Today I’m happy to welcome Barrie Abalard the second guest on my Passionate Ink cyber tour. She’s here to talk about her latest release Hot to Trot from Loose-Id.

Barrie has been writing and selling erotic romance for over twelve years under the pseudonyms Barrie Abalard, Miss Lee, and Belle. As of 2008 she has sold over 80 short stories, 9 novels/novellas, and one long novel. Loose-IdAmber Quill Press, and Discipline and Desire carry her work.

When she lived in Boston, she was a jack-of-all-trades, mastering two: radio personality and technical writer/online help designer. Barrie also did short stints as a taxi driver, clerical chartist for the Federal Reserve Bank, and temporary office worker for half a dozen companies. However, fiction writing is her first and longest-lived love. (If you can say that three times fast, you, too, might have a career in radio.)

Exes Patti North and Dylan Decker adore each other. Her problem? He cheated. His problem? Her temper. Fixing things will take more than spankings and hot sex, though that’s a good start.

HOT TO TROT, set in the often funny-weird worlds of Boston high-tech and equestrian hobbyists, tells the story of two exes who still adore each other-and still annoy each other-more than any other twosome on the planet

She’s agreed to answer a few questions. (I promised her since this is her first visit to Around the Writer’s Block that I’d go easy on her. Hee hee hee!) So without further adieu:

Tell us about your hero and give us five descriptives of his personality.
Dylan Decker is complicated, arrogant (but in a good way), funny, iconoclastic, and sweet.

The odd thing about Dylan is that I had absolutely no one in mind when I first imagined him. Usually some small aspect of someone I know will inspire a character, but Dylan sprang fully-formed from the place my muses live. (Barbara Samuel calls them “the girls in the basement”, and that’s how I think of them, too.)

Dylan has a brilliant mind for software, is tall, dark and handsome, has a great sense of humor, and also has the amount of ego necessary to found a company and be one of its officers-in other words, a lot of ego. I spent many years in high tech as a technical writer, but I never met anyone quite like Dylan.

However, he has a sensitive side-he likes to wear silk undies, he adores horses, and he’s emotionally a very complicated man. That last personality aspect was borrowed from my husband. I rather like complicated men.

In which of your books is the heroine most like yourself?
It’s Patti North, the heroine of HOT TO TROT, the book we’re talking about. Patti loves horses but isn’t a graceful rider, she grew up with few financial advantages, she’s a technical writer, she’s smart, funny (a real wiseass), and loves Champagne as well as her calico cat. Most of those things are based on me.

I never owned a horse like Flash, but I did ride a horse named Flash once, and he was just as adorable as the Flash in the story. He looked the same, too. It’s a good thing horses don’t read, or I might be in trouble for basing my Flash so literally on the real Flash.

Where did you get the idea for your latest book?
I’m still trying to figure that out. HOT TO TROT was the first story I wrote that was longer than a short story-the idea came to me back in 2001. Obviously some parts of the story were inspired by my life, but the story itself just kind of appeared in my head one day, poof. It’s been a long road to publish this novel!

I’m what writers call a “pantster” (meaning, I don’t plot beforehand, I just start writing), so Patti and Dylan came to me first, along with the title. Because I was taking riding lessons at the time (and love horses), I added the horse element. And I was working a contract at a company whose products resembled the ones Patti documents in the book.

What do you like about erotic romance best?
I love that my heroines can be fully sexual and unashamedly kinky while falling in love with the man they’ve been looking for all their lives. I love that my heroes can be alpha and still enjoy pleasing a woman in bed. And I love, most of all, that I can write stories that are romantic yet very much true to life.

What does your family think about you writing erotic romance?
Both my husband and my grown daughter are very supportive of my writing career, and celebrate my successes along with me. They both bring me such joy!

The cats could care less, as long as I make enough to keep them in cat food.

If you could change one thing about your habits, what would it be? What is the one thing you’ll never change?
If I could change one thing, I’d make myself love exercise. I mean, really love it. And be a runner, so I could wear a size ten. Okay, a twelve. I’ve never been a ten in my life.

One thing I’ll never change is my refusal to compromise when the issue is important to me. I will always write what I want to write, the way I want to write it. I will always be true to myself and my muses.

I’m so pleased Barrie took time from her very busy schedule to stop by for a chat. Please feel free to ask any questions about her book or her sex um.. er… life in general. 

Barrie writes “stories of love that hurt so good”. You can learn more about Barrie and her books on her website or her blog. She’d be happy to friend you on her MySpace.  

Today I’m pleased to welcome author and friend, Nina Mamone. Nina grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. After she discovered Nancy Drew, she could always be found in a corner with her nose in a book. Now she lives in Maine with her husband and daughter, writing in between looking at piles of laundry and being a stay-at-home mom.

Her newest release, Hard to Guard is a fantasy novella.

