Friday, August 28, 2020

Today in The Loft: Maggie Blackbird!

Joining me today in The Loft is Canadian author Maggie Blackbird! Maggie writes romance about Canada's Indigenous People for my publisher, eXtasy Books/Devine Destinies. An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie lives in the country with her husband and two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house. 

The Avatar for Author Maggie Blackbird

S:  Good morning, Maggie! I am pleased you could join me today.

Why did you become a writer?

M:  (Laughs.) I wouldn’t say I became a writer. I’d say writing chose me, if that makes sense. I’ve been dreaming up stories ever since I could think. Seriously. I’d hang over my bunk bed and visit with my little sister in the bunk below. We’d make up stories about our favorite rock bands, etc. I never outgrew those play times and kept conjuring stories in my head from the movies I've watched or the songs that inspired me. I naturally began writing those stories down.

S:  (Nods.) I know how you feel, I can't remember a time when I wasn't creating stories. 

Did you have a mentor when you became a writer?

M:  When I made the decision in 2010 to become a full-time writer and pursue publication, I was extremely lucky to meet a wonderful instructor through my first writing workshop. I was refreshing myself on the bare bones of grammar and she was an excellent teacher.  During one workshop she wasn’t teaching, the facilitator was confusing the heck out of me, and in desperation, I emailed her, begging for help. She became my mentor then. I learned so much from her. She critiqued my work in a way that helped me keep growing and learning. I don’t know if I would have made the jump to publication without her help. I owe Kat Duncan a lot.

S:  What makes you unique--as a writer and/or a person?

M:  I wouldn’t say unique, but I do focus solely on Canada’s Indigenous People as my main characters for every novel or story I write. Being Ojibway, it made sense to steer my focus in that direction.

S:  (Smiles.) It's so much easier to write about what we know, isn't it? I write about lawyers because I spent 30 years in the law.

What attracted you to the romance genre?

M:  The development of the relationship between the two main characters and their arcs. I love how two people can facilitate change in one another, for the better. To help each other overcome past trauma or apprehension. The way they build trust and faith together.

S:  What's your favorite thing about writing romance?

M:  I am a character-driven writer, and I love character-driven stories. Romance focuses on the development of characters because they always have an inner-conflict to overcome.

S:  Tell me about your new book, "Two Princes."

M:  The main characters, Billy Redsky and René Oshawee, have been sitting on the back-burner since around 2013.  I put them away to concentrate on my Matawapit Family Series, so when the time came to dust off their manuscript, I was looking very forward to re-writing their story. Billy is one of my favorite characters because he comes from nothing and fights to make himself something. I love his spunk, his attitude, and his stubbornness. His stubbornness gives him the ability to keep fighting, even when he’s kicked to the ground.  I find this very special about him, and I hope readers do, too. And he pushes.  As René says: “Not another of your bazillion questions.” Billy doesn’t take no for an answer, and he has this way of pushing people to bring out the best in them, albeit unknowingly, but René’s aware of this skill Billy possesses.

Here's the blurb--

To win over the chief’s haughty son, a drug-dealing punk from a dysfunctional family must risk the only two things he has:  his reputation and freedom.

Billy Redsky, a rebellious punk who loves art and nature, is saddled with a welfare-leeching, alcoholic mother and criminal older brother who are the joke of their Ojibway community. Sick and tired of being perceived as a loser, Billy deals drugs for his older brother to earn quick money. He hopes if he buys a dirt bike, he’ll finally impress the chief’s popular and aloof son, René Oshawee.

When the two are forced to serve detention together, a friendship begins to bloom, but much to Billy’s frustration, René keeps putting him on ice. To make his biggest dream come true if he finally wants to call René his own, Billy must make a huge decision that could cost him everything.

Two Princes (When We Were Young Book 1) by [Maggie Blackbird]

S:  I love stories like this! They reflect a very real human struggle--proving you are worthy of love.

Where can readers buy your book?

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

Devine Destinies:

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

Friday, August 21, 2020

Today in the Loft: Author M. S. Spencer!

Joining me today in The Loft is M. S. Spencer. The author of 13 cozy mysteries and novels of romantic suspense, M. S. has lived or traveled on five continents, but spent the last 30 years in Washington, D.C. She has worked in academia, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and various public and private library systems. Now retired, the mother of two and proud grandmother of one, devotes her time to writing, her family, kayacking, and birdwatching. M. S. currently resides in Maine and Florida.

Author M.S. Spencer

S:  Good morning, M. S. Thanks so much for joining me today!  

What's your favorite thing about writing romance?

