Guest Blogging

I am so pleased to welcome erotic author Denise Rosetti all the way from down under. A multi-published author, she has agreed to stop by for a chat about her latest release… Strongman: Book 3 in the Phoenix Rising series. (ISBN: 978-1419914973 a male/male fantasy available now through Ellora’s Cave.)

When the credits rolled up for Brokeback Mountain were you in tears? Denise Rossetti was.

Then she got mad – two souls who were destined to be together, so much love, so totally wasted. All because of the society those men lived in. But what if a similar situation occurred in another place, at another time? In a world Rossetti knew well? Her writer’s brain started churning…

Enter Stage Center – Fortitude McLaren, a hard-bitten mercenary who’s had a gutful of mud and blood and death. Brought up in the bigoted society of the Straight Church on the fantasy world of Phoenix.

Enter Stage left – Griff, acrobat and knife-thrower, lithe and athletic, a man with a gift for friendship, for caring.

Put the players together and you get something like this…

When Fortitude McLaren joins the Ten Nations Fair as a roustabout, he’s shocked and angered by his hunger for Griff, a circus performer. Fort regards manlove with indifference and contempt.

Not for him. Never for him.

Although Fort fights with everything in him, Griff affects him like no one else. It’s not just his strong, supple body, the big mercenary is irresistibly drawn by the openhearted friendship the other man offers so freely.

Fort may have found a friend, but the cruel memories of his childhood are the greatest enemy of all. When a job for Jan the Aetherii puts Griff in danger, Fort discovers what’s really at risk-everything he is and everything he’s ever believed in. To save Griff’s life and preserve his own sanity, Fort must not only fight the battle in his soul, he must win it.

About the Author: When Denise Rossetti was very young, she had an aunt who would tell her the most wonderful fairy stories — all completely original. Denise grew up, as little girls do, but the love of stories has never left her.

These days, she lives in a comfortable, messy old house in the Australian suburbs and writes erotic fantasy and paranormal romance. Her work is intense, lyrical and excitingly different. One reviewer called it “erotically intelligent, intelligently erotic”.

Rossetti is currently published by Ellora’s Cave and Avon Red. THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW, the first book in her erotic fantasy quartet for Berkley Ace, will be released on 4th November 2008. She has also a story appearing in the Berkley Heat anthology, UNLACED (2nd December 2008), together with authors Jasmine Haynes, Jaci Burton and Joey W. Hill. She’s thinking of changing her name to Jenise to go with the flow.

Rossetti is small and noisy and dreadfully uncoordinated. She tends to wave her hands around a lot, which can be unfortunate if the tale she’s telling happens to have explosions in it!

Denise agreed to let me ask questions about her book, her writing habits and her personal life… silly Denise.

What advice would you give to aspiring erotic romance writers?
Hoo boy! There’s SO MUCH advice out there – and really, I shouldn’t add to it! But I guess I do have a couple of observations to make, can’t help myself. *sigh*

The first is that if you want to write erotic romance, you must be a WRITER, first and foremost. If you don’t get that right, not all the graphic sex scenes in the world will save you. The second is that you need to be completely at ease with whatever sex you’re writing. If you’re out of your comfort zone it will show. There’s a whole lot more in an article I wrote called Some Write it Hot: Musings and Myths about Erotic Romance

Back to being a WRITER. If you’re an aspiring author, take it or leave what I’m going to say, okay? Because if you take on board too many opinions and “systems” and bloody RULES, you’ll end up second-guessing yourself – every word, every phrase. I really abhor “how to write” books, even though many of them are both logical and insightful. But that’s because my head doesn’t work that way. You do what’s best for you, right?

Always remember that reading is a totally subjective experience and so is writing. One person’s “desert island keeper” is another’s “wall-banger”. Therefore, it’s essential that you stay true to yourself, and to your “voice”. Your take on the world is unique, no one writes quite like you. Celebrate your voice!

I know it may be unPC to say this, but I actually believe in talent. Yes, OF COURSE, hard work and persistence is important and will help you to improve, but there’s a “spark” you have to have in the first place.

