Spotlight & Giveaway: A Little Bit of Holiday Magic by Melissa McClone

Posted November 12th, 2013 by in Blog, Spotlight / 120 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome romance author Melissa McClone to HJ!


 Hi Melissa, Welcome to HJ!

What would you say are the 5 best things about being a writer?


The five best things are working in my pajamas, being able to work at home (or anywhere else I need to be), the ability to live other lives through my characters, meeting other writers and holding a book I’ve written in my hands.

Let’s talk about your newest release: A Little Bit of Holiday Magic

If you had to summarize A Little Bit of Holiday Magic for the readers here

A Little Bit of Holiday Magic is the story of a single mom gets stuck on Mount Hood in a blizzard with her three year old son. A firefighter comes to her rescue and invites her and her son to spend Christmas with him. She is tempted but after the death of her Army Ranger husband, the last thing she needs in her life, or her heart, is another hero.

Please tell us about the characters in your book?

ALBOHMBill Paulson is a firefighter and a volunteer mountain rescuer. An only child, he struggles with his hovering mother even though he’s in his thirty. He’s a player who enjoys dating women. Well, as long as they don’t have kids. His father failed as a parent and Bill fears he’ll do the same if ever in that position.

Grace Wilcox is an Army Ranger’s widow with a three year old. After getting her accounting degree, she wants to make a fresh start in Astoria, Oregon. Her life revolves around her young son. She’s not interested in having a relationship yet. She’s afraid of loving and losing again.

Was it love at first sight for your characters? If not what was the pivotal moment of change?

It was not love at first sight for Bill and Grace. He thought she was attractive but needed to loosen up. She thought Bill was good-looking, but was afraid she’d stumbled onto the house of an axe murderer. The pivotal moment of change was as they got to know one other. She was first taken by how good he was with her son, then with her. Bill thought she was hot, but as she and Liam turned his house into a home, Bill soon realized his emotions were more than physical.

If your characters could go back in time and change one thing what would it be? Why?

Bill would want to go back so he would know to call for help sooner so his mother wouldn’t miscarry. He’s always blamed himself, even though he was a child, for the baby dying and not being a good enough son.

Grace would go back and tell her late husband Damon not to go on the patrol where he was killed. She still wishes he were alive.

What scene did you have the most fun writing? Why?

I had so much fun writing the scene where the hero, heroine and her son are out playing in the snow. That scene had been with me when I first came up with the idea for this story. This is the day after they meet so still getting to know one another, but I thought it would give the reader a glimpse of the family they could be someday.

Bill enjoyed this afternoon’s interlude from reality more than he thought he would. He’d liked being called Daddy, and liked having the kid look up to him. For a few hours, Bill could be the kind of father he wished his dad had been. And no one would be hurt when he went back to being a fun-loving, womanizing bachelor. A win-win for all involved.

Liam stuck out his tongue, trying to catch a snowflake.

Grace held up a camera. She wore one of his soft shell jackets over her zip-up fleece. Strands of brown hair stuck out from under the colorful stripped wool beanie, also his. A pair of black gloves kept her hands warm. She looked wintery cute, like a photo from a Hood Hamlet Visitors Center brochure.

“Got it.” She focused the lens on Bill. “Your turn.”

He struck a serious pose, if pretending to be an artist sculpting snow could be deemed serious.

Liam jumped into the picture. Not easy with knee-high snow and so many articles of clothing he looked like the Michelin Man. The poor kid had to be sweating beneath all the layers Grace had made him wear.

The condensation from her sigh floated away on the air.

Bill had to laugh. “Photo bomb.”

“I don’t think he knows what that is.” She lowered her camera. The cold had turned her cheeks rosy. Her eyes were clear and bright. “At least I hope not.”

“Then the kid’s a natural.” Bill patted Liam’s fleece cap. “Because he’s got the method down.”

“It’s nice to see him clown around.”

