Friday, March 26, 2021

This week in The Loft: eXtasy Author Ann Raina!

Joining me today in The Loft is fellow eXtasy author Ann Raina. Ann has written 26 novels of erotic romance, science fiction, adventure, and romantic suspense. Her books include multiple series, including Jasmine and Ethan (The Bodyguard series), Nick and Jacklyn, and Project Recruitment. Ann currently resides in Germany. When not writing, she enjoys riding her horse and gardening.

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

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

A:  The best thing forever—my muse. We’ve been friends since childhood and she helps me with every plot. Her insight, her humor, and her story ideas make every novel worth writing. None of my works would have been completed without her input. The worst thing—maybe the loss of a part of my manuscript for "Famous Murders." I had to write an entire chapter once more because of a sudden power loss at my home.

S:  I am sure many can identify with the loss of part or all of a manuscript! I once had a computer failure that wiped out everything. Ultimately, a technician recovered my manuscripts, but that was the day I learned about computer back-ups, such as flash drives and clouds.

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

A:  Yes. I started writing stories when I was a kid. My imagination evolved with every book I read and the wish to create my own stories grew with every year. Maybe I would have started writing books with original characters earlier than I did in this life. It’s more rewarding.

S:  What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A:  That I managed to become a published author at eXtasy Books. Many authors try to find a publisher. I was lucky that the Canadian publisher accepted my first work.

S:  What is the best advice you’ve been given as an author?

A:  You can’t edit your own books. You will always need an editor to find all the flaws because as the author, you read what you think you have written and that may not be the truth. Additionally, only an editor will find logic gaps and other mistakes. I’m lucky that a friend checks my work prior to any editor at the publishing house.

S:  You're right. A second set of eyes is always needed.

What part of the publishing process do you like most or least?

A:  I like to see the compilation of the finished text, the cover picture, and the final design. For me, it’s like showing that my work is worth the effort. However, I can't think of anything I like least. I am drawing a blank. 

S:  Do you read your reviews? 

A:  I read all the reviews I receive. Even the ones not praising a book can be helpful. They help you understand the reader’s view on the story and characters.

S:  Where do you write?

A:  I write at home, a cat on my lap, and a cup of coffee on the table right beside the keyboard. I need the quiet solitude of my workspace to be creative. I write for about an hour, then get up to do something different—mostly to picture the next scene or a dialogue—before I return to the desk and write some more. That way, even the housework gets done. On most days, I don’t have more than an hour to read what I’ve written so far and add a new scene. On weekends, I add some extra hours as long as my eyes stay open and the coffee lasts.

S:  What books will be your summer reads?

A:  I’ve got several books by Tad Williams—they are always worth reading. I also like the works of Dean R. Koontz and Minette Walters. And I’m open to new novels. I get my inspiration for new books from Facebook sites.

S:  If you could be one of your characters who would you be and why?

A:  I would like to be Jacklyn Hollander from my Nick and Jacklyn series. She lives the life she wants to live, doesn’t compromise, and yet gets what she wants. Not to mention that she’s in love with an attractive, clever, and successful FBI agent, who pretty much fulfills the wishes she dreams of. They make a great couple.

S:  What is your favorite line from one of your books?

A:  From "Twisted Mind," Book 1 in the Nick and Jacklyn series: "No lover prior to Jacklyn had ever mentioned the words role play to him, and at twenty-eight years old, he was suddenly a newbie at making love to a strong woman." 

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


Amazon Author Page:

Friday, March 12, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author R. B. O'Brien!

Joining me today in The Loft is romance author R.B. O'Brien. R.B. writes erotic and new adult romance, including the books, "Thorne," "Edge of Torment," "Imogen," and "Play Only for Me." She also authored a collection of poems, "Ruin My Lipstick" and spearheaded the romance anthology, "Pieces of Us." In addition, R.B. is a founding member of The Nu Romantics, a support group for writers of romance and romance readers. In addition to writing romance and poetry, R.B. is a professor, dancer, and hopeful romantic, with a profound affection for Shakespeare. She lives in the northeastern United States.

Avatar of author R.B. O'Brien

S:  Welcome to The Loft, R.B.! For several years, I have enjoyed your writing and have also participated in the group you co-founded, The Nu Romantics. 

