Must Have Experience or Need Not Apply by MK Schiller – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding three separate prizes: a $20 Amazon or B/N GC, a $10 Amazon or B/N GC, and an ecopy of Variables of Love, to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Must have experience or need not apply
BY MK Schiller

I’ve always loved romances. Possibly, this has to do with being a child of the 80’s. Almost every movie produced in that era had auto angst, a great soundtrack, fallible heroes, strong heroines, and of course, the required grand gesture. How could I not fall in love with this genre? Between purchasing jelly shoes, hoop earrings, and legwarmers, I was busy watching the great dramatic offerings of my generation.

People often ask me where I get my ideas. The way I construct a novel is much like creating a dish from scratch (although as of late, my kids think I’ve forgotten how to cook). I take snippets and stories from my life, find character traits I enjoy, add spice, and stir well. Of course, I always set it on a low simmer until I’m ready to heat on high.

My first foray into romance happened when I was sixteen. I wrote a short story…really it was just a few paragraphs with no beginning or end. The scene was that pivotal black moment, although at the time, I wasn’t familiar with that term. In truth, I had no idea this is what I was writing. But I can tell you this…I loved writing it!

The hero tells the heroine good-bye, caressing her cheek. He divulges that he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to stop loving her or love her forever. He channels all his sorrow and frustration into a heartfelt speech, trying desperately to change her mind. She’s stoic and calm, but her insides are a quivering mass of emotions. He storms out, leaving her alone in the chaos of her thoughts. She sits and stares at the ceiling, clenching her hands, welcoming the physical pain to distract her from her emotional turmoil. If she allows her caged grief any freedom, it will destroy her. She waits in silence, trying to block out his words, because she knows she’ll go after him. So she closes her eyes, and takes deep breaths until the distance between them is too far for her legs to carry. Only in that moment, when she’s sure the time has passed to call him back does she break down, allowing her anguished screams and salty tears full invasion of her facilities until she reaches the point of exhaustion.

I no longer have this piece of writing, but I remember being very proud of it. I showed it to a friend of mine. Her reaction was that I shouldn’t write about experiences I didn’t have. I have to admit, the critique (the first of many) hurt. I wondered if every writer must have experience or need not apply? The feedback didn’t stop me from writing, but life sure as heck did. Enter, college, a real job (as my parent’s like to say), marriage, kids etc. Then one day, I happened upon a very popular book written by a new author. Well, it definitely hijacked my mind for many hours. A good book gives us freedom. After all, it’s the only form of stationary travel, and the only socially acceptable means of voyeurism.

I couldn’t stop the ideas from flowing after that. My mind was a mash-up of plot points and character traits. So I started writing, if only to relieve myself and create some much-needed head space. A year later, I became a published author.

I disagree with my childhood friend. After all, sci-fi, historical, and Steam punk writers probably don’t have exact experiences to draw from either. Sympathy is the ability to feel for someone else, and I think every good writer has to have a healthy dose of it to create the ideal journey for the readers. I feel for my characters, the predicaments I put them in, and their emotional responses to it. I can do all this because the human experience bonds all of us.

I wanted to share my journey with you. To once again, emphatically state I have an awesome job, penning romantic tales for a living – one that doesn’t necessarily require experience. However, I do think there are some character traits every author should have. Writers must have intuition, admiration for others, and a healthy dose of compassion. You must be willing to let plot points take over your head, and work long hours. You must roll out the welcome mats for the frequent, odd voices talking to you. You must accept critiques with grace, and learn from them. It is not a job…it is a passion.

When I wrote Variables of Love, I had to draw on these traits to create honest, relatable characters and the difficult situation they were in. This is a story about trauma, forgiveness, and the beautiful fall and catch that goes into every love story. Variables of Love is a very personal story for me. It’s what happens when cultural expectations and personal convictions collide. I’ve borrowed from my own life experiences and culture to create this novel. It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for some time, and I’m humbled by the opportunity to share it. As a child of the 80’s, I had to add a few grand gestures, a rocking soundtrack, and a heaping pile of angst. I hope you’ll check it out, and I’d love to hear about what other traits you think a successful writer should have.

Meena Kapoor knows what life has in store for her. She’s in her senior year at Stanford where she’ll graduate summa cum laude, and then she’ll begin her interviews…her marriage interviews. Meena is Indian, and she’s never questioned that she’ll have an arranged marriage like all the generations before her. Not until she meets gorgeous math major Ethan Callahan. Ethan’s sense of humor and free spirit stir feelings in Meena she didn’t know were possible outside of Bollywood movies. It doesn’t hurt that he’s charming and has the uncanny ability to make math sound like poetry, but Meena knows their equation makes no sense in the real world.

Ethan finds himself intrigued by the mysterious, beautiful girl, whose big, brown eyes reflect great pain. His goals are small at first – to make her smile and then to laugh. But he soon wants more, and though Meena is adamant they have no future, he convinces her to share the present. Ethan believes every problem has a solution, but with cultural expectations and family duty among the variables, they will struggle to solve the ultimate equation to find happiness.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“It is kind of cool…the mating for life thing. There are so few species that mate for life.”

I turned and stared at him, feeling my heart flutter by his very close presence. His hand twitched a bit, like it wanted to grab mine. Was he feeling the same charge of electricity I was? I wanted to be honest with him. After I told him, he would probably rather hang out with a swan.

“That’s why I love them. They are just like me.”

He didn’t seem frazzled by what I’d said. He was quiet, soaking in my words. Rachael told me statements like this were the fastest way to get a guy to leave you alone, but Ethan didn’t even seem surprised. “You mate for life, Meena?”

“My people do”

“Economists?” he asked with an amused grin.

“Very funny.”

“Are you saying there are no Indian divorces?” His question sounded genuine.

“There are exceptions to every rule, but we do have the lowest divorce rate in the world.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“It’s culturally discouraged.”

He nodded. “Maybe, it should be here too. But is that really the only reason? It makes it sound like it’s very difficult to get yourself out of a bad situation.”

“It’s difficult, but usually not impossible. That’s not the only reason. I think the marriages, in general, are stronger and more stable.”

“What makes them stronger? Religion? Culture?” I was quiet for a moment, contemplating my response. “Come on, the answer to the Western woes of wedlock could be solved by this very conversation. Surely, you have a theory.”

“Two words—arranged marriage.”

His eyebrows shot up. I had finally surprised him, but he didn’t hesitate with his next question. “People still do that?”

“It’s not as common as it was, but it’s not uncommon either. Most Hindu marriages are the result of an arrangement.”

“I don’t know anyone who would want to get married like that.”

I sucked in a deep breath, but didn’t let my eyes waver from his. “Yes, you do.”

About the Author:

I am a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. I have a full time life and two busy teenagers, but in the dark of night, I sit by the warm glow of my computer monitor, reading or writing, usually with some tasty Italian…the food that is!

I started imagining stories in my head at a very young age. In fact, I got so good at it that friends asked me to create plots featuring them as the heroine and the object of their affection as the hero. You’ve heard of fan fiction… this was friend fiction.

I hope you enjoy my stories and always find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor.

I love hearing from readers so please write to me!

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  1. Thank you for hosting

  2. The impressive cover is what I like most from today’s post.

  3. Thank you for hosting me!

  4. Rita Wray says:

    I enjoyed the excerpt.

  5. Tara Woods says:

    I really enjoyed the excerpt. Meena’s views on life seems fascinating especially the “mating for life” and arranged marriages.

    (I’m also a child of the 80’s. I still love my hoops and secretly hope leg warmers come back in style. LOL)

  6. momjane says:

    I really enjoyed your comments. The excerpt was very interesting.

  7. Great excerpt

  8. Enjoyed reading the guest post today

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