I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I heart my job! In the past two years I have met some fabulous writers, editors, and agents and it just keeps getting better. What I love the most, these fantastic people want to come visit my blog and share their stories, inspirations, and wonderful books with me. Yeah, this is the life.
Today is no exception. Today I have fellow Wild Rose Press author Jannine Corti-Petska here. She graciously allowed me to grill her…er, interview her about writing in general and her latest two books.
Jannine, as a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
I went from a child’s cowgirl dream and owning a horse to a teenage dream of racing cars to a high school dream of speaking 5 languages and becoming an international interpreter. Since none became a reality (I was working on the languages), I turned to what I did most: reading and writing.
In my late twenties, I realized I wanted to try my hand at writing historical romances and discovered I actually had a talent for weaving intricate tales. But those childhood dreams were not lost. With the exception of racing cars, I’ve used the other two in my stories set in the 19th century American West and in the medieval period.
That’s one of the best things about being a writer, you get to be someone else–if only for a little while. How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?
I was fortunate to be raised in an Old World environment. While it did have its drawbacks, it also provided me with a way of life that most American children never experienced. Having Italian parents whose first language wasn’t English helped shape my love for and eagerness to learn several languages.
My mom read a lot, though mostly stories in magazines. I began reading very early and my interest in the written word blossomed from there. In my Italian medievals, I capture the essence of the Italian culture I know so well. As I grew up in Los Angeles County, near Hollywood, my father loved watching westerns on TV. I’m not sure how much of it he understood, but those shows shaped my interest in the American West. And the larger-than-life cowboy hero. He just seemed so romantic and courageous.
I totally agree. Love the cowboys! How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
For Dante’s Flame, I used a surname for the hero that, for some reason, I love—Santangelo. This is book 3 of my Italian medieval series. The hero in book 1 read Dante’s works, and I knew I wanted to use the name in one of my stories.
For Mine to Keep, written for The Wild Rose Press’ “Love Letters” short stories line, the idea came about when the story unfolded in my mind. Of course, keep was a symbol of the medieval era and the castle used in the story. And mine had to do with the hero and heroine wanting to spend the rest of their lives together even though at the beginning, their marriage served only one purpose—to gain an inheritance. Also, the hero fought for and almost lost his life over holding on to the woman he loved.
Can you say romantic? <wink> Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
I have, although mostly, I go with a modern theme in many of my books: physical abuse, alcoholism, family conflict, the mafia, and so on. I give these themes a historical twist.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Other than writing sex scenes, the challenge for me is discipline. Thirty years ago I could write anywhere, anytime, under any kind of circumstances. Today, a fly on the wall distracts me! And my memory has gotten so bad that I find it difficult to keep facts straight. Confusion and disorganization cause me hours and days of frustration. Now I have to make a lot of notes, notes on those notes, more notes and….well, you get the picture. Then I have to remember which of those 1000 pages (exaggeration) of notes I wrote certain details I may need. I get excited if I can recall a fact or two! It’s not pretty, lol. So I suppose sustaining a story gives me the most problems these days. My mind is not growing old gracefully. Clutter is its enemy.
I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one. So, how did you deal with rejection letters?
Not well, at first. I was devastated every time I opened a rejection letter (sent snail mail). There was a system to my disappointment. My first reaction was my heart dropping to my stomach. On the heels of that, I’d get angry, thinking the editor or agent didn’t know what she was talking about. Surely my work was as good as authors who are published. I’d stew for a day, then I’d get energized and dive back into writing. Rejection is terribly difficult to take when your being judged on something so personal as writing. In my mind, rejecting my work meant rejecting me.
I was most frustrated that my rejections weren’t horrible. Normally it wasn’t a don’t-quit-your-day-job letter. There was some quality of my writing editors and agents liked. One of my biggest problems was trying to sell Italian-set medievals in the late 90s and early 2000. In that sense, I had felt as if my heritage was rejected as well. I’ve since grown an extremely thick skin.
My friends used to joke that I got the best rejection letters. To me it didn’t matter, it was still a rejection. Next question, what tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Must-have tangible tools would be pad and pen (or pencil). When I began writing, I used this method as computers weren’t really on the scene, and those that were had a huge price tag. But an endless supply of pad and pen, I think, I essential. Computers are great, but when they go bad, you can lose all your work. You don’t have to back up your pad and pen.
