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More Than This
by Shannyn Schroeder
1.How did you come up with ideas for your books?
I take note of things around me all the time. I listen in on conversations when I’m in a restaurant or in line at a store. I read magazines, newspapers, and blogs. Mostly, my stories start as ideas for characters. A character comes to me and then as I think about who he or she is, I start to imagine who would make the best match for that person.
2.What components are necessary for the genre of this novel?
Since I write straight contemporary romance, I think the most important components are believable characters. Readers need people that they can relate to. When writing contemporary romance, there’s not a ton of external conflict like you might find in other genres – no one has to save the planet, class distinction isn’t important – so the characters’ emotional baggage is usually the root of the problem and people have to be able to relate to that. Readers also have to like your characters, so they can’t be too perfect. Because none of us are.
3.As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
I’ve just been contracted to write more O’Leary books. Book 2, A GOOD TIME, will release on July 4, 2013. That’s the story of Griffin and Indy, who are secondary characters in MORE THAN THIS. The next two O’Leary books (Although they’re untitled, they will be Colin’s book and Moira’s book) will come out next year. In the meantime, I’m working on a couple of non-O’Leary things.
4.Do you belong to a critique group? If so how does this help or hinder your writing?
I don’t belong to a critique group per se, but I belong to the Chicago-North chapter of the RWA, which is known as a critique chapter. At every meeting we critique someone’s work. I think it helps tremendously to not only critique someone else’s work, but also to hear what others have to say about it. I haven’t read for critique at a meeting for a couple of years, so I’m overdue, but it is a valuable experience. I can get anywhere from 15-30 people’s opinions on my first 20 pages. Some ideas will resonate with me and I’ll use them. The rest, I toss aside.
I do have some trusted critique partners that I send my work to as I draft. And I’m always on the lookout for Beta readers, people who read my book as a reader would.
5.When did you first decide to submit your work? Please tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?
When I wrote my first manuscript, I approached it as a trial run. I had no idea if I could even finish a book. I wrote the entire thing before joining RWA. For me, I felt like if I couldn’t finish a book, I didn’t belong joining (I don’t recommend this thinking. I didn’t know the value of belonging to RWA as an unpublished writer). I then spent some time figuring out how publishing works – editors, agents, publishing houses, query letters – it’s a lot to learn.
There wasn’t one thing or one person who encouraged me to send it out. I just started sending it. I had a horrible query letter and queried anyone I found listed in Publisher’s Marketplace (the print version that’s almost outdated as soon as it’s printed). I approached that first book as a practice one. I never really expected it to go anywhere. And although I did get some requests, it didn’t go anywhere (which I’m glad about since it’s pretty bad). After a bunch of rejections and joining RWA, I found a critique partner and began writing new things.
6.Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I used to just sit down and start writing, but now that I have deadlines, I can’t afford to wander around a project to figure it out. Before starting something new, I spend a good amount of time getting to know my characters. I create collages and a soundtrack for the book. Once I feel like I know the characters, then I start writing. I don’t really plot (although I might do a brief synopsis to get down what I think the story will be about). I just sit down to write. From day to day, I don’t know where the story will go. I trust the characters to get where they need to be.
7.Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your book?
As I said, Book 2 of the O’Leary series—A GOOD TIME—will release on 7/4/13. A GOOD TIME is Griffin and Indy’s story. Griffin is Ryan O’Leary’s best friend and Indy is Quinn’s older sister, so they both appear in MORE THAN THIS. Both Griffin and Indy go into their relationship as a no-strings-attached arrangement, but life gets in the way and completely messes up the simplicity of their lives.
After that, 2 more O’Leary books will release in 2014 (January and July). That’s all I have scheduled right now, but I’m always working on something.
In MORE THAN THIS, the heroine bakes cookies when she’s stressed (as do I), so when I wrote about her making Comfort Cookies, I knew that I would need a recipe to go with it.
