I’m delighted to have multi-published author MJ Schiller as my guest today.
MJ is a lot of fun and I love her way of thinking. Her newest release, Once Upon a Midnight Clear, promises a blend of sweetness and suspense just in time for the holidays.
So, MJ, I have to ask, what inspired Once upon a Midnight Clear?
This one was actually written in response to a submissions call. The press wanted a romantic suspense novella with a Santa as a main character, whether he be the good guy or bad. I thought about what might be an interesting request for a mall Santa to have and came up with the little girl asking for a daddy, because her daddy was dead. I thought this would immediately pull the reader into the story. From there it was easy to plot the rest. It’s a romantic suspense, so of course the daddy was murdered, and the bad guy is after the heroine and her daughter, the girl who sat on Santa’s lap. After working with an editor at the press through revisions that editor had to retire because of family issues, and I was assigned to a new editor. The new editor’s advice was the direct opposite of the first editor’s, so I just decided to hire my own editor and self-publish it.
I like your solution to the conflicting advice dilemma. Too bad not all problems are as easily solved. Since I struggle with this myself, I wonder, how do you make time to write?
I’m just going to put it out there. I ignore my family and my other responsibilities. Chiefly, cleaning the house. I only clean when I finish a round of edits and I haven’t yet started on the next project. As far as my family goes, I’ve often looked up at 7:30 at night and gone, “Oh, yeah. Dinner…” I have a nineteen-year-old and seventeen-year-old triplets. I figure, I gave them over a dozen good years of steady dinner times, they can muddle through without me. The person who finds this most objectionable is my spouse. In conclusion, it’s easy to find time to do the thing you love most to do…just aggravating for others.
At that age, they should be feeding you – at least when you’re on deadline. MJ, you’ve previously published the Rock Romance series. Do you listen to music when you write?
That would be too distracting for me. Music, though, has inspired a number of
my books. TRAPPED UNDER ICE is a mixture of storylines that were created while listening to different Nickelback songs. I have another book in the works that is inspired by Breaking Benjamin music. If you are familiar with the band, then you will know that book is a little bit darker and sadder than my others.
I’ll have to check out Breaking Benjamin. Thanks for the tip. Since we’re sharing, what books do you like? What’s on your nightstand?
I love all kinds of romances. I don’t like anything too heavy because I think life is heavy enough, so I read for pure escapism. I read mostly in the car, so the only books on my nightstand are THE BIBLE and our daily devotional. My Kindle is loaded with books from author friends who I like to support and who have books that interest me. I have it in the car most of the time to read in those spare minutes when I’m picking someone up and waiting for them, or while waiting for appointments.
And with children – you have a lot of time waiting in cars. My kids are a wee bit younger (6 and 10) and they built a time machine out of Legos. Where are we going and why?
Back to the day before I met my husband so I could begin again!
Maybe I’ll let you take that journey on your own… Maybe we should go out for a drink with your hero and heroine. Where are we?
It’s one of those neighborhood types of bars. Dylan is drinking a domestic beer.
Keira has Irish cream over ice.
Yum! Okay, I’m hungry for dessert quick question time:
- Chocolate, fruit or other? *incredulous snort* Chocolate!
- Warm or cold? warm
- Buttercream or fondant? buttercream
- Cookies or brownies? brownies
- With nuts or without? without
I know just the place. Before we head out, why don’t you leave me with a blurb and an excerpt for Once Upon a Midnight Clear, and answer one last question – which celebrity would you pick to read the audio book?
Morgan Freeman. Because…he’s Morgan Freeman. And if he’s busy, James Earl Jones or Liam Neeson.
Oh how I wish I could make the Eartha Kitt Catwoman noise. Great picks. Thinking of picks – be sure to pick up your copy of Once Upon a Midnight Clear by my guest today, MJ Schiller
Blurb ~ Once Upon a Midnight Clear
Dylan Fisher is an EMT and part-time Santa Claus at a mall in Denver, Colorado. He has logged plenty of time with children sitting on his lap asking for anything from the latest electronic gadget to a week’s worth of homework passes, but he never heard anyone ask for what little Delaney Kelly asked for on one snowy night in December. A dad! When Dylan’s eyes search the crowd for Delaney’s mother and land on Keira Kelly, the paramedic almost finds himself in need of a little CPR. She is stunning!
Keira Kelly is still grieving over the loss of her husband, but a reckless driver has her thinking about nothing but survival as she’s headed home from the mall. When Keira wakes in the hospital to find a hunky EMT at her bedside, she begins having a few thoughts that would put her on Santa’s Naughty List for sure! But when she finds out the EMT is only hanging around because the police believe someone is out to get her, she’s not sure what to think about his kindness. Is he helping her because he wants to, or because he feels he needs to? And what about the man who rammed her car, could he have had something to do with her husband’s death?
Excerpt Once Upon a Midnight Clear by MJ Schiller
Her gaze skimmed over the crowd again and Dylan searched the faces as well, wondering which ones belonged to her parents. Delaney’s focus shifted back to him, her face sincere as she crooked a little finger to tell him to come closer, although they were only a breath apart. He leaned in further, tickled by her earnestness. He wasn’t at all prepared for her whispered request.
“Well, Santa, since my Daddy went to heaven, I want a new Daddy.”
Dylan sat stock-still, his heart in his throat. He’d heard kids ask for everything from the newest video games to snow, but this was a new one. He pulled back, “You want…a Daddy?” His voice sounded odd in his ears.
The little girl nodded, prayerful as she clasped her hands in front of her, the knuckles turning white. He gazed into her sweet face and began stroking her hair absentmindedly. He was at a loss. The would-be Santa threw a quick glimpse at his elf-assistant. With her head cocked, she listened for the next name in her walkie-talkie, not looking in his direction at all. Scanning the crowd, he hoped to find some inspiration, something he could say to the child on his knee which would somehow be right in this situation.
That’s when he saw her face. He knew the woman leaning across the retractable band, waving frantically, must be Delaney’s mother. It wasn’t so much that she bore a striking resemblance to her daughter, but there was something about her. She possessed the same, round eyes—though the mom’s proved a more interesting grey—and warm smile, only with just the thinnest veil of sadness. Or had he perhaps, just imagined it, having seconds before found out she was a widow? He took in her china-pale skin and straight, auburn hair, hanging just to the shoulder. Her bangs made her look a bit like Cleopatra and accented those already fabulous eyes all the more.
He tore his eyes away from the striking face, peering again into the miniaturized version in front of him. “Well, honey, I-I…”
An elf at the bottom of the stairs interrupted him, leaning with one bent leg on an upper step, an elbow on her knee, and fist balled under the chin. “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but Santa needs to visit with some of the other children. Did you get to tell him what you wanted?”
Delaney gazed at Dylan solemnly; the look swore him to secrecy. “Yes. Yes, I did,” she replied in that grown-up way of hers, and then she did something unexpected. She kissed him on the cheek and hopped down, slipping her hand into the elf’s hand. As they walked away, Delaney glanced back. He sat frozen, his mouth hanging open. An elf leaned in.
She frowned. “Tommy!”
Dylan turned to look at her. “Oh, right…Tommy.”
Will Delaney get what she wants? Find out in Once Upon a Midnight Clear.