ER: Welcome to Embracing Romance, Nicole. Congratulations on the release of BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE. What one thing would surprise your fans the most about you?
NM: Thank you so much for having me! This is my first interview…eek!! Sad to say I think I’m rather boring because I could not think of anything about me that might surprise anyone. Possibly that while I’ve always been a voracious reader of many genres, I didn’t start reading true romance books until I was about 28 years old. For most fans that’s considered late in the game.
ER: You also have a book coming out in March 2015, START ME UP. Did you sell both books around the same time, and can you tell us about your road to publication?
NM: I have wanted to be an author since I was a child, but I began writing seriously about six years ago. It took me about three years—and lots of help from some talented critique partners—to finish and polish my first novel which was a young adult contemporary. It was with that novel that I went on to get an agent. (Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary.) When she suggested I try my hand at adult romance I was a little reluctant, although excited. I wrote what is now START ME UP in about three months, spent about a month revising with her help, and we had our first offer in less than a week I believe. It was incredibly exciting!
Not long after buying my three book series, Lizzie, my editor at St. Martin’s Press, asked if I might be interested in writing a short holiday story connected to my series. Now, as any writer knows, you spend a lot of time dreaming of a publisher telling you yes. So when they flip the tables on you and ask YOU to write them something, there is only one answer. Of course! So I wrote this story, BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE.
ER: What kind of heroes do you like to write—alpha, gamma, or beta? Why?
NM: I don’t really give it a lot of thought. I just start writing and only after I’m looking back can I really say what his tendency is. I wouldn’t say my heroes are overly alpha by any means, but they have their moments. Alex from BIOTM is ex-military, and while he’s sure of himself, he’s more charming then your typical alpha male. START ME UP probably contains my most alpha hero. I would call the hero I’m currently writing (WIN ME OVER book 2 coming fall 2015) a gamma hero. He was probably an alpha at one point in his life, but then suffered a tragedy that left him incredibly unsure of himself. I’m really enjoying the wounded hero. I will say that I love to read a good alpha book, there are some authors that just do that so well! That being said, I can fall for any type of character if the story is right.
ER: Some authors can’t begin a book before they have the title, others say the title comes to them at some point during the writing of the manuscript. Which is it for you?
NM: I always come up with a working title, but it has no real effect on my writing. Every book I’ve ever written has changed titles. This series is no exception. I’m grateful that my publisher allows me to have some input on the title.
ER: What’s the top three things on your bucket list?
NM: 1. Take a two week trip with my husband through the United Kingdom. THIS WILL HAPPEN! 2. Buy my husband a new car. Weird, I know. But it’s kind of become a little joke between us and he’s done so much for me I’d love to make it come true. 3. Hit a best-seller list. Duh, what author doesn’t?
ER: What’s your all-time favorite romance book(s)?
NM: This has to be the worst question! There are so many. My very first true adult romance book ever was THE RAVEN PRINCE by Elizabeth Hoyt. Wow, what a way to start, right? I’ll always love it because of that—and because it’s really good. (She’s an auto buy.) I also love WHEN HE WAS WICKED by Julia Quinn, DREAMING OF YOU by Lisa Kleypas. Anything by Sherry Thomas, Anna Campbell, Lorraine Heath, Suzanne Enoch, Kristen Callihan, and Tessa Dare. (Historical is my guilty pleasure) As for contemporary I love Victoria Dahl, Jill Shalvis, and Julie James. You’re probably wondering why I don’t write historical and someday I would like to, but for now contemporary comes very naturally to me. I kind of like that I can escape my own writing work into a historical world.
ER: What’s next for you, and would you be willing to share a little about works-in-progress?
NM: I really am just getting started, so everything is kind of next! My series is about three women who operate a lifestyle blog together. One started it and is a single mother and party planner. (START ME UP 3/15) The second is about a baker who runs a bakery and coaches a high school dance team. (WIN ME OVER fall ’15) The last is about a designer and crafter that is harboring a long-time broken heart—from the hero obviously! (DRAW ME CLOSE spring ’16) This holiday book sort of kicks off this theme of women empowering themselves through their own creative enterprises. While this is not a new concept since women have been creative since the beginning of time, it’s something I think a lot of women can relate to right now because it’s sort of become prevalent with the dawn of the internet age. I personally have learned so many new things through others sharing through social media and blogging. I love it, because it allows so many women to be moms, independent, make money, and achieve goals for themselves in a variety of ways. I really enjoyed writing these characters that were inspired by so many of the amazing people I’ve encountered or admired through the crafting/blogger community.
ER: Last question, Nicole. You are also a wedding and portrait photographer. It seems like photographing weddings would be a fun thing to do, capturing a couples’ happiest day. What is the funniest thing that has happened while photographing a wedding?
NM: I LOVE photographing people and it’s such an honor to capture someone’s family or their big day through your camera. As for funny, we often set up a shot we call “the moment”. This is before the ceremony where we set the groom up and the bride comes in, he turns, and they see each other for the first time. As you can imagine, it can result in some seriously sweet moments. I’ve cried behind the lens through so many “moments”. Well, these often happen in the church with the groom standing up on the alter. One lovely day I was just shooting, shooting, shooting away and backed up until I fell off the platform. Unable to break my fall (I had thousands of dollars of equipment in my hands) I landed flat on my butt. Hard! The sweet groom—whom I’d instructed NOT to move so he didn’t see the bride prematurely—stood there and said “Oh my gosh, are you okay?” I was fine—embarrassed, and my butt was a pretty sore—but fine. The best part? A few weeks later, the lead shooter, my friend Jessica, called laughing. She had caught the entire fall through her camera and was playing it stop motion style on her computer. We can still laugh about that one!
NM: Also…I’d love to hear what kind of crafts everyone does—or wished they knew how to do.
’Tis the season for small-town Missouri boutique owner Brooke Abbott to get crafty. Much as she adores making art for art’s sake—decorating windows, designing ornaments, crafting the perfect present for under the tree—this Christmas she needs the gift of good customers. Lots of them. Sweet Opal Studios will go under if she can’t do some serious business before the New Year…and she has no time to lose. What Brooke needs is an honest-to-goodness miracle. Instead, she finds a burglar lurking in the back room of her shop. And here she thought the holidays couldn’t get any worse!
Or maybe things just got a lot better. Turns out the burglar is none other than Alex Coleman—local bad boy slash legendary heartthrob, childhood best friend to Brooke’s older brother, and…future landlord? That is the question. He’s come home for the holidays to see his grandmother, make peace with his distant mother, and settle his grandfather’s estate, an estate that includes the building that houses Sweet Opal. What he never expected was to bump into a grown-up Brooke, whose spirit, charm, and irresistible good looks give him pause. Should he go back to Oregon as planned, or give small-town life a chance? The only thing Alex knows for sure is that before he walks out that door, he’s going to get Brooke beneath the mistletoe, where anything can happen…
“Do you really think I’m going to give you another chance?” She ignored the pounding in her chest and the voice in her head that was saying yes, yes, yes. To keep her shaky hands busy, she picked a few ornaments out of one of the rusty buckets and began to hang them on the tree. He needed to take the hint, she was a very busy girl.
He didn’t. Instead he followed her lead and grabbed a few ornaments of his own before carefully hooking one on to a high branch.
“Stop helping me. I’m very annoyed with you.”
“What if I say please?” He was now holding an ornament she’d made. It was similar to her jewelry in that there was some old fabric held between glass, and soldered around the edges. This particular design featured a tiny print of mistletoe on a red gingham background. Red and green beads and a charm hung from a jump ring soldered onto the bottom. It was very cute if she did say so herself. He fingered the hand stamped metal charm. It said “kiss me”.
He grinned. “Did you make this?”
Suddenly she felt a little ridiculous. “Yes, I did.”
“Nice. You really should have it hanging in a doorway or something. Isn’t that what mistletoe is for?”
“Do you have a point?”
“Will you go out with a paying customer?”
She scoffed. “No.”
“I wanna buy this.”
“No way. You’re not buying that. You’re not buying anything.” She snatched the ornament out of his hand and hung it carefully on a tree branch. “Stop patronizing me and go.”
Brooke turned and walked around the counter. She needed a physical barrier between them. Her heart was pounding and she felt lightheaded. She really wanted to go out with Alex, but she was terrified.
“I’m not taking no for an answer, Brooke. I’m only in town until Saturday. It can just be two friends. Dinner. No big deal. Your brother would kill me if it was more than that. In fact he’ll probably kill me no matter what.”
She jerked her head around. “What does that mean?”
Alex looked panicked, like he regretted his words. “Nothing . . . just . . . I assume he’s still really protective of his little sister, right?”
She didn’t answer right away. Had Ryan spoken to him? Surely not. He wouldn’t do that, would he? “I’m twenty-eight. I don’t need Ryan’s permission or his help.”
“No, you don’t. That’s obvious.” Alex glanced around the shop. “Can I pick you up at six tomorrow?” They stared at each other for a second.
“I have a class. How about seven.” She took a deep breath, worry and elation warring in the pit of her stomach. “But if you are so much as thirty seconds late, I will never forgive you. I also plan to order the most expensive thing on the menu.”
He grinned. “Deal.”
Without another word Alex left, passing three nearly slack-jawed women in the doorway. They giggled after the door closed behind them, whispering and glancing out the window. Brooke put a hand over her mouth to cover her stupid grin. She was going out with that hottie. Tomorrow. She shook her head and greeted the ladies before something on the corner of the big wooden counter caught her eye. It was a twenty dollar bill. What the hell?
She rushed over to the tree to look for the ornament Alex had touched and admired earlier. She sucked in a breath. The mistletoe ornament was gone.
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Nicole Michaels resides in a small town outside of Kansas City with her husband and three sons. When she isn’t writing, she’s a wedding and portrait photographer, loves to cook, read, and watch historical dramas or documentaries.
If you’re playing Romantic Pursuit, here’s the question of the day:
What does Nicole want to buy her husband? Be sure to leave your answer at the TOP of the page.
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