Friday, January 27, 2023

This week in The Loft: Author Stella Ann George!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Stella Ann George. Stella writes romantic suspense. She also teaches piano and loves to travel, having visited many places in the U.S., as well as Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Stella lives in southeastern Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband of 22 years, two children, and her long-haired Chihuahua, Holly. She is celebrating the release of her first book, "Note by Note."

Author Stella Ann George

S:  Welcome to The Loft, Stella! I am so pleased you could join me today.

Do you think romance books have become “too spicy?”

SA:  Not at all. There is such a wide range of romance books from clean to erotica, something for everyone. Authors can choose to write whichever heat level they are comfortable with and readers can choose which they prefer to read.

S:  What is the best/worst thing that has ever happened to you as a writer?

SA:  The best was at my first book signing at the Commonplace Reader in Pennsylvania. A gentleman came up to me to buy "Note by Note." His wife couldn’t make it and she sent him to get an autographed copy. His wife told him he had to get the book featuring Jessica Turner. And she wanted to know if it was part of a series and when the next book would be out. It was the first time I had heard of a total stranger loving the book. And he was so sweet to do that for his wife. The worst--so far--a month without any sales at all. Ugh. It makes me doubt myself about the marketability of "Note by Note" and my writing. But I know it’s a good book. It has a great romance, an intriguing plot. It was professionally edited. I just need to figure out how to convince readers to give it a chance. And write more books. Later books sell the first book.

S:  Most authors struggle with the marketing aspect of publishing a book. The more you publish, the more exposure you get.

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

SA:  I don’t think I have a choice. It’s in my blood. I’ve been a writer since fourth grade when my teacher would hang a picture in his classroom every Monday and we had to write a story about it by Friday. I wish I still had some of those stories. Sharing them with the world, though, I think I would still choose to publish also. It’s been a thrill to hold "Note by Note" in my hands as a paperback and hardcover. It’s been a daunting process--writing, self-editing, hiring an editor, working with a cover designer, formatting, choosing where to publish, and most of all, marketing. I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years.

S:  Have you ever shelved or thrown out a manuscript? 

SA:  Not a complete manuscript, but I have the first chapter of a vampire novel on my computer. There were just too many vampire stories out there and I didn’t have a vision of the story all the way through. And I wanted it to be something different. I started it after I saw Rick Springfield in Nick Knight. I'm a huge Rick Springfield fan, both as a singer and actor. He’s still going strong, writing new music and touring. He actually inspired the character of Josh in "Note by Note." Maybe I should dig that first chapter out and formulate a plot. Supernatural tales are very popular.

S:  What do you consider your greatest achievement?

SA:  Professionally, seeing "Note by Note" all the way from the spark of an idea to a finished print novel. It may have taken years, but I did it!

S:  What inspired "Note by Note?"

SA:  I’ve been reading romance for most of my life and always wanted to write one. I’ve been an admirer of Sandra Brown since she wrote as Rachel Ryan and Erin St. Claire. I love her writing style and her stories have always been intriguing. Now she’s one of the leading romantic suspense writers. Telling a story with equal parts romance and suspense is quite a challenge. But I love puzzles and I love research and learning new things. "Note by Note" started as a boy-meets-girl tale. Because I’m a piano teacher, I made Jessica a music teacher-- write what you know. And then I was searching for music to use and decided on Stravinsky’s The Nightingale. That led to the story of "The Nightingale," and the jewels and lotus blossoms and the Buddha, weaving art and music, and the more I researched, the more complicated the plot became. Then I had to write myself out of the mystery without leaving plot holes. But I’m happy with the way it turned out. As far as the setting, my college roommate and I traveled after graduation. Our favorite place was Australia, so that’s how Jessica and Finn ended up there.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "Note by Note?"

SA:  "Note by Note" was 25 years in the making and is the first of, I hope, many more novels to come. I began writing it in 1997, but life side-tracked me. My mom and I took care of my father, who passed away in 1998. Then I married in 2000, had kids, and took care of my mom when she developed dementia. So writing was set aside. I always felt there were more important things to do than chasing a dream of writing. And that was wrong. Don’t ever put your dreams on hold. Pursuing them is a way of taking care of yourself as well.

