Guest Blog: Tim Smith
Today we welcome fellow Extasy author Tim Smith to our pages!
WADING THROUGH QUICKSAND
Here’s something you don’t run into on an author’s blogsite every day – a male author of straight contemporary romance books. Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking – “A man writing romance stories who gets the details right? It can’t be done!” Trust me, I get that a lot. I began published life as a writer of mystery thrillers set in The Florida Keys involving a former CIA spook named Nick Seven, who is always trying to stay out of the intrigue game but never manages to. Two of my three novels featuring this character won awards and I had a nice following. While they all contained romance and sex, I never considered writing a full-fledged romance novel. Why should I, when I had what appeared to be a niche career?
That’s when I decided to wade into the quicksand known as “contemporary erotic romance.” A few years ago I wrote a romantic comedy, Anywhere the Heart Goes. My friends who eagerly anticipated another Nick Seven thriller were aghast and asked me “How could you do such a thing???” The answer is pretty simple. I was attending a book festival and while my books were selling well, I noticed other authors drawing bigger crowds. They were selling romance novels and after reading one of them, I thought it would be fun to write one of my own, but told primarily from the man’s perspective and with more humor. I also knew I could write something better than the one I’d read. This first one did well enough that I followed it with two more lighthearted erotic romances. I recently released a romantic intrigue story, The Bundle.
No matter what type of story I’m writing or where it takes place, I strive to make it as atmospheric as possible. I love it when a reader tells me they felt like they were in the scene with the characters. I use realistic dialogue, writing what I hear people say on a daily basis. I also take great pains to craft characters with human flaws and quirky personalities, to make them step off the page. I’m not a fan of cardboard characters and heroes who come off as perfect. The one difficulty I had to overcome when I switched genres was the way I wrote sex scenes. They were abundant in the first three books, but for this new market I had to turn up the heat and be more explicit. I’ll admit it was a little awkward for me at first, but I soon reached my comfort level and stopped blushing when I wrote something down and dirty.
I think of fiction writing as being in the entertainment field because that’s what writers do – we write to entertain. I don’t write for the critics – I write for the person in Rugby, North Dakota or Parma, Ohio who wants to escape the daily grind and lose themselves in a good story. I’m often asked what I think of reviews, and it’s a tricky one for me to answer because I am a reviewer for an online romance site. At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, I’m not convinced that a good review has that much impact on a book’s sales. I say that because no one has ever told me they bought one of my books because so-and-so gave it five stars. The nicest compliment I can receive is when someone tells me they can’t wait to read my next one. Man, it doesn’t get much better than that!
I just released my seventh novel, The Bundle, through Extasy Books. This is the first in a series and lets me return to my mystery thriller roots. The main character is an ex-cop named Vic Fallon, and he’ll be the only recurring character, with a different gal pal to get involved with in each installment. The style harkens back to the pulp fiction writing of Raymond Chandler and Donald E. Westlake, with a dash of Mickey Spillane thrown in – tough hero with a romantic side, equally tough heroine who needs his help, atmospheric locations, wisecracking dialogue and some serious sex. What more could you ask for?
Vic Fallon had little use for the rich and famous when he was a police detective, and his attitude hasn’t changed since he was forced to turn in his badge. When pop singer Kimberly Daniels returns to her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio to promote her latest album, Vic reluctantly agrees to be her bodyguard as a favor for a friend. He isn’t told that she has a death threat hanging over her head, with no shortage of suspects. The set-up takes a bizarre twist when her stalker shows up and Vic uncovers family secret Kimberly would like to keep hidden. Things get more complicated when they develop a strong attraction for each other, in spite of their different lifestyles. Can Vic ensure Kimberly’s safety until she returns to L.A.? Will Kimberly decide to ditch her glitzy celebrity life and stay with the rugged ex-cop she’s fallen for?”
Okay, now that you’ve read the trailer, here’s the feature. This is a PG excerpt. A hotter one can be found at Extasy. More information about all my books can be found at my website, www.timsmithauthor.com.
