Friday, July 19, 2019

This week in The Loft: Author Tim Smith!

This week in The Loft, I welcome fellow eXtasy author Tim Smith! Tim is an award-winning, bestselling author of romantic mystery/thrillers and contemporary erotic romance. He is also a photographer, freelance writer, editor, and blogger. When Tim isn’t writing, he can often be found in The Florida Keys, doing research, parasailing, and seeking the perfect Mojito. 

Author Tim Smith

S:  Thanks so much for joining me today, Tim! I wish I could offer you a Mojito, but I'm afraid that's outside my skill set. You'll have to settle for coffee! 

Tell me, why did you become a writer?

T:  I discovered the wonderful world of literature when I was young, thanks to my mother, who was an avid reader. I loved losing myself in the adventures I read and thought I’d like to try my hand at it. I’ve always enjoyed creative writing and when I hit the middle-aged crazy phase of my life, I had this idea for a spy adventure. I challenged myself to either write the damn thing or stop talking about it. I wasn’t going to pursue publication until I showed it to a couple of friends and family members, who encouraged me.

S:  What attracted you to the romance genre? As you know, men are far and few between in our circle!

T:  I initially wrote a series of spy thrillers that contained a strong romantic element, but I didn’t consider myself to be a romance writer. I found that adding that kind of relationship between the hero and heroine made for a more interesting story. What really attracted me to it was when I attended a large book festival. I noticed that other authors were pulling in bigger crowds than I was, because they had written romances. After reading one of them, I thought it would be fun to write one told primarily from the man’s perspective. I also knew I could write something better than the one I had read.

S:  Do you write in other genres? 

T:  I tend to stay in my comfort zone of mysteries, thrillers, and light romantic comedy. Those are the types of books I read for my own enjoyment. I’ve read other romance genres, like paranormal, shape shifter, and western, but they didn’t really grab my interest. When vampire romance was the hot ticket, I read one and didn’t understand the appeal. I don’t try to cash in on the latest trend. For a while, it seemed like every author I knew jumped on the Fifty Shades bandwagon. Many of them are successful with that genre, but it isn’t my brand of scotch.  

S:  I give you credit for writing what you're comfortable with. I believe in sticking with what you know. Personally, I write in genres I enjoy, rather than what seems to be the bestselling ticket. I'll never get rich doing it, but I am content.

What is your favorite thing about writing romance?

T:  I enjoy developing the characters and watching them get to know each other, especially if there are any differences they need to overcome. It’s fun to explore a person’s emotions and thought process at that phase of a relationship. I like to keep things lighthearted and funny, and writing flirting scenes offers endless possibilities. Even in my adventure stories, I’m always looking for opportunities to drop in some laughs to ease the tension.

S:  (Smiles.) You and I have that in common. I inject levity to provide my readers with a break from the intense scenes. And some of my books do get intense!

I think how we write romance reflects our own romantic experience. Tell me about your worst date ever!

T:  I met someone through a friend and it appeared we had some things in common. We met for dinner and my date mentioned for the first time that she raised horses. Over the next hour, she talked about nothing else. My knowledge of anything equestrian is limited to win, place, or show at the track, so I was lost. When she finally finished educating me on the subject, she actually had the nerve to say “You haven’t said much.” My unspoken response was “Talk about something I can contribute to and I will!” 

S:  (Nods.) Nothing worse than thinking, "WTF am I doing here?" on a first date!

What would you like people to know about you?

T:  I like getting good reviews, and they help with sales, but they aren’t life or death for me. I say that because no one has ever said they bought one of my books because so-and-so gave it five stars. I don’t write for the critics. I write for the person in Parma, Ohio or Rugby, North Dakota who wants some escapism. I think most authors are loath to admit this, but we write to entertain. One of the nicest compliments I can receive is when someone says “I can’t wait to read your next one.” It doesn’t get much better than that.

S:  I'm with you there! I am actually a bit skeptical about the review process. I've read books that have 3,000 five-star reviews that I thought were complete trash. I am convinced that those reviews were written by bots, not readers!

If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose to write books?

