Monday, December 16, 2013

Unfinished business, part 2 -- wrapping up a story or two

I don't really have any big announcement to make, other than I finally put the last period in the final sentence of the third installment of my Tides Inn Erotica Tales series.

A few days ago, in my blog headlined A misty run, unfinished business, and a mysterious woman, I referenced a couple of stories I published late last year, Private Dining and Room Service, and the fact that I had intended to write a third story in the series.

Those of you who have been following me know that in recent months I've had some difficulties which have kept me offline, away from writing, and struggling just to get through the day (Emerging from silence -- depression and life). 

Now that I am hip deep in continuing treatment and making progress, I have definitely found excitement in writing again, and I've finally finished the first draft of the third Tides Inn tale, right on the schedule I had set for myself.

The story did take a few twists I hadn't expected, but overall I'm happy with it.I still don't have a title, but I'll be coming up with that as I edit the story. Later this month, as we approached Jan. 1, I'll be releasing the work.

And soon I'll be turning my attention to the third installment of The Lethal Obsession Trilogy.




Thursday, December 5, 2013

A misty run, unfinished business, and a mysterious woman

As most of you who read this know, I moved to the mountains of Southwest Virginia earlier this year -- not by choice, but in search of a new job, and in some ways a new start on life.

I've lived in a lot of places over the years, none really permanent since I was 16, though I thought I had found a small town where I'd settle in eastern North Carolina before losing my job. While the job loss and subsequent move wasn't in my plans, I love it where I am now.

Here's one reason why. A few days ago I had gone for quick run, and halfway through it I just stopped. I was on an isolated old road, surrounded by rolling fields. It was a cold day, the air filled with a fine mist, and a feeling of, for lack of better term, freshness in the air I never felt before moving here. The only thing I could see was a couple of ramshackle old barns looking as if they might fall at any second, a handful of granite stones protruding from the ground in a tiny, long-forgotten cemetery, and fog-shrouded ridges off in the distance.

That's when I heard them. The voices. No, I'm not crazy, I wasn't really hearing voices, but those hills, the farmland, even the cemetery -- they've been there for years, eons even, watching as the seasons passed, the land changed, as Native Americans walked the land, as Europeans settled the area.

What stories are floating around in those hollows? What tales can be heard by just listening, by feeling, what those mountains have to say?

Eventually I resumed my little run, but along the way a story began forming in my head. The story of a woman who grew up in those mountains, left her home as a teen for the big city and bright lights, and then came back...but that's enough for now, though this is a story that I believe will find life in 2014.

Before then, however, I have unfinished business.

A year ago I published two short stories, PRIVATE DINING and then ROOM SERVICE. My intent was to make them part of a long-running series, which I may yet do. What I will commit to is finishing the short trilogy those two were meant to be part of, and have that third, as yet unnamed tale, available in January.

After that comes the third installment in my Lethal Obsession Trilogy, which began with the novel LETHAL OBSESSION and continued with HELPLESS. The third installment, which as of yet is unnamed, will be out some time in the later part of February or the first part of March. While this will complete the trilogy, I haven't yet decided what to do with Detective Angela Martin. Who knows, maybe she won't survive the final installment?

I have a wicked little erotica tale after that which has planted itself in my head and won't go away. Despite all the experts saying indie writers should devote themselves to a series, this one tale I have to do, and it probably will be a stand-alone.

And did I say this one will be wicked?

And then I think it might be time to turn my attention to something outside the world of erotica, the story of that woman who came to me on that cold, rainy run. Where that story takes me, I'm not sure, but I will definitely have her tale for you in 2014.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Making my way back...and thanks to well-wishers

It's been well over a month since I last posted here, when I talked of my depression and related issues.

I had not planned to go this long without posting again, but, as I said in that Oct. 20 posting, I was still working with a counselor, trying to find my way back to some semblance of normal, of getting past the struggle to simply get out of bed.

I want to thank everyone who commented and gave me words of encouragement, both here and on Facebook and elsewhere. It means a lot to have that support -- several times over the past few weeks I'd go online just to read those comments.

I am much better now, though as any of you know who have had this condition, it's not the kind of thing one is ever cured of. I've been in counseling before, and I've learned over the years to recognize some of the triggers that can send me down again, and the signs I'm slipping, though this time around I've committed to staying with the counseling long-term, rather than thinking I could handle it on my own.

So, I'm making my way back, and I'm beginning to write some now, not just writing this and that as I fancy, but getting back to writing for publication. Working on the third installment of my LETHAL OBSESSION trilogy.

I hope to have some news on that front in a couple of weeks, and then to follow that up with new works over 2014.

I am doing much better now, though, and wanted to let everyone know I'm returning to the world, and so too will my writing -- for good or bad!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Emerging from the silence - depression and life

I've written this blog 50 times over in my head, yet it's been nearly impossible for me to sit at a keyboard and type out the words.

Then again, it's been equally difficult for me to sit at a computer and write anything for some time now.

I have a few fans who have contacted me, a Street Team who has helped spread the word about my work, several websites and blogs that have published reviews for my novels, LETHAL OBSESSION, and its sequel, HELPLESS, and some friends and colleagues who have offered me advice and help with marketing.

Yet I've not been able to respond to any of them for weeks now, to tell anyone about any of it, to even log onto Facebook or Twitter or my email account.

Until today.

I cannot describe to you how awful I feel, as if I've let people down, turned my back on them for no apparent reason. The longer I went in silence, the worse I felt, and the worse I felt, the harder it's become to break that silence.

Let me try to explain. I'm not making excuses, not asking for sympathy or help, just for understanding.

I suffer from depression. Long-term clinical depression is what the counselor calls it. That's not a surprise – I've mentioned that before during a few interviews bloggers have done with me over the past year. I've known for years I've had it, was first diagnosed, officially, as suffering from the condition six years ago, though I knew, on some level, that was my problem long before then.

I'm not all that well-educated, at least formally, but I'm well-read and reasonably intelligent. I knew, years ago while working the carnival circuit down South, that something was wrong, and I was pretty certain what it was. A couple of years later, when it got really bad and I was having some dark, bad thoughts, a few coworkers all but dragged me into counseling.

