Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview with romance author Melissa McClone

Romance author Melissa McClone is our guest today. She's doing a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for her newest release Not-So-Perfect Princess.

Melissa is giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate at the end of the tour to a lucky commentor. Details below.

Melissa McClone writes for Harlequin Romance. Her November 2010 release Christmas Magic on the Mountain was a 2011 RITA® Finalist in the Contemporary Series Category.

She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering, but quit her job to write romance novels. Writing happily ever afters is a lot more fun than analyzing jet engine performance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, four cats, and a dog named Chaos.

Welcome, Melissa. Please tell us about your current release.
Not-So-Perfect Princess is part of Harlequin Romance's Once Upon A Kiss miniseries. Each story is loosely based on a classic fairytale. I used the tale of Sleeping Beauty for mine. It's set on an island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain. You'll find royalty, sailing and a cute stray kitten in the story! Here's the back cover blurb:

Dutiful Princess Julianna has a secret—she’s actually happiest makeup free, sailing with the sea breeze in her hair. Her attraction to rebel prince Alejandro is instant—but her intended is his brother, the proper but dull Enrique!

For the first time, Julianna’s irresistibly tempted. Before long, she’s spending her nights sailing with gorgeous Alejandro while the rest of the palace believes she’s sleeping. Soon she’ll have to choose—remain the perfect princess, or follow her heart and stop sleepwalking her way through life.…

What inspired you to write this book?
My heroine in this book has been a secondary character in two other stories—If the Ring Fits… (Silhouette Romance 4/00) and Expecting Royal Twins! (Harlequin Romance 2/11). If you notice the release dates, I had a big break between writing my next royalty themed story. But I've wanted to write Julianna's story for years, but I was so busy writing other stories I never had the time to write hers.

When I wrote a different royalty-themed story (Expecting Royal Twins!) it was the perfect opportunity to introduce Julianna to Harlequin readers. Before I could ask my editor if I could write her book next, I was offered a spot in the Once Upon a Kiss miniseries and could use Julianna as my heroine.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm having so much fun with my work-in-progress. I'm writing a Harlequin Romance (working title Goal…Wedding!) about a professional soccer player and a woman who her nephew's guardian while his parents, reservists in the military, are deployed overseas. The nephew's soccer team is what brings the hero and heroine together. Balls fly as well as sparks!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer the first time I completed a 50K word manuscript. It was promptly (and thankfully) rejected. But I learned enough about the craft of writing as well as the romance genre to call myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I'm a full-time mom so most of my writing happens when I'm waiting for one of them at a practice/activity or in the early morning/late evening when the kids are asleep. But I'm guessing if I add all those writing hours up each day, I could call myself a full-time writer, too.

I have a nifty word processor called an Alphasmart that I use for drafting. Using my Alphie really helps my daily word count! Also, I never find time to write. I make time to write. If I didn't do that, I'd never get anything done. With three kids and a bunch of pets, someone always needs me. Making time isn't easy. But I've cut out a lot of things I used to do. Now I watch only one television show a week. I also don't do a lot of socializing except for an occasional breakfast or lunch with a friend.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write the first three chapters of a story then I write the end of the book. I have to know where I'm going or I get stuck. The last chapter isn't always the same as what's published. I've tried not writing the end, but I can't move forward without it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think what I wanted to be changed depending on my age and the day! I do remembering wanting to be a doctor at one point. I talked about that seriously enough my dad thought I should volunteer as a Candy Striper to see if I liked working in medicine. It didn't take me long to realize I didn't want to be a doctor.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks for letting me visit with you today. It's been fun! If you have any questions for me, please post them in the comment section and I'll answer them.

Thank you, Melissa.

Readers, remember, Melissa is giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate at the end of her tour. Leaving a comment below will enter you to win, but you can have more chances if you follow the tour and comment. The more you comment, the better chance of winning.


Mary Preston said...

I'm so pleased that after writing the first & last three chapters you go back to fill up the middle.

I enjoyed the interview, I love the back story to the work & the author.


Melissa McClone said...

Thanks Marybelle! Glad to see you here!

And thank you, Lisa, for having me here today! I love finding new blogs!

Lisa Haselton said...

Glad to have you Melissa - I like meeting new authors. :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Marybelle!

Na said...

Hi Melissa,
I find your writing quirk really interesting. You write three chapters and then an ending. I'm wondering when you write chapters do you have an average word count per chapter or what other method do you use to determine how to end a chapter? I've read books where some chapters are a page and others lasts 20+ pages.

Wishing you a great day!


Melissa McClone said...

Nice to meet you, Lisa!

Na - on the first draft, I don't worry too much about page or word count per chapter. I just try to get it all out. Then we I go back I try to see if those are really chapters that end on the right note or if I need to combine and mix things up. My chapters range from 15 - 25 pages.


Dru said...

Have you ever written a book without writing the ending?

Melissa McClone said...

Dru - I'm trying to remember and can't. I know in the earliest books I always had the endings firmly in my head or on paper. Just not sure they were typed out like I do now.

I know I tried to do not write the end on one book and ground to a total stop in Chapter four. I'd wanted to try a different process, but that didn't work. I couldn't get going until I jumped forward then came back to where I'd been. Now I just write it.


GladysMP said...

Not-So-Perfect Princess is an intriguing name for a book, sure to catch the eye and the story sounds just as intriguing. I also love the name of your dog.

A huge dog show just ended here in Houston and I loved seeing pictures of the many, many types of dogs.

Melissa McClone said...

Thanks Gladys. Wish I could take credit for both names, but the title came from the editorial dept. at Harlequin Mills & Boon and when we adopted our dog that was here name!

I spent my weekend at a dog show. I love seeing all the different breeds!

Jane said...

Congrats on the new release, Melissa. I loved "Not So Perfect Princess." What are some of your favorite fairy tales?

Melissa McClone said...

Thanks, Jane! Glad you stopped by. Some of my favorite fairy tales are Cinderella and the Frog Prince.

Jackie S. said...

I'm enjoying your tour, Melissa. My grandson is visiting, and he likes your "cat pics" on your blog!

Melissa McClone said...

Jackie S - so glad you're enjoying the tour. It's been fun having you along with me at the stops. That's cute about your grandson liking the cats. I love them myself :-)

Chelsea B. said...

It's interesting that you write the ending first-- I could never do that because I don't know how my stories end until I get there! I wish I had that kind of foresight into my characters :-)


Melissa McClone said...

Chelsea B - every writer has their own way. You just have to figure out what works for you and go with that. I've heard process can change. I keep praying someday I'll write one draft start to finish! LOL!

Also, I know where my characters need to end up with their growth before I start a book. That may be why I can write the end since I know where the arc begins and where it ends. The journey, however, isn't as clear to me!

Terri Reed said...

That's such an interesting quirk. I have to write in a linear line.
Good job on the interview and happy writing.

Melissa McClone said...

Terri - thanks for stopping by. I wish I were more linear! Maybe someday.

Sarita Leone said...

Melissa, I am intrigued by how you write the first three chapters, then the end. What a neat way to work. You know exactly where you're going. Very interesting!

Melissa McClone said...

Sarita - thanks for commenting. I know some authors must think that's a boring way to write, but for me it's the way the story unfolds to get to that end that I play with more than the actual resolution!

Melissa McClone said...

Cheslea B won the Romance Trading Cards. Thanks everyone for commenting.


Melissa McClone said...

Chelsea B won the Romance Trading cards. Thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting!