MJ has a new release, Upon a Midnight Clear! I know it's going to be excellent!!
Recently, MJ and I shared a little bit about how and why she writes. She's a blast! (and she doesn't live too far away from me either, sweet!) Here's a little bit of what we talked about....
Why don't you start by telling my readers a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m wildly beautiful, with long, luscious blond hair which tumbles down my back. In my mid-twenties, I’m a svelte 115 pounds, 5’8. I’m built like the Tahj Mahal, baby, with amazing eyes, as you know, Dottie. I turned down a career as a rock star, though people still call and beg me to perform sometimes. I took up writing and now have a dozen books on the bestsellers list.
Ahh. The beauty of the Internet! Actually I’m 5’2, the last time I saw 115 was at the grocery store when I went in for “that one thing I needed.” My hair is chopped pretty short right now because it was super damaged from using the straightener. I’m not a rock star, but I do karaoke (that’s kind of like, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”) I haven’t made the bestseller’s list for more than an hour (that was a great hour, though), and when I’m not writing, I’m a lunch lady (this is the truly glamorous part of my life, the kids love me! Then again, maybe that’s because I am literally the hand that feeds them.)
What drew you to the craft of writing?
As you can see from the above, I love to tell stories. ;)
Do you write for the story burning to be told or do you write for a character that won't leave you alone?
For me the two are inextricably intertwined. I write the character’s story that won’t leave me alone. My first book, which is a sci-fi romance, was a recurring dream that wouldn’t go away, so I guess that one was plot driven. My second book, though, TRAPPED UNDER ICE, is about a rock star who is haunted by his past. Chad Evans grew up in an abusive home and isn’t able to move past that until he meets Beth. She redeems him, she saves him, and I simply had to write this character’s story.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
Pantser, pantser, pantser! I feel like the industry pushes you to be a plotter, though, to fit into its box. I think I need to be a little more of a plotter, but I don’t know if I can ever choreograph my emotional sections (called beats by some) into a pre-designated pattern. I think whenever you put something into a formula, you lose its creative element, and this is, after all, a creative endeavor.
When do you like to write? Mornings, Afternoons, Middle of the Night, or somewhere in between (like when the kids sleep)?
All the time, any time. With four kids I’ve had to squeeze my writing in the nooks and crannies of my day. So I take my laptop with me to doctor’s appointments and oil changes, as well as haunting Starbuck’s and fast food joints. My challenge then is to make sure the writing doesn’t become choppy and sound like it was written in five and ten minute segments.
Do you have some favorite music that inspires your writing? A movie? What inspires you?
Everything inspires me! I have a book (TAKEN BY STORM) that was loosely inspired by the movie “Troy,” kind of muddled together with pieces of “The Prince of Egypt” and “Prince of Persia.” TRAPPED UNDER ICE is largely inspired by Nickelback music and I have another one outlined that was birthed from listening to Breaking Benjamin.
When you're not writing, do you have a favorite author or genre you enjoy?
I love RT Wolfe, who just so happens to be my friend. I hunger for anything she writes! I also love Nora Roberts, but had to quit reading her because I was picking up some bad habits. Nora is a head-hopper, which works for her, but not so much for others.
What advice would you give to others in the journey to becoming published?
In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up!” Then again, you should want it bad enough that giving up is not really an option.
I’d say, don’t worry about the haters in the world. Write for you. Don’t change who you are to fit someone else’s expectations, because you were given an unique voice for a reason. And I’ll finish this question with another quote, this time from D.M. Delinger. “You are unrepeatable. There is a magic about you that is all your own…”
Did you have a long line of submissions before you “got the call”? For those readers would wonder, how long did the submission process take for you?
Yes! A very long line. And I got a couple of calls that ultimately resulted in no book being published. I had a contract rescinded (on Thanksgiving Day!) because the press went out of business. That was quite disappointing! I’d say it took me about a year from when I started submitting to having a book out there.
If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your heroine? Hero? Bad guy?
My current book, UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, has a hunky paramedic that I believe would be captured well by William Levy. The heroine would be the red-headed Scarlett Johansson from “The Avengers.” Bad guys I’m not as good at, but I’m thinking a kind of Joe Pesciesque type.
What are your future plans for your series? Are you cooking up a new one?
I have three collections out right now, my ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION, ROMANTIC REALMS COLLECTION, and now my REAL ROMANCE COLLECTION. UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR is the first in that collection. I have another rock romance coming out in December, and the book out after that will be the second in the REAL ROMANCE COLLECTION, probably coming in February or March.
Some fun stuff:
Coffee, Tea, or Something Harder?
I guess my biggest weaknesses are Diet Pepsi, Smirnoff Cherry Lime Ice (like cherry 7-Up!) and Bailey’s and hot chocolate!
If you were a rock star, what instrument would you play?
Guitar! I really wanted to learn how to play it when I was in my teens, but my mom said it wasn’t “lady-like.”
If you were stranded on a desert island... would you hope that Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, or Gerard Butler was stranded with you (if hubby/boyfriend decided to stay home while you cruised, for me, not likely, lol, but I'd have a hard time choosing...)?
I think I’d go for Johnny Depp. He’d keep things interesting!
Cake or Ice Cream (or both, what flavor)?
Both. And can’t believe this is even a question—CHOCOLATE!
Favorite all-time read? Movie? Favorite banned book? (Mine's To Kill A Mockingbird)
A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Favorite banned book—CATCHER IN THE RYE. Movie—either “The Holy Grail” or “What About Bob?”
Favorite paranormal creature? (vamp's, always vamps, lol)
Hard to pick here. I find them all fascinating. Probably vampires. There’s just something sexy about them!
If you were going to pick a book/movie character to become...who would it be?
Beth from TRAPPED UNDER ICE, because then I’d score my rock star!
To sing in a rock band…but maybe you guessed that.
Tell us about your latest release.
Dylan Fisher is an EMT and part-time Santa Claus at a mall in Denver, Colorado. He has logged plenty of time with children sitting on his lap, asking for anything from the latest electronic gadget to a week’s worth of homework passes. Still, he never heard anyone ask for what little Delaney Kelly asked for on one snowy night in December. A dad! When Dylan’s eyes search the crowd for Delaney’s mother and land on Keira Kelly, the EMT almost finds himself in need of a little CPR. She is stunning!
Keira Kelly is still grieving over the loss of her husband, but a reckless driver has her thinking about nothing but survival as she’s headed home from the mall. When Keira wakes in the hospital to find a hunky EMT at her bedside, she begins having a few thoughts that would put her on Santa’s Naughty List for sure! But when she finds out the EMT is only hanging around because the police believe someone is out to get her, she’s not sure what to think about his kindness. Is he helping her because he wants to, or because he feels he needs to? And what about the man who rammed her car, could he have had something to do with her husband’s death?
Here’s an excerpt:
Keira’s heart began to beat faster. She was no longer singing, but Delaney didn’t seem to even notice, carrying on without her. She heard her singing about Frosty “hippity-hop-hopping through the snow.”
Keira was pretty sure that was wrong, (didn’t Peter Rabbit “hippity-hop?”), but didn’t bother to correct Delaney. Her hands clutched the steering wheel as she hunted for a street ahead they could turn down. Spotting one, she waited until the last minute to signal and then made a right-hand turn. To her horror, tires screeched and beams from the black sedan’s headlights swung crazily as the car swerved around the corner, too, fish-tailing in the snow, but following all the same. A motor raced as it zoomed up on them, getting so close she lost sight of its headlights as they dipped below the SUV’s back bumper.
Her heart thudded in her chest. I can’t panic. Kevin told me if someone ever followed me I should head straight to a police station. But where’s a police station? She searched her mind, street names and places flashing before her eyes and then the impact of the sedan’s bumper jolted the SUV.
“Mommy!” Delaney screamed.
“It’s okay, sugar.” Even though she wanted to sound reassuring, her voice was tight. The car rammed them again.
Keira’s eyes flew back and forth from the rearview mirror to the road, trying to remain in control of the vehicle and anticipate her attacker’s next move at the same time. The street she chose was dark. A park hemmed either side of the two-lane road and a long row of drivers in the opposite lane waited their opportunity to turn onto First Avenue.
“Aaahh!” She involuntarily yelped as the sedan hit them with greater impact, making her SUV skid across the pavement. She quickly corrected and then tried to speed up to avoid another collision. She checked the side-view mirror. Headlights zoomed up again and she braced herself.
Too late, she saw the car in front of her making a leisurely left-hand turn onto the thoroughfare from a side street. She screamed and slammed on the brakes. The SUV began to skid sideways, her rear bumper making contact with one of the cars waiting in line next to them, sending her vehicle spinning in the opposite direction. Delaney’s cries rang in her ears. Images blurred through the windshield, a tree, a lamp post, and then, the car gunning for them. With a tremendous crash of metal it drove the SUV into a park bench and a concrete, cylinder-shaped garbage receptacle decorated with neutral-colored pebbles. The airbags failed to employ. Her head hit the steering wheel with the initial impact, and then the side window when the SUV crumpled against the pebbled trash can.
A car horn blared…her car horn, she realized. She struggled to lift her head. About ten feet in front of them, the black sedan swam in and out of her vision. Its front bumper trailed on the ground on one side, half of the hood accordioned upward, steam rolling out of it menacingly in the cold night air. She imagined the black vehicle to be some sort of fire-breathing dragon. Why does it want me dead? she asked herself groggily.
It came to life in front of her eyes, backing up over the curb a few feet, pieces clunking and scraping against the concrete. The wheels turned and with a screech of spinning tires it scrambled toward her. For a minute, she thought it sought to finish them off. Instead, the sedan roared off into the night with sparks flying from its underbelly.
Pardoned for the moment, she became aware of the pain driving through her brain. She clutched at her stomach. She tasted blood. Head heavy, she laid it down on the steering wheel, closing her eyes. She heard the horn again…shouting… somewhere, Christmas music.
Delaney! a voice screamed in her head. Keira wanted to turn to search the backseat, but it felt like her head was no longer connected to the rest of her body. She heard a strange noise, a loud, screeching, whirring noise…the dragon returning. She whimpered and went still.
Where can it be you and your fantabulous book be found?
Links for M.J. Schiller: www.mjschillerauthor.blogspot.com, MJ on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Links for UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR: BN and Amazon.
Links for UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR: BN and Amazon.
Thank you so much for having me, Dottie! I enjoyed answering your questions.
Monday, November 11th - Dottie Taylor's blog- http://myblog2point0.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, November 12th- Lola Karn's blog- http://lolakarns.wordpress.com/blog/
Wednesday, November 13th- Andrea Cooper's blog- http://andrearcooperauthorblog.wordpress.com/
Thursday, November 14th- T.F. Walsh's blog- http://www.tfwalsh.com/blog/
Friday, November 15th- Sharon Clare's blog- http://romancebeyond.com/