I don't think I would have done anything drastic, but we'll never know. For that I'm eternally thankful to those people who cared enough to see that I got the help I desperately needed at that time.

I don't know if you understand what depression is. I'm not talking about the times when someone feels a little down, when problems in life make the going a little rough for a while.

Clinical depression, to use that term, is a disease. While I don't like to use the term mental illness because of the stigma attached to that phrase, in truth clinical depression is a mental illness. It results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. If you have a broken arm, you can't just snap out of it, decide your arm's going to be okay and go on your merry way. Depression is a lot like that – it's a real, honest-to-God physical ailment, something is wrong and you can't just snap out of it or get over it.

Years ago I went to a few sessions with a counselor named Judy. They were good for me. She taught me some coping techniques, a few ways to recognize when depression is sneaking up on me, what triggers to watch out for.

I also was a little too full of myself and my own cleverness. After a few sessions I realized she was drawing things out of me, having me talk about things I already understood on some deep level – often when I'd say something to her I'd think "I already know this stuff, why am I bothering coming here?" so I quit going. I thought I was smart enough to figure it out on my own.

While I've struggled with depression off and on since then, I've mostly kept it under control.

This year too many things have happened, though. I lost my job earlier this year, through no fault of my own. My father, a man I hadn't seen in many, many years and someone I never thought I'd care about again, died. At first I thought that was no big deal, but learning of his passing, going back home for the first time in so many years – it all affected me more deeply than I wanted to admit. I've moved across two states to a new home in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia, a beautiful place but that also meant I left behind some good friends where I once lived.

And then the writing. For any of you who know me, or have been following my writing and blogging, you know my childhood and teen years weren't the greatest. But writing – that was always my solace, my escape from the world, the way I kept sane and pretended I had some measure of control over my life.

This year that changed, too. I published a novel, LETHAL OBSESSION, which got me a few readers, some fans, and my world began to change. Mostly of my own doing, putting some pressure on myself that perhaps wasn't really there. I don't know.

What I do know is that suddenly writing wasn't an escape any more. It was something that demanded part of me, part of my energy, my time, my focus, in ways I had not experienced before.

Again, I'm not asking anyone to feel sorry for me, and I don't want to overstate what happened. It's not like the book was a best seller, or even a middle-of-the-road seller. But a few people were paying money for it, writing me (which was great) and asking for more.

Somewhere along the way, I let my focus shift from writing because I loved it to writing because I felt like it was a job. And that's okay.

But then I started falling back into depression, to depths of that condition I hadn't felt in years. And the one thing I had always relied on, my ability to write, was no longer an option. I suppose in reality it was – all I had to do was sit down and start, even if it was gibberish meant for no one but me.

It's not always that easy, though. Sometimes when a person is depressed she doesn't think straight – basic reasoning ability can be compromised. So, I quit writing. Quit doing much with people. Quit taking walks. I went to work, came home and slept. I gained weight. I hated myself for that all, and that self-hatred just fed the depression. I fought through it some, continued doing some posting and blog stops when HELPLESS was first out, but eventually I just stopped. I don't think I've been online now for somewhere around six or eight weeks.

Then when I'd think about trying to change,  trying to start writing again, I just didn't have the energy to even try. I began to think I couldn't write any more, and then that I couldn't face those I knew through my writing.

The good news in all of this is I'm getting some help again. And this time I think I'm smarter – smart enough to know I'm not nearly smart enough to do this alone.

I'm writing again, too, though not the promised third part in the Lethal Obsession Trilogy. I am going to write that, finish and publish it before the end of the year. But for now, I'm just writing to escape, to follow whatever fancy my spirit feels needs to be followed. It's slow – this whole thing is a slow process, trying to deal with depression and see if I can escape from it – but the writing is returning.

Even now, as I'm posting this on my blog, I haven't yet checked my email, my Facebook or Twitter accounts. I may not have any FB friends or Twitter followers, I may have emails from people wanting to know why I haven't done this or done that.

Please know this. If I've left you hanging, if you feel I've turned my back on you, or haven't been as supportive or helpful to some of you as I should be, I'm truly sorry. I feel like crying at the thought of that. Please forgive me.

I'm coming out of this. I am. And I'm going to be stronger, and better, and a better friend/supporter to all of you as I do. But it's going to take some time.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

HELPLESS is ready for download and reading!

I won't say I feel like I've given birth -- while I have never given birth I've seen that way too up close and personal -- so I know writing and publishing a book is nothing like bringing a child into the world. Still, I do feel like I'm putting a little piece of me out there, something I've written and edited and revised and rewritten.

And now it's out there.

HELPLESS, Book 2 of he Lethal Obsession Trilogy is on sale!

What's it about? Here's a peek:

Detective Angela Martin returns to pick up the pieces of her life – and track down a killer – in the darkly erotic thriller HELPLESS, the sequel to the acclaimed erotica suspense tale LETHAL OBSESSION.

In LETHAL OBSESSION, Angela found herself in the clutches of a BDSM master who knew exactly how to control her body and mind, to make her feel pleasure – mingled with a hint of pain and submission – in ways she had never imagined. Then women started turning up dead in her town of Moose Creek, N.C., bound and tortured in ways eerily similar to what Angela's mysterious master had done to her.

Despite the danger to her life and career, Angela couldn't stop herself – she kept going back to him, ostensibly to learn more about him as she investigated the deaths, but in truth because she craved his touch, his control. She belonged to him, body and soul, though her devotion had tragic consequences.

In HELPLESS, she is working through the guilt of having killed, the grief of having lost, trying to rebuild her life and career. She is driven to seek out darker, more dangerous sexual thrills, even when the bondage killer, or a copycat, returns to Moose Creek.

Her life is complicated when a writer from a national publication shows up in her town, determined to do a series of articles on the bondage killer, and her life. The writer turns out to be more than expected, and this time Angela finds herself fighting not only for her career and life, but maybe to save others as well.

*****

As you no doubt know, given the title, HELPLESS is a sequel to LETHAL OBSESSION. If you haven't read LETHAL OBSESSION, I think you can still read HELPLESS and come away feeling as if you've read a complete story. But the characters, and some of the story lines, will be so much richer if you check out LETHAL OBSESSION first. If you've already read it, then jump right in to HELPLESS.

