Monday, May 16, 2011

First Book Stories: Shelton in Love by Dianne Hartstock

First Book Stories continues today with Dianne Hartstock, author of Shelton in Love. I have to admit, I don't know a lot about Dianne. What I do, know, however, is that in addition to this novel, Dianne has two others due to be released soon, and a ghost story that is scheduled for publication in October by MuseItUp Publishing. She sure is busy!

Thank you, Cheryl, for having me as your guest today. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here. As a first time author, I’m also new to this whole blogging thing, so forgive me if I ramble on. I’m a little nervous.

Only a few short months ago, I was tapping away at the keyboard of my computer, despairing that I’d never have anything published. I’ve tried! The bulging file of rejection letters will attest to that. But then an idea occurred to me. Why not try something completely different? I closed the file on the MS I’ve been working on forever, and opened a new document, simply titling it Romance.

I’ve always shied away from romance, uncomfortable with the thought of characters stripping in front of me. But you know what? As I wrote, the characters came to life under my fingertips. I found myself writing with an excitement and energy I hadn’t felt in a long time. Try it! If you find yourself in a rut, try writing in a completely different genre. It’s challenging, to say the least, but the exhilaration of discovering a hidden talent is well worth the effort.

That’s how my sweet romance Shelton in Love came about. I was chatting with my friends over at Litopia about the possibility of writing an erotic romance, and I wondered what to do with the socks. Does a MS have to be that detailed? Some of the responses were hilarious, and an idea began to take shape in my mind. That night I sat at the keyboard and began to write. I let myself go and just had fun with the story, allowing the characters do whatever they pleased. And wow, did they do lots! I relaxed and wrote whatever came into my head, and managed to do the best writing of my life.

The first publisher I sent Shelton in Love to rejected it. But I wasn’t going to give up that easily. I had my favorite critique group read the story, and after reworking a few of the scenes, I sent it to Breathless Press, who offered me a contract. I couldn’t believe it! I read the letter over and over to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood.

My editor’s been wonderful, and after three revisions (just to tweak a few things!) my story is all ready to go. And I’m having so much fun promoting it! I’ve met some of the nicest people these last couple of months and have received so much encouragement and well-wishes that I wish I’d been published long ago.

And that’s the happy ending. My advice to new writers is: Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things. And never give up! There’s a publisher out there for you. You just have to find them.

You can buy Shelton in Love at Breathless Press:
Or at your favorite online bookstore.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from Shelton in Love. You’ll see what I mean about the socks!

Shelton ignored the flutter in his stomach he always experienced when invited into Nevil's room, and settled back into the cushions of the chair. "Who's the lucky color?" he asked, trying to feign indifference.

Nevil randomly drew a pair of socks from the top drawer of the bureau. "Ah, the gray ones."

"What? Percy again? Didn't you have him earlier in the week?"

"So what? These socks have never let me down," Nevil countered, rubbing the soft wool against his cheek and purring like a happy kitten.

Shelton's stomach knotted at the decadent smile on Nevil's face. Nevil had made it clear when they'd first met that he'd enjoy sleeping with him. The jealousy Shelton was keenly aware of now was his own fault. But was it wrong of Shelton to want more from the man than a passing fling? He shoved away the wish of sharing something meaningful with Nevil, a thought that made the flirtation all the more hurtful. "Fine, but if you make the man fall in love with you, then you can buy us an answering machine. I'm not going to listen to his whines when you break it off."

Nevil looked at him, raising a finely arched brow. "Who says I'll break it off?"

"Get real. You'd be bored of one lover in less than a week. Remember Daniel Pratte? You only managed six days with him after telling me you'd love him forever. He called for weeks after you told him it was over, hoping you'd be the one to pick up the phone. Admittedly, he was a bit of a prig, but I'm the one who had to listen to him sobbing his heart out every evening. I refuse to do that with Percy."

"Danny wasn't the right man for me. I haven't made up my mind about Percy," Nevil protested, unknowingly twisting the knife deeper into Shelton's heart. Shelton unconsciously held his breath when Nevil sat back against the headboard and lifted his foot onto the bed, pushing up the cuff of his tan Dockers. Moistening his lips, Shelton fought the arousal as he watched Nevil pull the sock over his foot and up a muscular calf—he was a faithful jogger and in May already had the beginnings of a fabulous tan.

Panicked, he raised his head, hoping Nevil hadn't observed his interest. Nevil's beautiful blue-green eyes watched him; then Nevil cocked an eyebrow. Shelton pushed to his feet from the chair, his face burned at the man's slightly mocking smile. "I'm going to make a sandwich. Do you want one?"

"No, thanks. I need to save room for dessert," Nevil reminded him as his tongue flicked over his lips. An image of Percy's nicely rounded butt in tight jeans flashed through Shelton's mind.

"Suit yourself," Shelton muttered, watching as Nevil crossed his legs to leisurely pull on the second sock. Tearing his gaze from the provocative sight before acting on the impulse to join Nevil on the bed and strip him of clothing, Shelton left the room and stomped to the kitchen, grabbing meat and cheese from the refrigerator. He swore under his breath as he slathered mayonnaise on the bread, hating Percy and every other man in the myriad of colored socks in Nevil's top drawer.

After growing up in California and spending the first ten years of marriage in Colorado, Dianne Hartstock now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.

She currently works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop.

You can find her online at:!/diannehartsock!/diannehartsock


Anonymous said...

Thank you again, Cheryl, for having me on your lovely website. It might sound silly, but I felt a little choked up when I saw my story for sale on Amazon today. I've worked so hard, but having a story of mine where people I don't even know can read it, is a dream come true and worth all the effort.

Anonymous said...

Dianne, my mother, has guided me through the machanics of writing and publishing since I started high school. Because of this devoted writer, I owe her my thanks. I love you, Momma. Congratulations on your success.

Kai said...

It is so wonderful to see Dianne and her first published story on your first book line up, Cheryl! I am so thrilled for Dianne's success and loved to hear the details behind how Shelton came to be.

Best of luck to you Dianne!

(Jennie, you're awesome too ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kai! I'm having so much fun with this. :)
Jennie, it's your turn next!

Cheryl said...

Great to have you here today, Dianne. I wasn't aware that Kai and you knew each other. Small world.

Wishing you the best,


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cheryl. I've enjoyed all the 'First Book Stories' you've been doing here. You have a wonderful site. :)

Pat McDermott said...

Dianne, congratulations on your upcoming releases. Having fun writing is a sure sign that you're on the right track. If you have fun writing a story, your readers will have fun reading it. All the best to you!