Friday, July 30, 2021

This week in The Loft: Canadian author Joz Maxel!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Joz Maxel. Joz writes contemporary romance. When moved to write, the music is loud, the thoughts are plenty, and her fingers have a hard time keeping up with all the words flying out of her head. The mother of three children and a fur baby, Joz enjoys cheering her kids on in swimming, hockey, and baseball, as well as binge-watching Sons of Anarchy, Yellowstone, and Netflix documentaries. She lives in Alberta, Canada.

Author Joz Maxel

S:  Good morning, Joz. Thanks for joining me today.

What do people get wrong about romance?

J:  People get stuck on romance being all smut and nothing of substance. In the book world, people are very open to say what they like and some don’t, but outside that, it’s so secretive and it really should be embraced and enjoyed openly by everyone.

S:  Are there any characteristics your lead characters share?

J:  All of my men are playing with a toothpick in the mouth. My father, even now, always has a toothpick in his mouth and I didn’t realize until a few books in that I always wrote that into my books. All the men are rough around the edges when out to the world, but have a softer side for the women in their lives, just like my husband does with me.

S:  I am always surprised how many conversations with my father wind up in my books. His words and advice are firmly locked into my subconscious. 

What genres do you write?

J:  I write mostly contemporary romance. I wrote an MM romance as the second book in my first published series, The Absolution series. I love reading the MM genre, but writing it is a whole different ball game. I stick with romance because that’s what I’m comfortable with but never say never.

S:  What was your worst date ever?

J:  I was 19 or 20 and started meeting people in chat rooms online, I met this guy who was a year or two younger than me so we decided to meet for a date. After the movie, he admitted he was only 16 and needed a ride back to his grandma’s house. Never saw or talked to him again.

S:  Wow. That must have been a shock.

What would you like people to know about you?

J:  I’m writing because I enjoy it. I love hearing back from readers, good or bad and hope to one day make one of my books into a movie. However, I’m not writing books to make any lists or become a big name in the book world. It’s an expensive hobby right now and if it stays that way, I’m okay with it.

S:  What inspires your stories?

J:  My inspiration comes from everything. My current series was sparked by "Sons of Anarchy." When COVID hit and everything was shut down last year, there wasn’t much to do but watch Netflix. I searched for something to watch and got into the series again--I had already watched it two or three times already--and the idea was born. I also have a hockey series on the back burner for now. That was inspired by my daughter playing hockey.

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

J:  My oldest daughter was having issues with friendemies and I just told her to stick to her guns and say what she wanted or what she didn't want to do and she did. Cost her a day without that person but she gained a bit of confidence in herself for the next time.

S:  What do you consider your greatest achievement?

J:  My greatest achievement is how respected and well-adjusted my kids are. They aren’t afraid to ask questions, be their silly selves, and love everyone for who they are.

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

J:  I have a good cry and then plan an adult night out with my husband and a few friends to celebrate.

S:  Is there anything you would like people to know about your latest book, "Purple Haize?"

J:  It's my proudest achievement because I wrote it during a time when everything was so uncertain. I had five people I tried with every fiber in my being to keep healthy and mentally well. There were many times I wanted to give up writing altogether, but I stayed with it and held myself accountable. I believe it’s my best work yet.

S:  As a writer, that's a wonderful feeling.

Joz, thanks for joining me today. If you would like to learn more about Joz and her books, please visit--




Amazon Author Page:


Friday, July 23, 2021

This week in The Loft: Australian author Cynthia Terelst!

Joining me today in The Loft is emerging Australian author Cynthia Terelst. Cynthia writes contemporary romance, what she calls, "heat with heart." A project manager by day, a romance writer by night, Cynthia enjoys sharing a little history and Australian scenery in her books. She has published four books in her Love Down Under series. Cynthia is based in regional Queensland, where the sun shines 283 days a year.

Author Cynthia Terelst

S: Welcome, Cynthia! Why write romance?

C:  Romance novels are full of those feel-good feelings. I enjoy creating stories where characters fall in love, whether it’s for the first time or the second time around. I like seeing how they grow and develop their relationship while navigating the push and pull of love. When I began writing romance I decided on three main things. First, I would write contemporary romance. I thought I would fail at the amount of research required for historical romance. Let’s just say that I was fooling myself. Contemporary romance requires a lot of research.  Second, I would base my stories in Australia because I wanted to share our uniqueness, beautiful scenery, and some of our history with the world. And third, I would write heat with heart. I don’t shy away from tough topics, but also embrace the hope and warmth romance can bring. Plus, I include some sexy times.

