Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Romance Review's Blog Tour--March 1-31

Over 400 authors are participating in The Romance Review's blog tour to celebrate their second anniversary. There will be games and prizes all month long, so click on the icon to the right, visit a couple blog sites, and be sure to come back here for my giveaway on March 15.

On March 15, for 24 hours, you will have the opportunity to answer a question about my book, The Reluctant Debutante.This is the blurb where you'll find the answer, which, when answered on TRR's site, will enter you into the contest for a copy of the print edition of the book. You need to register and be logged into The Romance Review's site in order to play, but registration is free and easy.

See if you can figure it out:

In 1855 New York, Ginger Fitzpatrick has absolutely no interest in taking part in the newest rage in America—the Cotillion Ball. Instead, 
Ginger would rather be rallying for women’s rights; at least until she 
meets her brother’s best friend from St. Louis, a dark mysterious man named Joseph Lafontaine, who ignites her passion and makes her question if love and marriage is such a ridiculous notion after all. What she and the rest of New York’s high society don’t realize is that Joseph is half Ojibwa Indian, and therefore, totally unsuitable for marriage to a fine, cultured young lady.

In this Edith Wharton meets Julia Quinn tale, a young woman rebels against high society and opts for a life in which she creates her own set of rules.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

MJ Schiller's Blog Tour--Stop One

M.J. Schiller, Rocking the World ~ One Reader at a Time

Hi, all! I’m MJ Schiller and Becky was kind enough to have me on her blog today to talk about my recent foray into self-publishing. Just a few weeks ago I put my romance, TRAPPED UNDER ICE on sale on Amazon, Smashwords,, and the I-book store (along with some smaller ebook retailers). It is the first in my Rocking Romance Collection, a set of stories which all include a rock star as a main character. Becky was curious about my decision to self-publish after being published by Crimson Romance, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on that.

I got a Kindle for Christmas and, I have to say, I love it! I was resistant to e-readers because I love books so much. I’m one of those geeky people whose heart beats a little faster when I enter a book store. I love the smell, the colorful covers, the very feel of books in my hand. One of my favorite Christmases— I think I was about ten — was the year my dad gave me four Nancy Drew books for Christmas. Four of my own! I didn’t have to borrow from my friend who had ALL of them. (That would have been around fifty-seven of them back then. There are a hundred and seventy-five now!) Just getting a peek of that yellow spine sent me into orbit! So how could an electronic device compare to that? But, much to my chagrin, the e-reader is really a bookworm’s dreams come true. I hold an entire library in my hands! If I finish a book, I need only click on another. It’s fantastic!

With the advent of the e-reader much of publishing now happens in cyberspace. The landscape of the publishing world is changing and the market has shifted. Since people are buying their books online, that is where the marketing is, too. No longer are publishers sending their authors out on book tours. We do blog tours, like my stopping by here today. Thus the majority of the marketing is done by the authors themselves. Since I’m doing the marketing myself, and I wrote the darn thing ( ; I feel I should get the lion’s share of the profits. When I work with a publisher they get seventy percent of the profits, I get thirty. Sure, being traditionally published gives your work some credence, and there are benefits with brand recognition, but I don’t feel those benefits weigh out to seventy percent. I may sell less books, but will it be over forty percent less? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. The initial outlook is good. In the week TRAPPED UNDER ICE has been out on the market I have sold more books than in the four months my Crimson title has been out. But time will tell.

Now, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to TRAPPED UNDER ICE. This one is the book of my heart. It’s the story of a three time platinum record-producing rock star, Chad Evans. Despite his success, Chad is still haunted by growing up in an abusive home. He tries to play his heart out on the stage, but can never quite seem to leave it there.  

Enter Beth Donovan, lunch lady/writer (just like moi. Coincidence? Not on your life.) Beth is attending a Trapped Under Ice concert though she still mourns her husband, whom she lost three years prior. After the concert, she and her daughter, Cassie are attacked by two men. Chad comes to the rescue and sparks begin to fly the likes of which his pyro crew has never seen!

Though drawn to each other, the pair has a lot of baggage to get through. And then there’s the fact that they come from two completely different backgrounds. Oh, and did I mention someone has been sending Chad death threats? You just have to check this one out.  ‘Cause, come on, what could be hotter than the love between a rock star and a lunch lady?

Thanks for joining us today. If you’re interested in hearing more about my self-publishing journey, I’ll be on Peggy Bird’s ( blog tomorrow, continuing my conversation and explaining what I did after I made the decision to go it alone. I would be happy to answer, or attempt to answer, any questions you may have. ( ; Thanks again, Becky, for having me here today!

Here's a bit about MJ that you may not know:

I was born in the heart of Tornado Alley, and I’ve been a bit mixed up ever since. Not really, but I’ve always wanted to use that line. The medical community has established no solid connection between the place of my birth and my off-beat personality.

