Monday, October 29, 2012

Posted by Laurel Garver on Monday, October 29, 2012 47 comments

by Leigh Talbert Moore
Author, The Truth About Faking

When I started writing The Truth About Faking, it wasn’t going to be as lighthearted as it turned out.  I planned for the main character Harley’s dad to have a crisis of faith because of a terrible disappointment. (Harley’s dad is a Presbyterian reverend.)

The story took a turn when Harley met Jason and then realized she liked him more than her “one true love” Trent—which created a whole different crisis for her. And maybe it was the mood I was in, but I couldn’t seem to keep the whole thing from being funny and romantic and sweet. My drama turned into a rom-com!

But one message I’d intended from the outset remained: Don’t judge others by their appearance. (The whole “book by its cover” adage.)

It’s a message we know by heart, yet I think until we’re actually surprised by someone or something, we pass appearance-based judgments all the time.

Harley decides Trent’s the one for her based on his appearance and his quiet politeness. The town in which Harley lives judges her mother based on appearance. They even decide Harley’s parents have a shaky marriage based on appearance.

Heck, even the town Shadow Falls isn’t shadowy nor does it have waterfalls…

Yeah, I was chasing a theme.

I also kept the religious elements in place. It was a risk maybe. Sometimes readers are put off by religion in books. But the consensus has been in this case, it makes the story more real.

In my experience, church and faith tend to be a big part of life in Small Town, USA. In addition, Christians are often just as guilty of judging books by their covers.

Ultimately, my goal was to make readers think, which I hope TTAF does. How often do we judge people wrongly? How important is it to keep one’s word when it might jeopardize one’s position in the community? 


Thanks so much for having me today, Laurel! I hope readers like my book!

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Leigh Talbert Moore is a wife and mom by day, a writer by day, a reader by day, an editor when time permits, a chocoholic, a lover of YA and contemporary romance (really any great love story), and occasionally she sleeps.

The Truth About Faking is her debut young adult romance. You can find it on
AmazonB&N,  Smashwords and Kobo

ROUGE is the first book in her mature-YA/new adult romance series (available Nov. 11 in all major outlets).

Leigh loves hearing from readers; stop by and say hello:
-Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/leightmoore
-Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeighTalbertMoore
-Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/leightmoore
-Blog: http://leightmoore.blogspot.com/
-Email: leightmoore(at)gmail(dot)com

47 comments:

  1. Religion and spirituality is a big part of a lot of people's lives, and having spent several years living in the Midwest, I certainly know it's important in small town culture. I think authors often avoid that stuff, but it's really just portraying life as it actually is, and ... isn't that what contemporary realistic fiction does? Great post, Leigh!

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Sarah. When so many surveys say a majority of the population has some level of faith, it does seems strange that it's not often portrayed as just part of life in fiction. Religion is important in cities too (I live in Philly), we just wider religious diversity.

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  2. Yay for Leigh!! I agree it seems like talks of faith are a hard sell to big pubbers these days. I wrote a contemp Christian/Muslim teen romance a few years ago and couldn't find anyone to take it on. But I feel like it's really important to discuss it cuz so many teens struggle with questions of faith--especially in a melting pot of them.

    Good for Leigh for putting it out there. Many good wishes for success!!!!

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    1. Your story sounds fascinating to me, PK! Developing a whole identity in the teen years always includes a faith component. Will I stay in the faith I was raised in? Will I try some other faith?

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  3. So true Leigh that people get judged too much on appearances. And I agree that religion is often a big part of small town life. Good for you for not shying away from including it in your story.

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    1. As a reader, i always resonate more with stories that don't shyly tiptoe away from the realities of life.

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  4. Your message rang true throughout the novel, sweetie. It was refreshing and I'm sure many teen readers will feel the same. So thrilled for you!!

    I'd also like to say a 'Hello' to Laurel. Not sure how I haven't met you yet, but it's nice to meet you. :)

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    1. I agree, it is a refreshing change.

      Hi to you too, Sherrie. I've popped by the Oasis group blog you're on occasionally.

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  5. Thanks, guys! And THANKS again to Laurel for having me here! Yep, prejudices, religion. Even in a rom-com these things increase the drama--which is how it works in TTAF, I think. Hope you all enjoy my book! Best~ :o) <3

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    1. Thanks for the great post, Leigh! It was fun having you, and your post has started some great conversations.

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  6. Your novel sounds lovely, Leigh. It's so true we judge people way too soon, based on appearance or a first impression or beliefs. It's really great that you address this in your writing!

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    1. The way the theme plays out in Leigh's story, the idea really sticks with you.

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  7. I love stories where faith is intertwined with the character's lives, because that's how we really live. Our beliefs shape the way we act, and when we doubt that shapes our actions too.

    I've seen your book at a couple of other sites, but somehow I missed that included faith in it . . .I'm going to add it to my to-read shelf now.

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    1. So true that both faith and doubt shape our actions. Great insight!