M. S.:  That’s easy—the happy ending. When I was young, I sought out tragic, dark stories and movies. Like most youth, I wanted—needed—some vicarious experience of pain and grief. Thomas Mann, Evenly Waugh, the Brontës, provided me with emotions I hadn’t experienced myself. As I grew older and actually did suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, I no longer needed the outside stimulus. I turned to books that would make me laugh and feel good. Books that made me forget my own life and just enjoy someone else’s happiness. Writing romance myself allows me to ensure that outcome.

S:  What was your worst date ever?

M. S.:  After my husband died and I moved to Florida, I thought I’d try an online dating service. Oh, the stories I could tell! One date never happened at all. An hour before I was to meet him, he emailed that he’d found the love of his life and wanted me to be happy for him. Another fellow turned out to have a history of swinging, which left me wondering just how healthy he was. He dumped me for my political views, which I considered really funny.

S:  (Smiles.) Not every man is a night in shining armor. I keep asking myself, "Where are the flowers? The chocolates? The consummate gentlemen?"

Do you write full or part-time? 

M. S.:  You could call it full-time in the sense that at disparate times of the day I will write for an hour or so. I don’t think I’m unusual in that I take a lot of breaks when I’m writing. Lucky for me I’m retired and can follow my own schedule, which I’m much more comfortable with. Still, I probably put in a good six to eight hours a day of thinking, writing, and editing.

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

M. S.:  Ho boy, more than you’d expect. Not book learning or school--my degrees are in Anthropology and Library Science--but in life. That has been an adventure. From my first flight at the age of four across the world to Turkey  to my latest trip to the Peruvian Amazon, I’ve been very lucky. I sailed the Queen Mary across the Atlantic to France, and rode a stallion under the stub of the Sphinx’s nose in the Egyptian desert. I lived on or traveled five of the seven continents, and attended four of the best schools in the country. I worked on Capitol Hill, helping to shape energy and natural resources legislation. I wrote speeches for Senators and stood in the Rose Garden when Margaret Thatcher came to visit. I toured the great dams of the West--even the tunnels under the Hoover Dam. But it was a casual question from my son that set me on the path to writing—“So, Mom, what have you done with it all?”

S:  (Nods.) I think our life experiences shape us as writers. I know my adventures as a lawyer and journalist weave their way into my stories. They are too hard to ignore.

What is your writing process?

M. S.:  I usually start with a setting. For example, my current WIP is set in St. Augustine, Florida. My father lived there, on the oldest street, for many years, and I would visit when I had the chance. It’s a fascinating city with incredible history. For Orion’s Foot, I used my experience in the Amazon as a backdrop. My second step is to find an intriguing fact or event to build the story on. In the case of The Mason’s Mark, I rooted it on the true story of a renegade mason and charlatan. In "Mrs. Spinney’s Secret," my upcoming release, I used the production of a movie in my little village in Maine as a backdrop for treasure hunting and murder. Third, I plunge in, writing up to the third chapter. By then, my characters are forming. Once their outlines are set, the plot begins to write itself. I may go through 10-12 drafts after that. Since most of my books are murder mysteries, it’s important to memorize the story, otherwise I may miss inconsistencies or glitches.

S:  Why did you write "Orion's Foot?" What was your inspiration?

M. S.:  My son went to Peru during his junior year in college, and I was lamenting the fact that I didn’t get to travel much anymore, when a friend remarked, “Well, why don’t you go visit him?” So I hopped a plane and 11 hours later he met me at the Lima airport. Just like Petra Steele, my heroine in "Orion’s Foot," we had a whirlwind tour of Lima, the capital city, a flight to Iquitos, a city set in the midst of winding waterways and dense jungle, and a boat ride deeper into that jungle. Like Petra, I was greeted by a menagerie of exotic creatures, including capybaras, tapirs, pink dolphins, and monkeys—hundreds of monkeys. It was a great adventure. I couldn’t wait to turn it into a story.

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

M. S.:  The trip to Peru with my son was one of the most memorable I’d ever taken, and I had traveled and lived in countries across the globe, from Egypt to France to Morocco to Turkey. I was used to historic sites and colorful sights, but I’d never plunged into such an incredibly exotic environment. The array of birds, animals, fish—and even a tarantula at my door-- was awesome. It was rendered even more special by having my son as a companion. According to reviews, readers really enjoy the rainforest setting, not to mention the array of rare and dangerous creatures, in the midst of which a very unexpected romance blooms.

S:  The Amazon is such a colorful, mysterious setting for a book. Tell me more about "Orion's Foot."

