Monday, February 06, 2012


Today, I welcome the beautiful Dianne Hartsock to Kick Start Monday. The lady has an amazing smile, don't you think? It's such a pleasure to have her! Dianne navigates the challenging world of a female who writes m/m romance. She will make you laugh and nod your head in understanding in one fell swoop... you'll see what I'm talking about when you read her blog post below :). Of course, don't forget to look out for the contest - Kick Start Monday is always the day for fantastic giveaways!

Dianne 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.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which she says is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

I let Dianne do the "writing" now...


Good morning, Natalie!

Thank you so much for having me on you lovely site today. Hello everyone! *hugs* I’d like to kick-start your Monday by sharing the importance of researching a story. Being a happily married, mostly straight woman, I run into my share of challenges writing m/m erotic romances. But one of my more interesting hurdles was that phenomenon known as kissing. Think about it! That mouth that only half an hour ago was chewing on a medium rare steak now wants to attach to yours and thrust a wine flavored tongue down your throat. How can that in any way be appealing? Yet somehow it is!

Then there’s that bristly stubble. Last summer my brother and his partner spent a week with us, and being on vacation, neither shaved. I was intrigued! What would it be like for a man to kiss another man with five o’clock shadow? Would it bother him as much as it does me?

Yes, it was time for research, something every writer has to indulge in now and again. Unfortunately, being married like I am, there was only one man I could experiment on and not get into a world of hurt. I started with him clean shaven. Yumm… My husband’s lips are deliciously soft right after he shaves. I touched my tongue to his top lip. What was the texture like? Was it warm or cold?

I nibbled the fuller bottom one. What was the difference between them? I slipped my tongue into the sweetness behind them. How could I describe the electric current that flashed through me all the way down to my toes when our tongues met? How long would I be able to tease him before he rolled me under him and had his way?

I tried the procedure again when his stubble grew. When did it start to feel like sandpaper against my skin? At what point did it change to a soft down, erotically ticklish? Did my readers even care?

You see, to make a story sound authentic, sometimes the research has to be painstaking and intensive, going back to the start over and over until you can draw the reader into the scene with you, experiencing the amazing sensations right along with the characters.

Which brings me to my contest for the day! My m/m romances are full of beautiful men and fabulous kissing. I’m offering a PDF copy of the third story in my ‘Shelton’ series to a commenter who tells me, not their most romantic kiss, but the worst kiss they’ve ever experienced! The worst kiss I’ve ever had, unfortunately, was my very first one. It took place in the backseat of a friend’s car by a man I’d just met. He was drunk off his butt and tasted of sour beer. I still shudder when I think of it.

CONTEST: So what’s your story? Tell me for a chance to win an e-copy of Shelton's Choice, and happy Monday!

Dianne Hartsock

Shelton’s Choice

Published by Breathless Press:

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.


"Have you told him yet?"

"Hmm?” Shelton murmured, reluctant to put down the book he was reading. Only a few pages remained to the thriller, and he still hadn't a clue as to who the killer would turn out to be.
"Have you told your tall, dark, and wickedly handsome boyfriend that you're leaving?"

Shelton shot the man at his elbow an irritated glance. "What do you want, Ted?" He noticed the coffee shop was filling up and hoped his coworker wouldn't take the vacant chair at his table.

Ted Pringle was personable enough, even attractive in a light blond, pansy blue-eyed way. He was also a gossip though and lived to stir up trouble in and out of the office.

Ted threw up his hands. "Hey, I was only asking! We go in a few months and—"

"Leave me alone." Shelton turned back to the book, skimming the page to find his place. Ted touched his arm, and Shelton spun on him but swallowed his angry words. Ted's attention wasn't on him. The man looked across the room, a smile of triumph on his lips.

Shelton followed his gaze and his heart jumped then settled into a delighted patter. Nevil stood in the doorway of the coffee shop, scanning the tables with his beautiful turquoise eyes.

Wickedly handsome? Damn right he was. Even after a year together, Nevil's smile still had the power to melt his bones and leave him weak with want.

He waved the book as Nevil spotted him. A curious look passed over Nevil's face as he approached the table, and Shelton remembered Ted's hand on his arm. He pulled free, and Ted chuckled, his breath warm in Shelton's ear as he bent down, whispering, "Don't forget to tell him."

Shelton growled, then forgot all about Ted as Nevil, his eyes dancing with mischief, stopped at the table.

"What are you doing here? Sit down," Shelton babbled, feeling the warmth of a blush in his cheeks as Nevil glanced at Ted's retreating back.

"Okay, but only for a minute. I have a surprise for you, and I've already wasted enough time finding you. Off work early?" Nevil took the empty chair at Shelton's nod and leaned across the table. A teasing smile covered his face. "I may have to blindfold you."

Heat swept through Shelton at the ardent look in Nevil's eyes. God, he wanted Nevil to take him right there at the table. He agonized under the constraint of public opinion that kept him from kissing Nevil's smiling lips.

Nevil settled back into his chair. "Who was that?" he asked, nodding into the crowd at the coffee bar.

"Just that annoying prick from Accounts I told you about."

"Gossiping Ted? What did he say? I wanted to smack his pretty face for standing so close to you."

"I'm sure he wanted to make you jealous as if he ever could. So, about this blindfold…"

Nevil smiled and licked his lips, his look provocative. "You'll see," he teased and rose to his feet. "Come on, love, before I change my mind."

Shelton hurried after him as Nevil wove his way through the boisterous lunch crowd to the front entrance. His heart fluttered when Nevil opened the door of the car for him and kissed his cheek as he climbed into the Prius at the curb. Nevil rarely displayed his affection in public, a sure sign he felt as aroused as Shelton. Shelton remained silent as Nevil drove through the afternoon traffic, his body tingling in anticipation of their lovemaking.

"What about this blindfold?" he asked, becoming slightly breathless at the thought. Nevil could be so creative.

"That's for later, my dear, when I have you alone and enthralled."

Shelton snorted and enjoyed Nevil's easy laughter. Grateful to be Nevil's friend as well as his lover, Shelton's spirits soared. His days were filled with laughter and comradeship. He thrust Ted's stinging reminder from his mind. He'd keep that discussion for another day and take this precious time with Nevil.

He sat up in the bucket seat as Nevil skirted the city and took one of the smaller highways toward the mountains. "Where are we going?"

"You'll see. We put the last nail in Bill Stanton's place this morning, two weeks ahead of schedule, and Barker gave us the weekend off, with a bonus." Nevil patted his pocket.

"It's only Thursday."

Nevil waved it off. "I'm sure you'll come down with a cold or something by morning. Live a little, Shelton! The bank won't fall apart without you tomorrow. I want to celebrate."

Shelton leaned back in his seat. Who was he to argue, especially when Nevil's gaze raked over him with the promise of passion in his beautiful eyes? The highway ascended steadily up into the mountains and Nevil turned off along a narrow road, then onto a private driveway. Shelton whistled appreciatively when they pulled up to a modern glass and redwood sided bungalow snug against the lake.

"It's beautiful," he said in admiration, recalling the blueprints for the house on Nevil's desk last winter.

"The Gordans haven't moved in yet and lent it to me for the weekend."

"But why?"

Nevil turned off the engine and moved closer to Shelton. "I told them it was my first-year anniversary with the man I love."

Shelton reached out and cupped the back of Nevil's head, pulling him closer for a kiss. So delicious. He never tired of the taste of this man in his arms. Nevil pressed against him, and the heat of his body ignited Shelton, the scent of Nevil's skin filling him with the longing to run his tongue over every inch of Nevil’s body.

~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.