Name Sandra R Neeley
Where are you from Southeast Louisiana, USA
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’m a new author. Well, relatively new on the scene. I write Paranormal Romance with a small town feel. Why, you may ask? Romance, because who doesn’t love a good romance, and Paranormal because, well, normal is highly overrated, so Paranormal it is.
Just a bit about me, I’m 53, I have two kids, one 30 and one 10 (yes, God does have a sense of humor), one grandchild, one husband, and a menagerie of animals. Literally, too damn many things that eat wandering around our property. I love to cook, I am a voracious reader. I am a homebody and prefer my reading time to a huge crowd. I have had stories and fictional characters wandering around in my head for as long as I can remember. I just recently started letting them out into the real world and I loving writing as much, if not more than, reading. I am a Self-Published Author, and I like it that way because I can decide what and when to write. I am by no means a formal, polished, properly structured individual and neither are my stories. But people seem to love the easy flow of emotion and small town feel that naturally flows from them. A bit of a warning though, there are some “triggers” in them that some people should avoid. I’m a firm believer that you cannot have light without the dark. You cannot fully embrace the joy and elation that my characters eventually find if you do not bear witness to their darkest hours first. So please be sure to read the warnings supplied with each of the synopses about my books.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I have just topped over a thousand copies sold of my first book, “I’m Not A Dragon’s Mate!” I am sooo excited about this! I never thought anyone other than myself and my mother would buy my books, but the response has been phenomenal!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always dabbled a little bit, but I didn’t start getting serious about it until July of 2016. My husband bought me a laptop and said, “Here, write them!”
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started having readers contacting me wanting to know when I was going to release the next one. One even emailed me in the middle of the night to beg me to be sure that a certain evil character got what was coming to him! LOL
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always read, voraciously. And I would tell my husband about the stories I read that really appealed to me. Then I’d tell him a little, just a little, about the stories in my head. And he’d tell me write them down. July 4th weekend he came home with a laptop, handed it to me, and said, “Write them down!” So I cried a little (I was so touched that he actually believed enough in my stories to go out and buy me a computer to write them on) then I started typing.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
It’s kind of hard to pinpoint. Some make outlines, some have a story board. I don’t do any of that. I’m not a polished, form fitted; structured person and neither are my books. I just listen to my characters. Yeah, I know that sounds a little unhinged, but that’s what I do. One of them will start whispering a little, then they start showing me a movie. They show me an entire scene from beginning to end, like I’m watching a movie. All I do is type what I see and what I hear.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For my first book, the lead character, Avaleigh, spends a lot of time shouting at people, “I’m Not A Dragon’s Mate!” So when I was trying to come up with a title, I thought it was perfect. It explains so much of the book in just those little words. And for the records…, boy was she wrong! For the second, Bane’s Heart, it means several different things. Of course Bane is the main character, but the title is indicative of his heart, which is huge, but scarred, his mate, whom he calls his Heart, and the healing that must take place for both of them in order for them to have their HEA.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
You know, I didn’t plan for there to be, I just love shifters and romance. But my readers have latched onto a theme that I didn’t realize played through. Family. Loyalty. Strength in the foundation of family. Perseverance. The fact that Family doesn’t have to be blood. It can be any group of individuals that love one another, and continuously put each other before their own personal needs and how these qualities make for a successful, happy life.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are several people that I know in each of my books. I write Paranormal, so of course most of the story line is not real. Maybe a scene or two is taken from my life, but not the entire plot. But the characters…, Maverik and Goldy are people that I’ve known in real life. I changed their names, but they are real people. And some of Avaleigh’s personality is some from someone I know.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Laurann Dohner’s New Species, and Susan Bliler’s SkinWalkers are all books that let me know that my personal, private fantasies were not so far out of left field that I was completely off kilter! LOL. And they continue to be some of my favorite books to this day. I will regularly reread any of their books. A Mentor? I don’t really have a mentor so to speak, but there are several authors that reached out to me when I first started. I asked for advice and these authors took time out of their days to talk to me. Brynn Paulin, Jeanette Lyn, Susan Bliler. There have been several others along the way, but these are the first few that reached out when I asked for advice. For the most part, the Indie book community is a very supportive place. There are some authors that I have been surprised by their lack of empathy or interest in others, but for the most part, they are a fantastic community.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have enough space to tell you of all the new authors that I’ve discovered, but here are a few. Jennifer Julie Miller writes sweet romance from a multi genre point of view, Joann Herley writes historical medieval vampires. There are just so many that are so good! LS Anders is another to watch too, she’s got a great imagination and a fantastic new novel, Vehn, full of romance, intrique, eroticism and soulmates.
Favorite Author: That’s really a tough one. I like several for different reasons. I love the badassery, yet the total devotion to their shellans in JR Ward’s BDB. I love the strength, yet the vulnerability of Laurann Dohner’s New Species. I love the zaniness if Jeannette Lyn’s Cosmic Soulmates. I love the eroticism in Brynn Paulin’s novels, all of them, pick one, it’s hot! It’s impossible for me to choose just one author as a favorite.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Jennifer Julie Miller. I have been fortunate to have several different individuals embrace my books, fall in love with my characters and help promote me on their book sites as well as become dear friends. But Jennifer Julie Miller reached out to me individually, I’d never heard of her. She looked me up, found me, and immediately started promoting my books right along with hers. I actually believe she posts my covers and blurbs more than I do. She is a phenomenal lady and a great friend.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d love to write full time! But then I love my daytime job also, so it would be really hard to leave it. I’ll have to think about that one. It would not be an easy decision.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Not the latest one. But the first one I have revised twice. I was so excited to finally get one of my stories out that I did not properly edit it before I put it out.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was a creative kid, always drawing and reading, and writing poetry. Which I sucked at by the way. Really bad poems! My mother bought me a book when I had pneumonia one year, it was called Maia. And I got the idea of epic novels in my head. Then my fantasies started and began to grow….