M. S.:  The book combines myth, mystery, and romance. Here's the blurb--

Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she's confronted with a murder victim. Mystery piles on mystery in a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists. She is drawn to Emory Andrews, the ornithologist, a gruff, big man with a secret past, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.

S:  I love a good mystery! Where can readers buy your book?

M. S.:  It's available at all major booksellers, including--

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

Friday, August 14, 2020

This week in The Loft: RomCom Author Linda O'Connor!

Joining me today in The Loft is Canadian author Linda O'Connor. Her best-selling romantic comedies draw on her experiences as a physician. They are fast-paced and sexy with an unexpected twist. Linda says medical school was challenging, but it was nothing compared to figuring out where commas go, POV, or sorting out verb tense! One day, she hopes to witness someone reading her novels on the train. Linda's favorite prescrption for writing?  Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Linda O'Conner

S:  Welcome back to The Loft, Linda! 

What attracted you to the romance genre?

L:  I read to escape and love that romances have happily-ever-after endings. Because I’ve read a lot, I know what romance readers expect in a story, so it made it easy for me to write in that genre. I also appreciate that you can query publishers directly when you write romance--you don’t necessarily have to have an agent. Romance also has a large market with a group of voracious readers which is great for sales, and there are a wide range of sub-genres in romance, so you can write anything from historical to suspense to romantic comedy, which is my personal favorite.

S:  Complete this sentence, "When I started writing, I wish I had known…"

L:  ...somebody famous who would help promote my books. I still do.

S:  (Smiles.) You mean like Oprah? I think we all fantasize about having one of our books selected for her book club. 

What makes you unique as a writer?

L:  (Laughs.) Twenty-three pairs of chromosomes! While that’s actually true, what sets me apart as a writer is that I’m also a physician. I weave the best parts of medicine into my stories and try to educate as well as entertain. I teach fact through fiction.

S:  Complete this sentence, "As a writer, my dream is to..."

L:  ....have one of my books made into a movie. I’m thinking a Hallmark movie would be very cool. I was toying with the idea of taking a course to learn how to write a screenplay to inch toward that goal.

S:  (Nods.) I have a writer friend who prepares a screenplay for every book. He is convinced his books would make good movies and is determined to get them on-screen. I wish I had the patience to do that. Still, almost every writer would love to see their stories made into a movie. That would be amazing validation.

Why did you write, "Don't Unravel the Past?" What was your inspiration?

L:   This is the third book of the Dr. Brogan Matchmaking Doctor series. All the books in the series are stand-alone stories, but Brogan Corkie’s own romance arcs throughout the series, so it is preferable to read them in order. I love writing stories when the hero or heroine has a secret and revealing that secret adds a twist in the tale. In "Don’t Unravel the Past," the heroine, Dr. Brenna Locket, has a secret about… you guessed it…her past. She has to share it with the hero, Dr. Jay Landon, before they can move forward in their relationship. This secret was inspired by one of the resident doctors I worked with during my internship. I think she had the same secret!

S:  (Laughs.) I wonder if she'll get the connection when she reads the book.

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

L:  Every book I write is a labor of love, and I imagine handing it to the reader as a precious gift. But beyond that, no.

S:  Tell me more about "Don't Unravel the Past." 

L:  Here's the blurb--

Dr. Brogan Corkie is happily semi-retired from medicine and now has time for other hobbies. Her passion for food is second only to her skill at matchmaking!

Years ago, Dr. Jay Landon kissed a sexy stranger with violet eyes. He was instantly enamoured – until he saw the engagement ring on her finger and the angry-looking dude by her side. She walked away with a piece of his heart.

Dr. Brenna Locket is in Mapleton for a conference and plans to stay for a six-month sabbatical to write a book. Her colourful past has prepared her well for a job she loves as an obstetrician-gynecologist with a special focus on sexual health. If her vivacious personality, natural empathy, and expert knowledge didn’t set her apart, her violet eyes and curly black hair certainly would.

Brogan doesn’t know their history, but the spark between Jay and Brenna is undeniable. She’s intrigued…and a matchmaking scheme is hatched. Now, if only Brenna could leave her past behind. Because unravelling the past might just derail the future.

S:  Sounds fascinating! Where can readers buy your book?

L:  It's available from Amazon at

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

Friday, August 7, 2020

Congratulations to Diana Waters on her latest release!


Sometimes the truth can be the hardest thing to find—especially when it comes from within.

