Becoming “The Torture Master”

Becoming “The Torture Master”

More than a decade ago, I started a new teaching job. The school district that hired me wanted to start an advanced reading/language arts program at the two middle schools. They had a math program in place, but wanted to reach another segment of the gifted population. I was itching for that kind of challenge. I had spent the previous 6 years teaching at an alternative high school for pregnant teens and was ready for a change.

I created the curriculum for that first class of 20 students who had never before struggled in school. The thing is, I worked so well with that group because I was one of them. School had always been easy for me (please don’t hate me). The only challenges I had in school were those I created for myself. I knew what they were capable of accomplishing and I expected it of them.

I didn’t give them more work than students in other classes had; it was different work—work that challenged them. Some were so set in their lazy ways that my class was the first time they didn’t just get an ‘A.’ There was no skating through my class. If they wanted an ‘A,’ they had to really work for it.

Often times, when they would ask why they had to do something, I would answer, “Because I like to torture you.”

They began calling me “The Torture Master” because, really, there was no one better at making them suffer.

These days, the only kids I get to torture are the ones I gave birth to. Although my kids haven’t grabbed on to the nickname, I’m known as the mean mom of the neighborhood. I’m strict and have high expectations for my kids. If they screw up, there are consequences. I don’t say I’m going to do something and then not follow through.

As a writer, I’m expected to torture my characters at least a little bit. Since I write contemporary romance, it’s nothing dark and gritty (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For instance, in More Than This, I made quiet, shy Quinn sing karaoke in a crowded bar in one scene and pose nude in another. So I guess part of me has never left my tormenting ways.

I don’t mind my reputation. If the biggest complaint I get from students or my own kids is that I have expectations that are too high, I can live with that. It’s worth it because once they realize they can rise to the occasion, it’s a fabulous feeling all around.

What to you do to torment those you love?

More Than This by Shannyn SchroederMore Than This
by Shannyn Schroeder


When a lonely teacher teams up with a handsome bartender for some outrageous acts, they both get more than they bargained for…

Learning her ex-husband is going to be a father, Quinn Adams is determined to have a baby of her own—without the partnership of a man. But her sister and friends believe she needs to focus on herself first, and step out of her comfort zone by completing a list of adventures. Challenge number one is to go on five dates within two weeks. After a few disastrous attempts, Quinn’s ready to give up—until sexy bartender Ryan O’Leary offers his assistance.

Ryan has always been the dependable one in his family, often at his expense. But lately, he’s been longing for a life—and a woman—of his own. The woman he has in mind is Quinn. Though it seems all she wants is friendship, Ryan can’t ignore the explosive chemistry he feels between them. In the hopes of becoming closer, Ryan offers to help out with Quinn’s list. But when she asks him for a serious favor, he’s afraid it will jeopardize his chance to become more than friends.


“What’s up? Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“It’s only been a week.”

“I’ve gotten used to you stopping by more often.”

“I’ve been working. The end of the year is a busy time.” This was the third time she’d seen him since the kiss, and he’d said nothing.

“What’s this?” He tapped her calendar.

I guess we’re still ignoring the kiss. “I’m trying to choose the best day to play hooky.”

Ryan’s laughter rose above the noise of the milling crowd. “You need more help than I thought. Sweetheart, a hooky day isn’t something you plan. You just do it. You don’t think about work. The day is supposed to be fun.”

Quinn groaned and thumped her head on the table. “I can’t do that.”

“Didn’t you ever cut class?”

Quinn raised her head. “No. Perfect attendance all four years. Eight if you count college.”

His crinkly-eyed smile returned. “Oddly, I’m not surprised by that fact. If you’re not comfortable with it, why are you doing it?”

“Remember the list Indy and Kate created for me last week?” You know, the night you kissed me senseless one minute and moved on to a bimbo the next?

He nodded and she continued, “The first item on the list is to play hooky.”

“Playing hooky should not be stressful. Everyone does it. Lighten up. Pick a day and have fun. Your students will survive without you. Most of them have played hooky and can appreciate it.”

She slammed her calendar shut. “Okay. Monday it is, then.”

He shook his head again. “Not quite spur of the moment.”

“Hey, I’m a work in progress.”


Shannyn Schroeder is a former English teacher, who now works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.

Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.

After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”

So she did.

That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to professional author. She came to reading romance later than many, but lives for the happy ending because real life can be depressing. She writes contemporary romance because she enjoys the adventure of new love.

In her spare time, she loves to bake cookies and watches far too much TV, especially cop shows. She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.

Web site:

Twitter: @SSchroeder_


Shannyn will be awarding a 15″ x 12″ Pampered Chef flat baking stone (similar to the one her heroine uses) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US only).  She’ll be awarding a Keeper Kase (to keep your autographed book cover flats in) with an autographed cover flat from “More Than This” to one commenter at every stop (US only).

For more chances to win, follow Shannyn along on her More Than This book tour.

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Shari is the Delighted Reader. Married to her Prince Charming and mother to two Princesses and one Prince. When she is not slaving away as Cinderella she loves to get lost in the pages of a good book. Never without a reading device and a few good paperback books, because she never knows when she might get 5 minutes to read!