A non-tangible tool would be keeping an open mind. Tunnel vision gives an author one, very tiny piece of the story. With an open mind, creativity really has an outlet to expand, making story possibilities endless. There are no boundaries to what a writer can achieve. Although there is a “formula” to writing romances, it’s what you create within that “formula” that makes or breaks a story. An open minded approach to writing will take your story from one dimensional to full and satisfying.
Again, glad to know I’m not the only one. I was writing notes long hand today. Sometimes the ideas just flow better that way.
Jannine, thanks for coming by. But visitors, don’t leave yet, the best is coming up. Keep reading for a look at Jannine’s latest releases…
-♦-♦-♦-♦-♦- Dante’s Flame -♦-♦-♦-♦-♦-
Book 3 of the Italian medieval series
Alessandra Podesta writes illicit tales unsuitable for a young lady. Exasperated, her father sends her to visit relatives in Naples to curb her wild imagination. But in her undying need for adventure, she toys with the affections of her tutor and is forced to marry him. When she unknowingly falls into a dangerous game of supremacy between two countries, she trusts the wrong people and endangers her life.
French tutor Dante Santangelo is secretly aiding the French in maintaining their rule over Naples. When he is manipulated into marrying the visiting cousin of the Valente Family, he seizes upon the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the family, who are under suspicion of helping the Spanish. When Alessandra’s life is in jeopardy Dante must choose between love and duty. Will he offer up his life to save Alessandra? Or remain duty-bound to the French?
Buy It Now:
The Wild Rose Press
-♦-♦-♦-♦-♦- MINE TO KEEP -♦-♦-♦-♦-♦-
~ Blurb ~
Lady Elizabella Aldrich receives notice of an inheritance in Padua, Italy. Arriving from England, she discovers another heir lays claim to the castle. An unreasonably handsome Italian rogue stands between her and the castle she’s inherited.
Leonardo Da Mitri never met the noble who included him in his will. But after one look at Lady Eliza he relishes the challenge of defeating the beauty to make the castle his own.
Astonished to learn they must wed and remain married for a year, it soon becomes apparent someone does not want the nuptials to take place. As Eliza fights her growing desire for Leo, he fights for his life. Will he walk away from his inheritance—and Eliza? Or is he willing to risk everything to stay married to the woman who has claimed his heart as hers… to keep?
Elizabella and Leonardo haven’t been married long. Neither have they consummated their
marriage. In this scene, they both slipped on wet stone in the castle’s great room, and Leo traps her to the floor.
“Think you my brother will stand idle when I tell him how horrible you have treated me? You are rude and ill-mannered.”
“So I am.” Leo feigned boredom. Her observation of his character didn’t offend him. She was unapprised about Italian society…and Italian men.
“From the moment we met, you acted as if I am not fit to be in your company. So be it. I am not a noble, so I need not behave like the rigid men
in your society. And since I am not compatible in your eyes, then I shall do what I should have done last night.”
“You would not dare!”
He lifted his mouth into a non-committal smile.
“Oh! Let me up at once!”
“It appears milady must be taught manners as well.” Leo crushed her lips beneath his. He ran his hand down her waist and hip caring not that his
caresses were rough, groping. Her protests died in an instant. When he pushed her tunic up to her shoulders, he was surprised to find her naked beneath the expensive garment. He tore away to lave his tongue across her breast, taunting her nipple. Her deep, unfettered moan seeped into his heart. Last night had been merely a prelude to the ecstasy awaiting him with his feisty wife.
Leo recaptured her mouth and shed any misgivings about consummating their marriage. Even though theirs was more illusory than real, he should have sunk into her and be damned his righteous conscience. He desired Eliza like no other.
He broke off the kiss and gazed at her, from the red, irritated skin around her parted lips to her eyelashes shadowed high upon her cheeks. Resisting her was impossible, from the way her body moved, like a sultry feline, to her soft sounds of pleasure.
“Eliza.” Her name echoed in his head. “Do you want me? Truthfully, do you desire me?”
When her lashes fluttered upward, her eyes beheld a desirous sheen. Leo’s heart skipped a beat while his manhood surged upward in anticipation. Pray she didn’t reject him, for he’d not walk away a second time. Hope kindled the jagged pounding of his heart, even when her features lost their passionate glow.
“If I said no, would you leave me be?”
Buy It Now
The Wild Rose Press
What a great excerpt! Thank you, Jannine! I’m sure everyone is adding this to their TBR list. I know I am! Thanks for sharing your books with us and thank you, readers, for stopping by! Ciao–Amie