Please give a warm welcome to Dianne Hartsock who is sitting down with me today to chat about her books and other good stuff.
Hi and welcome to my blog, Dianne. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake. So tell us a little about yourself.
Wait! Cabana boys? How lovely. Hi Zeke, Jake. Can I get a rum and coke? Thanks! *takes a sip* Okay, where were we? Oh yes, about me. Well, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but it was only this last year that I’ve had anything published.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I write contemporary romances, so I’m able to tap into all aspects of my life for inspiration. On the other hand, my stories are m/m erotic, so I have to come at them from a slightly different angle. It’s a challenge at times, but it’s deliciously fun to ask ‘what would a man do, think, see and feel’ in any given situation. As for my personality, I think a bit of it can’t help but slip in at times.
Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
My stories tend to run from 10k to 25k, so if I could write straight through, they’d take about a week to write and several more to fine tune. Of course, I have a full time day job, so they take much longer, much to my chagrin.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
That’s hard to say, since my routine stays pretty much the same whether I’m starting a new book or editing another or simply promoting everything. I’m on the computer for an hour before going off to work. Grumbling, I might add. Though being a floral designer, at least I can still be creative during the day. Then I have another three hours to write in the evening, after my husband goes to bed. Days off are split between family and writing.
Tell us about your latest release or upcoming release. What inspired it?
My latest release ‘Shelton’s Choice’ is the third book in my ‘Shelton’ series. Shelton has been with his lover, Nevil, for over a year now. At the opening of the story, Shelton is offered the promotion at the bank that he’s been working towards. Unfortunately, it’s in another state and Nevil doesn’t want to move. Tension mounts between them. Can their love survive the separation and sense of betrayal such a move entails? This is the ultimate test of their love.
I’m a little embarrassed to say that the inspiration behind these books was the fantasies I indulged in to pass the time on a road trip. My husband and I visited Glacier National Park a few summer’s ago. Beautifully romantic trip. But the long drive through the Idaho desert would have done me in, if it wasn’t for my sometimes naughty imagination.
The air conditioner wasn’t able to keep up with the close to 100 degree weather outside. We were in a desert in the middle of nowhere! Not another living soul on the road. Hot, dry, burnt landscape around us. Scrub brush and stones baking in the sun. Heat waves rippling across the road. Humid, sultry air in the car lulling me towards sleep. What else could I do but daydream?
What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
While working on my paranormal thriller novel ALEX, I came to a part where Alex sleeps with his future wife for the first time. It was like pulling teeth to get the words down on paper! I finally did, with the help of my fabulous editor. But it was extremely difficult, and I realized I really don’t like reading love scenes in books either. I asked myself why, but couldn’t find the answer.
Until I stumbled upon my first m/m erotic story. Oh my God! I was hooked from the very first kiss. There’s just something so sensual and arousing in reading and writing about men in love. I can’t explain it, but I have so much fun writing the love scenes between my beautiful men.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
Oh, my. You do remember I write m/m erotic, right? For my book ‘Shelton’s Choice’ I needed to research men’s toys. It was hilarious! I looked online at stores who sell a variety of vibrators, etc., and I tell you, the comments being made on the various items had me laughing far into the night. Very insightful and educational, and so much fun.
And then there’s the issue of the prostate. Didn’t know a whole lot there, either. Sure, I’ve read m/m books from other authors, but I needed some pointers from real life men. I turned to the Goodreads M/M Romance Group for advice and true accounts of the pleasures to be had from this elusive part of male anatomy.
*puts hand to forehead* Oh, what I have to go through as an author to write an authentic book…
What are some of your favorite things or hobbies to do?
What I wouldn’t give to have the time to read like I used to! I remember spending whole afternoons curled on the couch with a favorite novel. Now I spend my time writing the darn things.
When I have time, I like having lunch with friends, seeing a good movie or concert, taking long walks on the beach. In winter I like sitting by the fire with a glass of wine, making out with my gorgeous husband. In summer, we spend the evening outside by the fountain making plans for the weekends.
Who are some of your other favorite authors and genres to read?
I love a good medical thriller by Robin Cook, Michael Critchon, Patricia Cornwell or Michael Palmer. I enjoy the romance/mystery stories of Elizabeth Peters and the fantasy/sci/fi stories of C.J. Cherryh. I love me a good Dean Koontz thriller. Oh, there’s so many others, I can’t name them all!
Among your own books, have you a favorite? A favorite hero or heroine?
I do have several fantasy adventure novels I’ve been working on. It’s the second of these books that is my favorite. It’s an exciting tale with lots of action and some very sexy, powerful heroes. My favorite character is from this book, a rogue named Korel. He’s lovely and smart, with a shock of copper hair and brilliant blue eyes full of mischief. He enjoys good food and wine and lovely objects. He’s also an incorrigible tease. If there’s any trouble around, you’re sure to find Korel in the middle of it.
Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
Big smile here! I don’t think my imagination ever shuts off. All my stories are triggered by a bit of music or a smile from a stranger or the shine of moonlight. It could be anything. For example, I’ve been toying with the plot for my next m/m romance. We always have music playing in the background at work. One quiet afternoon the haunting strains of a cello drifted to me. I was enthralled! No other instrument can break my heart so quickly. I wondered what it would be like if the one you loved wanted nothing to do with you. But you went to visit him. On his birthday. My characters were instantly in my head, playing out the scenario I’d begun. The rest of the story unfolds as I start to write it out.
What part of a book has been the easiest to write? The hardest?
I really enjoy the interaction of my characters. I have fun with them and they in turn make me laugh and cry and feel alive. The hardest part? When my characters experience heartache and pain and loneliness and loss. I’m right there with them and have been known to shed a tear or two while writing a particularly hard scene.
There have been times at work when I’m trying to plot out a difficult scene and people come up to me and ask what’s wrong. I guess I wear my emotions on my sleeve!
What are the elements of a great romance for you?
I need a beautiful, flawed hero that steps up despite his faults. There has to be adventure and romance, passion and fondness and friendship. Oh, and some smoking hot sex is always welcomed.
What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?
Well, the easiest part of writing is the middle and ending of a story. They seem to simply flow from my fingers onto the screen. That beginning is a killer! I sometimes spend as much time on the first couple of pages or chapter that I do on the rest of the book. For me, if the story doesn’t take off right from the start, it never seems to go anywhere.
Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
I’m in delightful bondage to my characters’ every want and need. I start out in control but soon have to relinquish the ropes to them. Which is fine with me! They take me places I’d never think to go otherwise. And the delicious experiences I live vicariously through them leave a smile on my face for days afterwards! J
What are some of your current projects?
My head is full of ideas! At the moment I’m writing the fourth book in my Shelton series. I’m also writing my very first ‘shifter’ romance story and also plotting out that m/m story I mentioned earlier. Let’s see… I have a few notes jotted down for the sequel I want to write for ALEX. Oh, and I’m doing edits on two stories that will be released this spring. Busy busy!
Boxers, briefs, boxerbriefs…. Or commando on a man? Why?
Boxerbriefs are about the sexiest thing under the sun! Especially if they have little buttons, driving me crazy. They sit there so innocently yet scream at me to undo them, one by one… ahem…
What is your strangest habit?
I’m such a restless writer! When plotting out a scene, I’ll wander in circles around the house until I find the words I’m looking for. I tell my husband that if he would let me write full time, we’d have the cleanest house in the world! Of course, we’d be broke…
When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Why do I still get pimples at my age? Life’s so unfair.
What is your favorite pizza?
There’s a little shop in Estes Park, Colorado, that makes the best pizza!
Virgin Olive Oil smothered with our tasty red sauce and tiered with light layers of Romano cheese, Mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, big dollops of Ricotta cheese, sprinkled with chopped garlic and oregano.
Top that with a cold stout beer and your set.
What is one thing scientists should invent?
A way I can add several more hours to a day without become sleep deprived!
If you could time travel, where would you go?
I’d totally skip winter right into summer vacation! People tell me they’d miss the changing seasons. My question is, why? Give me blue skies and sunshine and walks on the beach. I want hot days in which to go find a cool spot by a mountain lake. I want to wear shorts and tank top and never a winter coat again.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer? (Romance or other genres)
This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I’m a sucker for compliments. My very favorite thing about being a writer is when someone says how much they enjoyed one of my stories. I always get this silly grin on my face when I read the review. And it’s even better when someone tells me that in person.
My next favorite thing is knowing that people I’ll never meet will read something I’ve created, and hopefully like it.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
That would have to be my paranormal thriller novel ALEX. http://amzn.to/r4qStN
My romances are fun, titillating stories, but ALEX delves deeply into a young man’s troubled mind. Tortured by visions of death and murder, Alex is trying to hold on to his sanity in a world that doesn’t understand him.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
Happiness! All my characters have their good and bad days, joy and sorrows, but every one of them finds friendship and love and their happily ever after at the end. There’s always hope.
Anything else you want to mention?
Just one thing. My glass is empty. May I have another? Oh, and are Zeke and Jake free tonight? I have a question they may be able to help me answer…for research purposes only, of course!
Thanks for having me over, Raine! You can find me here:
Breathless Press: http://www.breathlesspress.com/sheltons-choice
After a year of bliss with Nevil, Shelton is offered the promotion he’s been working toward at the bank. Unfortunately the new position is in another state, and Nevil doesn’t want to move. As tension mounts between them, Shelton is given another challenge in the form of a besotted coworker. Torn between the pressures at work and at home, Shelton has to choose his future. That is, until Nevil takes the decision out of his hands.
“What’s that?” he asked sharply when a soft burr filled the room. He bit his lip. He knew that sound. He’d been mesmerized the times he’d watched Nevil use one. He’d even participated a time or two, holding Nevil’s shuddering body in his arms as Nevil came with a shout of abandoned pleasure.
He’d been hesitant to try it himself, though. He sighed, embarrassed by his timidity. Nevil caressed his hot face and leaned close for a sweet kiss.
“You’re such a delight to make love to,” Nevil murmured as if reading his thoughts. “Trust me. This’ll blow your mind.”
Shelton drew in a lungful of air and let it out slowly, relaxing his muscles. He heard a click, and the humming of the vibrator stopped. Nevil’s quick breathing filled the room, and Shelton smiled at the sound of his excitement.
“Now where did I put the lube…? Oh, yes.”
Nevil moved on the bed, and Shelton heard him fumble with the nightstand. The mattress sagged again, and Shelton held his breath as Nevil blew cool air over his penis, hard and ready for their games.
“God, Nevil,” he groaned as Nevil continued to tease him, flicking his tongue along his aching shaft. He cried out in surprise when Nevil licked the tip. Slippery fingers pushed against his hole and slid inside him. Shelton squirmed blissfully as Nevil stroked the sensitive tissue.
The fingers withdrew, and Shelton caught his bottom lip with his teeth as he felt a strange pressure against his hole—not unpleasant, just different. Nevil must have used plenty of lubricant, because there was little resistance as he carefully inserted the head. A tingle spread through him as Nevil pushed the vibrator in deeper, creating little ripples of pleasure.
Nevil slid the device in and out several times, then rotated it. God! “Nevil! I can’t…”
“I think we found the spot,” Nevil murmured gleefully. “Do you like it there?”
“I don’t…” Shelton groaned loudly, arching his back as Nevil nudged the vibrator in farther, then turned it on. Intense pleasure instantly swamped Shelton’s senses.
“A little faster?” Nevil urged, his voice sounding thick.
Shelton helplessly tossed his head. “I don’t know.”
Nevil did something, and a feeling bordering on ecstasy burst in Shelton’s brain. He couldn’t think as waves of bliss danced along his nerves.
“Nevil,” he whimpered as his balls tightened, the pressure building toward climax. His body twitched, and he pushed his hips downward against the vibrator. He cried out, on the verge of coming, the exquisite pleasure of the vibrator almost painful against his prostate.
Then Nevil’s hot mouth engulfed his penis, and it was all over. Shelton came in one quick thrust, his hips rising off the pillow. The orgasm went on and on, shattering him. He panicked slightly as a buzzing grew in his head. His lips tingled then went numb.
“Take a breath, dear.”