|Leah Braemel , photo taken at Lori Foster's RAGT June 2013|
Happy Holidays all and welcome author Leah Braemel to BOC. I had the pleasure to meet Leah at Lori Foster's Reader Appreciation Weekend. She is a very interesting lady and has a super awesome Contemporary Western Romance out now that I really enjoyed named SLOW RIDE HOME.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
This is probably the hardest question to answer. *scratches head and tries to figure out a way to sound interesting* I’m Canadian. Which means I say “eh” a lot at the end of sentences. I occasionally type it in my tweets too, LOL. I swear I do NOT say aboot instead of about—even if other people insist I do, I refuse to believe them. I married my college sweetheart—we celebrated our 35th anniversary this year. I have two 20-something sons—which means I’m writing heroes the same age as my boys (Yowza that makes me feel OLD) but that means I can ask them “would a guy your age say this?” to double check my characters’ dialog. And I have a Shih Tzu cross puppy named Seamus who thinks he’s a cat, and a cat named Turtle who acts like a dog.
When and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always always always made up stories in my head—I remember lying in bed when I was about four telling stories to myself. Then when I was about 7 or 8, my sister taught me that I could write them down. Of course then she critiqued them which promptly taught me to never ever ever show my writing to anyone ever ever again. (Boy, I’m starting to sound like I’m channeling a Taylor Swift song here.) As I got older, I kept hearing people saying “everyone thinks they can write a novel; what makes you think you’d make it” whenever I broached the subject, so I kept my writing secret. (Though my mother once walked in on me and found me surrounded by maps and floor plans I’d created for the world I was writing about – little did I know at the time that was a real good trick for world-building.)
It wasn’t until about 2003 or so that I met my friend Becky online and learned she was trying to get published. I finally admitted to her that I wrote too, and showed her some of my work. She read what I sent her and made some suggestions to improve my work. Despite all the red ink on the edited docs she sent back, I was thrilled. I still didn’t even considering getting published—that was too scary to think of. But Becky continued pushing and prodding and poking me until I joined a local writers’ group where I hooked up with a former Harlequin editor who pointed me towards the Toronto Romance Writers. Seven months later I somehow found myself attending the 2007 Romance Writers of America conference in Dallas—right near where Becky lives. Next thing I knew I was pitching a story to an editor. I think that’s really the first time I allowed myself to dream that I could actually be published. And even then it shocked the heck out of me to receive the email from Angela James offering me my first contract. So I guess my final answers to ”When” is 2007, and “how did I know” is when I received a contract, LOL.
Tell us about your upcoming work?
I have two books left in The Grady Legacy trilogy. Jake’s story is book two, No Accounting for Cowboys. It’ll come out in May 2014. In Slow Ride Home, Jake’s been keeping some secrets from his brother. In Jake’s story, even though his reasons were understandable some aren’t so forgiving, so he’s trying to make amends. And while he’s working on that, he gets some good news and some bad news and it turns his world upside down so he has to decide what place, if any, he has on Bull’s Hollow in the future.
Do you have any mentors? Heroes?
I was privileged at the Lori Foster RAGT in June to be able to sit down with Lori Wilde for over an hour as she gave me some tips for improving my writing. It made me realize how much I’d love to have someone so talented I could contact regularly and send a chapter to and have them come back and show me where/how to tweak my writing so I could take it to the next level. But it’s tough because that level of author would be under her (or his) own deadlines and that type of advice takes a lot of time to give.
My heroes are the people who do in real life what my fictional characters do. They’re the firemen who run into burning buildings when everyone else runs out, or the police officer or soldier who protects us. They’re the farmers who get up at the crack of zero dark thirty and take care of their animals whether it’s a hundred degrees or thirty degrees below.
Can you tell us your favorite character from your books so far and why?
Oh wow, another tough choice. I know my readers are probably expecting me to say Sam Watson, from Private Property and Personal Protection. While Sam will always be a favorite—he was such a larger than life character who just walked into my head and took over—I have a special place in my heart for Brett Anderson from Texas Tangle. I tortured that poor guy. I even killed him off in one iteration but I realized he deserved his HEA with Nikki and Dillon.
And now, I’m falling in love with Jake from No Accounting for Cowboys. I think I have to fall in love with each of my heroes as I write them so I can have the heroine fall in love with him too.
Was it difficult for you to get published?
I know most authors tell stories of thick wads of rejections slips (or these days lots of emailed rejections) but I got published fairly quickly. As I said above, I pitched a story to an editor at different publisher than I’m with right now who asked for me to submit the story. I did, and didn’t hear anything back for almost a year. When I inquired, I learned the editor had quit and erased all her submissions, so my story was lost. Which was an interesting introduction to the industry. They invited me to submit to them again, so I submitted Private Property to them. They form-letter rejected it but invited me to submit something else—that’s been my only rejection so far. I went back and edited Private Property some more and submitted a new, and I think stronger version, to Samhain in the spring of 2008. In July that year Angela James, who was Samhain’s executive editor at the time, offered a contract and Private Property was released in January 2009.
Who are your favorite authors/reads?
Oh boy, where do I start? Patricia Briggs is an autobuy for me. I love both her Mercy Thompson series, and her Alpha/Omega series. I’ve read all of them multiple times. She can create such a wonderful in-depth world, with multi-faceted characters that show constant growth book after book, that always leaves me in awe. Lorelei James is another autobuy for me. I love love LOVE her cowboys and I love the books she writes under her alter-ego Lori Armstrong too. She’s another “I want to be like her when I grow up” authors (even though I’m quite a bit older than her.) Add Jill Shalvis to the list—what more needs to be said, I love Jill’s humor and the sexual tension she creates. I love Lynsay Sands’ Single White Vampire, and JR Ward’s Lover Eternal (I love her BDB series, but LE will always be my favorite.) Shiloh Walker, Cheryl Brooks, Lauren Dane, and Jane Porter are all up on my keeper shelves too.
*falls down laughing* I don’t have time for many hobbies these days. I’m stuck at my desk writing. (or doing physiotherapy exercises because I’ve injured my shoulder from sitting at my desk typing too much.)
Before I got serious about my writing, I used to do a lot of pulled-thread embroidery and cross-stitch (couldn’t do it now—my eyes suck.) I have about 15-17 large projects rolled up in a box waiting to be framed but I have no wall space left. (Plus framing is expensive!) I’ve dabbled a bit in making some jewelry and swear that if I ever “get a moment to breathe” I’ll try making some more.
9. What is your dream job?
When I was doing anything else, being an author was my dream job. Now I’m doing it, it’s a LOT harder than it looks, especially the promo side of it. So I guess I’d say I’d still say my dream job is being an author, but one who makes enough that she can have an assistant to enter all her receipts, and run around and do all the administrative side of the job. I’d also have a publicist, a graphic artist, a personal web designer etc. In my dreams, anyway, LOL. I’ve got a LONG way to go and a lot to learn about writing still before I can afford all that help.
Do you have any favorite TV shows?
I’m a huge Big Bang Theory fan. And I’m also hooked on Grimm, Castle, Longmire, and White Collar.
What’s next for you?
Once No Accounting for Cowboys is off to my editor, then I have to start writing Wrangling the Past, which will be book 3 in the Grady Legacy trilogy. After that? My very loyal Hauberk Protection fans have been patiently waiting for the next book in that series. And from there? I don’t know. People keep asking me if Logan is going to get his own story, and maybe he will. It’s too soon to tell. I have so many stories sitting on the backburner clamoring for attention.
Where can we find you?
I’m just about everywhere – I’m probably most active on my Facebook profile though I’m trying to figure out whether to post more on my author page but FB’s decisions as to who sees what and how pages can interact with profiles makes it difficult for them to see my page posts unless I pay to promote them. I’m on Twitter less than I used to be, but I still check in once a day or so. I post on Tumblr on occasion. Oh and Pinterest—that’s so addictive! And of course I can always be found on my website.
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m a control freak, and a bit of a perfectionist, except when it comes to cleaning house—then I prefer chasing plot bunnies to dust bunnies. I love to hear from my readers—otherwise I feel like I’m working in a void. But I feel awkward in groups and am baffled by small talk so if they meet me at a conference, they need to start the conversation. Then once I get going…well, as you can tell from this interview, it’s hard to get me to stop talking. ;)
Thanks so much for participating and Merry Christmas!