Wild Hearts & What Are You Reading Podcast!


You can read WILD HEARTS my story collab with AMANDA MISKA over @ WHISKEYPAPER! 

You can listen to me talking to MATT DEBENHAM on the latest eppy of the WHAT ARE YOU READING Podcast! We talk about books, putting my collection together, Sons of Anarchy, Steve Nicks and writing and stuff!


I also bought this AHA SHAKE sweatshirt b/c I love Kings of Leon so much.

24. July 2014 by Leesa
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15. July 2014 by Leesa
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Reading/Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective/Episode 294 of Other Ppl with Brad Listi: LEESA CROSS-SMITH

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1. I will be reading with Roxane Gay, Lindsey Gates-Markel and Ruben Quesada JULY 27TH @ MIKE N MOLLYS, CHAMPAIGN. Presented by Pygmalion Lit Fest & Smile Politely! STOKED.

2. My story SURREPTITIOUS, CANARY, CHAMOMILE is live @ Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. Thanks much to Ginny and TC for including me!

3. You can listen to me talking to a one Brad Listi on Other Ppl Podcast! We talk about Guns N Roses and Jesus and how I hate birthday parties!

13. July 2014 by Leesa
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Robyn Ryle wrote a review of EVERY KISS A WAR over @ Buffalo Almanack!

“Imagine your first kiss became a place. The walls would be built of touches felt somewhere behind your knees. The windows are your lover’s eyes. In the house made from your first love, the building would be rocked with storms – hail and wind and driving rain. You would barely notice because of the sweetness, though. The rooms would smell of whiskey and sugar. To read Leesa Cross-Smith’s debut collection of short stories, Every Kiss a War, is to take up residence in that place.”

Brianna Pike wrote a review of EVERY KISS A WAR!

“Every Kiss A War is a collection of twenty-seven stories that focus primarily on relationships and how they are constantly evolving. The characters are flawed and beautiful and I was in love with each and every one of them, even the ones I didn’t like very much. These are real men and women who live in the real world made up of cowboy boots, red lipstick, and wine in mason jars. The details are so thick and vivid, that each story makes me feel like I’m standing inside a bright, colorful painting and I could reach out and touch the brushstrokes. Reading these stories is a visceral experience.”

Ben Tanzer wrote a review of EVERY KISS A WAR!

“And yet, and yes, we suppose there is always an “and yet,” it is really fucking sexy, terribly, and endlessly, and you can read Every Kiss A War for any number of reasons, the language and joy seeping off of the pages, or merely for the quite triumphant Whiskey & Ribbons, which will knock you on your ass, but the sexiness is reason enough, and for that you need look no further then the trifecta of interlocking stories – What The Fireworks Are For, Hold on, Hold on, and Cheap Beer & Sparklers – because they are sure to change your life.”

David Abrams added EVERY KISS A WAR to his Roundup of noteworthy 2014 Short Story Collections!

THANKS Y’ALL! And everyone for reading! <3 <3
My story SURREPTITIOUS, CANARY, CHAMOMILE will be in the new issue of Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective next weekish!
Readings from here to Illinois to Indiana to Lexington, KY and back again and also recording podcasts soon! All kinds of exciting stuffs I can’t talk abt just yet but will soon, soon!

30. June 2014 by Leesa
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First lemme get this out of the way and say I’M NOT A PLAYA, I JUST CRUSH A LOT.

When I was thinking abt starting a WRITER/BOOK CRUSH section of my blog, I was thinking AND I HAVE A LOT OF THEM. It can be one story, one line, one poem, a tweet, an email…WHATEVER. And the writer can be male or female. It’s not abt that. And running the risk of sounding cliché …it’s abt CONNECTION. A way of feeling like a writer is giving me his/her guts. There’s an intimacy there that I can’t quite explain, but I know it when I see it/read it/hear it/feel it. And altho I do crush a lot like Big Pun…this feeling I get…it is a bit elusive @ times. I never know where I’m gonna find it next. Never know when it’s gonna warm and wash over me. It always happens when I least expect it. And when I read YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU by BEN TANZER…it happened, y’all.

YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU (Artistically Declined, 2011) is a story abt a guy named Keith, his life, job, friends and family. It feels like a movie. I read it in abt a week (inbetween doing my own book hustle/mama duties/homemaking life/WhiskeyPaper stuffs…) and whenever I would put it down, I’d find myself thinking WHAT WAS THAT MOVIE I WAS WATCHING. I NEED TO FINISH THAT MOVIE. It’s the fast-paced pop-culture of the language/conversations and the references to music (the title is a Hold Steady song) and all of that. Tanzer uses a lot of dialogue and I love well-written dialogue. He also lets us into Keith’s brain immediately. The first line is “I am on top of the intern.” Keith fantasizes abt lots of things. Being in awesome bar fights, a security guard with Erykah Badu hair…ok so I LOVE HIM.

YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU is sexy and funny. YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU was my gateway drug to all things Tanzer and now I’m in the process of reading everything he’s ever written, which could take me all summer b/c he has a lot of books! Writes a lot of things! And they all gimme That Same Feeling. And I am trying really hard to nail it down…to explain it to you but I think some of the magic is that I simply cannot. Like, even when I try. But I will still try by using images/sounds that make me feel the same way. His writing makes me feel: the last day of school, catching a lightning bug, college Friday nights + one IPA + one cigarette, kissing in cars + sunset, getting to the ballpark early, sliding into a bed with fresh, clean sheets, staying up all night + summer nights, windows open + making the perfect oldskool mixtape.

Whenever I’m poking around for a novel, YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU is the kinda novel I’m poking around for. I wrote Ben a fanletter and told him how much I love that he’s not cynical. The novel (I believe) examines all kinds of different layers of feelings/emotions/feels/things a man in his mid-thirties like Keith can feel..but in a real way. And when he feels it…he really feels it…whether it’s anxiety or lust or boredom or anger or apathy. I really loved Keith. There are tiny moments I won’t spoil for you if you haven’t read it, but they made me cry. I was involved in his story and life. When I finished the book, I had that sleepy, drunk, hungover feeling I get whenever I finish a really good book I’ve been emotionally involved in. That huh what where am i huh whoooo what feeling I’m looking for when I decide to spend my time with a book.

I read somewhere that Tanzer writes “Men’s Fiction” and as far as YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU, I agree. And I love it. I’m 100% okay w/someone saying I write “Women’s Fiction.” I get it, I dig it. And maybe that’s part of why I loved this novel so much. It felt complementary to my own writing/stories.

My favorite novels are character-driven. I want to get to know them, every part of them. And I decided not to write this like a typical review (for a lot of reasons but one of them is b/c Tanzer gets plenty of press/has a lot of books/ppl have prettymuch already written everything abt this book b/c it came out a bit ago) where I tell you what the book is about and quote my favorite parts of it (I have many!)…b/c I wanted to talk abt my FEELS instead (I have many!)…I love these characters and how they deal w/prettymuch every emotion possible and how Keith gives up/doesn’t give up on things and how relationships matter and friendships matter and marriages matter and parenting matters. And how forgiveness is hard and apologizing is hard and keeping yr word is hard and going back on yr word is hard and how being a parent is hard and how dealing w/yr parents is hard and and and.

It’s like on 30 Rock when someone asks Jack if he likes Phil Collins and he says I’VE GOT TWO EARS AND A HEART, DON’T I? (I feel the same, Jack)…That’s what I’ll end with. I love YOU CAN MAKE HIM LIKE YOU b/c I HAVE TWO EYES AND A HEART. I’ve been thinking abt these characters a lot since I finished the book and I’m actually stoked to go back and read it again. I read the e-book and I’m stoked to get a real paper copy and get Tanzer to sign it for me when I’m in Chicago @ the end of July. We will be podcastin’ together and then, also reading together along w/some other ruheally awesome Chicago ppl. AND YES I AM NERVOUS B/C NOW I AM A HUGE BEN TANZER FANGIRL. (also lemme add that on top of being this amaze writer, he’s also The Best Emailer and Twitter Respondererer, but that’s for another blog post.)

IN SUMMATION: Ben’s writing is unpretentious and solid. Ruheally good. I feel like there are a lot of writers trying to do what he does, but he actually does it. I love this book and I have a whole stack of Tanzer books in my house now and one is in the mail on the way to me. I love the Hold Steady song this book is named after and the one called Stuck Between Stations, which is also the name of one of my favorite movies. I love that entire BOYS AND GIRLS IN AMERICA album and listen to it on repeat a lot. (A LOT.) “Citrus” is perfect. This album makes me feel the same way my favorite albums made me feel when I was in high school. When I’d lock my door and turn on an entire album over and over again and write in my journal abt boys and boys and Drew Barrymore movies/outfits. Now this album (and you have to listen to the whole album…it’s like so a complete album from beginning to end and needs to be listened to that way) reminds me of/makes me feel like I’m living in a book. The book makes me feel like I’m living in a song. I GOT EMO WRITING THAT LAST SENTENCE.

But srsly in “You Can Make Him Like You” the song…Craig Finn sings: if you get tired of yr boyfriend’s things, there’s always other boys, there’s always other boyfriends and that prettymuch sums up my high school heart. I LOVE THAT. Ben Tanzer is in his 40s and in this book I felt like I was getting his heart. His high school heart, his mid-thirties heart, his writer heart, his family heart, his husband heart, his father heart, his friend heart…all of those things. He put my tender heart in a blender and I loved it. You guys, he made me like him. That’s beautiful, that’s dope, that’s magical. And so, I crush, I do. I crush a lot. I crush hard.

PS: Ben posted this pic yesterday and IT GAVE ME A BILLION TUMMY BUTTERFLIES. To think abt a writer I love a lot, reading MY BOOK. It’s crazy. I love it and it’s crazy. ALSO: Find more info abt Ben here and buy all of his books and write him fanletters! (AKA THAT’S WHAT I DID) <3


10. June 2014 by Leesa
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