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July 12, 2010

A Chat With Leah Braemel

My special guest today is Leah Braemel, a friend and fellow author at Carina Press and Samhain Publishing. Leah has a new release out called Texas Tangle. It’s currently locked and loaded on my reader, and I can’t wait to find time to read it. Meantime, I asked Leah a few probing questions about herself and her writing. I think she deserves a medal – any woman who lives in a household of males is definitely braver than me!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

That’s good that you asked for me to tell a little, because there’s not much to tell. I’m the only Canadian-born member of my family – my mother, father and sister are all English. I’ve been married for 32 years and hope to last another 64 (only half-kidding on that one) and have two sons who have just finished school (one high school, one college) but still live at home. Oh, and I have a cat, Spike, who is very disgusted that my lap is often taken by my laptop instead of him. (If you noticed, they’re all males, even the cat. So no frilly stuff in this household. They won’t even allow flowers on the wallpaper, the upholstery or the curtains. Plain colors only please. Talk about testosterone poisoning.)

As for my writing…I wrote my first story when I was around seven. My sister and I were addicted to a brand new science fiction show called Star Trek. (Yes, this is during its first run, before it was known as “The Original Series.” My sister was so enamored of it that she started writing her own scripts. That was the first time I twigged to the fact that people wrote books, that I could write down the stories that I’d tell myself when I went to bed each night. I wrote down one of my ideas and showed it to my sister who was my very first critic. She was also my last critic because after that horrific review (which was probably dead on the mark) I vowed to never show anyone my writing Ever. Again. And I didn’t. For close to 40 years. Oh, I wrote lots of non-fiction manuals for my job, and I wrote newsletters and articles and such, but my fiction I kept hidden and didn’t dare show anyone until the mid 90s. I can’t remember why I trusted that particular friend with my writing but she told me I should try to get published. But I blew her off. “Everyone’s trying to get a book published, I wouldn’t stand a chance” I told her. And I kept that stance until about 2004 when I met a lady on line who was trying to get published. I showed her a bit of my writing and she also encouraged me to get published. She became my critique partner, but after opening her first critique I wondered how the heck she thought I could get published, there were comments made on every line. Of course, she was right on the money and soon I’d learned about showing versus telling, and passive verbs versus active verbs. Then she did the unthinkable. Because I’d been waffling about actually submitting any of my work to an editor or agent, she issued a dare. Next thing I knew I was registered for the 2007 RWA conference and had an appointment with an editor who asked to see a partial of my story.

Texas TangleYour new book, Texas Tangle, is a ménage a trois. What attracted you to write a ménage a trois?

Hmm, that’s a good question. Texas Tangle wasn’t supposed to be a menage until Brett walked in as a secondary character. Then one thing led to another, LOL, and the story demanded it. Menages are always a challenge to me because although I do know a few couples (triples?) who have had them in real life, they’re not generally socially acceptable. After Private Property came out, I had a reader mention that she’d loves to read about menages that end up turning long term, so I played around a bit with Texas Tangle to see if I could find a situation where I could see it being an obvious solution that all parties could live with.

Where did the idea for Texas Tangle come from?

Partly from a trip to Texas I took a few years back, and partly because I love the rural way of life (I was raised on a farm.) As for Nikki’s being robbed, that’s drawn straight from real life — being robbed, excuse me, burgled, steals more than your belongings, they steal your peace of mind. I’ve known quite a few women very similar to Nikki and a couple like both Brett and Dillon, so when I started writing the story, they just seemed naturals for that setting.

What do you tell people when they ask you about writing love scenes or ask the inevitable question of your husband – do you do all that stuff?

It sometimes depends on how I’m feeling or how they ask. Most times I laugh it off and say I have an active imagination and my husband grins and says he loves being my research assistant. There have occasionally been people who are a little more judgmental in their questioning so I have to bite my tongue and not ask them if they would ask Jeffrey Deaver or Harlan Coben how many people they’ve killed in real life researching their stories. (Not that I’m comparing myself to Mr. Deaver or Mr. Coben, of course.)

