I welcome author M.J. Schiller to my blog. Talk about someone who knows how to
rock a romance! Welcome, M.J. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been a writer all my life. My first book, which was co-written with Mary
Ellen Murphey in second grade, was titled
The Black Cat, and was written on blue hotel stationary, hole-punched, and
bound by white yarn. I believe it is
currently out of circulation. I like to karaoke and attend rock
concerts. I am actively involved at
church and spend too much time on Facebook.
I am the mother of a seventeen-year-old, and fifteen-year-old triplets,
and have been married to my husband, Don, for over twenty-four years. When I
turned forty, I had an epiphany of sorts.
I realized those bigwig publishing houses in New York were now probably
run by people younger than me, so I shouldn’t be intimidated by them. I would rather write than do just
about anything else. After all, you get
to make people (characters) do what you want and design your own happy
endings. What power! What a privilege.
us about the books you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had
for a book? How did it develop?
They show up in many different ways. My first book was a sort of reoccurring
dream. It has yet to be published but is a sort of sci-fi romance along the
lines of Star Wars. It is broken up
into three books, with an overall story arc that will probably show up as three
novellas in a series.
have one book that started with a first line! “Even through bloodshot eyes he
could tell that she was different.” That story, DAMAGE DONE, is set in Ireland
and is about a musician and a waitress that end up running away together when
they think that the heroine killed their boss. Interestingly enough, that first
line ended up in the middle of the book. After I finished Michael and Tess’s
story I decided to include the back story, Michael’s parents’ romance, and tied
it all together. Luckily I love the first line from that part, too.
song and wonder about the story behind the song and pretty soon my imagination
has created one.
great inspiration in all of those ideas. So, how did you celebrate the
publication of your first book?
day. I received flowers from the girls at work, and from my family. That really
made me feel like a diva. I loved it! And at dinner that night, which was
nothing out of the ordinary, I toasted my editor and the publishing house and
thanked my kids and my spouse for their support. I got a little choked up. It
had been a dream all my life, although for some reason I chose later in life to
pursue it. That made achieving it all the sweeter!
available in print and that night my husband surprised me with a toast. What was even more astonishing is that it was well
thought out and quite beautiful. He’s racked up some major brownie points that
night that he’s still collecting!
might be a good segue into my next question. How do you handle spicy sex scenes
and relatives? Are your family and friends supportive or do they choose not to
read your books because of its sensual nature?
write anything that I’m ashamed of. I did create censored versions of my books
for my kids when I first started writing, and every once in awhile I will think
about my mom reading my stuff. My mom is much more…refined than I am. But I
figure she has four kids, she knows how it all works, and how she reacts is
about her, the writing is about me, if that makes any sense. In other words, I
can’t control her reaction, so I have to write what I’m moved to write.
Besides, my love scenes are more about the emotional than the physical.
writing changed how you read books now?
the writing as I read, she uses too
many adverbs, she doesn’t vary her sentence structure enough, she uses too much
passive voice… In some ways it’s taken away from my reading pleasure.
hear you because I feel the same way sometimes. What kind of response do you
get when you tell people you are an author?
find it interesting that I am a lunch lady, too.
imagine you have some very funny stories based on that part of your life! Tell
us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you
as a writer.
popped into my head when I read this question. Last weekend my husband and I celebrated
our 25th wedding anniversary. We were in Hermann, Missouri at Stone
Hill Winery, sitting at a picnic table drinking wine and gazing out over the
city. A lady approached us—who I think was from a bachelorette party—saying she
was on a scavenger hunt and asking us if we had a business card from an
insurance company. Now my husband works for an insurance company, but he is an
IT manager at the corporate headquarters and never carries his cards. So I
piped up, half joking, “What about a card from a romance author? Would that
help?” Pretty soon I was handing out my book cards to her and the table next to
me. Here comes the funny part. This woman starts yelling, “I know you! I read
this stuff all the time!” Well, I’m pretty sure she didn’t know me. I haven’t
quite reached that level of notoriety yet. I’m not sure if she was trying to
impress her friends or if maybe she had me mixed up with MJ Rose, the suspense
author, perhaps. But as she hollered about how she knew me, I wasn’t about to
disabuse her of the notion. I should have played it up and asked her to keep it
quiet so that my husband and I wouldn’t be disturbed by fans!
love that story! M.J., do you work with a conference partner, writer’s group or
other organization? Where do you get support?
family, but I have three other writing groups that support me. Although I am no
longer with Crimson Romance, my fellow Crimsonistas, as we call ourselves, like
you, Betty, offer me their support constantly! What a group! I also belong to a
Romance Writers of America chapter which has some very talented and equally
warm and supportive women. We critique each other’s work, which is scary, but
vital! Finally I belong to a group called Authors Helping Authors. We tweet,
and retweet for each other, vote for each other, and review each other’s work. But,
best of all, we pick each other up when we’re down. I also belong to a group
called Indie Romance Ink, but I’ll admit that I haven’t taken advantage of it
the way I should have. There’s just not enough time to do this job right!
are you currently working on?
ABANDON ALL HOPE. It is the
second in my ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION. It’s the
story of Chase Hatton, rock star, and Hope Cresswell, photo-journalist. When
Hope is assigned to interview Chase the two are brought together for the first
time in eight years. High school sweethearts, they were separated the night of
junior prom when Hope disappeared without explanation.
the next in my ROMANTIC REALMS COLLECTION. It is the story of Princess Adriana
and Seth Hobbes, a commoner that is brought to court to stand trial for
disrespecting one of her father’s men.
These two go through tribulations that test them like the metal in
Seth’s forge. Their love scenes are nearly as hot as its fires, too!
do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?
to go and it was housekeeping. I let things fall apart around the home until I
can’t stand it anymore, or until I’ve lost something in the mess and need to
is the biggest chance you’ve taken as a writer? How did that work out?
out pretty good so far, but time will tell. Maybe I’ll have to stop back in a
few years and give you a report!
enjoyed answering your questions and appreciate the opportunity to get the word
out there about me and my writing!
pleasure, M.J. I would love to have you come back and give us an update! Best of luck with your writing career. Read
an excerpt from Mary’s latest book:
newspaper-writer/photographer Hope Creswell.
The alarm clock didn’t go off and
she cut her finger on broken glass. Not
one to let such things get her down, Hope headed into her assignment meeting
with excitement, only to leave it stunned.
Her new assignment is to trail the sensational rock-star, Chase Hatton,
for an article. Chase Hatton! No one knows
the power that name holds for her. No
one knows of the childhood friendship that blossomed into romance, only to
abruptly die on the night of Hope’s senior prom. No one knows of the ache that still fills her
publicity trip to Chicago suddenly becomes complicated when his manager tells
him that Hope Creswell will be interviewing him in the morning. He had spent eight years trying to forget
Hope, and now she would be in his penthouse in a matter of hours?
Hope on the opposite side, his heart begins beating a rhythm the rocker has yet
to capture in any of his music. The
smoldering embers of their former romance are fanned by their mere
proximity. Will they both be burned
again? Can Hope ever trust her heart to
Chase after what he did? Can Chase bear
to see her walk out on him a second time?
And what about Hope’s boyfriend, Phillip? Where does he fit into the picture that Hope