Shannyn Schroeder – Hope, Escape & Expectations

Hi friends!

Welcome to the 5th Annual Read-A-Romance Month!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate this awesome genre! Come back every day to read all three “Power of Romance” posts. Check out the full calendar of authors here. You can also find links to the last four years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook.

Happy August!

#LoveRomance #ThePowerOfRomance

Love Wins & People Can Be Happy

I’ve thought quite a bit about this topic and how to approach it. There are so many ways to talk about the power of romance, and I considered so many of them because I love the genre. But after spinning my wheels, I think I’ve settled on the fact that the greatest power this genre has is that it is mostly written by women, for women (with a tip of the hat to the few men out there). Romance is a place for readers to gather and experience safe, healthy, loving relationships. Romance offers hope. And I think that’s the most important point of the genre.

When so many of us have survived relationships that chipped away at our self-worth and damaged our self-esteem, it’s vital to be able to witness what a good relationship looks like—even if it is a fictional one. My own children (one boy and two girls) often make jokes about how I write lady porn, and I’ve had friends question whether I would let my daughters read my books. Since I’ve never really censored what they read, I see no problem with them reading my books if they choose to. Yes, I write explicit sex scenes, but why wouldn’t I want my daughters to grow up expecting a man to not only be clear on their consent, but to also be concerned about their pleasure? Often times, non-romance readers make fun of the genre because it sets up unrealistic expectations for men. I’ve never met a romance reader who expected to fall in love with a man with perfect six-pack abs, but they do want a hero who is kind and considerate. A man who treats a woman with love and respect is worth so much more than one with a perfect body.

Even more than escape or the ability to exemplify healthy relationships, romance offers both readers and writers hope. The last few years have been difficult for me both professionally and personally (an experience many of you share). I’ve lost jobs and loved ones. Some days, I struggle to hold it together. Being able to get lost in a world where love wins and people can be happy has been a great gift. I look at the world around us and the mess it’s become and I worry for my children. It’s hard to have hope, but I am reminded of positive possibilities every time I look between the covers of a book.

For my entire life, books have given me both an escape and the hope that things will get better. Stories that make you laugh and cry can be cathartic. But knowing that no matter how hard the journey is for the characters that they will find a happy ending is what gives romance the greatest power. Romance and the HEA that it consistently delivers revive hope in the reader.

Right now, we can all use a little hope, can’t we?

 

Shannyn recommends:

Like most romance authors, I started as a romance reader, although I started much later than most. My TBR pile can rival many, but I’m always looking for new authors to enjoy. Here are some of my go-to authors when I need a break from life (in no particular order):

Jody Holford     –      jodyholford.weebly.com    –     @Amazon
In full disclosure, Jody and I are friends. We met because we share an agent. However, that isn’t why I’m recommending her. Jody writes contemporary romance on the sweeter side (no sex on the page), which isn’t necessarily what I would normally one-click, but she writes some catnip worthy tropes that I love.

AJ Pine     –      ajpine.com      –  @Amazon

AJ is also a friend of mine as we both belong to the same RWA local chapter. AJ also writes some catnip, but hers are on the steamier side 🙂

Jessica Lemmon     –      www.jessicalemmon.com      –     @Amazon

Jessica writes some great bad boys and grumpy heroes. She has a way of crafting a character that you love to watch be knocked on his ass by the heroine.

Molly O’Keefe      –     www.molly-okeefe.com    –     @Amazon

Molly has written a wide range of stories, but her latest books—written under M. O’Keefe—are darker in tone. What I love about Molly is that she creates characters that you can absolutely hate and she somehow skillfully redeems them and has you cheering for them.

Megan Erickson     –      meganerickson.org      –      @Amazon

I love Megan’s Mechanics of Love series and the Gamers series. Her characters are people I can relate to.


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment when you felt or were aware of the power of romance.

This was a tough question for me to answer. As a reader, I feel the power of romance pretty much any time I’m reading. I love romance because of the promise of a happy ending. But the life of an author tends to be pretty solitary. We create characters and then send them out into the world and we don’t always get feedback.

I think I feel the power of romance most when readers email me. Of course it’s fun to have a reader leave a review talking about how she loves my book. But when a reader takes the time to contact me personally to tell me how much she loves my stories and my characters, that’s when I see the power of my stories. I’ve had readers tell me that my books have gotten them through rough times and have given them some happiness in dark times.

When something you read has the ability to impact your emotions to give you hope or lighten your life in dark moments, that shows the power romance has.

Tell us about an object that has powerful memories for you.

I don’t have many possessions that hold true meaning for me. The object that has powerful memories for me is going to sound silly. It’s my backpack. I’ve had this black backpack since I was a junior in high school. I worked and had my own money and when I needed a new book bag, I splurged on an LL Bean backpack. Seriously, best money ever spent on a bag – twenty plus years later, it’s still holding up.

This bag has powerful memories mostly because I’ve had it so long. It went to school with me every day from high school through college—undergrad and 2 masters degrees. That might not sound like much, but I didn’t drive until I was a junior in college, so I took the bus everywhere (three buses to get to college every day). My life was in that bag.