Despite the recent loss of his parents, Ash Woodhart is content living with his siblings, deep in the southern countryside of his family’s domain. Ren, an aloof boy with no home and no family, is an intrusion forced on Ash by his eldest brother. Ash dislikes Ren on sight, but as the years pass and the two come to understand each other, his feelings for Ren gradually morph into something more. However, Ren shows no sign of reciprocating those feelings—and as Ash’s recklessness leads him into danger, the truth may come too late.


    “Well met, my lord.”
Ren’s tone was deferential, his expression bland. Ash looked him over and was not impressed—mostly because if his brother was going to force a bodyguard on him no matter his objections, he had at least expected someone more bodyguard-like.
He had envisioned somebody large and intimidating, a man heavily muscled and bristling with weapons, perhaps even with a great prickly beard like the famed mercenaries he had heard of from far to the east. Yet this boy—and he was, unmistakably, a boy—stood several inches shorter than Ash himself. To add insult to injury, even if there had been a single weapon in sight, Ash doubted Ren would have known how to wield it. Everything about him was neat, nondescript and entirely non-threatening, from his plain dark riding clothes to his cropped brown hair with not a strand out of place. Even his eyes were closer to gray than blue.
Ash already knew he was going to dislike him.
“I thought you said bodyguard, not playmate.” He turned his glare back to Lelande. “No offense to little Ren here, but I’m pretty sure I’d be the one getting him out of trouble.”
“Would you have preferred to be followed about by a full-grown warrior rather than someone closer to you in age?” Lelande’s tone was mild in the face of Ash’s obvious disdain. “At the very least, I’ll rest better knowing you won’t be clambering about the mountainside alone from now on.” His gaze lingered over Ash’s tangled hair before moving pointedly down to his arms, bare below the elbow, taking in the dozen fresh scuffs and scratches amid the two dozen old ones. “Incidentally, you might keep in mind that little Ren here is a full two summers older than you, and in many matters far more experienced. Indeed, I believe you could learn much from him.”
Ash scowled and rolled the sleeves of his shirt back down—a habit for which he was frequently being reprimanded. He was constantly being told it was not befitting for a gentleman to push up his sleeves—not even when it was very hot outside. “I can take care of myself just fine. Just because my Gift—”
Lelande held up a hand, forestalling his brother’s protest. “Rest assured, your Gift has nothing to do with it. This is not a punishment, Ash. I am simply thinking of your safety.”
That his last words were probably true did nothing to assuage Ash’s temper. “So I’m to be followed around for the rest of my life then?” The thought of having his personal space permanently invaded by anyone, least of all this whey-faced boy, was intolerable.
“You’ll have your privacy. Ren is to have his own bedchamber, and much of his time will be occupied in training with the men while you take your lessons. But in every other way, Ren is to be treated as a member of this family. You will accept his presence and allow him to accompany you wherever you may go outside this house. In this, you have no choice. After you come of age, I may rethink the matter.” Lelande stared levelly at him. “Trouble finds you, Ash, even when you’re not seeking it out, and your well-being is more important to me than your pride. So for my sake, if not for your own…please?”
Ash could tell his brother was serious, because Lelande was calm and self-possessed and rarely begged for anything. He was begging now.
Ash turned his scowl to the floor. “Fine,” he snapped with ill grace. “I’ll put up with it.” For now. “But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Lelande sighed but did not scold Ash for his rudeness. “I suppose that’s the best I’ll get from you for the time being.” He turned to the boy still standing beside him. “Ren, if you have need of anything, I will be speaking with Luck in the stables. My brother will see to it that you’re shown around the manor. Isn’t that right, Ash?” He waited for Ash’s reluctant nod of agreement before turning to leave, and then Ash was left alone with the still silent Ren.
Ren looked at him. Ash looked back. The silence stretched out.
“Come on then,” he huffed when it became painfully clear that Ren would not speak for himself. “I’ll show you around.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Ash was already leaving the room before Ren had opened his mouth to reply. He walked quickly, forcing Ren to scamper to catch up. “And don’t call me that,” he added impatiently, not looking behind him. “My name is Ash.”
“Yes, my lord.” 

Buy links:

This week in The Loft: Author D.V. Stone!

Joining me today in The Loft is author D.V. Stone. Donna is a multi- genre author with two independently-published books--"Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake" and "Shield-Mates of Dar"--and two additional books published this year by Wild Rose Press--"Rock House Grill" and "Rainbow Sprinkles." She is also the host of two weekly blogs, Welcome to the Campfire and A Peek Through the Window. Most recently, Donna began reviewing books in a monthly newsletter. She puts pen to paper in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband and rescue dog.

D. V. Stone

S:  Good morning, Donna! 

Why did you become a writer?

