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The 80/20 Solution

Guest Commentary by Tim Smith

With Introduction by C.K. Ralston

Thanks to my friend and fellow writer, Tim Smith, for sharing his experiences within the world of erotic literature, specifically the genre of contemporary romance. He is correct: it is rare for a male author to try this path. It is littered with the bones of others who have tried to negotiate its quirks and quagmires and failed.

Tim is one of the few I know who has succeeded. Let us see what he has to say about the journey in this guest appearance within The Realm:   

Here’s something you don’t run into on an author’s blog-site every day – a male author of straight contemporary romance. 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, then got back into writing romantic mystery/thrillers.

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 occasionally review books for a 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 fifteenth book, Operation Payback, through eXtasy Books. This is the fourth installment in the Nick Seven spy thriller series, but the books don’t need to be read in order. Here’s an excerpt:
They walked to the water’s edge and gazed at the clear horizon. Felicia wrapped her arm around Nick’s waist then rested her head against his arm.

“This is heavenly,” she commented.

“Yeah, it is. Thanks for suggesting this.”

She pulled his face to hers then kissed him. “You needed a break.”

Nick caressed her cheek and peered into her eyes. “Feel like a swim?”

She gave a coy smile. “I didn’t bring my bathin’ suit.”

“Neither did I.”

She giggled. “Aren’t you afraid someone will catch us?”

“Let ‘em.”

They stripped down then waded in, swimming out to deeper water.

“Feels good,” Felicia commented.

“Yeah, just right.”

They held onto the ladder at the rear of the boat. “Americans need to get more liberal when it comes to this,” she said. “Back home we have nude beaches all over the island.”

“So that’s where you developed your aversion to clothing,” Nick teased.

Felicia splashed some water on him and laughed. “I never heard you complainin’ about it.”

“And you won’t.”

She placed her hand on his shoulders then kissed him. Felicia darted her tongue into his mouth and felt him getting aroused under the water when he pressed against her. Nick kissed her passionately, making her toes tingle.

Nick cupped her cheek. “Feel like continuing this on the beach?”

She squeezed his cock under the water. “Of course.”

They waded to shore and heard a cat call from two guys on a passing jet ski, followed by a shout of “Nice ass!”

“I hope they were talking about you,” Nick said.

Felicia squeezed Nick’s butt. “Might’ve been you.”


“I cream over your butt.”

Nick eased her onto the beach towel and kissed her. Felicia darted her tongue into his mouth, challenging his to an erotic duel. Nick’s hands roamed over her body and lingered on her full breasts, causing her nipples to harden.

“You sure you want to do this out in the open?” she whispered.

Nick nibbled on her earlobe. “I want you so bad I don’t care where we are.”

Felicia gave a seductive chuckle. “Somethin’ ‘bout doin’ it under the palms turns me on.”

* * * *

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is  

Please drop by next month to see what’s in the works for C.K. Ralston in the near future as far as new books go. Also, I will be holding forth on what is erotic and what is not, as far as this scribbler of erotic tales goes. See if you agree with me

Wading Through Quicksand by Tim Smith