What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy Sunday?

Depends upon the season — throughout the winter, sitting inside by the fireplace, curled up beside my hubby watching a movie. In the summer? If it’s too hot, then I’m sitting inside curled up beside my hubby writing while he watches golf.

What tip would you give to an aspiring writer who is just starting their writing journey?

Write! Seriously. You can’t find your voice until you’ve written for a while. And if you do plan on getting published at some point you have to have something finished to submit to an editor. That can only be accomplished by writing until you can type those two lovely words “The End.” (Then the editing begins, but that’s another story.)

If you want to know more about Leah, her website is at http://LeahBraemel.com and her blog is at http://leahbraemel.blogspot.com. They can also follow her on Facebook or on Twitter.

And here’s an excerpt from Texas Tangle

Brett reached for Dillon’s front door then stopped. Why couldn’t Dillon have been home? At least that way he knew he could control himself. Even though he’d stayed away a full month, he still hadn’t gotten her out from under his skin.

Get it over with. Give her the news, then stay far away.

He lifted his hand and after a moment’s hesitation, knocked on the door. Maybe he’d get lucky, and she wouldn’t be here. Maybe she’d gone into town with Dillon.

The door creaked open, and there she was, wearing one of the white shirts he’d left behind, a pair of cut-offs beneath. She’d left the top three buttons undone, giving him a tantalizing view of her cleavage. His cock punched against his zipper at the thought of unbuttoning the rest of the buttons, of spreading the fabric wide and tasting her nipples.

Why didn’t he just cut off his balls and hand them to Dillon on a plate?

“Brett?” She looked startled to see him. “Come on in.”

He followed her into the kitchen, watched her fiddle with the coffee maker. Nikki never fiddled and, more importantly, she wasn’t looking at him. He made her nervous. Did she worry he might try something on her again?

His fists clenched at the thought that he might have scared her, made her think he might take what she wasn’t willing to give.

“I didn’t mean to drive you away.” She made a gesture of impatience. “I’m sorry, I’m being selfish. I just…I’ve missed you.”

The heated blood racing through his veins headed south when she smoothed her hands down her front, tightening the fabric over her breasts, accentuating that she wasn’t wearing a bra.

Did she realize how beautiful she was with the color high in her cheeks when she blushed? Longing spun his senses until he felt like he’d been caught in a twister, especially when she turned those soulful eyes on him. The lost tone in her voice cut right through him, pierced defenses he didn’t know he’d erected.

Purchase Texas Tangle from Carina Press

Leah is giving away a download of her ebook Private Property to one lucky commenter. All you need to do to enter the draw is either ask Leah a question or tell us what you say to people who give you a hard time about reading romance. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 14th of July.


  1. Leah Braemel

    Thanks for having me, Shelley. I love the question you asked your commenters to answer–it’s one I’m faced with every single time I tell someone I’m a writer.

  2. Rasha

    Shelly and Leah,

    Thank you for this nice article :) I have not read any of your books yet Leah but they sound great (very sexy).

    I don’t have a question actually but I wanted you to know that I read romance most of my life and continue to enjoy it. They are a big part of my reading still and I enjoy them a lot. I tell people that they are an anti stress to me :) They make me forget the day and my worries and relax me and make me feel better. How many things can you say that about?!

  3. Mary G

    Hi Leah & Shelley
    Loved this interview Leah. I learned more stuff about you. I guess the 3 hour lunch wasn’t long enough. LOL on your sister being your first critic. Loved your answer about Deaver & Coben. Congrats on this new release with Carina. You know I love your writing. No question for you, just a reminder to meet for lunch when you have time, maybe for our birthdays LOL.

  4. Donna

    I just re-read Private Property last night. I love that story and can’t wait to get my hands on Texas Tangle.

    When people comment about what I am reading I generally say, “If it bothers you, don’t look.” And if I’m having a rough day I might say, “Well, I was just talking with your spouse last week and since there seems to be some dissatisfaction in your bedroom, I am reading this in the hope of finding some helpful hints for the two of you.”

