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Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Duo Team Up: Authors Rachel McMillan and Allison Pittman

Today I have the pleasure of introducing two authors who teamed together to create one book featuring both of their novels. Could you give me a short synopsis of the stories for my readers?
Rachel: Falling for a Christmas Star is about two people ---a tenure track Medieval Women’s Studies professor, Merry Strathford  and a made-for-TV Christmas star, Sam Medina, who find love during the holidays. It takes you behind the scenes of the filming of a Serendipity Network movie.

Allison: Lone Star Christmas Lights is a San Antonio tale about coffee bar owner Mari Medina and Texas craft beer brewer Larsen Clarke who date via social media marketing campaigns while finding their way to each other.

What made you decide to do a Christmas themed book?
Rachel: I love Christmas. It is my favourite time of the year by far. I start celebrating November 1. One of the reasons I love Christmas is the warm fuzzies you get from the endless roster of Made for TV Christmas movies that start Hallowe’en night.  It is my love for these movies ( and my chats with Allison about these movies) that really informed the creation of Starring Christmas.

Allison: I was excited for an opportunity to write in a contemporary voice. I love writing historical, but the idea of setting a story in this world—in my city—was just too enticing to pass up. Writing a Christmas-themed novella seemed a great way to dip my words into this water.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?  
Rachel: I always go up to my parent’s house ( in a small town in Ontario) and I love the snow and decorating the tree.  My favourite part of Christmas is the carols --- so candlelit Christmas eve services are another favourite tradition. We also go through my little hometown at night on a drive to look at the Christmas lights—that is another favourite tradition.  Toronto (where I live) hosts a European Christmas market in one of the oldest, Victorian areas of the city and that is a favourite visit of mine each year.  

Allison: Because I’ve spent my entire life living on a school calendar, Christmas has always been about that long vacation in the middle of the year. Visiting family, sleeping late, cooking and eating and cooking and eating…Just taking the day-to-day schedule and ignoring it for days on end. Our only real family tradition is that there are no traditions. Families are different from year to year. We just try to live with year-long forgiveness and grace.

What’s next? (future books, novellas, special appearances you want to mention)
Rachel: My Herringford and Watts series about trouser-wearing lady detectives in Edwardian Toronto have two new releases happening in 2017: Conductor of Light releases in January and The White Feather Murders in May.

Allison: My next novel release is still under wraps—another reason why I wanted to take this chance to get something out to my readers! Stay tuned, though. By this time next year, you’re going to read about a romance for the ages.

What’s the best writing tip you’ve learned or been given that you’d like to share? 
Rachel: You cannot wait for writer’s block to pass.  I am someone who has a career and writes in my spare time.  With deadlines looming and edits to do, if I waited for writer’s block to pass, I would never get anything done. If you get stuck, move ahead, work on another piece, rework a scene. But, always be writing.  

Allison: Don’t ever feel like you’ve learned enough. Continue to study the craft, ask questions, forge relationships with writers with whom you can exchange ideas and advice. Turn friendships into mentorships and vice-versa. Also, trust that your editing and marketing team come with a completely different skill set. Trust their instincts and judgment.

What do you know now about writing and publishing you wish you had learned sooner? 
Rachel: That the first book you submit to an agent or publisher may not be the one that gets you through the door.   It takes perseverance and always having another manuscript in your back pocket. You have to be malleable.

Allison: Be ever-aware of opportunities to promote your books. Not obnoxiously, but in places where they’ll fit into the conversation.

Any last words or tips?  
Rachel: If writing stops being fun, then find something else to do!

Allison: hahaha…because I would never characterize writing as “fun” for me. Satisfying? Usually. But fun—not until the project gets to the written stage. What makes it fun is being a part of the writing world. Find people who do what you do and nourish those relationships. 

Starring Christmas is largely a product of the friendship between Rachel and me. Lots of internet chats and messages. We talk about writing and books and stories—we see each other through that lens. Find someone to be that other part of you. Non-writers don’t get it.

That's it for today's interview. If you would like know more about this book and their writing, here are some links to get you started.
To buy Starring Christmas
Allison's page:
Rachel's page: 

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