T:  Definitely, but I would probably use a pseudonym that doesn’t identify me as a male author. It’s been very difficult at times getting taken seriously as a man who writes straight contemporary romance for a traditional publisher. There’s a prejudice attached to that with some readers and bloggers. People who have never read any of my books have assumed that being a man, I couldn’t possibly write about a believable relationship. It’s also gotten in the way when I’ve wanted to attend events like Rom-Cons. I was actually barred from one a few years ago because of my gender. 

S:  I suspect quite a few males use pen names for that very reason. However, we expect men to be able to deliver on romance, so it seems disingenuous to say they aren't capable of writing about it.

What's the best advice you have ever given?

T:  I tell wannabes to grow a thick skin when it comes to criticism. Not everyone will like what you produce, and unfortunately, some people can be cruel with their opinions. The same advice applies to editors. I have more than 20 books out, and my editor still finds mistakes. The only time I get upset is if it’s something I should have caught myself. 

S:  What's the best advice you have ever been given?

T:  When you introduce a character, even a minor one, always include a brief physical description to give the reader something to visualize.

S:  Great advice! I find I can't connect with characters if I can't see them in my mind.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

T:  There have been a couple. One was being the keynote speaker at the Indianapolis Book Festival several years ago. The other was when I organized a book signing tour in the Florida Keys, where most of my stories take place. I’ve always had a nice following down there. When I walked into one of the stores where I was scheduled to appear, I saw my books alongside those of some Florida authors whose work I admire. I thought “Smith, you have arrived!”  

S:   Wow, that must have been a terrific feeling!

Tim, thanks so much for joining me today! If you would like to learn more about Tim and his books, please visit--

Next week in The Loft:  Author Denise Wheatley!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

This week in The Loft: Fellow eXtasy Author Diana Waters!

Joining me today in The Loft is Diana Waters! Diana writes M/M fantasy romance for eXtasy Books. A native New Zealander, Diana currently lives in rural Japan. She claims to have no idea where in the world she'll be this time next year and is "pretty okay with that." Her passions include travel, amateur photography, and competitive swimming. 

The avatar of Author Diana Waters

S:  Diana, thanks for much for joining me today! 

Tell me, why write romance? 

D: Writing about any kind of fictional relationship in a way that feels both compelling and sincere is a really hard thing to do, and romantic relationships can be some of the most tangled and complex of all. I have nothing but admiration for writers that can pull this off in such a way as to leave their readers constantly coming back for more, and I’ll always be attracted to books that manage this. 

S:  Do you write in other genres? 

D:  I really like including other genres and subgenres within my romantic stories. In particular, I have a passion for both fantasy and historical fiction, and read a lot of books growing up that very successfully combined these genres – Juliet Marillier immediately comes to mind, as does Lian Hearn. While I do enjoy the occasional straightforward contemporary romance, I basically prefer to write the kind of stuff I would also want to consume as a reader. 

S:  Complete this sentence: “When one of my books is released, I…”

D:  Jump up and down squealing. Panic. Repeat. 

S: (Smiles.) I've done that a time or two!

Tell me about your worst date ever,

D:  I once agreed to go out on a date with a guy who didn’t tell me where we were going or what kind of thing I should probably wear for the occasion. I played it safe and dressed smart-casual. He picked me up in his car, and he drove us to… a McDonald’s Caf√©. It’s not like I expected to be taken to the finest restaurant in town, but given that he was also not exactly subtle about his intentions once we’d gotten back in the car, I sure wasn’t in a hurry to arrange for a second date. 

S: OMG! I think I would have walked home! The only time Mikey D's qualifies as romantic is when it's by candlelight and served with champagne.

I think we can safely assume you didn't pursue that relationship. What attracted you to your current partner? 

D:  Speaking of first dates. .. We both worked for a teaching company in Japan and had met a few days previously at our orientation, having been placed in the same very rural area. I had just moved into my apartment and was as yet without a car, phone, or internet connection. He turned up unexpectedly at my door with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of red wine, and we spent the night trying to open the bottle of wine without a wine opener and marathoning Yuri on Ice. How could I not be attracted to that?
S: Aww, that's so sweet! 
What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

D: Probably finishing my PhD, literally days before I first moved to Japan in 2012. Not because I think it’s the greatest thesis ever written or anything, but because I still remember exactly the kind of time, energy, and above all stress that went into it.

S: That's a great achievement! After I finished my Master's, I just couldn't see pursuing my doctorate. My professors weren't happy, especially when I skipped off to law school!

Tell me about your book, "Kaidyn's Courage."

D:  "Kaidyn's Courage" is an M/M romance fantasy. This is the second book in the Wild Magics series. The first was the short novella, "A Trust to Follow." However, both books are completely readable as standalone stories, as they take place in the same universe but feature different characters.

Here's the blurb--

Kaidyn is the son of the queen and a trainee officer in the kingdom of Sareen. He is also a Half-Blood—his father is from Iskandir, a neighboring kingdom which has been at war with Sareen for many years. Bitter and angry at the prejudice he faces, Kaidyn meets Sorin, a healer from one of Sareen’s most prominent noble families. As their relationship deepens, the war between Sareen and Iskandir grows worse. Not only will the pair inevitably become involved with the conflict one way or another, but Sorin is also hiding a secret, and time is running out for them both.

S:  That sounds intriguing! Where can readers find your book?

D:  It's available from the following booksellers--

Next week in The Loft:  Author Tim Smith!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Today in The Loft: Author Cynthianna Matthews!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Cynthianna Matthews, also known as Celine Chatillon. Cynthianna writes across multiple romance genres, including contemporary, erotic, and paranormal romance. She and her husband, A.J. Matthews, are the authors of BloodDark Series, science fiction stories for young adults. A freelance writer and editor by day, Cynthianna's biggest pet peeve is poorly edited books. She sees them as an insult to the reader, as well as the author, because good editing is beneficial for both groups.
Author Cynthianna Matthews

S:  Good morning, Cynthianna!

Tell me, why write romance?

C:  Because basically it's an optimistic genre. We get a satisfactory ending--boy gets girl or boy or both--and they all live happily ever after. You can't beat that for a positive outlook on life!

S:  What's your definition of romance?

C:  I see romance as a genre that explores and celebrates intimate relationships and how humans interact and learn from another. Human behavior is infinitely fascinating, and I enjoy helping my characters grow and develop into fully-realized people as they become bonded with other characters.

S:  Do you write in any other genres?

C:  Yes, I write in several genres. Cynthianna is my PG-rated romance pen name and Celine Chatillon is my R-rated erotic romance pen name. Within those two romance pseudonyms I've written contemporary, fantasy, soft sci-fi, paranormal, vampire, and shapeshifter stories. I'm just one of those writers who create stories and characters whenever I'm inspired and not because I want to fit my writing into one particular genre.

S:  If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose to write books?

C:  Probably. I'd also get a much better day job so I could do so more often, though!

S:  If someone wrote a song about you, what would be the title?

C:  "Come long for the ride, see what's on the inside."

S:  What's the best advice you have ever given?

C:  The art of writing is in the rewrite.

S:  What's the best advice you have ever been given?

C:  Winners never quit and quitters never win. Never quit!

S:  Cynthianna, thanks so much for visiting me in The Loft. If you would like to learn more about Cynthianna and her alter-ego, Celine Chatillon, visit--

Amazon/Kindle Page: 

Next week in the Loft:  Author Diana Waters!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cult is now on tour!

Stop by any of the blog stops listed below and enter to win copies of "Snatching Dianna" and "Infamy," Books 1 and 2 in the Feisty Lawyers Series!


Monday, July 1, 2019

Enter my July Summer Spectacular Giveaway!

The prizes have been awarded for the June Summer Spectacular Giveaway! While the winner received a bundle of my summer/holiday shorts, other entrants received a consolation prize of the short, "The President's Wife!"

To enter to win this month, please send an email to with the subject line, "I want to spice up my summer!"  Please include your name, email address, and your preferred eBook format. Winners will be selected August 1, 2019.

Friday, June 28, 2019

This week in The Loft: Author Helen Henderson

Joining me this week in The Loft is author Helen Henderson. The descendant of a coal miner's daughter and an aviation flight engineer, Helen credits her upbringing on a farm and her Gemini birth sign with enabling her to delve into all types of fiction, from westerns and science fiction to romantic fantasy. The prolific author has penned the Dragski Chronicles and Windmaster Novels, as well as many articles on local, American and military history, and antiques and collectibles. Helen believes her research and writing in multiple genres has provided her with special insight into fantasy worlds.

Author Helen Henderson

S:  Thanks for joining me in The Loft, Helen! 

Tell me, what inspires your flights of fantasy?

H:  Regardless of whether it was the stand-alone dark fantasy "Imprisoned in Stone" or one of the novels in the two romance fantasy series, the Dragshi Chronicles or the Windmaster Novels, each of the tales was captured while Celtic music played in the background. No single song provided inspiration, although I admit that I wore out my tape of "Ireland's Call," as performed by Celtic Thunder.  However, my formal answer is the piano solo played at the end of each episode of  "The Incredible Hulk." The haunting tones of the "Lonely Man Theme" have applied to a character, a fantasy setting, and even a scene of leave-taking on the eve of battle.

S:  Wow. That's so interesting. Creative minds are inspired by so many different things, but I think music plays a very important role for many.

Do you have an alternative occupation?

H:  (Smiles.)  I love the term "alternative occupation!" It is much more elegant than "day job" and also shows the emphasis of writing as an occupation. At the moment, although the work is unpaid, an activity that takes up most of my time is care giving for a family member. Before that task became full-time, I worked in several fields, including electronics, pharmaceuticals, finance, and insurance. My titles have varied from administrative assistant to departmental secretary, computer programmer to system analyst, and technical writer to marketing communications specialist.

S:  You've been a busy lady! 

What do you crave?

H:  Chocolate is always a must. Sometimes when you move to a different part of the country, as I did a few years ago, you find out that for whatever reason--maybe you live farther inland now--a food that was once readily available is now either exorbitantly expensive or not available at all. Which can lead to cravings. For example, I would love to be sitting on the waterfront watching the sunset while eating fried scallops from the local fishery. Unfortunately, there is no waterfront or fresh scallops where I'm now living. I'd also like a large chocolate √©clair from a New York City bakery.

S:  (Nods.) If anything, I think travel has increased my cravings for certain foods. Living in Wisconsin, I have plenty of access to beer, cheese, and brats, but I would kill for a bakery with genuine French pastries, or a place with Italian street food or Spanish tapas.

A genie grants you one wish. What is it?

H:  Some people would wish for long life, or happiness, or enough gold to fill a dozen vaults. However, in order to answer that question, I would need to know the rules. Can I benefit from the wish or does it have to help someone else? Is there something that I can't wish for or a time frame in which the wish has to be used? If there are no restrictions, my one wish is simple—to have an unlimited number of wishes.

S:  (Laughs.) Why not?

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, what would you like to return to earth as and why?

H:  In my younger days, I would have said a horse. Even now, equines, although of the magical kind, appear in each of my fantasy tales. The falaire, seidheirn, and seisag are loyal, honorable, and possess strength and intelligence beyond a true horse. If I couldn't be one of them, I'd at least want to be accepted as their rider and as such, a member of their herd. But that doesn't really answer your question because I couldn't be reincarnated as a mythical, magical creature. So, after having had one grace my home for over 15 years, I choose to live my next life as a cat. They bestow their loyalty and favors as they choose. They rule their human's heart. They can have a door opened for them or food placed in their dish with a simple meow. And if that doesn't work, they just yell louder or slam a door or dish.

S:  Yup, the life of a cat is to be envied!

Tell me about your book, "Windmaster Legend."

H:  It's about a forbidden love. An impossible quest. Threats to life and career. If love survives, there is one more challenge—the accusation of witchcraft. Here's the blurb--

Fate conspired to keep Iol and Pelra apart. Friendship is allowed between members of competing trading houses, but nothing more. He loves the sea and wants his own ship. She hates the deep blue and has worked too hard to allow her dreams to be sidetracked by the lure of magic. Despite a beautiful woman on his arm every night, Leod wanted the one he couldn’t have—Pelra. His kin on the ruling council did more than put him on the fast track to his own ship. It provided him the power to fulfill his desires, or to ruin those who refused him.

Exiled to distant posts, given impossible challenges, and subject to Leod’s machinations, Iol and Pelra only have the hope of a future together to sustain them. But can their love survive the accusation of witchcraft?

S:  That really sounds intriguing! 

Where can readers buy your book?

H:  The eBook can be purchased with one click at

It can also be purchased in print at--

S:  Helen, thanks so much for joining me today! If you would like to learn more about Helen and her books, visit-- 

Amazon Author Page:

Next week in The Loft:  Author Cynthianna Matthews!