Here's the blurb--

For Finn Cooper, being a billionaire has the usual perks--fine dining, jet setting around the world, and beautiful women. However, no woman is going to break through his wall; he won’t allow himself to be that vulnerable again. But when the plane he is piloting crashes, an independent and capable woman leaves him questioning all he thought he knew about love.

For Jessica Turner, a fateful flight from Sydney to Tasmania turns her world upside down. Surviving in an isolated cabin with a well-known playboy is just the beginning of a journey that tosses the music teacher out of her safe, secure life. Falling for his charm is easy; guarding her heart is another matter.

In a search for answers about their mysterious circumstances, Finn and Jessica find themselves in an increasingly dangerous world neither of them could have imagined. Staying one step ahead of deadly outside forces makes falling in love a little … complicated.

S:  That sounds like a gripping tale! Where can readers buy "Note by Note?"

SA:  The eBook, paperback, and hardcover are available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Note-Stella-Ann-George-ebook/dp/B0B5FKGK1R. It's also available on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61382053-note-by-note.

S:  Stella, thanks so much for joining me today. If you'd like to learn more about Stella and her books, please visit--

Website:  https://www.stellaanngeorge.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/stellaanngeorge

Stella’s Groovy Readers:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/604428980941450

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/stellaanngeorge

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/stellaanngeorge/

TikTok:  https://www.tiktok.com/@stellaanngeorgeauthor

Friday, January 20, 2023

This week in The Loft: Author Estelle Pettersen!

Joining me today in The Loft is Australian/Norwegian author Estelle Pettersen. Estelle is a former journalist whose contemporary romance stories explore empowerment, freedom, and finding one’s strength. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Psychology, from the University of Queensland, Australia. She also earned an MBA from Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Estelle is passionate about history, languages, cultures, traveling, food, and wine. She lives in Norway with her husband.

Author Estelle Pettersen

S:  Welcome, Estelle. It's wonderful to have you back in The Loft!

What’s love got to do with writing romance?

E:  Love has to do with everything when it comes to happily ever after romance stories. For romance to work in these stories, love is important.

S:  Do you think romance books have become “too spicy?”

E:  It depends on the reader because we have different tastes and thresholds. Personally, I don’t mind reading erotic romance stories if they are written tastefully. If the stories are too vulgar, lack a plot, and don’t have any relationship or character development, I won’t read them. If the scenes of a book are highly spicy and written in a tasteful way, and there is a real relationship between the characters, I would read the book. I usually look for relationship growth, character growth, and a good plot, regardless of heat levels.

S:  I have never understood why some complain about steamy romance when they have a choice not to read it. There are plenty of other options out there.

After the publication of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, it was reported that some readers ventured into the BDSM world seeking their own Christian Grey. Some were scammed, sexually assaulted, or otherwise harmed. Does an author bear any responsibility for those types of consequences?

E:  I believe the author bears responsibility for the content they publish. As an author, I feel a moral obligation to make sure readers understand that sex is meant to be safe, sane and consensual, whether the sex is vanilla or has any type of BDSM. Sexual assault is a crime.

S:  I am somewhat conflicted about this. On the one hand, it's fiction, but on the other, we seem to have some very naive readers out there.

What would you like to people know about you?

E:  I love animals and have adopted two precious furry friends. I believe that a person’s true nature is reflected in how they treat animals. I don’t trust people who show any slightest act of cruelty to animals. That’s my instinct – to keep away from them. My writing buddies are my beautiful four-legged friends: A Danish Swedish Farmdog and a house cat.

S:  How do you get in the mood for writing?

E:  I need a quiet place away from distractions, such as the television. Calm music, usually classical music, helps me to focus on getting started when I don’t feel like writing. My dog wakes me up in the morning, helping me get my routines done as early as possible so I can write. I need to distance myself from the noise of social media, otherwise, I lose the motivation to write. When I am on a roll with my writing, I’m offline so I can focus on getting my chapters done. That’s just the first draft. Then there’s the rewriting and editing, again and again.