A construction worker by day, a Guardian by night, Connor has had it with the irresponsible antics of the wyrms he vowed to keep secret from the human world. The only reason he keeps going is to be near the sassy, sexy, but totally out-of-his-league Sorcha. However, for the past five years, Sorcha’s not-so-subtle digs have convinced him that she only sees him as a stuffy, wet blanket.

Sorcha lusts after Connor and may even love him. But after five years of poking, prodding, teasing-anything to get some kind of reaction, even a frown-she’s given up hope of having a relationship with him. He has made it very clear that working with her to find a kidnapped wyrm is the very last thing he wants to do.

An unaccounted-for wyrm is a deadly wild card, and after a dangerous aphrodisiac appears on the streets, Sorcha and Connor will have to join forces to ensure the safety of everyone they care about.

Whew. Hot. Hot. Hot.

* Please tell us about your newest release Hard to Guard.
Hard to Guard is a classic “they’ve been in love with each other for years – how could they be so blind!” story set in a world where dragons are real and need…well…babysitters. Both Sorcha and Connor are Guardians, which means they’ve each been assigned a dragon and it’s their job to make sure said dragon never becomes unhappy enough to burn down an entire city block. Sorcha is snarky – she was so much fun to write. And what’s even better is that Connor can be really quiet and calm – until he gets around her. She just drives him crazy. They have to work together to recover a kidnapped wyrm, and hot sexin’ and adventure ensues.

* Your hero sounds dreamy. Will we see him in any future works?
Oh, yes. Right now I have one more Guardian story to tell, maybe two. Connor’s best friend, Cisco, is my next victim. Cisco’s story is almost done, and since Connor knows him better than anyone, he’ll be around to support Cisco in his time of ne-…I mean, as he’s falling in love with his heroine.

* What led you to write fantasy and more specifically … dragons?
I’ve always been a paranormal fan. It’s what I read, so it was easy to make the leap to writing it. As for the dragon part, Samhain put out a call for stories for a dragon anthology. The story could be anything, but it had to have a dragon in it. I thought about it a while, of all the different roles a dragon could play. The idea of making the dragon the comic relief really appealed to me.

* I understand Louis (the dragon) adds humor to your story. How’d you come up with a personality for him?
All of the dragons are self-absorbed and clueless. They are rich, physically powerfully, and live for centuries – so their reality is a little different than ours. They don’t have the same worries, the same trials. Also, when I wrote it my daughter was three, which can be a very demanding age. That might have had something to do with it.

* I’m looking to buy new glasses … you like this pair … or this one?
Hmmm. Those. The pink cat eye glasses with rhinestones. They’d look very cute on you.

Oh, and I thought the red ones with gold filigree made me look intellectual … hmmm … but cute is good.

* Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantzer? Do you have favorite drinks or snack foods. Any favorite music you play while writing?
Writing the story is my favorite part – the first draft, finding out who the characters are and what happens to them. That can come out relatively quickly. Revisions are my least favorite thing, but are the most important. I want the story on paper to match the story in my head, and that’s what revisions are all about. I’m a mixture of plotter and pantzer, which is a cruel, cruel joke the writing gods played on me. First I plot, then I pantz, or is it the other way around? Actually, my writing is a lot of trial and error, and I listen to the voice in my gut that lets me know whether I’ve got it or not.

Listening to music is one of my favorite things to do, but usually not while writing. And I will drive waaay out of my way to get a Starbuck’s coffee. It’s one of my kinks.

*Note: Nina has scoffed down two double mocha-chino lattes while sitting here watching me drool. Did she offer me some … ummm … no!

* I know you’ve entered several contests and done very well. Can you tell us about that experience and a little bit about the books that finaled/placed?
I highly recommend contests. To me it is a win/win, even if you don’t place. My experience has been very positive. I have a paranormal romance series I’m working on that deals with a fey sorceress and a curse that affects seven brothers and sisters. I’ve been told it can be difficult to sell a series this early in a career, but since I don’t know how to write anything that isn’t a series the couple of wins, plus the judge’s comments, have really let me know I’m on the right track.

* If you had spare time would you go shopping or to the movies?
Movies. Definitely.

Oh, so sad. I was going to offer to take you on a shopping spree at the new Chip ‘N Dales store they opened just around the corner … but you go enjoy your movie … I can shop for hunks on my own.

* Anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Just that I’m grateful to my readers. I love my stories, and it warms my heart when other people do too. Thanks, guys. Also, if you have a chance, check out the rest of the dragon anthology. I read them all and enjoyed every one.

Thank you for visiting, Nina. I’m happy to say she’s agreed to stay and visit for awhile. She is also generously going to give away a print copy of I Dream of Dragons Anthology – Book II (or an ebook copy of Hard to Guard for my readers over the pond) to a commenter drawn at random. The drawing will held Tuesday, April 8 around 6 pm EST.

For more information on Nina, please visit her website or her MySpace page.

Click HERE to read an excerpt of Hard to Guard.

Nina’s Hard to Guard is available in the I Dream of Dragons Anthology – Book II and can be ordered from Amazon or Samhain Publishing.

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.