This past Saturday, I attended “Leslie’s Big Hug Writers Bash” which was hosted by friends and colleagues of Leslie to raise money for her daughter. The benefit was held at Smokey Joe’s Tavern in University City, Philadelphia, and the turnout was wonderful. Many writers, editors, and friends of Leslie filled the room all night, and even included a visit by the Mayor of Philadelphia.
Some of the fund raising featured an auction for manuscript critiques, ebook and print-on-demand manuscript design services, tickets and a backstage tour for Jersey Boys on Broadway, full scholarships to writer’s conferences, and signed books by New York Times bestselling authors such as Charlain Harris, Heather Graham and Sherrilyn Kenyon.
A member of The Liar’s Club http://liarsclubphilly.com (which also has a blog post covering the event), Leslie was known for her inspiration and encouragement, her affectionate demeanor, her fantastic writing, and her positive attitude. A wonderful, wonderful person, I can’t say enough about her that hasn’t been said a great many times already.
I first met Leslie (L.A. Banks to her many fans) at the PhilCon, an annual convention based out of the Philadelphia area covering sci-fi/horror/fantasy, and at which Leslie was often a panelist covering the many various themes and subjects. She had a book reading scheduled late on the last day of the convention, which turned out to be a bad time slot because I was the only one who showed up.
Instead of a book reading, we got to talking about writing. An hour later, I had received a full tutorial on how to construct a story arc, something I was having a lot of trouble with. She taught me about character honesty, and encouraged me to continue with some ideas I had previously rejected.
To say that she gave me confidence would be an understatement.
A year later, I saw her again at the same convention on another book reading, and when I told her I had nearly a hundred and fifty thousand words to show for my manuscript she pumped her fist for me.
You can ask hundreds and hundreds of people who have met Leslie and you will find similar stories like mine. She touched all of us and made us better.
It’s a testament to her that I want to be published, not just for my own writing, but also to carry out her example.
Leslie, you will not be forgotten.