Saturday, January 29, 2011

My latest interview on

Romance Novel Examiner Maddie James interviews me in her column today.  Follow the link to check it out:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Figuring out what I want to be when I grow up...Zumba and writing

I've always been a person to have diverse interests...just look at my educational background.  In college at Marshall University, I began studying fashion merchandising, before moving on to accounting, which I found daunting.  I completed a couple of semesters in accounting and decided that marketing would be the way to go instead and so I went.  And, off I went into the world with my handy little bachelor's degree more confused than ever about what it was I wanted to do.  So, I was an official college degree holder, but I still didn't come out of college knowing anything about anything that I was interested in, so I went to graduate school at Marshall University to study criminal justice, but not before I spent a summer in Madrid studying Spanish.  So, yes, you can see my background is diverse. 

It's not just my studies that have been broad, my employment history has as well.  In high school, I worked in the Kroger salad bar and was deemed the "Salad Bar Queen" by my family while also assisting a gymnastics teacher.  In college and grad school, I worked as a CSR at a hotel, a CPA's assistant, a graduate assistant delivering presentations on the dangers of underage drinking (this job didn't go very well considering I ran into many of the students whom I was preaching the dangers of drinking to at a few of the local college bars and yes, I was of the legal drinking age), and a supportive counselor for at-risk youth--a job I kept until I was well out of grad school.  Then, I moved on to my current place of employment, working in community and economic development. 

So, there I was in a more settled job, but I still wasn't satisfied.  I mean, my needs were being met, but I still was not doing what I thought I wanted to do.  And, to be honest, I really had no idea what I wanted to do.  Not that I know now, but I definitely feel more content now.

And the reason for that content feeling is because I discovered something I really loved...Zumba and writing.  I took my first Zumba class nearly three years ago and was hooked instantly and after meeting my husband, I was inspired to write a book.  I decided to become a licensed Zumba instructor in June of 2010 and got my contemorary romance novel published in November 2010. 

So I suppose this is where the rest of this blog post comes in now.  I wanted to provide a little history on my diverse background which I just did before launching into a piece I wrote, called How writing has made me a better Zumba instructor.  I think it makes me feel better when I can connect the pieces of my vast range of studies and careers so that they make sense and they tie together as well as complement each other.  And, you know what?  I think I've done it...yes, I have.  Zumba and writing go together, at least I've made them go together in my own mind.  So sit back, relax and take a peek as I explain how writing has influenced my Zumba instruction.

How writing has made me a better Zumba instructor

I am a Zumba fanatic. Not only has it helped me drop close to sixty pounds, it has helped my creativity flourish. Not to mention, Zumba is fun…like, seriously fun. My love of Zumba, since taking my first class nearly three years ago, pushed me to become a licensed instructor in June of 2010, even though I wasn’t quite busy enough (note the hint of sarcasm). I was planning my wedding and honeymoon, working on my first book, Coincidence, which was published in November of 2010, and planning on a huge international move to Ireland, my husband’s homeland, with my two cats. Oh, and I had a full-time job.

But, this article isn’t about how busy I am, it’s about my story as an instructor and how my first hobby, writing, has made me a better instructor. With the Zumba craze reaching all over the world, it is important to always better yourself as an instructor. The first way to do this would be with creative and fun Zumba choreography.

Writing has definitely helped me develop my Zumba creativity. How, you ask? Well, the process to writing and developing new Zumba choreography is often the same, aside from the fact that when you are writing, you are sitting and typing and while you are Zumba-ing (I think I’ve just created a new word there, but we’ll go with it), you are most definitely not sitting. The creativity that I encounter when I write, especially with my book, pushes my mind and helps me explore and move past the limits I put on myself and allows me to open my thoughts and mind to things I never thought possible. A lot of this rings true when you are developing new Zumba choreography for your class, well, for me, anyway. Once I begin Zumba-ing, I find myself, while listening to the music (at a high volume, of course), moving in ways I never thought possible. The feeling and state of mind I encounter while writing, has flowed over and is experienced while I’m preparing my Zumba classes.

Creativity as an instructor may seem like an obvious thing. You have to be creative to be a successful instructor. Your students crave new routines, new music and new moves. And, I guarantee, not only do your students crave it, you as an instructor do, too. I mean, you do these routines more than your students, so it’s important to keep things fresh because you don’t want to be bored while you’re up there teaching. Trust me, the same ‘ol songs over and over, do get boring. Your students will see it and will feel your lack of enthusiasm. And, that’s not what Zumba is about!

The Zumba Corporation does an incredible job of supplying their ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) members with new choreography and music, but I also enjoy just turning the music on and seeing what I can come up with on my own. For me, this is one of the most fun parts of being an instructor. And, this process is very similar to my writing process. While writing, when I’m not sure where I want to take my story, I’ll sit at the computer and just type. Something always develops. Yes, it may take some time, but something is always churned out (and yes, sometimes it is bad and needs to be deleted). It is the same process with Zumba. Even if I don’t know the steps and moves I want to do, I turn on the music and just move. Something always develops! And yes, sometimes it can be bad, too. Just move on and keep going. This doesn’t develop over night. Yes, sometimes it can take days, even weeks to put the perfect choreography together for any given song. But, just as the words have always been there begging to get out, so have the Zumba moves.

I take Zumba and writing seriously, but in a fun way. When I’m not teaching a Zumba class, I’m doing Zumba at home in my apartment (much to the chagrin of my neighbors I have gathered after having a “please turn your music down” note taped to my door one time) simply because I love it and I so much enjoy developing new choreography, or I’m looking at what other instructors are doing thanks to YouTube, or listening to new music to incorporate in my class. In fact, I can almost come up with a Zumba routine to any song on the radio. I even Zumba in my head while driving and listening to the radio!

So, using the same process I use for writing had significantly improved my ability as an instructor by opening my mind and I have found myself moving, shimmying and gyrating in ways I never thought possible.

So, how can you take this information and relate it to you? I guess the best way is to take your passion (the passion you have other than Zumba), whether it be knitting or just watching television, examine that passion to see how you express yourself when you are participating in it and the state of mind you have while doing it. Then, see if it’s transferable to your Zumba class, if you are an instructor, or if not, to whatever other part of your life requires a little inspiration and passion.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Here's what they are saying about Coincidence

I've gathered some reviews from those that have read Coincidence and compiled them all in once

Amazon reviews:

"I absolutely loved this book. When I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters within the book. I felt like I knew each and everyone of them. I also loved the romance and mystery within. I kept thinking throughout. what would happen next. You just didn't know what would be the couples next obstacle in finding each other again. I just had to keep reading to find out how it would end. I loved it so much, that I am ready for the movie version of the book!!! I loved the writings of Lesley Hager, and I hope to read another book by her in the near future."--Jill Withrow

"When i initially picked up my copy of Coincidence i was pleasantly surprised by the charm it presents to the reader at once. I am far from the intellectual type and read on a casual basis and not really any more than the next guy/gal. The feeling that came over me was one of 'Oh goody, i think im gonna have a little fun and a little excitement with this journey'. I found the story to be interesting but not to the point of overpowering the characters themselves. Ms Hager has spawned a new story here but has placed some wonderful people along its windy pathand the fact that my favorite place in the world, Ireland, was heavily featured did sway my opinion slightly, then again who doesnt like Ireland right? As i said the characters were quite well described and you find yourself pulling for the protagonist from day one. I wont spoil the story for you dear reader but it is a delightful journey of mystery and intrigue and filled with love and romance that anyone should fall for. There are also a few twists!!! I will leave that for you to find yourself, so bejasus just get readin!!"--Basil McCoubrey

"The book was a great, very quick read. Once I started reading it, I really couldn't put it down. Would recommend."--Maggie Ben

Review below by Suzanne M. Hurley, best-selling author of the Samantha Barclay series:

"Imagine meeting a guy and having an instant connection. You feel that you’ve known him forever! Your lips touch in a kiss that promises to be the best ever but chaos intervenes and you are yanked apart without ever finding out each other’s last name!

Such is the case in ‘Coincidence’, Lesley Hager’s exciting, new debut novel.

Samantha Montgomery sets off with her best friend Kate Mason, on their annual summer holiday at Blake’s Beach, South Carolina. There, Sam meets her possible soul mate, Sean, who is flying back to Ireland the next day. Due to a mess Kate is in, they are torn apart without exchanging vital stats - like names and addresses. They know nothing about each other except the magnetic pull, to be in each other’s arms.