S:  Social media is a great disruptor. So is my phone. I have to shut it off.

What inspired "The Wolf of Varg Island?"

E:  In the Dark Desire anthology, I wrote "The Wolf of Varg Island," a steamy supernatural romance. It has naughty hints of an adult version of "Little Red Riding Hood." I was inspired by an island in Europe that had an eerie feel. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a wolf or bear in the forest whenever I took a walk. It’s not unusual for mist to appear, shadows to lurk, and the rain to drizzle. The setting of the story is inspired by a real place and it was the setting that drove me to write the story.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about the Dark Desire anthology?

E:  Dark Desire is written by a group of highly talented authors from different parts of the world. Each story is unique, yet they connect. When I read the stories, I must admit that I was a little frightened at times. Some of the stories gave me goosebumps, but I loved the authenticity of the romances and how each of them complements the other, making it easy for the reader to jump from one story to the next.

Here's the blurb--

Dark Desire showcases twelve stories where the authors delve into the dark crevasses of their imaginations, probing into dark themes, creating strange new worlds and inventing larger than life characters. These stories explore relationships, unafraid of taking the genre of romance to a darker deeper level. You will meet:

· Jillian, a wife and mother, who serves as an assassin for her clan of werewolves.

· A shifter mermaid who is forced to team up with a vampire to steal a magical weapon, but can she resist his lethal charm?

· A cocky rodeo cowboy, who falls into the clutches of a hard-core Dominatrix.

· Gina, who following an accident, can see the dead. Can she find a positive? Maybe find true love?

· Lily, who wakes from a coma with dark dream memories of a stranger. Is he the love of her life?

· A shifter who finds a woman who can change the world’s destiny. Can he protect her, or will a supernatural battle destroy them all?

· Kat who talks to herself and mentally responds as her mother. Murder and arson lead her to a cop, but could he be much more?

· Two Nazi officers who meet for dinner on Christmas eve and reveal their darkest desires.

· Lovers, on a crazed road trip, murder and wreak havoc at every turn as an expression of their true love.

· Tasha whose world is rocked by a mysterious teacher. His dark secret only makes her want him more.

· Harper who is visiting an Island known for a wolf’s mysterious healing powers. Will this lead to a dangerous game?

· Two young people fleeing for a better life; a six-gun, an outlaw and a Tarot card binding their fates together.

Buckle up as you journey into the unknown and discover the shadowy forces that hauntingly dwell within the provocative pages of Dark Desire.


S:  Now I understand the goosebumps. The stories sound very suspenseful.

Where can readers buy the anthology?

E:  It's available at https://amzn.to/3SMFfY7.

S:  Estelle, thanks so much for joining me today and good luck with the anthology. If you'd like to learn more Estelle and her books, please visit--

Thursday, January 12, 2023

This week in The Loft: Canadian author Daryl Devoré!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Daryl Devoré. Daryl writes hot romance with sexy heroes and strong heroines, and sweet romances with little to no heat. She loves to take long walks on her quiet country road or snowshoe across the back acres, and in the summer, kayak along the St. Lawrence River. She has touched a moon rock, a mammoth, and a meteorite. She’s been deep in the ocean in a submarine, flown high over Niagara Falls in a helicopter, and used the ladies' room in a royal palace. Life’s an adventure and she’s having fun living it! A resident of Canada, Daryl lives in an old farmhouse in Ontario with her husband and two cats. 

Author Daryl Devoré

S:  Good morning, Daryl! Thanks for joining me in The Loft. 

You've now authored more than 20 books, so this question seems appropriate--What's love got to do with writing romance?

D:  When I’m stuck on answering a question, I run to the old stand-by, what is the definition of romance? The first four definitions of romance were interesting, but I thought this one answered the question the best, "Romance is used to refer to novels about love affairs." If there is no love affair, then there is no romance. If I wanted to go all science nerdy, I could say it’s a symbiotic relationship. But I won’t do that.

