Wednesday, October 28, 2015

M.J. Schiller - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author M.J. Schiller. She is the author of the Rocking Romance, Real Romance and Romantic Realms collections.

Author Genre: Romance

Website: MJ Schiller, Romance Author
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MJ Schiller Instragram Account
Twitter: @mjschiller
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Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
I was born in Overland Park, KS, grew up in St. Louis, MO, went to school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and moved to Bloomington, IL fresh out of college. I worked as a high school/junior college teacher, personnel recruiter, office manager of a jewelry store, and, for the past ten years plus, as a lunch lady. I like to karaoke and attend rock concerts. I'm also actively involved at church and spend too much time on Facebook. I am the mother of a twenty-year-old and eighteen-year-old triplets, and have been married to my husband, Don, for over twenty-five years.

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.

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. At about the same time, I was watching one of those award shows, and Jaclyn Smith got up to give a post-humorous award to Aaron Spelling.

She credited him for encouraging her to go into acting, saying something brilliant like, "Reach for your dreams." Nothing new. Almost even seems a little Jiminy Cricketish. But, for some reason, it struck me that night. When Aaron Spelling was thirteen, he was probably just like any other acned thirteen-year-old. But he worked to achieve his dreams, and became a household name. So, I began to write. Once I finished my first book,I wasn't able to stop. I would rather write than do just about anything else. After all, I get to make people (characters) do what I want, and design their happy endings.

What power! And what a privilege.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

My next release is a romantic suspense titled HOMETOWN HEARTACHE, due out in February. Here’s a blurb:

Nash is trying to make a name for himself in the art world…

But when he meets a realtor to buy a gallery, he is stunned to find Chloe sitting at the table with the man. He has never stopped thinking about her since she disappeared from his life without a trace. Is it too late to win back her love?

Chloe has finally found a way to leave her past behind her…

But her heart leaps out of her chest when she sees Nash. How can he be here? Now…after all this time? On the surface, she pulls herself back together. But underneath she feels she is about to shatter. After remaking herself, how can she deal with being faced with Nash and the life she knew before?

If this chance meeting doesn’t rip Chloe and Nash apart, he will.

Little do they know, someone has been lurking in the shadows, manipulating them all along. If he has his way, the two will never be reunited. Even if he has to take one of them out to ensure it.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

Through social media I’ve met a whole slew of other writers and they are some of the nicest people going, as proven by you. A lot of work went into this post, for someone you’ve never met. That’s pretty incredible! I’ve also been able to reconnect with some people, and let others I didn’t know as well come to know me better, and vice versa. Some people are down on social media, and, of course, nothing can replace that personal connection you get one on one. But it allows me to “talk” to people I wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to talk to. Like my cousin in St. Louis, or the mother of a parent in one of my kid’s classes. How did I build my following? It usually works like this. Another author retweets for me, I go to their page to thank them, and I see someone I’m interested in. I follow them and they generally follow me back. Then I go to their page to thank them, and I see someone else interesting…it sort of a domino effect and I get lost there. Do I see a carry over? I’m not one to follow mega-data or statistics. Not a number girl. But I’d like to think it helps. Or else I’m wasting a whole lot of time out there.

Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I don’t do a ton of signings because most of my books are just available in e-book format. I found that I didn’t have much of an audience for paperbacks. I’ve talked before, but don’t have any appearances scheduled at this time. Check the Profile above for the links.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thank you! I really admire my cover artist, Steven Novak ( We work closely together when creating a cover. I give him an idea of what I’m looking for, sometimes even include images. He sends back a cover and we work from there. I did actually get my readers involved in my latest cover. I wanted something on the cover for BLACKOUT to represent apartments, as a lot of the scenes take place in New York City. I couldn’t find any images I liked online, so I went out to an old building in town and took shots that I had readers vote on. Their favorite, and mine, ended up on the cover, a shot from the top of a staircase looking down through the middle.

You have a great collection trailer highlighting several of your covers and a book trailer for ABANDON ALL HOPE. (See link below.) They look very professional. Do you know how much impact it has had on your book’s success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailer? To view trailer, Click here.

I thank you, and my kids thank you. Three out of four of my kids did trailers for me. I basically told them what I wanted, and they handled the technical side. Some of their creativity comes out in them, too. I probably haven’t utilized my trailers to their full potential, but I have entered them in some contests and gotten some exposure in that way.

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a couple of sets of your novels called Rocking Romance and Real Romance Series. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

Series are very popular, especially with romance readers, who are some of the most voracious readers out there. I only have one true series (which follows one set of characters) and the rest are collections, bundled by theme only. The idea is that if a reader likes one book in the collection, they might enjoy the others as well. I think it might also add a hint of recognition and give my work cohesion. “Oh, the Rocking Romance Collection? I read one of those!”

