQ in Hamburg. The coffee lovers in our main office use Quijote Coffee's delicious espresso beans to wake themselves up in the morning. Two of the plant's employees, Steffi and Pingo, showed JimdoTV host Ria around and helped answer a question that many of us rarely think about: What steps are involved in getting a coffee bean from the farm where it's grown to a coffee cup thousands of miles away?
Pingo is really open in the interview as he discusses both the business of selling coffee and the art of making it. Drawing on his experiences working with roasters from all over Europe, he explains how carefully you have to consider each step of the process: storage, weighing, roasting, cooling, packaging — everything affects how a cup of coffee is going to taste. He uses the language of a connoisseur to describe the taste of the coffee: smooth, velvety, fruity. After listening to Pingo, you can't help but be more observant of all the various flavors that distinguish different coffee beans.
We hope you enjoy the latest episode of JimdoTV. More episodes are on the way! If you missed the first two episodes of JimdoTV, check out the archives.
Every day our support team gets questions about search engine optimization (SEO). How can I be the first result in a Google search? Why can't anyone find my site with my chosen keywords? How does SEO even work? How can I set up my Jimdo site to increase my chances of getting noticed by search engines?
Good news: starting today, there's a whole lot more you can do to with Jimdo to get noticed by search engines...
Our developers have added new search engine tools and redesigned the SiteAdmin panel to make it even easier for you to edit your search engine settings. Just click on the new magnifying glass icon and you will see all of the new SEO features in one place.
JimdoFree users, you now have access to new SEO settings that you can use to change your site as a whole.
JimdoPro and JimdoBusiness users, you can now control the SEO features directly on the page you're currently working on. That means you'll be able to decide on the perfect titles, descriptions, and keywords, because you will be looking right at the page you want to optimize.
Brand new for all JimdoBusiness users: The advanced SEO function Robots Meta Tags allows you to hide specific subpages from search engines (noindex, nofollow, noarchive). By hiding less relevant pages from search engines, you strengthen the pages you consider most important and help them get noticed.
Don't forget: Search engine optimization is very difficult. Our new tools offer you the best chance to land at the top of a Google search — but there's never a guarantee that will happen. Your position in a search can be influenced by a ton of different factors, one of which is intense competition over certain keywords ("Golden Gate Bridge" is a harder keyword to land a top spot with than "Cole Valley bike shop").
Well now you can, from the comfort of your own computer! Join us in this week's episode of The Blue Room as Kurt and Powen show you around the Hamburg office, where Jimdo began, as well as teach you how to monitor your online visitors and add a search bar to your website. Check out Episode 10: Hamburg, Inside the Nucleus below, and subscribe to Jimdo's YouTube channel so you don't miss any future episodes.
P.S. Don't miss out on some foosball action - keep watching after the credits!
Ask us your questions in the comments below and we'll answer them in next week's episode!
A perfect cup of coffee can jumpstart any morning. Brewing skills can define taste but, as most coffee enthusiasts know, it all begins with the bean. In this week's Jimdo Spotlight, Hamilton Argueta, CEO of Maya-Inca Coffee, walks us through the process of selecting coffee beans and gives us a quick background on his company.
What's the origin of Maya-Inca Coffee?
My business partner Giovanny was born in South America and I was born in Central America where Maya and Inca culture were predominant in the pre-columbian era. Our ancestors' origins also stem from these two ancient civilizations and we chose to honor our roots by incorporating the Mayan pyramid, Inca symbol, coffee leaves and beans in our logo.
What makes your coffee unique?
Our Arabica beans are carefully selected for their aroma, flavor, and freshness. The beans are harvested from fincas, or coffee plantations, where no pesticides or chemicals are used to grow the beans. Our providers' philosophy aligns with our own in that they are very well aware that chemicals will ruin the ecosystem of the plantation and that a 100% organic coffee beans yield the most delicious coffee.
For those who are not coffee connoisseurs, what should they be looking for when selecting beans?
Always choose coffee beans that are organic, and compare altitudes of the coffee plantations. Altitude dictates how acidic or smooth the coffee beans' taste is. If you are looking for a bean to make espresso, select one from a high altitude. For your daily coffee cup, we recommend beans from a lower altitude.
In terms of coffee, what does 100% organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified mean?
100% organic means that the coffee we sell is grown with no pesticides. Using pesticides will ruin the natural flavor and composition of the coffee. Rainforest certified means that the coffee is planted without destroying the natural habitat of the plantation, which is home to many birds, mammals, reptiles, and other wildlife. The certification also means that the plantation is a member of a bigger organization that serves to protect the ecosystem.
How did you come across website builder Jimdo?
It was among the top four website builders Entrepreneur magazine recommended for new business owners in need of a site.
What do you like the most about Jimdo?
I like how easy and user-friendly it is; getting a complete website up and running only takes 45 minutes to and hour. Jimdo’s affordability is great for small businesses who are just starting out.
If you're a coffee lover (and even if you're not!) check out Maya-Inca's array of coffee offerings. Have other coffee tips you'd like to share with Jimdo readers? Post them in the comments section below!
Would you like to be in our next Jimdo User Spotlight? Leave us a note in the comments!