Grace’s lighthearted tone thrilled Bill. Emptying her pickup and watching the truck be towed away had seemed to release the remaining grip she held on herself after decorating the tree.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

I think the hardest was when Bill had to go off on a mission and Grace realized he’d be putting himself into danger. It brought back all her baggage from her first marriage and her fears. The hard part was making sure the past wasn’t overwhelming the present if that makes sense. But I needed her ex-husband in there to show how things with Bill were similar, yet different.

“It’s just…Watching you get ready…”Grace chewed the inside of her lip. “I didn’t know when Damon was going into danger. I never knew how he prepared for a patrol or what he was thinking when he headed out. He never talked about the details, what he saw or what he did. And I couldn’t ask.”

“You can ask me anything. Anytime.”

She looked down. “I don’t want to distract you. I’m sorry if I have.”

“Hey, don’t be sorry. I asked about you because I wanted to know.”

“Damon rarely asked. If he did, he didn’t press when I wouldn’t answer.” She rubbed her neck, thinking about their long-distant conversations. She’d been thankful for each minute. “I never wanted him to be distracted. I wanted to make sure he came back. But he…didn’t.”

Bill cupped her face with his callused palm. He stroked her cheek with his thumb. “I’m coming back, Gracie.”

Her worry didn’t disappear, but his confidence eased some concerns. “You better.”

His hand was on her face, a half smile on his. “Trust me.”

How did your character spend the week just before the story starts?

Bill Paulson spent the week working at the fire station and having fun on Mount Hood when he was off. He’d gotten fit for a tuxedo an upcoming wedding where he’s a groomsman. He also stopped dating because he doesn’t date during the holidays.

Grace Wilcox spent the week packing, selling furniture and donating items to a local charity. She poured over maps to find the best route from Columbus, Georgia to Astoria, Oregon. She and her son Liam also said goodbye to their friends.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?

Paul Walker for Bill Paulson and Anna Kendrick for Grace Wilcox.

What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2013 into 2014?

I have a Christmas novella called Home for Christmas out now with Montana Born Books, an imprint of Tule Publishing. It’s set on a dude ranch in Montana. I hope to write more stories for Tule in 2014, but nothing is firmed up yet. A Little Bit of Holiday Magic was my final book with the Harlequin Romance line. I am moving to Harlequin’s Special Edition line. As of now I have 2015 release dates, but I’ve got my fingers crossed a slot opens up in 2014.


Thanks for blogging at HJ!

Giveaway: $10 Amazon gift card.

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What are you looking forward to most this holiday season?

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FIVE MINUTES LATER, Bill took the phone from Grace, who held onto his pajamas with her other hand. The lines creasing her forehead had disappeared, but the wariness in her eyes remained. He hoped that look wasn’t due to something the sheriff had said. “All good now?”

“The sheriff said Liam and I would be safe with you.” Her voice sounded stronger, but her words had a nervous edge. She rubbed her fingertips against the pajamas. “He’s going to take care of my truck.”

“Truck,” Liam repeated. “I like trucks. Big ones.”

“Me, too.” The kid was cute. So was the mom. If she would quit acting as if Bill was a murderer. She shifted her weight from foot to foot. At least her toes weren’t frostbitten. “Something’s still bothering you.”

Her hands stopped fidgeting with the pajamas. “You’re perceptive.”

“Sometimes.” Bill wasn’t about to play games with Grace after what she’d been through. “Tell me what’s going on.”

She looked at Liam, looked at his EMT and wilderness first aid books on the shelf, a snowboard, an old fire helmet, looked at everything in the living room except Bill.

He took a step closer. “Something’s got you wigged out.”

Grace rubbed her lips together. “The sheriff thinks you should, um, check me. See if we…I…need to go to the hospital.”

That would do it. “Good idea.”

“No. I don’t. Need to go, that is.” Her gaze still avoided his. “I’m a little sore. Nothing else.”

Liam played with Peanut, seemingly oblivious to everything else.

“Most people are sore after an accident.” Bill didn’t know if she was afraid of going to the hospital or of him. He’d guess the latter, but wished she’d look at him so he could try to see if something else was going on with her. “The rush of adrenaline can mask injuries. You should be examined.”

Grace nodded, but looked as if she’d rather face a dentist and gynecologist at the same time than be checked by him. She ran her teeth over her lower lip.

“I promise I don’t bite,” he teased.

She blushed. Her bright red cheeks made her look like a teenager.

He motioned to a chair. “Do you want to sit?”

“I’d rather stand.”

Figures. When Bill was on a call or out in the field on a rescue mission, he tried to keep the patient at ease. Joking around with Grace wasn’t working. He’d try talking to her. “Where do you live in Georgia?”


“You don’t sound Southern.”

“I grew up in the Midwest. Iowa.”

“Cornfields and the Iowa Hawkeyes.”

Her amber eyes twinkled. “And country fairs.”

“Let me guess. You were the Corn Queen.”

Her grin brightened her face. Not only pretty, unexpectedly beautiful.

Air stuck in his throat. He struggled to breathe.

She struck a royal pose, lifting her chin and shifting her shoulders back. “Corn Princess.”

Bill had no idea why he’d reacted to her. Must be tired. “Sash and tiara?”

Corn-on-the-cob scepter, too.”

“Real Iowan corn?”

“Only the finest.” She gave Liam a royal wave. “I was the envy of the corn court until an unfortunate incident with one of the 4-H goats.”

“Poor goat.”

“Poor corn.” She made an exaggerated sad face. “After the goat encounter, I was a princess without a scepter.”

Okay, this was more like it. Smiling and joking and raising Bill’s temperature ten degrees. “So what brings her highness out of the land of sweet tea and juicy peaches across the Mississippi River and over the Rockies to the verdant Pacific Northwest?”

She stared at Liam. Her eyes softened. “Astoria.”

“Ah. Nice little coastal town, if you don’t mind being at sea level.” Bill preferred living in the mountains. “Do you have family there?”

“No, but I thought why not try something different.”

Her voice sounded shaky. Nerves?

Or something more? “That’s a big move.”

She shrugged, but tight lines formed around her mouth. “I’ve moved a lot.”

“I’ve moved twice, not counting my stint at the fire academy. Once from my parents’ house to an apartment, then into this house.” Bill stood next to Grace. The top of her head came to the tip of his nose. “Show me where you’re sore.”

She pointed to her left shoulder, where the seatbelt would have hit.

He touched the spot. “Does this hurt?”

“Slightly tender.” She glanced at his hand on her, then looked away. “I can’t remember all the moves we’ve made. My husband was in the army.”

Was. Past tense. She hadn’t said ex-husband, but she wasn’t wearing a wedding band.

Bill knew some folks didn’t wear rings. Others lost them. Or pawned them. “Is your husband waiting for you in Astoria?”

She bent down and stroked Liam’s hair. “He’s…dead.”

Book Info:

A new family…for Christmas?

All widow Grace Wilcox wants is a fresh start for her and her young son, Liam. When her truck spins off the icy road, her rescuer turns out to be the hottest firefighter in Hood Hamlet, and even wary Grace can’t say no to his offer of help!

Bill Paulson has stuck to his no-dating rule so far this Christmas, but having Grace in his home is testing his chivalrous side to the limit! Her little boy is melting his heart, even asking for a new daddy from Santa…

But Grace has already loved and lost one hero. Can she really let herself get close to another?
Book Links:

Author Bio

Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. She has published over twenty-eight romance novels. She writes for Harlequin and Tule Publishing’s Montana Born Books. She’s been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members by sending care packages and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house. (They do!)
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120 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: A Little Bit of Holiday Magic by Melissa McClone”

  1. Debbie Houk

    I’m looking forward to spending time with my husband and my family this holiday season!

    • Melissa McClone

      Spending time with family is so special, Debbie. My kids have no school for two weeks and where my husband works shuts down so we’ll have lots of family time this December! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Tammy Y

    Time off – I have 14 vacation days scheduled from now until the end of this year. Lots of time off to get ready for Christmas and to read!

    • Melissa McClone

      You’re welcome! The displays and lights are so much fun to see. We don’t have any local theme parks but I was once at Tokyo Disneyland in December. That was wild! Thanks for posting, blondieblack!

