Friday, April 24, 2020

Today in The Loft: Author Laura Haley-McNeil!

Joining me today in The Loft is romance author Laura Haley-McNeil. Laura spent her youth studying ballet and piano, but after a detour into the corporate world, sat down and wrote the book she always dreamt of. Since then she has published multiple novels of romantic suspense and contemporary romance. Laura and her husband now live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and snow skiing. 

Author Laura Haley-McNeil

S:  Welcome, Laura!  

Why did you become a writer?

L:  I’m not sure that I want to be a writer. It’s more like I have to write. I’ve tried to walk away from the endeavor, but it pursues me and gives me no peace until I sit in front of my laptop and let the stories and characters that plague me escape from my fingers to the keyboard and onto the screen. I’m sure those of you who write are nodding your heads. Once writing sinks its talons into your soul, there’s no escaping the career. It’s more than a desire. It’s an obsession and the only remedy is to let the stories flow.

S:  What is your favorite thing about writing romance?  

L:  I love writing larger-than-life characters. When I’m creating the characters, I search Google Images for the face that I want to appear on the page. Powerfully built Spencer Kingsley, the hero in "Call It Love," had to have dark, slightly curly hair and Paul Newman blue eyes set in a chiseled jaw that dimpled when he smiled. Addison Duvall, the heroine, had to have long dark, curly hair that she never bothered to style and soft brown eyes. They’re both set on their careers with no time for love, but that’s what makes writing romance so much fun because love has its own agenda. It doesn’t matter how much these characters fight each other and the author, love always wins. That’s what’s so fun about writing romance. There can’t be an end without a happily-ever-after.

S:  (Nods.) Nothing better than a happy ending!

Do you remember your first kiss? What was memorable about it?

L:  I do remember my first kiss and it was the worst kiss ever! I liked the neighbor boy who was a couple of years older than I. He was nice and we’d hang out together and talk. One day we were in his family’s barn and I was helping him with the horses, when he grabbed me and kissed me. It was messy and wet and I thought I’d get sick. I broke free and ran away, but never told anyone about it. I was afraid my parents would be upset with me. This was way before the #MeToo movement. You’d think after such a bad experience, I would’ve sworn off kissing, but I tried it again with a different boy and that kiss was much better.

S:  What was your worst date ever?

L:  Unfortunately, I’ve had a few, but one that was more memorable than the others was a blind date. We met at a place like Denny’s. I ordered a diet Coke, and he ordered coffee and a piece of pie. Yes, I remember what we ordered! That’s how bad it was. He seemed nice enough. We talked for a while, and the conversation was pleasant until he brought up the topic of his ex-wife. He had been happily married! but didn’t realize his wife wasn’t happy. Then he told me that if he were to remarry, it had to be to someone who was gorgeous. Apparently, his first wife was gorgeous. He continued to emphasize how beautiful his second wife had to be, so my first thought was that in his book, I didn’t meet that criteria and it didn’t matter what my other qualities were. It soon became clear that he wasn’t interested in discussing anything except what he expected of his next wife. So I told him I was sure he would find that woman, said it was nice to meet him, and left. As I walked to my car, I chided myself for agreeing to meet him at an inexpensive restaurant and only ordering a diet Coke. That guy got off cheap. With what I had to listen to, I should’ve met him at Delmonico’s, and ordered steak and lobster. Needless to say, that was my last blind date.

S:  (Laughs.) My first blind date was also my last. There are some really strange people out there!

What attracted you to your current partner?

L:  I had studied piano for years, but quit when I left home and no longer had access to a piano. When I finally bought my own piano, I wanted to take lessons again. That proved difficult because I couldn’t find a teacher who had experience teaching an advanced student and who would teach in the evening. The music teachers’ association gave me a list of piano teachers to call. I called every teacher on that list and made it to the M's before I found someone who was interested in teaching me. I was surprised when a man answered the phone, but he was warm and friendly and I was impressed with his performance and teaching credentials. He was a retired professor who had extensive experience performing with orchestras. We set a time to meet for my first lesson at his piano studio. The first thing that impressed me about him was his hair. He had a ton that was neatly cut and very curly. He put me at ease with his friendly personality and asked me to play for him. Occasionally he’d stop me and instruct me on hand movement, tone, and pacing. When he played for me, my mouth fell open. I had good teachers, but none played the way he did. I studied with him for several years and we became friends. I practiced hard during the week because I wanted to impress him. He had many good students and I wanted to be one of the best. As the years passed, we realized that we didn’t just have a friendship. It had gone much deeper than that, We actually went out on a date. I never thought I’d date my piano teacher! A few months later, we married. It was wonderful to know I married the hero of the most romantic story of my life.

S:  What a sweet story!

What are your currently working on?