Why did you become a writer?

R.B.:  Why did I become a writer? That’s like asking, why do I laugh or cry or scream or love or breathe? Writing is living to me. It’s living in me. It just is. Even when I try to shut it off or I feel like I have nothing to say, there I am, talking into my iPhone with another idea, or pulling over on the side of the road to jot something down, or waking in the middle of the night to record a phrase or an image that popped into my head, or looking outside and seeing so many things in the sky and the trees, or sitting in a café and watching a world of stories take place in my mind by watching and listening to the people sitting next to me. Why did I become a published writer? That one is harder to answer. I sat down one day and began to write a little BDSM romance. As a full-time professor, I have the summers off, and when I started to really immerse myself in writing, I’d wake at 8 a.m. and didn’t find myself again until about 3 p.m., wondering, where the heck did I go? And where I went was into my subconscious and into the characters’ worlds. It was very difficult to shake it and step back into my waking world. When I was done, I had a huge novel. And I just decided--Why the heck not? And so, eXtasy Books picked it up, and the rest is history.

S:  When I start writing, my son says I go into "the Zone." I don't break away from my computer until my brain has been emptied of everything related to the story I'm writing.

Do you write in any other genres?

R.B.:  I mostly write erotic romance--on the dark side--but I’m now really enjoying writing in the new adult romance sub-genre, as well as poetry. I see myself focusing more on those two genres in the future. Poetry has always been, and will always be my first love.

S:  What attracts you to the romance genre?

R.B.:  Shakespeare once wrote: “Whoever loved that loved not at first sight?” I fall in love with people and things every day, even in the same breath. Perhaps that's why I love writing romance. I’m a ridiculous romantic and can see just about anything through that lens. It hurts my head to think about why we fall in love with those we do? Why we’re attracted to someone in a crowded room when there are many others standing there? Why a conversation alone with someone online can make us feel things in this digital age that one would only think could be fantasy or found in a romance novel? Romance. Love. Emotions. Feelings. It’s all very real to me. And love takes many forms. I think it’s the most beautiful of emotions to have accepted. And it’s one of the things I no longer try to explain. I just let myself feel it. Heart over mind is how I’ve come to live. I used to try to fight it. No more. If I want to fall in love with the sun setting over a lake, I will, and I won’t try to explain why. And if I want to fall madly in love over and over, so be that, too.

S:  You've obviously put a lot of thought into the art of romance!

Do you read your reviews?  

R.B.:  I do read some reviews. But I often miss them. When I first started writing, I’d check constantly, obsessively. What did they think? Do I have any new reviews? How many now? And so on. As I started publishing more and more, I stopped taking notice as much. The first book in my Thorne series has close to 80 reviews, and I know I’ve not read them all. It used to hurt me to read a bad review. I’d wonder, "Why am I writing at all for publication? Why am I putting myself out there like this? For what?" But as time went on, I realized that it would help me grow as a writer. Some negative reviews make valid points, and I can apply them to edits or new works. Some negative reviews are emotional opinions, and I need to take them with a grain of salt. And some actually make me smile, because the things they may not like are the things I love, and sometimes, it helps sell books. Comments like, "The protagonists have too much sex." Or, "The anti-hero is such a prick." Or, "The ending made me cry too much." Some of those things are what people are looking for.  What I’ve come to realize, though, is that just as many, if not more, write favorable reviews and become fans of mine and remain so, gobbling up whatever I write. So I write for them—my audience. And I write for myself. What I want to write now is nothing like what I wanted to write when I first started. I’m content no matter the review, as long as people keep buying and keep reading.

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

R.B.:  I would do some things differently, no question. Publishing changes things. It takes a hobby and turns it into a business. When I wasn’t known, I published on Literotica and had myself a blast. I still have people write me about where some of those stories went. I felt no pressure and I let myself step into my wildest, taboo fantasies. I didn’t give a rat’s ass what people thought. I didn’t need to promote. I didn’t need to make covers or blurbs or advertise. But I went down the path to publishing, and now I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop. I suppose, without sounding cliché, our lives are our stories. So why try to think about changing it? That's a futile attitude. There’s only the present.

S:  Have you ever considered "shelving" a book? Tucking it into a drawer and putting it away for another day?