    • Melissa McClone

      Hahaha, LT! You sound like my oldest daughter! That’s what she’ll want to do every day. But I’m sure her little brother and sister will drag her out of bed on the 25th!

    • Melissa McClone

      Those are so much fun, Cindy! I think if my husband let me I’d turn our front yard into one of those crazy displays with moving parts and a live Santa passing out candy canes. I love Christmas!

  3. janinecatmom

    I am looking forward to reading more Christmas books this holiday season. It really gets me in the mood. I have recently been introduced to Melissa’s books and loved the one I read. I can’t wait to get my hands on more soon. She has a fantastic writing style.

    • Melissa McClone

      Thanks so much, Janine, you’re making me blush. There are some really great Christmas stories out. I’ve got my kindle loaded with them and I keep buying more. I’m addicted them almost as badly as Christmas movies!

    • Melissa McClone

      Enjoy all of those things, Marcy. Sometimes I like to step back during the holidays and think about the memories we’re making as a family. It’s so easy to forget that what we do are traditions and customs are family will carry on! And don’t get me started on food. I’m already craving gingerbread!

    • Melissa McClone

      Hugs. I hope you can relax and rejuvenate with the down time from your job, DJ! I never totally stop writing during the holidays but I cut way back on my page goals. Thanks for stopping down.

    • Melissa McClone

      Yes, Denise! My two youngest are in school this year full-time. I’d homeschooled for the last five years and it’s my youngest’s first time being away from me so much. I cannot way to have two weeks with them. Though I’m guessing they’ll want a break from me. LOL!

  4. Glenda M

    My son being home from college and the family being together — what more could a mom ask for?

    Great excerpt! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Melissa McClone

      So glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Glenda! Enjoy having your son home! My oldest still has two more years of high school after this one. I can’t imagine her going away, but she’s ready now! I’m sure it’ll be a great holiday being all together!

  5. Leanna

    I am going to do a lot of baking snd mail it to my parents who live 1,200 away from me now.

    • Melissa McClone

      That is so sweet of you to do, Leanna! I love baking and I’m sure you’re parents will appreciate that. It’s hard being apart during the holidays but what a yummy and thoughtful way to bring part of you to them!

  6. Shari

    I work in the medical field as a nurse, so this year I am so excited that I have off the Christmas holidays . Does not happen very often. Will enjoy my time with my family and reading. Looking forward to reading.

    • Melissa McClone

      Yay, Shari, having Christmas off for once! I can imagine it doesn’t happen often, but please know all of us who end up needed medical attention when everything else is closed appreciate it. Enjoy your time off and reading. Sounds a perfect way to spend your days and nights!

  7. Jenn McElroy

    I think I’m most looking forward to the time off from school to spend with my family! We really get to connect during the longer breaks. Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

    • Melissa McClone

      You’re welcome, Jenn! Good luck. Hope you have a great time connecting with your family! Breaks are awesome for that. I know we’ll have a movie marathon one night. Sleep underneath the tree another. And lots and lots of board games.

  8. Margaret

    I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and visiting with relatives that we don’t see too often.

    • Melissa McClone

      Hi, Margaret! Hope you have a great time with your family. It’s always fun catching up with loved ones don’t see. Lots of new memories to hold and laugh over until you get together again!

  9. belindaegreen

    You asked: What are you looking forward to most this holiday season?

    Of course I’m looking forward to being with family and friends. That’s a given. I’m also looking forward to od-ing on books. I plan to put a serious dent in my TBR list. There are books on my NookColor that I have been trying to read seems like forever. I’m going to relax in the recliner with a BIG glass of Cherry Lime Crystal Light, no TV, no phone, and read to my heart’s contents. A reading addicts fix. Oh yeah! It should be fun! 🙂

    Thanks for the opportunity to share.

    Belinda G
    belgre at comcast dot net

    • Melissa McClone

      Love your reply, Belinda! I need to do the same thing. I have so many on my Kindle waiting to be read I need about three Christmas breaks to get through them all! Good luck and it sounds like a blast!

    • Melissa McClone

      You’re welcome. Good luck! Baking and crafts are two of my fave holiday things to do, Alicia. Have fun doing both! Of course, I’m partial to baking due to the benefit of eating my creations!

  10. kimberlyindy

    I really love all things Christmas. Everything about it just makes me happy. I have been known to play Christmas music and watch Christmas movies in July if I am feeling down. I love, love Christmas stories. I really enjoyed A Home for Christmas and look forward to reading more of your books!

    • Melissa McClone

      So glad you enjoyed Home For Christmas, Kimberly! Thanks you! I too love Christmas. I think it’s so cool about your Christmas in July! I love that! Appreciate you stopping by!

  11. Annwitch

    I am looking forward to putting up the tree. I have to work Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, so coming home and seeing a tree is the only thing that helps a little with the holiday spirit. I plan on seeing my dad sing at church at least once during the holidays, but the new retail atmosphere robs many of us workers of our holidays. I wish the store I work at still closed occasionally .

    • Melissa McClone

      Annwitch – Hugs on having to work the holidays. Putting up the tree is so much fun. Ours takes awhile due to our youngest cat. We need her to tire of using it as a climbing and napping tree before putting on any decorations! Glad you’ll get to see your dad sing. Sounds like work really keeps you buys. I wish you got more of a break!

    • Melissa McClone

      Very nice on the giving special gifts Cheryl! That is so much fun. I can’t wait to see what my 13 year son thinks about something I picked up on a trip to San Diego in July! Thanks for commenting.

    • Melissa McClone

      That sounds like a blast, Bonnie. My youngest is only 10, but I think being a grandma would be awesome. Spoil the kids then give them back. LOL! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Melissa McClone

      Enjoy your time, Nurmawati! We stick close to home at the holidays, but I’d love to go somewhere for a couple of days to celebrate my hubby’s birthday after Christmas. Thanks for commenting!

  12. Aline

    Looking forward to meeting my families who live in different cities and come home for Christmas 🙂

    • Melissa McClone

      Oh, that sounds like fun, Aline! When I was growing up it was always just the four of us. Family lived too far away. Now we all get together on Christmas Eve day and have a big white elephant gift exchange. Enjoy your time together!

  13. Winnie Lim

    Looking forward to time to rest and relax and spending time with family. Hopefully I’ll have time to bake some goodies.

  14. Lori H

    I’m looking forward to making cookies and handmade decorations with my children. I’m also looking forward to the Christmas songs.

    • Melissa McClone

      Oh, I love doing things like that with my kids. Have a blast Lori! I’ve already listened to a couple carols, but I’m working on a Christmas story so figure I have an excuse 😉

  15. holdenj

    I am looking forward to that first snowfall and all of the recipes we only make this time of year.

  16. Karen j

    Im looking forward to all our family coming in from out of state. We haven’t all been at my parents for Christmas in years!

  17. Jennifer Zorko-Legan

    I look forward to spending time with my family and my vacation from work. I am off 12/23 through 1/02 🙂 Thank you for the chance.

  18. Nicole Potter

    Oooh, I look forward to so many things during the holidays, it’s so hard to pick! Um…I think cuddling with my husband on the couch would be my top pick. We sit under a nice warm blanket with the lights off and watch the Christmas tree. We do this several nights (and several times) before Christmas, as my husband loves watching the tree lights and I love the excuse to snuggle closer. We usually have Christmas music playing in the background, it just really gets us in the holiday spirit. It’s our small Christmas tradition, with just the two of us!

    • Melissa McClone

      Have fun making gifts, Josette! Those are my favorite ones! I love that someone put so much effort into something they wanted to give me. I treasure everything my kids have made me and friends!

  19. Quilt Lady

    I am looking forward to spending time with my family during Christmas. I am entering under the name of Virginia.

  20. Claira Pam

    Since I go to school across the country, I’m looking forward to seeing my family again!

  21. Christine L.

    Much as I love spending time with my family during the holidays, I’m most looking forward to the hours of my two-week vacation that hold no obligations but will be time for me to decompress — that is, READ and take naps!

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