Please do your part to make today’s guest, Shannyn Schroeder feel welcome. I’ve kicked things off with a series of interview questions, but I’m sure you’ll come up with some follow up questions… Great answers usually lead me to more questions. If it’s the same for you please leave your questions for Shannyn in the comments section following this post. Shannyn is offering up some great gifts for some lucky folks to win. She’ll be awarding a 15″ x 12″ Pampered Chef flat baking stone (similar to the one her heroine uses) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US only). She’ll be awarding a Keeper Kase (to keep your autographed book cover flats in) with an autographed cover flat from “More Than This” to one commenter at every stop (US only). Be sure to check out Shannyn’s other stops too. You can find out about them here.
More Than This
by Shannyn Schroeder
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.
An Excerpt From More Than This
“What’s up? Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“It’s only been a week.”
“I’ve gotten used to you stopping by more often.”
“I’ve been working. The end of the year is a busy time.” This was the third time she’d seen him since the kiss, and he’d said nothing.
“What’s this?” He tapped her calendar.
I guess we’re still ignoring the kiss. “I’m trying to choose the best day to play hooky.”
Ryan’s laughter rose above the noise of the milling crowd. “You need more help than I thought. Sweetheart, a hooky day isn’t something you plan. You just do it. You don’t think about work. The day is supposed to be fun.”
Quinn groaned and thumped her head on the table. “I can’t do that.”
“Didn’t you ever cut class?”
Quinn raised her head. “No. Perfect attendance all four years. Eight if you count college.”
His crinkly-eyed smile returned. “Oddly, I’m not surprised by that fact. If you’re not comfortable with it, why are you doing it?”
“Remember the list Indy and Kate created for me last week?” You know, the night you kissed me senseless one minute and moved on to a bimbo the next?
He nodded and she continued, “The first item on the list is to play hooky.”
“Playing hooky should not be stressful. Everyone does it. Lighten up. Pick a day and have fun. Your students will survive without you. Most of them have played hooky and can appreciate it.”
She slammed her calendar shut. “Okay. Monday it is, then.”
He shook his head again. “Not quite spur of the moment.”
“Hey, I’m a work in progress.”
My Interview with Shannyn Schroeder:
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself – when did you first know you wanted to write – what was your journey to publication like – do you have a spouse or significant other – kids? Pets? Where in the world do you live? Where did you grow up? What real life events and experiences fuel your writing?
I spent almost 10 years working as an English teacher. Although I wrote (mostly poetry) throughout high school and college, it never occurred to me to become a writer. I needed something that would give me a regular paycheck. After staying home with my kids, I discovered the romance genre. Once I started to devour the books, I had an idea for one of my own and I set out to write it. That first manuscript will never see the light of day. I used it to learn all I could about writing and publishing. Then I continued to write other books. More Than This is the third novel I wrote.
I grew up in Chicago, which is why I set my books there. The city is so diverse and has so much to offer, it’s fabulous. I currently live in a Chicago suburb with my husband, 3 kids, and our dog.
I don’t really use real life events in my writing, but I do tap into personal experiences. Anything I see on a daily basis might spark an idea. Once it makes it into a book, however, it’s rarely in its original form.
Q: Please tell us a bit about More Than This.
More Than This is the story of a woman who wants a baby more than anything. Quinn has one failed marriage behind her and is reluctant to look for another. When she brings up the idea of becoming a single mom, both her sister and friend think she’s crazy. To prove that she can handle the upheaval a baby would bring to her life, Quinn agrees to take the summer and complete a list of adventures that will take her outside her comfort zone.
Ryan is the go-to man for his large family. He’s a nurturer who feels the need to take care of those around him, so when he sees Quinn struggling to complete her list, he offers his help. He has ulterior motives, however. He figures if Quinn can get through the list and the summer without finding a decent guy, she’ll give him a chance.
Ryan and Quinn become fast friends, which is unusual for Quinn. They both attempt to ignore the chemistry they have and they fail in that mission.
Q: Please tell us a bit about the idea behind More Than This. What inspired the story? What part of the story did you get first? How did it build on itself till you had the complete story? What was it about this story versus others that compelled you to write it?
My story ideas always start with characters, so Quinn came to me first. I knew she was kind of mousy and quiet so of course I had to do something to break her out of that. I read some article somewhere that had a list of things everyone should do before they die. Then I started poking and found more articles—things along the lines of 30 things women should do before they turn 30. And the idea for Quinn’s list of summer adventures was born.
Q: Was there one particular scene that was your favorite in More than This? Please tell us about that scene. What happens in the scene? Why is it an important scene in the book?
I thought this would be a hard question to answer, but it wasn’t. The scene that is my favorite wasn’t a part of any of my early drafts, but it was a scene that had issues early on. Quinn is a little hungover and stressed out, so she decides to bake cookies. Then to her surprise, Ryan shows up with coffee to check on her.
In a very early draft, Quinn was mean to him without cause. She basically tells him thanks for the ride home when I was drunk and the great coffee, but get out. My critique partner called me on it, so I cut out a lot. Then when my editor read it, he questioned the necessity of the scene. He said to either cut it completely or expand it so it serves a purpose.
I knew I needed the scene; it’s the first time the reader is introduced to Quinn’s Comfort Cookies. I expanded the scene and had Quinn invite Ryan in and he asks if he can help make cookies.
I love the way the scene turned out because Ryan does all of this subtle flirting and Quinn doesn’t know what to do about it. Plus, she’s sharing this very personal thing—Comfort Cookies—with him. I love the scene so much, I chose it as the excerpt to use on my web site.
Q: What internal conflicts or character weaknesses did your characters have to overcome in order to reach their happily ever after ending?
I think both of my characters struggle with trust. Quinn has to trust that she can have a positive, lasting relationship with Ryan. Ryan has to trust his family to handle things on their own without running in to fix things.
Q: What aspect of writing do you find the most difficult?
Promotion is by far the hardest part of being a writer. (I know I’m kind of cheating on that question.) I’m not an outgoing person by any stretch of the imagination so it’s almost painful for me to talk about my book to get people to buy it. I can talk about my book and my characters, but I suck at being a salesman.
If I really had to pick a part of the writing process that’s hardest for me, it would be revision. By the time I get into revisions, the story is told and it can get boring reading the same thing over and over. It’s even more frustrating when I know something isn’t working, but I don’t know why and have no idea how to fix it.
Q: What kind of writing do you find the most fun?
Drafting is the most fun for me. I’m a pantser, which means I write by the seat of my pants. I don’t outline and some days, I don’t really know where the story will go. I have a basic idea what should happen, but I let my characters loose and whatever happens, happens. Of course, the downside to that is I often write a bunch of stuff that has to get cut during revisions. I love the getting to know the characters and watching them fall in love.
Q: What do you know now after writing and publishing a book that you wish you’d known at the outset?
I wish I’d known how hard it would be to not make more changes. Don’t get me wrong—I had ample opportunity to make changes during various phases, but when I got my page proofs, all I could do was fix errors. I found myself itching to tighten a sentence here or change a word there. More than that, there are times when a thought will enter my head and I’m like, “That would be a perfect thing for Quinn to say,” and I know I can’t add it to the book.
Q: Which drives your novels more – the plot or the characters?
I am all about character. In both the books I write and those I choose to read, it’s always the characters that make me fall in love. I’m very forgiving when it comes to plot and conflict if an author gives me real people to care about. Even when I get caught up in a TV show, more often than not, it’s the characters that keep me coming back. If I can’t care about the characters, the plot better be amazing or I’ll drop it.
Now for some just for fun:
Q: On Pinterest are you a A.) Hoarder in disguise (you collect images of everything you like) B.) Minimalist (you only collect images that fit in with some project – my next book – a home remodeling project – etc) C.) you’re not on Pinterest.
I fit into mostly B. Usually, I collect things that will fit into a current project, but I do have a board called YUM! for recipes that I want to try, one called Motivation for quotes that I love, and one called Fun, which is for all things silly from quotes to pictures. If I remember, I also put up books that I’ve read and enjoyed, but it’s not something I do on a regular basis.