I owned that bag when I met my husband. He’d pick me up at work at eleven o’clock at night and I’d walk him partway home before going on my way (I lived farther). He always teased me about the bag that looked like a turtle shell on my back. To this day, he makes fun of how many books I carried daily.

That bag also followed me to my first teaching job. When I left that job before getting married, I pulled the label off my mailbox and stuck it to the bag. For this reason, my kids still refer to the bag as the Lenihan bag because it has my maiden name on it.

The backpack has memories of more than half my life. My girls have each tried to talk me out of it, but I can’t let it go. (I do let them use it when they go to the library because it can hold some books.) It’s like a security blanket. It’s something I’ve been able to depend on through school, work, kids, vacation, you name it. For forty bucks I got a small piece of reliability, which was something that was in short supply when I was growing up.

(For the record, you can still buy this bag. My daughter got one for herself. And they’re still under $50)

Tell us about a word that has power for you.

Independence is my power word. For me, this single word carries a lot of weight. At the surface, independence is a good thing—it means you can take care of yourself. The flip side, however, is that independence taken too far can lead to isolation.

Growing up, I watched my mother stay married to a man who was abusive and horrible because she didn’t think she could make it on her own financially (despite the fact that she had done it alone for the first 5 years after my father died). I hated that she was too afraid to stand on her own, so I swore to myself that I would always be independent. Sometimes, though, you can take that concept too far and the stubborn drive for independence can cause you to push others away. I’ve always been determined to “do it myself,” and over the years, I’ve had to learn how to ask for help. Recognizing that I can’t always do it alone has been difficult, but I’ve also learned that asking for help doesn’t mean I relinquish my independence.

Tell us about a powerful book you read this year (or one that’s so powerful you’ve never forgotten it).

One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read is Naked in Death by JD Robb. Eve Dallas is such a dynamic character, strong both physically and emotionally (or so she’d like you to believe). The first time I read this book it eked into ever pore of my being. I can’t remember a character ever resonating with me as much as Eve did. We get to watch Eve struggle with the idea that she can actually fall in love and grab a piece of happiness in spite of the horrible way her life started.

And who couldn’t fall in love with Roarke? Of course, sometimes he’s a bit overbearing and pushy, but then we see the sweet, sentimental side to him like when he gives Eve coffee or when we find out he carries her button in his pocket. As a couple, Eve and Roarke are far from perfect. They are both damaged people, but together they’re working toward rebuilding themselves and finding happiness.

Tell us about a person who’s had a powerful influence on your life.

I think the person who had the greatest influence on me as a writer was Gwendolyn Brooks. When I was younger, I wrote mostly poetry. I loved the conciseness and word play. I also didn’t think I had the skill to pull off anything longer. When I was 16, I entered a poetry contest sponsored by Gwendolyn Brooks, who was the Poet Laureate of Illinois. Instead of using a poem I had finished, I wanted to write something new. I flipped through my English textbook for ideas and settled on the one that suggested I write about my earliest memory. One of my earliest memories (while not the earliest) is my father’s funeral. He died when I was four.

I won the contest for my age category. I met Gwendolyn Brooks and won a $50 prize as well as a signed book. I also had to read my poem to a roomful of people. The audience was made up of other winners and their families, but for someone like me—someone terrified of speaking in front of a group—this was difficult.

The whole experience taught me a lot about myself as a person and as a writer. I was able to stand in front of the audience and read my poem without falling apart or screwing up. I learned how the best writing is often scary. But mostly, winning that contest and meeting Gwendolyn Brooks taught me that I was, in fact, a good writer. It gave me the validation I hadn’t gotten anywhere else. She made it real because she was an author, a real poet (as opposed to my teachers, who were just teachers as far as I was concerned). Whenever I’ve had a day where I felt like I sucked, I could remind myself that I didn’t because Gwendolyn Brooks said so.

 

 

Main Drawing:

Shannyn is generously giving away one digital title, winner’s choice, of one O’Learys series title to one reader.  To enter, leave a message below before 11:59 pm PST August 5, 2017.  US only (International friends, see below.)

There are many more drawings too—including international book bundles! See the bottom of the post for more information.

Shannyn is also sponsoring a tote & cup combo and is contributing to an international bundle and weekly book bundles! (see below for more information)

#LoveRomance #HappyReading

 


Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) currently has 3 titles out – Under Your Skin, In Your Arms and Through your Eyes.

When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.

Learn more:

www.ShannynSchroeder.com    |    Facebook     |    twitter @sschroeder_

 

Buy Shannyn’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!

#LoveRomance   #The PowerofRomance    #ReadARomance


MORE DRAWINGS!

Each RARM post will have one main drawing each day (posted above). Authors are also contributing to weekly bundles, which will be drawn at the end of the week. Each bundle will consist of at least five books and the amount of bundles will depend on the amount of books the authors contribute.

(Shannyn is contributing to all of the drawings below.)

