Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: My Journey

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire


Confessions of a Literary Mama


I confess: I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t have children. I wrote as a hobby, but I had other plans. Not only did motherhood prompt a need to vent, but it also gave me something to vent about. While I adored my baby and embraced the fact that her demand for my nipples made my 14-hour workdays in film production a thing of the past, the abrupt reality of 24-hour workdays was something else entirely.

Since I gave birth in the dark era before blogs, I wrote brief essays until my own mother suggested I bundle them, like a baby, into a book. After dozens of blind queries, I sold Welcome to Club Mom: The End of Life As You Know It. The publisher thought that was too negative, so I changed it the subtitle to: The Adventure Begins. And it did. Now I could stay home, have another baby, and still have a career. I was a writer.

Six books and several produced screenplays later, I was accused by a mystery author - a man - of not picking a major. While it’s true that I veer from humorous nonfiction to literary thriller, can anyone who reads my titles question my focus? Welcome to Club Mom, The Happy Healthy Grandma Guide, Nesting, 66 Laps, Heartless, "I Hate Everybody" in Mommy Wars, "Welcome to the Club" in The Honeymoon's Over, Wife Goes On, "Parenting Paranoia" in On Becoming Fearless. No matter where in the bookstore you find my work, it all focuses on one thing: the challenges of modern motherhood.

My new novel, What A Mother Knows, is the culmination of everything that came before. While my daughters are now old enough to deserve some privacy from public exposure, my maternal angst and the worst of what-ifs inspired the story. It began as a literary exercise, a dark complicated tale that earned critical praise, but commercial doubt. I put it aside to write a book that sold from the outline plus a complementary screenplay. Then I picked it up again.

I was obsessed. I ripped it apart and put it back together, revising until it represented everything I believed about the different ways to be a mother, about how generations of mothers influence us, and about the unconditional love that we share. It still had the same murder mystery and rock ‘n roll and the search from Maui to Key West to New York City. Only now it was a page-turning thriller. And finally, it sold.

Weeks after I signed the contract, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Confronted with mortality, I wondered about the life choices I had made. I wondered what other careers I might have had. Then I realized that if this book was to be my last, I would die content.

What A Mother Knows is about how far a woman would go to protect her child. Pretty far, as it turns out. She would become a writer.


Leslie is giving away one copy of What A Mother Knows. Read the entry details here; deadline is August 21st.


Join our After Page One series.  We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude.   The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio at the bottom of your post so readers can learn more about you and your projects.


Leslie Lehr’s new novel, What A Mother Knows, is her sixth book. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times “Modern Love” column and Huffington Post Parents. Leslie has a BA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, an MFA from Antioch, and teaches in the world renowned Writers Program at UCLA Extension.

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