It's a special fireside chat with fellow Wild Rose Press author Margot Johnson. I made the fire extra warm today. She's from the way north in Canada and reminded me of my years in Minnesota and what -40 degrees feels like. No a recommended temp for strolling through the woods, just saying. But whether it's warm or cold where you are you're always welcome to share my fire. Now let's grab a cup of something soothing and you are encouraged to join the conversation.
Hi, Margo, I'm so glad you joined us today. Let's jump right into the deep-end. We all have the official version of who we are, but who you are other than your bio?
I’m a real family person. As an introvert, I don’t need a lot of social interaction, but I do love to stay in close touch with our big blended family through texts, Facetime, and Zoom. My mom learned to text at 87, and she’s a lively contributor.
Variety is the spice of life, that said, what interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I walk at least 10,000 steps a day. My monthly book club helps me expand my reading choices—we read a wide variety including mysteries, thrillers, biographies, chick lit, romance, literary fiction, books off the bestseller lists, and stories by Canadian authors. I love to travel—Mexico every February and wherever else we find deals or interesting things to do. I also serve as a Board member for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild.
Busy lady. Book clubs are great for drawing us into what we may not usually pick up. You said you are an introvert but do you have a network or support system?
I’m lucky to have a supportive husband and extended family. My sister Donna Gartshore writes for Harlequin Love Inspired, so writing is a favorite topic at family dinners. During normal times, I attend coffee meetings of the SK Romance Writers, and it’s a talented and successful group of authors who support each other.
How wonderful you have an insider in the family to to chat with about writing. I fear I bore mine when I talk about it. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration? My dad, Ian Bickle, was a writer and editor. From a young age, I saw writing as a way of life, and I wanted to be like him. He used to sit at the dining room table and click away on an old, manual typewriter.
So, it's runs in the family. I'm jealous. Other than walking in sub-zero temperatures, have you had any adventures lately? Conferences, conventions, vacations? Tell us a bit about what made it special to you.
I’m excited about an adventure to come. Two years ago, I applied and received an invitation to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. It was postponed because of Covid, but I hope it might happen in 2022.
That's amazing! What an opportunity. I wonder if you're going to wear a hat or a
fascinator? You'll have to post a picture. What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme?
I have a collection of dog-themed mugs, and I love them all. The most recent addition says, “I will always woof you.”
Favorite childhood book?
I read all the Nancy Drew books, and I loved the Secret Garden.
Worst household chore?
Washing floors. Our floors are always covered with dog pawprints.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Definitely, the tickets. I have a long wish list of travel destinations, especially throughout Europe.
Did you ever win something?
I came within one number of winning a car on the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Do you play board games? What games do you like?
Our family is big on games, and we even hold fake medal ceremonies on makeshift podiums using chairs and/or coffee tables. Favorites include Catchphrase, Telephone Pictionary, Uno, and Utter Nonsense.
What was your first job?
As a student I taught figure skating. My first real job after graduating from university was writing ad copy at a radio station.
What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
Baseball-sized hail! We were staying in a cabin at Waskesiu Lake in northern Saskatchewan when a huge summer storm hit.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
So far, my books haven’t demanded a lot of research, but I do it as I write or revise. My first book featured an air force pilot, so I learned from a former air force pilot turned flight instructor and had him review the sections that referred to flight.
How do you select the names of your characters?
probably spend too much time on it, but it’s like naming a baby. Names give a certain feel to a character, and I often google popular names the years my characters were born. I learned from my editor to avoid names that start with the same letter so readers don’t get confused.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I’m happy to read and learn from every review. I wish more readers would post them.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I can’t think of one specific scene, but in general, I find writing the middle sections hardest because I want to avoid the ‘sagging middle’ and keep the plot and pace strong enough to hold a reader’s interest.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I attended a 2-3 day romance writers’ retreat that was a three-hour drive away and based in an old monastery. I enjoyed quiet time during the day, got a solid start on a new novel, ate delicious, home-cooked meals, and socialized with other writers in the evening. It was fun and productive!
Margo, you are such a fun person. Thank you so much for sharing my fire today. If you can, before you leave, how about telling us where we can find out more about you and your books? And for our guests make sure you go to the end and read some interesting tips and insights.
How do you dress for a walk in -40s. I say with a shawl, slippers and a cup of tea in front of the fire. But my intrepid guest bundles up and heads out.
“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.
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.”
Let it Snowball
Love Takes Flight
Love Leads the Way
Also author of the novels Love Takes Flight and Love Leads the Way. 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 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. Maybe you’ll want to add it to your Christmas baking list.
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.
Amazon Author Page
Your Host D.V. Stone
Award winning multi-genre author and blogger. Fantasy, romance, mid-grade. Nothing better than a campfire, book, and glass of wine. Okay maybe there is.📚
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