Way back in June of this year I wrote a blog about my first bit of publicity done by my dear friend and colleague EPIC award winning author Laurie Larsen – (the first story http://wp.me/p1tyuj-4J). The blog told of three authors, myself included, in the central Illinois chapter of the Romance Writers of America called the Heart and Scrolls, all getting contracts just weeks apart from each other this past May. We made history in our group with these triplet contracts and now we have our work to show for it. M.J. Schiller, R.T. Wolfe and I now have our first books published and I sat down with my friends to chat about our experiences.
How did you feel the moment you saw/held your book in real book form?
M.J. – It was a kick! I, of course, have purchased books from Amazon before, so it was cool to see Taken by Storm up where I had shopped before, and to realize I could buy it and A Tale of Two Cities from the same place!
Eryn – Words cannot explain! When I saw Beneath the Wall on Amazon I squealed and ran upstairs to wake up my husband, shoving the iPad right in front of his sleepy face. It was really real and I was so excited. But still it didn’t feel 100% there. A few weeks later my doorbell rang and I opened it to find the UPS man standing there. I gasped and asked him if the package was from Oregon. He said, “I don’t know, it’s from Black Lyon Publishing.” I screamed, scaring the poor man half to death, dashed my name on the computerized clipboard and grabbed my car keys from the peg inside the door. My son and I raced over to my parents’ house where we opened the box with my mother taking photographs of the whole thing. That was amazing! I could actually hold my very own book in my hands. Incredible didn’t even begin to describe it.
How has your life changed since it’s been out?
M.J. – It’s become even busier, which I would not have thought possible. Promoting your book is extremely time-consuming, along with working on the next one.
R.T. – As I assume many authors are, I’m a bit of an introvert. My laptop serves as my company for hours on end and I love it! Since the release of Black Creek Burning, I am working to handle the attention. I’m asked personal questions from blog hosts and people I meet out in public. It feels a bit like standing in the middle of the mall on Black Friday with your pants down.
Eryn – Busier is an understatement! There are tons of things to do every single day, from promoting to writing blogs and doing interviews to trying to put all the clamor away and work on the next book. Sometimes I just turn off the Internet for a day and spend it only working on book two. It’s also been very rewarding. I have met so many people who feel something special after they read my book and to hear their experiences warms my heart. A lot of times these readers either lived through a version of the history I wrote in Beneath the Wall either on the home front or in Vietnam itself. They were the real life people and without them my story would have never been told.
What is your favorite part about being a published author?
M.J. – I’d have to say so far that my favorite part has been meeting and conversing with other authors. The Crimson Romance authors are a big sisterhood who support each other in many different ways. We help to promote each other, offer advice on a myriad of things, and just give the emotional support we all need sometimes when the going gets rough.
R.T. – When someone messages me to say how much they enjoyed my book. I can run for days on that stuff. Whoop!
Eryn – I’d have to say being acknowledged by other authors and random strangers. I love when someone I don’t know “likes” my Facebook page or “follows” me on Twitter. It makes me feel like I have made it just a little bit in this world. I’ve even had a celebrity or two say HI to me on these websites saying they’ve checked out Beneath the Wall. Woohoo!
Oh and I also love when I need to get some research done and places I call for information gladly tell me or hand over inside photographs or stories that the public might not receive. For example, I wanted to find some photographs of interior apartments from the 1920s for my next book, The Blue Lute, and hit a dead-end on Google images. So I found a museum on the Lower East Side of the New York City and after they checked my references they saw I was definitely using the information as material for my next story. The next morning I had an email full of tenement apartments in 1928. That was just WOW for me!
What is something you’ve learned from your hero and heroine?
M. J. – I guess it would be that sometimes just loving someone isn’t enough. Sometimes it takes being apart to see things clearly. And you have to learn to value yourself as an individual to truly love someone.
R.T. – Nathan patient and observant. And sexy but I didn’t learn anything from that part. lol I could certainly use his patience. Brie is smart, efficient and a survivor. I could also use all of those traits!
Eryn – From Julianne, I learned not to give up. She was brought to a point of humiliation and still pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made people notice a stronger girl than the one who first arrived in the Marine camp. She’s quite a feisty chick! As for Mack, mmm I love Mack, many a writer falls “in love” with their hero, but what did I learn from him… I learned to cherish the tiny moments, no matter how insignificant they are, because you never know how quickly things will change.
Aside from your main two characters, who’s your favorite character?
M.J. – It’s a tie between Bagrat and Radeem. They are a lot alike in some ways. Both are kind of bumbling idiots with gigantic hearts. Bagrat is Bashea’s overprotective older brother and Radeem is Tahj’s childhood friend and captain. They both have no problem teasing their counterparts, but are extremely loyal, ready to lay down their lives, if need be, for their loved ones.
R.T. – Nathan is raising his two young nephews as his own and I can’t bring myself to pick one. Ugh. Andy is six, he’s a talker, a builder and his humor and warmth are colossal. Duncan is eight and feels responsible for his little brother. He’s cautious, defensive and desperately wants a family.
Eryn – I really love Sam Phillips. He’s the first Marine Julianne meets and has a connection with. He’s an eighteen-year old boy who joined the Marine Corp because he didn’t want to be drafted into the Army later. When I was writing him I tried to put myself in his position of being so young but expected to deal with war, fighting and death like a man. I could only imagine how confused and conflicted he must have been.
What is your favorite scene in your book? Don’t give anything away of course.
M.J. – I absolutely love this scene where Bagrat and Jahmeel come over to the prince’s side and try to offer him advice on how to deal with their sister. During the course of the conversation, however, the three become drunk and the comical results were a blast to write.
R.T. – Here’s a short excerpt of a dream that reoccurs and evolves a handful of times throughout the novel:
As she meandered up the path to their house, she felt queasy, like she’d done this before. Nervously, she glanced over her shoulder through her mass of wavy brown hair as she kept moving toward the front door. Two people were walking along the street. She stopped and wondered what reason anyone would have to take a walk at this time of night in such an early bird neighborhood.
It was then she heard the shrill of the smoke detectors. Chest tightening, she bolted for the door.
“Mom! Dad!” she screamed and tumbled inside, spotting them almost immediately as they ran down the long upstairs hallway.
Not again. Please not again,she begged, as she fought her frozen legs to make them move up the stairs. The smoke detectors shrieked in her ears. Or was that the shrieking coming from her lungs?
Her parents yelled her name as they reached for the bedroom door. She couldn’t stop gasping for air long enough to tell them to stop. She wasn’t in there. Didn’t they know? They needed to get out of the house. Couldn’t they smell the smoke?
Just like each time, her viewpoint from the middle of the stairs showed her the yellowish air sucking under the door to her bedroom. Although trying to use the railing to give her momentum, every part of her felt like it was in molasses. She cocked her head to the side, drawing her eyebrows together. Her gaze locked on the eerie breeze.
Almost simultaneously, her mother rotated the knob as her eyes turned and met hers. For that fraction of a second, her mother understood the fear on Brie’s face, but it was too late. It was always too late. As she opened the door, Brie had just enough time to witness her parents engulfed in flames before the explosion blew her back and everything went dark.
* * * *
“Brie, wake up. Wake up, Brie. You’re dreaming.”
Eryn – I’m an odd one. In all the movies and books I love my favorite parts are always where there is an explosion of feeling and emotion. For example, in Titanic, I love the part where Billy Zane’s character Cal knocks over the table the morning after Rose spent the night dancing in the third class decks. It’s not significant to the movie, but I love it. It’s no different in Beneath the Wall, so my favorite scene is when Mack, as strong and level-headed as he is, breaks down in a gripping panic attack after killing enemies in cold blood. He knew he wasn’t a murderer yet he was expected to be one in order to help this town. His psyche couldn’t handle it though and instead of him always being there for someone else, this time someone had to be there for him to help him get through.
What’s next for you?
M.J. – Trapped Under Ice When you’ve spent your life trapped under ice, can you find the surface? Rock star Chad Evans is constantly tortured by a damaged childhood. Lunch lady/Romance Writer Beth Donovan still grieves over her husband’s death after three years. When Chad saves Beth from an attack after one of his concerts, sparks start flying the likes of which his pyro crew has never seen!
It’s contemporary romance with a hint of suspense, inspired by the Nickelback song, “Never Again” and my real life rock star fantasy!
R.T. – Black Creek Burning is book one in the Black Creek Trilogy. Book two, To Fly in Shadows, debuts February 1st with book three, Dark Vengeance, following July 1st. I just finished the photo shoot for the book trailer for To Fly in Shadows and am waiting for that manuscript to return from my copy editor. I am spending most of my time finishing Dark Vengeance as I wait. Well, that and attending blog tours, book trailer contest, party pavilions and organizing book signings. Do you remember when we used to just write? J
Eryn – What’s next for me is : The Blue Lute
Think you have life all figured out? Brandon Crowley did until the night of August 31, 1928. Fleeing into a dark alley, after being chased by Nick Abruzzio’s thugs, the man holding his fiancée, Christine Hutton, captive; Brandon emerges seventy years later in modern-day New York City. With his friends long gone, and nowhere to turn, Brandon is stranded in an unfamiliar time.
He is at a dead-end until he meets Lilly, a soulful graduate student at New York University, studying history, two years later. She sees Brandon as a mysterious stranger obsessed with the past. Only to Brandon, it’s his present, and Lilly is soon caught up in a decades-old mystery they must solve. Through twists and turns they find out that the truth was a far cry from what Brandon thought his life was in 1928, instead it was a vicious lie created by the one he loved the most.
I loved writing Beneath the Wall, but The Blue Lute is one of my favorite pieces. I am a huge fan of the 1920s, time travel and a good love story, so to my this is a perfect story.
Eryn – Thank you ladies! I am so proud to know you and to be a part of your lives like this! There are no other two women that I would rather share this accolade with. You are the best. R.T., Black Creek Burning was just awesome! I loved the story of Brie and Nathan. And M.J. I’m in the middle of Taken by Storm, but I want to be there with Bashea and Tahj, riding across the desert. I’m just loving it so far!
R.T. – Thank you for having me, Eryn. I completely loved Beneath the Wall and am looking forward to the next Eryn LaPlant book!
M.J. – I am lucky enough to be one of your friends Eryn. You are just a joy.
All three of our books are available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com (see below for specific links)
FOR ERYN LaPLANT:
Beneath the Wall on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beneath-the-wall-eryn-laplant/1112793495?ean=9781934912485
FOR R.T. WOLFE:
R.T. Wolfe website: http://www.rtwolfe.com
Black Creek Burning Amazon: http://amzn.to/PqO2gE
Black Creek Burning BN: http://bit.ly/UsXZKD
FOR M.J. SCHILLER:
M.J. Schiller’s Blog: http://maryschiller.wix.com/mjschillerauthorblog/apps/blog
Taken by Storm Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Taken-by-Storm-ebook/dp/B009979EGQ/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_1
Taken by Storm Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/taken-by-storm-mj-schiller/1113004672?ean=9781440556869