Friday, July 31, 2020

This week in The Loft: Author Adriana Kraft!

Joining me this week in The Loft is award-winning author Adriana Kraft, a husband/wife team who writes sizzling romantic suspense and erotic romance. Their stories involve traditional couples as well as menage or polyamory. Whatever the combination, they provide happy endings for all who fall in love, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or numerical combination. Today, the female half of Adriana Kraft is in The Loft.

S:  Welcome to The Loft, Adriana! 

Did you undergo any formal preparation to become a writer?

A:  Both of us have spent our careers in academia, where any grammar problems were hammered out of us early on, so we were confident we knew how to write. We were shocked to discover how very different it is to write fiction in general, and romance in particular. Our first completed manuscript --which I’m embarrassed to say we submitted to multiple publishing houses--was peppered with sudden point of view changes, talking heads, and way too many dialogue tags, and that’s just for openers. But we immediately joined Romance Writers of America, found and joined our local chapter, and started attending workshops. The best was an all-day workshop by Jennifer Crusie, who not only taught those specifics but also walked us through the basics of dropping the heroine into a crisis right away, carefully crafting the tempo and build-up of tension and drama, creating viable black moments, and even knowing when and where to end the story. When we got home, we cut fully a third of that early draft and began again.

S:  (Chuckles.) Ah, the old "talking heads." I think most of us got nailed for that at the beginning of our fiction writing careers!  

What makes your writing team unique?

A:  We think part of our uniqueness is that being a married couple, we write for couples. In developing our characters, we take pains to be authentic to both the male and female experience. Especially in our erotic romance, we create scenes that we hope offer something for both men and women. We’ve had reviewers recommend that couples read our stories together, perhaps with a bucket of toys close at hand!

S:  What’s your definition of romance?

A:  Wow. So many threads. Falling in love, of course, sometimes Happily Ever After, sometime Happy For Now. So in a fictional romance, two--or sometimes more--characters come to deeply care for one another, eventually fall in love, and ultimately manage to hammer out some way of being together. We won’t give away the ending of "Through the Lens," except to say more than two people are happy with it, and it holds great promise for their future. Learning to love someone can take so many twists and turns. Sometimes, as in "Through the Lens," the first encounters are antagonistic, and characters must be open to surprise as they discover more about each other. Sometimes, as in our own marriage, at least one partner--you can probably guess which gender--has something like a love at first sight reaction, followed by what seems an interminably long period of hoping, waiting, reading cues, learning patience, beginning to have a relationship, becoming more honest and open together, and finally--it took 18 months--walking down the aisle. We try to pour all those nuances into our books--though not all at once!

S:  Have you ever experienced what you consider the perfect romantic evening? 

A:  Often. Oh, you want me to kiss and tell? Here’s our first one: After many months of teaching together in the same academic program, he finally asked me out to dinner, which, while pleasantly romantic, didn’t reach the perfect romantic evening stage. Then he went on a brief trip back home, where it turns out he was tying up some loose ends, though I didn’t know that at the time. I picked him up at the airport, and he had brought me a lovely opal pendant on a gold chain. I still have it, a special treasure. The next day was my birthday. That birthday celebration lasted three days—dinner out, picnics in the park, breakfast on the back porch of my condo overlooking summer blooms in the back yard, attending a Shakespeare play at a local outdoor theater, and long discussions about our new unfolding relationship, including how to manage it at work. What was romantic about it? Celebration, joy, hope, discovery, feeling treasured and cared for, and the beginnings of commitment. Neither of us knew what the outcome would be, but we made a promise to let the other know immediately if either of us decided to close the door.

S: (Smiles.) Discovering each other, as well as each other's wants and needs, is  the true joy of romance.

Why did you write "Through the Lens?" What was your inspiration? Is there anything about this book that makes it special to you? To readers? 

A:  The two main characters in this book are deeply entwined with scandals from our own family histories. My mother’s grandfather was born a bastard in an era when that status carried far more stigma than now. His mother – a logger’s daughter who served as a camp cook – was shunned and shamed for much of her life. On the other side, my husband’s grandfather was a bigamist. A threshing crew foreman in the early 1900s, he married and had children in Missouri, then married again in Kansas. My husband’s grandmother divorced him when she learned of the other family. Their son, my husband’s father, was 10 years old. Though neither of us was ever personally shamed or stigmatized for that history, our ancestors were, and those issues are not dead in contemporary culture. We’re especially sensitive about LGBTQ issues and slut shaming, both of which play a role in "Through the Lens." We believe that all who fall in love deserve happy endings, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or numerical combination. We write our stories to offer hope to those who are so marginalized, and we hope our readers enjoy the ride.

S:  (Shakes head.) It seems every family has at least one black sheep. My grandfather remarried seven times--all bigamously--before my grandmother caught up to him. The guy couldn't spell, "divorce!"

Tell me more about "Through the Lens."

A:  Here's the blurb--

Prairie roots can be deceptive. Will Ellen Jeffers cling to the sedate past that’s familiar, or will she embrace a different version of her history—one that includes tragedy, scandal, fortitude, and freedom?

It’s 2002, and South Dakota third grade teacher Ellen Jeffers has signed up for a photography summer course and assistantship at an art academy in Minneapolis. Thirty-three, divorced for nearly a decade from her college boyfriend, she’s not seeking major change. She just hopes the course will enhance her teaching skills and her resume.

Aaron Brewster comes from privilege, and he has used that status to flaunt his family’s values and carve out a successful career as a photographer specializing in black and white erotic portraiture. Has he ever loved? His love is for beauty, sensuality, eroticism. His new uptight teaching assistant will never fit that vision. Should he send her packing? For reasons he cannot fathom, he takes her on as a challenge.

Aaron’s frontal assault shocks Ellen, but it also triggers something deep inside she’s never been willing to acknowledge. Is her beloved prairie a safe refuge, or will it become a crucible for transformation? The choice is not merely Ellen’s.

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

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

S:  Adriana, thanks so much for joining me today! If you'd like to learn more about Adriana Kraft and their books, please visit--

Newsletter:  free download of our erotic romance novella Cherry Tune-Up for signing up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Author Roundtable: Collaborating With Another Author

Have you ever considered writing a book with another author? Today in The Loft, we’re going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of writing with another partner. Joining me are the husband-wife team who write as Adriana Kraft, Lee Collins and Jane Collman, and Jo Tannah—who has co-authored books with Lynn Michaels and Ann Mickan.

S:  Good morning, everyone!

Let’s start by breaking down your relationship with your writing partner. When did you decide to write a book(s) with your writing partner? How did you know that they would be a good fit? Was the partnership for only one book or was it ongoing? Have you worked with other writing partners in the past?

AK (her):  My relationship? He’s my husband! We met in academia and co-authored a few academic publications, so we knew we could write together and we trusted each other’s skills. It’s been two decades since we made that decision and began our first romance manuscript together. Those were the days of sending printed query letters and – when we were lucky – hard copy chapters or manuscripts.

AK (him):  The decision evolved over time. We wanted to make sure that female and male perspectives informed the writing. Having written non-fiction together, we were fairly confident we could also do so writing fiction. Even then, it was a process that evolved as we gained experience with the first few books. A writing partnership requires commitment to each other, to the characters and issues that shape the writing, and to creating the best final product we can manage.

LC:  Jane has been actively involved in the last nine books I have published, and based on her invaluable input, I knew she would be a good fit to collaborate with on "An Unethical Practice." Given I didn’t propose to publish the book through my publisher, eXtasy Books, because it doesn’t fit in with their well-established genres, I wanted to get Jane even more involved in this book. I have only ever collaborated with Jane because I know her well on a personal level, and she understands what I’m trying to achieve, especially the underlying messages that I want to transmit in my books. We have more books planned for the No Plain Jane PI series, and we will, without a shadow of a doubt, be working together on those books together. Jane not only helps so much with the writing process, but she drives me during times when I need a kick up the rear end.