S:  Sexy times always heats things up!

Do you believe in love at first sight?

C:  I believe in attraction at first sight.  You can be attracted to how someone looks and their personality. But I don’t think you can love someone until you know them and what makes them, them. I have never felt love at first sight myself, but I have felt instant attraction.

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

C:  I have a friend who gives the best advice about writing. A lot of what I have learned is from her. One of the best things she told me was to listen to my writing. It has made a big difference. I get Word to read my text aloud. You can actually hear the mistakes--words missing or the wrong words used.

S:  That's great advice. Reading your story out loud highlights what works and what doesn't.

What inspires your stories?

C:  Real life. I write about subjects that I think are important--domestic violence, loss, drought, the environment--and stick them in romance novels full of warmth and hope. Writing about these subjects is risky. My last novel was probably the riskiest of all. When I wrote the blurb, I was told not to mention things like an environmentalist. So I didn’t. Even though the book mentions sustainable farming and the environment. Another risk I took was writing a small town romance about a small town that was not endearing. The truth is not all small towns are great to live in. Bullying can be rife. In the end, I felt comfortable taking these risks because the subject matter was close to my heart. Some readers did not warm to it, while others embraced it.

S:  Life can be ugly. I think it's important to acknowledge that.

What do you want to be inscribed on your tombstone? How do you want to be remembered?

C:  I think something along the lines of--"She said it the way she saw it and those close to her could appreciate her blunt honesty."

S:  What inspired "Down the Rabbit Hole?"

C:  I think it all started with my passion for the environment and evolved into wanting to write a small town romance with a difference. I also wanted to explore the intricacies of emotions in a friends to lovers romance. And just for fun, I threw in a fractured family into the mix. I like experimenting with different tropes and these were new ones to me.

Here's the blurb--

Love and secrets are a tricky combination

For Emily, going home isn't easy, especially when her small town never felt like home in the first place. She escaped Alma seven years ago when she went to university, but now her estranged father needs her help. At least returning means spending time with the only good thing in town--her best friend, Luke. 

Luke always knew Emily needed to be free of their hometown, so he withheld his true feelings. Even though she has returned, he knows she will never stay. He tried hard to respect the boundaries of their friendship but every moment they spend together makes it harder to deny their connection. Self-control dissipates. One kiss turns into two...

But is Luke really the man Emily remembers? When Emily discovers Luke has betrayed her trust, they could lose the most precious thing of all--each other.

S: Where can readers buy "Down the Rabbit Hole?"

C:  It's available at--  

Universal Link –

US -

UK -

Aust -

Canada -

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





Amazon Author Page:



Friday, July 16, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Bernadette Jones!

Joining me today in The Loft is romantic suspense author Bernadette Jones. When growing up, Bernadette was exposed to a vast array of sights, music, and personalities, many of which inspire her stories. Traveling the country with her father and two brothers, she has lived in Texas, Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Massachusetts. After a career in corporate writing, she decided to settle down and write books. She now resides in New York City, where she shares her apartment with a canine companion.

Author Bernadette Jones

S:  Good morning, Bernadette. Thanks for joining me today.

Why did you become a writer?

B:  I’ve had stories running around in my head my whole life. Along with the stories,  there has been the compulsion to write them down in a book. I know it’s a little Twilight Zone, but I feel I have an obligation to the characters to give them life through the books I write. Please don’t tell my shrink. We have enough issues to work through.

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

B:  I love music, all genres. I use Spotify and create playlists for books. When I hear a song that moves me, I either know immediately which book it goes with or sometimes I put it in the future playlist. I start each day taking my dog for a walk.  During this time, I listen to the playlist for the current project, which gets me in the mood.  If I’m struggling, I listen to random music and sometimes that will give me a new song that inspires me to move forward. 

S:  I wish I was that organized. If I need music, I usually go to the New York Metropolitan Opera site and click on what's available.

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

B:  I’m not a big drinker, but on release day I have a drink and chocolate to celebrate. If my children are in town, we go out for drinks and dessert. 

S:  Do you read reviews?

B:  I look to see if I have reviews and what the average rating is. I read them to see what people liked and did not like so that I can improve my work. I try not to dwell on them as they are opinions and we all have them. What works for me may not work for you. Unfortunately, in today's market, in order to get more exposure, you are sometimes required to have a plateau of reviews to move to the next level of advertising.

S:  I have to admit, I read all of my reviews. It helps me get a sense of who is reading my books. Some have been scathing, but it balances out.

What is the best advice you have ever given?

B:  Write the damn book! Don’t keep starting over. If you want to be a writer, you have to prove to yourself you can finish a book. You can clean it up later.

S:  What inspired, "Another Night Alone?"

B:  I lived on the side of a mountain when I was young. I’d only lived there a couple of months and there was only one other child my age to play with. We were running in the woods when I saw a little girl who was very pale with white hair. The kid I was with told me to stay away from her because she looked funny and wasn’t normal. I thought she looked like a beautiful angel. Growing up, we moved often and I understood what it was like to be ignored because I dressed differently or had a different accent.  I never forgot her.

S:  Is there anything special you want people to know about "Another Night Alone?"

B:  The cover for this book is special to me. I saw the model on Pinterest several years ago and immediately knew he was my character, Deke Ward. When I finally wrote Deke’s book, I could not find any photo to use for the cover that compared with my mental image. Covers are important to me and I was beside myself.  My oldest son was helping me with the graphics. Without telling me, he found out who the model was and wrote to him and explained that he had been the inspiration for the character and why it meant so much to me. The gentleman and photographer offered my son a photo they had no intention of using. It turned out it was perfect for my book. Kindness and generosity are alive and well.

Here's the blurb--

She'd had the courage to save her child. Will she be able to save herself?

Avie’s dreams of a better future for herself and her daughter are shattered when the shadows of their past threaten their new life. With their dreams on the line once again, Avie knows giving in will cost her everything, but is she strong enough to fight back?

She is the light to his dark ….

Deke Ward has witnessed true evil in his life. When he finds the goodness in Avie and her young daughter, he’ll do anything to protect them. Their hope starts to heal his lonely heart and when the evil shadows of their past return to haunt them, he’ll go to hell and back to save them.

Even if it means letting them go.

S:  That gave me the shivers! I know your book won't be released until July 29. Is it available for preorder?

B:  Yes. Here's the link--

S:  Bernadette, thanks so much for joining me today and good luck with "Another Night Alone." If you'd like to learn more about Bernadette and her books, please visit--







Amazon Author Page

Aspen Gold Series Page on Amazon

Bernadette’s Newsletter:

Friday, July 9, 2021

This week in The Loft: Canadian author Daryl Devoré!

Joining me this week in The Loft is author Daryl Devoré, who is re-launching a hot rock star romance series. Given Daryl's flair for sizzling romance with sexy heroes and strong heroines, I am sure this series won't disappoint. When not stoking romantic fires, Daryl embarks on adventures. She has touched a moon rock, a mammoth, and a meteorite, explored the ocean in a submarine, flown high over Niagra Falls, and used the ladies room in a royal palace. She lives in an old farmhouse in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two cats.

Author Daryl Devore

S:  Good morning, Daryl. It's always a pleasure when you join me in The Loft.

What do people get wrong about romance?

D:  I could probably fill a book on this topic. In almost every book, TV show, and movie you watch, there is some romance. But it is not the focus of the story. A sci-fi movie – the aliens are attacking earth and in the middle of all the chaos, the sexy engineer falls for the hot head of security. The romance plays along--subtly--and the aliens are defeated. The audience is happy because not only is the world safe, but they know the 2 lovers can now live happily ever after. Now, the plot to a romantic sci-fi story is pretty much the exact thing, but at one point one of the parties to the romance finds out their life is in danger, so the other must rescue them, thus securing the romance. So, the romance is focused on a bit more. The aliens are still defeated, and the couple still gets to have their happily ever after. Romance is condemned for being silly. But it is in almost every book we read, every movie we watch, every TV series we binge, and every song we listen to. People need to get over condemning romance. It is what makes the world a fun place to live.

S:  And as you point out, it is almost always present. My lawyer friends got pretty snooty when they learned I had started writing romance. More than 20 books, later, I think they finally get it. Humans love love. It's ever-present in our lives. You can bury it under a stack of law books, but hey, it's not going anywhere.