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I like giving away the first book in a series or collection. That way I can entice a reader into wanting more, hopefully. Amazon makes you jump through a lot of hoops to get your book to free. I guess I can’t blame them. They’re getting no profit from that book. However, if it increases the profit in the other books, then it is a worthwhile strategy for both me and the retailer. My main interest isn’t in making money, although, of course, I don’t frown on that ;) . I want my characters’ stories to be told and I want to entertain readers. In order to continue doing that, though, there are some monetary considerations. Hiring cover artists and editors isn’t cheap. And, of course, the more money I make, the more I can invest in my business—spend more time taking courses, reading, and doing other things to improve my writing.

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

All of the above! With the advent of self-publishing, there is a glut of books on the market. That means a writer has to work even harder to get their name out there. I spend as much time as possible doing that, without taking too much time away from my writing, as that is what it is all really about to begin with.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and supporting other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Well, I’ll tell you what, I kind of got a running start at this thing. I wrote twelve novels before I even started thinking about publishing. And as far as the blog, putting a blog post together doesn’t take as much time now as it once did. I’ve got the swing of it. The goal of my blog is to get my kids off my back! They complained that my Facebook posts were too long and I needed to write a blog. ;) And I do love supporting other writers. Where do I find the time? It’s a struggle. I spend most of my free time on writing related business. I don’t watch TV very often and I’ve been known to neglect house cleaning from time to time, especially when I’m on deadline. I try to keep balance though, with friends, and family, and other responsibilities.

I have to ask this question. I’m a graduate of Bradley and grow up in the area where you live. Does the mid-west upbringing affect your writing? How about the cold winter nights? Go Cards.

Bless your heart, you’re a Cardinals fan! I’ve got the Blues game on as we speak. I do set several of my stories in the Midwest, but I don’t think that necessarily gives them a Midwest feel. My writing has a lot to do with the relationships between people, with the setting and occupations of the characters as a subtle background. I’ve had some readers who didn’t appreciate that with my rock romances, which I can understand. If you are looking for a typical rock romance, you might be disappointed. I’ve even had some complain that not having my characters oozing the standard sex, drugs, and rock and roll is unrealistic. That they would ALWAYS be mobbed by fans wherever they go. I don’t believe in always and never. I did some research, and there really are a few bands out there--yes, probably a minority--that don’t fit the stereotype. In fact, Nickelback was in our town for two weeks with no mobbing and very little fan interruption of their routine. They went to bars and the mall, and most people didn’t even know they were here until they were gone. People buy into the stereotype, and I get that. My rock stars are real people (well, not REAL, but you know what I mean) and you aren’t going to be slapped in the face every page with the trappings of the rock style life. They are still sexy, still have problems with fans, still drink, but they also have families and play cards, and, heck, even go to church.

Wow! You really made me think here. (Usually I try to avoid that kind of thing.) I think I’ve actually learned some things about myself and my writing that even I didn’t know before. Thank you so much for having me on! I would love to have you on my blog, too, sometime. I wish you and your readers well.

Author's Book List
Max. The consummate ladies’ man.

He’s good looking, but not an absolute knockout. With Max’s charm though, he could have any woman he wants. Once he meets Faith, he doesn’t want anyone else.

Eli. He is a knockout.

But a dark past shadows him and holds him captive. Drinking dulls the pain, but meeting Faith makes him want to change all that.

Faith. She loves them both.

When a blackout brings her together with Eli, she’s happier than she’s ever been before. When another blackout tears them apart, Max is there to pick up the pieces. But can she forget the man who first made her whole?

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

When an unhappy youth leaves him damaged, will Teddy Mckee be able to find love?

“Teddy Passmore McKee was born in Cork, Ireland, with a limp and a chip on his shoulder that threw his balance off all the more.” When he falls in love with the dark haired beauty born of an Irish father and a Spanish mother, will Gabrielle Quinn be able to restore his balance? And what about the charming Sean Hennessey? When Gabby catches his eye, too, will Teddy’s playboy best friend cause his own damage?

Fourteen years later, will Teddy and Gabrielle’s son be able to overcome the damage done to him in his childhood?

“Even through bloodshot eyes he could see she was different.” But can Michael leave behind the bottle, and his womanizing ways, to win over the lovely Tess Flanagan? Tess has sustained some damage of her own. Can she and Michael overcome the terrors of the past and learn how to love each other?