To download HELPLESS from Amazon, go here.

And from Barnes and Noble for your Nook, go here.

Smashwords will be coming soon.

To get a copy of LETHAL OBSESSION for your Kindle, go here.

To download to your Nook, go here.

And from Smashwords, go right here.

BONUS: If you want to hear a super sensual audio version narrated by the talented Karen Kruper, you can get the audio copy and the e-book of LETHAL OBSESSION, both for just $4.98 total, right HERE.

I hope you enjoy my work, and thanks for stopping by.

xoxo



Monday, August 12, 2013

Helpless cover revealed!

Today I'm soooo excited, because I get to unveil the cover to my now erotic-suspense novel, HELPLESS, Book Two of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy. Actually, the cover was officially unveiled on three other sites this weekend (Secret Narrative, the website belonging to author Gemma James, and at Deliza's Dirty Dramas). If you haven't seen those, please pay them a visit -- those are some great blogs and websites certainly worth checking out.

If you haven't read LETHAL OBSESSION, please pick that one up. As the title of HELPLESS, Book Two of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy implies, it's a sequel to my debut novel, LETHAL OBSESSION, and while HELPLESS stands fairly well on its own, you most definitely need to read LETHAL OBSESSION to get the full effect. You can get a bit of a discount on it if you're a member of the Goodreads Erotic Enchants group. It's a read of the month staring Aug. 19 there (details at Erotic Enchants reads LETHAL OBSESSION).

You can also get an audio version of LETHAL OBSESSION at Amazon and Audio. com. Right now, Amazon is running a special – you can buy the audio version for just $1.99 after you buy the e-book! At Audio. com, if you join the group, you can get LETHAL OBSESSION for free! That's an Amazon special, so I don't know if they'll honor that price if you bought LETHAL OBSESSION a couple of months ago, but it's certainly worth asking.

But, enough about LETHAL OBSESSION. Let's turn our attention to the sequel, HELPLESS.

Here's the cover:


































And now for an excerpt:


Excerpt one
I’m going to die.

The thought flashed through Angela’s mind. No panic. No fear. No emotion. Just a simple, resigned understanding.

I’m going to die.

Not that she could do much, with the man’s face buried between her legs, biting, tongue slipping inside her, probing, sending waves of arousal through her body.

Angela’s legs were bound in what is known as a frog-tie – each leg folded at the knee, right ankle tied to her right thigh, left ankle bound to her left thigh – her arms tied behind her. She was on her back, legs in the air, while he assaulted her.

A rope looped her neck, slip-knotted so that as tension increased the rope tightened, similar to a noose. The other end of the rope was fastened to the headboard. He had protested, said the neck bondage was too dangerous, but she had made her position plain – tying the neck was part of the deal, or there was no deal and he could walk right out without so much as a taste.

So he acquiesced, and once she was bound, helpless, there had been no foreplay. He slapped the exposed inside of her thighs, first one and then the other, over and over until the skin glowed red. 

With each blow Angela gasped, felt her face and body flush.

“You like that?” he whispered, and without waiting for an answer he pulled his belt from this pants. 

Using it as a whip, he struck her across her cunt, hard. The sting of leather sent a shock rolling through her body, and when Angela moaned he struck a second and third time, then he plunged in, kissing, licking, forcing her legs wider. Hands cupping her ass, he pulled her toward him, and unknowingly moved her down the bed, stretching the neck rope taut.

Angela couldn’t breathe. The desperate, involuntary struggle for air, while his tongue lapped inside her, hands squeezing her ass, brought shudders through Angela’s body and tears to her eyes. She tried calling out, a raspy scream escaping her mouth as the pleasure and agony blended into a sensation that rumbled through her body like a summer storm.

Her vision grayed, and that’s when the one, final thought crystallized in her mind.

I’m going to die.

The idea of trying to cry out, of somehow signaling him, briefly crossed her mind, but she didn’t bother.

I’m going to die, because I deserve to.

Then her world went black.

*****
HELPLESS will be available at Amazon.com Aug. 15, as well as Barnes and Noble and at Smashwords (for any format e-reader) within a day or two of the release on Amazon.

I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lethal Obsession now an audio book

I have some exciting news today -- my novel, LETHAL OBSESSION, is now available as an audio book!

Karen Kruper, a Hollywood veteran with appearances in a number of network shows to go along with a variety of movie roles, brings a hot, sensual voice to the novel. I wrote LETHAL OBSESSION and believe me, I know it nearly word-for-word, yet listening to Karen I was pulled into the story as if I'd never heard, or read, it before.

Karen makes the characters come alive in a way even I had not imagined as I created them, and the sex and BDSM scenes -- all I can say is wow. She makes them hotter than I could have imagined. Very, very intoxicating. Don't listen to this while driving, or doing anything else that requires your attention -- Karen's narration will make you forget everything around you!

Those of you who know me understand I am, to say it kindly, technologically challenged, so I cannot yet seem to get a sample uploaded here or at YouTube. However, I shall figure that out and get a sample here soon.

You can listen to a sample of the audio version of LETHAL OBSESSION right here (or you will be able to soon -- audible.com seems to be having a bit of a problem with the sample, but that should be resolved shortly). You can purchase the audio novel -- 4-1/2 hours long -- for $14.95 at audio.com and (you can find it at amazon.com for a little less, at $13.08 right here. It will soon be available on iTunes as well.

There's also a special going on at audible.com -- if you sign up for a membership, you can get a free copy of LETHAL OBSESSION. That's right, free -- and you can join audible.com for a FREE 30-day trial before deciding on whether to keep the membership!

Whether you join or not, I hope you'll download a copy of the audio version of LETHAL OBSESSION. It sounds absolutely wonderful.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lethal Obsession chosen for group read, and a new blog tour is set to take off!

Short and sweet, very sweet, today.

My novel, Lethal Obsession, has been picked up as a Read of the Month at Erotic Enchants, a group on Goodreads.

