As we proceed in December we are reaching the heart of the holiday season and today in My Writing Corner we are featuring a writer with just the right recipe to get us into the proper spirit. My guest today is author Margot Johnson who writes sweet, wholesome romances.
Margot tells us she grew up in a family of writers and has always loved books and writing. She is the author of two, sweet romance novels--LOVE TAKES FLIGHT and LOVE LEADS THE WAY and the Christmas novella LET IT SNOWBALL. She says she likes to write characters who can't possibly find their happy endings...or can they?
Before turning her full attention to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. Her motto is "Dream big and work hard." When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it's minus 40!)
She lives in the Canadian prairies with her amazing husband and beloved golden retriever.
She has a new release that just came out last month so let's turn the microphone over to Margot to tell us about herself and her new story, Let it Snowball, a Christmas novella that was just released last month as part of The Wild Rose Press Christmas cookie series.
Take it away, Margot!
I write feel-good stories about women who chase their dreams and bump into romance along the way. They live in small communities near my home in the Canadian prairies, and they count on an eclectic mix of family and friends to make their lives interesting and fun.
My mom recently found my first book, written in grade two, complete with hand-drawn illustrations, so I really have wanted to be an author all my life.
First I focused on magazine writing and had a couple of articles published in Chatelaine, a national women’s magazine in Canada. Then when my children were young, I got very interested in picture books and came close to having one or two published but not close enough.
For a long time, I set aside my writing and focused on family activities and my career. Some people found it strange, but at work, I enjoyed writing reports and briefing notes.
Dipping my toe back into creative writing, I collaborated with my sister Donna Gartshore on a novel. We alternated chapters and wrote without a detailed outline, so we had fun surprising each other. That novel didn’t go anywhere.
Donna now writes for Harlequin Love Inspired, and she inspired me to get serious about writing a novel. While I still worked full-time, I set the alarm for 5:30 and wrote for 1-1.5 hours before work. I then wrote in the evening until I reached my daily target of 1,000 words.
All that effort paid off when The Wild Rose Press offered me a contract for my first sweet romance Love Takes Flight. My new release for Christmas is my third book, and another is in the works for release in early 2022.
My new release is available as an eBook on Amazon and major online bookstores. I hope you agree it’s a fun way to celebrate the Christmas season!
In my story, the heroine, Merilee, shares her famous cookie recipe for chocolate snowballs – see below). Maybe you’ll want to add it to your Christmas baking list.
Sounds good, Margot! Let's get a blurb!
Christmas tours brim with lights, cookies, and…unexpected romance?
Divorced, empty nester Merilee is on a roll. Filled with scrumptious cookies and old-fashioned fun, her Christmas bus tours aim to add festive spirit to her hometown and new meaning to her lackluster life. Too bad her reserved driver slams the brakes on fun.
Widowed farmer Ross needs a little joy to combat his December blues. Behind the wheel, he wears a Santa suit but can't muster a convincing ho-ho-ho. Too many memories block his road to happiness…until irrepressible Merilee sparks a snowstorm of unexpected feelings.
In two weeks of holiday tours, Ross might drive Merilee crazy…or will romance snowball inside their lonely hearts?
Let's get an Excerpt:
After a short drive, the busload arrived at their first stop. “You’re in for a treat.” Merilee leapt up, leaned over, and gave directions on where to park. Absorbing Ross’s delicious scent, clean like snow infused with a trace of peppermint, she jerked back and steadied her breath. Sudden, shocking warmth flooded her insides. Now where was she? She paused to gather her wayward thoughts.
“These rules apply for each stop so we can all enjoy the goodies inside and still keep the tour on schedule. You are free to choose from several platters of cookies. If you would like to sample other kinds or take some home, you can purchase as many as you’d like. We’ll stay for thirty minutes, and then I’ll jingle.” She demonstrated with a string of bells. “Last one back on the bus has to tell a joke or lead a song. If you agree, shout snowball.”
“Snowball.” In a chorus of voices, the group hollered back the right answer.
She lowered the mic. “What about you, Santa?”
He shifted the gear into Park. “Nobody’s going anywhere without me.” He straightened his hat and quirked a fluffy eyebrow.
She smiled, folded her arms, and tapped a foot. Her boots were pretty eye-catching covered in green and red toppers with bells on the toes. Maybe she could cajole him into some good-natured joking. “Santa, you know what happens to kids who don’t behave. You don’t want to end up on the Naughty List, do you?”
“Snowball.” He kept a straight face.
A Review from New York Times Bestselling Author Mary Balogh:
“I loved LET IT SNOWBALL. From the first page I wanted to book a place on Merilee’s nightly Season’s Eatings Christmas tour bus with its three stops at cookie shops to sample and buy. On the last page I wanted to book ahead for the Valentine’s tour! Margot Johnson has a way of making a festive atmosphere seem very real. Combine that with a warm and gentle love story that feels truly authentic, and you have a winner of a story.”
My writing tip: Don’t wait for the perfect idea or ideal moment. Just sit at your keyboard and write!
Inspiration for this story: I live in a place where winter storms and frigid weather are common. I also love Christmas.
Last year during lockdown, my husband and I couldn’t visit friends and family in person, so we delivered Christmas light necklaces to their doors and then connected online. We also bundled up for a walk on a minus forty degree day. I can imagine my characters Merilee and Ross sharing similar adventures.
One wish: I love hearing feedback from readers. I wish everyone who reads Let it Snowball would post a review.
Merilee’s Famous Chocolate Snowballs
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup 2% or whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Shape into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and bake until tops crackle (7-8 minutes).
Remove to wire racks and cool. Roll in icing sugar.
Thank you for being my guest today, Margot! Happy Holidays! Any comments or questions for Margot?