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I’m very excited by the release of Project Fierce Chicago from Less Than Three Press and absolutely deighted that Dianne Hartock has agreed to answer some questions about it and about her writing process.

Welcome, Dianne, thanks for being here today.

Project Fierce is an excellent title, who came up with the idea for the anthology?

Isn’t this just an amazing title? Really catches one’s attention. It’s the name of the charity organization hoping to build a safe home for LGBTQ youth living on the streets of Chicago. Less Than Three Press has decided to raise money for this effort by putting out an anthology of stories donated by various authors. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Project Fierce Chicago.
Less Than Three Press is a strong rising presence in the LGBTQ romance community, a labor of love between three women who wanted to write and publish books, but wanted to do it their way—with other people who love what they do, for people who love to read great romance, with high-quality, well-edited stories that are also affordable, engaging, and always come with that famous happy end.

Can you tell me a bit about the project it is supporting?

Project Fierce Chicago will provide transitional housing for LGBTQ young people ages 18-25, for an initial term of one year. In addition to living space, food and hygiene products, residents will have access to services aimed at a successful transition to independence, including case management, professional and living skills training and educational support. These services will primarily be provided by dedicated volunteers.

PFC’s aim is to become a largely self-sustaining community through the maintenance of a community garden and an in-house workshop in which staff, volunteers and residents create daily living items such as soap, lotion and household cleaning products with natural ingredients. The house will also have a space in which to showcase the art and creative projects of residents and community members.

I understand your story is about a young man who is homeless, could you please tell me a little more about him?

Sammy is a darling, and one of the countless homeless GLBT youth surviving on the streets in Portland, Oregon. At fifteen he inadvertently came out to his parents, and instead of the support he’d hoped for, they sent him to live with his uncle. Unfortunately, the man was even less tolerant of his penchant for wearing women’s dresses. Rather than change to please his family, feeling unwanted and misunderstood, he ran away to find a better life.

He spent three months living under bridges, hungry and lonely, until he meets Tad, a young man who gives him a spot on his floor to sleep when he needs one and shows him that by flashing a bit of thigh and his pretty smile at the local businessmen, he could make enough money to keep his stomach full and maybe hide away a little for his own apartment. He doesn’t dare dream of attending college one day.

When this story opens, Sam has been on the streets for several years when one of his ‘regulars’ begins to take more than a business interest in him. For the first time Sammy dreams of more than a bleak lonely future, but does he dare hope that someone like him could find their happily ever after?

I know that you are working all the time. How is this story different from your other recent releases?

While all my stories are fiction, with SAMMY I paid extra attention to my facts. Homelessness is one of the sadder aspects of society and I wanted to make sure I portrayed Sam’s life as realistically as possible.

That’s not to say I don’t research my other stories. For my recently released novel THE SHED, the sequel to my psychological thriller ALEX, I had police procedure and Colorado state law and the schooling my hero Scott Reid needed as a certified counselor and mental health specialist. But from there I wandered into fiction. You see, Alex is a psychic who sometimes works with the police on murder investigations. Scott is his therapist. In this story I could I could tweak the facts a bit where in SAMMY I stuck with the reality of life on the streets.

In THE SHED, Alex is surrounded by a group of friends and professionals who believe in him, where that’s not always the case in real life and certainly not in Sam’s. But there is one thing all my stories have in common, a happy ending. Again, something that doesn’t always happen in reality but is a must with my stories.

I’m currently having problems balancing my work/life and writing commitments. Have you any advice?

Wish I had a secret recipe to share with you, but the answer is that I work hard at it. I’m up an hour early for work every day to get some writing time in, then try for two hours in the evening to write, promote, and the millions of tiny details involved with having a published story.

Sundays are for family and friends, and though I might get a little writing in, it’s mostly spent doing things with them. Oh, and every evening I spend with the family before I get to my writing.

Thursdays, my other day off, is strictly for writing. I need that day to just immerse myself in a story or I’d never get anything done! What it comes down to is that I love writing and so make time for it, wherever I can.

What next from the pen/typewriter/wordprocessor of Dianne Hartsock? Do you have WIP you can talk about?

I am currently and STILL working on my contemporary Christmas story. I say still because, though I’ve only been working on it since April, it seems to be taking me forever to make any progress. Lots of interruptions with other stories/editing/promoting/writing guest blogs, etc. But I’m almost caught up with my obligations and can really sink my teeth into it.

I’m really excited about this one. I’ve been rolling it around in my head for about a year now, waiting for the change to get started on it. I have it all plotted out, who my heroes are, are they naughty or nice? Who my wicked but lovely villain is and the terrible things he puts my men through. At the moment I have only one more big scene to write then my thrilling conclusion. Then I get to my favorite part, going back through it and fleshing out all the scenes. Looking forward to getting back into it.

Could we please have a short excerpt of your story SAMMY in Project Fierce?

A soft sob floated on the night air and plunged straight into John’s heart. He hurried over to Sam, then stood biting his lips, not sure what to say.

“What do you want?” Sammy’s voice sounded tired, rough with tears.

“Do you need help? Can I do anything?”

Sam raised his head, blue eyes shimmering at him through wet lashes. Recognition sparked in the beautiful depths, then they widened. “You.” Sam struggled to his feet, hugging his bare arms across his chest against the chill creeping up from the river. “Sorry, I have to cancel on you. I’m closed for the night. Try again tomorrow.”

He brushed past John and started down the bike path. John’s heart thumped painfully. “Sam?”

The young man stopped and swiveled abruptly. The lamplight caught his expression, a hint of fear, anger; the light clearly showing a cut lip and the dark swelling of a bruise on his ivory cheek. John clamped his lips shut on a murmur of pity, noting he held his left arm as if it hurt.

Helplessness swept through John. “Let me help you. I can make you a cup of coffee at least. And dinner, if you’re interested. I make a great spaghetti.”

Doubt crossed Sam’s pretty face and the end of his pink tongue nudged the cut on his lip, twisting John’s heart.

Impulsively, he touched Sam’s arm. “Did someone hurt you?”

Sam stared at his hand, not answering. John was grateful he didn’t yank his arm away. Finally Sam nodded.


Project Fierce

Nobody deserves to be without a home

In collaboration with several authors, Less Than Three Press offers up an anthology of stories about young people who find that home and family are not always where you expect to find them.

All proceeds from this charity anthology will be donated to Project Fierce Chicago.

Project Fierce Chicago’s mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing affirming, no-cost transitional housing and comprehensive support services to homeless LGBTQ young adults. PFC also aims to encourage community-building and civic engagement through cooperative living and youth leadership development.

LT3’s Project Fierce Chicago charity anthology includes 20 short stories from Aeris, Vicktor Alexander, Talya Andor, C.J. Anthony, Blaine D. Arden, Kayla Bain-Vrba, Sophie Bonaste, Kenzie Cade, Jana Denardo, Alessandra Ebulu, Dianne Hartsock, Leta Hutchins, Caitlin Ricci, Lor Rose, B. Snow, Rin Sparrow, Andrea Speed, Piper Vaughn, Layla M. Wier, and Xara X. Xanakas.

Pairings: M/M, F/F, genderqueer
Content: Contains no explicit content.

Buy link: Less Than Three Press: http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=78&products_id=632

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