If you'd like to participate, please slip on over to Goodreads and join Erotic Enchants. If you haven't yet purchased a copy of Lethal Obsession, there's a discount coupon code there just for Erotic Enchants members taking part in the group read.

You still have plenty of time -- Lethal Obsessions will be the featured read Aug. 19-Aug. 25.

*****

I also want to announce the Helpless! Blog Tour starting Aug. 1 to coincide with the upcoming release of Helpless! Book 2 of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy.

There will be reviews and excerpts of both Lethal Obsession and Helpless!, interviews with me, with some of my novel characters, excerpts, and chances to win a few prizes.

For details, slip on over to Facebook and join the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/203452033152760/

If you can't get in, drop me a line at FB and I'll send an invite. If you're not already my FB friend, send me a request. I'm pretty free and easy with my acceptances!

Thanks for stopping by.

xoxo

Monday, July 29, 2013

Strong reviews still rolling in for Lethal Obsession

You all know my life has been in what you might call is a state of flux lately, so I haven't been keeping track of new reviews coming in for Lethal Obsession. So, I've been pleasantly surprised to come across some new ones on Amazon and Goodreads.

Let me share a few with you today from Goodreads, where it has a 4.1 average (30 reviews):

--A thrilling read; a departure from my usual! I saw it in my head like a movie and enjoyed it immensely!

--Can't wait till the summer for book 2!

--Lethal Obsessions kept me on my toes and highly entertained. Perfectly written and graphic scenes make the reader feel like a part of the book. Shadowing Detective Martin as she lives a lie of a marriage, chats to a charming stranger online and agreeing to meet him, then watch the bondage and dominating take place, sucks you into their world and never releases its grip.

Murders shockingly similar to situations Detective Martin finds herself in, she can't help but feel for the victims. It could have been her. Could it be her new friend?

Lethal Obsessions is definitely a fast paced, short read full of entertainment and shock that I would recommend it to those who love a good murder/mystery with a twist.

--Lethal Obsession is a BDSM book unlike any other I have ever read! This book has bondage, kinky sex, mystery, suspense, and shock!! I include shock because that is how the ending of this book left me!! I literally had to pick my jaw off of my lap when I read the concluding chapter!! The mystery and intrigue this book evoked suckered me in from the first 5 sentences and had me saying.... "What the what?!?!?" by the ending!!...

…Without giving any spoilers away I have to mention that the ending of this book literally had me yelling ...."What?!?!?!?" at my Kindle!! I had my suspicions, but was totally caught off guard with the last chapter of this book. I give Lethal Obsession 4 stars on the knock my socks off scale!! Go 1-Click if you do not shy away from kinky BDSM sex and you love a suspenseful story!

--What a crazy ride that was! This was a movie playing out in my head the whole time!

--Open the perfect cover and dive into an exciting, intoxicating read that will entertain and arouse. Shandra handles the themes of bondage, domination and submission beautifully, woven with a storyline that will keep you guessing.

*****

There are plenty more like that. So, if you haven't yet read Lethal Obsession, what are you waiting for?

Get it at Amazon for your Kindle or at Smashwords for any format, or at Barnes and Noble for your Nook.

Thanks for stopping by.

xoxo

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A new home, a new job, and close to a new novel

When I look at the date I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since I last wrote, but there’s been a lot going on – and a lot yet to come.

Here’s the quick run-down on life in general. I have a job. Sort of.

Actually, I have a new home. I moved from eastern North Carolina to the mountains of Southwest Virginia. I have a couple of friends there, from my days working with a carnival, and they suggested I check out the area when they learned I had lost my job.

I did, and here I am. I’m staying in an extra room they have for the time being, but I’m working part-time at a local restaurant and looking for both a regular fulltime job and a small place of my own. I’ll keep you posted.

My long-awaited LETHAL OBSESSION sequel is soon to be released! The new novel is called HELPLESS (a few of you know I had been using another working title, but HELPLESS turned out best). It’s going to be released around Aug. 15, maybe a day or two sooner at Amazon.

I have a blog tour coming up to celebrate the release, and I’ll have more details for you on that this weekend.

As always, thanks for sto. I’ll keep you a lot more updated on my writing in the days to come.


xoxo

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lethal Obsession, a life change and a new beginning

A couple of days ago I mentioned how my life had taken a few recent unexpected turns, and how I wasn't sure what I'd be doing, or even where I'd be living soon. I left off by mentioning my novel, LETHAL OBSESSION, and how I had been unprepared for the reaction its publication brought to me.

Let me take a step back and say even before LETHAL OBSESSION, my life started to change just a little -- though I didn't realize it -- when I first published a couple of short stories last year, PRIVATE DINING and ROOM SERVICE.

When I was a child my grandmother -- whom I miss very much, even all these years after she passed away -- introduced me to stories. She would read to me, and later would listen as I read to her. My home life could be best described as less than ideal, so I found some solace in reading. Then I began writing, creating my own worlds where I could do anything I wanted.

Soon enough I found myself not wanting to write just for escapism, but I wanted to write to elicit reactions from others, like those authors had gotten from me. I'd let friends read my work, and I often judged the work based on the reaction I'd get from them.

Sadly, I don't have any of that early work. My mother tore most of it up one day, not long before I left home. I was on the road a lot after that, and I'd occasionally write stories or snippets of stories in longhand, but most of that was lost along the way as well.

In December 2011, with a new job and a place to live, I bought a computer as a Christmas present to myself and began playing around, doing some writing. A friend convinced me I should try selling some of the work as e-stories on Amazon, so in November of last year I published two short stories, PRIVATE DINING and ROOM SERVICE.

By the end of the year I'd sold a couple of hundred copies of those. They were simple little short stories, only selling for 99 cents each, so I really didn't make any money off of them (I get 35 cents per sale), but I was absolutely blown away that someone would pay, even 99 cents, to read my work. I was doubly blown-away that someone would read one, then pay another 99 cents for a second story!

I wrote a couple more stories, longer ones that didn't sell so well (JENNIFER LOST and then JENNIFER BOUND), before I tackled LETHAL OBSESSION.

I published that short novel at the very end of February, and the response was more than I had ever hoped. I don't want you to get the wrong idea, it's not as if I sold thousands of copies, but it did sell relatively well.

