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I’m having a battle of conscience with my membership in Romance Writers of America. On the one hand, there is nothing they offer that I use. I don’t read the RWR (for various reasons that are really dumb, still, I don’t). I don’t visit their website. I can’t enter their writing contests because I am considered published and can’t enter their Golden Heart, but my e-books are only “sorta” published and don’t qualify for the RITAs. I don’t go to National convention, but this has to do with finances and health issues, otherwise I would go there. I’m not part of their PRO loop because I wasn’t “fed” by things that went on there.  So, I know, you’re wondering why I bother.

Well, this is where the dilema kicks in …

I LOVE going to conferences, most of them sponsored by RWA chapters. I adore the writers that belong to the Maine chapter of RWA. And I am also part of the suspense chapter of RWA, Kiss of Death. These small chapters support and feed me… replenish me when I think my writing has sucked the marrow from my muse. And an agent mentioned that belonging to writing organizations (not necessarily RWA) shows you are serious about writing as a career.

Now RWA is very smart. You can NOT belong to any of their chapters unless you are first a member of their organization. Okay, that makes sense though it really irks me. Which means I fork out big bucks so I can hang with some local romance authors who totally understand how difficult it is to become and remain an author.

This weekend I am hanging with my homegirls at the MERWA writer’s retreat. Boo-yeah! Really, I can’t even begin to tell you what these conferences do for me. They are worth every penny as I chat about writing and learn from authors who have walked this path before me. It’s refreshing.

I am really hoping to return refreshed and rearing to start a new project which has kind of stalled. So for now, RWA gets my hard-earned money so I can enjoy the company of some amazing authors.

 

No, not the presidential candidate … Jeanne Barrack. She’s taken time from her busy schedule to stop over and visit. Jeanne has all sorts of published books with more coming out all the time. I’ve got her bound all set up in the comfy chair and I’m plying her with lattes (it’s not quite noon here) and with that silly grin she’s flashing … it looks like she’s ready to answer the tough questions.  

Tell us a little bit about you and how you got into writing.
I’ve been married to my HS sweetheart for more than 30 odd years – and they have been odd. No kids, but always furry companions, first dogs now, kittens.

 I’m a New Yorker born in Brooklyn, the largest borough of the city. I’ve always loved writing but it took the sudden death of my mom to thrust me over the edge. She had always loved the written word, but hadn’t published anything. Just two months after this, I was downsized from my job. With a lot of time on my hands, I let my imagination have free rein. A love of romance and sci fi/fantasy combined into a full-blown story that came to me in a dream — really! That was back in 2004 and I haven’t stopped writing since.

Please tell us about your books.  
Right now I have five full length novels and a short story in a Holiday collection with other authors.

My Loose Id titles include:
No One Else On Earth my first (takes a deep breath here) contemporary, sci fi paranormal shape shifting sex sucking alien vampire with four Big Beautiful Women set in a male strip joint story. <whew!> The title was inspired by the Country Western song of the same name and the strip joint’s name “Real, Bad Boys” was taken from a line in “Real, Good Man”, a song sung by Tim McGraw. The playlist is all country. One of the songs, “Bad Things” can be heard on the new vampire series “True Blood”. The four women represent different facets of my personality and interests. The alien vampire’s name is an inside joke for a very small group of readers. (hint: it’s a real word in a foreign language)

The Crystal Flacon, #5 in the Collector series. This is a stand alone in a multi author series. It was inspired by Lucrezia Borgia. I discovered while doing copious research ( I love research, BTW) that her life has been much maligned. The Crystal Flacon refers to a mythical perfume bottle filled with a magical love perfume. Antonio d’Este, the hero in the story, was inspired by Antonio Banderas who has served as the inspiration for my Spanish hero (one of the guys in No One Else on Earth) and also the gay Frenchman, Aaron deMonde in “The Sweet Flag”

Speaking of The Sweet Flag, this is my first m/m story. It’s a — ready? — paranormal contemporary historical Interracial/Multi-Cultural (IR/MC) story. Over the course of my writing I have included more secondary gay characters. This story was waiting in the wings for me. It combines several strong interests I have: the Civil War, the paranormal, my main character, Brandon Keats, is a gay paranormal investigator seeking gay paranormal phenomena and he and all the other main characters except for one, are Jewish. My upcoming m/m work for ManLoveRomance Press will also center around Jewish characters. More about that in a bit.

My Liquid Silver titles are centered around my long term love of all things Irish, so I’ll talk about those titles in answering your next question

That’s a great segue into my next question. I know you have a love of Irish folklore and I wondered how you fell into that? 
A long, long time ago in a little place called Brooklyn, a wee little Jewish lass fell in love with Irish folk music. Being an obsessive creature, she decided that if she were going to sing the songs — which she did and does — she’d have to know more about the history of the country. Lo and behold, didn’t she discover a bond between the Irish/Ireland and the Jews/Israel? (Clears throat) Both Ireland and Israel were partitioned by the British. Both the Irish and the Jews have suffered religious persecution. Both only regained their independent status in the 20th century. Both have a language full of “ch’s” and also a few words that sound a lot alike. Both have beautiful songs, wonderful writers and sexy men — huh? where did that come from? (Check out Lior Ashkenazi – HOT! and of course, my beloved Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson and, well, the list is endless)

So, when it came time to write about one of my loves – Ireland – I found a home with Liquid Silver’s Terran Realm and The Shimmering Flame was born. It’s centered in the ancient stories of Brigid and the other Celtic gods and goddesses. A Perfect Symmetry, the sequel, will be coming out this winter. It’s sexier than molten silver! With three menages and two really evil villains.

