Thanks for joining me today on Night Owl Romance.
Tammie King of NOR: To get us started can you please start by telling us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
Leah Braemel: I'm currently working on the next story in the Hauberk Protection series. Hauberk is a personal protection agency in DC and each story follows a different agent. The first in the series is an contemporary erotic novella called Private Property, and was released by Samhain Publishing in January.
The second, a full length novel called Personal Protection, is being released May 12th. It follows the owner of Hauberk, Sam Watson, who is a secondary character in Private Property. Sam is being threatened by a stalker and, though he hates the idea, must rely upon his own people to protect him. He relents somewhat when he discovers Rosalinda Ramos is being assigned to lead his team, though his attraction to Rosie, and hers to him, creates a lot of conflict between the two of them. Tammie King of NOR: Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Leah Braemel: I'm from Ontario Canada, though I was born in Montreal. I've worn a lot of hats in my career - I started out as a nurse, then decided that field wasn't for me and became the administrative assistant to a Chief of Security in an office of 74 men, many of whom were formerly in the military. (That's definitely been drawn on for my Hauberk series, especially since I got to liaise with the Toronto Bomb Squad and members of the Emergency Task Force.) I then went back to school and started teaching computers to adults. Now I get to stay home and write full-time.
I'm currently a member of the Romance Writers of America and several sub groups, including the Toronto Romance Writers, Hearts through History, Passionate Ink, Rainbow Romance Writers, and the Kiss of Death group.
Tammie King of NOR: If you could be one of the characters from this book - Who would you be? And why?
Leah Braemel: Considering the emotional torture I put all my characters through, I can't say I'd want to be any of them. But if I had to choose, I'd probably be the heroine in my work-in-progress, Charley. Why? Because her heart's in the right place and she does things for the right reasons, even though they often don't work out for the best.
I'd like to think I try to do the right thing, but there's that old saying about best intentions often going awry. (I think I always choose the heroine in my WIP no matter what book I'm writing, LOL)
Tammie King of NOR: Please tell us what you have planned next?
Leah Braemel: I'm working on the third story in the series. It follows Andy Walters, a former DC police officer, who finds himself in hot water when he and a lawyer he's testifying for are videotaped in a compromising position. They both end up running for their lives, though he's not convinced it's not all been set up by the heroine.
Tammie King of NOR: What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you enjoy the research process?
Leah Braemel: I LOVE the research process, but I do find that you can bury yourself in the research and not move forward with the actual process of writing. At some point you have to just write and then come back and verify the facts in the second draft.
To verify those facts, I've taken a lot of courses. For the entire series, I've taken courses from private investigators, and skip tracers on how to disappear. I've contacted people I know who have served in the armed forces as well as former FBI agents and police officers. For Personal Protection, I took a course on the BDSM world, which really pushed a lot of my boundaries.
Since Rosie is Puerto Rican, I email with a few people who speak Spanish and discovered that Spanish can vary enormously according to geography. My Puerto Rican adviser said it might be better to use Mexican Spanish as more people would understand it. She said if I used Puerto Rican Spanish people might say I'm wrong, not realizing PR has its own words. It made for some interesting discussions as to which way to go.
Tammie King of NOR: Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
Leah Braemel: I have a few people I use as critique readers. I really rely on them because after a while I get to a point where I can't see what I've actually written, and only see what I 'think' I've written. I still send my work to Sue, the lady who kept pushing me to get serious about my writing. She's excellent at seeing the overarching story and making sure I get the depth and layering I need. Dani is great at catching inconsistencies like "At the top of page 64 they're on the porch, but at the bottom of the same page they're in the living room. How'd that happen?" They're both excellent sources of "how men think" too, LOL. I also send chapters to my friend, Marley, in Louisiana who is great at picking up my repetitive phrases and words. I keep her on my toes since I seem to choose a different word with each story, sometimes with each chapter.
Critiquing is a tough job to do. They're volunteering their time and energy critiquing a scene that may ultimately end up on the cutting room floor. But I credit them for helping me get my stories to a point where I feel confident in submitting them. And obviously their efforts have paid off.
On the other end, receiving a critique is tough too. I once heard someone say one that when they open a critique they push their chair as far away from the computer as they can, stretch on arm out, close one eye and hit the mouse button to open the document. It's tough to see your "baby" all marked up and torn apart, but it's definitely necessary because as an author sometimes you're too close to your work to see it objectively. What makes it really tough is when you get two critiques back and one will say "I love it" to a scene that another will will say "this doesn't work at all for me." It's then up to me to decide which one to listen to. That's something I'm still working on.
Tammie King of NOR: What was your first published work and when was it published?
Leah Braemel: My first published work was Private Property, which is an erotic novella that was released January 27 of this year by Samhain Publishing. I'm very proud of it, so I'm thrilled that It's received some wonderful reviews, and reached #1 on Samhain's My Bookstore and More's bestseller weekly list.
It's a menage, but it's got a bit of a twist to it when the hero who suggested the menage in the first place realizes partway through that maybe it wasn't such a good idea. He has to face his jealousy and accept what it means - that he loves the heroine.
Tammie King of NOR: When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?
Leah Braemel: No one in my family knew I wrote until about ten years ago. It wasn't until about five or six years ago that I admitted to anyone outside of the house and then it was to Sue, a lady I'd met on an online fanclub. Sue is a member of several writers groups, including the RWA and several in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She asked to see some of my work. Once she had, she pushed and prodded me to get serious about my writing, and became my critique partner and mentor. She's the one who told me to find a writing group. About two years later, I went to a cold read one of my writing groups held where an agent and an editor read the first page of my manuscript and said whether they would "turn the page." Out of 40 pages they read that day, they said they'd only continue to read three of the submissions (and one of those they couldn't agree on.) Mine was one of the two they both said they wanted to continue reading.
It scared the heck out of me and I stopped writing entirely. Luckily enough, Sue and another lady who is a copy editor kept after me to get back into the game. It took me almost 15 months before I opened up Word again and made it my 2007 New Year's Resolution to "get serious and submit."
I submitted my first manuscript in July of that year, and by July the following year had my first sale - Private Property to Angela James of Samhain. Color me shocked!
Tammie King of NOR: Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Leah Braemel: I always start out with an outline, then I start writing. I can't say I've written a story yet that the outline has lasted more than a page. By the time I'm halfway through a book, I've usually scrapped the original, changing it completely about four times, then realized the first one was the best and return to it. (You'd think I'd learn, wouldn't you?)
For Personal Protection, I wrote close to 130,000 words, but it ended up 80,000 words long. But I think I kept the best 80,000. ;)
Tammie King of NOR: What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
Leah Braemel: The best way to contact me is to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've had a blog for a few years - I chat about things in my life. You'll get to meet my husband whom I call Gizmo Guy, and my two sons, Guitar Hero and Curly. You can read about them on leahbraemel.blogspot.com
If you want to read any excerpts, or find out more about my books, you can find all that information over on my website: www.LeahBraemel.com
I also have a MySpace site, though MySpace confuses me, LOL. http://www.myspace.com/leahbraemel
And I'm a member of Facebook and I'm on Twitter as well (LeahBraemel)
If you're interested in receiving a newsletter, I prefer if you sign up on my website. I do have a Yahoo Group, but I use it only for sending out newsletters if people prefer to receive them that way. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Leah_Braemel/
Thank you for this opportunity!