Please welcome MJ Schiller back! We’re trading posts today, and I’m so happy to have her here with us!
Good morning, all!
For my Five For Friday I chose to answer five of Mary’s questions so you can learn a little bit more about me. So, let’s go!
When did you first think about writing a book? Did you write it then, or put it off for a few years?
I believe I’ve written all my life, but I didn’t start to pursue it seriously until I turned forty. That big milestone had me thinking. You know that book people always say I should write? Maybe it’s time to do that!
Why did you decide to become an author?
I don’t think it was a conscious decision. I was just one of those really imaginative kids at school. A dreamer. Someone who looked at the world a little differently. And I loved what words could do—make you laugh, inspire you, touch you, make you think—the possibilities are really endless!
What inspired you to write this book?
This book is semi-autobiographical. It cracks me up when readers say they believe something isn’t realistic when it is something that came directly from my life. For instance, I’ve had complaints that someone on a lunch lady’s salary couldn’t afford a Coach bag. I was a lunch lady, and while I didn’t have a Coach bag, my girlfriend/coworker probably had at least a half dozen of them, along with other designers’ work. One of our lunch ladies was a doctor’s wife. People don’t always work for money. And if you aren’t working for money, a lunch lady is the perfect job for you. You work the same days your kids are in school, and you can see them during the day. Best of all, you can go home and take a nap before they get finished. (I hear a stampede of ladies heading out to fill out job applications at their nearest school ;)!
Where do your ideas for stories come from?
Mostly from music. When I listen to the song, I let the music move me, but I also imagine the story behind the song. Did the rock star really have a girlfriend that awful? Was their father mean like that? My thoughts start there, and characters begin to come alive!
What’s usually the first thing that sparks a story idea? (For example, you come up with a title, a character, an idea, a setting, etc. and the story grows from there.)
Besides music, there are a few other things that get my imagination going. Sometimes a title will come to mind. Several in the DEVILISH DIVAS SERIES were ones that we discovered at work. Someone would say something, then someone else would say, “that would make a great title. M.J., you need to write a book with that title.” I’m happy to oblige. The imagery of being TRAPPED UNDER ICE, frozen by your past, inspired a novel. In that book, the heroine is a romance novelist/lunch lady (hmm…) and one of her titles was ABANDON ALL HOPE, which ended up being the second book in that ROCKING ROMANCE SERIES. DAMAGE DONE started with a line running through my head. “Even through bloodshot eyes he could tell she was different.” I thought that would make a great first line. Funny thing is, after I wrote the story, that line ended up in the middle, but I had another fun first line, so that was okay. ☺ So, you can see, just about anything and everything inspires me!
Thanks for letting me babble on about myself. How about you tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you look for most in a book? What draws you in? The title? The cover? A great first line? The premise?
The e-copy of TO HELL IN A COACH BAG is on sale right now for 99¢, and I think it will be when this posts. (Although, the publisher is in charge of that, so I’m not 100% sure.) Even at its normal price, it’s a fun read. Check it out….
Four Midwest lunch ladies on a cross-country road trip…
But the road to love can be rocky. What can save Alex’s marriage when her hubby’s driving her crazy? How can Max ever feel close to her man again when he never puts out? And just when Dani and Tucker are getting close, dreams of Darren’s death begin to haunt her. Can she move past them? And what about Sam? Although Kyle’s logged some serious ice time, her cold shoulder may put his heart in perma-freeze.
Is happiness around the next corner? Or are these four women simply headed TO HELL IN A COACH BAG?
Barnes and Noble, paperback: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-mj-schiller/1126065861
Nook book: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-mj-schiller/1126065861?ean=9781614179542
Excerpt (from Maxine’s point of view)
Standing in JC Penney’s lingerie section, I held up the skimpy red puff of lace and satin. The black fur veeing to the crotch really added a touch of class.
I hung it back on the rack, glancing around again to see if anyone I knew was in the vicinity. An older lady glanced my way, and I quickly bent, pretending to tie my shoe. Then, realizing they were slip-ons, I had to act like I was scratching my calf, which seemed lame. I moved to a table with sensible panties and kept my eye on Grandma.
Come on. Come on. Don’t you have something else to do? Like knit something?
She finally moved across the aisle to a display of blouses with huge, tacky multi-colored flowers sprawled all over them.
That’s right, I silently encouraged. That’s more your style.
I slid back over to the naughty girl rack, picking up a jade green number. I stared at it, then twisted it around. Was this the back? Or the front? I lifted a few straps with snaps on them.
What the hell are these for? I put it back, shaking my head. Too complicated. I lifted off a sheer pink teddy.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted her. Mrs. McCumpfry, my son, John’s, English teacher. I ducked behind the rack, clasping the teddy to my chest, my heart beating wildly. I can’t let Mrs. McCumpfry see me with naughtywear. My Spidey senses began to tingle and I slid my gaze across the aisle in the opposite direction. Grandma was staring at me, her mouth hanging open. She closed it, put a fist on a cocked hip and frowned at me.
Quit judging. You’d be doing everything you could to get a little action, too. If you’d ever had any.
I immediately felt guilty about thinking so poorly of her. A little guilty. Luckily she turned away. I crouched, hopping a little to relieve my cramped feet. How long was I going to have to stay here? After several minutes, I took a chance and rose. Mrs. McCumpfry was directly across from me, manhandling the lapel of a display suit. I gasped and slammed the pink outfit back onto the rack. I ducked around a partition, leaning against the wall and breathing deeply.
M.J. Schiller is a recently retired lunch lady/romance-romantic suspense writer. She enjoys writing novels whose characters include rock stars, desert princes, teachers, futuristic Knights, construction workers, cops, and a wide variety of others. In her mind everybody has a romance. She is the mother of a twenty-three-year-old and three twenty-one-year-olds. That’s right, triplets! So having recently taught four children to drive, she likes to escape from life on occasion by pretending to be a rock star at karaoke. However…you won’t be seeing her name on any record labels soon.
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