Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Q&A + Giveaway With Olivia Miles: 'Twas the Week Before Christmas

I may be the most excited guest at this party. Olivia is my oldest and dearest friend and my trusted critique partner, and I'm thrilled to have her in the Hot Seat today to talk about her charming debut, 'Twas the Week Before Christmas. Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy!

Congratulations on your debut release, Olivia! Holly and Max are so easy to like and root for. What do you love most about each of them?
Max has had a hard life in many ways and I love the fact that he’s tough but not bitter. He has a good sense of people, he’s friendly, and even though he has a wall up, he’s approachable. With Holly, I love her creative side and the way she approaches everything she does with her whole heart. She’s not just playing a role of innkeeper; she wants to open her doors and bring people into her home. She’s very genuine.

When I read 'Twas the Week Before Christmas, I'm instantly transported to a little town that loves Christmas. Am I right to assume that this reflects an author who loves the holiday?
I do love Christmas. I’m a homebody, and I love cold weather months in general because it’s a reason to stay inside. The holidays are an extra cozy time of year because the house is filled with so many more beautiful things than it normally is--lights and ornaments, music and delicious smells. What’s not to love?

What inspired you to write 'Twas the Week Before Christmas?
I have a bit of a “thing” for made for television Christmas movies. I get excited about them every year. I re-watch my favorites and make sure to record all the new ones. I even go through the channel websites to check the line up and make sure I don’t miss any. Needless to say, when that Happy Holidays contest popped up, it was like a sign from above. It was my calling. I love watching holiday romances,  so what better than to write one myself?

Can we talk about the food? Cookies, pies, rich hot chocolate – your books ruin my diet! But there's something very warm and nostalgic about these food references. What are Max and Holly's favorite holiday foods? What's yours?
Hmm, I never even thought about this but that’s an interesting observation. After all, my next Special Edition is called Recipe for Romance and I’m yet again working on a book set in a restaurant…! Well, this really isn’t conscious. I must have food on the brain! For this particular book, it’s set over the holidays, and what are the holidays without rich foods? I’d say that Max doesn’t have many holiday traditions to fall back on, so he’s open to the traditions Holly has carried over into her inn. He loves the pies she picks up fresh in town. Holly enjoys cooking; it’s yet another way for her to nurture and take care of people. She’s a people pleaser, and she’s creative, and I think that she sees delicious food as part of the overall service she provides. As for my favorite holiday foods, I do like cookies, but again, I’d rather eat cookie dough. I’m not much of a chocolate person (really!) but I do love vanilla, and we’ve made a wonderful trifle for the past few holidays. The one thing I really do think of as a true Christmas treat is eggnog.

Do you have any more books planned for the characters in 'Twas the Week Before Christmas?
My next release, Recipe for Romance, is also set in the town of Maple Woods and several of the characters from ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas will make an appearance.

What role did writing competitions play in your publication journey?
The first chapter of this book was the winning entry for Special Edition’s Happy Holidays Contest. The win led to a full request and shortly thereafter ‘The Call.’ I have no way of knowing how things might have played out had I not entered that contest, but it was a turning moment in my road to publication. I’d have to think it kick started something that might otherwise have taken a considerably longer time.

You're a mom, a wife, and a writer with (ahem) a number of books under contract. How do you manage to make it all work?
I have become very organized, and this was not per se in my nature before I was forced to juggle so many daily responsibilities. My writing time is limited to my daughter’s schedule more or less, and I make sure to put the time I have for writing to the best possible use. I plan ahead and know what I need to accomplish that day. I don’t always meet my goals, but I usually come close.

You're a fairly prolific writer -- do you believe in writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it? And if not, why not?
Yes and no. Sometimes a story idea just isn’t working, and when that happens, I find myself unable to move forward with my writing. I often still try to force it, but I have realized it is better not to. It only leads to frustration. Often a day or two away from writing is the best thing I can do for myself, and of course a little feedback from my critique partner never hurts J When I come back to the draft I’m working on, I am almost in a better place with it. I think it’s common to write yourself into a dead end, but I don’t think that’s the same as feeling like you just can’t write. I imagine that for most writers, like myself, the mind just never switches off…there are always ideas floating around, and it’s about deciding which ones work the best.

Your book just hit shelves. Pinch yourself. Do you feel like a real writer?
I wish I could say that I felt like a real writer but I really just feel like nothing has changed. I keep waiting for something to click, to feel like my life’s goal has been reached, but I’m always setting new goals for myself, so I never feel like I am quite there. I am a writer. It’s what I do. But a real writer? I just feel like me.

What are you working on now, and what's next?
My second Special Edition, Recipe for Romance, releases on March 18th. In September, my first single-title romance, Mistletoe on Main Street, will release. This book is the first in my Briar Creek Series from Grand Central Publishing. Right now I’m working on my second Briar Creek novel, A Match Made on Main Street, which has a release date of April 2015.

Any departing words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

Create a goal for yourself, however big or small, and never lose sight of it.

 A romantic inn. . .a white Christmas. . .hot cocoa by a roaring fire. . .it all adds up to a perfect holiday romance from Special Edition debut author Olivia Miles!  

A storm is about to shake up Holly Tate’s quaint lifestyle, and the Nor’easter scheduled to hit the small town of Maple Woods, Connecticut will have nothing on the upheaval real estate tycoon Max Hamilton creates during his week-long stay at The White Barn Inn. Since inheriting her grandmother’s house five years ago, Holly has poured her heart and soul into transforming the old mansion into a successful inn, hoping to be able to save enough to buy the property when the ninety-nine year lease expires on Christmas Day. 

Max has a different plan. But as attraction builds and emotions stir, will Holly’s contagious Christmas spirit have him changing his mind? Or will Holly be forced to start the new year with no home or business, but instead, only a broken heart?



  1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful interview questions, Natalie! It's been a wild ride, and thanks for sharing every step of it :-)

  2. It's my pleasure! I'm so happy for you, and I'm excited about all the things to come. xx

  3. Great interview ladies! Olivia, I'm so thrilled for you. I absolutely LOVED 'Twas the Week before Christmas. You know I'm a fellow Christmas-Junkie and your book was the perfect holiday read! Congrats on all your successes-and I can't wait for the Briar Creek series :)

    1. Thanks so much, Victoria! It's still hard to believe the day is finally here! Thanks for being there every step of the way :-)

  4. I really enjoyed the interview! Olivia, your Christmas debut sounds delightful. I can't wait to pick up a copy. Christmas romances are my favorite. And good luck with your other books. :-)

    1. Thanks, Jen! Christmas romances are my favorite, too. In you can you hadn't noticed... :-)

  5. Congratulations on your release Olivia! Sounds like an awesome story! I just read one Christmas read and now in the mood for more Christmas tales!

    1. Thanks so much, Nas! I'm also reading one Christmas book after another these days :-)