R.B.:  I have thought of shelving my erotica. It’s dark. It’s taboo. It’s a lot of dub-con (dubious consent). But they are all filled with romance, love, growth, and change. It was where I was in my life. What I needed to hash out and explore. I’ve learned a lot about myself. About my needs. About who I am. It was a safe place to do that. It also has touched and affected a lot of people, and I’d hate to take that away from then. I just wish I had more time to write so I could put those behind me. I’m really proud of my poetry book, and I’m also quite proud of my two new adult stories, "Play Only for Me", a stand-alone novel, and “Beyond the Rain,” a short novella that I love to pieces. I love the lyricism of it. I don’t think I could have said that about anything I wrote five years ago.

S:  Complete this sentence, "When one of my books is released, I..."

R.B.:  When one of my books is released, I cry, because it’s no longer mine. I’m jealous like that. I miss hanging alone with those people and places we created together, knowing that it’s time to move on. They’re not mine anymore. And there’s something both beautiful and sad about that. 

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

R.B.:  My first kiss. I wrote a whole blog post about that. My first French kiss was in the seventh grade. I was young. I was naive. And I had never even pecked a boy, let alone French kiss. Quite frankly, I had no idea what a French kiss was, though I had heard about it. Like an Arthurian legend, like some secret sorority hazing, like some mystical experience that only then allows you to enter womanhood. For without the French kiss, it was argued, you had never truly kissed. Your readers can learn more by visiting:

S:  What do you want to be inscribed on your tombstone?

R.B.:  My tombstone would read--"And somehow, it’s all so beautifully poetic, the wind taking care of the ashes." That's from a poem I wrote. Or simply, "Heart over mind." I'll let those who remain decide.

S:  What do you want people to know about you?

R.B.:  I am uniquely me. I’m closer to acceptance. I am shy, overly emotional, sentimental, passionate, and insecure. I worry my legs aren’t long enough, but love my smile. I am a writer, a dancer, a poet, a thinker, a lover, a philosopher, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an animal lover, and a health nut. I care about the environment. I overanalyze and second-guess everything. Fear often guides my decisions. I forgive too easily and fall prey to romantic notions—All. The. Time. I would rather feel and suffer than go through life with broad, safe, or grey-painted strokes. I live for vibrancy. I find beauty in the darkest of things. And my heart beats too fast.

S:  Well said!

R.B., it has truly been a pleasure to chat with you today. If you would like to learn more about R.B. O'Brien and her works, please visit--


ARC and STREET TEAM:  Http://bit/ly/2Zov9Zc

Websites: and

Blogs:  http://bit/ly/3jBeoyx

Facebook Author Page:

Twitter: and

Amazon Author Page:

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Congratulations to author Vicki Batman on her new release!


Great job. What man? And murder. Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister who is planning her own I dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident, the same loser who was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?


Sometimes, I felt like a small white mouse housed in a cage with lots of small white mice, whose playground activities involved eating, sleeping, and continually revolving on the exercise wheel. Just like one rodent friend—who I named Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, having a field day back-flipping from the top of the spinning wheel—something happened. Unexpectedly, I found myself airborne.

Not hurt, a sense of disappointment overcame me, plus a bit of confusion, and a whole lot of colorful adjectives too numerous to list. I, mostly known as Hattie Cooks, shook off the pine shavings and joined the rat race. Sometimes, life sucked.

But wallowing? Not a good solution.

Being positive? A better one.

In most cases, a pitstop was a good idea, and I found comfort in my chocolate stockpile. And in most cases, I found empty shelves, for I had little dough to supply my habit due to the loss of my adored job as an assistant buyer at Sommerville’s top-class department store, Tucker’s, and the subsequent low-paying temporary ones I reluctantly took in the interim. Due to the expenses of rent, food, utilities, budgeting became my new compadré. However, for my recent birthday, Mom suggested friends and family provide me with treats. They were generous—gifting lots and lots of my favorite M&Ms in vast colors and flavors.

Mom’s idea totally rocked as the best birthday gift ever.

From outside my door, I heard Allan Wellborn smack the doorframe.

“You know how to find me.”

I roused from my ruminations and banged my forehead against the wall.

