Interview with M.J. Schiller

Who are your favorite authors?
Well, I'll start out Old School: Dickens, Fitzgerald, Alcott. Newer authors: Love, love, love RT Wolfe (romantic suspense), Kristin Hannah, G.P. Ching, and, of course, Nora Roberts!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to karaoke and play a computer game called Text Twist. My husband and I play almost every night. It's a game where you create as many words possible from letters provided. When I karaoke I like to sing Evanescence, Adele, Shinedown, and even some Rhianna. Music inspires me on a daily basis!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Nowadays through online conversations with other writers, or through my writing critique group, or at writing conferences...
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Indeed I do! It was titled, "The Black Cat" and was about a mysterious cat who would show up whenever the heroine of the story was missing. Hmm! It was written on blue hotel stationary, hole-punched and "bound" with white yarn bows, as all of the best literature is. I wrote it in second grade with the neighbor girl, Mary Ellen Murphy. Her dad was a lawyer and said he would get it published for us. And have I seen a nickel of that? No!
What is your writing process?
People have a process? I compose on the computer. I'm not an outliner, just let the story take me where it wants to go. I'm trying to learn to be more structured, though. I've learned a lot through books, advice from other writers, and most especially, my Romance Writers of America critique group.
How do you approach cover design?
Well, it's an interesting collaboration. I know my book best, but the cover designer knows art best, so we work together to make something that's both aesthetically pleasing, and a clear representation of my book. We also keep in mind other books in a series and all of my books as a whole. We try to be consistent, but not stale. Lucky for me my cover designer is brilliant! And patient! It goes something like this: "Can you add flowers?" "Can you put the flowers lower?" "Maybe a brighter-colored flower?" "Okay, I like the color, but can you make the flowers smaller?" "You know what? Forget the flowers. Can you add a guitar?" The man probably has a dart board at home with my face on it, or at least a voodoo doll of me.
What do you read for pleasure?
The same thing I write, romance! Contemporary and fantasy (royalty in fictional places), and romantic suspense. But I have ventured out into reading paranormal romance and historical romance and found I really enjoy them.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I wish I knew! I'm active on Twitter, Facebook, and my blog, but it's hard to tell where sales are coming from.
Describe your desk
My "desk" is the living room couch, which is old and saggy. Sometimes I sleep here, too. But we have four kids, so saggy it stays, until you tell all your friends and loved ones about me and my fabulous books! ;)
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
St. Louis, MO. St. Louis shows up in a lot of my writing. An upcoming release, BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, is entirely set there. TRAPPED UNDER ICE begins there.
What's the story behind your latest book?
ABANDON ALL HOPE is about rock star, Chase Hatton. He lost his love, Hope, on the night of senior prom. They met as kids (they were neighbors), dated in high school, and then ran into each other eight years later. Hope has come to interview Chase and old passions ignite. But she has a boyfriend, and she doesn't trust Chase because of what happened on prom night. He doesn't know what happened the night of prom, but he knows he wants Hope back!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Publishing has changed. My first publisher, as most publishers today, did very little to promote my work. They provided a cover and editing and for that they took 70% of my profits! That just didn't seem right to me. So I hired a cover artist and editor myself and became an Indie author.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
For me, personally, Smashwords has been important because it gets my books out there to Apple, where a lot of my readers buy their books (as well as a number of other places).
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Remember, I have four teenagers, an eighteen-year-old and three sixteen-year-olds. Yes, triplets! So my greatest joy in writing is being able to tell someone something (my characters) and they do it! Without arguing!
What do your fans mean to you?
It is indescribable. When I create characters, I love them. The characters become my offspring. And to have someone enjoy them, and really GET them, is such a rush! Without my fans my characters would be alive only for me. I wanted them to live and breathe in others' imagination, too.
What are you working on next?
I have two books coming out in the next two months. UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR is my Christmas novella. It is a romantic suspense about an EMT, who is also working as a mall Santa. Dylan Fisher happens upon an accident scene while still dressed in his jolly red suit. Although it doesn't seem to be an accident at all. Someone intentionally ran Keira Kelly and her young daughter off the road. Dylan recognizes the little girl as she sat on his lap at the mall and told him she wanted a father for Christmas! He is attracted to Keira and wants to protect her when he discovers that someone is after her.

In December I will be releasing another romantic suspense about rock star Jasmine Barrett (Jazz, to her fans) and the detective that is investigating her best friend's murder. A murder that took place in Jasmine's bedroom! Heath "Hawk" McGowan is a hottie and a father of an adorable little boy. When the bodies start piling up, terror drives Jasmine into his arms, literally. But can a rock star have a real relationship with a cop? Heath's brothers are hysterical foil for all the suspense, and...well, you'll just have to read it!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My life! I have a wonderful husband, 4 trying, but terrific kids, fantastic friends, good health, enough money to live on, and I get to enjoy the creativity of others through books, movies, film, art, and music! Not to mention the beautiful world around me, and the release of creating new worlds when I write!
Published 2013-10-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.