Monday, October 02, 2006

First Sale Stories: Jeanne Barrack, "Silver Fire," "No One Else on Earth"

Lynda: What’s the name of your first book?

Jeanne: “Silver Fire”

Lynda: When was it published?

Jeanne: December, 2004

Lynda: Which publishing house?

Jeanne: Loose Id

Lynda: What’s it about?

Jeanne: Here's the blurb: Mirelle Hartman has split with her two-timing boyfriend. Instead of the brave knight, he turns out to be the croaking frog. The only place her fairy tale hero seems to be is in her dreams. Enter “Prince Charming” – Jareth set Morath, Royal Mage from the magical world of Hearthome. Jareth is handsome, virile, commanding. But he is also dying. What Mirelle doesn’t know is that she’s actually a treasured Princess of Hearthome. On Hearthome, “lanbeth” – a powerful rainbow dust that enhances and increases magic – is created when a princess and a royal mage mate. Since, there are few princesses left, lanbeth is a rare commodity, and as such Mirelle is highly valued. Especially by Jareth, for she is his soulmate. And he must make love with her to go on living.
Lynda: What was the inspiration for the book?

Jeanne: A dream I had which gave me Mirelle's story almost from beginning to end. I've always loved fantasy and romance and the story combined these loves.

Lynda: Is it part of a series?

Jeanne: Yes. Book 1 in a published trilogy which includes "Amber Inferno: Hearthome 2" and "Sapphire Flames: Hearthome 3."

Lynda: What do you like most about your main characters?

Jeanne: Mirelle is a modern day career woman who has a bit of a sassy edge to her character. She takes no guff from Jareth and demands that she be treated as an equal. Although she's instantly attracted to him, she makes him woo her. Jareth is your typical alpha male initially. As a prince with magical powers, he's been trained to be a responsible person and obeyed. Woman are to be treasured and protected. When he meets Mirelle his whole world is turned on end. She's unlike any Hearthome princess. He's a bit serious when the story begins and one of the things I loved about Mirelle was that she helped him learn to laugh.

Lynda: What’s your favorite aspect of the book?

Jeanne: The growing relationship between the characters. Their characters mesh together. Mirelle brings a somewhat cynical view to things – she’s more objective than Jareth – but she learns that she has plenty of passion just waiting to come out. Plus I love my villain!

Lynda: How long have you been writing fiction?

Jeanne: All my life, but seriously since 1998.

Lynda: Is this your first paranormal manuscript?

Jeanne: “Silver Fire” was my first full-length paranormal ms.

Lynda: Is paranormal your main focus?

Jeanne: Definitely. I cannot write just a straight novel. I must have my make-believe worlds.

Lynda: What attracts you about the paranormal characters you write about?

Jeanne: I have five books under my belt now with a sixth in the works. My first three books focused on three brothers and their soulmates. Each story had some different facet of the paranormal/fantasy world. I love the freedom and flexibility you have in developing characters who have powers beyond the ordinary. Demons, flying, talking horses and telepathic dogs inhabited this world. “A Song of the Sidhe” was inspired by and old Irish folk song and my love of all things Irish. The characters are a female sidhe (fairy) and a mortal man who fall in love but first must learn to trust their hearts. “No One Else on Earth” is about looking beyond surface beauty to the beauty within. Having a shapeshifting sexual alien predator was fun

Lynda: How long did it take to sell your book, from the time you finished your manuscript?

Jeanne: I finished the ms and entered contests for about a year and a half. Then it sat while I tweaked it and tweaked it. Finally after tweaking it for six years on and off, my dh told me to either submit it or throw it away (tough love). I submitted it in August of 2004 to Loose Id and they accepted it in October!

Lynda: Did you have an agent when you sold your first book?

Jeanne: No. I'm looking for one now.

Lynda: Do you recommend that a pre-published writer focus on finding an agent first, or do you think it’s OK to submit directly to the publisher?

Jeanne: It depends. I know that sounds wishy washy but it really does. Especially if you're interested in e-publishing, you don't need an agent.

Lynda: Thinking about the notion of “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” what was the lowest point in the process for you? Was there a time you almost gave up?
Jeanne: I had come so close in several contests to finaling and really thought that would be it. Plus, I had received so much advice from critique partners that changed from one minute to the next I was ready to say screw it!

Lynda: What was the process of revisions/rewrites like?

Jeanne: The first ms was four rewrites! Ranging from reformatting to fit the house style to ripping out several scenes that I loved but just didn't move the story. I actually like the editing process. I always look at it as polishing up a diamond.

Lynda: What was it like, working with the editor at your publishing house?

Jeanne: It was scary and cool and awe-inspiring to think I was actually working on a ms that would be published and read by someone other than my DH and a handful of others.

Lynda: Do you have any words of wisdom for us regarding rewrites/revisions?

Jeanne: Take everything with a grain of salt. If it comes from an editor/agent, consider their suggestions seriously, but if it alters your voice and story vision, be firm. If you're still working on edits/rewrites on your own – STOP! How long have you been working on this story? Are you going over and over the same pages? Are you tweaking the same scene for the tenth time? If so, put the ms down and leave it alone for a couple of weeks. Then read it straight through without the pencil and then say – hey, it's pretty damn good! Submit it!

Lynda: Do you get a lot of help marketing your book, or do you have to do it yourself?

Jeanne: 60/40 me/ publisher.

Lynda: What’s your best marketing advice?

Jeanne: Make your presence known on the internet. Join groups. Participate. Chat. DO loop days – great for posting excerpts.

Lynda: If you could go back and do something differently, what would that be?
Jeanne: Submit the ms sooner!

Lynda: What are your writing plans for the future?

Jeanne: Keep on writing. Working on a contemporary/time travel erotic romance inspired by Lucrezia Borgia.

Lynda: What advice would you give to all the pre-published writers out there?

Jeanne: Give yourself some slack. Hone your craft but take all advice and rules as being flexible. Read the genres you write. Network with authors and other knowledgeable people Take that ms and submit it!

Lynda: How can readers find out more about you?

Jeanne: My website and”No One Else on Earth” available now


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