D:  Ever since I was a baby, books were in my hands. As an adult, I wrote press releases for my businesses and training manuals for my bosses. I’d dreamed of writing my own books and began several times to lay down a story, but nothing took. Shortly after the economy tanked in 2008, I was laid-off from a long time position. Then I had a choice. Wallow or do something about my life. Now here I am, years later, a published author.

S:  You have a very busy life. In addition to all of your writing responsibilities, you have a full-time job and three grandchildren to spoil. When do you write?

D:  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, my hours at work gave me a great opportunity to write since I worked the afternoon shift. Unfortunately, after months of furlough, my hours and position changed, severely cutting into my writing time. On the bright side, I retire next May and look forward to the expanded opportunity.

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

D:  I am a high-school graduate, receiving a diploma through an alternate education program of part-time academics and work. When I was a junior in high school, my dad became very ill, and I had to quit school to work on the farm. After he passed away, my choice was to repeat eleventh grade or go alternate. I actually made enough credits that I graduated ahead of my class. But I had no formal education after that.

S:  Wow, that was a big sacrifice for a teenager. Your accomplishments since then are certainly impressive. 

Did you have a mentor when you became a writer?

D:  Several people and groups have helped me. The RWA (Romance Writers of America) critique group facilitated by Margo Karoly was the first. Through that group, I met Rosalie Redd, and we’ve become not only critique partners but friends. Since signing with Wild Rose Press, my editor, El Felder, has become my guru. Also, the Wild Rose Press authors have nurtured my career.

S:  (Smiles.) It's wonderful when you have that kind of relationship with your editor. Mine has not only been a teacher and cheerleader, but also the inspiration for some of my stories.

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

D:  ...more about grammar and punctuation. Let me say this. It’s easier to write with knowledge than to go back and fix so many mistakes, which can be a daunting process. Also, I wish I had known about the long route from onset to the publication of most books.

S:  (Laughs.) The first time I had to submit a Christmas tale in summer, I had a very hard time getting in the mood. It's hard to write about snow and cold when it's 90 degrees outside!

What attracted you to the romance genre?

D:   I’m a hopeless optimist. The happily-ever-after feeds the need for closure in my life. I’m not too fond of dangly unresolved things in either reality or fiction.

S:  Do you write in other genres? Which ones? 

D:  I enjoy writing not only contemporary stories, as well as fantasy and paranormal. I’ve one mid-grade paranormal published and the second book of the series is near completion.

S:  Do you believe in love at first sight? Has it ever happened to you?

D:  Certainly attraction at first sight, but love can arrive quickly. I met my husband of 26 years in March of 1993, and we were engaged by May of 1993.

S:  What attracted you to your current partner? 

D:  His lovely brown eyes, humor, and he’s a smart one.

S:  How would you like to be remembered? What do you want your tombstone to say?

D:  My tombstone should say. "It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it."

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

Amazon Author Page:

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Celebrate Together We Stand!

Together We Stand by [JA Lafrance, Cassia Brightmore, Geri Glenn, J.M.  Walker, C.A.  King, VJ Allison, Kaden Tracey, Scarlett Wells, Allison Cosgrove, Leah  Negron, Glenn Geri, C.A. King, Cameron Allie, V.J. Allison, AW Clarke, Maria Vickers, Allison M. Cosgrove, Tricia Daniels, Gillian Jones, Andrea Joy, Jean Kelso, Bethany-Kris, C.J. Lazar, Sue Langford, K Logan, Leah Negron, Lorne Oliver, DD Prince, Jennifer Rose, Crystal StClair, P. Stormcrow, Kadian Tracey, JM Walker, Tracy Willoughby, Carey Decevito]

As the entire world is impacted by COVID-19, a group of talented Canadian authors and authors with Canadian roots have come together to bring you short stories in multiple genres, each one surrounding essential workers.

All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to a Canadian charity that provides relief during this pandemic.

Join these True North authors and allow yourself to be captivated from a social distance.

To celebrate, we’re giving away a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card!  Please follow the link below to enter for your chance to win:

Participating Authors: Geri Glenn, C.A. King, Cameron Allie, V.J. Allison, Cassia Brightmore, AW Clarke, M. Jane Colette, Allison M. Cosgrove, Tricia Daniels, Carey Decevito, Gillian Jones, Andrea Joy, Jean Kelso, Bethany-Kris, JA LaFrance, C.J. Lazar, Sue Langford, K Logan, Leah Negron, Lorne Oliver, DD Prince, Jennifer Rose, Crystal St. Clair, P. Stormcrow, Kadian Tracey, J.M. Walker, Scarlett Wells, Tracy Willoughby