JC:  We have been working together for the past three years on Lee’s books, and I have read and thoroughly enjoyed all 17 of them, so I knew there would be a good fit for this book. I have learned so much from him about the complexities of the writing process, and now we have established a way of working together—who does what, etc. Lee is the only person I would dream of collaborating with because I know his works and writing style so well, and what high expectations he has of me. But I’ve never been able to resist a challenge to learn and improve.

JT:  With Ann Mickan, we’d been friends online and off for over two years before we decided to write together. It was an experiment of sorts. We would brainstorm over plots together and once we got this prompt for a summer short, we said, why not? It was easy and I would liken the work experience to chatting and brainstorming. With Lynn Michaels, it was a call to arms, I guess. There was a need for one more book and there were no takers because of commitments. Like Ann, Lynn and I had known each other online and became friends. We would chat and brainstorm. So when the opportunity came, we took it and wrote together. We finished the story in a week. I would send over a chapter, Lynn would read and react by writing from the other main character's point-of-view and once done, send it back over to me. It was a short story, so writing about 2,000 words daily each, we got to the limit fairly quickly. Writing with Ann and Lynn was fun and inspirational. It showed me that getting a story out there need not be stressful. Ever since my experience writing with them, I changed my method of writing on my solo works. I pretend to chat with myself and the rest follows. So far, Ann and I are still writing together and have brainstormed another story we’re releasing by next year. With Lynn, we’re both very busy and she’s a prolific writer. I’m sure when the opportunity comes, we’ll be writing again.

S:  Obviously, you all have varying reasons for collaborating. I am seeing two themes here. One is the quality of the personal relationship between the parties, and the second is the ability to collaborate in a way that takes advantage of each other’s strengths. Obviously, together you are stronger.

I’m curious about your writing process. Who does what? For example, how is the story line developed? Does one person flesh it out and the other work off of that? Or do you split up the chapters? How do you handle differences of opinion about the story? Is it an equal partnership or does one partner bear more responsibility?

AK (her): Time wise, the production process is pretty equal. Once we have the germ of an idea for a new book, we spend a lot of time talking together and hammering out the broad strokes of plot, identifying the themes, fleshing out the setting, developing the characters and their backgrounds, and of course deciding on the obstacles we think we’ll throw at them. He is the one who sits down at the blank page and starts putting words on it. When scene or a segment is finished, he reads that out loud, we discuss it, and we start to plan what’s coming next. Then he goes back to that blank page…

AK (him):  I would simply add that the characters play an important role in the development of the plot, story line, and outcome. We can never anticipate all the challenges and hurdles thrown their way. When we get stuck as to where the story goes next, it’s usually because we have not listened well enough to the characters. They do seem to have veto power over their own stories.

AK (her):  That answer pivots right into how do we handle differences of opinion. When we get stuck or reach an impasse, we’ve learned to sit back and wait and invariably, within a day or two, some aspect of the characters’ dilemma will emerge in our own experience and show us the way out. That’s when our time-consuming and careful work developing an in-depth understanding of our main characters at the very beginning pays off. Once we have a complete draft, we trade back and forth with seemingly endless rounds of editing. Here’s where having a partner is especially helpful--two sets of eyes to fine tune everything, two opinions to weigh in on what does or doesn’t work.

S:  (Nods.) To me that would be one of the greatest advantages of collaboration—having someone to brainstorm with. When you write as a single author, it’s not always easy to know what’s working and what’s not. It’s very frustrating to get to the end of the story and realize your plot dove off the deep end somewhere in the middle of the story.

Lee and Jane, how do you work together?

