Hello. My name is Jeff Leitch and I am the proud co-author of Saving Our Pennys. My great friend Roy Dimond and I are proud to have produced this non-fiction work. Roy has also authored two other books entitled The Singing Bowl & The Rubicon Effect.
So who am I? I had to pause a few times over the last six weeks and figure that out. Thanks for waiting for me Chris.
I’ve got to be honest that there seems to be no before and after in my life. It’s a myriad of a million moments all the time. Working two jobs in the teaching profession, being a Hockey Dad and a parent and husband to a wife, three kids and a little dog makes my life a blur. Add with it the amazing experiences with publishing my first book with a great friend, and all the crazy aspects of the publishing world, and I’d say my beer glass is pretty full.
I have always been a writer (in my head) but never really pushed myself until after University. I knew deep down that I would attempt a book. I never foresaw the journey I took – but I was bloody sure that something in the written word was going to happen for me, published or not. Call it the stubbornness of my Scottish Blood lines or the lessons from a Dad who is resolute in his convictions. I cherish and revel, and yes I am even tormented sometimes by what writing does to me. But it’s a natural high that is like no other when you summit Mt. Quality – Thank you Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
My love of writing really came from my Mom and Dad, who were always avid readers, and read to me and my brothers when we were little. Books and newspapers, magazines and articles were always around us. Dad was also a ‘closet writer’ himself and often wrote short stories about his ski trips, baseball games, and nature. (The Field of Dreams cast really should meet my Dad…. But that’s another story.) Come to think of it, I don’t ever remember my parents not reading. Books have always been a sacred part of my life. My parents love for the written word instilled a fire in me. Thanks Mom and Dad.
My parents were constant role models for me and my brothers. Their integrity really knows no bounds, and this is why I draw my inspiration for stories, or articles from courage. Courage comes from the darkest moments in Mom’s illness, Dad’s fatigued and bloodshot eyes going out into the dark, working two jobs, often with no sleep, to save our home from the clutches of a broken economy and raising a home with three wild and passionate little boys who still believe in ‘the magic’ to this day.
I am fascinated with the human condition and its ability to wake up, swings its legs out of bed each day, and push forward – even when it looks like there is no hope. Courage reaffirms there is hope. From there, the magic of life is revealed everywhere to me – in traffic, in classrooms and hallways, at coffee shops, in a park, arena or at a playground with my kids. Courage gives you the reason to look, and be amazed… and hopefully see… and if you are willing to see… you may be willing to go a little bit farther in yourself, turn up your life-light, and maybe even write.
Or read. My first love of ‘story’ came from the huge Charlie Brown and Peanuts Illustrated Volumes. I was fascinated by those story lines, and soon that fed my love of cartoons in the papers, from the daily black and whites to those sun-beamed Saturday mornings where I would eat my cold cereal pouring over the coloured pullout comic sections. From there Tin-Tin opened my world beyond my local borders of my neighbourhood. Throw in the Hardy Boys and I was a fan for life with humour, adventure and mystery.
Through my mid-teens until now, I am hooked on great columnists and sports biographies. I have also lived my adult life in the world of story through the eyes of Stephen King. I particularly enjoyed recently, Blockade Billy which is an incredible story around a baseball player and his rise to fame, with a darkness that is pure Stephen King. This man still has the ability to shake my soul on a sunny day with the doors and windows open. I should also mention that currently I am reading Jane Leavy’s Biography about Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy. Her writing is absolute poetry and passion. I’ve never read a book with the unique style and voice she uses. I am a fan forever.
If I hit the rewind button in my thoughts when Roy and I decided to write Saving Our Pennys, the genesis of this story came from working alongside Roy at a Behaviour Program at the same school. Roy was retiring from youth work, and I was relatively new to the teaching profession, but we had similar questions and concerns about schools, students and the human race. This was the bedrock for Saving Our Pennys, which really is an inspirational story about a person who has a good life in many respects, but has become lost in what matters most. The journey our main character takes over the course of a calendar year is a special one. We use the central aspects and questions of people’s lives, and surround our characters with themes of nature, community, family and schools to forge an experience we all share. By doing this, Roy and I believe this story can embrace and change people’s lives. The feedback we have received over the last three months has been nothing short of remarkable and humbling, in terms of how this book is affecting people and their perspective on their life.
How did I get so lucky to have published a book with such a great friend? I’m not sure… but what Roy and I learned the most during this process is that “No” more often than not means “Not now.” “Not now” is a very different response than “No.” And the more you get yourself out there with your work, the more you will know. I also learned that criticism is healthy. I can’t remember who said it, but as much as we write with the door closed – we must edit with the door open – but make sure you take your work to various people who have responsible criticisms. Beware folks, there are some jaded souls out there….
Sooooo… what am I saying? Write. Write. Write. Write in all situations. Write in the dust on the hood of your car. Write in your quietest moments and your busiest times. Write at dusk when day meets night and in the early morning where night meets dawn. Have a pen with you at all times. A great line by Stephen King, who wrote another gem of a book called On Writing, said quite simply and profoundly, to “Kill your little darlings.” What I have learned from Mr. King is that a great idea for a book may just end up being a small sentence in your actual story. Suppressing your ego and braving the unknown will weave magic….
And magic is what my life is. I hope to write many more books and I also hope to dedicate many more to my wife, kids, friends, teammates, colleagues and families that I think about continuously. Finally, Thank you Chris, and Thank you www.thestoryreadingapeblog.com – what you do for writers is nothing short of remarkable.
You can find Saving Our Pennys at any book store, and if for some reason it is not on the shelf, it can be ordered in. For you home shoppers out there, here is the link below through Amazon. Finally, if you would like to contact us, feel free at our blogs (below).
All the best!
Saving Our Pennys