I owe a big part of that success to someone who took me under her wing a bit -- author J.M. Schroder. She found something in that story she liked, so she did some promotions for me, helped show me how to promote it, and has been a true friend and big-time supporter who I cannot thank enough. Actually, I've found many wonderful people who have helped me, given me good advice, and I don't mean to leave anyone out, but Jennie has been an absolute angel.

People bought the novel. People gave me good reviews. A few bloggers interviewed me. Even now I get mails from people on Facebook asking when the sequel will be ready. I was absolutely not prepared for this. This might sound funny, but it became intimidating. Suddenly I felt as if I wasn't writing my stories, but trying to build something to live up to expectations of others.

I will be very open here -- writing that sequel has been difficult. I went through a small period of depression (nothing too serious, I've learned to deal with that when it comes up). Then the issue with my boss and his girlfriend (see my last blog, here) and my job loss and I just felt like everything was a little out of control in my life.

Being jobless I've been able to spend a lot of time alone these past two weeks, walking, thinking (and yes, playing in the rain!). I've re-evaluated a few things in my life, where I've been going, what I want from my writing.

If you read that last blog, you know my life is in a state of flux right now. I'm not sure if I'm going to remain here or move on to some other community. I don't know where I'm going to find a job (and while I'm okay for a short time, I'm like everyone else, I NEED a job).

But I do know this -- writing will be, whether figuratively or literally, my refuge from the world, just as it was those many years ago when I was a child. And I won't be caught off-guard again, or get so caught up in the reaction of readers that I lose focus on the writing that I do.

I am charging full-speed ahead on the sequel to LETHAL OBSESSION (and on a sequel to the shorts PRIVATE DINING and ROOM SERVICE), and I already have my next tale lined up to write when the LETHAL OBSESSION sequel is published. And after that next story is done, I have a few special shorts just for the Halloween season I'll be writing (not to mention a magical little story I need to get done for Kelly -- you didn't think I had forgotten, did you?)

After that? I don't know just yet, but there will be more. Perhaps a third part in the Angela Martin/LETHAL OBSESSION saga, or maybe something entirely different with a new set of characters and challenges for them to work through.

For those of you who have read my work, who have contacted me, or helped me along the way, I offer a sincere thanks (especially you Jennie!). And I'll be putting new work out soon.

As always, thanks for reading.

xoxo


Monday, June 17, 2013

No home for me...

...Home isn't pretty
Ain't no home for me
Home in the darkness
home on the highway
Home isn't my way
Home I'll never be..."

Those are a few of the lyrics from the opening of the Blue Oyster Cult song "Burning for You" (a great old song -- here it is if you don't know it -- Burning for You)

I love older music. Some of the bands from the 70s and 80s seemed to be able to speak to deeper questions and emotions, things not quite as shallow as Taylor Swift talking about her latest boyfriend. This particular song, Burning for You, was released in 1981, five years before I was born, yet I've always liked it. At this particular point in my life it seems an appropriate soundtrack for all that's going on.

A quick look at my profile will tell you I've not exactly been a homebody. When I was a child, home life was non-existent. It was a place I got fed, sometimes, and slept when there wasn't screaming or yelling or a party going on. My fond memories are from being with my grandmother and my aunt, but I left home at 16 and have spent most of my life on the road since.

Eventually I ended up in Florida for six years, but never in the same place. I worked three years in a carnival and three more with a small traveling circus, then left and made my way to North Carolina. For the past two years I've lived in a neat little town that's just like those small towns you see on television -- everyone seems to know everyone (they're all related or went to school together) -- and we have little town festivals and events that draws all the same people out every year.

And the people here have been wonderful to me. I've made a couple of dear friends, and there are others I genuinely like and admire. I landed a job as a receptionist and clerk in a small insurance office and found the absolute perfect place to live -- it's a small house, just the right size for me, out in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dirt road. I'm surrounded by forest and the only sounds I hear when I'm outside are those of the birds and frogs and the occasional animal noise that I have no clue about. I could work in the flower garden naked and no one would know the difference. The owner of the home even let me sign a lease-purchase agreement and he offered to finance the home for me.

When the initial lease expired last October, I couldn't do it. I couldn't sign the papers and buy the house. I don't know why -- the landlord was willing to use part of the rent as a down payment, I had everything I needed lined up, but I just couldn't go through with it. So, we agreed to another year, but he told me if I back out again, he would put the house on the open market. He's an older guy with a lot of property and he said he's tired of dealing with it, so he's been selling it off over the past few years.

Which brings me to the here-and-now. A little more than two weeks ago I lost my job. Not because of anything I did wrong, or even because of a struggling economy. No, my old boss is a snake, plain and simple.

See, he and a woman insurance agent who works in the office were having an affair. I discovered it a couple of months ago and I've been sick about it. I know his wife -- I see her and their little boy occasionally -- and I cannot begin to explain how that ate at me. I actually became physically ill a couple of times, even felt depressed (which is something I deal with enough as it is).

Turns out half the town already knew and I got all worked up over not letting it slip for nothing. Now, he and the woman have decided to move out on their respective spouses and leave town, which meant closing the office and ending my job.

I'm not complaining or asking anyone to feel sorry for me. I don't have it nearly as bad as their families do. Plus, I tend to live on a lot less than I make, so I've saved some money. I do have to get a job, I can't do this indefinitely, but I'm okay for now.

Which brings me back to home.

Or my lack of a home.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. I know people are the same everyone, I'm not so naive as to believe I'm going to find somewhere that this kind of thing doesn't happen, but I just can't view this place the same any longer. So many of my friends, it turns out, knew about this and just let it go. "That's just life" some said, or "None of my business."

Besides, after being here for a couple of years, the luster of a new place has begun to wane. Maybe I'm just destined to wander, to settle for a short time, then pull up stakes and move on.

I have a lot in flux right now, but two things I'm beginning to realize. First, I just don't know that I'll ever find a place that will become home. And second, I think I've allowed myself to be too caught up in the world around me and not focused enough on my writing.