Buy link:

Friday, March 5, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Jessica James!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Jessica James. After working as a stagehand, newspaper editor, and equine veterinary technician, Jessica turned to writing historical fiction, and tales of small-town southern romance and suspense. She is a four-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction and has also won many other literary awards, including the Reader's Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. She resides in Pennsylvania. 

Author Jessica James

S:  Welcome, Jessica! Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Loft!

What attracted you to the romance genre?

J:  My favorite thing about romance is that no matter how old you are, love is still this mystical, magical, unpredictable thing that often starts with a heart-wrenching roller coaster ride of emotions and hopefully ends with blissful happiness. I love having the opportunity to sweep readers away from the real world for a few hours and transport them to another time and place.

S:  I think that's why romance is such a popular genre. We provide respite from daily life.

Do you write in other genres?

J:  Yes. In addition to southern romance and romantic historical fiction, I write suspense and thrillers—although all of my books include a love story of some sort.

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

J:  I never really believed in love at first sight until I wrote my first romantic suspense novel. It came to me out of the blue and ended up with the title, "Meant To Be," which fits both the plot and the way the book came about. I even wrote a “Story Behind the Story” add-on to explain all of the strange things that happened on this writing journey. So to answer your question, it has never happened to me, but it has happened to my characters. It’s another one of those mystical, magical, unexplainable things about love!

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

J:  I have a “writing chair” that I bought with money that came from winning a book award.  It’s a big comfy chair facing a sliding glass door with a view of the yard and a constant stream of wildlife. When I’m in that chair, my writing muse knows I’m there to work. My only requirement for writing is complete silence. No music. No TV. And hopefully no ringing phone or other distractions.

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

J:  The advice that sticks with me to this day was given when I became a newspaper reporter straight out of college. At that time, journalism was a male-dominated industry, and I was the only female in the entire newsroom, from editors on down. The advice was, “Think like a man. Act like a lady. Work like a dog.” That advice was given to me almost 40 years ago and I still think about it.

S:  (Smiles.)  The first newsroom I worked in had other women, but they all worked on the society or food pages. Thankfully, I was a general news reporter.

What inspired "Duty Bound?"

J:  A real-life Civil War soldier was the inspiration behind "Duty Bound" and the entire Shades of Gray Civil War Trilogy. As fate would have it, I would never have learned about the Gray Ghost of the Confederacy if I hadn’t first worked as a veterinary technician at a state-of-the-art horse hospital in Virginia. Colonel John Mosby--The Gray Ghost--is a legend in that area of the country, so you can’t drive very far without seeing a road sign that depicts him. Mosby’s daring military adventures, along with his bold personality and charisma, make him the perfect hero for a Civil War novel. My main character is based on the military aspects of Mosby, since the real-life soldier was actually married and had nine children.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "Duty Bound?"

J:  Called the “greatest love story ever told” when it was first released in 2008, this trilogy has been expanded and improved. "Duty Bound" is the first volume and is available for pre-order for its June 1 release. "Honor Bound" releases June 8 and "Glory Bound" on June 15. The entire trilogy will be released in one book on June 29. I think this trilogy is very important right now because it depicts the emotions and passions of ordinary people who were forced to take unexpected actions during an extraordinary time. The title of the trilogy, "Shades of Gray," represents the blurring of loyalties and the merging allegiances. As the main character says, “Right and wrong, good and evil, black and white have always been distinct opposites. Now the lines are muddled.” The trilogy is special to me—and to many others—who have had the opportunity to read a copy. I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Here's the blurb for "Duty Bound:"

Honor and conviction clash with loyalty and love in this poignant Civil War tale that pits brother against brother. Duty Bound takes readers across the rolling hills of Virginia in a page-turning tale of action and adventure as a Union spy spars with a renowned Confederate cavalry commander. Gallantry and chivalry are put to the test when Colonel Alexander Hunter discovers that Andrea Evans is not only the woman he promised his dying brother he would protect, but is the Union spy he has vowed to his men he would destroy.

"Duty Bound" is available for pre-order and is priced at just $.99 before its release on June 1.

S:  That sounds like a captivating story! Where can readers buy "Duty Bound?"

J:  It's available from all major booksellers, including--







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


Travel Blog:



Amazon Author Page: