Monday, November 2, 2015

***GIVEAWAY*** Interview Nicole Michaels - Win Me Over

Please welcome today author Nicole Michaels. She's here today to chat about her new release, Win Me Over #2 in her Hearts and Crafts series.
NYT bestselling author says about it " sexy, steamy with just the right amount of snark.."

Enjoy our chat and then enter to win a copy of your own sponsored by St. Martin's Press, details below.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 09/01/2015
Length: 336pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound


Callie Daniels is a singular sensation. She owns and operates her own bakery, contributes to a popular lifestyle blog, and is the dance team coach at a local high school. She lives by her own design and is much too busy to consider dating. Mr. Right will have to fit into her life when the time is right...
Football coach Bennett Clark always plays by the rules. He knows that his new colleague Callie is off limits but she's so beautiful-and irritating!-that Bennett can't get her off his mind. She wants him to participate in a charity dance contest, and won't take no for an answer.

Giveaway is for one print copy of
Win Me Over
please use Rafflecopter form below to enter
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Read an excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press:

Some people had skeletons in their closet; Callie Daniels had tiaras. Literally. Big, tacky, blinged-out tiaras. The kind that graced over-teased heads of little pageant girls, took an entire package of bobby pins to hold secure, and were so tall it was amazing they didn't tip children ass over teakettle. Something she knew from experience because once upon a time she'd been one of those little girls, and if beauty pageant life had taught Callie anything, it was how to put a fake smile on your face. A skill that came in handy when your mother unexpectedly walked through the front door of your bakery on a Thursday afternoon.
"Mom, what a surprise," Callie called over the display counter, hoping desperately that the tone of her words revealed more sincerity than dread. The light-turquoise walls of her beloved shop, Callie's Confections, clashed with her mother's unnatural shade of blond hair. Even still, the blond was better than the fire-engine red it had been a few months ago.
"Well, it seems the only way I can find out what's going on in your life is to make a trip up here. That is, unless I want to hear it from Joan Jenkins while I get my nails done." There was no mistaking the hurt in her voice and instantly Callie's heart grew heavy with guilt. She vaguely remembered mentioning her new job to an old high school friend on Instagram. Word traveled fast. She should have known better.
"Oh, Mom, I'm so —"
"Do you want to know the worst part? I could tell that she loved telling me something I didn't know. You're my only daughter; I should know your gossip before anyone else in this world. Can you even imagine the embarrassment?"
Callie knew about embarrassment all too well, but she wouldn't list all the ways she could relate. It would break her mother's heart, and the truth was, Callie felt a little bad for not calling. But in her defense, her life was crazy at the moment. Today, for example, she'd spent the morning prepping cakes and cookies for the weekend orders. She'd been in the zone, the kind of baking Zen that almost made her want to spin around her ovens and sing like an animated movie princess. She was only missing the talking wildlife — and the Prince Charming. But that was no matter; she had no use or time for a man.
"I wasn't trying to keep secrets, Mom; I've just been busy," Callie said.
"Is that supposed to make me feel better? Of all the things ... dance coach? You knew I'd be thrilled about that. I should have been the first person you'd want to tell that you've returned to performing."
"I'm the coach, Mom. I won't be performing."
Barbara shrugged. "Still you should have told me. I could help you."
Which was exactly why Callie hadn't been excited to share. Her mother, Barbara, had the tendency to overstep her bounds in the "help" department. And that was putting it mildly. Callie could only imagine all the ideas her mother would have had when she told her she'd been hired to be the new Pantherettes Dance Team coach at Preston High.
"You're right: I should have called. I'm sorry, but I promise I've got everything under control," Callie said, grabbing a to-go coffee cup and handing it across the counter. She hoped to move the conversation away from the dance team quickly. "Have some coffee."
"Oh no, I can't do coffee after lunch. It dehydrates my skin."
"Suit yourself." Callie walked around the counter toward the coffee station set up in the small dining area of her bakery.
"Callie Jo," her mother chided in a playful yet dead serious way. "Do you not care about your own skin? Maintaining your looks after thirty is a full-time job, might as well start now."
Facing the wall, Callie rolled her eyes as she added a liberal amount of half-and-half and sugar to her cup. Barbara meant well — in fact, these small reprimands were always delivered with love and concern — but she was a teeny bit obsessed with physical appearances. Always had been, always would be. She was, in fact, an attractive woman under all that makeup — even with the skintight lime-green capris, sequined high-heeled sandals, and ruffled blouse. According to everyone who knew them both, Callie was a younger — and, she hoped, less flamboyant — version of her mother. Along with gratitude, that compliment always sent a tingle of horror down Callie's spine.
"I'm willing to take my chances, Mom, and I'm not thirty for two more years." Callie took a long sip. Damn, her shop served good coffee.
"You'll be sorry, sweetheart. You only have one face; I taught you better than that."
Before Callie had time to be highly annoyed with that comment, her employee and unapologetically gay best friend burst through the kitchen door into the front of the bakery.
"Barb, what a surprise." His eyes met Callie's, and unbeknownst to Barbara the two of them exchanged an entire silent conversation in a fraction of a second with that one look. It went something like this:
Holy shit, what's she doing here?
I know, right?
Does she know?
Yep, she knows.
Shit. You okay?
I will be.
What the hell is she wearing?
Oh my God, I know!
Eric grinned and pulled Callie's mother into a hug.
"At least someone's happy to see me," Barbara said over his shoulder.
"I'm always happy to see you, Mom." Although Callie was certain her words went unnoticed as she watched Eric gush over the woman. He always handled her like a pro, saying just the right things, but not too much, for which Callie was grateful.
"I swear every time I see you, you look a year younger, and those shoes are perfection."
Barbara laughed and feigned embarrassment. Callie knew her mother was eating his comments up and she couldn't help but smile because she knew that Eric genuinely loved Barbara. So did Callie, but her mother was a woman best taken in small doses ... and, Callie hoped, not unexpectedly. It was best to have all your wits about you when Barbara was around, because she sniffed out weakness and secrets like a bloodhound, desperate for a way into your life. She wanted to be needed and in on the action. That was all well and good, but Callie liked to do things her own way, which usually turned out to be the exact opposite of her mother's way. They were just ... different people.
"Now, Eric, why didn't you make Callie call me right away when she got the dance coach job?"
"Barb, please. You know how our girl is. Go, go, go, all the time. I'm sure it just slipped her mind."
Barbara turned to Callie, looking stricken. "Oh, honey, you're working way too hard here. You have to join me for a spa day. I insist."
"Thanks, Mom. But I'm good. Promise."
Her mother reached around to Callie's ponytail and grabbed the end of one of her riotous curls. "Are you sure, baby girl? These ends are fried. You haven't had a cut in weeks, have you? Amazing hair like yours cannot be neglected."
Callie hadn't had a cut in months, and she couldn't help the fact that she'd been born with unruly curls. "It's fine, Mom. I'll schedule a haircut soon."
"You can't be the dance coach with split ends, sweetie. You must put your best face forward. How will you find the man of your dreams? If you're lucky you won't have to work at any job after that."
"Mom, I can assure you that the state of my hair has no effect on my ability to do this job, because it's not about my looks. It's not about me at all. It's about the girls on the team. And I've told you a thousand times, I like what I do. Even if I met the guy of my dreams — which is unlikely — I would still be running this bakery."
Barbara gave a pouty lip. "Goodness, you don't have to get excited. You're so much like your father. What am I gonna do with you?" She turned to Eric. "When was the last time she had a date? Or a haircut?"
"Don't get me involved, Barbara. You know I love you, but I'm always Team Callie, and if she wants to rock inch-long split ends and a cold bed, that's her business."
Callie shot Eric a dirty look. Her love life was a constant source of contention between her and her mother. Callie was happy to be single and Barbara didn't seem to understand that. She loved being a wife; in fact, Callie was certain her mother's entire identity was wrapped up in being Mrs. Daniels. She saw herself as adornment to her successful husband. At least that was the way Callie viewed it, and that was not her style. At all.
Callie never wanted to adorn anything; she'd been that girl before when she was young and trying to find her way with boys, and it did not suit her. She wasn't an ornament or a trophy; she was a human being who just happened to have breasts and could take care of herself, thank you very damn much. Callie liked to have her share of fun once in a while, but that was enough.
She needed to steer the conversation into safer waters before she said something to her mother that she'd regret. They'd had those conversations enough for Callie to know that they didn't end well and she just felt horrible afterward.
"Mom, I'm so grateful you came to see me. And I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner about my new job. Like I said, it's just been a hectic time, but I'll be sure to let you know when the first performance is so you can come and watch."
"Well, are you sure you won't need help with costumes or hair? You know performance and presentation is my specialty."
"You taught me well, Mom; I can totally handle it. And the girls already have costumes and uniforms. We're all good." Only a tiny lie; the girls desperately needed new performance outfits. No way could Callie let that bit slip; Barbara would show up at the high school with her sewing machine in tow.
"Well, okay, but if you need help you come to me first. And the next time something big happens in your life I better not hear about it in the mani chair. You hear?"
"I promise."
Eventually, after filling Callie in on all the gossip from her hometown, eating a cinnamon roll as she proclaimed, "I really shouldn't," about fifteen times, and waiting while Callie called to schedule a haircut, Barbara finally left. Back behind the display counter, Callie let out a deep cleansing breath. Interactions with Barbara were overwhelming. Thankfully she lived an hour away, so they didn't happen too often.
"I do adore her, but she is nuts, you know that, right?" asked Eric.