This past year has been a revelation to me regarding my writing, with the publication of LETHAL OBSESSION, in ways that I wasn't really prepared for. But I've grown long-winded here, so I'll delve into that, explain where I'm going with my writing and how all of this has given me a new focus later this week. Check back on Wednesday, maybe Thursday.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

xoxo


Friday, May 10, 2013

An interview with little old me....

Hey folks, I'm featured today on Tricia Drammeh's Authors' To Watch. Nice, fun interview -- you can learn just a little about me and my writing there!

Slip on over there and check it out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Alone in a hotel room....an excerpt from LETHAL OBSESSION


His instructions had been clear. Check in by 12:30, pick up a package at the front desk, then go to the cabin. Eat at 1 o’clock – he had already chosen her lunch, had room service deliver – and then wait. Do as she pleased, watch television, read, relax.

It will be a long night.

That’s what he had told her on the phone. Right after he told her to drive, giving her only partial instructions. Twice more on the trip he called, and her phone showed a different number. Angela supposed he was being cautious – after all, for all Tanner knew, he was walking into a police trap. Angela thought he had sounded amazingly calm if that was the case.

Certainly calmer than she felt. Angela reached for the soda she had on the nightstand and noticed her hand shaking. God. She hadn’t been this nervous any of the times she had been forced to draw her gun. Even the time she shot a man, Angela had maintained a steeliness in her manner, her emotions.

Now she was scared. This is crazy. That thought played over and over in her mind. She tried lying on the four-poster bed reading a visitor magazine, couldn’t concentrate. She flipped through the channels. Paced the room. Glanced at the clock over and over, each time sighing to see only a couple of minutes had passed.

Finally she went out to the deck, breathed in the mountain air. Though the calendar had turned to September the weather was still hot in Moose Creek, and it was nearly as warm here, but this high up the air felt cleaner, humidity lower, and she stayed on the balcony, leaning over the rail, watching birds fly, trees shiver in the occasional breeze.

Angela lost track of time. Eventually she walked back in – five o’clock. A half-hour.

Slowly she undressed, hands shaking even more now, a tremble of fear rolling up and down her body. Somewhere deep inside, Angela couldn’t help but believe this was the worst idea she had ever had, that something bad was going to happen. To her.

Yet she continued on, removing her jeans, her shirt, unsnapping her bra, slipping panties down to the floor. She opened the package. Inside was a black and red corset, matching lace panties, a black blindfold, red natural fiber rope, a pair of handcuffs, and a ball gag attached to leather straps.

Angela knew she should have felt her face growing warm at this point, or maybe a bolt of excitement shooting through her body. Instead she sat, scared, unable to move. Minutes passed. The ringing of her phone sent a startle through her. She grabbed the phone from the lampstand.

“Are you ready?” Tanner’s voice.

“I…” can’t do this. Those were the words in her head. I’ve changed my mind. Those weren’t the words that slipped from her mouth. “…not yet.” Heather’s right, I do have a self-destructive wish. Maybe I deserve it.

“I’m on my way, you have seven minutes.”

The line went dead.

She dropped the phone on the bed and quickly slipped into the corset. Lace crisscrossed up the front, and she struggled to cinch it tight and tie it off in a nice bow at the top. Finally she finished, slipped on the panties, blindfolded herself, then clicked one cuff around her wrist. She paused, last chance, then put her hands behind her back and shut the second cuff around her other wrist.

Only moments passed before she heard the door open. Angela began shivering, hard enough she knew Tanner could see, and anger flared inside her, anger at herself for losing control, for not even being able to face this without showing such fear.

She heard the door shut, the locks slip in place, then faster than she would have thought he could cover the distance between them his hands cupped her face, lips pressed against hers.

“Please, do not fear me,” he whispered, his breath forcing its way into her mouth. His tongue followed and, as irrational as it might have been, her fear left, replaced by a mad, burning desire. She returned his kiss, so hard his teeth hurt her lips. Angela pulled against the cuffs – she wanted her hands on him, undressing him. She felt heat rising through her body as his hands played down her neck, over her shoulders, across her chest.

Then he was gone.

She gasped.

“My, my, you seem like a wild thing today,” he said, a mocking tone in his voice. “Good thing you’re restrained.”

She moaned, and stepped toward his voice. A second step and then he was behind her, pushing his knees into the back of hers, sending her to the ground, kneeling. She felt his hand play through her hair before his fingers closed and yanked her head back, his other hand playing down her chest, across the exposed portions of her breasts.

Then he was gone.

She remained, on her knees, for what seemed like minutes, then she felt him standing in front, his cock touching her lips. She opened her mouth wide and he entered, hard, cutting off her breathing for a moment. Back and forth he moved – and Angela realized she was tasting skin this time, not latex – and suddenly her fear returned. No protection. He’s not worried about the consequences. Killers usually aren’t bothered by such concerns.

But the fear had little room inside her, held at bay by desire, by a strange and powerful drive to please him, to be abused by him, to know what it would feel like as he used her up, drove her where she had never been.

She kept sucking on his cock each time he drove in.

“Oh Barbie,” he whispered.

His hands on her head, fingers twisting her hair around them, he yanked her head forward as he thrust far into her mouth. Her air cut off momentarily, yet Angela still tried rising, taking him in, tongue playing, teeth grazing his shaft.

He pulled back just a bit and repeated his motions, Over and over.

“Oh good god, my Barbie,” he called out.

She pulled with all her might against the handcuffs – Angela wanted her hands on his legs, hips, buttocks – and she called out his name, as best she could, just as a salty, gooey explosion filled her mouth, slid down her throat. Angela sucked harder, feeling a tightness between her own legs. She tried clinching her muscles there, wanted badly to climax as she drank and licked from his cock, but she could not, and soon he was gone again.

For a time there was no sound, and then his hands were on her arms, behind her, roughly lifting Angela to her feet. She was pushed across the floor, then onto the bed, face-first, much rougher than he had treated her in the past.

“You are a bad woman,” he said, a hint of what she thought might be anger in his voice. “I had intended to tease you for quite some time before doing that, but you…your reaction caught me off guard.”