To enter to win these bundles, send an email to Week1@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “Bundles” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

International friends!

Rather than individual drawings off posts, this year we’ll do sets of books, 3+, depending on how many authors contribute. To enter, send an email to Week1@ReadARomanceMonth.com with “International” in the signature line. (1 entry per email address per week)

Week 1 contests are through Aug. 8

For the 5th Annual Read-A-Romance Month, many of the contributing authors (including Shannyn) are supporting an extra-special drawing – high quality tote bags and mugs printed with a fun, pro-romance image (see below).

Read-A-Romance Month, through the generous support of many of the authors, is giving away at least 30 mug & tote combos.

Plus, at least two lucky winners will win a Read-A-Romance Month “Month of Books” Mega Bundle, consisting of 31 books!

To enter these exciting drawings,  send an email to August@ReadARomanceMonth.com (US only, apologies to international friends – though keep an eye out later in the month. I may include a couple of international bundles.)

You will not be automatically added to a newsletter, and I promise not to sell or give your email addresses to anyone. I do reserve the right to send you an invitation to sign up for my newsletter, which will also have opportunities to win more prizes and great romance reading tips!

 

 

Check out all three great posts everyday in August at ReadARomanceMonth.com.  Or you can find the posts on the RARM Facebook page.  Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.

#LoveRomance  #HappyReading  #ReadARomance

  • Kelly Jetzer

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I look forward to reading your books!

  • Michele H.

    I think all romance readers understand the challenge of balancing the ever-growing TBR pile with the need/desire to discover new authors. I enjoyed reading the first few books of the O’Leary’s series, and didn’t realize how far behind I had gotten on your back list. I guess my TBR pile is about to get even larger!

    • Shannyn Schroeder

      Well, the upside to waiting is that I think all of the O’Learys have had a price drop, so you can get them cheap and not feel too guilty about your TBR pile 🙂

  • Anna

    “A man who treats a woman with love and respect is worth so much more than one with a perfect body.”

    Yup. This. I have never expected 6 pack abs. I do expect kindness and consideration. Thanks for writing! 🙂

  • rebecca moe

    OMG, your Gwendolyn Brooks story put tears in my eyes. I was totally planning on writing about something else and then that bit distracted me.
    Thanks for sharing–I love your books, Shannyn 🙂

    • Shannyn Schroeder

      I’m glad you love my books. I wasn’t trying to make anyone cry — really 🙂

  • Sally Schmidt

    I loved your post, and by the end of this month all the recommendations I will have added to my TBR will make it topple! Hope is what it’s all about.

  • Sue G.

    Who needs a 6 pack? I have told all three of my daughters that they need to find the smart boys because they will stay interesting for years to come! So far 2 of them have….still waiting on the 3rd one! 😉

    • Shannyn Schroeder

      Sounds like you did a good job convincing them. Good luck to the 3rd

  • Nicole Marie

    Great post, thanks for sharing your story and I can’t wait to read your books 🙂

  • Glenda

    I really appreciate that you never censored what your kids read. I had many discussions with friends who censored everything their kids read and watched -“because they aren’t old enough to” 1. tell the difference between fantasy/sci-fi/whatever and reality or 2.handle the reality of life. I tried to read everything my kids were reading and then talk about the books. I believe that if you don’t discuss things with your children they are never able to handle them.

    • Shannyn Schroeder

      When I was first published and my youngest wanted to see one of my books, I put Post-it notes on the pages with sex. That way she could skip if she wanted and if she was curious, she’d look. Of all the things I might censor, books haven’t been one

  • Patty Vasquez

    I read Naked in Death for the first time this year. It’s amazing how compelling both Eve and Roarke are as a couple and as individuals. Reading the In Death series is like eating M&Ms: you can read a handful of books at a time, take a break, and go right back to reading the series. They’re still really, really good!

    • Shannyn Schroeder

      One of the great things about the in Death series is that you can jump in whenever to visit Eve and Roarke.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    Thanks for sharing your story. I will check your books out.

  • Pamby50

    Hi Shannon, I loved your post. I laughed when you wrote that you would let your children read your books. How else will they find out how to be treated. I love all your go to authors. The book that has stayed with me is Forgotten Promises by Jessica Lemmon. I review and wrote to her how this book affected me.

  • Kezia King

    Great post! I don’t think romance sets us up with unreal expectations. I always knew I wasn’t gonna marry a duke or billionaire. A six pack is nice but I never thought of it as essential. Those things are great but it’s not what makes me swoon. It’s that these heroes know the their woman’s worth. That’s what I looked for and it’s entirely reasonable to hope for it.

  • Kimberly Johnston

    Interesting to learn that you didn’t start with the romance genre. Glad you found your spot here in romance. Love your books.

    • Shannyn Schroeder

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoy them

  • Jen Doyle

    I just read the first in the Mechanics of Love series and loved it! I also love that your object is a backpack AND that after giving you trouble in the way that daughters do, she got one of her own. 😉 Looking forward to checking out your books!