‘Coincidence’ is about experiencing the possibility of everlasting love and taking risks to make that love come true. It is about being so taken with someone that you will search the world to find him. It is about two souls coming together as one, forever.

Ms. Hager pens a book that will satisfy your heart’s romantic inclinations. It is exciting as well as spell-bounding. This novel will have you rooting for Samantha as she sets out to find her love as well as search out information about her ancestors. Her descriptions of Ireland and the unique way the Irish speak, will sweep you up until you feel you actually are in this great country, living among the people there. This is a beautiful heartwarming story about love, family, ancestry and forgiveness.

So brew up some tea and settle down for some good reading. ‘Coincidence’ will have you racing to the end to find out if Sam finds Sean. Ms. Hager is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading more of her books."

Review below by Katherine Pym, author of Viola, A Woeful Tale of Marriage:

“Coincidence is delightful. Hager’s characters are real, and the family mystery a compelling read. This contemporary romance is like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.”

Friday, January 14, 2011's National Authors Columnist Interviews me about Coincidence

My interview with Paige Crutcher of is now posted.  Follow the link:

Zumbathon on Friday, January 21st!

Please join me and several area Zumba instructors on Friday, January 21, 2011 from 7-9pm for a Zumbathon to benefit  the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund.  See info below:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book signing photographs from today

My first book signing was today.  Despite a snowy start to the day, I had a pretty good crowd, leaving the book store with only two books remaining.  A big thanks to The Book Shop in South Charleston for hosting me today.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Feel me FLOW

"So here we go now, holla if ya hear me though, come and feel me flow."  Ok, Naughty by Nature...get outta my head.  This is serious stuff here!  I couldn't resist with a title like that, though.  Anyway, part of my job--working for "The Man" (See my bio)--and likely one of the best parts of my job, is being able to participate and assist with the popular Leadership Kanawha Valley program.  This program takes current and emerging leaders in the community and works to develop their leadership skills through monthly workshops, tour and discussions on a multitude of topics from arts and culture to building upon your strengths. 

Building on your strengths was part of today's session in which the class learned about and assessed their emotional intelligence and best strengths by utilizing a few books: Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves.  While working with the Transformation Specialists, LP, we were able to learn a little on how to develop our strengths and improve upon them.  Now, I personally think this is wonderful.  I've always believed that you need to work on your strengths...who cares about your weaknesses?  So, you suck at something...big deal...I'm sure you're good at a lot of other things.  At least, that has always been my philosophy.  I'm getting off track here. 

Continuing on.  As the discussion developed into mastering your strengths, the concept of FLOW came up.  Of course there is much more to this concept of FLOW, but in a nutshell and in my understanding, FLOW is what happens when you become so enveloped by the task at hand, whether it be climbing a mountain or perhaps, in my case, writing or working on new Zumba choreography, that you lose all track of time, or perhaps it may be best explained as time stands still as you are consumed by this task.  Once you are finished with this FLOW process, the feeling of completion and that you are a part of something much bigger overtakes you. 

This reminded me of the article I wrote for the Love Romance Passion blog last month, Writing Doesn't Happen Just By Coincidence, in which I talked a little about how to write a book and more specifically, the concept of developing the writing virus.  The main difference between FLOW and the "writing virus" is that with the "writing virus" you don't necessarily, or at least in my case, have that feeling when you are done of being part of something much larger than yourself.  This disappoints me!  I want to have that feeling!  I want to feel me here we go, stop you catchy, catchy, tune!

Now, don't get me wrong.  I have a great sense of accomplishment and pride when I write and complete something, but I don't have that greater than the grand scheme of things sense of accomplishment, which, after today, I strive for. 

With a passion for writing, I found myself asking how do I get this FLOW?  And, I think I have the answer.  Just as the shepherd learns he has always known the path to take from his internal voice in Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist (the best book ever, btw and the book that my friend read a passage from at my wedding), I think I've always known what it will take and what I was meant to do and I think it will give me that FLOW.  Yes, I have a project I've been wanting to do for a long time and I think I'm ready to do it.  It won't be easy and it will take a long time, I fear, but the outcome has the potential to be incredible.  FLOW, here I come!  And, just because it's stuck in my head, here's a little word from Naughty by Nature: