Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guest Blogger: Melissa McClone and a Giveaway!

Happy Monday, all! Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!
I actually ended up losing weight on Thanksgiving (long story. More on Friday)

Anyhew, my friend Melissa McClone, who writes for the Harlequin Romance series, has a new romance out now just in time for the holidays and to put you in the mood for Christmas. It's a sweet romance called Firefighter Under the Mistletoe.

When she told me the title, I was immediately interested in how she knew enough information about firefighters to write the story and thought it would be neat for her to share it with you all.
So, Melissa take it away!!

Thanks, Jennifer, for hosting me. I always have fun being at Me, My Muse and I.
I want to tell you about my November Harlequin Romance release, Firefighter Under the Mistletoe, and the research I did for my heroine, Leanne Thomas, a firefighter paramedic and volunteer mountain rescuer.

Back when I was writing Rescued by the Magic of Christmas (Harlequin Romance November '98), I took four male members of Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR) out to dinner at a local brewpub to learn more about mountain rescue and their camaraderie. A fun and educational time, but shades of my time as an engineer days kept flashing back. I knew I needed a woman in my fictional mountain rescue group to balance out all the testosterone.

Enter Leanne Thomas. She was female, but one of the guys, too. I made her a paramedic due to plot necessity, never thinking at that time she would end up the heroine of her own romance.

When the time came to write her story, I was a little worried about making Leanne realistic as well as relatable to readers. Here was a woman who was surrounded by men both at work and at play. She worked at the fire station with male firefighters. She could climb and ski as well (and sometimes better) as the men she hung out with. She was one of the guys, but I still needed to be a romance heroine. That meant I needed help.

Three women came to my rescue—Fran and Kellie, two climbers who are members of different mountain rescue groups in Washington State, and Karyn, a firefighter paramedic who works in Oregon. I never had a chance to meet them in person, but after initial phone calls with two of them everything else was done via email. Lots and lots of emails!

Fran and Kellie answered so many questions about mountain rescue and being a female climber. The technical stuff helped so much, but just as important, if not more so, was hearing about their experiences both as climbers and rescuers. They told me about the dynamics of being on a mountain rescue unit with a group of men. It was interesting to hear the similarities between the two rescue groups as well as the differences.

Their experiences helped me shape Leanne. Fran is married to a fellow mountain rescuer. I thought about making one of the rescuers as trying to figure out who would be the perfect hero for Leanne. But given the first two books in the series as well as the ones I want to write next, I decided against having another mountain rescuer hero. Kellie provided an itinerary for my hero's climbing road trip based on a trip she took. She also told me about her platonic relationship with a climbing partner that helped me with Leanne's working relationships and friendships.

Karyn gave me so much information about firefighting and being a paramedic. (Thirty-nine email replies answering my many questions!) I knew nothing about this part of Leanne's life/character. Karyn helped me understand life at a fire station (i.e. how does cooking work, where does she sleep, what does she wear to bed, etc.) and what she does on a call. She went so far as to read scenes to help me make sure what I wrote was plausible.

She also helped me figure out what kind of hero would be a good match for Leanne—a fellow firefighter! Karyn is married to a firefighter. They don't work in the same city so I often received two views of how things worked since each department and station can operate differently.

If you'd like to meet Leanne, she makes an appearance in Snow-Kissed Romance, a free on-line read at eHarlequin.com. The novella was used to promote the second book in the series, Christmas Magic on the Mountain, released in November 2010. In case you were wondering, the stories share the same setting and secondary characters, but each is standalone.

I can't thank Fran, Kellie and Karyn enough for all their research help. Leanne Thomas is a better character because of the assistance I received from women who live and play in the same world as her.

Are there careers and/or activities that you would like to learn more about?



Christmas magic in Hood Hamlet...
For Leanne, infuriatingly charming firefighter Christian Welton is out of bounds. Not only is he too young for her, but his trail of broken hearts is legendary. Leanne's fought hard to be one of the boys, and won't let anyone see that Christian's smile makes her want to melt into his arms!