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  8. I think the faith piece was important to the book LARGELY because it explained why Harley might be so caught up in appearances. She has a vested interest not just as a 'shallow teen' (which she IS a little bit at the beginning) but because she cares about her FAMILY, so it takes some of the sting off of the attitude for the reader--we judge her less for being that way.

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    1. That's a great insight--that Harley worries about "the appearance of evil" that her faith tradition warns followers to avoid. It makes her worry about her mom's reputation and leads her to jump to wrong conclusions too.

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  9. I think it's great that you stuck to your gut and kept the religious aspect in the story. Sometimes what can be a risk also makes the book stand out:)

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    1. I heartily agree. It's a risk I also took in my book, which I'll be sharing about over on Leigh's blog in the coming weeks.

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  10. Faith/religion is a big part of a lot of real peoples lives so I don't thinks it's natural for it to be automatically excluded from fiction, just because. I also have characters of faith/faith crisis in my books, and I think it's a normal/common slice of life.

    Slashes are important, too.

    :)

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    1. LOL. Slashes are important! :-)

      And I agree heartily that removing all mentions of religion from fiction isn't realistic. It's a big part of life for most of the world's population.

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  11. Thanks, guys, for the great comments! I couldn't agree more! And thanks again, Hart, for your awesome insight and book review for TTAF. It's very cool when people "get" my book. :o) <3

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  12. I think it's a humane thing to not judge. It's a basic human right to not be judged solely on one's appearance/gender/sexuality. I think you have to have some good in fiction!

    Take care
    x

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    1. Taking the time to really know others is the humane thing for sure. Seems the busier we get, the more we fall back on snapshot views and judgments as a society.

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  13. The judgment theme is a thread in my own life and stories--and one I think everyone can identify with in some shape or form--especially in YA. I too want to read real stories. :) Your book is on my TBR pile--sounds great!

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    1. Mine too, Coleen! I've been on the receiving end, and like Leigh says, had my misperceptions challenged when I got to know someone better. It's one of the themes I hoped Leigh would address because TTAF does it well.

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  14. It's not only easy to the the subject of being judged, but also of judging words we take as mean-spirited.

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  15. I think this is a great theme! Christians aren't exempt from judging based on appearance. I think this is something we all have to work on. I could tell stories, though I won't. Still, I have to remind myself all the time.

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    1. Really knowing someone requires getting close, which makes us vulnerable, so the struggle is in many ways understandable. But how much we miss in life going on appearance alone!

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  16. To tell you the truth, I shy away from religious themes in non-religious books, but the way Leigh handled it in TTAF was great. She didn't push an agenda; it felt like a real part of these peoples' lives; and there wasn't some subliminal Christian message that took over the story. The story spoke for itself. The judgement theme was definitely there and I really liked how it played out throughout the story, but it felt like the lessons learned were life lessons applicable to anyone, not just Christians or particular readers. Great job, Leigh!
    :)

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    1. It's a tough balance for a writer to manage--including faith-based themes in a way that's not preachy.

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  17. I've read Leigh's book and she did a great job with the religious aspect. It added to the book and enhanced the underlying theme. I'm soooo glad she went the direction she took. :D

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    1. It was a pleasant surprise for me, too, and made the characters have more depth.

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  18. Religion in books doesn't scare me away. As a matter of fact, I welcome it. Especially if it's handled with respect.

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    1. Glad to hear that Julie. I really enjoyed Chaim Potok's books even through I'm not Jewish. I find it fascinating to learn what it's like to see the world through the eyes of people in various religious traditions.

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  19. Yay! Thanks, guys! My goal wasn't to write a religious book, rather to write a "real" book--despite the title. LOL! I don't know. I just did my best. I appreciate all the positive feedback! ((hugs)) <3 :o)

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  20. Yeah, it's tough to be a massage therapist in a small town, especially if you're married. Hey, if people can't get over their hang-ups about certain things (including books that explore faith), too bad. For them, life is a piece of Swiss cheese--full of soul-holes.

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    1. I loved that detail in Leigh's book. It went to the heart of a particularly American Christian hang up about the body generally (I say that as an in-the-culture critiquer).

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  21. sounds like a great book, thanks for the recommendation! new follower, here! hi!

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    1. Hi Tammy! thanks for the follow! Sorry to be slow to respond here--I've had no electricity since Monday, so it's catch as catch can for social media right now.

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  22. It's so easy to judge people by appearances!

    Sounds like you have a good book!

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    1. It's a huge part of our culture, even though wisdom (and Harley's faith) tells her we need to know the inside of a person.

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  23. Thanks again, everybody! I hope you do like my book. And that's right, Tara! You know a little about being a MT in a small town. :D <3

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    1. P.S.
      LOVE that Swiss cheese analogy... :D

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  24. While I'm not usually one for religion in novels, I thought the whole subplot with Mum worked very well. It's an important message not to judge by appearance, and something we all (okay, I!) need reminding of.

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  25. You had just the right amount of religion in TTAF. I never ever thought it was preachy or too much, more that people do really go to church and it's very real! I have a church scene in my mg and someone suggested I take it out, but it's real life for many people!

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