Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Welcome! Melissa McClone - author.

Grace :
Today it's my pleasure to welcome romance author, Melissa McClone back to the blog. Melissa writes for Harlequin Romance. Her November '10 release Christmas Magic on the Mountain is a RITA® Finalist in the Contemporary Series Category. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but quit her job to write romance novels. Writing happily ever afters is a lot more fun than analyzing jet engine performance! She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, four cats and a dog named Chaos.
Melissa is offering a $20 Amazon gift certificate, to one lucky person who leaves a comment during her tour.
Author, engineer, mother and animal lover, Melissa McClone.

Melissa shares her thoughts on writing... with animals in the house....
Thanks for hosting this stop on my virtual book tour. It's always great to visit with other animal lovers. I have a Norwegian Elkhound (Chaos) and four cats (Rocket, Spirit, Smalls & Yoda) who keep me company when I write.
Having my furbabies around makes them part of my writing process. This has its pros (warmth and love) and cons (a forty-six pound dog on my lap while I'm trying to type or a cat lying on my manuscript pages.) It also means when I'm in need of an animal for a story, I don't have to look too far for inspiration. Usually to my left or right or down! When I needed a stray kitten in my latest release Not-So-Perfect Princess, I turned to the newest member of our family, a black cat named Yoda.
We never planned on adding a kitten to our household. With a dog and four cats already, my husband had been adamant about no more pets. But that was before my oldest daughter and I entered PetSmart the day before Halloween. A local Humane Society was having a "Black Cat Adoption Day." One look at a mangy black kitten called Yoda in need of a forever home, and we were both goners. Once the rest of the family met him so were they. Okay, my hubby took a little more convincing, but he was finally swayed.
We hadn't had a kitten in the house in over twelve years. When they were younger, Rocket and Spirit used to get into some trouble, but we soon learned Yoda was the master of disasters. I soon realized my goal each day was to keep him from hurting, maiming or killing himself. I had no idea something so cute and little could get into such big trouble!
Needless to say when it came time to write about the stray kitty found by my hero Alejandro, I had plenty of Yoda experiences to choose from:
• how he took off his collar with the little bell and disappeared
• how he dragged stuffed animals twice his size around the house after watching the dog carry one in her mouth
• how he would to try to squeeze through the crack at the bottom of a closed door
• how he would chase anything that moved, especially a feather on a stick and a laser light
• how he climbed through the staircase railing and fell disproving the notion that cats always land on their feet.
The biggest difference between Yoda and the stray kitten aka Boots? Four white paws. Yoda has a small patch of white fur on his chest, but none on his paws. Though Yoda inspired Boots, he developed his own personality. As I was writing I fell in love with both my hero and his kitten. When it came time to make Romance Trading Cards for the characters in the story, I knew Boots needed his own card! A good thing he’s a fictional kitty and not real, or we’d be adding a new member to our family!

Thank you, Melissa. Yoda sounds adorable and I can well imagine the trouble he gets into. The cat trading cards sound intriguing!
Melissa has kindly agreed to post an excerpt of her latest book " Not-So-Perfect-Princess."

Lying in bed, Alejandro Cierzo de Amanecer heard a noise outside his room at the beachfront villa. The stray kitten he’d found at the boatyard must want something. He opened his eyes to see sunlight streaming in through the brand-new floor-to-ceiling windows. Most likely breakfast.
The bedroom door burst wide-open. Heavy boots sounded against the recently replaced terra-cotta tile floor.

Not again.
Alejandro grimaced, but didn’t move. He knew the routine.
A squad of royal guards dressed in blue and gold uniforms surrounded his bed. At least they hadn’t drawn their weapons this time.

Not that he would call another intrusion progress.

“What does he want now?” Alejandro asked.
The captain of the guard, Sergio Mendoza, looked as stoic as ever, but older with gray hair at his temples. “King Dario requests your presence at the palace, Your Highness.”
Alejandro raked his hand through his hair in frustration. “My father never requests anything.”

Sergio’s facial expression didn’t change. He’d only shown emotion once, when Alejandro had been late bringing Sergio’s youngest daughter home from a date when they were teenagers. In spite of the security detail accompanying them, Alejandro had feared for his life due to the anger in the captain’s eyes. 

“The king orders you to come with us now, sir,” Sergio said.

Alejandro didn’t understand why his father wanted to see him. No one at the palace listened to what Alejandro said. He might not want to be part of the monarchy, but he wasn’t about to abandon his country.

He’d founded his business here and suggested economic innovations, including developing their tourist trade. But his ideas clashed with those of his father and brother who were more old-fashioned and traditional in their thinking.
A high-pitched squeak sounded. The scraggly black kitten with four white paws clawed his way up the sheet onto the bed. The thing had been a nuisance these past two weeks with the work at the boatyard and renovations here at the villa.
“I need to get dressed before I go anywhere,” Alejandro said.