Christian wanted to discover the softer side of the tough-talking paramedic, but hasn't counted on how much the real Leanne affects him. He's vowed never to settle down, but under the mistletoe it's certainly the season to be tempted....

Available on Amazon and Kindle, Harlequin.com and other book stores.

For more information on Melissa, check out her website HERE.

CONTEST: Melissa has generously offered to giveaway a $10 Amazon gift card to some lucky commenter!
Contest runs from now until Thursday, December 1, 2011 11:59 pm EST.

163 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow!! Romance, firefighters, mistletoe!! How lovely!! Thank you Jennifer and Melissa for a fab interview. I love how Melissa did her research - nice to know these wonderful people exist not just in books! :-) Great stuff!!

Take care
x

Glynis said...

As Old Kitty states...wow what a package. Great post/interview.

Linda G. said...

Oooh, looks good! Firefighters are the hottest heroes. ;)

Melissa McClone said...

Thanks again for hosting me, Jennifer!

Old Kitty - there are some wonderful people out there. So appreciative to have them help me with my stories!

Glynis - thanks!

Linda G. - Firefighter are really hot heroes. I had fun with mine :)

I have to volunteer all day, but will check back in whenever I get a chance! Thanks!

Bossy Betty said...

Firefighters. Oh my. Buff men who often live away from home for four or five days at a time.

I want one of those.

Looks like a great book!

Nina Croft said...

Great Interview, Melissa! I always avoid writing about things which need research, but you make it sound so fascinating. But then you are writing about firefighters!

Susan R. Mills said...

Well as soon as I read the title with "Firefighter" in it, I knew it would be good. Thank you both for sharing!

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Firefighters are the best heros. Melissa, you book sounds great. I always enjoy your books.

Clarissa Yip said...

Great interview! I love firefighters and heroines that can hold their own ground! Congrats on the new release!

Maria Zannini said...

Love firefighter stories. They are the bravest people ever.

I'm a little biased though. I have several friends who are/were fire fighters and paramedics, and a hubby who is still the incident commander of his industrial firefighting team.

Congrats, Melissa!! Great subject.

Jessica R. Patch said...

This is why I love being a writer. I can take firefighters out to dinner and call it research! Yes! lol

The book sounds wonderful. I love Christmas novels!

Jennifer, unless you had a horrible virus over the holiday that caused you to lose weight, I dislike you. Much! ;) lol

Karen Lange said...

Jennifer, thanks so much for the intro to Melissa! I enjoy learning about a writer's journey. Appreciate the info on the book. :) The giveaway sounds great too. Count me in!

Thanks and blessings,
Karen

Minna said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Bethanne said...

I love your story.
The real one, I mean. It's not easy to open yourself up to people who might scoff and/or blow you off. :D I'm going over to read your eHarlequin novella. A taste of Melissa! Enjoy the Christmas Season! And all the work you get down during it.

Melissa McClone said...

Thanks for all the comments. Today is my volunteer day so I'm checking in on my iPhone. Research is one of my favorite parts of being a writer! Will be back later!

Jackie S. said...

Great post! I love the cover on Melissa's book; will try to find it when out shopping later this week! Sounds like a good book! I enjoy her blog!
jackie.smith[at]dishmail[dot]net

Cathy P said...

Hi Jennifer and Melissa! Melissa your book sounds like a must read. I have always loved firefighters, policemen/detectives, and paramedics. They are very interesting lines of work. Melissa, it is wonderful that you had such great helpers in this venture.

Na said...

Melissa, I saw the video of the firefighters rescuing the kitten and loved it! I think firefighters are daily heroes and would like to read (and) learn more about them. I'm aware there are different types of firefighters from smoke jumpers to regular ones, and perhaps more.

Cambonified[at]yahoo[dot]com

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, that is one busy heroine. :D

Great interview, Melissa and Jennifer. And great idea to do the research. That always makes a huge difference in the credibility of a story.

Southpaw said...

Wow 39 emails! That so wonderful that so many people we helpful with your research.

Melissa McClone said...