    Yes, I’m evil. Get over it.

  5. JOYE

    Enjoyed reading the interview. The book sounds really good and I like reading books with Texans in them.
    When people sneeringly ask me why I read romance books I always reply by saying “I read all kinds of books and I would gladly discuss with you the last book you read.” Of course, they him and haw and finally say that it has been a long time since they read a book. Hardly anyone wants to dicuss a book with me. Usually they are the type of people who are critical of other things too.

  6. Julia Smith

    Wonderful interview, Leah and Shelley! I love the fact that even your cat is a male…

    As for commenting on people’s remarks about romance, I definitely correct them if they refer to romance as ‘trash’ or ‘smut’ or some other derogatory label. I offer the word ‘sexy’ and keep saying it until they smile and back off.

  7. Leah Braemel

    Hi everyone!
    Rasha — that’s a really good answer, it’s one of the reasons I love reading romance too.

    Mary — *waves* I have to be careful when I use that Deaver & Doben response as generally that’s when I’m starting to get a bit snarky. Never a good way to win over people into reading romances.

    Donna — I’m LOL here. I know one of my fans who loves reading erotica has actually said that to one of her friends who disparaged her choices.

    Joye — I have used that approach with my sister when she sneered at my work and called it “fluff.” When I asked what she read, she answered that she likes reading non-fiction, then proceeded to name two stories that are historical fictions. Um, yeah, sis, those things didn’t really happen, you know? Talk about an eye-rolling moment. I also had to take into account that she admitted she’s not a reader and reads less than a book a year.

    Julia – hi! *waves* I love your approach too. *writing these down*

  8. Patsy Hagen

    Hi, Shelley an Leah. I really enjoyed the interview. I have a question for both of you. When you are writing and you are really “into” the story, has a character ever done something that has surprised you?

  9. Leah Braemel

    Patsy – has a character ever done something that has surprised you? CONSTANTLY! For instance, in the story I’m currently working on instead of grabbing a rifle, my heroine just grabbed a shovel and attacked the hero with it instead. Worked out better, but yeah, that was not what I’d originally planned. (It’s a historical western. I guess my brain figured out she’d more likely have a shovel to hand than a rifle.)

  10. Mary

    I used to wonder where writer’s got their ideas from. I used to think that horror writers like Stephen King must have really bad nightmares to come up with the stuff he does. Then I started reading authors blogs and realized that’s really not the case, you all just have really great imaginations. lol

    I love the cover…oh my. I haven’t read to many Menage type books, but the ones I have read have been sooo good and this sounds like a really good one, can’t wait to read it.

    Ya know, all of my family knows I love reading romance. They have to because of my 4 books shelves over flowing with romance books, can’t help but notice. And when a friend comes over and notices what types of books I have and makes a nasty comment about how I read Bodice rippers, or those frou frou romance books, I just look at them and say…You might actually learn what a woman likes if you read one.

    Or, If can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.

    Or, if you don’t like them, don’t look at them.

    Oh I have a lot to say..lol

  11. Darah Lace

    The story sounds hot, Leah. I love menage stories as much as I love cowboys! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Fedora

    Hi, Leah! Hi, Shelley!! Great interview, and you two are on my favorite authors list :) As for romance detractors, I often try to ignore them, but if pressed, I have to ask them whether they are deriving some weird pleasure from raining on my parade :) I would avoid criticizing other people’s reading choices, and would prefer others leave mine alone, too–I read romance for the pleasure of savoring the characters’ journey to their HEA and for the renewed hope each story gives me. How is that a bad thing? ;)

  13. Shelley Munro

    Hi Leah,

    Thanks for visiting me today. I have a question for you – what is your writing schedule like? Do you work set hours or fit in your writing with family committments?

  14. Shelley Munro

    Hi Patsy – my characters constantly surprise me since I don’t really start with a plan. I might stark with a kernel of an idea, a scene or a title and go on a voyage of discovery from there with my characters leading the way.