S:  I can get behind that explanation. Without love, you don't have romance.

Do you write in other genres? 

D:  Not yet. Someday, I am hoping to write a cozy mystery. I sort of have it plotted out. But that is way in the future. For the moment, I only write romance, but in the sub-genres of that group, I am all over the place.

S:  Do you think romance books have become “too spicy?”

D:  No. People have preferences, and they should be allowed to read what they want. Otherwise, it is censorship. And censorship is a very slippery path to be on. I look at it like this--if I don’t want to read a spicy hot book, I don’t. I don’t condemn the author or the genre. If I don’t feel like writing a spicy hot romance. I don’t. I have written several. Currently, I am having a blast writing a sweet medieval fantasy romance. Who knows what heat level I will write my next book in?


S:  The concept of free will certainly plays into it. No one is forced to read spicy romance. They make that choice all on their own.

Critics say romance novels mislead readers about the reality of romance and in fact, give readers false expectations. Do you agree?

D:  Critics say "they say" people shouldn’t, but no one ever says who “they” are. I certainly won’t listen to or take advice from an unknown source. Too many people have a hidden agenda and, in this day and age, I want to know where they are coming from.

S:  What attracted you to your current partner?

D:  Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down? I fell for him. We were in judo class, and he threw me. When the other males threw me, they slammed me into the tatami (mat). Being new to judo, I wasn’t great at my breakfall. Greg threw me but controlled my hit on the tatami. We’ve been married 40 years.

S:  We have that in common. I tripped down some stairs and fell on my former husband. He had no choice but to catch me!

What would you like people to know about you?

D:  First off, I’m female. By my name, people often assume I’m male. Daryl, which rhymes with Karl, is an old Celtic name and it is the female version. Secondly, may I make a shameless plug for my author group, Daryl Devore’s Musings? Lots of authors have newsletters. I don’t. I have an author group where I do cover reveals and excerpts and we chat and I tell funny stories and whatever else happens. The group is on Facebook and MeWe. It is the same group, just in two spots, because some people no longer wanted to use a certain social media site. Also, I will personally send a newsletter to your email addy if you would prefer that. I post about once a week on the social media sites but would only send a monthly newsletter. I don’t want to clutter your inbox. These are the three options and there is a free eBook for signing up:

MeWe - https://mewe.com/join/daryldevoresmusing

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/738845900663510
Email Newsletterdaryl.devore@yahoo.ca


S:  What is the best/worst thing that has ever happened to you as a writer?

D:  The best--Met a lot of amazing authors and have become friends. And I am multi-published, so I get to be snotty at a party and say I’m an author. I only do this when people are being really annoying.


S:   Do you read reviews? 

D:  I only read the four to five-star reviews. I can use them for book promotion purposes. The others, I ignore. I know not everyone will like my book. But a non-author telling me how I should have written my book, I'm not gonna bother with that. Or someone telling me that my story would never happen in real life. It’s fiction, not real life. Have they never read sci-fi?

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

D:  Yes, because writer is what I am. I was that kid in English class who, when the teacher assigned an essay, I got excited. All my classmates moaned and groaned. I never understood why. I love to write.

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

D:  There is also the question, "What’s the best advice I’ve ever given?" My answer is the same for both--Send the damn book in. And because I followed that advice, I got a publishing contract, and the rest is history. You can edit the life out of a book, so stop doing re-reads and just one more edit, and send the damn book in. An agent knows what they are looking for and can find it even in a book that might need a bit more work. If the agent rejects the manuscript, it isn’t necessarily because the book had four typos in it. It’s often more the fact that the book and the agent aren’t the right mix. And you are never going to know until you send the damn book in.

S:  What inspired "A Voice in the Air?