Q: On Twitter are you A.) The life of the party engaging with my friends and followers B.) Mostly a promoter – I use Twitter primarily to promote my books C.) Mostly a lurker. I follow a lot of people looking for useful information – some of which finds its way into my books.
I kind of fall between A and C. I engage with people when I have something to say and I often RT things that I find interesting. I’m not really good at generating my own content. I often feel like no one would care what I have to say. But I do comment and respond to people.
Q: What’s your favorite social network? Why is it your favorite?
Surprisingly, Twitter is my favorite. I’m not on Facebook at all (not even in my personal life), so that narrows the options. When I first joined Twitter, I was sure I was going to hate it because it can be so overwhelming. There’s a million people all talking at once! Then I learned how to use Tweetdeck, which helped tremendously. Now I love going on Twitter because it keeps me connected to people in short bursts. I only go on when I have some time (or when I’m looking to procrastinate). I can chat with people and them leave.
Q: What’s your favorite holiday and why?
It’s a toss-up. I have to say that Christmas is my favorite because I love watching the kids open presents and be surprised. There’s nothing better than that Oh-my-God squeal a kid yells when she gets something she didn’t see coming.
But growing up, Halloween was my favorite. It’s the one day a year where it’s not only okay to be someone other than yourself, it’s expected. I loved it because I could do something that would break me out of my shell (I was a painfully shy kid).
Q: Did you read 50 Shades of Grey? Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between?
I didn’t read 50 Shades and I don’t think I ever will. First, it’s not my cup of tea as far as content goes. I’m not interested in the wide-eyed innocent heroine. Second, I’ve heard too many bad things about the quality of writing. If I’m going to spend $10 on a book, I expect that I won’t be pulled out of the story because of writing issues.
Q: What was the last book you read that you really loved – enough that you’d recommend it to someone else?
This is tough because I will always recommend a book that I love. I passed my paperbacks of Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series to my best friend. The last book I think I actively recommended was Ruthie Knox’s About Last Night. It’s so good that I told all my contemporary romance-loving friends to read it.
Q: What’s your favorite place to read? Do you have a favorite food or beverage you like to eat or drink while reading?
Most of my reading is done right in bed before I go to sleep at night. So my beverage of choice is a glass of water. If I find myself with lots of spare time to just curl up and read, it would probably on the couch with a Diet Coke and huge bowl of popcorn.
Q: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m an introvert all the way. I can be awkward in social situations and I get overwhelmed by crowds, even when I’m having fun. For instance, I get migraines after my kids’ birthday parties because being around that many people for so many hours drains me. Same thing happens at conferences. So if you see me heading to my room at a conference, I’m not trying to dodge you. I just need a break to recharge.
Q: Describe your ideal romantic getaway.
I’m pretty easy to please. Give me the beach, a book, no kids, and no laundry to clean and I’m one happy woman.
Q: You have three magic wishes – what would they be?
My first wish would be for my kids to have long and happy lives. What mother doesn’t want that for her kids? And times are tough right now and looking to get worse before it gets better, so if I could guarantee them a safety net, I’d take it.
I would use one wish to have some time with my parents. My dad died when I was 4 and my mom died right after I had my son. She never even got to see him. I would love to have time to talk with them, let them see how my life turned out, and let my kids meet their grandparents.
Finally, I would want one of my books to be as big as Harry Potter. I’m not greedy; I don’t need all of my books to reach that level of success—just one.
Q: If you were to be stranded on a desert island with one of your characters which character and why?
No question – Ryan. He’s hot and charming. I think if I was stuck on an island, my husband could forgive that infidelity.
Q: When it comes to reading do you favor books that are heavy on humor or heavy on angst or is there a happy medium somewhere in the middle that you gravitate to?
I like both humor and angst, but I don’t think there’s really a middle ground, at least not in one book. I bounce around. If I’ve read a really angsty book, my next will probably be lighter fare.
Author Links & Bio
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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