I grew up in St. Louis and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in English education. I left the workforce, however, when my kids were born. Unbelievably I now have an eighteen year old and sixteen-year-old triplets! Yes, I write to escape teenagerdom. Although I love them dearly. I also escape via rock concerts and karaoke. My first book, TAKEN BY STORM, was published by Crimson Romance last fall, and my next book, the second in the ROCKING ROMANCE COLLECTION, titled ABANDON ALL HOPE will be coming soon!

You can find me at , or MJ on FB, or Twitter.

You can find TRAPPED UNDER ICE at Amazon,, the I-book Store, and other e-book retailers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine's Day Aftermath

As many of you know, I work for a greeting card company in order to buy my groceries. There are some perks to this job—food being the big one. And sometimes people ask me for advice on which card would be best for their specific need. Some of my best story lines have evolved from these conversations.

Normally, I don’t mind the work, except at this time of the year. Valentine’s Day is known in the industry as a “Last Minute Holiday.” So, it’s not until the very last few days that the cards begin to sell. And then, after carefully straightening and spacing out the Valentine’s for the week prior to the Big Day, we have to show up at our stores the day after (or in this case, weekend) to destroy any leftover cards.
My monthly critique group meets one Saturday a month—yesterday. On the very day my romance writers group meets, I had to skip it because I was busy ripping up or pouring dye on hundreds of beautiful Valentines. As I worked, I thought of all the romance these cards were to incite, and possible plots for my upcoming novels. Pretty pink roses, pink and red ribbons, commemorative bookmarks, heart-shaped stickers, and red and black masculine cards all bit the dust at my hands. The irony of the situation was not lost on me.

What job have you had that prompted stories for you?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jasmine Won't Leave Me Alone

Jasmine, the heroine in my WIP is a most demanding lady. I had to work a lot last week at my grocery job, and while I was straightening cards and sorting through new product, I could hear her in a corner of my brain tapping her foot in frustration. Admittedly, I had to cut short a love scene with her true love to get to work on time, but the girl wouldn’t leave me alone. She was there, pacing the floor, drumming her fingers on the desk, stomping her feet. I really did want to get back to her, and spent time thinking about her story while going through my mind-numbing work.

Friday and Saturday were my free days, when I could devote myself to Jasmine’s story. In the midst of my second draft, I hit upon a great idea. After days of her hounding me, I thought the only fair way to get back at her was to involve her mother more into her story. So now, Charlotte is hounding Jasmine to become more aggressive in her pursuit of the titled lord, and watching her every move like a hawk.

I’ll probably back Charlotte out of the picture a bit as Jasmine gets a foothold in the relationship. But for now, I’m laughing as I impose Charlotte’s will on her impetuous daughter. A few more scenes with Charlotte telling her daughter what to do to captivate the viscount and I’m certain Jasmine will allow me to get a good night’s sleep.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What's A Gown Worth?

I’ve been complaining for over a week now that I have to destroy a beautiful peach dress in my current WIP, and I love the dress too much to ruin it. It’s a shame I’m not an artist, because, in my head, this gown is as clear as one of Godey’s fashion plates. It’s slightly off the shoulder, with sleeves that stop above the elbow. There’s a wide band of glass beads around the neckline and at the cuff of the sleeves. And if my heroine shrugs her shoulders, just so, the dress will slip from her shoulders, offering her companion an ample view of what could be his. Did I mention it was peach in color? Not pink. Peach.
I’ve cried on the shoulders of my friends and critique partners, and when I explain that my character is okay with the thought of getting rid of it, but I’m the one having trouble coming to grips with its destruction, they look at me as if I’m crazy. But it was to be her engagement dress, and events didn’t quite unfold as she had anticipated. So the dress had to go. I spent all day Friday working on it, and finally, with a few tears, said goodbye to the peach perfection.

And then, yesterday, during a lake-effect snowstorm, I drove to the other side of the city for a field trip with my chapter of the Romance Writers of America. We were to view a series of wedding gowns from the 1830s up to the 1990s. The crown jewel of the exhibit was a gown created by French designer Charles Frederick Worth in 1879. Worth was the Vera Wang of his day. Everyone who had the necessary wealth to own one of his creations lined up around the block for the privilege of wearing his gowns. And to have one of his gowns in any historical collection of textiles is truly a gift that keeps on giving. The entire collection of gowns sparked a plethora of ideas among our group, as we fashioned our own stories about what truly happened to the women these gowns belonged to.

The Worth gown was a confection in ivory silk satin, and had all the bells and whistles. It had ruching, beads, pinched pleats, lace cuffs, seed pearls, a cutaway skirt—everything my heroine would want in a wedding gown. Eureka! Suddenly the engagement dress gave way to a wedding gown, complete with a lace veil. I can’t wait to sit down this afternoon and begin to construct Jasmine’s perfect gown for her walk down the aisle. Because, as we all know, romance books must have a Happily Ever After.