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I Got the Call! Meet New Harlequin Love Inspired Author Chris Maday Schmidt

Close up of author Chris Maday Schmidt. She's looking at the camera and wearing a straw fedora and glasses.
Author Chris Maday Schmidt

Chris Maday Schmidt is a self-professed princess who believes it’s always the write time for real-life fairytales brimming with hope for new beginnings, humor in the messy middle & heart for happy endings. Originally from the Midwest, she resides with her husband in a little cabin in the woods in Northern Arizona’s Rim Country, where she writes clean & wholesome stories about family, friendship and faith. Chris has been published in Woman’s World and Content magazines, Chicken Soup for the Soul and assorted lifestyle and trade publications, as well as Guideposts’ upcoming book Exploring God’s Promises: Hope (releases February 2024).

Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!

Chris Maday Schmidt: I’m a proud momma to my 30-year-old daughter, and wife of almost 35 years to my real-life hero (who provides much of the fodder I shamelessly weave into my stories). In spring 2022, I “retired” from my editorial job at a commercial trade publisher to pursue writing full time. And when I’m not dreaming up fairytales, I’m hiking through the forest in our small-town (pop. 599) mountain community, playing trumpet in our church’s worship team or working through my endless piles of TBRs.

H: Why did you want to become a romance writer?

CMS: Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved telling feel-good stories—whether on paper or the ones I made up with my imaginary friends. My first “award-winning” story in grade school was written from the POV of a kitchen table, ha! And then my initial attempt at writing romance was for sixth grade English class—resulting in a play about Susie Sunshine (and Hercules) in the Garden of Eden (surprisingly, Broadway did not come knocking). As a teenager, I stumbled across my mom’s stash of Harlequin novels and started dreaming that one day I’d write love stories. But as an adult, my career path took a detour for 3+ decades, until a few years ago—while working for a commercial trade publisher—I sensed God calling me back to HEA. When a workshop at one of the local libraries popped up on how to write short romances, I showed up with notebook in hand and met author Tina Radcliffe, who unwittingly became my mentor and friend… and the rest is history!

H: What were the big steps in your journey to becoming a published author?

CMS: Over the years, I’ve studied the craft of writing by devouring books, attending conferences and workshops, connecting with community, listening to craft-related podcasts and binge-watching rom-coms (you can ask my husband to tick off the tropes and “all is lost” moments and he won’t miss a beat).

During the pandemic, I worked with a writing coach to draft my first full-length manuscript. Although I never developed it further, finishing it gave me the confidence to start submitting—and eventually selling—short stories and essays.

When I learned about the opportunity to participate in the Great Love Inspired Author Search in January 2022, it was literally an answer to prayer. Because I had already fallen in love with the fictional town in my 2020 draft, my plan was to rework the story for the contest.

After scouring the LI submissions guidelines and researching how to’s for writing query letters and synopses, no matter how hard I tried to make the first chapter work, one of the supporting characters from the 2020 draft had other ideas—something I never really understood until it happened to me.

Consequently, I quit fighting the inevitable and handed him the role of hero—which resulted in a request for the full manuscript. Only I hadn’t written anything beyond the first chapter! Enter Tina and her priceless advice: WRITE THE BOOK.

Of course, the best part was experiencing the happy ending to my real-life fairytale: receiving an offer from Shana Asaro to buy my book!

H: What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

CMS: The best advice I’ve read is something Stephen King states in his book On Writing: “read a lot and write a lot.” It’s also been invaluable to me to cultivate a community of support. Finally, whenever fear and limiting beliefs speak louder than the characters’ voices in my head, I try to remember the words of Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?

CMS: When I got the call from Shana at Harlequin, I started screaming, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” With joyful tears, I relayed the news to my husband, and then started making my own calls to family and friends whose prayers and encouragement I’ve coveted on this wild and crazy journey. Two days later on our bi-monthly shopping day (the closest town is 53 miles away), my husband and I continued the celebration over a yummy Mexican dinner. And every day since, I still want to pinch myself!

Now let’s hear from the editor, Shana Asaro:

I came across Chris’s submission in Round 1 of The Great Love Inspired Author Search and thought her story had some really strong hooks and themes and that her voice seemed like a great fit for Love Inspired. And I won’t spoil anything, but the ending also was unexpected and made this story stand out. I’m so glad that we’ll be publishing Chris in Love Inspired!