“The Bundle” excerpt –
Vic took off his coat, tossed it on the bed in his assigned bedroom of the hotel suite then loosened his collar, removed his tie and contemptuously flung it onto the dresser. He slipped off his shoulder holster, hung it on the back of the chair at the desk and checked the safety on the Smith & Wesson .45. He took out the bottle of Passport scotch he’d brought with him, pouring some into a glass, followed by two ice cubes from the bucket. He eased himself into the padded club chair at the small cocktail table, stretched his legs in front of him and exhaled a deep breath. A day of mingling with the Tinseltown set left him wishing the job was over so he could return to his comfort zone.
He became aware of a presence and looked at the open doorway. Kimberly stood there, dressed in a pink velour jogging suit with her initials embroidered in red sequins on the left breast. She wore no shoes or socks. Her hair carelessly outlined her face, adding a degree of sexiness. Vic noted that the zipper on her top was halfway down, and she wasn’t wearing a bra. She offered a tentative smile that still retained a hint of shyness.
“Do you always drink alone or would you mind some company?” she asked in a soft, husky voice.
Vic set another glass on the table and pushed the bottle toward her. She settled into the chair across from him, poured some Scotch into her glass and added ice. She took a long swallow then set the glass on the table.
“Won’t Pasta object to you drinking with the hired help?” Vic asked.
“Right about now, Pasta’s cruising the bars, looking for a cock to wrap his lips around. Won’t see him until morning.”
Vic laughed softly. “That answers one question I had.”
Kimberly gave him a look of surprise. “You thought Pasta and I were…?”
She laughed at the notion. “I wouldn’t pass the physical, but you’d better be careful.”
“I’ll sleep with my gun under my pillow.”
Kimberly took another sip and looked at Vic with a sultry glow. “You’re not what I expected. When Evan said he retained an ex-cop to look after me I thought you’d be older, with a pot belly and no hair.”
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
“I’m not disappointed.” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, held it for a moment then slowly exhaled. “It feels good to be back home.”
Vic sipped his drink then cradled his glass while looking at her, appreciating her beauty. He mentally compared what he now viewed in person to what he’d seen in the press and on the occasional TV show. The cameras didn’t lie. Kimberly Daniels was a beautiful woman. He recalled a sexy lingerie spread she’d done in a men’s magazine the year before and wondered if those photos were accurate as well.
“Are you really the sentimental type or was this trip a publicity stunt?”
Kimberly opened her eyes and laughed softly. “I could tell you weren’t too enthused about accepting this job.”
“Why would you say that?”
“I can read people pretty well.” She laughed again. “But I loved the way you stood your ground with Pasta. He’s not used to people talking back to him.”
“I’ll apologize to him over breakfast. Just what is his function?”
Kimberly downed the last of her drink and poured another. “He’s my personal assistant. I’d be lost without him.” She took a small sip. “So what’s my celebrity ass worth these days, bodyguard-wise?”
Vic eyed her for a moment. “Does it really matter?”
She shrugged. “Guess not, as long as you’re not complaining.”
“If I have any complaints I’ll let you know.” Vic refreshed his drink and changed the subject to something more pleasant. “I used to watch you on a local TV show when you still used your real name. You sang a few of the classic love songs and put me in mind of Sarah Vaughn. I really got hooked on the way you sang It Had to Be You. That’s always been one of my favorites and you nailed it.”
Kimberly smiled warmly at him. “Thank you. I love those songs. I grew up listening to them and memorized all the words.”
“Why not cut an album of standards instead of pop?”
“I wanted to with this new one, but my handlers wouldn’t let me. They all said the same thing. Give the public what they’ve come to expect. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe we’ll do that project next year.” She smirked. “I hate being handled.”
“Why put up with it?”
“It’s part of the game and you have to play by the rules. Don’t you have rules to play by?”
“Only the ones I make up.”
She tucked a leg under her on the chair and appeared comfortable. “So tell me about yourself.”