“We’ll wait while you dress, sir.” Sergio’s words did nothing to loosen Alejandro’s tense shoulder muscles. “The king wants no delay in your arrival.”

Alejandro clenched his teeth. He wanted to tell the loyal captain to leave, but the guards would use force to get him to do what they wanted. He was tired of fighting that battle. “I need privacy.”
Sergio ordered the soldiers out of the room, but he remained standing by the bed. “I’ll wait on the other side of the door, sir. Guards are stationed beneath each window.”

Alejandro rolled his eyes. His father still saw him as a rebellious teenager. “I’m thirty years old, not seventeen."
Sergio didn’t say anything. No doubt the captain remembered some of Alejandro’s earlier…escapades.

“Tell me where you think I would run to, Captain?” Alejandro lay in bed covered with a sheet. “My business is here. I own properties. My father’s lackeys follow me wherever I go.”

“They are your security detail, sir,” Sergio said. “You must be protected. You’re the second in line for the throne.”

 “Don’t remind me,” Alejandro muttered.
“Many would give everything to be in your position.”
Not if they knew what went with being the “spare” entailed. No one cared what he thought. Even when he tried to help the island, no one supported him. He’d had to do everything on his own. Alejandro hated being a prince. He’d been educated in the United States. He didn’t want to participate in an outdated form of government where too much power rested with one individual. But he wanted to see his country prosper.
“Guard the door if you must.” Alejandro gave the kitten a pat. “I won’t make your job any more difficult for you than it is.”
As soon as Sergio left, Alejandro slid out of bed and showered. His father hadn’t requested formal dress so khaki shorts, a navy T-shirt and a pair of boat shoes would do.

Twenty minutes later, Alejandro entered the palace’s reception room. His older brother rose from the damask-covered settee.
Enrique looked like a younger version of their father with his short hairstyle, tailored designer suit, starched dress shirt, silk tie and polished leather shoes. It was too bad his brother acted like their father, also
“This had better be important, Enrique,” Alejandro said.
“It is.” His brother’s lips curved into a smug smile. “I’m getting married.”

About time. Enrique’s wedding would be the first step toward Alejandro’s freedom from the monarchy. The birth of a nephew or niece to take his place as second in line for the throne would be the next big step. “Congratulations, bro. I hope it’s a short engagement. Don’t waste any time getting your bride pregnant.”
Enrique smirked. “That’s the plan.”

“Why wait until the wedding? Start now.”
He laughed. “King Alaric would demand my head if I did that. He’s old-fashioned about certain things. Especially his daughter’s virginity.”

“Alaric.” Alejandro had heard the name. It took a second to realize where. “You’re marrying a princess from Aliestle?”
“Not a princess. The princess.” Enrique sounded excited. No wonder. Aliestle was a small kingdom in the Alps. With an abundance of natural resources, the country’s treasury was vast, a hundred times that of La Isla de la Aurora. “King Alaric has four sons and one daughter.”
“Father must be pleased.”

“He’s giddy over the amount of Julianna’s dowry and the economic advantages aligning with Aliestle will bring us. Fortunately for me, the princess is as beautiful as she is rich. A bit of an ice princess from what I hear, but I’ll warm her up.”
“If you need lessons—”
“I may not have your reputation with the ladies, but I shall manage fine on my own.”
“I hope the two of you are happy together.” Alejandro meant the words. A happy union would mean more heirs. The further Alejandro dropped in the line of succession, the better. He couldn’t wait to be able to focus his attention on building his business and attracting more investors to turn the island’s sluggish economy around.
“You are to be the best man.”
A statement of fact or a request? “Mingling with aristocracy is hazardous to my health.”
“You will move home until the wedding.”
A demand. Anger flared. “Enrique—”
“The royal family will show a united front during the engagement period. Your days will be free unless official events are scheduled. You’ll be expected to attend all dinners and evening functions. You must also be present when the princess and her party arrive today.”
Alejandro cursed. “You sound exactly like him.”
“They are father’s words, not mine.” Rare compassion filled Enrique’s eyes. “But I would like you to be my best man. You’re my favorite brother.”
“I’m your only brother.”
Enrique laughed. “All the more reason for you to stand at my side. Father will compensate you for any inconvenience.”

Alejandro’s entire life was a damn inconvenience. Besides, he would never be able to get the one thing he wanted from his father. “I don’t want his money.”
“You never have, but when Father offers you payment, take it. You can put the money into your boats, buy another villa, donate it to charity or give it away on the streets,” Enrique advised. “You’ve earned this, Alejandro. Don’t let pride get in the way again.”

