Hello readers! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, for those of you who celebrate it. I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit with some fantastic Christmas novellas that have released over the last couple of weeks, and I’m super excited to have Melissa Tagg sharing a bit of Christmas spirit with me on my blog today! She writes some of my favourite contemporary romances and, in case you missed it, her second Christmas novella released earlier this week. (You can read my review for that here).
When I asked Melissa what Christmas snack she might want to share with us all, she suggested some almond bark-covered pretzels and a mug of peppermint mocha, so I have lovingly prepared these for you. See 🙂
But I have a confession. I had never heard of almond bark-covered pretzels! I don’t know whether I’m just deprived, or whether they’re not a thing here in Oz, but there you go. You can be sure I’ll be looking into that. 😉 As for the peppermint mocha, since it’s been 35-36ºC here the last few days (that’s high 90s Fahrenheit I think) I’m going to pass! But hey, that’s one less mug to wash later, right?
So, for those of you who haven’t met Melissa yet, here’s a little introduction:
Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. She writes romantic comedies in the banter-filled style of her favorite 1930s and 40s classic films. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named by Publishers Weekly to their spring 2016 “Religion and Spirituality” Top 10 list. When she’s not writing she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at http://www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.
And if you would like to connect with Melissa, here are some links for you:
ME: Hi Melissa, and welcome to my blog! Let’s get right down to the important topic of the moment 🙂 When do you get out your Christmas decorations?
MELISSA: My super non-exciting answer? Whenever I have time. LOL! I’m not a strict “must wait until after Thanksgiving girl” but this year it’s looking like I definitely won’t get to it until early December. I adore Christmas decorations, though, so I often keep them up through the end of January.
ME: Well, we go to all of that trouble to get them out, we might as well enjoy them for a while, mightn’t we? So are you one of those people who is organized way before Christmas, or still rushing around the day before?
MELISSA: Oh my word, not organized before Christmas. Not at all. I wish I could be one of those people who has her Christmas shopping done in October, but it’s just not meant to be. I have finally accepted this about myself. 🙂
ME: Whew! It’s not just me then. 🙂 What kinds of things get you in the Christmas mood?
MELISSA: Snow…snow…SNOW! I used to really hate winter…I don’t know why, I just did. But it seems like the older I get, the more I love it. I get ridiculously excited for the first snow each year. I think maybe somewhere along the line I decided when it comes to winter in Iowa, you can either be constantly annoyed or choose to be constantly charmed. I choose charmed! So snow definitely gets me in a Christmassy mood…as do classic Christmas movies!
ME: I guess the whole snow thing rules out an Aussie Christmas for you! Although, I have to say I’d love to have a white Christmas one year. What’s your favourite Christmas food?
MELISSA: Hmm, that’s a hard one. I’m not big on any specific Christmas meal food, but I do love Christmas snacks. Pretzels covered with almond bark and red and green sprinkles. Chex mix. Bing bars. Puppy chow. Homemade caramel.
ME: Well, if you were asking me (which you totally were, I know 😉 ) I would say Christmas ham. It’s the only time of the year we buy ridgy-didge (that’s Aussie slang for ‘authentic’ or ‘the real deal’) ham on the bone. It disappears very quickly! What about your favourite Christmas tradition?
MELISSA: Watching classic Christmas movies with family. Loooove!
ME: Awwww! How sweet! And your favourite Christmas carol?
MELISSA: Another hard one because I love so many. It’s probably a toss-up between Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
ME: Ooh, I’m with you on Hark the Herald, although I think O Come, All Ye Faithful just eclipses it for me – especially accompanied by a full church organ!! Now, finish this sentence: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without…
MELISSA: Family. I mean, sure, I was tempted to say a Christmas tree or snow or Christmas movies or stockings. But truthfully, I think I could celebrate Christmas in any way in any place as long as my family was there.
ME: So true. Which leads perfectly into my next question: Where will you be this Christmas, and with whom?
