SARA Cafe Welcomes L. J. Schuessler

L. J. SchuesslerHow did you learn about SARA and what made you want to join?
I’ve been a member of RWA since 2012. Three years ago, I moved from Washington state where I was member of the Greater Seattle Area Romance Writers chapter to Rockport, Texas. I started looking for a local chapter and SARA is the closest chapter to Rockport. I haven’t made it to a live meeting yet but have made lots of connections with the group online.

What sub-genre(s) of romance stories do you write?
I write contemporary romance. My current series is set in Montana where I lived for 17 years. I also have ideas for future romances with magical elements.

What made you decide to write romance?
I love writing about relationships and, as Susan Elizabeth Phillips says, “Life is too short to read depressing books” so HEAs are a necessity.

What do you think is the most misconceived idea readers have about romance writers?
The misconception I’ve heard most often, usually from non-romance readers, is that writing romance is easy. After all, you just have to fill in the blanks of a template, right?

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or read about writing?
I think the best advice I’ve been given is get the first draft down as quickly as you can—and also, to write, write, write.

What writer(s) inspired you to try your hand at writing as well?
Anna Quinn, writer, writing teacher, bookstore owner, was the first writer who inspired me in a class to try writing fiction. And, Mary Buckham, another awesome writing craft teacher and novelist continues to encourage me.

What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?
I’ve read so many craft books and most of them have given me great takeaways. One favorite is Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. Also love The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Are you a pantser or are you an outliner? Why?
I am somewhere in between a pantser and outliner. I do begin with character sketches and a basic outline but I’ve never been able to fit things into an iron clad structure. I find my characters doing unexpected things that must be allowed or, before I know it, I’ll have a rebellion on my hands.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog? Tension, etc?
Hands down—creating enough tension throughout the book is the hardest for me.

What is the biggest surprise and/or frustration you’ve learned in the writing/publishing process?
I’m not sure if it’s the biggest surprise but certainly the best surprise is how amazingly supportive and helpful other writers are—no matter where they are in their career.

Is there a genre you wish you could write in, but never will? Which one?
Hmmm, never say never, but I doubt I’ll ever write historical romance.

What would happen if you didn’t write?
If I didn’t write, I’d have a lot more time on my hands. That could mean trouble!

We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of one you’ve had, and how you learned to write past it.
I had a plan to write for Harlequin when I started writing. My first submission was rejected. It was one of those “good rejections” (I actually received feedback from an editor) but it sent me back to the drawing board and resulted ultimately in indie publishing my first book.

What do you see as your writing goals 5 years from now?
I’m currently working on completing my first trilogy and a novella. I have at least two other trilogies in mind. Over the next five years, I want to write the best books I can and connect with as many readers as possible.

Any other comments or tips on writing that you’d like to add?
Writing keeps me curious, keeps me learning. I enjoy the creative and the business side of writing—and writers are an awesome, interesting bunch.