Friday, August 17, 2018

Today in The Loft: Romance author Constance Bretes!

Today in The Loft, I welcome romance author Constance Bretes! Connie, who writes contemporary romance and suspense, is the author of seven books and has many more in the works. After more than 38 years working for the State of Michigan, Connie retired and recently moved to Montana, where she writes full time and lives with her husband--her best friend.

Author Constance Bretes

S: Welcome, Connie! It's pleasure to have you join me for coffee today. Tell me, where do you do your best thinking? 

C:  Late at night, or early in the morning either in front of my computer, in my quiet room, or the swing on the porch.

S:  I think we'd all love a quiet room! And I would imagine Montana sunsets are breathtaking from your porch. (Seelie reaches for a croissant.) 

What should people know about you?

C:  I’m in introvert. I’m friendly on paper, but face to face, I shy away.

S:  I can certainly understand that. My friends call me the "wordy hermit," because I lock myself away in The Loft and they don't see me for days, sometimes weeks. I think writers need the solitude to write and sometimes we forget there is a whole 'nother world out there. 

Do you have a favorite day of the year?

C:  I love Thanksgiving. The holiday centers around family and friends, with Detroit Lions football, turkey, and all the trimmings.

S:  Hmmmm, a Lion's fan? I have to say, the team has shown some style in recent years, even behind the cheddar curtain. The Lions and the Packers have had a very long rivalry. Last year, Stafford and crew gave us a run for our money. 

Tell me, what do you crave, other than a Lions win? (Seelie winks.)

C:  To be a best-selling author. 

S:   Yup, I'm with you there. It is so difficult for new writers to break into the publishing field. I don't think most people realize how difficult it is. It's not just about writing a book. You also have to get out there, market, and break through the noise. That's difficult. 

And now one of my favorite questions---You are offered one of the following gifts: A day back in time, a glimpse into heaven, or perfect health. Which would you take and why?

C:  Perfect health: As I get older, my health slowly declines. I can get a glimpse of heaven from the Bible, and what good would a day back in time do?

S:  You have a special deal running in August for Jade's Redemption. Tell me about that.

C:  For the month of August 2018, Jade's Redemption is available for 99 cents at all retailers.

S:  Can you share the blurb?

C:  Sure.

Jade’s Redemption

He's an overworked police chief, and she's a disgraced cop. Can he rescue her from her own depths of hell without losing his heart to her in the process?

Someone is kidnapping newborn infants and selling them to the highest bidder. Police Chief Patrick Carter has his hands full investigating the case. To complicate matters, he's short on staff.

Jade Harlowe has secrets, ones that she vowed no one would ever know. She used to be a police officer, but when a tragedy occurred—one that everyone held her responsible for—she resigned and moved to another state to start over, accepting a job as a dispatcher for the police, fire, and ambulance departments.

When Patrick discovers Jade's past police experience he offers her a job on the force. He needs help working the kidnapping cases, and Jade previously solved a similar case, so she could be a valuable asset. But will they be able to fight the attraction that's sizzling between them? Something that could be very distracting if they can't control it.

The clock is ticking. They have to find those babies and prevent more from being taken. But a very nosy news reporter may compromise everything if she digs deep enough to uncover Jade's past.

Neither Patrick nor Jade thought they had room for each other in their lives, but working so closely together makes it impossible to deny the chemistry. Can Patrick break through the wall Jade has built up around her, or will her past finally catch up with her and she loses everything once again?

S:  Wow, that sounds pretty suspenseful! Where is it available for purchase?

C:  At most booksellers, including--

S:  Thanks so much for visiting today, Connie! To learn more about Connie and her books, please visit--

Next week, The Loft welcomes author Ann Everett! 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Today in The Loft: Romance author Madison Michael!

This morning in The Loft, I welcome romance author Madison Michael. Madison is the author of  the Beguiling Bachelor Romance series, which is available on Amazon Kindle.  The last book in the series, Besotted, came out July 31.

Author Madison Michael

Welcome, Madison!  I am so happy you could join me today for some French Roast and Pain au Chocolat.

Many years ago I interviewed a newspaper publisher for a journalism school assignment. When I finished, he said, "You didn't ask me the most important question."

Of course, I asked, "What's that?"

He replied, "'Where do I do my best thinking?' If you had asked, I would have told you in the toilet. It's the only place I can lock the world away. That in a nutshell is my theory about life. You need to shut out the noise to be able to think." That day, he became a lifelong mentor. A simple question, but oh, so telling.

So now, when I interview people, I always try to ask...

S:  Where do you do your best thinking?

M: I must do my best thinking in my sleep and dreams because I jump out of bed in the morning with so many new ideas for scenes, for plot twists and new characters.

S: (Smiles) I seem to have the same problem. Except my dreams wake me up and I am so worried I'll forget them that I have to grab my phone and record them!  Tell me, have you always been a writer? 

M:  No, I had a prior occupation as the manager of a team of software consultants for a Fortune 100 corporation. After 28 years working there I walked away and started pursuing my passion. Writing is my desire; management was my job.

S:  Wow. That's quite a switch!  So why did you decide to write romance?

M:  Two reasons, I love reading romance and I love a happy ending. 

S:  I am always curious about what writers do on their down time, if they actually have any. So tell me, if  you could “seize the day,” how would you do it?

M:  I would eat a decadent brunch, go to a double feature of romcom or blockbuster action films, have dinner with a dozen of my favorite people and finish off the night with hot sweaty sex. 

S:  (Blushes)  Do you believe you only fall in love once? 

M:  Absolutely not! I believe we learn from each love how to love better and more truly the next time.

S: A paranormal invites you to host a dinner with five guests, all prominent figures in history who are now deceased. Who would you invite and why?

M:  I would include Thomas Jefferson, to query him on how he came to envision our country’s freedom and government, as well as education, engineering, astronomy and all the other areas where he invented with imagination. I might invite Jane Austen, to ask her how a woman who remained single her whole life could write so brilliantly about romance.  I would invite my father who died early in my life. I would have liked to get to know him better.  Shakespeare would be on my invite list. Come on I am a writer, do I need to say more? And finally I would invite someone like Queen Elizabeth I or Henry VIII, because I would love to write a novel about their eras and lives. 

S:  Your next book, Besotted, part of the Beguiling Bachelor Romance series, came out July 31 on Amazon Kindle. What can you share about the book?

M:  Here's the blurb--

Time is Running Out…For Both of Them

Regan Howe, won her coveted CEO position through hard work and a willingness to buck family tradition. Now, Brandon Hockney, a handsome US Senator with his eye on the White House, wants her to give it up, along with her home, friends and family for a move to DC and marriage to him.

Regan wants marriage and family but this choice will require she leave everything she loves, including the alluring Tyler Winthrop. Regan has waited twenty years for Tyler to commit. He once promised her forever, then destroyed her trust and her hopes for a future together. Still, she cannot break the ties between them. Regan is besotted.

Tyler’s moment to win Regan is slipping through his fingers. He has remained on the outskirts of Regan’s life, reluctant to reveal his true past and expose her to danger. Despite their obvious attraction, Tyler has remained her friend and protector, keeping Regan at arm’s length for her own safety, When Regan determines to test the waters with Brandon, Tyler is tapped as acting CEO, throwing the pair together for one last chance at love.

Can Tyler shake off the thugs threatening to expose his past mistakes? Can he earn Regan’s trust and woo her away from Washington? Battling overwhelming odds and a racing clock, will Tyler be forced to release his one true love to find happiness with another man? How can he when he’s besotted?

Join Tyler and Regan as they seek their happily ever after in the conclusion of the steamy, contemporary Beguiling Bachelor romance series.

Besotted is a contemporary erotic romantic suspense story.

S:  Sounds steamy! How about an excerpt?

M: Sure--

Excerpt from Besotted

Regan was just too damn alluring in that dress for him to accept that he couldn’t have her if he wanted her.

He was an idiot. He should have told her years ago. He should have told everyone. Despite the tongue- lashing he was silently giving himself, Tyler was certainly no fool. “The professor” to his friends, he was generally serious and professional. He had the smarts necessary to obtain both an MBA and a law degree, and he was now CEO of LHRE and on hiatus from one of the fastest growing tech companies in the country. He kept his cool in general, but again and again he behaved like an idiot around Regan.

Since that damn frog almost thirty years ago, he had loved no one but Regan. Sometimes they made it work together, like in high school, but most times not. His feelings were unchanged, but something always stopped him from declaring his love and asking her to do the same. This time it was something insurmountable.

And yet Tyler couldn’t stay away. He was the proverbial moth to the flame, flirting with disaster every time he flirted with her. He had promised to stay away, to keep her safe,but the attraction was undeniable. Yep, prize idiot.

Returning to the ballroom after the latest threats, Tyler briefly considered sharing the conversation, coming clean with Regan and perhaps moving their relationship forward. He was at a fork in the road but remained silent, Tyler knew he was on the wrong path but couldn’t summon the will to fix it. Not only were his problems unsolveable, but she was involved with Brandon. Tyler felt hopeless.

He was preoccupied just as Regan accused, but Tyler tried to give Regan the attention she deserved. He failed miserably until Regan suggested they just leave. That got his attention. Who knew when he would hold her in his arms again.

“Come dance with me again. It would be a crime to waste that dress.”

Encircling Regan in his arms, his body responded to her nearness, even as his mind worried over the earlier texts. He was unaware of his hand stroking her back, fingers lightly skimming over her bare skin. He wasn’t thinking clearly when he pulled her close or when he dropped kisses on her hair. He wasn’t paying attention, just acting on instinct, Regan was responding, her breath growing uneven, her hands clinging to his shoulders.

S:  Will there be a blog tour?

M: Yes, it began July 31 and runs through August 21. Visit a stop on the tour and enter to win awesome prize packages!  

S:  Thanks so much for visiting me today, Madison, and good luck with your latest release!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Today in The Loft: Meet author Cameron Allie!

Visiting me today in my loft is fellow eXtasy author Cameron Allie. 

Cameron, who resides in Ontario, recently welcomed her first child, a daughter, currently four months old. While she, her husband, and their tabby cat, Darcy, adjust to the new addition, Cameron continues to write romance. Like so many of us who write, Cameron fell in love with reading at an early age and after reading her first romance novel at age 15, embraced the genre and made it her own. She is the author of multiple books, all of which can be found at

Cameron is joining me today for tea (and luscious French pastries) to talk about romance and a special offer for her readers. 

S: Good morning, Cameron. Thanks so much for visiting. Now that we've propped ourselves up with sugar and caffeine, let's get down to business. Tell me, what do you consider your greatest achievement?

C: That's a draw. I always thought finding a publisher and finally getting published would be my greatest achievement. I remember reading once about an author who likened publishing a book to giving birth. You work for months and months on a book, writing, rewriting, editing, sending it away to publishers, then finally it's birthed and is such an accomplishment.  

However, I just had a baby. My daughter is four months old and I love her to bits. I can't really say which is the bigger achievement. People have babies every day, but some couples really struggle to get pregnant. The odds of getting published are pretty low. Self-publishing was a game changer (in the book world) but if you want a traditional publishing career it's not an easy road.

Being published and having a baby are my two biggest accomplishments. I'm so proud of both.

S: The first year with a new baby is pretty special, if you remember it! (Chuckles.) Kids are a blessing, most of the time. Really.

Anyhoo, you write about love. I'm always interested in other author's perspectives on love. Do you believe people have only one true love--that they only fall in love once?

C:  No. I believe people fall in love multiple times. I think sometimes a person can fall in and out of love with their partner, which is why it's so important to communicate and remember not to make snap decisions. Also, I believe there are different types of love.

S:  Communication and patience are indeed important in relationships. I also think a little romance helps as well.

You mentioned your tabby cat, Darcy. Cats are great pets--mine lived more than 21 years and I was shattered when he went to the great beyond. He was a great cuddler. 

If you could have any animal in the universe as a pet, what would it be and why?

C:  A few things spring to mind, like a pig, skunk, or otter. I've always enjoyed having cats, but I think I'd really love a sugar glider. (

S: Ah, cute little buggers. For those who don't know, sugar gliders look like flying squirrels, but are actually marsupials...think kangaroos. The females have a pouch to transport their young. They're called sugar gliders because they have a layer of skin between their wrists and their sides that enables them to glide when their arms are fully outstretched. They are very social creatures who like to hang out in their owner's pockets or "pouches."

Cameron, good writers often rely on certain types of inspiration. For example, I find mine in everything from food to music, but opera really sends my imagination soaring. Is there any one song that inspires your flights of fantasy?

C:  Imagine Dragons:  Believer. Most songs by Imagine Dragons inspire me when it comes to writing. I've got a fantasy series in my "to write" lineup and every time that song comes on, that series tries to push its way to the front of the line.

S:  Wow. That sounds like fun. My fantasies tend more toward...oh, never mind. (laughs)

Your life--with the addition of a child--is going to change remarkably in the next few years. So, I will probably ask you this same question again 10 years hence: To date, what's the best advice you've ever given?

C:  I'll keep this writing related and say--When it comes to editing/revision, read your work out loud. Or better yet, have the computer read it to you. You'll be shocked at how many mistakes you catch.

S:  That really is great advice. I have to say, for me, the first draft is the easy part. The editing and revision that follows is not nearly as much fun.

(Seelie grabs the last pastry.)  Sorry about that. Caffeine does little for me. I need the sugar high.

Now, tell me about the special offer you have for readers...