L:  The Crystal Creek Series is my first series and is dear to my heart, because it’s based on the ranch where my father was raised. I’ve written seven books in that series and had started writing the eighth book, but had to set it aside to finish a couple of other books. Now, I’m ready to return to Crystal Creek. The Whitlochs own the Crystal Creek Ranch and their home is open to everyone. That’s why it didn’t surprise me when Josh Merrick, a cousin from Wyoming, stopped by for a visit. As a bronc rider, he travels from one rodeo to the next and hadn’t planned to stay long, but his plans change when Lily Harkins walks into his life.

S:  Tell me about your book, "Call It Love."

L:  Here's the blurb--

A kiss isn’t just a kiss …

Struggling actress Addison Duvall hustles background acting jobs at the Hollywood studios hoping for her big break. When she’s cast as the stand-in for the lead actress in a blockbuster spy film, she can’t believe her luck. The surprises rush in―her first test shot is with Hollywood heartthrob Spencer Kingsley. Her even bigger surprise is when director yells, “Action!” and Spencer presses his lips to hers in a kiss.

Behind Spencer’s Hollywood façade hides the secret pain no one suspects. He’s the first to take a risk, except when it comes to his heart. He can’t deny he and Addison have chemistry―onscreen and off―and he’s  tempted to lower his guard. She seems real, not like the women he usually meets.

But once Addison’s star rises, so do Spencer’s doubts. She’s no different than the others looking for a connection to catapult their careers. Except he can feel himself falling for her. He won’t let another woman damage his heart. His decision made, Spencer wishes her success and moves on.

But it’s already too late. How does he heal this Addison-shaped hole in his heart? Should he risk more heartbreak for another chance at love?

S:  Where can readers buy your book?

L:   It's available on Amazon at

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

Friday, April 17, 2020

This week in The Loft: Author D. Anne Paris!

Joining me today in The Loft is author D. Anne Paris. D. Anne writes unique love stories intertwined with paranormal elements, including ghosts, superpowers, and aliens. D. Anne lives in a 100-year-old home with her furry and non-furry kids. In her spare time, she enjoys working on her beloved sports car, photography, sewing, and cultivating blueberries.

The avatar for author D. Anne Paris

S:  Good morning, D. Anne! 

What attracts you to the romance genre?

D:  Today, there is so much negativity everywhere, especially right now. I have always been drawn to stories that are uplifting and warm. I strongly believe that love will always win, which is why I love the romance genre.

S:  What's your definition of romance?

D:  Romance is when two people find each other attractive, not only physically, but intellectually. That's what makes romance so great. Looking past the physical.

S:  What would you like people to know about you?

D:  I'm not your average girl. I don't like purses or high-heeled shoes. I'd rather spend my time working on a project car or going to a car show. I'm a total gear head.

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

D:  Save more than 50 percent of what you make, no matter what. This advice has been a lifesaver for me during this pandemic.

S:  What are you currently working on?

D:  I'm working on a new shifter romance series. I have the first book done and am working on the second. I hope to complete that before summer.  

S:  Tell me about your book, "GhostMate."

D:  Here's the blurb--

A new life is what Jessica needed.

Picking up the pieces from her shattered heart Jessi believed moving into a new town was all that she needed to heal. New house, new job, new friends, and no relationships with men.

When a ghostly sexy stranger pops up in her new home, he awakens a desire she never felt before. This tall, dark, and supernaturally sinful man makes her rethink her no men rule.

Jessi was Jon's glimmer of hope.

Murdered in his own home, he can't rest until he finds his murderer.

Powerless, he is compelled to work with Jessi to gain his freedom. As he grows closer to finding who cut his life short he begins to feel emotions for Jessi he never felt when he was alive.

Will Jon's soul chose to stay with Jessi or will vengeance tear him away from his soul mate?

S:  That sounds like a very powerful story!  Where can readers buy your book?

D:  It's available on Amazon at

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

Amazon Author Page:

Friday, April 10, 2020

This week in The Loft: Author Holly Bargo!

Joining me today is author Holly Bargo. The pseudonym she uses was actually the name of a temperamental Appaloosa mare!  Holly writes western, paranormal,and fantasy romance. The author and her husband live on a hobby farm in southwest Ohio with a menagerie of horses, cats, and one really big dog. She also has two adult children.

Author Holly Bargo

S:  Welcome, Holly! 

Let's start with an obvious question. How are you coping with the self-isolation rules?

H:  Since I work from home as a freelance writer and editor, the current lock down due to COVID-19 really hasn't impacted my daily routines. I work primarily in solitude, which suits me. I do miss going out to lunch once every week or two with friends, since even diehard introverts need some human interaction. What I have noticed is that good writing and editing gigs have become scarce. People and businesses suffering a substantial reduction in income aren't spending their limited funds on writers and editors. They're more focused on paying critical expenses. I understand that. I hope people use this time to write those books they've always dreamed of writing and will do what's in the best interests of those stories when life returns to normal.