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Hmmm. Okay, just a little…It’s unedited, but here’s a little piece…
A wolf’s howl sounded in the distance. “That’d be Mav. He’s headed this way.” Kaid moved a step or two toward the front of the truck threw back his head and allowed his Bear’s roar to answer Mav’s howl. A few short yips replied. Kaid turned to move back to where his friends stood near the truck bed, but movement from inside the cab caught his eye. He stopped to focus on what was inside the cab of the truck and his heart stopped. There, inside the truck, staring back at him from the other side of the rolled up window, was the most beautiful creature he’d ever laid eyes on. She had long, black hair, with sparse, wispy silver streaks running the length of it here and there, huge violet eyes with long black lashes that he noticed skimmed her cheeks when she blinked; high, sharp cheekbones; full, dusty rose colored, pouty lips, and a delicate pointed nose. She was staring at him just as intensely as he was staring at her. He stepped closer to the truck, lifted one hand and placed it on the window, palm toward her. She looked at his hand for a moment, then lifted her own and placed it palm to palm with his, only the glass separating them.
Bam was standing on the porch watching, “Kaid?”
Kaid didn’t answer; he was entranced with the female in Amos’ truck.
Bam tried again, louder this time, “Kaid!”
Kaid heard him this time, “What, Bam?” he barely whispered.
Kaid broke his attention from the stunning woman in the truck and snapped his head around to pin Bam with a glare, question there but unspoken.
“Told you to hang on, she was comin’.” He grinned at Kaid and shoved the rest of his sandwich in his mouth.
Kaid’s mouth went slack, his brain ceased to function beyond the repetition of one thought, “Mine!”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes, I have so much happening at any given time it’s hard to get it all down clearly. Every scene has multiple characters in it and they all want to say something. It’s hard to keep it from getting too wordy!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet, but I’ve started to get requests from readers to attend signings. So maybe, in the not to far distant future…
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Cindy Falk, from Southern Graphics and Print. She is an amazing graphic designer. I tell her the story line, send her the man candy photo I’ve chosen and she does the rest!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Fear of rejection. A book is a reflection of your innermost thoughts, dreams, fantasies. They’re a piece of your soul, your heart. If they are ridiculed or someone slams them, it’s like they are attacking you personally. It’s really hard to put yourself out there like that.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes! Not to doubt yourself. Not to let fear hold you back from anything! Do you realize how many people never truly live, never even attempt to reach their aspirations because they are afraid of failure? So Many!
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
I don’t know. Each of my characters is so real and detailed in my head, I’m not sure I could find anyone to play them to my satisfaction. But the one that I’ve thought, Hmmm, that could be…, is Charlie Hunnam, he could be Kaid.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes. Write with your heart. Do not worry about structure, or formats or a perfectly presented classically formulated novel. If you have something to say just write it! And when you have it edited, do not allow the editor to take the heart out of it. Make sure your emotion and passion stays in the forefront. The right readers will find you if you write from your heart.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. Thank you for taking a chance on a new author. Thank you for loving my people(characters), and thank you for all your kind words and support! I love you guys!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Brukr, Dragons of Preor by Celia Kyle. I have a teeny, tiny obsession with Dragons!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes, I would sit with my grandfather and he would read me over and over again, Little Black Sambo. I loved that book and to this day have an original copy.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I have a very warped sense of humor. I was rubbing my husband’s foot one day and I accidentally put his pinkie toe out of socket…, I couldn’t fix it because I couldn’t stop laughing. Yes, I’m one of those who laughs when people fall or do something to hurt themselves. I’ll help them, but I have to stop laughing first. I know, I’m terrible. Cry? love, sincerity, innocence. Pride… I cry when I pay tribute to anything military or patriotic. I cry when I see a marching band go by in a parade.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
JR Ward. She says her BDB speak to her and tell her/show her what to write. My people do the same so I would love to meet her, pick her brain. I’d probably fan girl out though and not ask her anything at all!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“She did it!” Because I did. I achieved so many things that I never thought I would. I’m a Mom, I’m an author. I have friends all over the world. I never imagined I’d be anything to anyone, I was painfully shy growing up, PAINFULLY! And I had a really bad case of agoraphobia for several of my teenage years. And I finally just said, enough! You have to try. And I did it. Besides, it would make everybody who saw it wonder “What? What the hell did she do?” 😀
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Not really. I’m usually busy shuttling my daughter to all of her events. I have to carve out time to write.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
One of my favorite movies is Made in Heaven. I love PS I Love you, Hope Floats, Practical Magic. I like things that make me smile and make me feel good. I do not like things that will make me feel bad, or cause angst. Life in general is filled with enough of that, it’s one reason that ALL my stories will have a HEA. They will have darkness too, but will always end with HEA. At Christmas time my favorite show is the original animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love seafood, Brussel sprouts, fried oysters, mac and cheese, and country foods: black eyes peas, cornbread, fried pork chops, meatloaf. My favorite colors are Purples, Silvers, Greys and Charcoals. Music, I grew up Rock and Roll and Motown, but now I love Country. I’m pretty eclectic though, not a lot I don’t enjoy or know all the words to.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Paint. I’ve always wished I could create beautiful canvases filled with landscapes, seascapes, fantastical creatures.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it? I do.