LC:  Given that "An Unethical Practice" has been published under my name and Jane’s, there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between us. I generally come up with the idea for a book and write a one-page synopsis which I send to Jane to review and comment on. Once we’re happy with the idea, I write the first draft of the book, then go through it two or three times to add more layers, such as detail, description, show more and tell less, etc. Once I’m happy with it, I send it to Jane for a harsh review. She really does get the claws out, and invariably, I have to do a fairly major rewrite. Once that’s done, I send it back to Jane and it goes back and forth until we are both happy with it. Then it goes off to the editor and I work with them to polish and fine tune the book.

JC:  "An Unethical Practice" is a crime suspense/mystery/thriller novel, so I wrote some small parts, especially regarding police and private investigator practices. Given my background as a police constable, I did a lot of desk research on Lee’s behalf and talked to my ex-colleagues in the police force to ensure the book was as credible and realistic as possible before we published it. Having had experience of dealing with real crimes, I do a thorough sense check on the books, question and challenge some of what Lee has written, and offer advice as to how he can rectify it. I know from previous conversations I’ve had with Lee that he wants me to play an integral role in the writing process. We very rarely have a difference of opinion, because Lee invariably runs with my feedback, but he will put his foot down and disagree with me at times—for justified reasons, of course. Bottom line is, Lee has the final word, because he has a lot more writing experience than I do, but thankfully, he is very receptive to my ideas and suggestions.

S: That’s interesting. Lee, you began your career as a solo author, but you seem to have adjusted well to collaboration. You two have done a good job of melding your strengths.

Jo, what about you? You have collaborated with two different authors. I imagine there was some adjustments that had to be made for working with each.

JT:  Basically, I do one character and Ann or Lynn does the other. We exchange chapters so the story flows. In the process, we flesh out each others’ work which can be educational. English is my first language, but I’m Filipino and I grew up speaking a language that is a combination of English and American English. My spellings and use of words can be confusing, so I welcome it when Lynn corrects and Ann edits. Ann is an editor, so yes, I do listen to her. For differences in opinions? I’m not sure I ever encountered that problem with either Ann or Lynn. Working with these two women was fun and I cannot emphasize that more. I think that’s the secret. Our work was fun, not stressful and we do love our brainstorming.

S:  Wow, I am really impressed at how teaming up with others strengthens the end product. 

That leads me to my next question. How does working with a partner benefit you as a writer? How do you decide a story is better suited to collaborating with writing a partner?

LC:  As previously mentioned, Jane has the practical experience of dealing with crimes, so that is a major benefit to me. She understands more than I do about the restrictions of what a private investigator can do in comparison to what the police can do. Given the book revolves around a private investigator, Jane, it was very important to be clear about what her limitations were. Jane therefore helped us make the book more realistic and credible. Indirectly, I have collaborated with Jane on the last nine books I have written. I relied on my editor to help me polish and perfect the other eight books. My first eight books were very personal to me, so writing with a partner was out of the question. However, with the last nine books, I felt that I could benefit from Jane’s input, and she didn’t let me down. But I only invited her to provide input to my books because she really liked my books and the style of writing. We built up an understanding and trust, which I believe is really important before you bring another author into your writing world.

JT:  For me, the most beneficial aspect of writing with a partner is the speed of it. There are two minds. I focus on one character, my partners focus on theirs, so I don’t have to shift my way of thinking when writing different point-of-views. I’ve written two books with Ann Mickan, The Boys Next Door series. With Lynn, one. A vampire story "Unchained" for the Love At Stake collection. For my solo works, I’ve got over 25, I think…
 Together we are able to consider more angles, ideas, characters and so on as they emerge. Reading aloud to a partner not only keeps both partners engaged but also allows both to hear the voices of the characters. I’m never sure whether they are our characters or if we are their” mouthpieces. We also seem to have an evolving partnership with our characters.

AK (her): Enrichment is the word that comes to me. Though we’ve known each other a long time and have grown together over the years, we still have different life perspectives, so our writing continues to be enhanced and expanded by the melding of those differences.