After that, the only way to learn to write is to write! There’s no more magic to it than that. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my advice –

1. Write
2. Read
3. Trust your gut.
4. Write some more
5. Read lots more
6. Then write more and more and more and…

See what I’m getting at? *smile* You need to write in order to gather enough experience to know what the “rules” are so you can break them. You need to be confident enough in your own voice that you can accept constructive criticism with genuine gratitude. (Criticism? We’re supposed to listen when someone says they don’t love our baby as much as we do? Oh, yeah, that’s what editing is for…)

What’s your writing schedule like?
A  routine – if only… *sigh* The problem with my entire life is that I have next to no routine. And it would help so much if I did. I’m the Queen of Procrastination ruling over the Land of Clutter. I’m catastrophically untidy, to the point of losing things I really do need. As far as I’m concerned, putting something “in a safe place” is a recipe for disaster!

When I do have a writing day, I fluff around until lunchtime at least, doing emails, surfing and stuff. Heck, I don’t even know what it is that I do, except waste time. I usually start writing after lunch and if I’m serious, I have to move the laptop from the study to the bedroom because the wireless access doesn’t work in there. I sit on the bed with one of those tray table things over my legs. The dog lies on the floor and the cat lies on me. Everyone’s happy.

Funnily enough, despite the fact that I’m so careless with physical objects, I’m a very slow, very deliberate writer. I don’t often get carried away and have words simply flow out of my fingers. I have to dig for every single one, which means I need to concentrate. I have a timer on the computer and I turn it for 45 minutes. When it goes off, I’m allowed to check my email. (Did I say I need a 12 step program?) It’s amazing how little I can write in that time. Around 5pm I have this incredible desire to doze off, but the cat comes in and head-butts me until I fix his dinner. The dog just grumbles. So I yawn and go on. By 8pm, I’m firing on all cylinders and if I’m on a roll, sometimes I go ’til after midnight.

What do you wear while you’re writing?
Most of the time I just want to be comfortable, but every now and then, I’ll fish out my special purple dress. It’s one of those pseudo-medieval numbers, with long sleeves, a scoop neck and a floor length skirt. I like the way it swishes. And if I’m having an especially difficult time, I’ll throw a shawl over my shoulders. It’s really a delicate, open-work baby blanket my grandmother knitted for me a very, VERY long time ago. *smile* It always reassures me that I’m loved and that I can do this.

Do you have a “secret or private” drawer, box, shelf, etc. And, if you do, name five things in it.
Brace yourself! I actually have a three drawer bedside table. Five things? Okaaay…

1. A set of Tarot cards. Sadly, I’m too left-brained to let go and be truly intuitive with the Tarot, but I’m totally fascinated by it. I do use the cards for meditation and visualisation, even for plotting sometimes! I love my Robin Wood deck, it’s so beautiful, so rich in Pagan symbolism.

2. Writing stuff – pens and pencils, notepads, USB drive, backup CDs (not paranoid at all, oh no), dictionary and a thesaurus. The thesaurus is the New Oxford and it’s so huge (weighs 5.5 lbs!) that when I heave it onto the bed, My Beloved refers to it as the “co-respondent”.

3. The “smellies” – an oil burner, tea light candles and essential oils. Also a cigarette lighter. (No, I don’t smoke.) I love bergamot and lavender and rose and add a bit of lemongrass for mental stimulation when I’m writing.

4. My “comfort/inspiration” books. I have to have my own, of course, because they’re so precious to me – I print out the ones that are still in ebook. But I also have “Menage” by Emma Holly and “Natural Law” by Joey W. Hill, plus the occasional Georgette Heyer or whatever else I’m reading at the moment. Not that I have much time to read any more. *very deep sigh*

5. Music stuff – the radio/CD/Cassette player and CDs. Plus the remote control. Very handy.

6. The TMI things. You know what they are, because you have them too. And that’s all I’m going to say! *wicked grin* Oh, and spare batteries.