S:  (Nods.) We choose to be isolated so we can write, just not that isolated. If we didn't take breaks to socialize, we'd become hermits!

Why did you become a writer?

H:  I really had no choice. Even as a little girl, I wrote stories. Fairy tales and mythology fascinated me. I read books for adult audiences when I was only in middle school. I remember doing a book report in the seventh or eighth grade on "Help, I’m a Prisoner in a Chinese Bakery!" by comedian Alan King. I found the social commentary directed at a 1960s audience hilarious, but my classmates didn’t see the appeal and my teacher found such reading strange, if not inappropriate. Anyway, I entertained other career options. I love animals, so I thought to become a veterinarian. The discovery of being squeamish killed that idea. Math and science confound me. And let’s be honest, there’s not much of a market for historians. I like flowers, but loathe gardening, so a career in landscaping or horticulture was out, too. I tried retail. For years. And I hated it. There weren’t too many options left, so I needed to find jobs that employed my best skill--writing. Today, I’m self-employed as freelance editor and ghostwriter.

S:  Do you write in other genres?

H:  When I started writing, I didn’t know about genres. I merely wrote weird, fantastical stories that tickled my fancy. Looking back, most could be categorized as fantasy or science fiction. In high school and through my twenties, I was an avid reader of both. I also enjoyed westerns, mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. Mom introduced me to Walter Farley, Zane Grey, Barbara Cartland, Helen MacInnes, and a dozen other authors whose work I gobbled up. All that pan-genre reading influenced what I wrote. My first book-length manuscripts, which will never see the light of day, were fantasy, but they incorporated strong romantic subplots. Today, my books often span genres.

S:  Do you remember your first kiss? What was memorable about it?

H:  My first boyfriend lasted two dates. We didn’t use the term “ghosted” in those days, but after the second date, he apparently fell off the face of the planet. I wasn’t heartbroken so much as annoyed. My second boyfriend was originally the boyfriend of a girl with whom I worked. He’d come to visit her, and we’d trade banter, flirt a little, and exchange friendly insults. She dumped him. I went out with a friend who invited him along. I had just turned 21 years old. We met at a bar for drinks and dancing. I think someone dared him to kiss me. I remember being slightly horrified and blurting, “I’ve never been kissed!” He got a determined expression on his face and said, “This won’t be the last time.” We married two years later. This summer we’ll celebrate our thirty-second anniversary.

S:  Wow. What an incredible story! Congratulations on your anniversary!

What are you currently working on?

H:  At any given time, I have over two dozen started manuscripts. However, most will never be developed. They’ve languished long enough for me to admit that. Sometimes, I get a spark of an idea and run with that. That’s how my next release, "Focus," happened. Sometimes feedback from readers guides my effort. My next book, which I started in late March, will be developed because readers asked for a sequel to "Hogtied," which was published on February 14. However, contrary as I am, it won’t be the story they’re expecting. At this time, one might even say that I’m working on two books. "Focus" is due for release on May 1, and the as-yet untitled sequel to "Hogtied" should come out by the end of August.

S:   Obviously, you are good at multi-tasking! How many books do you average a year? 

H:  I average three or four books a year. Last year, I published "Six Shots Each Gun," a collection of western short stories, in collaboration with western author Russ Towne. I also published "Triple Burn," a reverse harem, science fiction romance, "The Eagle at Dawn," the fourth book in my paranormal romance Immortal Shifters series, and "Satin Boots," a collection of sweet and clean, short western romances. This year, I have already published "Shot from the Hip," which combines my stories from "Six Shots Each Gun" with the short stories from "Satin Boots," and "Hogtied," a biker romance. "Focus" will be my third book of 2020, with the sequel to "Hogtied" my fourth. After that, I may swing back into westerns or fantasy or science fiction. I just don’t know at this point.

S:  Which book is your favorite thus far?

H:  I have trouble determining my favorite book. I consider "The Falcon of Imenotash" my tour de force. This small book really packs a tremendous punch. There are so many layers to that story. It just poured out of me. It was one of the fastest manuscripts I ever produced. My favorite hero remains Uberon, the Unseelie king who gets his own story in "Daughter of the Dark Moon," the last book of my Twin Moons Saga. My favorite heroine is Rowan Nemed, the protagonist of my first self-published book and the first book of the Tree of Life trilogy, "Rowan."

S:  Tell me about your latest book, "Hogtied."

H:  Here's the blurb--

Cowgirl meet biker...what could go wrong?