S:  That’s something solo writers probably don’t consider. We are locked into one perspective and often fail to realize that others may view the world through another lens. It must be refreshing to have your world view supported or challenged.

If someone is interested in collaborating with another author, what factors should they consider? What qualities make someone a bad choice? Have you ever abandoned a project because you and a partner were a bad fit?

JT:  For me, selecting a writing partner is equivalent to selecting who is or is not my friend. I need the meeting of the minds. Getting into arguments over mundane issues is not for me. I like the peaceful and stress-free relationships. And yes, I have abandoned a project with another author because not only were we a bad fit, but I found out she stole my story and published it for her own. Legit true and that’s all I’m going to say about that one.

S:  That's alarming and an obvious concern. However, it is important to own up to a bad fit and “break up” when necessary. Sometimes, that can be difficult.
I imagine that’s one benefit the Krafts have as married collaborators!

AK (her): Neither of us has tried writing fiction with any other partner, so much of this question is a moot point. Both of us have co-authored with others in non-fiction, sometimes happily, sometimes not. The qualities I think matter are shared goals, shared values, commitment to work hard, mutual trust, and clarity about the skills and problem areas each partner brings to the project.

AK (him): Our experience writing non-fiction with other partners certainly influenced how we write together. For example, we don’t try alternating chapters or scenes and such, which we know works for others. Having written together before tackling fiction meant we already had a high degree of trust in working together, although even the working together process changes with experience.

S:  Trust seems to be a key issue. Lee and Jane, what advice would you offer to authors considering collaboration?

LC: For me, personally, it is not so much about qualities, but what they can bring to the table. For example, specialized experience relating to the nature of the book--what they can do for the book that you can’t do yourself? Their fan base and how they can help promote the book, etc. For me, it is not just about how well they can write, because I can always help with that, but what value they can add to the book. I once considered writing a book with another author, but when I got to know their personality/domineering attitude, I knew I wouldn’t be able to work with them, so I dropped the idea.

JC: Having worked with Lee for a long time, I have learned that you need to pair up with someone who can write as well as you, or better. If you are a new author, as I am, you need an author who can guide and teach you the writing process—a mentor who will help you recognize your strengths and bring those out. If you are an established/experienced author you probably don’t even need to read this interview, but if you are, and are proposing to work with a less experienced author, you need to make sure that they are willing to take your guidance onboard and trust your judgment.

S:  Any other advice you’d care to offer?

AK (him):  Try to find someone you respect and trust. Be open about what you are looking for. Be clear that you will need to hold each other accountable as you try to discover what works best for you. There is no one way for writing partnerships to work. Hopefully, it will be a satisfying and mutually uplifting experience. If not, it’s probably time to dissolve the partnership.

AK (her):  I think he said it. First, get clear within yourself what you are looking for and what you believe you can contribute, and continue to develop the process openly and honestly.

LC:  Familiarize yourself with their books and style of writing first to ensure there would be compatibility. Make sure you get to know the writer on a personal level before committing to a major project with them. Perhaps offer to beta read each other’s books to begin with, so you can see how they write, react to your comments and suggestions, and see how you react to theirs. If that ends ugly, then you are hardly going to be able to write a book together. If it goes well, and you can see the value that each of you has added to the other one’s book, then write a short story together to test the water. If that goes well, then you can move onto bigger things. That is more or less how Jane and I started out—getting to know each other before we dived into the deep end. As mentioned above—when you get to know an author you may decide that they are not the one for you. You also need to establish a trusting relationship because there may be differences and squabbles during the writing process. You need to question if your relationship would survive those, otherwise you may get some ways into the book and then you both decide to write it off as a mistake. That's a waste of time for both of you.

JT:  As I said, choosing a writing partner is equivalent to finding a friend. For both Ann and Lynn, through our interactions, talks, and I guess supporting each other both mentally and emotionally in real life dramas, we grew to trust each other. Trust is the most important thing to consider.