And if they do, will they be able to elude those after them who want to create their own damage?

On the run after an altercation leaves their boss in a pool of blood, will Michael and Tess be able to stay one step ahead of their pursuers? Or is it simply too late to correct the damage that has been done?

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Barnes and Noble

He’s the cop...

Cooper Sullivan is the cop in charge of investigating a murder outside of a Los Angeles night club. The famous romance author, Sydney Essex, has been found strangled in the parking lot. When the young officer returns to the scene of the crime the night after the murder, he gets involved in a fight in order to protect a woman, who he realizes afterward, is the victim’s sister. Soon he finds himself torn by his attraction to the irresistible blond teacher, and his need to maintain a professional distance.

She’s the teacher...

Laney Essex is distraught over her sister’s death, so the high school English teacher returns to the bar where the crime occurred to find answers. To her dismay, she is only left with more questions, many centered on her developing relationship with Cooper Sullivan. Is the pull she’s feeling towards him reciprocated, or is the handsome detective only showing her professional courtesy, or, perhaps, even pity?

...but he’s the one teaching her lessons of the heart.

When Laney receives a threatening phone call from Sydney’s murderer, it quickly becomes evident that the man who killed her sister is after her, too. Can Cooper figure out who the killer is before it’s too late? And if he does solve the case, will it just be another file stamped “CLOSED” in red and locked away in a drawer, or will the sparks that have been flying between the two finally ignite?

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Barnes and Noble

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, but 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 paramedic 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!

Neither is ready for what is coming UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR!

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?

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Barnes and Noble

Can she betray the man she loves in order to save him?

Newly wed, Maggie is trying to figure out how life married to a Knight of the High Order is supposed to work. Then an explosion rips her husband away from her. Everyone believes him to be dead, but in her heart she knows it’s not true. How is she supposed to find him when others think she’s crazy for even looking?

Will he betray The Order to make his way back to her?

Darius’s captor wants information about Council members. If the Knight is killed keeping The Order’s secrets, his newfound life with Maggie will come to an abrupt end. Will duty win out over love?

And will he betray his best friend for the woman he loves?

Orion has learned to keep his distance from Maggie, but when circumstances throw them together in a very intimate way, how can he be expected to remain a loyal friend to Darius? He may be a Knight, but he’s human, too. He wants to do what’s right for all of them, but what’s right is becoming increasingly unclear.

When hearts are pulled in separate directions, each painful decision they make could affect them all. Join us for another ROMANTIC KNIGHT!

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Barnes and Noble

LEAP INTO THE KNIGHT - Book One in the Romantic Knights Trilogy
Sir Darius Lee is a Knight of the High Order.

But when Darius discovers a stranger in his room in the middle of the night, and the intruder turns out to be a beautiful woman, he begins to question how he is meant to live his life.

Princess Megan of Bethyea is being held captive.

But when two knights help her to escape and bring her back to her home planet, she finds the home she knew no longer exists.

When The Council of Twelve questions Darius about his relationship with Maggie, she tries to flee from The Academy of the High Order to prevent him from losing his knighthood.

Will Darius and Orion find Maggie before she leaves Albion? And if they do, how can they face the decision of The Council? And what about the feelings Orion has developed for the princess?

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Barnes and Noble

ROCK ME, GENTLY - Rocking Romance series Book 4
Like so many others, their romance started in Las Vegas…

He’s a rock star. She’s an ad exec. After almost having a one night affair in Sin City, Josh can’t get Cassie out of his mind. Why had she run out on him?

Like so many others, their romance started with a shot of tequila...

When the Josh Dunningham of Money Back Guaranteed tries to seduce her, Cassie is taken aback. Sure, he’s hot. And he could definitely rock her world. But can she have a fling with a man she doesn’t even know?

Like so many others, their romance turned rocky…

When Cassie returns to Chicago and finds a ten-foot tall Josh Dunningham on a radio station’s banner across from her office, she is tortured by memories of their short time together. When they meet again, things explode—in a bad way—and Josh has to prove himself to Cassie to earn her trust. But will he succeed when outside forces also want to tear them apart? When Cassie receives threatening letters and is attacked in her home, Josh is determined to find out who is behind it. But will the stalker’s encore performance bring an end to their show once and for all?

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Barnes and Noble

BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE - Rocking Romance series Book 3
He’s a cop…

Heath “Hawk” McGowan is a young, single, cop and father. Jasmine Barrett is the rock star who has just discovered her best friend murdered in her own bed. Jasmine, or “Jazz”, as her fans call her, is not at all what Heath expects when he first meets her. Anticipating having to work with a prima donna, he is surprised to find her sweet and completely unassuming, in addition to being as sexy as her onstage persona.

