Friday, January 30, 2009

Bend in the Road - Out today!!

So, my publisher informed me that Bend in the Road went live much sooner than planned!

So, here's the nitty gritty you need to know.

BEND in the ROAD by Jeanne Barrack

ISBN# 978-1-60820-002-3 (print)
ISBN# 978-1-60820-003-0 (e-book)
Released now from
ManLoveRomance Press
A dual novella erotic, m/m historical romance anthology
BEND IN THE ROAD, set in Eastern Europe in the 1880s, introduces us to two couples that find safe havens in the insular world of a traveling Yiddish theater troupe. IN THE LION'S DEN brings us Daniel Bercovich, a young man in the first throes of finding his identity. Can the man he comes to love accept a new side to him? Yuval Smolenski finds more than the inspiration for his music, he finds something everlasting in FROM STAGE TO STAGE. These Jewish men in love must deal not only with the stigma of that love but also fear the rise of anti-Semitism. Can their love survive all the forces that surround them?

Available at ARe at:

Available at MobiPocket at:

Available at Barnes & Noble at:

Available at Amazon at:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

BEND IN THE ROAD, Guidepost Two ~ Purim

The Holiday of Purim and "In the Lion's Den"
offers religious Jewish children an opportunity to dress up in funny clothes and as the people who are the main characters in the holiday in a manner similiar to Halloween, a holiday not celebrated by more orthodox Jews. After all, Haloween is associated with pagan themes, but Purim -- as joyous and free wheeling as Mardi Gras -- easily fills the need for fun. In fact, one is encouraged to drink until you can't tell the difference between Haman, the villain and Mordecai, the hero. The holiday also offers religious adults an unusual chance to indulge in atypical clothing choices as discussed below.
Here's a very brief description of the background of the holiday.

The Book of Esther or the Megilla of Esther, recounts how the Jews of Persia were saved from destruction. During the reign of the King Ahasuerus, one of his advisors, Haman, attempted to destroy the Jews in revenge for being ignored by Mordecai, a Jew who refused to bow down to him. Given the king's permission, Haman draws lots (purim) to determine the day when the king's soldiers will set upon the Jewish citizens. The date falls upon the 13th of the Hebrew month of Adar.
Mordecai finds out about the decree and approaches his cousin Esther, the king's new queen, to intercede with the king. Esther, who has kept her religion a secret, fasts for three days to gain courage to come before her husband. She speaks out against Haman at a banquet for the king and Haman. Haman is hanged and Mordecai assumes his position. Because a royal decree cannot be repealed, Mordecai sends another decree to all the provinces. This one empowers the Jews to protect themselves from their enemies. They do and overcome the soldiers. The days following this struggle with their enemies (the 14th and 15th of Adar) are declared days of feasting and festivity, and today are observed as Purim.

So, how does Purim relate to my story?
"In the Lion's Den", the first story in BEND IN THE ROAD, is set during the holiday of Purim. The story was submitted for MLR's cross-dressing anthology and the celebration of Purim has long been associated with cross-dressing and other unique issues. When I researched the holiday I found that parodies and entertainment that mocked established Judaism were a widespread component of Purim observances.
I learned that written records of the Purim shpiel (Yiddish for "Purim play") could be found in Europe from the 14th century on. Purim shpiels and entertainments at weddings (as in my second story, "From Stage to Stage") were the sole source of Jewish popular pursuits for centuries. The sarcastic content of Purim plays and the spoofing, cross-dressing, and drunken revelry surrounding them offered an opportunity to explore boundary-crossing matters of gender, sexuality, authority, and relations with the gentile world in a safe setting like the traveling Yiddish theater troupe where crossdressing was common during its early days.
Although there are laws that prohibit cross-dressing, these laws would most likely not prohibit cross-dressing in a private setting or for theatrical purposes. The cross-dressing that appears in "In the Lion's Den" then, would be acceptable. How Dani, the young hero in my story feels about feminine clothing...well...
So, did I surprise you about this holiday?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Guest Blogger - Rick R. Reed

Welcome, Rick. I was going to talk about another one of your books, but going over your backlist found In The Blood and was hooked on the story. I'm a sucker (ouch) for vampires. One of the recurring remarks about the story was that these were not your typical vampires. Can you share with us what made these bloodsuckers different from others?

Thanks so much for having me, Jeanne. In the Blood is my tragic vampire love story. It has its share of gory, heart-pounding moments, but it’s also a meditation on immortality in all its forms: in life, in art, in love. My vampires worship visual art and their hunger for it nearly equals their hunger for human blood. My vampires are very sexy, but they have their ruthless, vicious sides (as I think vampires should). Their appreciation for art also leads them into interactions with artists, which forms the basis of the story. Their interactions with good artists, creatures who carve out their own immortality through what they create, are a source of passion and envy for my vampires because their immortality is borne of destruction rather than creation. I guess, in short, you could say my vampires are sexy and cerebral monsters, which isn’t always the case.

