Monday, March 10, 2014

Shandra Miller's new release is HOT

The gorgeous Shandra Miller answers some questions from Tonya!
Shandra Miller
Erotic Romance
Tonya:  Readers love to know more about their authors. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Shandra: Ah, this is one question that always gives me trouble, I never know what to say. I live in the mountains of Southwest Virginia now, having moved here last year. I live a pretty sedate life – I go to work, I write, I like to go running, especially when it's cool and misty. I like to lie outside in the dark and look at the stars.

Tonya:  Do you have a day job? 

Shandra: Yes, I work as a waitress at two restaurants. I don't mind the work (except when I have to work breakfast at ungodly morning hours), I enjoy meeting people, but I hope to one day write full-time. Then again, I suppose most writers have that dream.

Tonya:  Some of us have things we do to get into the writing frame of mind like music, or drinks. Do you have anything special you do to get into the writing mood?
Shandra: This will sound kinda odd, but I play Bejeweled. When I'm getting ready to write for a long stretch, for two or three hours at a time, I play Bejeweled for ten minutes or so. I just like playing, and it clears my mind. I get a big old Diet Mountain Dew or Pepsi Max, play Bejeweled for a bit, then I write. If I don't have that much time to write, if I only have a thirty minute or hour stretch, I don't do anything, I just sit down and dive in. 

Tonya:  Where do you keep story ideas? Where do they come from? 

Shandra: Most of the time I just keep them in my head. I'm always coming up with different ideas, working out story lines while I'm driving to or from work, taking a shower, running, wherever I am. As for where the ideas come from, that's hard to say. If I'm in the midst of writing erotica, I tend to see everything through the lens or eroticism and come up with those sorts of stories. If I'm thinking about horror, then everything I see and hear spurs some sort of horrorish story idea.

     Whatever genre I'm working in, most of my stories start with me asking "what if?" With my novel Lethal Obsession, for instance, I saw some people posting personal ads on Craigslist (no, I wasn't there looking), so I thought "What if there was a woman, a career woman who was successful, but she was looking for something more, a companion, a friend, someone who might grow into an intimate relationship." Then I thought through several scenarios and asked what if about each one. The one that seemed most interesting to me was "What if she met a man, they started chatting online, about life, hopes, maybe their talks grew intimate, they shared fantasies, their conversations strayed to the idea of playing some BDSM games, and then they decided to act them out."
      At that point, the basic germ of the story was the same as a thousand other erotica tales, so I started thinking what would make it different, add something to the genre, and I thought, "What if she was a cop, maybe they got together, but afterward there was a murder, and she found the victim had been bound and treated exactly as she had."
      So, had my character been with a killer? She really liked being with him, wanted to experience the fantasy again, but what if there was danger involved? That's how Lethal Obsession, and the sequels (Helpless and Surrender) came about. That's how most of my stories start – what if? 

Tonya:  If you’re self-published, can you tell us a bit about that and how it’s going for you?
Shandra: Yes, I'm self-published. I would love to walk into a book store one day, see books on the shelf with my name on them, but it's so, so, so hard to break into that industry, and not necessarily for any reasons relating to quality of the work. Even if one does make it into that traditional publishing world, it's a slow moving industry. You're talking months of going back and forth – maybe years – trying to get an agent, then the same amount of time (or longer) trying to get a publisher, and then another year or two before the book ever sees print. Then, there's no guarantee you'll get much of anything out of it – unless you're a big selling author, you're probably not going to get much support, not much in the way of sales.

     So, at least for now, I'm doing the self-publishing route. It's not easy. Authors are responsible for building an audience, for marketing, advertising, learning how to operate their website or blog, how to get the word out, they have to oversee the cover design, editing – every facet of the process. That's been the hard thing for me, doing all the other stuff besides the writing. 
     It's been a struggle, I don't mind saying. There have been times when I wondered if my efforts were ever going to amount to much. But, just over the past couple of months I seemed to have turned a corner, or at least gotten a look around the corner. My sales are picking up, the marketing has started to fall in line a bit more, so overall I think it's going well at present.

Tonya:  Are you a daytime writer, night time writer, and do you have to be alone to write?
Shandra: I write whenever I can, honestly. If I'm not working in the mornings, I write first thing after I get up. If I am working early in the day, I spend the late afternoon or evening at the computer. I do write alone a lot just because I am alone a fair amount – my roommate works different hours than I do some days. But, if there are people around, I just plug in some ear buds, turn up the music and ignore everyone around me. 

Tonya:  What advice would you give to new authors?
Shandra: The best advice I can give is just write. Don't spend a lot of time on discussion boards, or playing on Facebook, don't spend a lot of time worrying about people who are critical of indie writers or on people who have bad things to say about your writing. Just write. Find some trusted writer friends who will give you honest feedback, find a few successful indie writers who blog regularly about what they are doing and follow those blogs religiously to stay up with what's going on in the world of indie publishing, and then keep writing.

Tonya:  Do you write better when you first have an idea of what your characters look like or do you write, then add character looks?

Shandra:  I add the character's looks, their physical appearance, as I write. Sometimes I'm not sure what they look like until I'm working on the story and come to a point where I need to know. I try to work on character development as well as the character looks – I want to know what drives them, why they act in the manner they act.

Tonya:  What attracts you most about men?

Shandra: I'd love to sit here and tell you I'm such a highly evolved woman that looks don't matter, and in large part they don't – I mean, I'm not looking for a model, not attracted to the bodybuilder type. But I do like a guy who's in shape, who takes care of himself, someone who's funny, doesn't take himself too seriously.

Tonya:  We’re dying to hear about your latest book. What can you tell us without spoiling the storyline?

Shandra: Well, it's the third part of the Lethal Obsession Trilogy, and I'll just share the short version of the book promo -
NEXT WEEK - the Lethal Obsession Trilogy Excerpt!
Tonya:  What is your favorite night time snack?

Shandra:  Cap'n Crunch cereal. Or tacos. Close call between the two of them.

Tonya:  Do you like toppings on your ice cream?

Shandra: Oh yeah. Pineapple, chocolate syrup (not fudge!), nuts, whipped cream, and about a half-dozen cherries. Wow, when you write it out that seems like a lot.
Tonya:  What’s your favorite meal - Italian, Mexican, Thai, etc?
Shandra: Mexican, hands down.

Tonya: It's always a pleasure to have you visit and chat with my readers! Thank you!  

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