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
¼ c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1-½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter, unsweetened chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate in top of double boiler. In mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla together until mixture thickens. Add melted chocolate. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Scoop teaspoon-sized cookie onto cookie sheets. Batter will be gooey. If using aluminum pans, line with parchment paper (no paper needed on stoneware). Bake for approximately 11 minutes, until tops are cracked and edges are set. Let cool on sheet for a minute or two then transfer to cooling rack. Yield: 4 dozen
9.What is your favorite reality show?
I don’t watch much reality TV, but I do like The Voice. I’ve never been a fan of American Idol, mostly because it feels like people enjoy being mean. In The Voice, only talented people are invited to audition and I absolutely LOVE that the auditions are blind. The judges are choosing contestants solely on their voices, not how they look or their stage presence. It seems to even the playing field.
10. If you were a casting director for the film version of your book, who would play your lead roles?
I started making collages when I got stuck writing A GOOD TIME. During the drafting phase, I kept messing with the characters because I didn’t have a real sense of who they were. I created a collage, using images of actors and models as placeholders to give me a visual. Since characters in A GOOD TIME also appear in MORE THAN THIS, I needed to create the entire O’Leary family.
I use Jason O’Mara for Ryan (although he really needs darker hair to fit the description in the book) and Katie Holmes for Quinn. For A GOOD TIME, Bradley Cooper is my inspiration for Griffin and Kate Hudson is Indy.
Here’s a blog post I did about collages and I show my bulletin board. The collages here cover the 3 O’Leary books I have written. http://www.shannynschroeder.com/making-your-muse-work/
When a lonely teacher teams up with a handsome bartender for some outrageous acts, they both get more than they bargained for…
Learning her ex-husband is going to be a father, Quinn Adams is determined to have a baby of her own—without the partnership of a man. But her sister and friends believe she needs to focus on herself first, and step out of her comfort zone by completing a list of adventures. Challenge number one is to go on five dates within two weeks. After a few disastrous attempts, Quinn’s ready to give up—until sexy bartender Ryan O’Leary offers his assistance.
Ryan has always been the dependable one in his family, often at his expense. But lately, he’s been longing for a life—and a woman—of his own. The woman he has in mind is Quinn. Though it seems all she wants is friendship, Ryan can’t ignore the explosive chemistry he feels between them. In the hopes of becoming closer, Ryan offers to help out with Quinn’s list. But when she asks him for a serious favor, he’s afraid it will jeopardize his chance to become more than friends.
“Are you okay?” Ryan asked, stepping closer.
“I wasn’t trying to piss you off. It was only a question.” His soothing voice skimmed across her skin like cool satin on a summer night, but it did nothing to chill the warming of her blood.
Why was he here? Why didn’t Kate come out to check on her? “Why don’t you go back in and plan an adventure with Indy?”
He chuckled, low and quiet, without humor. “You think I want your sister?”
She kept her gaze trained on the fold of her arms, afraid of what she might find in his eyes. “Why wouldn’t you?” she asked quietly.
Ryan stepped so close the hairs on her arms bristled and her heart thumped. His voice was little more than a whisper. “She’s not my type.”
“Indy is every man’s type.” She’d hoped for sarcasm, but her tone was resigned. Quinn raised her eyes but needed to tilt her head up to meet Ryan’s.
He laid his left palm flat against the brick beside her head and looked down at her, first at her lips, then into her eyes. His intent was there, and she licked her lower lip in reaction.
Oh, God. Don’t kiss me. She sucked in a quick, shallow breath.
His blue eyes darkened a fraction and he lowered his head.
Quinn’s arms dropped to her sides. Push him away, you idiot. Instead, she tilted her face upward a bit more, her scalp scraping against the brick.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Shannyn Schroeder is a former English teacher, who now works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.
Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.
After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”
So she did.
That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to professional author. She came to reading romance later than many, but lives for the happy ending because real life can be depressing. She writes contemporary romance because she enjoys the adventure of new love.
In her spare time, she loves to bake cookies and watches far too much TV, especially cop shows. She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.
Web site: http://www.ShannynSchroeder.com
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