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

D:  Yes. Like a lot of writers, I have been writing since I was a little girl. I actually wrote my first book in the tenth grade--my second year of high school. If I were doing it again, and know what I know now, there would be a few things I would do differently, but I would still write and publish my books.

S:  My first book, also written in tenth grade, was about a dystopian society in the future. I entered it into a contest and never got a response. I was so crushed. It took me almost 40 years to finally write romance books. And I never wrote sci-fi again.

What inspires your stories?

D:  Everything and anything. My medieval fantasy romance--"The Last Dragon"--was inspired by the comment that a reader made about expecting a dragon to appear in my first medieval romance. That thought rumbled around in my head until it was time to write my dragon story. Another story is a twisted fairy tale. I took "Little Red Riding Hood"--grandmother, woodsman and wolf included--and twisted it from the G-rated version to a much hotter version. Another book was based on a premise created by the person who was organizing a box set. She asked the books have a lawbreaker in the story--somewhere. Boom--cat burglar.

S:  How did you meet your husband?

D:  I fell for him. No, really. I fell for him. I moved to a small outport in Newfoundland and there was a judo club. So, I decided to give it a try. My future hubby literally swept me off my feet and I landed on the tatami (mat)--love at first fall. This September, we will have been married for 38 years.

S:  I once fell on top of a guy when I tripped going down the stairs at a train station. Spent almost 30 years with him. Kind of gives new meaning to the phrase, "falling in love," doesn't it?

What inspired your latest book, "What Happened in Bangkok?"

D:  Gloria Gaynor’s song, "I Will Survive." My hubby and I were driving to my daughter’s, and it came on the radio. Without even thinking about it, I turned and grabbed my laptop and wrote the first three chapters of a book that I had not even thought about. I understood that the song was considered a gay anthem. In my head, I could see a drag queen belting out the song, and the whole story and glorious characters came from there.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "What Happened in Bangkok?"

D:  Two things. First, this is a trilogy, and the other books are written. They will be released every couple of months. So, there is no massively long wait for Book Two or Three. Second, this is also a re-release. I received my rights back to the stories and decided to do a focused release on them. They are fun and sexy stories, and I felt they were wallowing in a black void where they were. So--out into the sunlight to shine!

Here's the blurb--

To save Darien's life his brother asks, "Can you walk in high heels?"

Erika Bailey, owner/manager of a drag queen club in Bangkok, Thailand has happily settled into all aspects of her new life, except for her lack of a love life. When a new diva auditions, Erika is bewildered over her instant attraction to the blond God, Apollo.

Darien Scott is on vacation after a world tour and mistakenly figures the safest place to be is at The Black Dragon with the head of a Triad. When the club is hit, Darien is the only person to get out alive. Now he's running from the police and a Triad. Mistake number 1.

Disguised as a drag queen, he's hired by Erika, but falls hard for his new boss, then struggles with not coming clean with her. Mistake number 2.

Can he fix his mistakes and find a life filled with love or is he headed straight for mistake number 3?

S:  That sounds incredibly entertaining. Where can readers buy, "What Happened in Bangkok?"

D:  It's available on Amazon at To read and review, visit

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

Blog - Romance - Sweet to Heat




 Bi-monthly Newsletter

Friday, July 2, 2021

This week in The Loft: Author Sadira Stone!

Joining me today in The Loft is author Sadira Stone. Since her first kiss, Sadira has been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at putting one on paper. Now a self-proclaimed citizen of Romancelandia, she pens funny, swoony contemporary romance. After a few years of exploring the Pacific Northwest, Sadira and her charming husband are relocating to Las Vegas--to be closer to their granddogs and hopefully, future grandchildren.

Author Sadira Stone

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

Let's get down to the basics. Why write romance?

SS:  After years of studying, then teaching “serious literature,” I’m done with self-important misery porn. It’s time for fun stories! Romance’s guaranteed HEA (happily ever after) gives me the safety to enjoy a suspenseful or angsty story. And Romancelandia is such a fun, supportive community full of smart, creative authors. Romance is the literature of hope and joy.

S:  I like that attitude!

Are there any characteristics your lead characters share?

SS:  My heroines all push back against traditional sex roles and family expectations. Each in her own way expresses the “Don’t fence me in” philosophy—just like me. They’re also either small business owners or artists.

S:  It's good to see a little push-back in romance. Not all women are meek, compliant women who give up everything for love. In fact, that characterization mostly makes me twitchy.