She’s a rock star…

Having lost her parents and now her best friend, Jazz is not about to let someone new into her life. But when she discovers another body in the condominium’s garage, her terror drives her closer to Heath.


After outlining a number of reasons why he shouldn’t become involved with her—the top reason being he is the lead investigator in the murder of her best friend—Heath finds that he can’t stop himself from falling in love. Will Heath be able to solve the murders before Jasmine becomes the next victim? Or will he save Jazz, while, at the same time, losing his heart to her?

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Barnes and Noble

ABANDON ALL HOPE - Rocking Romance series Book 2
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.

His manager tells him Hope Creswell will be interviewing him in the morning.

He 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?


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Barnes and Noble

TRAPPED UNDER ICE - Rocking Romance series Book 1
Although he is a wildly successful rock star, Chad Evans, the lead singer of Trapped Under Ice, is haunted by his past.

He tries to play his heart out on the stage; but he can never quite seem to leave it there.

Three years have passed since her husband’s death, but Beth’s life is still shadowed by sorrow.

Despite her grief, the lunch lady/writer is enjoying a Trapped Under Ice concert with her daughter, until they are attacked by two men in a stadium bathroom. When Chad and his bodyguard, Pete, come to their aid, an instant attraction sparks between Beth and the tall singer.

Will Chad and Beth be able to leave their pain behind them?

They come from completely different worlds. And just as the two seem to be able to work through their problems, someone starts sending Chad death threats. Will their story end before it even begins?

Or will their pasts keep them TRAPPED UNDER ICE?

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Barnes and Noble

Princess Adriana had her life all figured out…

Or, to be more precise, she had her life all figured out for her. Before she was even born she was betrothed to Garin, and that was perfectly acceptable as he became her childhood friend, and then, eventually, the person she would swap kisses with inside the palace gardens. She never questioned it, never had a reason to, until the day a commoner was brought before her father, the King, to be punished.

…until the day her eyes conncected with blacksmith Seth Hobb’s across a stone courtyard.

When he creeps into the castle at night to thank her for freeing him, they begin to build a relationship with one another that is often as explosive as it is endearing. But fate ends up separating the two and they must undertake a long and arduous journey to be reunited.

But with everything against them, can an uncommon love like theirs survive?

Even then, can Adriana make Seth see her for herself and not as the princess he imagines? And if she does, will she ever be able to convince her father that, despite his objections over Seth being a commoner, there is nothing “common” about him at all?

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Barnes and Noble

When he returns from a trip, Prince Tahj senses unrest…

…. even before his best friend and captain, Radeem, warns him. Radeem heard rumors and suspects the King’s advisor is planning to overthrow the crown. The darkly bitter Grand Vizier, Lord Boltar, is about to claim what he believes belongs to him, the rule of Avistad.

Stolen from her home, Bashea is left bound and gagged on the prince’s bedroom floor.

Just as Tahj discovers a captive girl in his bedroom, left as a “gift” from Lord Boltar, fighting erupts. Tahj, Radeem, and Bashea escape the castle in a hail of arrows. The pair is drawn closer together as they face various perils, Boltar’s soldiers, a screaming panther, even the scathing winds of a desert storm.

Born from the fire of a coup, Tahj and Bashea’s relationship burns with a passion that neither of them quite understands.

After what she went through at the hands of Boltar’s men, Bashea is afraid to trust. Yet it is her fiery nature that both appeals to Tahj, and drives him crazy. In fact, when Bashea’s brother, Bagrat, informs Tahj that Bashea means “lips of the gods,” he retorts, “Are you sure you don’t mean tongue of the devil?” It takes a long separation to bring them back to each other, but when Tahj does return, it is once again during a battle with Lord Boltar. But now the overlord, who has been forced beyond reason by Tahj’s success in retaking the throne, is an even more dangerous threat than before. Reunited, will Tahj and Bashea be strong enough to defeat their twisted and powerful enemy?

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Barnes and Noble

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
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Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.


  1. Thank you so much for having me on! I really enjoyed answering your questions!

  2. Replies
    1. James is a wonderful interviewer! He obviously spends a lot of time preparing. It's such a selfless thing to do! Thanks for reading, Tricia!

  3. Great interview!
    Good luck and God's Blessing.

  4. Excellent interview, and what an impressive list of books with beautiful covers. Way to go!

  5. I am so impressed by your tremendous output. I am such a slllloooowwww writer myself--it would take several lifetimes for me to equal your volume. And you do maintain your quality, as well. You go, girl! Nice post.