MELISSA: I’ll be up in my hometown in Iowa one weekend with my immediate family and one weekend with my extended family.
ME: Okay, now that we know all your deep, dark Christmas secrets, let’s talk books. 🙂 One Enchanted Eve is the second novella in your Enchanted Christmas Collection, and like your Walker Series, it’s set in Maple Valley. Apart from the format and the Christmas setting, how is this series different to your Walker Series?
MELISSA: Well, The Enchanted Christmas Collection features the Renwycke family—three siblings, Drew, Colin and Leigh. And unlike the Walkers, they’re not really all that close as a family. The oldest sibling wants them to be a more close-knit family—and throughout the series we see them trying—but they don’t have that sort of built-in tightness the Walker family does. The Walkers lean on each other. The Renwyckes aren’t sure how to do that just yet.
ME: They’re working on it, though! And we love them for it. ♥ Where did the inspiration come from for the cooking theme?
MELISSA: Actually, in last year’s Christmas novella, I originally had a scene where Colin—who at the time was a model and acting teacher—talked about his original dream to be a pastry chef. That scene ended up getting cut because I simply didn’t have room for it. When it came time to write Colin’s story this year, I suddenly remembered that theme. And frankly, writing about someone trying to be a chef just plain sounded more fun to me than writing about a model. LOL! To help me out with the baking angle, I watched a ton of The Great British Baking Show!
ME: Mmm, mmm! So what do you think are Colin’s strengths?
MELISSA: His desire and his hope. Despite all his faults and all his past mistakes, he still hasn’t lost his desire to be a good man. I think a lot of people can live one way for so long that they lose the ability to hope or believe life can ever be any different. Colin is still hoping. He’s still trying. There’s a very noble desire underneath all his flaws. Also, I just think he’s funny!
ME: He is! And he’s got an endearing cheeky streak! What do you think are Rylan’s strengths?
MELISSA: Rylan is stubborn…in a good way! She is focused on her goal and a lot like Colin, she’s unwilling to give up. She’s already lost her big dream once, but she hasn’t stopped hoping she can make it come true all over again. (She just needs to learn to depend on someone else for once. 🙂 )
ME: Well, I think she chose the right guy! ♥ In the kitchen, are you a Colin (follows his inspiration), a Rylan (recipes all the way), somewhere in between, or do you avoid the kitchen as often as possible?
MELISSA: Haha! I’d say I’m a little closer to Rylan solely because I don’t have a ton of kitcheny instincts. I’m more likely to follow a recipe. Then again, I enjoy experimenting and trying things out. I do enjoy cooking and baking…but only when I have time for it.
ME: I wish I had more time for baking, but I suspect my waistline is better off if I don’t! At the beginning of the novel, Colin’s in trouble (again) for a mishap in the kitchen. Do you have any funny cooking stories?
MELISSA: Haha, oh dear, there are soooo many! One of my favorite stories is from when I was a kid—and it’s even Christmas related! My mom was making a bunch of Christmas treats, but she ran out of an ingredient and had to run to the store. The store was only a few minutes away, so she asked me to keep an eye on the peanut brittle currently simmering on the stovetop. All I had to do was stir it!! However, I was deeeeep into a Nancy Drew book at the time. So I stood at the stove reading my book, absently stirring now and then…about ten minutes later, my mom got home and our kitchen was FILLED with smoke! I just stood there beside the oven, nose buried in my book, completely oblivious while the peanut brittle blackened in the pan!
ME: LOL! My husband can probably relate. Not to a kitchen filled with smoke, but just to the general distraction and zoned outness! He has been known to incorporate phrases like ‘the pink elephants’ into his conversation just to make sure he’s got my full attention! One final question: Can we expect to see Leigh’s story in the future (Colin and Drew’s sister)?
MELISSA: You sure can! Christmas 2017. 🙂
ME: Yay! I’m looking forward to next Christmas already! And thank you so much for joining me on my blog 🙂
What about you? Do you have a funny cooking story to tell? What makes Christmas for you? Let us know!