Archive for the ‘Blog post’ Category

Branded Chapter One

Posted: February 20, 2017 in Blog post, Sneak peek
Tags: , , ,

branded-fbcover-v1

 

Sexy young woman with black hair in a white shirt undressing in front of a window

Warning: Contains explicit language and imagery. Suitable only for ages 18 and over.

ONE

 

After a long night of shaking her ass in Sizzle, Nya Yorke was ready to go home. Wiping down her workstation behind the bar, she was the most conscientious of the employees because she was the manager. Responsibility for cashing out and locking the takings in the safe was hers, meaning she had to keep her head on straight until the last second of her shift, even when exhaustion had other ideas.

The muted blue lighting of the vast nightclub space was perfect for shady dealings and intimate encounters. Drugs and loud music accompanied the partiers in this place where nothing was off-limits. No one batted an eye at the amorous, the lines of white powder cut on the booth tables, or the concealed weapons some customers carried.

The night was over. The strobes and the music were off. She and Jamie were the only two bar staff left. Three security men were doing a last sweep, and once the place was confirmed secure they’d lock up and get out of there.

“Anything else you need me to do?” Jamie asked, flopping her arms on the bar from the patrons’ side.

The cute blonde with the pixie cut drew plenty of attention with her bubbly personality. Most of the people who worked, or frequented, this establishment were jaded, cynical, and in need of oblivion. Jamie was none of those things. The youth smiled with ease, she laughed, and could turn anything into a positive. Men loved her because she exuded innocence that they wanted to corrupt. Nya had nothing against her colleague, there were times her optimism was grating, but she got her work done without complaining.

If they were in a better neighborhood, she’d have sent Jamie home by this time. Except at three thirty in the morning, no one was safe on the streets around here. After herding the customers out, the rest of the staff were sent home in couples and groups. No one was confident about leaving alone. Policy didn’t exist to protect them; there was no staff policy around here except to show up on time.

Jamie stayed draped over the bar, awaiting instructions. Nya had none. “No, I’m finished,” she said. “Tell the guys we’re done.”

Turning toward the main floor, Jamie began to walk away. Nya guessed she’d head for the break room that was accessible on the opposite wall by a door marked, “Employees Only.” Containing a few couches and a stained beanbag, none of the lockers were functional, but it gave the others a place to stash their things while they were on shift. Not Nya; she didn’t leave anything of hers in a place she couldn’t see at all times.

Nya ducked down to get her purse from the lowest shelf underneath the bar where she kept it in a secret corner. She didn’t have anything valuable in her long-strap, leather slouch bag, and there were no more than a few bucks in her wallet. Defending her privacy was the only thing she strove for every day, and her purse was sort of a symbol of that.

Instead of going to the breakroom, Jamie went toward the corridor that bottlenecked the entrance, either to shout what Nya had said to the bouncers or to make her way out. Before she got there, a shout and a scuffle reverberated down the hallway and echoed into the cavernous club.

Nya surged to her feet in time to see five masked men burst in. The first grabbed a screaming Jamie and pulled her to his chest, trapping her wrists in his hand between her breasts. Shuffling forward, to allow his cohorts to swarm in behind him, the assailant raised the mass of a silenced gun barrel to Jamie’s temple.

Her colleague’s screaming drowned out the specifics of the men’s shouted conversation. The one with ahold of Jamie was trying to give out instructions and wasn’t being heard, so he clamped a hand over Jamie’s mouth to stifle her panicked shrieks.

Being the only other one there, all spare guns were pointed at Nya, and she raised her hands on instinct. Her duties around here didn’t extend into giving up her life to tweakers. “In there, go!” the man holding Jamie ordered Nya into the breakroom.

With weapons waving at her, Nya kept her hands up and came out from behind the bar to do as directed. Sizzle wasn’t the type of place to die for; she worked there, but didn’t benefit from the takings beyond her wage. If these guys wanted a windfall, she’d open the safe, but they’d regret it. The club owner wouldn’t take kindly to being robbed by disorganized chancers like these guys.

They were wearing ski masks and carrying guns, but their movements were frantic, proving that they were ill-at-ease. She was swept into the circle of men and squeezed through the breakroom door, with two in front of her and three behind.

Before the door closed, one of the men grabbed her. Struggling to get loose, she was rushed to the furthest wall and thrown against it to be pinned by two men. The lump of her purse, shielded her from his hips when the one in front tried to grind closer. That action suggested a different ballgame and one she would fight against.

Giving up the company cash would be easy. Relinquishing her body to them? No. She’d rather die. Trying her hardest to lash out, Nya pushed and kicked, but these guys were bigger than she was and her might didn’t match their capabilities.

Being so petite, she’d learned fast that she didn’t physically trump many people, and although she’d taken self-defense classes, her strength was feeble. Her body just wasn’t built to carry muscle.

Jamie was screaming again. The gut-wrenching sound of terror was unsettling, but at least it told Nya that the woman was alive. Shaking her hair away from her face, she stopped fighting to look beyond the men pressing her to the wall. Their tight hands bruised her limbs and their body weight restricted her breathing, but she tried to ignore the implication of their intrusive conduct.

Checking on Jamie was meant to reassure her, to give her a distraction that would help to focus her own mind. Instead what she saw was Jamie being thrust onto the couch and felt up by two of the other men. The last man was at her ankles, pulling them apart, rubbing his way up her legs and giving his friend access to wrench up Jamie’s skirt.

“Hey! Leave her alone!” Nya exclaimed, forgetting for a second that she had her own problems.

A quick reminder was unwelcome; she tried to push away from the wall, but was quickly shoved against it again. The impact knocked the wind from her lungs and her shoulders were grabbed to pull her forward and slam her back once more.

Any lingering illusion that this was a simple robbery was erased when the assailant spoke with purpose. “You’ll get yours once you tell me where he is,” one of the grotesque molesters snarled in her face.

Hands on her breasts had to belong to the second man, because the first still grasped her shoulders. But she closed her mind to the assault, switching into a survival mode she’d used before.

“Who?” Nya asked. “Who are you talking about?”

Jamie kept screaming. Nya’s wavering view allowed her to see her co-worker being wrestled onto the floor after she’d kicked out at the man on top of her. Pleased to see the youngster fighting back, Nya smiled, maybe that girl wasn’t so innocent after all.

Payback came quickly when another of the men knelt over Jamie to punch her face and chest while another grasped his groin and swore in pain. Good for Jamie, she’d hurt the bastard; from his watering eyes and red face, Nya would say she’d got him good. The third wasn’t amused and wasn’t put off either, he scrambled up the floor between Jamie’s legs and began to thrust his arm in a stabbing motion at the apex of Jamie’s thighs. His fingers at least would be inside her and his manic movements would be agonizing for the kid.

The screaming stopped and the puncher climbed off Jamie to stand up and wipe sweat from his upper lip. When he noticed the blood on his knuckles, he bent down and ripped Jamie’s top from her body, exposing her to use her apparel to wipe the blood from his hands and face.

Concern iced Nya’s organs, Jamie’s head flopped one way and then the other. God, Nya hoped there was still life in the woman. The groin-clutcher snatched his friend from between Jamie’s thighs and tossed him aside, leaving him to clamber onto his feet. He kicked Jamie between her open legs and yanked open his jeans, pulling his dick out before dropping to the floor to lie over the unconscious Jamie.

Each of his violent thrusts into the junior pushed bile from Nya’s stomach. Ominous red bubbles popped from Jamie’s mouth in a foam. They could be breaths, Nya hoped they were because there were no other signs of life. Jamie wasn’t conscious or moving, she couldn’t be, not after the assault of blows to the head rained upon her by the other.

The other two men jeered as the third raped the lifeless woman on the floor, and Nya had to come to terms with the knowledge that she was next.

“Like the show?” the man holding her asked, slapping her back to her own predicament. Propping an elbow on the wall over her shoulder, he seemed to want to watch what was going on with Jamie, which had to be what caused the delay in his interrogation. But he couldn’t suspend it all night, so got into her face again. “Tell us where he is!”

“Who!” Nya screamed, tormented by the torture of her friend and the prospect of her own fate. “Who do you want!”

“Taggert!” he demanded, spittle and halitosis cascaded over her face until she wretched. “You know! You know where he is! Tell me!”

The one answer she couldn’t give. Wouldn’t give. Jamie was enduring a second man on top of her, and when she began to whimper, got a kick to the head and went quiet again.

“I don’t,” Nya said, knowing she was going to anger these men more. “I don’t know where he is!”

Two more masked men burst in, drawing the concerned attention of everyone except the man on top of Jamie who was pumping hard and fast, grunting with each forward invasion. “He’s not here,” one of the new men said without blinking an eye at the ongoing rape.

The man with a hold of her was in charge because the two new entrants were awaiting instruction from him. His distraction gave Nya a chance to assess Jamie’s chances. While being fucked by one man, the second waited his turn. The other, who’d been the first to take his turn on top, spat in Jamie’s mouth then knelt over her to force his dick between her lips.

Jamie wasn’t moving, her face was a bloody mess, her eyes swollen, but when he pushed in hard, Jamie’s body expanded and lifted in a gag reflex. She was still alive, for now, though after enduring this at the hands of these letches, she may wish that she wasn’t.

The one standing, waiting for a chance to have his fun, unbuckled his belt in anticipation, like he was excited about the prospect of his turn to assault the defenseless woman who was only a fraction more responsive than a corpse.

Nya’s chin was grabbed and her assaulter forced her to look at him. “Look at me, you’ll get your fun time, soon as you tell me where he is.”

Anticipation wasn’t what made her watch, and if the point of this exercise was to scare her with the show then it was working. But it wasn’t just fear burning inside her, it was anger too. “When he finds you, he’ll kill you,” Nya snarled. “Do you have any idea who you’re dealing with?”

“We know it and we want him. He doesn’t scare us.”

Either this guy was ignorant or had an army larger than the one present. If he wanted to take on Taggert, he’d need one. “He should scare you,” Nya said. “He’ll torture you and your men for weeks. He’s going to make you suffer before he kills you. No one crosses Taggert.”

“A lot of spunk for such a little thing,” he said, pulling his gun from his waistband to step back and press the cool circle of the barrel tip to the center of her forehead, rendering her immobile.

Closing her eyes, she waited for the shot. Fear receded to an odd peace that was shattered when a fresh pair of hands, probably belonging to his partner, grabbed her shirt to pull it open. Flattening her hands on the wall on either side of her, she could do nothing but let him fondle as much as he liked. The weight of the gun was heating as it dug deeper into her, pinning her head between it and the wall.

Opening her eyes, Nya burned her fury into the eyes of the man with the gun whose perverse smile sickened her further. Two men closed in behind him and after feeling her up, one crouched to pull up her skirt.

These were the two men who’d just come in, and she guessed the other three were still with Jamie; because she couldn’t shift her skull an inch, the barrel was bruising her forehead. “Pretty girl like you could show my boys a good time; would that persuade you?” the gun-bearer asked.

Narrowing her gaze in defiance of the invading hands roaming her body, Nya didn’t want to show them how their violation curdled her blood because it would only goad them on.

“Tell us what we want to know and we’ll leave you alone.”

She didn’t believe him, but she wouldn’t answer his question even if she did. The door opened, though Nya couldn’t see through the mass of men, so she didn’t know what was happening. Holding her breath, she waited to find out what would happen next.

“You fuck everything up, Jonno.”

The hands left her body when the men whipped around. The gun at her head fell away too as the man holding it twisted to look toward the door on the opposite side of the room.

Just inside was a dark-haired, scruffy-faced thug. Whoever he was, he didn’t wear a mask like the others, his hands hung loose at his sides, carrying no weapons, no care in the world. The three men on Jamie hadn’t been disturbed by anything until this; in her peripheral vision she saw no movement, and the noise of their jeering and grunting had ceased.

“Fuck off, Archer, we got this.”

The gun was pushed into her ribs until the pressure became an uncomfortable pain and she winced.

“That her?” the new guy, who she now knew was called Archer, asked.

Glancing past the gunman, she watched Archer swagger up to them. One slow step followed another, like he was a guy sauntering over to a bar for a drink and not one who’d just walked in on a despicable crime taking place. He kept on coming until he was hanging over Jonno, the one holding the gun.

Archer was much taller than the man who threatened her with his weapon; she’d guess he stood at six-four. His broad shoulders weren’t bulky, but there was a strength in them, a tension that made her insides recoil.

Tapered brown eyes met hers for half a second, then dropped to her exposed breasts. “Copping a feel more important than getting the job done, Jonno?”

Lunging past Jonno, Archer grabbed her forearm and hauled her forward, through the other men. The pain of his grip didn’t decrease when he pulled her along, but he didn’t get far. Jonno grabbed her other arm to halt her and the other men closed in.

“You’re not taking her,” Jonno snapped. “Not until we know.”

Jonno and his buddies had manhandled her, hanging threats of violence and rape over her head to scare her and they’d worked, though she did her best to conceal her terror. Without physical strength, she’d learned to project confidence. Being fearless, and facing adversity head on was the only way she got through life.

But the guy trying to steal her from the crime scene was better than her at remaining aloof, he didn’t bat an eye at Jonno’s fierce attitude. “Has she told you yet?” Archer asked.

The two men were growling at each other, sneering and annoyed, but they didn’t make any direct threats of physical confrontation, suggesting this was the proverbial circling of the prey. Being right in the middle, if one chose to attack, she’d be caught in the crossfire.

Some of Jonno’s bluster deflated. “We were getting there.”

“Sure you were,” Archer said. While she fixated on Jonno to judge his reaction to Archer’s nonchalance, her nipple was flicked through her bra by Archer’s rigid fingertip. Gasping at the unexpected action, she tugged her body back, but neither man let her go. “You had your chance, Jonno, now it’s my turn.”

He pulled again, Jonno pulled back. Archer’s chin moved forward and his eyes went up like he was pissed off that this guy was testing his patience. “She stays with us,” Jonno asserted.

Archer strode in close to Jonno, keeping her between them as the meat in the distressing sandwich. “You left those fucking bodies lying in the street,” Archer snarled. “Tick, tock, little man, how long you got ‘til the cops show up?” As if on cue, sirens sounded and all of the men in the room tensed. All except Archer. Nya’s back was to Jamie and her assailants, but she heard them scramble. “This bitch is our one link, our one lead, who’ll get what we need? You or me?”

That was enough of a prompt. For some reason, Archer’s question clinched Jonno’s decision. The men shared another brief glare, then Jonno released her and stepped back with his hands up. The others backed off too and the sirens got louder.

Without waiting, Archer hauled her toward the door and she pulled back, trying to delay him as long as she could in hopes that the cops would arrive before he could get her out of here. But he wasn’t slowed down.

Picking her up with one swoop of his arm, he tossed her over his shoulder and clamped a hand on her ass. The other pinned her legs to his torso to prevent her from kicking.

Resorting to using her core, she tried to buck away and punched at his back. But he didn’t slow down, didn’t flinch, he just kept shrugging her back up with the powerful shoulders she’d done well not to underestimate.

His athletic body had strength from the tips of his hair to the depth of his bones. He carried her out of Sizzle’s front entrance, over the bodies of the security guards that were dead in the street just as he’d described.

“Stop! Please! Help!” she called out at the top of her lungs.

“Hush,” Archer said and paused.

Just when she thought he might put her down and give her the chance to run, she heard a click then she was tossed onto her ass. The hard landing made her bounce and she hit the back of her head on something cold and solid. Blinking through a daze, she clocked that she was in the trunk of a car, just as he covered her mouth with a length of tough duct tape.

Hooking his hands on the edge of the trunk, he leaned down, the sirens were blaring now, but she saw no lights. “Don’t be naughty, Squirm. Obey and we’ll get along great.”

Chucking her chin with the swipe of a knuckle, he winked, stepped back, and slammed the lid on her.

 

 

© Scarlett Finn 2017

 

 

Branded
Amazon US: BUY ON AMAZON.COM
Amazon UK: BUY ON AMAZON.CO.UK
Amazon AU: BUY ON AMAZON.COM.AU

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PromotionalServices

Howdy!
After the rousing success of my last blog post. I decided to supplement it with some specific promotional services available to indie authors. There are a lot of choices out there and we never know which ones are worth pursuing and which should be ignored.
But the first step is having the right information. So below are a series of links to various promotional services for you to look into, research, and make your own decisions. I personally have not used all of these services, so please do your research, no guarantees for sales and/or reviews can be given.

Melissa Tapp – Free Blog Tours
Monark Design Services
Sweet n Sassy FacebookSweet n Sassy Website
Book Heathens Website
Anything But Vanilla Book BlogAnything But Vanilla Promotional Services
Book Rhythm
Pure Texuality PR
Ashley Wheels Promotions
Honest Book Reviews
The Literary Whisp FacebookThe Literary Whisp Website
Like A Boss Book Promotions
Raven PA FacebookRaven PA Website

We didn’t get quite as many responses to this request as we did for the last one. But these are some of the choices available all in one place. I wish you all success!

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Love of darkness and light…

i+love+indie+authors

As an extension of my post yesterday I have decided to compile a list of services that are available to indie authors. Sometimes it can be really difficult, especially when you’re starting out, to know what you’re looking for. Even after you decide to do something it can still be tough to find those out there who can facilitate your project.
So I asked on Facebook for those who provided author services to share links so that I could make a list. Some of these service providers I have used some I have not. It’s up to you to use this list as a starting point. It’s a resource for your research. Some of the services offered will be free and others you will have to pay for, but you will have to create a contract with the provider before you commit to services.
So, check out the websites, do some reading and some chatting, then make decisions and move forward. Good luck!

 

Book Blogs – Reviews & Promotion
Book blogs can open up your work to a world of readers. Some provide book reviews only. Others provide cover reveal events, blog tours, release blitzes and much more!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you know exactly what to expect from the blog.
NOTE: Sales and/or reviews are NEVER guaranteed, so be wary of those who commit to figures.

BitN Book Promoters
BB’s Book Reviews
EDGy Reviews FacebookEDGy Reviews Website
Honest Book Reviews
Madelynn Hill
United Indie Book Blog
the SBB Girls Facebookthe SBB Girls Website
Summer’s Book Blog FacebookSummer’s Book Blog Website
SBB Promotions
Ultimate Fan Blog FacebookUltimate Fan Blog Website
JJ Book Bangers FacebookJJ Book Bangers Website
Melissa Tapp – Free Blog Tours
Anything But Vanilla Book Blog
Smutty Book Friends FacebookSmutty Book Friends Website
Books According To Abby
Dympna’s Book Blog
Book Heathens FacebookBook Heathens Website
Trust Me 2 Forget

PR
PR companies provide a range of services and each should be researched to find the best one for you. Talk to your PR agent in depth to ensure you are comfortable with them before committing.

Indie Sage
Pure Texuality PR
The Hype PR

Editors
You’ve all heard that every book needs an editor and boy is that true. Again, talk to your editor to be sure they understand your vision. Many editors offer beta reading services too. But there is a range of readers out there who can be reached through GoodReads or Facebook who will beta read for you for no fee!

Alchemy And Words Facebook Alchemy And Words Website
Mickey Reed Editing
Editing For You
Edits by V
Starfire Press FacebookStarfire Press Website
Kims Editing Services

Book Covers/Graphics
Check out previous works from book cover artists and get chatting to them. They can help you hone your ideas and produce something that you’ve envisioned, or they can work from scratch and surprise you with their talent!

Mirishka’s Artwork FacebookMirishka’s Artwork Website
Rio Book Cover Art
Bee Graphica
Novel Needs – also provide PA and editing services

Formatting
Formatting is essential. It will be noticed even before a reader picks up on a typo. All authors should present a professional product and to do that you need to get your formatting exactly right.

Formatting Done Wright
Shanoff Formats

 

This is not a full-comprehensive list. There are thousands of websites and service providers out there for authors. Please email me with any questions you have or if you would like to leave your own recommendations I can add those to the list too. Hopefully, this will guide those who are starting out on their indie journey or be useful to veteran authors looking for a new infusion of blood into their work.
Enjoy!

Good luck on your adventures,
xSx

Love of darkness and light…

support-indie-ebooks

 

Despite what the title suggests it is almost impossible for indie authors to conjure an army of fans. Sure, it starts with writing a good book, but it doesn’t end there. The adage that the work is “never done” has never been more true than it is for an indie anything, not just authors.
I’ve been playing with an idea that I can’t quite form into a plan about how to bring readers and authors together. Often the most used ways of communication lack cohesion and an initial contact doesn’t always lead to a lasting relationship. The truth is there are too many other options out there.
Recently I’ve spoken to a number of newbie indie authors who are looking for advice and guidance. It’s surprising just how much knowledge one gains in such a short period of time. In this game you have to learn quick or you’ll find yourself alone and swimming against the current.
It doesn’t help that there are so many people offering author services who are inexperienced or lack the professionalism required to do good work for an author. You can throw all the money in the world at your book, but if you don’t throw it at the right person you’re just going to find yourself poorer and no better off.
We need to come together, to build a platform where new authors can be helped along by more experienced authors and readers need to be a part of that process. If a reader knew just how much time and effort went into not only writing a book but trying to get people to notice it, then I think we would begin to see a movement of readers towards a more committed behaviour.
And newly published writers who work with practised writers would immediately have access to the gathering of readers that followed the latter.
Maybe I’m dreaming of a utopia that will never exist. But I refuse to believe that the knowledge built by one should not be utilised by those who come after.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Love of darkness and light…

images
The title above is sort of intended to be ironic, so please don’t assume that this is a pep talk for the masses. If there was some secret formula for encouraging motivation that worked every time then whoever figured it out would be a billionaire.
Self-help is a massive industry and many people who contribute to it don’t necessarily have professional credentials in the area that they address. Does that matter? Not always. There are people who have a genuine desire to help people and often experience is more valuable that book learning, as it were.
I’ve known people who were big advocates for self-help and I’ve been recommended several products in this area by people who have found it a really helpful tool.
The difficulty I have is that often by the time I’m in a place where these products might need to be called upon, I’m often so far gone that the cynic in me rules all of my thought processes.
I am neither complete pessimist or optimist. I try my best to remain in the latter mindset as often as possible, but sometimes I do slip into the former and for a person like myself that can be a very taxing experience.
Once my thoughts slide into the negative they can often remain there for days becoming increasingly obsessive until I’m ready to jack the whole lot in. I mean why the hell do we bother? What is the point in all of this? Why not take the easy route that seems to work so well for so many?
Those inbetween the two states are often seen as realists and this is always where I identify myself. Working hard is necessary because no one gets anything for nothing; there is always a price. Coasting along is easy, but on that route nothing truly incredible will ever happen and you will remain unremarkable.
So what is the point in all of this? The point is just this, whoever we are, at whatever given time it may be, you have to accept one thing: you are who you are and you control your own destiny. Often things don’t work out the way that we expect them to and if anyone can find an avenue of help to make their life easier then they should grasp that chance. But self-help, no matter how expensive it is, needs one valuable component. The most important central component has to be in place, and receptive, before it has any hope of succeeding: you.
If you have family and friends around you cheering then that’s great, congratulations. But none of them can achieve your dream for you. The work must be yours and you have to want it, breathe it, visualise it. See your goal, keep moving forward, and begin to consider your next goal.
Giving up is always an option, but it leaves you with a what if…? Winning and losing, failing and succeeding, it’s all a state of mind propelled by you. With every breath you take you are succeeding in living, but is that enough? Do you want to survive and nothing more, or do you want to strive for greatness?
Neither choice is right or wrong but it is just that, a choice and only you can make it for yourself.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

hurts
I don’t often reveal much of my personal life. Please don’t be offended by this, I was raised to believe that showing any of your vulnerable underbelly was a weakness should be avoided at all costs. My family taught me that I had nothing of value to say and that none of my emotions were valid.
Perhaps this is why I ensconced myself in books. In their worlds I got to see what it was to have a parent who asked a child about their day or hugged them, something that I didn’t get at home. Fiction was a safe place where anything could happen because it was pure fantasy.
As embarrassing as this is to admit, it’s only really been in the last few years that I’ve realised some people out there do reveal themselves to others. Sadly, I have been conditioned for three decades and so my learned behaviours are fully engrained; opening myself to anyone in person won’t be happening any time soon.
Please don’t feel sorry for me, or laugh, at how pathetic my upbringing was. My father left when I was a child and I lived in a cold environment with my mother where feelings, or discussions of them, were bothersome. You do what needs to be done and that’s it. You get up in the morning, go to work, eat and sleep – that’s about it. There is nothing more to life. At least that’s what I spent my childhood believing.
All of my pitiful ramblings above are the prelude to how I feel this evening, which is why I am chattering. Sometimes I do feel alone. Being estranged from my parents was nothing in my youth when I had a million friends (rather superficial acquaintances) and a frantic social life. But I don’t have that mask disguising the truth anymore.
As luck would have it – or not – when I did find a man to settle down with it turned out that man was an abusive alcoholic who thought only of himself and not of me or our child. Eventually I freed myself from him and now I have a lot to be proud of in my life. My son is smart and beautiful and keeps me going every day. I built a business that I run from home so that I can be there for my son when I need to be and never miss a school show – even if it means working until the early hours when he is asleep.
Writing has been in my life since I was a child, as I said before it offered me an escape and let me explore the emotions I felt but was not allowed to express. But it was my grandmother’s death that prompted me to publish. The woman was a tower of strength, the most incredible person that I have ever known, and one who would give her last to those in need. I’ll admit that she was from a different generation and wasn’t exactly the tactile, warm and fuzzy type, but she cared for my sister and me in a way that no one else ever did and she never made us feel like a burden.
Through the years I have loved and lost in relationships of the romantic and platonic variety. I’ve stood up in courts to defend what is right, even when it broke my heart. What family I did have left I lost when I defended my niece and nephew against the only sister I have, in order to prevent them being subjected to her abuse.
I’ve proved to myself that I have integrity and I have proved that I can, and will, work hard and do what it takes to care for the children whom I love so much. I imagine sometimes that my grandmother watches over them, as she watched over us, and that I have to do for her what she no longer can, because she is not on this earth with us anymore.
But it’s hard, oh god, it’s hard. Tonight I’m feeling blue, as you may have guessed. Having struggled all of my life with depression and anxiety issues I recognise that this will pass, sometimes life slaps you down just to remind you of the strength it takes to stand back up.
Why do I bother? No one in my real life knows that I publish. I was taught to never expose my emotions or inner thoughts, and there isn’t a place more personal or revealing than the words I put onto paper. No one would understand. If they read and saw just what went on within me I’d never be able to look them in the eye again. I’d be embarrassed and ashamed, not because of the explicit content of my novels, but because then they would know that I feel.
But when no one in your real life knows that you publish and you have no one to share your frustrations and triumphs with online either the whole experience becomes so isolating. There’s no one there to say, “Wow, look what you did…” Only writers know how many hours (see months and years) it takes to hone your craft enough to publish. Only writers know how invested we become in our characters and their worlds, and how much of yourself you pour into them.
Spending all of that time writing is one thing. But to publish is a whole other ballgame. You have to learn how to make covers, write your own blurbs, and fill out acknowledgements. Believe it or not, those are the fun parts. Learning the ins and outs of formatting was fun (not) and each platform has its own rules, so getting the hang of KDP means nothing when you head over to Smashwords.
KDP, there’s a laugh. You think you know what that’s about? No one does. And they keep moving the goal posts. Should you give Amazon exclusivity and enter KDP Select? What the hell is KDP Select? Right, ok, so I can’t publish elsewhere and they let me choose promotions from either free days or Kindle Countdown Deals… wait, what? What the hell is Kindle Countdown and do I want it? Ok, pick your dates and how many increments, and fill out all the—pop-up box, “Your book must have been…” and there’s a list, the same price for thirty days, and then you can’t change the price for two weeks after it’s done and… forget it, let’s go with the free days.
I could write a novel on my experience of self-publishing alone. I can’t even count the number of hours I’ve spent reading blogs and Googling terms I’ve never heard of before in my life.
Learning how to publish is a steep curve, but the promotion racket is worse! Then you have to build a website, make teasers and banners, and adverts. You have to run all your own social media, even when you know no one, and have no clue what you’re doing. You sign up for everything that’s going, and never use half of it again, but you sign up anyway.
After all those hours writing the book, formatting and publishing the book, then promoting (making a nuisance of yourself everywhere) the book – all the while wearing your cheery, plastic smile – you look up and realise… it all means absolutely nothing and has gotten you nowhere.
The truth is, the world is too big. It doesn’t matter if you write the best novel in the universe, if you can’t get it out there then no one will ever see it. For the girl who was taught that every time she opened her mouth and uttered a word she was an irritation, it’s very difficult. I am proud that I’ve worked hard and learned so much. I am a grown woman. So why do I still feel that I should apologise for existing?
“This too in time shall pass…”
“Ours is not to wonder why…”
The clichés mount up until you find yourself sitting in the dark at four in the morning wondering why on earth you bother. No one can take writing away from me, but why do I work so hard to do the best I can? I can’t answer that.
I’m a strong person, but I’m not a social person, I’m an observer. I was sent here to watch the world, not to participate in it. I love to watch and to wonder. The trouble is, I’ve spent so many years learning to be invisible that now I’m in a situation where I want to be seen, I don’t have the first clue how to do it.
Anyway, sorry for taking up your time. I’m sure that most won’t get this far in my blether and I’m sure that I’ll be embarrassed tomorrow for writing this. But getting it out there, freeing these words, somehow makes me feel less alone. So thank you, it might be feeble and pathetic, but gratitude is all that I have left.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

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Desperate for aid, Doctor Lyssa Cutler takes a tip from a police officer who can’t officially help her, but knows someone who can – off the record. With an unidentified stalker on her tail, her patients and her practice are in jeopardy so she’s ready to take a risk. Colt Warner knows that this woman will be difficult, but she is so intriguing that he can’t bring himself to turn down her case. But when her specialty in sexual dysfunction brings her into the lives of him and his brothers, Colt wouldn’t have it any other way. Their professional connection quickly becomes personal and Colt finds himself needing Lyssa as much as she needs him.

Desperate for aid, Doctor Lyssa Cutler takes a tip from a police officer who can’t officially help her, but knows someone who can – off the record. With an unidentified stalker on her tail, her patients and her practice are in jeopardy so she’s ready to take a risk.
Colt Warner knows that this woman will be difficult, but she is so intriguing that he can’t bring himself to turn down her case. But when her specialty in sexual dysfunction brings her into the lives of him and his brothers, Colt wouldn’t have it any other way.
Their professional connection quickly becomes personal and Colt finds himself needing Lyssa as much as she needs him.

Wow! What’s this? Another new release?
This book, Take A Risk, is available today! Click here to purchase your copy now!

TAR 2

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

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Doing his job means going undercover to get close to their latest suspect. Choker has been claiming victims and leaving no trace of evidence behind. Blake Carson has done his homework, but nothing can prepare him for what he experiences when he walks into Ashton’s bar to assume his latest role. The bar is Molly’s life, she’s the only person left in the family and so responsibility has fallen to her to keep the business going. But with the murders taking place so close to home, her staff and customers are getting edgy. She can’t afford to lose it all, but she can’t run the place alone. When Blake appears it seems that all of her prayers have been answered. Brought closer by a terrifying event, Molly’s trust in this stranger grows. Blake knows that she’ll discover who he really is and never forgive him for his lies. But he just can’t make himself stay away from the enticing licensee he was supposed to be here to ensnare.

Doing his job means going undercover to get close to their latest suspect. Choker has been claiming victims and leaving no trace of evidence behind. Blake Carson has done his homework, but nothing can prepare him for what he experiences when he walks into Ashton’s bar to assume his latest role.
The bar is Molly’s life, she’s the only person left in the family and so responsibility has fallen to her to keep the business going. But with the murders taking place so close to home, her staff and customers are getting edgy. She can’t afford to lose it all, but she can’t run the place alone. When Blake appears it seems that all of her prayers have been answered.
Brought closer by a terrifying event, Molly’s trust in this stranger grows. Blake knows that she’ll discover who he really is and never forgive him for his lies. But he just can’t make himself stay away from the enticing licensee he was supposed to be here to ensnare.

This is it! We have a new release!
Reluctant Suspicion is available for pre-order now, and it’s available on the 13th of May 2015!
Click here to purchase your copy today!

RSTeaser

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

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Everyone has secrets. Off the top of my head now I can think of three of my own. One is frivilous, probably rather silly, and most would find it funny. The second is salactious and certainly never to be discussed. The third, however, is so deeply personal that I can’t imagine ever revealing it myself to anyone other than those who know me best.
I keep the third secret not only to protect myself, but to protect others. A part of me is ashamed for being so private about something which should be out in the open, but alas, it cannot be. I consider myself a forthright person. Someone who will stand up for what is right no matter the cost and in the past I have proved that I can be just that. Yet, I keep a secret from most of the world about the truth of who I am because, to be honest, it would change every relationship that I have.
We all conceal a part of ourselves. Some dark corner of our being that we don’t want to share with others. For some this part is so small it’s almost not worth acknowledging. For others this part can at times consume us.
In the last couple of months my life has twisted and turned in ways that I wasn’t anticipating. Some events make us evaluate who we are and why we do the things that we do, but we don’t always get the answers that we seek. That doesn’t mean we should stop looking for them. We have to carry on in the face of uncertainty and adversity and hope, that despite our secrets and the truth burning inside of us, that we will come out the other side.
In the meantime, embrace the adventure. It might not take us in a direction that we expect, but who knows what lies at the next stop of our journey? Perhaps the unexpected might not be so sinister after all.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Explicit, #1

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Synopsis

‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’

Stranded and searching for a phone, Flick inadvertently walks into danger, and finds herself living in a nightmare. But an unexpected reprieve comes in the form of a stranger, a looming silhouette more terrifying than the evil that captured her. From him she learns that danger has an alias, Rushe. He is abrupt, crude, domineering…and her only hope for survival.
With freedom a distant memory, Flick is reluctantly drawn into the criminal plot. As she descends further, her entanglement with Rushe becomes deeper. The adventure she started by accident threatens them; but Flick knows it’s not only her life she is battling for, it’s her heart as well.

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Explicit, #2

EDTeaser1

Synopsis

‘I make my own rules.’

Integrating Flick into his life has given Rushe a new priority, to keep his woman where he wants her – safe and in his bed. But saving women who have no hope is a part of who he is, and it doesn’t take long for the next job to seek them out.
Rushe knows the rules, but Flick has never played the game from this side of the table before. Working in parallel, our couple go undercover to expose the crucial details of an intrigue that sinks deeper than they could have predicted.
Ready to get her hands dirty, Flick wades in, relishing the challenge. Except danger closes in on her from all sides, and Rushe has his own cards to play. They have to learn to work together before the job drives them apart.
But if their union is revealed, it could cost them their lives.

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Explicit. #3

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Synopsis

‘There’s no place for that here.’

The past that they’d hoped to outrun has chased them down, and now it wants payback.
To appease their debtors, they must delve into Rushe’s own history. As they come face to face with the situation that brought them together in the first place, Flick learns more about the man who she’s pledged her heart, and her body, to.
When danger encroaches, Flick will resort to whatever measures are necessary to achieve their goal, but could that mean sacrificing their relationship?

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Good luck on your adventures,

xSx