C:  During the months of July and August, I am offering a free copy of my short story, Neptune's Passion, to anyone who purchases one of my novels from the Unexpected Changes series--My Mistletoe Master, Not His Type, The Perfect Fix, or Somewhere to Belong--directly from my publisher, eXtasy Books. All you have to do is send the proof of purchase to and I'll send you a FREE copy of Neptune's Passion.

S:  I love free books! What is Neptune's Passion about?

C:  Here's the blurb--"Hot Greek male looking for roommate for tropical vacation. Must be female. Must be a sexy brunette, with a passion for reading. Must be Natalie Donovan." When Griff asked her whether, to cut costs, she'd like to room with him at their friend's wedding, Natalie should have said no. But now as they sip margaritas on a white sand beach, Natalie finds flirting with her long-time crush a little too easy. And finds sleeping next to him, night after night, too much temptation.

S:  Sounds like someone's getting their sexy on! Can you share an excerpt?

C:  Sure--

Excerpt from Neptune's Passion

A few chapters further, Natalie got interrupted when water was dripped onto her legs. Frowning she glanced up and found Griff looming over her. With his Greek ancestry, dark features, and sharp blue gaze he resembled the Roman God Neptune. In the fading daylight, water glistened on his body. The only missing pieces: the big beard, and the trident.

“If you want to keep your book safe I recommend you put it away.”

Confused she asked, “Why?”

She shrieked, when without warning Griff squatted down, placed one hand under her bent legs, the other behind her back, and lifted her into his arms. Natalie struggled to get away from his cold, wet body. “Put me down.”

In the pool, their friends laughed and cheered him on.

“You’re going in the water. You can do it alone or with the book.”

“Fine.” She huffed. “Put me down, though.”

He did as she asked, but suggested, “You might want to lose the cover-up too.”

Natalie growled her displeasure over that, but set her book on the chair and dropped her white beach cover-up over top of it. She went a step further and put her glasses on the table. If she was reading the situation correctly, it would be safer if she left them behind. She stared up at a now slightly fuzzy Griff. “Better?”

His gaze ate her up, and with deep male appreciation he replied, “Much.”

Feeling playful, Natalie crossed her arms under her breasts. “I’m not going in the pool.”

He grinned. “Oh, yes you are.”

Deciding she wouldn’t make it easy, Natalie deked around him and darted away. 

She wasn’t nearly fast enough. She hadn’t even made it passed the end of the pool before he caught her around the waist. Hoisting her up once more, Griff stood at the deep end of the pool. “In you go.”

She squealed in protest as he stepped off the ledge, dropping them both into the water.

S:  That sounds like a great way to heat up your summer!

Cameron, thanks so much for stopping by! Maybe next time, you'll bring the babe. I really miss having a child to cuddle. Teens don't cuddle, they just give you grey hair!

For more information on Cameron's summer special, visit:

Next week, I welcome author Madison Michael to the loft. (I'm going to need to go out and buy more pastry!)
 !

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Some endings never come

I am often asked why I “serialize” some of my short stories.

The easy answer would be because as a child, my parents inundated me and my siblings with magazines and kid’s newsletters—Highlights, Boy’s Life, Weekly Reader—which sometimes serialized stories. I was totally hooked on them, fighting my brothers and sisters for every single copy. (You should also know that my parents were teachers, so reading seemed liked the perfect way to keep a herd of five children busy.)

Or I could tell you that I found the continuing stories of Brenda Star, Mrs. Worth, and Dick Tracy—always featured on the comics pages of the Milwaukee Journal or the Chicago Tribune—enthralling. I could not wait for the next installment. My parents loved having a child who actually ran out and collected the newspapers each day, without having to ask.

But I won’t. Because that’s only part of the truth.

Perhaps more revealing is that I love some of the characters in my short stories so much, I simply don’t want their adventures to end. 

Like the Sheikh and his American lawyer wife, Harun Ali and Marianne Benson. Something about this couple just stirs my heart. A lawyer whose husband was killed in Desert Storm, inspired by 9/11 to fight for the victims of terrorism, falls in love with a lawyer from the Middle East. You see, this is more than just a story about a heart-throbbing, panty-wetting, hot and sexy romance hero. It’s about two people reaching across a cultural divide to find love, despite the prejudice, despite the danger, despite the risk.

This couple loves hard and loves deeply. They are as passionate about each other as they are about their fight for the victims of terrorism. They have faced with some dangerous circumstances, but they remain strong, because they have each other. They are not without conflict, but they love enough to resolve their differences. They understand that love always finds a way.

And then there’s the police chief and the criminal defense attorney, two people who fight for what’s right, rather than what’s expedient, or the law school professor who moonlights as a secret agent and is in love with her own James Bond. And Munk, the lawyer newly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic illness I share.