A Song of the Sidhe was directly inspired by Irish music. It’s taken from a Gaelic song performed by Mary O’Hara – the first one, not ths new upstart. It found a new home with more stories and characters over with Liquid Silver this summer.

I wondered if you could tell us more about your m/m book. I wondered why you chose to go in that direction and a little bit more about the story? 
The Sweet Flag …
 I love this story. And it sparked some of my strongest responses from readers and reviewers. For the longest time as I’ve written more and more erotic romance, I found that some of my favorite or strongest secondary characters were gay. I’m also a huge fan of Antonio Banderas. Some of his best films in both Spanish and English have gay themes. Watching Antonio make love to another man as in his Spanish films – check  out “La Ley del Deseo” – The Law of Desire – and who could forget him as Tom Hanks lover in “Philadelphia”? Plus, I wrote fan fic with Antonio and of course, there was some slash with those.

The story of The Sweet Flag takes place during both the present and the past. The main character, Brandon Keats, is gay and a “ghost hunter”. He finds out about a legend called the Vigilant Soldier, a Civil War ghost who visits the same grave every 20 years. As he researches the story behind the ghosts, he feels that the two soldiers may have been lovers. When he decides to visit the grave on Memorial Day night when the ghost is said to appear, he is rescued from a massive lightning and thunderstorm by a mysterious Frenchman, Ron Tayvail. Ron tells him that he’s the grave’s caretaker, knows the families of the men involved and will tell Brandon *everything* about the men if he’ll share his bed for a week. Brandon agrees and finds out more than he bargained for.

The story behind the legend focuses on the relationship between Matthew Hardesty, the Christian son of a wealthy Southerner, and Aaron deMonde, the bastard son of a minor French nobleman and his mulatto lover of mixed Jewish and black blood. It’s not only Matthew and Aaron’s sexual relationship that must be hidden during this period in history, but the very fact of Aaron’s mixed blood adds to their situation. Because Aaron can pass for white, they remain together when Matthew enlists in the Army. Throughout this story, I referred to the social aspect of miscegnation and also another twist on a traditional paranormal genre.

Because of my love and knowledge of my Jewish cultural heritage and religion, I decided to combine both interests. I am very excited about writing these new stories for ManLoveRomance Press. The stories are set during the late 19th century and the world of the traveling Yiddish theater in Eastern Europe. These tales are straight <g> historicals. I hope to write more stories with a paranormal mix.

If you had super powers what would they be and what would you call yourself? 
The Equalizer’s my name and sharing the wealth is my game. I would have the power to give folks in need exactly what they lack, be it money, shelter, health or knowledge. Zap! You need it? You got it! I know it’s not a flashy power, but I think in today’s world, we could use someone who could at least even the playing field.

Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantzer? Do you have comfort drinks or snack foods? Any favorite music you play while writing?
Plotter now. I at least write out a broad outline of my stories, especially since I’m working on sequels and new territories. I use the synopsis/outline as a guide and though I don’t always stick to it exactly, it does help to remind me ofcertain points or scenes I need to make.

I don’t eat and write at the same time – I’m not that agile! I don’t have music playiong while I write – too distracting. I do have the TV in the background, kinda like *white* noise.

When you’re reading someone else’s books what about a man is a turnoff and why?
Too alpha to listen to what the heroine tells him. I like a take charge guy, but I find that if a character doesn’t pay attention to his supposed love, I lose patience with him.

A hot soak in the tub or a smokin’ BBQ with friends?
A hot soak. I love silky water soothing my tired bones. (She seems to be enjoying the satin feel of the cabana boy’s backrub too. Stay with me Jeanne, just a couple more questions.)

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Finish the book! Don’t get so attached that you keep going over and over and over it and never release it into the wild. Don’t give up, but listen to people who know and sieve through their advice.

Who/What do you attribute your success to?
My husband’s faith in me and my mom’s talent that I hopefully inherited.

Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? 
I hope you’ll check out my new website and the link to the month-long contest I’m having. Info on my newsletter blog and The Celtic Realm of Fancy, and my Sweet Flag blog for all things m/m.

Jeanne, I … oh, never mind … seems she’s just convinced the cabana boys to untie her and she’s off. Who knows what kind of research she’ll be doing. If I know her, she’s singing them some of those Irish diddies she’s been known to perform.

I know she’d love to hear from you. Don’t hesitate to show her some comment love. I’m sure I’ll be able wrangle her in a little while and get her to answer some questions if there’s anything else you’d like to know … 

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