We have a winner! Sabrina Templin, you won Melissa’s giveaway! She will be in touch with you! Congrats!
Today, I’m pleased to welcome USA Today bestselling author Melissa McClone to the blog. Melissa writes heartwarming women’s fiction and sweet contemporary romance novels. When she’s not writing relatable characters and sigh-worthy happy endings, she spends her time in the rainy Pacific Northwest reading from her Kindle’s ever-growing TBR, napping with her dog and cats, and decorating her Happy Planner. Melissa graduated from Stanford University with a mechanical engineering degree, but discovered she prefers writing happily-ever-afters to jet engine testing and analysis. Her newest book, A Slice of Summer, released July 26 from Tule Publishing.
GIVEAWAY! Melissa will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card. To enter, tell us what item you usually order when you visit a bakery!
N: Welcome to the blog, Melissa. I’m so delighted to have you with us today. You have written a lot of books—what drew you to writing when you already had a successful career as an engineer? That’s quite a leap!
A: I enjoyed engineering, but it was a job. When I decided to try writing, a spark ignited inside me. It was so much fun and quickly became a passion. That quote about something not being work if you love it comes to mind.
N: What comes first—the plot or the characters?
A: Characters for me. I am a plotter, but I need to know who my people are before I can figure out the story.
N: I think we all learn new things about ourselves as we write. What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing A Slice of Summer?
A: I learned that I’m capable of pushing myself unhealthily, and I need to slow down. My father got sick when I was starting to write this story. We almost lost him, but thankfully, he’s fine now. It was a rough time, and I couldn’t write. Needless to say, that put me behind, and I had to write fast to reach the deadline. I got it done, but in a ridiculous way, and I think the pandemic and being at home away from germs is the only reason I didn’t get seriously ill and only exhausted myself. When I got edits back for the book, I had learned my lesson and asked for more time so I could do a complete rewrite at a reasonable (i.e. slow) pace.
N: Are your characters pretty much all fiction or are they based on people you know?
A: They are all fiction other than any part of myself that somehow works its way into them. Sometimes I see an actor on TV or hear something on the radio or read an article that might influence the way I create a character, but I prefer to start my people from scratch.
N: Give me three words to describe baker Taryn and three to describe attorney/hero Garrett.
A: Taryn: hardworking, earnest, creative
Garrett: workaholic, caring, dedicated
N: What is the toughest criticism you’ve received as a writer? The best compliment?
A: The toughest criticism came from a former critique partner who said I was a competent writer. That was hard for me to hear because I strive to be much better than just competent.
The best compliment was from a doctor, who also taught at a hospital. She’d had a rough day and lost a patient. When she got home, she opened one of my books because she knew it would make her feel better and put a smile on her face, and it did. This was from my early days with Harlequin, and I’ve never forgotten her email.
N: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A: Just write what you love, and don’t worry what anyone thinks.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A screenwriter. I used to make new endings to shows and movies I didn’t like.
N: Favorite book when you were a kid?
A: Dragonriders of Pern. It’s a series, not one book, but I was obsessed.
N: And here is my signature question that everyone loves: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
A: Freddie Mercury because I’ve enjoyed watching his interviews—he’s very funny—and maybe he’d sing for us. Marilyn Monroe because I’m she has some interesting stories to tell. And finally, my brother Randy, who died in April, because we never got to say goodbye.
A Slice of Summer
First, he ghosted her. Now, he has a proposition…
Taryn Lawson needs more customers in her bakery to prove she’s capable of taking over the family business. The summer fair is the perfect opportunity to jump-start her vision with a specialized booth showcasing her creative desserts. Despite her fierce work ethic, she needs help to build her booth in time. Unfortunately, the only person available is the handsome attorney who played with her heart last Christmas.
Trial attorney Garrett Andrews regrets not contacting the pretty baker he dated during his last holiday vacation. But he had his reasons and is finally ready to make amends. When he returns to town for his sister’s wedding, Garrett gets his second chance when Taryn needs help building her booth.
Working together reignites the spark, but Taryn is aware the clock is ticking. Will they realize what they have is special before it’s too late, or will their second chance at love once again slip through their fingers?