S:  This has certainly been an enlightening conversation. Any parting words?

AK (her):  I just want to add that not only has our partnership enriched our writing, writing together has enriched and strengthened our relationship. Characters throw things at us that we have to be able to resolve, not only for them, but for ourselves, and it’s turned into an incredible ride.

S:  Thank you all for participating in my first roundtable. If you would like to learn more about these writers and their books, please visit—

Friday, July 24, 2020

This week in The Loft: Author Lyndell Williams!

Joining me today in The Loft is award-winning author Lyndell Williams. Lyndell writes steamy, contemporary romance with multi-cultural themes, including interracial, urban, suburban, paranormal, and Muslim romance. She is a cultural critic with a background in literary criticism (romance), and is also an editor, writing coach, and cultural contributor for Bridging the Gap. Lyndell has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and writes for multiple online publications. The mother of six children, she and her family live in New York City.

Author Lyndell Williams

S:  What attracted you to your current partner?

L:  My husband is a brilliant man. It was the first thing I noticed about him. Well, we didn’t see each other at first. I started typing small books for him as a favor to a friend. I got his phone number to ask questions about his writing. I had lots of questions, which led to some stimulating intellectual conversations. By the time I finished all the typing, I had developed a hard crush on the voice over the phone. When I finally saw him weeks later, his hazel eyes and gorgeous smile sealed the deal for me. I hunted him with a vengeance. I caught him, trussed him up, and I have tied him to me for 29 wonderful years.

S:  (Smiles.) That's quite a love story! I have heard some of the sexiest voices over the phone only to be horribly disappointed in person. I'm so glad you had a different experience!

Do you write full or part-time? Do you have another job/other responsibilities?

L:  I am a full-time writer with many levels of responsibilities. Besides my steamy romance books, I contribute articles to multiple online platforms and am the managing editor for one. I also add content to my author’s blogI write a ton. Add homeschooling and content editing for authors, and I spend much of my day at the keyboard. However, I try my best to make sure I eke out time for storytelling. I have a growing base of readers waiting for the next story, and I can’t wait to get it to them.

S:  Did you undergo any sort of educational or other training to become a writer?

L:  Beyond some courses in writing and poetry in college, I developed most of my writing acumen by, well, writing. I first wrote for my college paper and extended it to writing online for publications, while teaching workshops and coaching college students in writing. Everyone needs to grow as a writer, which does not have to be through college. Connecting with an experienced writer to serve as a mentor or getting a good coach can bring a writer to the next level. I still coach new fiction writers. I think it is important to not only feed my creativity but also to be a mode to help others express themselves. 

S:  Did you have a mentor when you became a writer?

L:  I am a vigorous proponent for mentorship, especially in writing fiction. Like any art, building narratives requires honing skills necessary to connect with readers, tapping into their emotions and sharing their message. I was fortunate to have a great mentor, Sandra Barkevich at WriteTypeEditorial Services, an accomplished writer and editor. She guided me through a lot, and I cringe at the thought of how sloppy my first book would have been without her direction. Her expertise in romance writing continues to be of significant help to me. I am also grateful to author Love Journey for taking me under her experienced wing. She taught me valuable lessons about independent publishing. I felt strongly that I wanted to publish my first book myself, and she guided me through the process.

S:  (Nods.) You were fortunate to have two mentors. I think it makes  a big difference in a fiction writer's journey.

Complete this sentence: “When I started writing books, I wish I had known...”

L:  How hard it would be to read negative reviews. My writing contains a lot of social nuances that tap into people’s emotions. Although I knew that some issues I addressed in my romance may ruffle feathers, I was unprepared for the harsher reactions. I don’t have a lot of negative reviews, but the few I have sting. I had to learn to thicken my skin and accept the reality that everyone will not like what an author writes. I caution authors to not read negative reviews during their writing process. They can kill creativity.