Thank you Denise for sharing yourself with us. Click Here to read an excerpt of Strongman from Ellora’s Cave. And to learn about my guest from Australia please visit her blog, website, or her MySpace page.

I’ve got her tied up… er… visiting for a couple of days. Please feel free to ask her questions about her books, her sex life and her writing.

Some people come into your life and quickly leave, others come into your life and leave footprints on your heart. Jen is one of those people. Our writing may be very different genres, but our journeys have been amazingly similiar. Jen is my critique partner, my support and the one I love to tease. (Don’t tell her any of this stuff… it’ll swell her head and she’s already having a hard time getting through the doors as her publishing date nears.) 

I am so pleased she agreed to stop by for a visit. The cover of her debut novel, Madrigal (ISBN 978-0-9815573-3-5) is below. The credit for the concept goes to Hannah Phillips and the cover artist was Ken Altobello


Jen, Please tell us about any books you currently have under contract.
Murder, Maestro, Magician, Mastermind…

Those four words have been the heartbeat of my novel since I began writing it three years ago. Madrigal: A novel of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera is forthcoming from Highland Press. First in a proposed three book series it expands Leroux’s story where his original novel left off. When strange packages force Erik from his faked death, he finds himself falsely accused of violent crimes against the woman he once swore to posses. Fighting the nobleman determined to lock him away Erik seeks retribution, while battling a heart beating for two opposite women: Christine, who he longs to love or Anna, the catalyst of a brutal manhunt to bring him to justice.
Can he be loved for himself or will madness keep him The Phantom of the Opera?

What made you decide to continue a classic piece of literature?
When a book raises more questions than answers, I tend to revisit it time and time again. Leroux’s work kept me pondering the small nuances that made his plot perplexing and made the novel transcended time. Curiosity led me to research how Leroux created Erik, which in turn led me to studying French history, opera, (I grew up in a family of opera lovers) the class system of Paris, and symbolism, themes and Freudian thought in his novel. From there I discovered several excellent writers who tackled continuing classic literature. Many of them expanded upon works like Pride and Prejudice, Little Women and The Scarlet Letter. At first, I was horrified. How could they be so bold? I never knew writers attempted to expand existing stories and did not know how much such tales were in demand. I was haunted by the questions Leroux’s novel raised. Who was Philippe de Chagny beyond the haughty aristocrat Leroux portrayed him as? Did Erik truly die? Why was Christine compelled to bend to Erik’s whim if she was so terrified of him? Why did she never directly answer the question asked by Raoul, her vicomte lover: ‘If Erik were handsome would you love me, Christine?’ The questions would not be answered until I opened my mind and imagination.

When I thought to tackle writing a novel of Leroux’s Phantom I felt a bit like I was leaping into fire. To do so would dicker with well-beloved characters and challenger readers to view them in new and compelling ways. Fans of Phantom of the Opera are faithful to the versions they love. Dare I continue such a respected story? I would do so only by adhering to Leroux’s vision as closely as I could. While many brilliant interpretations came from Leroux’s novel, my passion is for the story that started it all. Naturally certain aspects of the plot were adjusted to suit the limits of my imagination. I feel strongly that Erik was an ardent gentleman hindered by the cloak of madness, deformity and murder.

Black mask or white?
I really should smack you for that. Erik lived his life behind a full black mask. It was Andrew Lloyd Webber who crafted the popular half white mask, primarily because Michael Crawford could not sing in a full face mask.

(Ouch! *rubs arm*. I already knew the answer. I was asking for the benefit of your adoring fans.)

Do you think this sweater brings out the color of my eyes?
I can’t concentrate on your sweater because those pants make your butt look big.

(Thank you. I’ll be sure to pass that on to my sister who made them… the one with arthritis who’s going blind in one eye, who sewed them by hand after her 12 hour shift at the mill where she got the scrap material…)

Plotter or Pantzer?
Total pantzer. I look at my stories as skeletons (how appropriate considering Leroux described Erik as a walking corpse). I write my chapters as the bare bones of the story then go back and add the connective tissue. I have my goals, motivations and conflicts written out and all my plot twists, then I allow the characters to show me the direction of the story. If something doesn’t work, I rethink until I hone those GMC’s.