Several different locations are visited in the story. How do you research your settings?

In the Blood tells two parallel stories: one set in 1950s Greenwich Village and the other in modern-day Chicago. When my trio of impossibly beautiful vampires: Terence, Maria, and Edward encounter Elise, they set an explosive triangle in motion. Terence wants to drain her blood. Maria just wants Elise . . . as lover and partner through eternity. And Edward, the most recently-converted, wants to prevent her from making the same mistake he made as a young abstract expressionist artist in 1950s Greenwich Village: sacrificing his artistic vision for immortal life. He is the only one of them still human enough to realize what an unholy trade this is.

I lived in Chicago for 16 years, so it was very easy to write about the city since I knew it so well. I did a lot of research into Manhattan in the 1950s and especially the art scene there to get the details right. It was a fascinating time. I even did some research on no-longer-in use subway stops that the vampires use. Those places are ripe for creepy descriptions!

An actual historic house in Chicago on North Sheridan Road, inspired the house where the vampires live in present-day Chicago. It’s called the Sheridan Colvin House and I used to go by it and could imagine what went on inside. Here’s a picture of me outside the house.

The characters in In the Blood explore different sexual orientations. How did you approach the relationships encountered by this diversity?

Of my three vampires, one is straight, one is a lesbian, and one is a gay male. This opens the door for what I thought were some fascinating love triangles and conflicts. The book is very sensual and sexual, so I really didn’t withhold much in presenting these beings as sexual creatures as well as creatures of the night. Their sexuality played a large part in attracting their prey…and they enjoyed the seduction and sex almost as much as the actual draining of blood. My main human character, Elise, was a lesbian who was a streetwalker by night and an artist by day (and at heart).

Your books cover a wide range of genres and subgenres. Is there one out there that you haven't explored that you plan to? Or is there one genre you think you'll never look into?

It’s funny you should ask that because recently, I have delved into writing gay romantic fiction. I wrote a story called VGL Male Seeks Same, about the games gay men play online, which has been very well received, including great reviews and bestseller status at my publisher’s website (Amber Allure). And I also just released (through Amber Allure again) another story about a young married man coming to terms with his homosexuality called Through the Closet Door, which has also been very well received. I am currently in the process of writing the sequel to VGL Male Seeks Same and am planning a second part for Through the Closet Door. (BTW, that's one HAWT cover!)

Maybe I’m just getting older, but I’m finding that writing about love and its complications just as fascinating as writing about things that go bump in the night.

Okay, the question fans always want to know: What's next for us?

Well, as I said, I am writing a couple of sequels and I have just completed a new novel that combines my twin loves of dark suspense and romance into what I hope is a poignant story that’s also one that will compel you to keep the lights on all night. The novel is called Bashed, and it’s about a horrible hate crime and its after effects. I hope to have some news about its publication very soon.

Thanks so much for sharing some of the writer's process with us. Before we end our discussion, I'm curious if you have a question you'd like to ask your readers?

I’d love to know what really scares them. And another burning question is, of course: Girl, where ever did you find those shoes?!

Rick's website:
Rick's MySpace:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bend in the Road ~ Cover Art!

Doing the Hora of joy! My cover is ready!!!

You see before you, Aryeh Nachman from In the Lion's Den. I had to make a decision which of my four lovely lads I would feature and Aryeh sprang to mind because, after all, he's had experience. In the story, Aryeh posed for the real life Simeon Solomon. Solomon was a well known Victorian painter. He was also admittedly gay and Jewish. Oscar Wilde quite admired his work.
I also have my very first front and spine art work! I can't wait to share Aryeh and the boys with the world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bend in the Road ~ First Guidepost

A Guide to a Different World...
My dual novella anthology, BEND IN THE ROAD, from MLR Press takes place in a world so foreign for most readers that it might as well be set in a 'galaxy far, far away...'
So, to help prepare you for your journey, I'll be offering guide posts. Each one focuses on a different part of the world of Aryeh, Dani, Yuval and Tsvi. I hope by the time you reach your destination, you'll want to find out what happened to these four young men in their 'different world'.
The Blurb:
BEND IN THE ROAD, set in Eastern Europe in the 1880s, introduces us to two couples that find safe havens in the insular world of a traveling Yiddish theater troupe.
IN THE LION'S DEN brings us Daniel Bercovich, a young man in the first throes of finding his identity. Can the man he comes to love accept a new side to him?
Yuval Smolenski finds more than the inspiration for his music, he finds something everlasting in FROM STAGE TO STAGE. These Jewish men in love must deal not only with the stigma of that love but also fear the rise of anti-Semitism. Can their love survive all the forces that surround them?
The Titles:

I had the names for Aryeh and Dani before the title for the story. I was looking for a strong name for my older hero and came up with Aryeh very quickly. Aryeh means 'lion' in Hebrew and I've always loved the name. Daniel, for my younger man, is also one of my favorite names. It means 'G-d is my judge'. This too seemed fitting since for these men, G-d is the only judge who matters. It was only after I put the two names together and then called Aryeh 'Lionel', an English version of his name, that I realized I had the perfect title for their story from the biblical tale of the Prophet Daniel.
Yuval and Tsvi's story took its inspiration from several sources, primarily folk songs, popular music, liturgical music, poems and fairy tales. Yuval's name appears in the Bible in Genesis where he is known as the 'ancestor of all who play the lyre and the pipe' - a sort of patron of musicians and yes, the name does have a shared root in the word 'jubilee'.
Tsvi's name also comes from the Bible, this time from the second book of Samuel that includes the beautiful lament of King David for the deaths of Jonathan and Saul. The word used to describe Jonathan is "ha-tsvi", translated as 'the beauty', but it also is the word for "gazelle". Tsvi is a very popular name in Israel.
To some scholars, the story of the love between David and Jonathan is something more than comradely, so the name, Tsvi, fit my character perfectly. I referred to this portion of scriptures and other passages in Yuval and Tsvi's story and the names of the pivotal characters revolve around their Biblical source.
The story's title is taken from a Yiddish folk tune my mother used to sing called, "The Singer". The verse says, "The singer travels from town to town and 'from stage to stage'" - perfect for members of a traveling Yiddish theater troupe.
I found my inspiration for the anthology's title from several sources.
One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost. I've always loved a poem of his called "The Road Not Taken". It came to mind immediately because these men made choices to travel down different paths not only in their relationships, but also the decisions they made about the direction their lives would take.
At the time I wrote IN THE LION'S DEN, I had just seen "The Bubble", a gay Israeli movie and in the film there's a scene in a theater where the play "Bent" is being performed in Hebrew. "Bent" takes place during WWII and refers to the gay community during the Holocaust. I had seen this play years ago and seeing it performed again in Hebrew in the film brought back the initial impact.
And last, and perhaps the most personal, I've found many blogs sharing the gay Jewish experience and a phrase from one of those blogs stayed with me. It referred to the bend in the road not being the end of the journey.
For Aryeh, Dani, Yuval and Tsvi the bend in the road was not the end of their journey.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Guest Blogger ~ Kimberly Gardner

Our first guest blogger from ManLoveRomance Press is Kimberly Gardner. Kimberly's first solo book, Phoenix Rising, has already been nominated for several awards.

Reading on the Rise

According to an article in yesterday's NY Times, reading is on the riseamong adults in the United States. For the first time since 1982, the numberof people over the age of eighteen who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play during the previous twelve months has actually increased.

Now far be it for me to cast a shadow over what is, to be sure, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise grim perspective given the amount of dire news we're hearing about the economy in general and from the publishing sector in particular. But really, one book in the previous twelve months?

Like most of you who are regular readers of this blog, I am an avid consumer of fiction of all genres. In fact, just this weekend I bought five new books. So the fact that there is a huge segment of the population who either reads nothing at all or has read no more than a single poem, play or short story during the past year is absolutely appalling to me.

The report, titled "Reading on the Rise", was sponsored by the nationalEndowment for the Arts. It says in part,

"The proportion of adults reading some kind of so-called literary work -just over half - is still not as high as it was in 1982 or 1992, and the proportion of adults reading poetry and drama continued to decline. Nevertheless the proportion of overall literary reading increased amongvirtually all age groups, ethnic and demographic categories since 2002. It increased most dramatically among 18-to-24-year-olds, who had previously shown the most significant declines."

And what is "literary reading" anyway?

Would the books I read count as literary reading? Would the books I write count? Why do I suspect not?

Furthermore, does this report take into account the reading of ebooks, the popularity of which have been consistently rising. Do the authors of the report count audiobooks among their findings? The author of the article, Motoko Rich, doesn't seem to know either.

Call me overly optimistic if you like, but I suspect that if the definition of "reading" were expanded to include all the aforementioned media as well as online reading, we would see a far more dramatic increase in the numberof people regularly enjoying fiction.

If you'd like to read the article--c'mon, you know you want to--here's the link. The article will also steer you to the full report if you're so inclined.

So let's break out our celebratory beverage of choice and put on our dancing shoes. Or would that be our reading glasses? Because reading is on the rise and that can only be a good thing.

You can find out more about Kimberly and her writing at