S:  You're right. Negative reviews are difficult, but I try to learn from them. What bothers me more are low ratings with no explanation.

What attracted you to the romance genre?

L:  I have been reading romance since I was a teen. It is my favorite genre. I wanted to write romantic stories featuring female characters who look and love like me. Romance can be culturally specific. People of different backgrounds navigate love and coming together as a couple in varied ways. Unfortunately, authors from the broader White culture dominate the genre, making it starved for diverse stories and character depictions. I want to be a part of injecting diversity into the genre.

S:  I know my lack of experience with certain types of relationships makes me uncomfortable writing about them. I always fear that I will miss cultural or other nuances, so I stick to what I know.

Is there anything about this book that makes it special to you? To readers?

L:  Writing "Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit" took a lot out of me. Outlining the main character Toni’s struggle with infertility aligned with my own during my twenties. I avoided emotional scenes, but once I did, I purged a lot of traumas and expressed what I and a lot of women probably go through. I included some things many women with infertility issues encounter, including self-hate, tension with a partner, and nonsense messaging from their environment. It’s not an effortless thing to go through. A lot of readers told me that Toni’s journey was so similar to theirs, and those who never had to deal with infertility mentioned that they emphasized with Toni’s pain. Everyone appreciated the passion between Toni and her husband, Marcus, despite all of life’s challenges. Knowing that I could use romance to show how life can affect love and passion means a lot to me.

S:  I once had to interview women going through in vitro fertilization when it was still fairly new. I found their stories daunting, yet courageous. The determination to have a child with a partner is a love story in itself.

Tell me more about "Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit."

L:  Here's the blurb--

Steamy is the best word to describe the Kents. After work, lawyer Marcus wants nothing more than to hold wife, Toni--his "Sweetness"--into his arms. He knows exactly how to make every inch of her hot body shiver under his touch. He is willing to do everything in his power to make her happy, except one

Leaving her downtown practice, psychologist Toni heads uptown to curl up with Marcus, her sexy, younger husband. Their fiery passion is usually fully ablaze until she makes a demand that threatens to snuff it out.

Toni's risks wrecking her loving marriage to Marcus to get her way. Marcus will do anything to keep her from destroying everything and keep the passion between them burning.

S:  That certainly sounds steamy! Where can readers buy your book?
L:  It's available on Amazon. Here's the link:
S:  Lyndell, thanks so much for joining me today! If you would like to learn more about Lyndell and her books, please visit--
Amazon Author Page:

Friday, July 17, 2020

This week in The Loft: J. Arlene Culiner

Today, I welcome romance author J. Arlene Culiner to The Loft! J. Arlene has lived an adventurous life. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, and lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. Her adventures have required her to embrace all sorts of occupations (hey, a girl has to eat), including belly dancer, fortune teller, actress, radio broadcaster, and photographer. She certainly has plenty of inspiration for her stories! J. Arlene currently resides in a 400-year-old French inn.

J. Arlene Culiner

S:  Good morning, J. Arlene! Thanks for joining me today.

Do you write full or part-time? Do you have another job or other responsibilities?

J. A.:  I don’t write full-time because doing just that would drive me crazy. I have stories in my head, but I can’t see just sitting down and writing them all day. I’m also an artist--social-critical work--and an amateur musician. I play many instruments—tuba, oboe, English horn, flute, baroque oboe, and recorder--in several orchestras, chamber groups, and bands. My house is also a mini-museum that I open to the public. (Editor's Note: Please see In addition, I am an audiobook narrator, and I spend a lot of time walking along the green lanes that crisscross all of Europe.

S:  (Smiles.) Wow, as a musician, you certainly put me to shame. All I could manage was piano and French Horn!

Did you undergo any sort of educational or other training to become a writer?