They both laughed as he leaned against the register munching on a tiny blueberry scone. Callie wasn't sure what she'd do without her best friend, and not only because he looked so fantastic with his muscles filling out the pink Callie's Confections T-shirt. And also not because 30 percent of their business was women just wanting to flirt with him — which he did very well considering he was a gay man. It was for moments like this, when he could joke with her about her crazy family and make her laugh.
He popped the last bite of his scone into his mouth and gave her a wink. "I still love you, Callie Jo," Eric said in a twangy redneck accent. "Even if you come from bad stock."
Callie sighed as the bell jingled and Eric turned to help a customer. That was their ongoing joke; he loved to poke fun at Callie and her crazy stage-kid upbringing, her mother dragging her to every talent show, recital, and beauty pageant in the Midwest. It was a surprise that Callie had turned out normal. Not that she didn't have her own set of issues. She was a ruthless overachiever, a bit on the dramatic side — although she'd never admit it out loud — had to have the last word, resorted to humor and sarcasm when she was uncomfortable, and was a little bit of a daddy's girl.
Okay, she had her share of issues. But who didn't? Truth was, she owed a lot to her parents. They were a little backwards in their thinking sometimes and Callie had been embarrassed by them plenty growing up, but they loved her and they'd taught her many valuable lessons. First of which was hard work. Pageants weren't for the faint of heart, and her mother had done whatever it took to make sure Callie was successful, like the time Barbara had worked overnight shifts for three months at the truck stop café just so they could afford Callie a new pageant wardrobe. Barbara was a force to be reckoned with beneath the façade of Merle Norman and Chico's clearance rack. Callie just wished that her mother spent more time valuing herself as an intelligent and strong woman in her own right.
According to Callie's father, both of the Daniels women were strong, but Callie knew she owed a lot of her strength and determination to him. He was the funniest and hardest-working man she knew, running one of the most well-known plumbing companies in Little Grove, Missouri, where she'd grown up. She admired him immensely and wouldn't have had the courage to start her own business without his example and guidance when she needed it.
Peeking into the display case, Callie mentally tallied what still needed to be done before she left for the day and headed to the high school for dance team practice. Her shop, Callie's Confections, made twelve different specialty treats every day Monday through Saturday and then took a limited amount of special orders every weekend. Tomorrow was the first high school football game in Preston, so she'd had a bevy of orders for blue-and-white-frosted cookies and cupcakes in addition to her usual fare.
The bell above the front door rang again and then the small familiar voice of one of her favorite people rang out.
Eric ran around the counter to sweep the little girl into his arms. A man walked in a second later and Callie abjectly appreciated the rugged manscape that accompanied Claire Edmond. Mike Everett was the best thing that had happened to Anne, Claire's mother and Callie's other best friend. Mike and Anne had only been dating a few months, but Callie knew it was the real deal. The two were obsessed with each other. Almost disgustingly so, which had really put a crimp in girl time. But it was worth it. Callie wanted nothing more than for her friends to be happy, and this man made Anne and her daughter happier than Callie had ever seen them.
"Hey, you two." Callie headed around the counter and out front, giving them a smile. "Isn't this a school day?"
"I just went to the dentist." Claire dropped from Eric's arms and came over to give Callie a toothy smile.
"Gorgeous. Cavities?"
"Nope," Claire said before yanking her mouth open with a finger hooked in each cheek.
"She was a trooper, didn't even flinch on X-rays," Mike said, stuffing his hands in his pockets. There was no mistaking the pride on his face. He truly seemed to love Claire, which made Callie smile.
"Well then, that calls for peanut butter cookies," Callie sang as she turned toward the kitchen. "Follow me to the VIP section."
"What's 'VIP' mean?" Claire asked.
"Very Interesting Pickles," Eric said, pulling a funny face.
"Nuh-uh." Claire giggled. "What's it really mean, Uncle Mike?"
"Very Icky Pigs, I think," Mike replied.
Callie chuckled at the use of Claire's pet name for Mike. His niece was Claire's best friend and Claire had yet to drop the "Uncle" moniker.
Mike and Claire came into the kitchen behind Callie, and she got to work lifting the peanut butter cookies off the cooling rack and onto a display tray. The beauty of a perfectly baked pastry made her heart swell with pride every time.
Barbara was the queen of trend dieting, so Callie's childhood had been filled with odd desserts made with avocados or applesauce. It was no surprise that when Callie had gone away to college she'd loaded up on flour, real butter, and heavy cream so she could make the real stuff. She'd never stopped.
"These smell yummy, Callie," Claire said.
"Why, thank you, my dear. Go grab one of those pink boxes, and you can take some home and share them with Mommy."
"Yay!" Claire exclaimed as she skipped over to the shelves stocked full of paper goods.
"Thanks, Callie. I figured the dentist was cause for a treat, especially since it's the first time Claire's been without Anne," Mike said.
"I agree: I think baked goods are almost always appropriate in any situation. How's Anne's speech coming along? I assume that's why you took Claire."
Mike nodded. "This whole blog convention seriously has her stressed. She's scared to death to speak in front of a crowd."

Nicole hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Tell my readers a bit about Win Me Over.
Hello and thank you so much for having me! J Well, Win Me Over is about two people who basically have no interest in a relationship. They’re both busy, committed (almost obsessively) to their careers, and both coaches at a local high school. Callie’s the dance team coach and Bennett the football coach. When they are presented with a task of dancing together in a local fundraiser they are both a bit leery for their own reasons, but once they get going, they find a lot more than they expected—in themselves and in each other. I just adored writing this book although at times it was difficult. My family suffered the loss of a loved one during the process and I think that really impacted (hopefully for the better) the emotional depth of the story.

What a great cover and a catchy name for the second in your Hearts and Crafts series.
Did you pick the title and the cover?
I honestly can’t recall who mentioned that title first, but I remember us (me, my editor, agent, and the team at SMP) going round and round on all the book titles in the series. St. Martin’s Press has been really wonderful in that regard. They allow my input and approval on the title and cover. As for the cover, no my wonderful editor found that image and the fantastic art team—specifically Crystal Ben—made it into the final piece that it is. She has created all of my lovely covers for this series.

How are the books in the series related and should they be read in order?
They are connected through the three heroines who work together on a very successful lifestyle blog. In addition to that the ladies still have everyday jobs and have become close friends. The books certainly don’t have to be read in order but I do think it would be a more enjoyable experience if they were.  There is also a holiday novella (Blame It On the Mistletoe) that is somewhat of a prequel to the series. It introduces the town, some of the businesses and the blogging ladies.

So out of Callie and Bennett your stars in this novel, who was the most difficult character or did they both behave during the writing?
Hmmm…I feel like I knew Callie really well from writing the first book, Start Me Up. Her voice, personality, and motivation were always clear. I really enjoy writing Callie because she’s really funny and doesn’t hold back. Bennett wasn’t always so easy. I knew he was wounded not only physically but mentally, although he was doing a pretty good job of shoving that down deep. It just so happens that all of his demons are brought to light in this book and he is forced to deal with them. (Or not…as it goes.) Lucky for him, Callie is one tough chic—so she can handle it.

Nicole according to your bio you’re a photographer.
If it was possible would you give it up to write full time?
I feel like once a photographer, always a photographer. So in that regard, nope I’ll never give it up because I love it too much. However, since I signed my publishing contract I have significantly pulled back on the amount of jobs I do. For the time being I like that. It allows me to be creative in a different way, which is fulfilling. I feel like my photography inspires my writing and vice versa. Luckily owning my business means I can fit it into the writing schedule, plus my clients are so great, so I can see myself doing that for a long while.

How important is the HEA to you?
VERY! As a romance writer and of course reader, I love the HEA. Obviously I’ve read lots of books—great ones even—without a HEA, but it can leave you so despondent. Ugh. Nine times out of ten, I’m not reading for wisdom, insight, or understanding. And I’m personally never reading to be scared. I’m almost always reading for pleasure and that means I need a happy ending. Although I will say the HEA is not my favorite part of a book, it’s the buildup. The meeting, the flirting, the dancing around one another. (Ha, in Win Me Over that phrase is quite literal.)  

Nicole I see a good amount of contemporary authors in your faves list, but there’s also some historical romance authors you love too.
Do you ever dream of writing a Regency or medieval romance?
Historical romance is my very favorite to read. I love that I can get lost in a world that I can only experience through stories. And historicals can get away with so many things a contemporary can’t. However, I’m not sure I will ever write one. Not for lack of desire, I’d love to! But I’m not sure I could. We shall see, I never say never. )

What’s the last book you recommended to a close friend?
I believe it was The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. Or, Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon.

So Nicole shhh, you can tell me I won’t repeat it.
Do you base your characters on people you know?
Ha! Not in their entirety. But little pieces of them, yes, sometimes. Maybe a phrase they use or the way they dress. Usually inconsequential things and no lead characters are based on anyone. But I will say that the dog in Win Me Over—Misha—is entirely based on my own dog growing up. Miss her!

Thanks for the chat! Good luck with the book and the series, it looks like your next book comes out in March of 16.
Are your author events/signings listed on your website?
Thank you! And, yes, Draw Me Close comes out on March 1st, 2016. It’s Lindsey and Derek’s story.
I will definitely be posting events on my site, Facebook, and twitter as they are announced!

Also in the series
       out now                   available in March '16

Connect with Nicole - Website - Facebook - Twitter

Nicole wrote her first full length book (6 pages) about the birth of her baby sister, when she was eight years old. She only finished it because her mother bribed her with a Rick Astley cassette tape. Sad, but true. Now her characters are what keep her writing and her subject matter has gotten a little bit deeper and a lot more romantic. She resides in a small town outside of Kansas City with her husband and three sons. When she isn’t writing, she’s a wedding and portrait photographer, loves to cook, and watch historical dramas or documentaries.

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  1. For some reason I love when series don't have to be read in order and can work as stand alone reads. This series sounds right up my alley!

  2. Romance gives me hope and provides me with wonderful entertainment and soothes my soul. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. I'm a hopeless romantic so YES to HEA. Plus I think that's the biggest draw for us readers, the hopeful optimistic feel that we get from reading romances. The way the MCs power through adversity and still find their way to each other. It's what we aspire to do in real life, and speaking for myself, reading romances gives me that hopeful inspiration that I can deal with shit the same way the characters do

  4. Sounds like a good contemporary series, basically I trust anything published by St Martin's Press they are one of my favorite publishers.