D:  I am the moderator of an online critique group. It used to be super active with chapters and critiques flying about daily. Now, it’s a step away from dead. So I am always trying things to get the new authors to take that step and submit something. I got the idea of a mini flash fiction. Once a month, I would post three-word prompts and three picture prompts. They only needed to choose one and write a maximum of 750 words based on the prompt. I posted a picture of a ruined castle. Sat down and pounded out 750 words in less than an hour. Looked up and said, “I think I just wrote the prologue to my next book.” Which at the time, I didn’t know I was about to write another book.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "A Voice in the Air?"

D:  I had so much fun writing this book. I just let my creativity fly. There are myths, legends, and fairy tales mixed in. Characters range from pixies to dragons. The main character is a strong female named Cadi who is helped in her quest by one bad-assed faerie named Aife. "A Voice in the Air" also caused the creation of my Long Ago series. I wrote "The Last Dragon" with the intention of it being the only medieval fantasy I ever wrote. "A Voice in the Air" happens after "The Last Dragon," with some recurring characters. I am currently writing the third book in the series. It doesn’t have a title yet, but so far there are two faeries, a prince, a legend, a love interest, a nasty imp, and a wyvern. And I’m only partway through chapter two!


S:  That sounds like an entertaining book! 

Daryl, it has been so much fun to chat with you today! If you'd like to learn more about Daryl and her books, please visit--

Friday, January 6, 2023

This week in The Loft: Author Kate Hill!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Kate Hill. Kate writes romantic fantasy, and paranormal and contemporary romance. She also writes science fiction, and erotic and LGBTQIA2S+ romance under the pen name, Saloni Quinby. When not writing, Kate enjoys reading, working out, watching horror movies, and researching vampires and Viking history. In addition, she runs the Compelling Beasts Blog, which is dedicated to antagonists, antiheroes, and paranormal creatures. Kate refers to herself as a "vegetarian New Englander." 

Author Kate Hill

S:  Welcome, Kate, and Happy New Year!

Critics say romance novels mislead readers about the reality of romance and in fact, give readers false expectations. Do you agree? 

K:  To me, that's like saying action movies give false expectations about how exciting life is for average people, that a mundane day can become an adventure with alien heroes and villains. No matter what the genre, books and movies aren’t like real life. It’s all fantasy, and everyone’s fantasies are different. That’s why there are so many subgenres and so many different types of characters. Fiction is for escape. Many children’s books include things like talking animals or toys that interact like real people. If children can handle fictional elements, then I hope adults can, too.

S:  Exactly. Fiction is for escape. It is not real. I'm not sure how anyone could assume differently.

Do you write in other genres? 

K:  Yes. I also write short horror stories, most of them set in New England. I love the horror genre, and I like to mix horror elements into my romance books, as well. I have a horror collection called Country Whispers that includes stories about ghosts, genies, and motorcycles that run on something other than gasoline. I’m currently working on Country Whispers II.

S:  Do you remember your first kiss? 

K:  It was awful. That’s what I remember most. A complete turn-off. Looking back, it’s funny. I learned a lot from that relationship.

S:  My first kiss was in the kindergarten coat room and I got sent to the principal's office because of it. Fortunately, I didn't understand what the fuss was about, so it didn't traumatize me.

Do you believe in love at first sight? 

K:  I never believed in love at first sight until one day, my grandmother said to me that if you can hate someone on sight, why not love someone? To me that made good sense, and ever since then, I’ve believed it can happen. Has it ever happened to me? I can give a firm no, but who knows? Maybe someday it will.

S:  Have you ever shelved or thrown out a manuscript?  

K:  Yes! Many. The one that really sticks in my mind, though, had a seriously annoying heroine. I thought about trying to revise and complete the manuscript, but there was no saving this character.

S:  One of my teachers told me that writing a book about unlikable characters was a waste of time. Readers need to like the main characters or they won't keep reading. 

What inspired "The Darkness Therein?"

K:  It was a combination of things, but mostly it was the idea of a beautiful blond vampire martial artist with a dark past and a dangerous mission. Once Jocelyn formed in my mind, I had to write his story.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "The Darkness Therein?"