Thanks again for all the posts.

39 emails is a lot. But I do give them an autographed copy of the book and put their name in the thanks portion of the dedication. LOL! I definitely get the better end of the bargain!

There are some guys who I've spent hours with on the phone. Did I mention I love my job? They'll return a call and my hubby will answer. Usually they're from the climbing forum so will say it's . Hubby just laughs and says I think it's one of your climbing or mtn. rescue buddies!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Thanks for sharing about your research process, Melissa! It sounds like a big challenge you undertook but a lot of fun too. :)

blueviolet said...

The holiday romance sounds wonderful! And is there a female alive who doesn't swoon over a fireman?

Virginia said...

Oh wow this looks fabulous you gotta love a man in a uniform. I love firefighters anyway. Love a good holiday romance also.

Melissa McClone said...

Appreciate everyone commenting!

Firefighters are those hero-types that make women sigh or swoon or need to fan themselves! One of the firefighters in my fictional station is also a mountain rescuer with my heroine. I can't wait until I can write his story! Still trying to figure out what kind of woman would make him want to settle down. More research with male firefighters will definitely be in order ;)

Charmalot: said...

Fantastic interview! Sounds like a hot romance ;)

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

marybelle said...

FIREFIGHTER UNDER THE MISTLETOE goes directly onto my wish list.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Shelley Munro said...

This sounds like a wonderful story, and you've certainly done a heap of research. I adore firefighter stories, and this one is now on my to-buy list.

Theresa Milstein said...

Jennifer, thanks for hosting Melissa.

Love all the research you did for this book. Impressive how far you went to make well-rounded characters. Good luck with the book, Melissa.

Melissa Bradley said...

I am definitely going to picking up these stories. I love it as a writer, getting to know so many different professions and people. Research rocks!

Linda Kage said...

Congrats on your Christmas release!! Sounds like it's going to be one HOT Christmas!! I love firefighters.

Madeleine said...

Oh wow thanks for the heads up. Great interview. I've been really getting into romance novels lately since I started entering RFW challenges.

Melissa McClone said...

Thanks so much, everyone. Loving all the firefighter love!

I was concerned about the title, since the other two books had "Christmas and magic" in the titles, but she assured me "Firefighter" would be a big draw!

Carol Kilgore said...

What a great story of your research. I'm sure you nailed these characters. I like reading books like that. Nice to meet you.

Hi, Jennifer :)

Susan Fields said...

Sounds like a great book and a LOT of research! I've always wished I knew more about being a lawyer - I'd love to write a courtroom thriller.

Sarita said...

Congrats on your release, Melissa. I've been looking forward to reading this story. What's not to love about firefighters? They're just so brave!

Jennifer, I'm so glad you hosted Melissa. A great blog post. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer said...

Sounds like a great read! I love sweet romances and you can't go wrong with a hot firefighter :) Will have to check out the free novella, too!

Jessica Nelson said...

Love the cover on your release! I'm sure you've done a fab job with the heroine. :-)

Melissa McClone said...

Thanks again! I so appreciate all the comments. It's so nice to meet you all.

I really wanted Leanne's story to turn out well. It's funny how attached you get to characters after just one book! That's why I'm loving this series (even if it's not an official one.) I don't have to say goodbye to them after I write THE END!

Even though I write shorter, 50-55K word books, research is part of my writing process. So many things I learn end up in the story.

And Jessica, I can see your post as I type this. Thanks for mentioning the cover. I had nothing to with this one, no input at all due to timing. They did a wonderful job. Though really if the hero was in his gear, the heroine would be too. LOL! But this is much more romantic with her dressed up!

Stacy Henrie said...

What a fun read! How cool that she took a bunch of mountain rescuers out to eat for research.

Susanne Drazic said...

Oh my, I remember reading Harlequin Romances as a young adult. That was years ago. I enjoyed learning about the research process for these books, to keep the rescue characters as realistic as possible. Interesting.

Dru said...

I love how it all came together and you were able to craft a great story.

Admin said...

Nice Post

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