He tied rope around one wrist, then the other, binding her wrists together, tighter than before. She heard the click of the key turning inside one cuff, then the other and they were gone – he had shown an affinity for rope, rather than the cuffs, and Angela was glad. The feel of the rope was more sensual, more arousing, she thought. Then she felt the ball gag against her lips, shoved into her mouth, the leather straps pulled tight around her head, buckled in back, followed by a hard open-hand smack on her ass.

Angela gasped at the blow.

“You like that?” he asked, following with another smack to her ass. And a third.

Angela pushed her face into the bed and moaned, partly from pain, but partly from – she wasn’t sure what it was. But with each strike – and they continued coming – her body jerked, reflexively, and she felt some strange response from inside, some sort of feeling that this is what she was meant for, deserved, and that aroused her.

Then the spanking stopped.

“My, oh my, your cheeks are red.” That mocking tone again. 

*****
You've been reading an excerpt of my dark erotica-suspense novel, LETHAL OBSESSION. Download your own copy now, here at Amazon for your Kindle or here at Barnes and Noble for your Nook

Friday, May 3, 2013

Question 3 -- who are your literary influences?

So much for twenty questions in twenty days, right?

As often happens in my life, I ended up sidetracked a bit by ... well, life. But I do want to make sure I reply to all who responded, so today I'm answering a couple of questions from Thomas Fortenberry.

"I want to know who/what your literary influences are? Do you have a fav character, world, or author you want to tip the hat at and honor?"

That's a tough one, because I don't have a single such influence I can point to and say "That's why I write" or "That's who I want to write like."

When I first became addicted to reading -- I mean really caught up in having to have another book, devouring it and then needing another -- I was reading R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series. I know, that's not exactly what you think of when asking about "literary" influences, but I was a kid, they were easy reading and truly entertaining.

I had already been writing some then, but more as a way to deal with things going on in my life, sort of a method of self-therapy (though I didn't understand it in those terms at the time). But I loved Goosebumps, and that made me want to try writing simply to entertain, to have fun with a story of my own creation.

Later I grew into the more literary works someone with a traditional education might recognize. I enjoyed Hemingway. Yes, I actually read The Old Man and the Sea because I wanted to. And one of my favorite novels is For Whom the Bell Tolls.

I've always felt that Hemingway could be entertaining in a way that keeps you interested in the work, while also exploring deeper truths or themes that set his work apart from simpler popular fiction.

I kind of enjoyed Dickens' work, although the long-winded, over-descriptive method of writing from that time period makes the reading feel like what a sprinter must feel running through waist-deep water. I've read a bit of Dickens because I like this stories, but the writing just kills me.

Poe I love. Absolutely adore.

And of more modern vintage, a couple of years ago I discovered Robert B. Parker. Now, that's a writer. And storyteller. If there is one writer I would most want to emulate, it may be Parker.

I am guessing, at this point, Thomas (and maybe the rest of you) are wondering how in the world someone who lists Hemingway, Poe, and Robert Parker among her literary influences can be writing erotica. It's probably a fair question.

My answer? It's simply what I enjoy. I work hard at making the writing sharp, the sense of story strong and engaging, without relying on the cheap thrills so many have come to associate with erotica. Don't get me wrong, I'm trying to include a high level of heat, with smooth, clear writing, but in the end, for me, it's story. It's the plot, the characters, the evolution of those characters as the plot, and subplots, unfold, that does it for me as a writer.

Will I spend my whole life writing erotica? Who knows? I enjoy it now, and while it's all that I've published it is far from all that I write, but I am proud of the erotica I have written, and I hope to make it fiction that readers will enjoy.

Thanks for the great question Thomas.

If any more of you have a question about me or my writing, please feel free to put it in the comments section or e-mail to me and I'll respond.

Thanks for stopping by

xoxo

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day #2 of ask Shandra whatever you want:


Over on Facebook author and marketing consultant JM Schroder is hosting a Lethal Obsession Book Blast for my novel, LETHAL OBSESSION. (Click on the link and come on over to join us).

One of the things I’ve offered to do there is to entertain questions about me or my writing, and now I’m going to extend that to my blog. For the next two weeks (or until the questions run out, whichever comes first), I’m going to answer at least one question a day.


From K.J. Partridge, who kinda cheated by asking three questions, but that’s okay, I’ll answer them all.

How tall are you, do you have pets, and what inspired LETHALOBSESSION.

Well, tall isn’t exactly the right word I’d use, but I’m 5’’4” – far from the shortest person in the word, but I wish I had about three or four more inches on that.

Yes, I have a pet. A solid white little kitty named Lilly. 

Here’s a picture of her – she’s hard to photograph because whenever I try to get a picture she runs toward the camera. Here I tried taking a couple of shots when she was sleeping -- she wasn't happy about it (and you can tell from her face). But she’s a wonderfully friendly, playful fur ball that I picked up from the local animal shelter.

As for LETHAL OBSESSION, I get into that some in an interview that, I think, is supposed to be posted at http://wordenlightenment.blogsport.co.uk

Specifically for LETHAL OBSESSION, I saw some postings on Craigslist where people were advertising for a hook-up that night, or that weekend. I was a little surprised at how many people were just looking to get together with a stranger, just for the night (and NO people, I’m not looking – I was on Craigslist looking to sell something but then saw the personals, and was curious).

Anyway, I’d already been on some BDSM-related websites (again, I’m NOT looking), so I started thinking about what kind of story could I build around a woman and man, two strangers, getting together for a BDSM session. Then I started asking “what if.” You now, what if he had a fantasy that she would be blindfolded when he walked in, that she would never see him? From her perspective, what if she was really lonely, and they had grown to like one another a lot overtime by chatting online? Would a person really do that? It’s easy to say no, that would be stupid, but I found that it’s not all that unusual for people to put themselves in such dangerous situations. But I wanted something more than just a story about two people hooking up for some sex and bondage – so then I asked myself “what if she’s a police officer and after they get together a couple of times other women start showing up dead, tied up in the same manner he did to her?"

And I went from there.

Thanks K.J., great questions!

Shandra Miller is the author of the erotica/suspense novel LETHAL OBSESSION, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 Questions, Day 1: Writing obstacles, depression, and why I am like I am


Over on Facebook author and marketing consultant JM Schroder is hosting a Lethal Obsession Book Blast for my novel, LETHAL OBSESSION. (Click on the link and come on over to join us).