He wasn’t about to go there. “All I want is to be left alone.”
“As soon as Julianna and I have children, you will no longer be needed around here. If you do your part to ensure the wedding occurs, Father has promised to let you live your own life.”
Finally. “Did you ask for this or did father offer?”
“It was a combination, but be assured of father keeping his word.”
“When am I to move back?”
“After lunch.”
Alejandro cursed again. He had a boatyard to run, investment properties to oversee and the Med Cup to prepare for. Not to mention the kitten who expected to be fed. “I have a life. Responsibilities.”
“You have responsibilities here. Ones you ignore while you play with your boats,” Enrique chided.

Seething, Alejandro tried to keep his tone even. “I’m not playing. I’m working. If you’d see the upcoming Med Cup race as an opportunity to promote—”
“If you want to build the island’s reputation, then support this royal wedding. It’ll do much more for the economy than your expensive ideas to improve the island’s nightlife, build flashy resorts and attract the sailing crowd with a little regatta.”
“The Med Cup is a big deal. It’ll—”
“Whatever.” Enrique brushed Alejandro aside as if he were a bothersome gnat. Like father, like son. “Do what you must to be here after lunch or father will send you away on a diplomatic mission.”
The words were like a punch to Alejandro’s solar plexus. Not unexpected given the way his father and brother operated sometimes. The threat would be carried out, too. That meant Alejandro had to do as told to secure his future. His freedom. “I’ll be back before your princess arrives.” 
But he would be doing a few things his way.
Once the black sheep, always the black sheep.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING.Please leave a comment for a chance to win the Amazon gift voucher!


  1. Thank you for joining us today Melissa. I'm intrigued by your 'Romance trading cards.' Are they a writing prompt or part of the story? I'd love to know more.
    Grace x

  2. Good morning! So nice to be here today. The Romance Trading Cards are a promo item for readers. They started via a discussion on Twitter and went from there. They made there debut at the RT Conference in LA. I was going to be attending RWA in NYC and thought it would be something fun and different to do from the normal bookmarks authors usually pass out. If you want more info go to I have had people send me SASEs to get a set. They are quite the collectibles to some!


  3. Still enjoying your tour, Melissa. And I really look forward to the "cat photos" on your blog!!! Sad about the drowning; same thing in our family last week...girl, 14, had seizure and drowned.

  4. This is one of my favourite interviews of the book tour. There are two things I love in stories: adorable babies and pets. I think I'm a Yoda fan, him being Master of Disasters and all. Animals are just as important as people characters and can be more than just cute props. I find they can be therapeutic and are great at sensing emotions. It's no wonder I find them easy to love. Boots sounds like a cutie as well!


  5. Just waiting for that Amazon package in the mail with your book in it. We just adopted two ten weeks old kittens from a Humane Society foster mom. They are so funny to watch. The kids are in heaven!

  6. Na, I'm getting broody for a kitten! I already have 5 cats and they'd be most unimpressed if I added another...but it's tempting.

    Grace x

  7. great interview and the book sounds wonderful, i can't wait to read it.

  8. Jackie S - Thanks! Yes, it was very sad. Sorry to hear it happened near you, too.

    Na - Glad you enjoyed this stop! I, too, love animals. And Yoda, as well as Boots, are wonderful cats!

    Amy W. - I was wondering how life with the kittens was going. I can just imagine how much fun you're all having. Enjoy it!

    Grace - my oldest found a kitten last week and wanted to bring it home. My husband had to put his foot down!

    Tammy - thanks! Appreciate you stopping by.

    Melissa - back from swim practice now off to piano lessons. In between I had to wash the dog because she got into something. A typical day at our household! LOL!

  9. I love that you've incorporated some of the antics that Yoda gets into.

  10. Dru - it was fun to use Yoda. He's always getting into some sort of trouble. You'd think he was still a kitten. LOL!


  11. Your book sounds great, and so do your pets! Love the list of Yoda's experiences!

    Robin D

    robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

  12. Thanks, Robin! My animals are pretty darn cute. Though they have their moments. I look forward to see what else Yoda gets into. I don't think he'll every grow up!


  13. Could I have the Prince & BOOTS?


  14. I love reading about your furbabies and their adventures. Yoda, especially, does have a way of making me laugh.

    Animals belong in books, I think. After all, we welcome them into our homes, so why not onto our bookshelves?

    Another great post!

  15. LOL, Marybelle. You might have to fight me for them though!

    Thanks, Sarita. I love having animals in my books. I ended up adding a dog to my work in progress. My diva soccer player is having to dog sit. LOL!

  16. Tammy won the set of Romance Trading Cards! Thanks everyone for commenting!



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