Tell us a little more about your writing process. Do you have favorite drinks or snack foods? Any favorite music you play while writing?
Most of my writing happens on Tuesdays when my daughter is in daycare. I have a 15 month old and writing and editing revolves around her. I do a great deal of it at night once she goes to bed. I don’t set writing goals like many authors do. I just make it a point to write every day, whether a sentence, a chapter or tightening an existing manuscript. Writing goes beyond the book and much of the process is devoted to writing articles, blogs and critiquing manuscripts that come my way.

I often write to music since music is a central theme in all my works. I love classical—Mozart, Liszt, Beethoven. I love German musicals, so very often stars of the German stage are heard crooning from my loft office.

I love snacking on salted nuts, but try not to when writing—I’d weigh a ton if I did. But I absolutely must have my Strawberry Quik. I am a pink rabbit junkie. When stressed I reach for a big cold glass of the bunny. Rumor has it there will be spiked Quik at my release party. Something about pink grasshoppers…

Who’s the most faithful supporter for your writing?
My husband was the one who insisted I write professionally. He always wanted to write the great American novel and when he saw my passion for writing—he became my biggest cheerleader. He built my office prior to the arrival of our daughter and has given me all the time I need to launch this career.

Then we have my critique partners. A good CP is more than a critic of your work. Your CP is your biggest fan, your partner in crime and your sidekick. They will cry with you, laugh with you and listen to you vent about the process until they want to name a character after you for the sole purpose of killing them off. I would be nothing without my CP.

And I am blessed to have my ‘posse’ of faceless internet friends who have followed my journey from idea to publisher for the last three years.

(ME, your CP. Period. Forget hubby, forget family… it’s all about me!)

Do you have any other novels in the works?
Madrigal is first in a proposed three book series, so I have book two and three of Erik’s story to tell my readers.

I am proud of my historical romance, Adelrune. Set in 1866 Austria after the Prussian War, it tells the story of an autistic heroine and the grand duke forced to set his title aside to win her heart. Adelrune see the world in music. Every emotion in a strain of Mozart, Strauss, or Bach in her mind…

This was a labor of love to write. I have a passion for the romance of Austria and the allure of the Habsburg monarchy. I wanted to write a book with a unique heroine. I never set out to create Adelrune as a woman with Aspergers, but when a reader saw a short story using her character she asked me why I created an autistic heroine. The more I studied her character and began to read about Aspergers the more connected I became to crafting Adelrune in this manner. (I merely thought I modeled her thought process after my own.) The research tumbled from there and I am blessed to have been able to interview women living with Aspergers and experts in the field of autism during the course of this book. It is currently under consideration for publication. I recently did an interview about the Habsburg monarchy and Adelrune. It can be found at Writer of Queens blog.

I also have a historical in progress that centers around the Ringstrasse Theater in Vienna. Each character is a victim of the devastating fire that destroyed that theater in 1881.

Beyond that, if my readers call for it, I do have a fourth book in The Madrigals mostly written and a ton of ideas floating around that have yet to find their way to paper.

Which would you choose… a personal masseuse or a housekeeper?
Housekeeper even though I love cleaning. The dust bunnies have grown fangs since I became a mother and a writer. Who need a masseuse when you have a husband?

(Have you learned nothing from critiquing my erotica? Masseuse… always choose the masseuse.)

Anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Many readers are also budding writers. Don’t let the industry intimidate you. Publishing traditionally can be a daunting task, but if you stand firm and conduct yourself as a professional the industry will notice.

Thank you so much Jen. I really appreciate you stopping by today and sharing your story with us. She’ll be here for a couple days. (You comfortable Jen?… The bindings aren’t too tight? She’s shaking her head. Should I remove the gag… nah.) Anyway, feel free to ask her questions about her book or just comment.