Wading Through Quicksand

by | January 7, 2020 | General | 3 comments

By Tim Smith

Here’s something you don’t run into every day — a man who writes straight contemporary erotic romance for a traditional romance publisher. Okay, I know what you’re thinking — “A man who writes romance and gets the details right? It can’t be done!” Trust me, I get that a lot.

I began published life writing mystery/thrillers set in the Florida Keys about a former CIA spy named Nick Seven, who tries to stay out of the intrigue game but always gets dragged back in. He lives with a former co-worker, a beauty from Barbados named Felicia. My first three novels in this series won awards, did well commercially, and I had a nice following. While they contained romantic undertones and sexual encounters, I never considered writing a full-blown 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. I had become disenchanted with my publisher and was looking for something better. I wrote my first romantic comedy, “Anywhere the Heart Goes,” and found a publisher who was willing to take a chance on it. It did well, and I followed it with two more lighthearted rom-coms before getting back into more familiar territory, writing romantic spy and private eye thrillers.

When Heart came out, my friends and followers who had been anticipating another Nick Seven thriller were aghast. “How could you do such a thing???” they asked. The reason is pretty simple. I was attending a large book festival and while my books were selling well, I noticed other authors drawing bigger crowds and wandered over to see why. They were romance writers. After reading one of their books, I thought it would be fun to write one of my own, told primarily from the man’s POV and with more humor. I also knew I could write something better than the one I had read.

That was more than ten years ago, and it’s been an interesting journey. Acceptance from the romance community is still a challenge. I’ve had women writers tell me to my face that I couldn’t possibly write a credible love story because “Men just don’t understand romance.” I was tempted to ask if they ever voiced that opinion to their husbands or boyfriends, but I was polite. Another time, a romance blogger trashed one of my books, then attacked me personally because I was a man who dared to try out for the women’s soccer team. I was also barred from a popular romance convention because of my gender.

During one of the rom-cons I was allowed to attend, I noticed on the list of attendees an author whose book I had recently reviewed, and liked very much. My publicist was there, said she knew the person and would arrange for us to meet. When she introduced me as a romance writer, the woman looked at me like I was a homeless guy she found camping out in her living room, and stammered “B-But…you’re a man!” I smiled politely and said “Thank you for noticing. I’ll try to do better next time.”

The biggest difficulty I had to overcome was the way I wrote erotic scenes. They were present in my first three books in a mild form, but for this new market of e-book readers who wanted erotica, I had to turn up the heat and be more explicit. I’ll admit it was a bit awkward for me at first, but I soon reached a 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. Good reviews are nice and make you feel warm inside, but I don’t write for the critics. I write for the person in Parma, Ohio or Rugby, North Dakota who wants to escape the daily grind with a good story. At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, I’m not convinced that a good review has that much impact on 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. I once made a comment during an interview that literary critics are as useful as training wheels on a bowling ball. The nicest compliment I can receive is when someone tells me they can’t wait to read my next book. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author. His books range from romantic mystery/thriller to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn't pursuing those two careers he can often be found in The Florida Keys, indulging his passion for parasailing between research and seeking out the perfect Pina Colada.


  1. larry archer

    A lot of good erotica never get a review as I guess a lot of people don’t want to admit they like flogging their weiner or lady bits!

  2. Lisabet Sarai

    Welcome to the ERWA blog, Tim!

    I give you a lot of credit for sticking with your plan in the face of skepticism and even occasional ridicule.

  3. larry archer

    Likewise, as Lisabet says, it’s funny how people will pigeon-hole writers into groups based upon their sex or some other category that determines what type of stories they “can” write. Like guys writing Boddice Rippers. LOL

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica


Babysitting the Baumgartners - The Movie
From Adam & Eve - Based on the Book by New York Times Bestselling Authors Selena Kitt



Pin It on Pinterest