J. A.:  My apprenticeship was writing for many long years, and much reading in every genre. I know that the first books I wrote were just awful, and from time to time, I look at them and wince, but I am pleased with the style that I’ve since developed. I remember once meeting a man who told me he had written seven books and had never had one accepted by a publisher. However, he had just received a personal rejection letter from a major publisher, so he knew he was on the right track. He was certain that the eighth or ninth book would be accepted. I’ve thought about that man many times. He was my model while learning to write well.

S:  (Nods.) I think the act of doing is the most effective teacher.

What makes you unique as a writer?

J. A.:  I wouldn’t say I’m unique in this, but my goal in writing every book is to pass on information. It isn’t enough for me to write a romance with a hero and heroine and their problems. I want readers to learn about things they don’t know because that’s also what I need to find in a book. Therefore, in my stories, there is information about different ways of life, Western history, the spider world, snakes, Baroque music, and village life in Turkey.

S:  Do you write in other genres?

J. A.:  As Jill Culiner, I have written two very unromantic mysteries set in France— "Death by Slanderous Tongue," and "Sad Summer in Biarritz." I also write non-fiction books about Eastern European history. My "Finding Home in the Footsteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers" won a prize for Canadian history.

S:  What attracted you to the romance genre?

J. A.:  I enjoy writing realistic romances with true-to-life heroes and heroines, people who, despite all the hurdles life might throw at them, do manage to find love. It’s those satisfying endings that tell us that love is there for everyone if we know how to give. But also, since I do write about Eastern European history—a heavy subject—I like to write romance as a counter balance. In addition, it is exciting writing about the first stirrings of love, the possibility of happiness, and trust.

S:  What was your worst date ever?

J. A.:  I can’t guarantee this was my worst date ever--because we’ve all had some real humdingers--but I do remember being asked out to dinner by a man who was very boring, never asked a question, but carried out a monologue throughout the meal. Then, when the bill came, he announced he had forgotten to bring his wallet and that I would have to pay. I knew he had a decent job, and I really didn’t have much money in those days. However, I did have enough to cover the bill. So I did pay, and when the waiter brought the change, this charming man immediately reached out and pocketed all of it. I was too young and wishy-washy to say anything, but he’d never get away with that now.

S:  What was your inspiration for "The Turkish Affair?"

J. A.:  I wrote "The Turkish Affair" for many reasons. I wanted to take my readers on a trip to a country that they probably didn’t know, or didn’t know well. I wanted people to experience life on an archaeological site, and I wanted to share what I knew about the Hittite civilization. Like Anne Pierson, the heroine of "The Turkish Affair," I once lived and worked in central Turkey, translating for tourists, and I spent quite a bit of time on archaeological sites. When I lived there, it was a difficult time. The police were untrustworthy, there was political unrest, there were frequent arrests. Many of the incidents in the story really did happen. I did find myself in a dangerous situation on a lonely lane, and I really was rescued by a bold young woman. I was present when archaeologists were called down to the coast to identify stolen coins, and the thefts from an archaeological site really did happen in the way I describe them. I also met police who were as corrupt and dangerous as those in the story. Of course, Anne’s story is very different from my own, but even my hero, Renaud Townsend, is based on a real person. One afternoon, while passing through an archaeological site, I caught sight of a man ambling in a tumble of ruined pillars. He was lean, supple, and the bright sun caught the golden blaze of his hair. He was the perfect hero.

Here's the blurb--

Love and Danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu.

Priceless artifacts are disappearing from the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu in Turkey, and the site director has vanished. Called in to solve the mystery, archaeologist Renaud Townsend is hindered by both his inability to speak the language and the knowledge that the local police are corrupt. His attraction to translator Anne Pierson is immediate, although he is troubled by her refusal to talk about the past and her fear of public scandal. But when murder enters the picture, both Anne and Renaud realize that the risk of falling in love is not the only danger.

S:  That sounds fascinating! Where can readers buy your book?

J. A.:  It's available at major booksellers, including--

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

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