Do you believe in love at first sight? 

SS:  Actually, I don’t. Love is so much more than physical attraction. I think you have to know a person deeply to truly love them, and that takes time. I love writing that process—a couple moving from the initial spark to true, deep love.

S:  What do people get wrong about romance?

SS:  There are so many falsehoods floating around there. For example, romance is formulaic. No more so than military, sci-fi, high fantasy, cozy mystery, or any number of popular genres people read for pleasure and relaxation. Readers of all these genres have their favorite tropes and expectations. So what? Or romance is somehow less worthy than other fiction genres. Another doozy--Romance gives women false expectations about relationships. I call B.S.! Expecting love, respect, and orgasms is not asking too much—it’s the bare minimum.

S:  Exactly.

What would you like people to know about you?

SS:  I spent most of my adult life in Germany, first in the U.S. Army, then as a teacher on U.S. military bases. Coming back to the U.S. in 2014 was a bit of a culture shock. Now that I’ve adjusted to life in the Pacific Northwest, we’re moving to Las Vegas. Culture shock redux, eh?

S:  What inspires your stories? 

SS:  People I’ve met, real-life love stories I’ve witnessed, my small-business fetish—who hasn’t wanted to run a café or bookshop? And my passion for art, music, and cooking. All of those show up in my stories.

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

SS:  From an old Southern lady: “Honey, ever’body’s got something to teach you, even if it’s how not to be.”

S:  What inspired "Christmas Rekindled?"

SS:  Having finished a story set in an Oregon bookshop, I was looking for a setting that would bring together a found-family cast of characters for a new series. The Sixth Avenue District of Tacoma is home to many funky neighborhood bars and a wonderful Santa Parade every December. And thus Bangers Tavern was born—named after bangers and mash, the traditional English pub grub. Lots of bars in our area serve tater tots, so tots with creative toppings became Banger’s specialty. River, the hero, is from Gig Harbor, a wealthy enclave across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and Charlie, the heroine, is from the blue-collar neighborhood where Bangers lives. She sees him as snooty and entitled. Don’t worry, they get past it.

S:  Is there anything special you would like people to know about "Christmas Rekindled?"

SS:  First, it's on sale for just 99¢ until July 31 on Amazon.  In addition, this is Book 1 in the Bangers Tavern Romance series, set in a neighborhood bar in Tacoma, Washington, where I live—the town, not the tavern! Each story features a holiday celebration in Bangers Tavern. During the pandemic shutdown, Bangers Tavern gave me the chance to virtually share the fun, camaraderie, and bar food I missed so much. And each volume includes tasty cocktail recipes I’ve personally tested and tweaked—a tough job, but I do it for my readers. "Opposites Ignite" (Bangers Tavern Romance 2), centers around Valentine’s Day and features a confident, curvy tattoo-artist heroine and a short, shy, swoony bartender hero. Book 3 in the series, coming next fall, features Bangers’ chef, a pregnant heroine, and a food truck.

Here's the blurb for "Christmas Rekindled"--

When two Scrooges unite to save a bar in trouble, a kiss under the mistletoe sparks the sexiest Christmas miracle ever.

Bartender River Lundqvist has a damn good reason for hating Christmas. Bangers Tavern is the perfect place to lay low over the holidays—until Charlie walks in. His first encounter with the saucy server nine years ago was utter humiliation. Her reappearance stirs up powerful desires and hopes for a new start. But the timing is all wrong.

Back in Tacoma to care for her estranged dad over the holidays, freelance web designer Charlie Khoury braces herself for the suckiest Christmas ever. A temporary job at Bangers Tavern gives her a chance to escape Dad’s criticism and blow off some steam. But why does the hunky bartender seem to hate her? 

A pretend girlfriend is just what River needs to keep his family off his back—until a kiss under the mistletoe flares hot enough to melt the North Pole. When greedy developers threaten Bangers Tavern, River and Charlie must team up to save it. Their sizzling chemistry feels like the real thing—but everyone knows rebound relationships don’t last.

Come to Bangers Tavern for an enemies-to-lovers tale of reconciliation, found family, holiday cocktails, and the steamiest Christmas miracle ever.

S:  That sounds like a fun story. Besides Amazon, where else can readers buy "Christmas Rekindled?"

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

Barnes & Noble


Apple Books

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

Author Website   





Amazon Author Page   



Author Newsletter