One of the things I’ve offered to do there is to entertain questions about me or my writing, and now I’m going to extend that to my blog. For the next two weeks (or until the questions run out, whichever comes first), I’m going to answer at least one question a day.

And I’ve decided to extend that to my blog as well. So, if you have a question about me or my writing, put it in the comments here (or slip on over to the Book Blast and post there). I’m open to  most anything – how tall I am, my hobbies, how I write, why I write, my favorite color, if I have any pets, where I got the idea for LETHAL OBSESSION  or any of my other published stories (there’s a list at the right top corner of this blog)…go ahead and ask.

The first question comes from Travis Goldson, and he asks: What was the biggest obstacle your writing has faced and how did you overcome it?

Hmmmm…..that’s a tough one Travis. But I promised answers – honest and complete ones, too, so I’m going to be candid.

Over the years I’ve had a number of obstacles – I grew up in a less-than-ideal home, left home at 16 and bounced around for a few years, so I never finished school. But right now my life is a little more settled, I have a job and a little place that one day might be my own, so the biggest obstacle I have is – well, to be completely open and honest, I struggle some with depression.

I don’t want you or anyone to feel sorry for me, or think badly of me, but that’s a condition many people have – or will develop – and I struggle with it from time to time. In my case, it turns out I’ve suffered from it off and on for years, I just didn’t realize it at the time.

It comes and goes – there can be triggers that I avoid, and there are strategies to deal with it, ways to hold it at arm’s length, or to keep an episode from being as deep as it might be otherwise.

Sometimes, though, there’s little I can do to stop it. And honestly there are times I don’t try very hard. I have found find that it’s a double-edge sword. There are times when it comes on and it affects my writing, though I think in a good way. I’ve never published any of my non-erotica work, but I sometimes think I can mine deeper meaning from life and put that in a lot of my non-erotica work at times, or perhaps write in a different manner during that period.   Who knows, maybe it does show up in my erotica work as well – maybe a little in LETHAL OBSESSION.

The bad part of it is sometimes it becomes so strong I can’t write. It’s not what I would call debilitating – I still manage to get to work, come home, keep up a life (though even that can be quite difficult at times), but when I’m in those periods that’s about all I do. I can’t write, can’t really focus. (As an aside, that’s why I rarely take on commitments to do book reviews, or editing/beta reading work – sometimes I just can’t get it done, and I don’t want to miss a deadline or let someone down – of course I feel badly about this, about not being as helpful as I’d like to others – but that’s another discussion).

Then the depression will start to lift and gradually the writing comes back. And when it does, at least for a short while, it all seems fresh and new like I’m really accomplishing something.

As for overcoming it, I just try to learn to live with it, roll with it and, at times, use it. Overcoming, though, isn't a done-deal, it's a continual process.

So, there it is. The biggest single ongoing obstacle to my writing and how I try to overcome it. Hope that wasn’t too serious for you. But I did say I'd answer most anything!

More coming tomorrow...

Shandra Miller is the author of the erotica/suspense novel LETHALOBSESSION, available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Thus far the novel has garnered high praise by reviewers at Amazon (click here to see them), B&N (click here), and on various book review sites (click here to find a few of them).





Wednesday, April 17, 2013

LETHAL OBSESSION Book Blast, and a lady who'll bring new sales to your work

Friday is the big day for me – the start of the LETHAL OBSESSION Book Blast Tour, hosted by the incomparable J.M. Schroder.

The Tour will include some interviews with me, a few reviews of LETHAL OBSESSION, and some other highlights. Who knows, we might even manage a few giveaways’ along the way.

What’s LETHAL OBSESSION about? Well, if you’ve been reading my blog, you probably already know, but I’ll give you the short version here:

Angela Martin is like everyone else. She wants acceptance. Love. Passion.

For five years she’s lived with the pain of knowing her husband cheats on her. She’s dealt with the heart-rending rejection by rebuilding her life around her work, becoming the first woman detective in the history of the Moose Creek, N.C., police department.

Then she stumbles upon him. A man who reawakens desire, who makes her feel more alive than she believed possible by pulling her into a world of bondage and dominance, devotion and trust taken to a new level, fear mingling with desire, a craving stronger than any drug.

Soon women start turning up dead in Moose Creek, bound and tortured, tied in ways that Angela finds startling familiar. Angela’s heart tells her that her newfound love cannot be the killer, her detective instincts tell her otherwise, and her obsession with this new lifestyle draws her back to him, even at the risk of her life.

LETHAL OBSESSION is a tale of sex and bondage, love and fear, desire and suspicion, with an ending that will leave you breathless, craving more.

If you’d like to go ahead and download your copy of LETHAL OBSESSION at Amazon.com or get a version for your Nook.

                                                                          ***
Now, a little about J.M. Schroder.

I gotta tell you, she wears more hats than any person I know – mommy, wife, students, writer (check out her Daughters of Eden), and entrepreneur. I’ll say a few words on that last one. She’s working toward operating a marketing business for authors (and others, I hope), and I’m one of her first.

Yes, she’s been gentle with me, and oh so exciting! LETHAL OBSESSION is my first longer work, released at the first of March. I was happy with sales – I got a few out of the gate, and had one or two trickling in each day after that, until I met J.M.

She was gracious enough to take me under her wing a bit, give me a few ideas on marketing my work, and she even posted word of my novel at a couple of places. Let me tell you, my sales took a little spike immediately. One day I saw 15 sales in about eight hours, another day a half-dozen sales in a couple of hours, all because of a couple of little things she did.

I had to take a recent break from marketing and being online much, so my sales have dipped since then, but I am absolutely sold on what she can do. Now she’s putting together a Book Blast for me and I can hardly wait!

I don’t know if she has a lot of time at present, but I can tell you if you can work your way onto her schedule, it will be well worth the cost as an investment in your future.

And no, I’m not getting anything out of this – I’m just really, really sold on her ability to organize and carry out a marketing campaign, and I wanted to take this chance to thank her, and to tell you check her out! If you're a writer, you will not regret it!