Friday, July 12, 2013

Author in the Spotlight: M. J. Schiller

Hi, Zrinka! Thank you for having me today!

Please tell us about your writing. Can you explain the title without giving too much away?

My newest release, the second in my ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION, is ABANDON ALL HOPE. I actually got the title from the first book in the collection, TRAPPED UNDER ICE. Beth, in TRAPPED, is a lunch lady/romance writer, like myself, and one of her book title’s is ABANDON ALL HOPE. I liked the ring of it and so decided to write a book with a character named Hope. Hope feels like she has been abandoned by Chase since the night of their senior prom.

What was your journey as a writer?

I had an unusual and twisted journey. (I added the twisted for dramatic effect!) I turned forty, and decided it was time to write that book I've always wanted to write. After having so much fun, I wrote eleven more. THEN I decided it might be a good idea to study writing. I've taken courses, joined a critique group, read books, and now am in the process of editing those books.

What are your future writing goals?

So, like I said earlier, I’m editing those books and plan to have them all out in three years. Pretty ambitious, along with all the other stuff you have to do as a writer, such as participate in blogs like this one. There’s social networking, and you always want to be learning more about your craft, too, as well as reading books in your genre.

Whom do you see as your ideal reader?

Someone who just wants to get away from life for awhile. Who wants to cry a little. Laugh a little. Get turned on. Cheer. Boo. Feel.

When you have time, what would we find you reading?

I like to read all sorts of stuff in the romance genre. I just finished a historical romance by Morgan O’Neill the first in their time travel series, LOVE, ETERNALLY. I love reading the romantic suspense of RT Wolfe. And I’m looking forward to two contemporaries, HJ Harley’s FINDING JORDIE, and Elke Fleur’s FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ!

What do you learn from your writing?

Patience & Perseverance. It’s a long road from start to finish. It also taught me to believe in myself. It helped me to gain the strength of character it takes to put your work out there, where you will have to take insults as well as praise.

Who has been your biggest supporter?

It’s a tie between my husband and my cheerleader/friend/author RT Wolfe. Both have encouraged me, listened to me, helped me with my decision-making, and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.

How are you promoting your work?

Man, how do I not? I tweet, I’m on Facebook. I blog. I do giveaways, run contests. I’m on Author’s Den, Bookmarketing Network, Ask David…

Where can our readers find a copy of your work?

Right here, baby:
You can find ABANDON ALL HOPE at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thank you for being my guest today. I wish you the best of luck with your writing. 

It was one of those mornings for 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 heart. 

What starts out for Chase Hatton as an average 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?

When Chase opens the door to his penthouse and finds 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 is developing?


Set-up: Chase and Hope are twelve and are exploring the corn maze he cut into his uncle’s corn field.
            With a loud cry, he jumped out in front of her.
            Hope’s scream of terror hurt his ears. She stumbled backward, landing on her rump in some mud. She stared up from where she lay, resting on both elbows for a second. “You are so-o-o-o dead!”
            “Oh, come on,” he responded amiably, ready to make peace. “I’ll help you up.” He reached his hand out to her. She stretched out to clasp it, but not before she had clutched a handful of mud.
            “Ugg!” Chase, mud dripping from his palm, was unable to hide his delight at her deception. “Now you’re dead!”
            She laughed but scrambled to her feet, pushing him off balance. She ran with wild abandon down the path. He waited, good-naturedly, until the count of ten, giving her a head start, and then took off. Although dusk was playing tricks on his eyes, it was easy to find her by listening to the laughter as she ducked into several of the side paths.
            But abruptly her laughter ended, replaced by a loud thud and Hope calling out his name in fear and pain. Chase picked the path he thought she was on, and ran as fast as he could through the green walls hemming the trail. He turned a corner, and saw her up ahead.
She was rocking back and forth, clutching her leg and moaning. As he got closer, he saw her white sneaker, despite the gathering darkness, wedged underneath a tree root. It snaked across the path where it had wound close to the edge of the field.
            He raced up and crouched down beside her. Her face was contorted as if she were trying not to cry. “What happened?”
            “O-o-o-h! It’s my ankle.” She spoke through gritted teeth, although unable to keep the tears in check now.
            Chase looked from the ankle of her extended leg, which still had a sneaker on it, to the ankle of the leg she was hanging on to, whose foot was bare. It was clear, even to him, the latter was swollen considerably. Her foot also seemed to jut out at a strange angle.
            “I’ll go get help.”
            He was already halfway down the path when she called out, nearly hysterical, “Chase! Please, wait! Come back. Come back. Don’t leave me here!”
            He returned to her side, where she was crying in earnest now, and squatted down, rubbing her back. She kept repeating over and over again, “Please don’t leave me. I don’t want to stay here by myself. Please don’t leave.”
            “It’s okay, Hope,” he responded quietly, sitting down next to her. “I’m not leaving.” He put an arm around her and she leaned in, her tears dampening his shirt.
            “It hurts! It hurts,” she whimpered.
            “I know it does.”
            He looked down the path, longing to return to the house for his dad. But the dark was falling quickly now, and he knew Hope would be afraid out in the cornfield alone.

Author's Bio:

MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh, can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has an eighteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and sixteen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.


  1. Good morning! Thanks for having me here, Zrinka! It's been a pleasure!

  2. I love Schiller's books. Keep 'em coming!
    -R.T. Wolfe

  3. *MWAH* MJ! Great interview ladies. I've read Trapped Under Ice by M.J. and I loved it. I'm on a deadline right now for the follow up to Finding Jordie, but I've already purchased my copy of Abandon All Hope and can't wait to dive in.
    -HJ Harley

    1. Thanks for stopping by Harley! I have FINDING JORDIE on my TBRSoon pile!

  4. Cool excerpt!! Abandon All Hope sounds like a great read, MJ. Congrats on its release.

    1. Thanks, Liv! I'm glad you liked the excerpt! I appreciate you stopping by to read it!

  5. Triplets?! When do you find the time to write, MJ? Congratulations on all your successes! Great Interview!