K:  "The Darkness Therein" was my first published novel. It’s been through two publishers and many revisions to get to this point. This is the version of the story as I’ve always wanted it, and it’s truest to the characters. I’ve cleaned up the editing, and the love scenes fit the characters better than the out-of-print editions released by previous publishers. I’ve also added new scenes. I truly hope readers enjoy the changes.

Here's the blurb--

Jocelyn has chased his nemesis for centuries. He swore that nothing or no one would stand between him and revenge on the creature that destroyed his life. That same rival leads Jocelyn to the one person who can reconnect him to the human race.

Art student Charlie has no idea that her family history binds her to a creature of legend--until he appears in the form of a tall, beautiful man with a thirst for revenge. The last thing she wants is to follow his orders, but if she intends to stay alive, she has no choice.

S:  Where can readers buy "The Darkness Therein?"

K:  It's available at major booksellers, including--

Friday, December 30, 2022

Happy New Year!

 https://www.youtube.com/shorts/K3BfK1HR9VE

This week in The Loft: Author J. L. Regen!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Joan Ramirez. Joan writes contemporary romance, mystery, and suspense under the pen name, J. L. Regen, and also writes non-fiction books for children on a variety of subjects, including autism and leadership. Trained as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor and a journalist, Joan has taught ESL courses in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, and teaches workshops on business communications for corporations and public agencies. She lives in the NJ/NY metro area. 

Author J. L. Regen

S:  Good morning, Joan! Welcome to The Loft!

How has romance changed in your lifetime? 

J:  In my day, men made the overtures. With so much internet dating, the romance has been taken out of it. Now, women are asking men out to dinner, etc. I'm old fashioned. I like a man who is assertive. If I make the first moves toward romance, how will I know if he cares and is really interested in me for more than one or two dates? I met my husband through work and my courtship was very romantic. I knew him as a professional and man of integrity before we dated. Today, with internet dating, so much is left to chance and people don't have to be as honest as they do when meeting in person because they can turn off the power button.

S:  The rise of technology has certainly affected how people communicate and relate to others. I'm not sure that's been a positive thing.

Is true romance--the wooing, courtship, passion, seduction, the little gestures of affection, etc.--dead? 

J:  I’ve been married a while, but I would hope all of these elements still exist because how else can you form a lasting relationship?

S:  If you were suddenly transported back to Victorian England as a member of the aristocracy, would you thrilled or appalled? Would you be willing to stay there permanently?

J:  In that era, women were not allowed to have careers, so I would be a rebel. I’d leave immediately.

S:  Complete this sentence: “I almost married him/her, but…”

J:  I almost married a man who I found out dated me on Friday, someone else on Saturday, and then married his high school sweetheart.

S:  That was a busy guy! What do you appreciate more--Brains or brawn/beauty?

J:  I value brains and brawn in the right amount. A man can be strong but he has to be loving and caring.

S:  What inspired "Secret Desires?"

J:  "Secret Desires"  was inspired by a short relationship with a man who couldn't get over his first deceased wife to form a relationship with me. I built a story around it.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "Secret Desires?" 

J:  It is now on sale as an audiobook at Audible.com and will soon be available on iTunes. "Secret Desires" is about taking a second chance on love and a young girl's search for many kinds of meaning in her life, career, and motherhood.

Here's the blurb--

Nothing in Margo Simmons’s life comes easy. She can’t claim the inheritance on a condo apartment her uncle has left to her until she is gainfully employed in a job for a year. She meets the man of her dreams, but anguishes over a loving relationship because he is still emotionally tied to his deceased wife. With great difficulty, she becomes the guardian to a recently orphaned child she had been tutoring. Margo evolves from an insecure, newbie elementary teacher into a woman determined to fulfill the secret desires locked in her heart. 


S:  Where can readers buy the audiobook?

J:  It's available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Desires/dp/B07GFTNFN3.

S:  Joan, thanks so much for joining me today to announce the release of your audiobook. If you'd like to learn more about Joan and her books, please visit www.Joansbookshelf.com.