Today I’m conducting a session with…Shannyn Schroeder!
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Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Shannyn: When people ask me when I knew I wanted to be a writer, I often mention that in my teens I always wrote poetry. It was my first love. When I was 16, I decided I wanted to enter a poem in a contest sponsored by Gwendolyn Brooks. I didn’t have anything I thought was good enough, so I flipped through my English textbook for ideas. A writing prompt suggested I write about one of my earliest memories. I wrote about my father’s funeral. I was 4.=
I was one of the winners of the contest for my age category. I got a signed book and a $50 prize (a check I almost didn’t cash because it was Gwendolyn Brooks!). I also went to a small ceremony, where I had to read my poem to the audience. Talk about being nervous. But I got to meet Gwendolyn Brooks, shake her hand, and hear her read “We Real Cool.”
I had always done well in school, but grades didn’t mean much to me. I didn’t take comments from teachers too seriously. I always doubted whether I was any good. Winning that contest was the validation I needed to know I was a good writer. I had a real author—a poet, someone whose work I had read and studied—say I was good. I also learned that the best writing comes from being real and digging deep. It’s a lesson I try to hold onto every time I sit down to write.
Me: What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Shannyn: The trait that helps me most as an author is my determination. Some might call it stubbornness, but I have a stick-to-it attitude that has always led me to achieve my goals.The best writing comes from being real and digging deep. @SSchroeder_ #AOTC #AmWriting Click To Tweet
Me: What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Shannyn: My shyness and lack of social skills is killing me as an author. I don’t easily make friends and it’s even harder to do so when so much of relationship building happens online. I’ve never been good at small talk. At a party, I’m most likely to be the person sitting alone at the bar or off to the side. Obviously this trait means I suck at self-promotion.
Me: What was your high point as a writer?
Shannyn: My high point was about 6 months after my 4th book (Catch Your Breath) released. Of the 6 O’Learys series books, I think it’s my favorite. I had done all the usual things when the book released – blog tour, interviews, guest posts, etc. But when my royalty check came for that quarter, I was shocked. The book was selling really well and was driving the sales of the earlier books. For the first time in a long time, I thought I’d have some breathing room. That wasn’t the case. My next book, which released about a month after I got that royalty statement, sold fewer copies than my very first book. So I learned to take everything in stride.
Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when you questioned your path?
Shannyn: This is a tough one. The publishing business is full of ups and downs. The last couple of years have been rough. I haven’t been selling enough books to make a living and since I lost a good-paying part-time job two years ago, I seriously considered putting writing on the back burner to go back to work full-time. I had a couple of manuscripts out on submission with publishers, but no one was biting. I began to question whether my books were any good. I self-published one book and it’s not making a whole lot of money, but the reviews I received are good. People like what I’m writing. I do have fans and that’s an amazing feeling. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I just haven’t figured out how to get my books in the hands of readers (see the answer to my worst trait above). I finished up the books I owe on deadline and now I think I’m back in an upswing. I’m writing books I want to write and I know that if I can’t find the right publisher, I can self-publish. I’ve done it once and it’s not as scary as I thought it would be.
Me: How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Shannyn: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. In high school and college, I took every creative writing class I could, but I stuck with writing poetry mostly. I never considered becoming an author. Writing was a passion, but I wanted a regular pay check. After I became an at-home mom, I discovered romance as a genre and I devoured books. Then one day, I had an idea for a book of my own and suddenly, I had voices in my head that wouldn’t shut up. So I wrote their story. And another and another. I took the time to craft and how publishing works, but as soon as I finished that first (really bad) manuscript, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Me: How many books have you written? How long does it typically take you to write a book? What’s the most painful part of the writing process for you?
Shannyn: I have 2 books that will probably never be seen by other people because they’re bad. Currently, my published books are the 6-book O’Leary series, 2 Hot & Nerdy novella trilogies (6 novellas total), 1 stand alone, and the 3-book For Your Love series. (so that’s 10 novels, and 6 novellas out in the world) The 4th and final For Your Love book will release next year. In addition, I have 2 more manuscripts on my computer that I’m working on and might release later this year.
Me: How do you deal with rejection or bad reviews? What advice can you give others about how to handle rejection and bad reviews?
Shannyn: I don’t listen to the advice that says to not read reviews. I read all of my reviews – good and bad. Sometimes, the bad ones give me a laugh. For instance, a one-star review because I’m a pervert who writes sex always makes me laugh. When someone writes that they hated my heroine (and yeah, it’s usually the heroine they don’t like) I shrug it off. I don’t like every character I’ve ever read. I’m okay with that. I think the bad reviews would probably bother me more if people questioned my ability to write. If someone said I suck as a writer, that would gnaw at me. My advice to other writers is to only read the reviews if you know you can shrug them off. If they’re going to eat away at you and halt your creative process, don’t read them. Have a trusted friend forward only good reviews. That way, you’re guaranteed to have a good day.
Me: Tell me about your contemporary romance, Through Your Eyes.
ONE LAST CHANCE
Deirdre Murphy has had her life planned for her since she was born: Work in her parents’ noisy pub in rural Ireland. Live with her family until she marries. Marry her childhood sweetheart ASAP, since he’s decided sexy fun time should wait for marriage. None of it excites her. But before her fate closes in, Deirdre’s got one last visit to her Chicago cousins—where she can spend her mornings in a peaceful bakery, keep to herself, and savor the space she needs…. Until she meets Tommy O’Malley.
Tommy is as tough as his city and twice as ready to welcome her in. He’s covered in tattoos, stays up half the night inking them on other people, and has a reputation for being good with his hands. And he’s heart-pounding, forgot-her-words, can’t-stop-staring exciting.
Tommy knows he’s the opposite of everything Deirdre has prepared for. But to watch her set herself free, he’s willing to risk almost anything…
Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from your newest release, Through Your Eyes.
This excerpt is right after Tommy and Deirdre have sex the first time. They’ve messed around a bit, but they waited because she’s a virgin and he wanted her to be sure. It’s in this moment that Deirdre realizes how great Tommy is. He’s not just a guy looking for a good time. He’s special.
He seemed to understand that she couldn’t talk, so he settled down beside her again and held her close.
As they lay there, Deirdre realized that it was men like Tommy O’Malley who made women believe that sex was more than biology. He had a way of looking at her, nearly through her, and speaking to her as though she were the most amazing person on the planet.
You can find Shannyn here:
Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. RACE THE DARKNESS and HUNT THE DAWN are available now! SAVING MERCY Book 1 in the Fatal Truth Series is available now.