How can I stop fantasizing about their lives, about the perils and dilemmas they face? Their journeys are long and romantic and just too damn scintillating to end.

Call it the curse of a writer blessed with an overactive imagination and a wicked pen, but I can’t stop writing about them. I won’t stop writing about them (she said petulantly).

Can you blame me?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Why is “consensual rape” even a thing in romance novels?

I have never thrown a book across the room, so livid that I think it’s a candidate for burning.

Until now.

Because in an era when issues of consent are at the forefront, I am having increasing problems with books that feature relationships built on “consensual rape.” As a lawyer, I would argue that legally, rape cannot be consensual. And I would argue further that it is irresponsible for authors to intentionally portray it in that way.

The stories always begin innocently enough. The young maiden, let’s call her Abrella, recently abducted by pirates, finds herself alone in her cabin with the hot handsome “Pirate King.” She is horrified by this man. He is a barbarian. He has murdered her parents and many others, claiming her as “the spoils.”

He moves toward her with intent, stealing a kiss. Then he paws at her, squeezing her breasts, his hand reaching underneath her gown and slipping into her knickers. Abrella is terrified and she tries to fight his advances. She is a virgin, you see, and she is saving herself for marriage. So, as his hands roam her body, she kicks and struggles, but he is too strong and she is too weak. Then he kisses her again, his kiss passionate, filled with tongue thrusting, sucking, biting. Abrella the innocent is overwhelmed. She has no experience in such things. She lacks the maturity necessary to divorce hormone driven impulses from reality. So, she stops fighting.

But when the Pirate King begins to undo the buttons on her dress, Abrella again attempts to pull away and declares, “Unhand me. I’ll not be granting my virginal charms to the likes of you. I must save myself for a proper man, the man who shares my marriage bed.”

The Pirate King growls and rips the dress from Abrella’s body. He will not be denied. Abrella screams and attempts to run. “No, stop, please stop,” she pleads. When he captures her, she begins to cry.

The Pirate King throws her on the bed, stripping away her underclothes, leaving her naked and helpless before him. He stands and removes his clothing, then moves between her legs. He, of course, possess an unusually hefty penis, the size of which terrifies the young maiden. Abrella kicks and claws, trying to prevent the sexual assault, but the Pirate King leans in and kisses her again. Abrella loses all willpower, her common sense abandoned to the heat building between her loins. When the Pirate King spears her, the pain is excruciating, but no matter. Ultimately, she bucks and squirms, then collapses in ecstasy.

Wait. What? She said “no,” repeatedly. And in my world, “no” means “no.” So Abrella was taken without her consent. She was legally raped. By whose definition is that even appropriate?

Let’s take the story a step further. After Abrella recovers from the brutal rape, she slowly realizes she has fallen in love with her captor and he with her. WTF? How can any true healthy, loving relationship be built on sexual assault?

Now some of you will argue that this type of behavior was acceptable in days gone by. But in reality, it wasn’t. Men were entitled to force their wives to have sex, but it was never legal to force sex on anyone else. Sure, people looked the other way. And in an incredibly sexist society, they also tried to justify it in ways that made it more palatable. Note, however, that in “polite society,” besmirching a girl’s/women’s virtue required that the besmircher marry his victim or face considerable consequences. In addition, claiming historical accuracy as justification for a rape scene is credible only if all other information in the book is historically accurate.

My conclusion?  “Consensual rape” scenes in romance novels are a plot device used by lazy writers to justify inappropriate titillation. They are intended to mask the real issue: That rape is never acceptable and certainly never consensual. Do you want to get your readers all hot and bothered? There are much more creative ways to do that without glorifying a brutal crime.

Now, I could do the lawyerly thing and quote all sorts of laws, legal articles, and other commentary on the elements of rape and informed consent, but I won’t. I suspect the offending writers are well aware of the lines they have crossed. Instead, I will ask a few questions:

·       .  What responsibility do romance writers have when writing rape scenes? Do they have a responsibility to portray it as the crime it is? Is it ever okay to glorify and mask it as a romantic event?

.  And what about issues of consent? Do writers have a responsibility to incorporate informed consent into love scenes, much like they have embraced safe sex and the use of condoms?

.  What about the influence of such writings on young, unformed minds? Teens and young adults, who as impulse-driven individuals, have little experience with sex, much less utilizing their right to grant or deny consent? For the younger population, in particular, portraying forced sex, i.e. rape, without consequences seems very unwise.

I don’t pretend to have the answers to these questions. But I do know they are questions writers must answer, and soon.