When a biker shoots her sister's prize steer, champion roper Melanie goes after him. Unfortunately, she doesn't think it through, and that hot temper puts her squarely in Hammer's sights. Melanie's ire only increases when Hammer defuses the dangerous situation by claiming her as his property. If the former Marine and now sergeant-at-arms of the Black Ice Revolution MC thinks she's his for the taking, he's sadly mistaken. She wants nothing to do with him, but he's not about to let this sexy, feisty woman go.

S:  (Giggles.) That sounds really hot! Where can readers buy your book?

H:  It's available on Amazon at

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


Friday, April 3, 2020

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

Joining me today is Australian author J.L. Peridot. A "first-generation Perthie," J.L. abandoned a tech career to write speculative steamy and romantic fiction. The author of six books, she shares her sunny West Australian home with a loving partner and two bossy cats. In her spare time, she plays Dungeons & Dragons and consumes wholesome memes on Twitter.

Author J.L. Peridot

S:  Good morning, J.L.

What attracts you to the romance genre?

JL:  Honestly, I started writing romance because I thought it would be easy. After all, I figured, it’s a high volume market and trashy love stories don’t have to be any good, right? Yeah, that’s not the reality at all. There’s an art to writing a good romance and since getting into this kind of writing, I’ve learned new things every day about how deep the rabbit hole goes. Love is inherent in so many stories regardless of genre. Romance can have tremendous value as feminist literature--women writing about women enjoying sex sounds pretty feminist to me--and is a fascinating conversation starter.

S:  (Smiles.) You were not alone in thinking that writing romance is easy. I hear that from people all of the time. People are surprised when I point out how much work is involved.

Do you write in other genres?

JL:  I do indeed, though I’ve focused on romance and erotica since my first novel came out a couple of years ago. Before that, I’d written a couple of sci-fi manuscripts, just for fun and to pick up the craft again after a long hiatus. In my teens, I wrote fanfiction and short stories along the lines of sci-fi, action suspense, fantasy, corporate dramas, poor attempts at erotica, and very cringeworthy Mary-Sue romances.

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

JL:  You know, I’ve been given a lot of good advice that worked out terribly for me when I followed it. Usually coming from well-meaning people who just didn’t consider my circumstances or who I was as a person. So it’s odd in a way that the best advice I ever got was from a YA science fiction book written by someone who has no idea I exist. Following the protagonist as she navigated loss, grief, alien invasion, loneliness, and her personal agency totally blew my adolescent mind. Without being preachy or prescriptive, it gave me a vocabulary and framework for understanding myself and framing the world around me. It’s amazing what books can do, huh?

S:  (Nods.) I wish everyone could find a book that informs their world view. That's so important, especially as a writer.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

JL:  At the end of 2019, I did that 10 achievements in 10 years thing from Twitter. I don’t think about my achievements much day to day, but that exercise made me realize I’ve done a lot I’m quite proud of. For example, I got out of a bad relationship in my mid-20s, pushing against the pressure I felt from all sides--including my mother--to stay with my ex. Another was releasing a single with a local DJ/producer, as that had been a life goal since I was a kid. But the one that really gives me a warm feeling inside has to do with my cat. When my partner and I first brought her home from the shelter, she had a fear of human feet and human hands approaching from above. That was heartbreaking. What kind of life must an animal have had to make them afraid of that? Over time, we acclimated her to affection, and now she’s very attached to us and gets right into head pats and toe tickles.

S:  I have never understood how people could abuse pets. It's so wonderful that you have provided your cat with a better, more loving environment.

How do you want to be remembered?

JL:  As someone who gave a shit. That’s it, really.

S:  And that's probably enough.

What are you currently working on?

JL:  I'm chipping away at "The Dragon’s Den," the sequel to "Chasing Sisyphus," while also working on a handful of sci-fi, erotic, and romantic short stories. And later this month, I’ll be releasing a new erotic free-read called "About Her," the follow-up to "About Henry" from the CapriLuxe anthology on Wattpad.

S:  Tell me about your book, "It Starts With a Kiss."

JL:  Here's the blurb--

Celeste is a talented engineer who doesn’t realize her job’s going nowhere fast. She’s a little naïve. She’ll cut code and solder cables forever as long as Owen’s around. Owen, on the other hand, knows exactly how badly things suck—he just doesn’t care. Sure, his skills aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still better than what Halcyon Aries deserves.

Then it happens. The company’s toxic management team finally cross the line. As both techies race to upgrade the station and to free the team from their oppressive contracts, they come to learn that life—and love—can only ever be what you make it.

Strap in for a steamy office romance in space, because sometimes It Starts With a Kiss!

S:  (Grins.) Who doesn't like a steamy office romance?  Where can readers buy your book?

JL:  It's available at all major booksellers, including--

S:  J.L., thanks so much for joining me today! If you would like to learn more about J.L., please visit--

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