An Interview with Tim Smith

Please help me welcome Tim Smith to my blog. Tim is giving away an e-copy of his book “Mistletoe and Palm Trees to one lucky commentor, so be sure and leave him a comment or a question.

Tell us about your current series.

My newest release, Never Look Back, is part of the Nick Seven romantic thriller series set in The Florida Keys. Nick is a former CIA spook who lives in Key Largo with a former co-worker, Felicia Hagens, who comes from Barbados. They both quit the spy game to carve out an anonymous idyllic life in The Keys, but in each story their former employer has different ideas. In the latest installment Nick and Felicia are used as unwilling pawns in America’s war on terror. They also have to deal with a rogue agent from their past who has a score to settle. In addition to the action and atmosphere, there’s plenty of hot sex. What more could you ask for?

What is your favorite part of writing?

Creating interesting characters and writing dialogue. I like to write in a pulp fiction, noir-ish style which lends itself to witty, flirtatious exchanges between the characters. The sex scenes are also fun to write, and I love describing atmosphere. When people tell me they felt like they were in the scene with the characters, I know I’ve done my job. My least favorite part of the process is the endless proofreading before I send it off to my publisher. There have been occasions when I’ve read a manuscript so many times I didn’t really care what it looked like. That isn’t a good thing.

How much time do you spend promoting your books? What works best for you?

I try to devote one or two hours a day to promotion and networking. I’ve had success with blogs, interviews and chats. Facebook and Goodreads have also given me good exposure and I use two sites, Author Island and Readerviews, whenever I have a new book out. Both are reasonably priced and the response has been terrific, especially at Author Island. I also review books for Two Lips Reviews, which helps get my name out there.

What hasn’t worked for me are press releases offered by some online services. When I used these in the past I didn’t see an increase in sales or review requests, but it did increase the amount of spam e-mail I received. I don’t often post excerpts on chat boards, because if anyone reads them, I’m not aware of it. I’m also selective about buying ad space on sites unless my books are selling well there.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Many of my ideas come from everyday life. I may read an item in the news or hear a story and think “What if this happened instead?” My mystery/thrillers draw heavily from current events, which can be tricky at times. If you don’t do the right research, people will call you on it. I also include many personal experiences in my stories, especially the relationship elements. One of my books, Mistletoe and Palm Trees, was inspired by something that happened to me. I had planned a trip to The Keys but at the last minute my traveling companion had to cancel and I wound up going alone. That became the jumping off point for the story.

How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
Very likely because I write contemporary romance and I’m a people watcher. I may notice a look, characteristic or speech pattern that interests me and use it in a character. I like to make my characters as realistic as possible but I don’t base them in whole on any one person, despite what my friends may think. This caused a problem for me once when a friend swore that I based an unsavory female character on a mutual acquaintance. I pointed out the “work of fiction” disclaimer but she was still mad at me for trashing one of her BFF’s. Go figure.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?

Don’t we all? When I first pursued publication eleven years ago I collected enough rejection notices to paper my living room. Some publishers didn’t even bother to personalize them, but sent me form letters addressed “Dear Author.” How tacky!

One romance e-publisher rejected my submission because the first paragraph contained what she said was one of her pet peeves. Since I’m not a mind reader I didn’t know this ahead of time. That told me that she probably didn’t bother reading the rest of it, and that I wouldn’t be happy writing for them anyway.

Another romance publisher said they would only consider my manuscript if I used a pen name because they were convinced that their readers wouldn’t buy a straight romance written by a man. That one stung.

Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?

Research the publishers you plan on submitting to and follow their guidelines to the letter. If you believe in what you’ve written, you’ll find an audience. Don’t stop until you get to the finish line and don’t get discouraged by rejections. Just remember that every “no” puts you one step closer to a “yes.”

What’s next for you?

My next book will be released on December 1. It’s a romantic comedy called Snowflakes and Palm Trees, which is a follow-up to Mistletoe and Palm Trees. I’m also working on the next installments in both of my series.

Author bio:

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn’t pursuing those two passions he can be found in The Florida Keys, doing research in between parasailing and seeking out the perfect Mojito. His website is

“Never Look Back” blurb:

Nick Seven and Felicia Hagens left the CIA to carve out an idyllic anonymous life in The Florida Keys. The last thing they wanted was to be used by their former employer as pawns in America’s war on terror. Nick and Felicia navigate a complex maze of intrigue and double-crosses while dealing with a rogue agent from their past who has a score to settle. When Felicia becomes part of the scheme the stakes get higher and more personal. Can Nick keep her out of harm’s way or will he finally be outwitted? Will Felicia stay with him or return to Barbados?


Felicia covered her mouth to stifle a yawn. Nick placed his hand on hers and squeezed. “My angel looks tired. Want to go home?”
“Yeah.” She paused. “Thanks for makin’ me go out today. Made me feel better.”
“You’re welcome. I just wanted to cheer you up and get your mind off things.”
She reached over and caressed his cheek. “For a tough guy, you can be sensitive when you have to be.”
“Maybe I need to work on that.”
They left the club via the outdoor exit then walked to the parking lot out front. When they reached a dark spot Felicia suddenly stopped, pulled Nick’s face to hers then kissed him.
“What was that for?” he asked.
“Just because.” She stroked his brow. “You complainin’?”
“Of course not.”
Nick took her in his arms and kissed her again. He felt Felicia’s hands on his shoulders and got more into their passionate embrace. Felicia pulled him a bit lower while kissing him with more intensity.
Their intimate moment was interrupted by the sound of rapid gunfire and bullets hitting the building behind them. Nick looked in wide-eyed terror in the direction the shots were coming from, then shoved Felicia to the ground. He collapsed on top of her and hugged her tightly, keeping his head down. There was a brief lull and then the shooting started again. Chunks of plaster landed on Nick’s back. After another minute the shooting stopped. Nick heard sirens approaching, followed by the sound of a car peeling rubber as it left the parking lot.
Nick got to his feet and sprinted toward the exit but only saw a dark compact car speeding north on U.S. 1. He ran back to Felicia and helped her to her feet.
“Are you okay?” he frantically asked.
Felicia took deep breaths and nodded. “Okay.”

6 thoughts on “An Interview with Tim Smith

  1. Great interview Tim and Cynthia.

    Good for you, Tim, in sticking to your own name for writing romance. Guys are just as romantic as gals–even if they mostly won’t admit that fact. 🙂

    Best of luck with your sales!

  2. As a recently published, first-timer, I appreciate the marketing info. I feel as though I’m banging my head against a wall trying to make my book visible to more than just friends and family. 🙂 I’ve already opened up Author Island in another tab and will check out that site next. Thanks for the info. Great cover for Never Look Back, by the way.

  3. Hi Tim, me again. So I go to Author Island and it is huge with blogs and magazines and bookshelves and links all too all sorts of places. How does a newbie make sense of it? Where do I even try to put my historical romance on such a site? Thanks for any info.


    • Thanks for the great responses.

      Linda, I plan on writng as many books in this series as my overactive imagination will allow, which could be quite a few!

      Sydney, regarding Author Island, any genre will fit there somewhere. Best advice is to contact the owner on her link and see what she can do for you, which is a lot.

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