    Leah – a shovel sounds like a pretty good weapon to me. One of my characters used a broom to good effect to save her friend from a creepy man.

  15. Shelley Munro

    Fedora – thank you! :grin:

  16. Leah Braemel

    Oh, good Lord, Shelley, ask the tough questions, why don’t you? :eek:

    Normally I try to answer my email first thing in the morning so it’s done by 9 then I write until 2. That got started when my boys were in school because they got home at just after 2 and there was no way I could concentrate once they got home. Now they’re out working but that schedule has stuck. (Except in the weeks leading up to a release, then everything seems to fly out the window and I’m stuck to my computer for 15-16 hours a day.)

    Family commitments — well, it depends on what it is. If someone’s sick, that comes first; if someone is wanting a ride to the mall, they can walk.

  17. Susan Saxx

    Hi Leah!

    I really enjoyed this interview! You (and some other good friends) give me hope. Like you, I’ve written technical manuals, have had my articles published, and am now back to fiction. I’m working on learning how to give the reader what they deserve – an engaging story that touches them and lightens their life with an enjoyable escape.

    I was also impressed with the excerpt. I liked how you portrayed both of the characters – as normal, kind persons who cared about others. I had a feeling your story was a menage with a heart. ;)

    My question relates to voice.

    How much did you have to write before you found your voice?

    Also, did you work on changing your voice a bit when you first started writing seriously?

    My voice years ago was very wordy and serious (not quite like Tale of Two Cities, but definitely an older style). I’ve actively worked on lightening it, shortening sentences, being less verbose. I’m interested in how you feel about the above two questions.

    Thanks in advance!


  18. Helen Hardt

    Hi Shelley and Leah! Leah, Texas Tangle sounds HOT, and I love the title :).

  19. Leah Braemel

    Susan — thanks for your comments about the excerpt–that’s exactly what I was trying to get across, that they cared for each other, normal people responding to an unusual situation.

    As for your question about voice. Voice is hard to define, but like you mine has changed over the years. I think mine reflected a lot of what I was reading – so JRR Tolkien, Frank Herbert for sci-fis and fantasies, Victoria Holt , Kathleen Woodiwiss for romances — older much wordier styles. Then in the 90s it changed again, more like Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell who I was reading a lot of at the time. Nowadays the style is shorter sentences, much more fragmented and for me, for contemporaries especially, more casual. And if you notice, it also depends on what genre you’re writing. I’d have to change my voice if I were writing a Regency historical. I’m noticing that even with my western historical, I have to use a lot less swearing for instance, different word choices, even a different amount of description.

    I often wonder what style will be in in the 2020s because writing, like language, is fluid.

    As for how much I’d written before I found my voice? I’ve been writing since I was 7, so I’ve probably written millions of words, but I’d say confidence became part of forming my current voice.

    Did I work on changing my voice? Not really, I think it was always there. What I worked on was the mechanics of writing. I used to teach grammar, so that wasn’t an issue other than allowing myself to use fragments more. I’m talking more about less telling and more showing, becoming aware of cliches and changing them up. Digging deeper into the characters’ emotions–asking myself what they wanted 5 minutes before the story started compared to 5 minutes into the story. That’s not voice, that’s just technique though IMHO.

  20. lorettaC

    I tell people that I read for my own pleasure.

    [email protected]

  21. Shelley Munro

    Leah – I hear you about release days/weeks. I know I don’t do enough promo. It’s such a huge job.

  22. Yadira A.

    Hiya Leah & Shelley,
    I just ignore people who give me a hard time about reading romance (most of the time it’s my family). People shouldn’t judge a person by the cover of the book they read, but they do :sad: I used to care and now I don’t.
    Good question, it’s nice to see what others had to say.
    BTW – the books sound awesome and I can’t wait to read it :grin:

  23. Shelley Munro


    Congrats to Susan Saxx who wins a copy of Private Property by Leah Braemel.

    Thanks to everyone who visited.


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