“There isn’t much to tell. I used to be a detective with the Sandusky P.D., got shot in the line of duty a few years ago, still have trouble with my leg because of it and I take the occasional job to keep from getting bored. Other than that, I live on the lake in Sandusky, fish, drink too much and generally do whatever the hell pleases me. End of story.”
Kimberly laughed. “I know that isn’t the whole story. Evan told me all about you.”
Vic took a drink. Note to self: go to L.A. and kill the little bastard. “What did I leave out?”
“That you live in one of his vacation homes he uses as a tax write-off, you used to be married but it didn’t work out and you two roomed together in college. Before you got shot saving your partner’s life you were being investigated for beating the shit out of someone you arrested. Evan came to your rescue when they wanted to press charges.”
Addendum to the note: book the flight tomorrow. “Guess we all live in a fishbowl. How did you go from being Callie Buchovic, local singer, to Kimberly Daniels, big time recording star and reputed diva?”
She arched her eyebrows. “Reputed? I’d better talk to my publicist. Let’s see…after I was on that local show you mentioned I got a call from a network scout for the reality show So You Think You Can Sing? I won the national competition and was contacted by a record producer, then I had to get an agent, then an entourage and then my life snowballed into something I lost control of.”
Vic picked up on the indifferent tone in her voice. He was actually relieved to discover that the whole tabloid enfant terrible thing was all hype. “You don’t sound too happy about it.”
She looked into her glass and slowly swirled the contents before answering. “To be honest, there are times when I wish I was still a blue collar girl from Parma, Ohio. Do you ever get to Los Angeles?”
“Not if I can help it.”
“Too many people moving too fast. I like my life a little more low-key. Hell, this is the first time I’ve been to downtown Cleveland in a couple of years.”
She smiled wistfully. “Sometimes I miss being here. Life was simpler then. Not so many people trying to grab a piece of me.”
Vic looked at her again but in a different light. Beneath the surface this wasn’t some grande dame commanding attention, but an angelfish navigating in a sea of sharks. “I don’t really keep up with these things, but wasn’t there something serious going between you and that actor, Justin Truax?”
Kimberly laughed. “Only in his publicist’s imagination.” She took another drink. “He escorted me to a music awards show and suddenly we were an item. There’s a lesson for you: in Hollywood, be careful who you’re seen having dinner with. The press will have you married off or pregnant by the early edition.” She smiled slyly at Vic. “Were you asking about my availability for a reason?”
“Nothing more than idle curiosity.”
“Sure,” she skeptically replied. She drank the last of her Scotch and poured another slug. “Ever have any regrets in your life?”
“Not hanging onto the gal who got away, picking the wrong lotto numbers, making the career choice I did. That’s about it.”
After taking another sip, Kimberly set her glass on the table. She looked at Vic with a silly expression on her face, leading him to believe she had probably had a few too many. She reached over, took hold of his hand and turned his palm upward. She looked into his eyes with a sultry gaze and lightly ran her fingertip along his palm.
“Ever regret never having made love to a famous singer?” she asked.
“What makes you think I haven’t?” he countered.
“Touché.” She released his hand, sucked down the last of her drink and suppressed a hiccup. “So tell me something, Vic: why should Pasta have all the fun tonight?”
Vic set his glass on the table and stood up. “Maybe we should discuss this when you’re not so… tired.”
Kimberly gave a wicked chuckle. “Wow, a gentleman. Don’t meet many of those where I live.”
Vic placed his hand on her elbow and gently prompted her to her feet. “Yeah, I get all Sir Galahad when I see a lady in distress. Come on.”
He escorted her to her room down the hall. When they arrived Kimberly abruptly turned, took his face in her hands and kissed him. Vic put his hands on her shoulders out of reflex, enjoying the kiss. He got a whiff of her perfume, but couldn’t place it. Whatever it was, it mixed perfectly with her body chemistry.
Kimberly looked up at him and smiled. “See you in the morning?”
“I’ll be here.”
He walked back to his room. Note to self: lock the door!