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How I Wrote a Christmas Novel in the Middle of Summer

I absolutely adore the holidays. So much that I’ve told my husband if we ever build our own house, I want to have a dedicated Christmas room—one that stays decorated all year long. 

One of the best ways to keep the holiday spirit alive all year is to write Christmas books in the middle of the summer! When I started Mistletoe Malarkey, the temperatures were at their peaks and the humidity was turning my hair into a massive fluff ball. 

It can be hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s so warm outside (I don’t know how they do it in Australia when Christmas is actually in the summer), but I do a few things to get me in the mood to write a holiday novel. 

First, I light a holiday candle from one of my favorite places—Chalk Full of Love. My favorite scents are Santa’s Cookies or Christmas Tree Farm. 

Next, I turn on a YouTube video of a fireplace crackling. With this in the background, it makes the holidays seem that much closer. 

The third thing I do is play holiday music. I love that Apple Music and Spotify have playlists ready and waiting for my Christmas in July fix. 

And finally, if I’m really desperate to get in the mood, I’ll turn the AC up and pull a blanket around me. Usually this is a last resort item because AC is expensive! But I’ll do just about anything to get in the right frame of mind to write a book. 

For Mistletoe Malarkey specifically, I went back through all my notes about my time spent in Ireland and looked at photos I took from that trip. Though I wasn’t there during Christmas, it definitely helped get me in the right frame of mind! 

I hope you have a very cozy holiday season! Find Mistletoe Malarkey on Amazon (Free with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription.) 

XOXO,

Stella Bixby

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Chapter One: Mistletoe Malarkey

Flying made me nervous. 

Flying with the man of my dreams, who I suspected had an engagement ring in his pocket, gave me anxiety. 

Flying to a new country for my favorite holiday to meet his entire family made me feel like I might have a full-blown panic attack. 

Thankfully, Seamus held my hand and looked at me with his charming Irish stare that said—Me eyes are only for you, Shayla.

As the flight took off, his coffee tipped, spilling the entire contents of steaming liquid into his lap. 

Not a single passenger batted an eye when he threw curses around like candy at a Fourth of July parade. 

That was the Irish for you. 

“Do you need to go to the bathroom and sort out your pants?” I asked Seamus, trying to help him mop it up with the teeny cocktail napkins. 

“Only if yeh come and help me,” he said in the Irish brogue I was so in love with. Heck, I was in love with everything about him. 

And he’d convinced me he loved everything about me. 

It had been practically love at first sight. 

Though I’d been about thirty pounds overweight, so I wasn’t quite certain how it had been love at first sight for him—the gorgeous older foreign guy. But I’d since dropped the weight and was in the best shape of my life.  

When I didn’t respond to his suggestion, he shrugged. “I’ll take care of it at the airport.” 

“I’m really excited to meet your family,” I said. 

“Yeh’ve told me about a thousand times.” He laughed. “Now stop worryin’ they’re gonna love ya.” 

I stopped picking at my cuticles. 

“And even if they don’t,” he said, “at least you get away from work for a while.” 

Just the thought of work made me cringe. “That is a plus.” I was a police officer for the Prairie City Police Department. Just like my mom had been. 

She was a PCPD legend. Everyone knew her name. 

And, because of that, they knew mine. 

When I’d started, everyone expected me to be just like her. Tough. Callus. Doesn’t take no for an answer. 

Too bad I was practically the opposite. Much to their disappointment. 

Which meant I became a glorified coffee runner. 

I tipped my head back on my seat. That would change. Eventually, they would appreciate the qualities I brought to the table. Even if they weren’t the same as my mother’s. 

Seamus pushed a strand of my blonde hair behind my ear. I’d curled it like I did every day, but it had taken me twice as long. We’d almost missed our flight because I was so worried about how I looked. 

“Don’t think about work,” he said. “I’m sorry I brought it up.” 

I turned and smiled at him. 

He leaned over and kissed me softly on the lips. “You’re beautiful.” 

“Thank you,” I said. “I love you.” 

“And I adore you.” 

# # #

When the flight landed, we were almost the last ones off the airplane. 

Seamus darted into the bathroom to clean up the coffee, leaving me to collect our luggage from the carousels. 

Though the sun was peeking up over the horizon, my brain told me to go to bed immediately. I thought I’d be able to sleep on the airplane, but that proved to be unrealistic, given my state of worry. 

I waited for our luggage to come around on the conveyor belt with several other people from our flight. I reached for Seamus’ bag and pulled it off, almost running directly into a man who wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around him. 

Most of the people around the conveyor belt weren’t paying attention to the circling luggage. All their heads pointed to the entrance, where it seemed someone very important had just arrived. 

A glamorous woman stood by the doorway with gigantic sunglasses, stick-straight orange hair, and a figure to die for. She wore black platform sandals beneath hot pink bell-bottomed pants and a white off-the-shoulder top with tiered bell sleeves. 

Several people next to me pulled out their phones to take photos of her as she posed for the paparazzi. They called out her name—which sounded like Eva only with an F in place of the V. Seamus had quizzed me about the spellings and pronunciations of Irish names several weeks before, and this was one of them. I highly suspected her name wasn’t Eva with an F, but Aoife with an A at the beginning and a whole slew of other letters that didn’t add up to the pronunciation in American terms. 

Aoife lived up to the meaning of her name as well. She was the embodiment of beauty and radiance.

I glanced down at my trendy ripped jeans and oversized sweater and felt more like a slouch than a trendsetter.

“I heard her cousin is back in town,” a woman next to me said. 

It took me a moment to realize she was talking to me. 

“Right,” I said. “Her cousin.” 

“Tis about time, if you ask me.” She spoke in an Irish accent so thick I had to concentrate extra hard on what she was saying to understand her. 

“Why’s that?”

“He’s been skirtin’ his responsibilities, don’t ya know,” she said. “Needs to deal with the family business, and if he doesn’t move quickly, he won’t be the prime eligible bachelor in Ireland for long.” 

“Who is she?” I pointed at Aoife. 

“Aoife O’Malley,” she said. “Of the Ballywick O’Malleys.”

“Ah, right,” I said. “Of the Ballywick O’Malleys.” 

She looked at me, tearing her eyes off Aoife. “You’re not from around here, eh?” 

I shook my head. “How could you tell?” 

“The accent’s a dead giveaway,” she said, then leaned closer. “The Ballywick O’Malleys are one of the top ten richest families in the country. They’re in the horse business.” 

“The horse business?” 

“Racehorses.” 

“And Aoife is in the racehorse business?” I asked. 

“Aoife?” The woman laughed. “No, no. She was Miss Ireland a few years back. Now, she’s one of them social media influencers.” 

I glanced around to see if Seamus had emerged from the bathroom. 

“There’s another of my suitcases,” I said. “Thanks for the information.” 

“It’s my pleasure,” she said. “Enjoy your visit. Ireland’s the best country in the world if I do say so myself.” 

I retrieved the suitcase from the carousel and felt a hand on my lower back. 

Seamus kissed me on the cheek. “Sorry it took so long.” 

“No problem,” I said. “I was just getting a lesson in Irish wealth.” 

“Irish wealth?” Seamus looked confused. 

“The former Miss Ireland is here.” I pointed behind us. “I’m sure you’ve heard of her—Aoife O’Malley? Her family is in the racehorse business.” 

Seamus glanced behind us quickly, grabbed a suitcase and my hand, and pulled me toward the door. 

“Is everything okay?” 

My heart skipped a beat. What if he knew Aoife personally? What if they had dated? If he’d dated Miss Ireland, there was no way he’d want to be with me. 

“Everything’s grand,” he said, though his tone of voice didn’t make it sound very grand. “I just want to get you to my parent’s home as quickly as possible.”

“Seamus?” I heard a high-pitched voice behind us. 

I turned to look, but Seamus kept tugging on my arm. “Come on, keep going.” 

“Do you know Aoife?” 

“Seamus,” Aoife was running after us in her platform sandals now. “Why are you running from me?” 

The photographers clamored to keep up. Then I heard someone say, “Is that Seamus Healy?” 

“Damn,” Seamus said. “I didn’t want you to find out this way.” 

He turned just in time for Aoife to reach us. She wrapped her arms around Seamus’ neck and said, “I’ve missed you so much.”

Cameras flashed all around us as my stomach dropped. 

###

Read the rest of Mistletoe Malarkey when it releases December 7th.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases on some links.

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Holiday Gift Guide

Lifepro Eye Massager

Yes, this seems strange. I thought so too until I tried it and WOW—it is awesome! After spending so much time looking at a computer screen, this has been a lifesaver! ($59.99 @ Amazon)

Travel Kettle

This little beauty saved my bacon when I went to Vegas. I love coffee and this made enough piping hot water to fill my entire travel thermos! See the next item for the coffee pour over bags I used. ($17.99 @ Amazon)

Pour-Over Bags

I’m a bit of a coffee snob, so I wasn’t certain whether I’d like this coffee, but I was pleasantly surprised by its yummy flavor. It was also fun to pour over! ($11.99 @ Amazon)

Portable Charger

I never go anywhere without a way to power my computer and phone just in case there isn’t an outlet available! ($35.99 @ Amazon)

Hair Waver

I bought this before I went to Vegas and had so many people compliment my hair. Several people told me they recognized me because I did my hair the same way every day! ($26.99 @ Amazon)

Mascara

This is my favorite mascara in the world and it’s sooooo cheap! ($8.99 @ Amazon)

Face Moisturizer

I absolutely LOVE this moisturizer. It’s the only stuff I’ve used that doesn’t make me break out! ($29)

Shapermint Leggings

These leggings are amazing. I have two pair and want more. No subscription required! ($32.99)

A Stitch Fix Box

I’ve gotten Stitch Fix a couple of times and have been pleasantly surprised with almost every item I receive. You don’t have to sign up for the subscription either, just try it and see if you like it! (Get $25 Off First Fix)

Chalk Full of Love

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love everything by Chalk Full of Love. At the end of this week, they’re having a Black Friday sale! (Get 15% Off)

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases on some links.

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New Release Giveaway

WELCOME READERS!!! THESE 11 AUTHORS HAVE JOINED TOGETHER TO PROVIDE YOU A WONDERFUL FALL ROMANCE AND COZY MYSTERY #NEWRELEASE GIVEAWAY!!!

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GRAND PRIZE: One lucky reader will win an Amazon gift card worth $120 for all the books you could want this Holiday season! AND a free ecopy of each of the 12 #NewRelease Books highlighted below!

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Click on this Rafflecopter link to Enter!

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Contest runs from November 1-7, 2021!

Open internationally. 

Hosted by @ChickLitShop (IG) & Mary Smith – Book Blogger (FB)!

(FB and IG are not responsible for this giveaway.)

Our Giveaway Authors!!!

Andie Low 

A fun witch cozy mystery with a dash of romance, and the ninth and final in the Marina Witches Mysteries.

House of Hoodoo

Homework, detention, and even her wedding are on hold. First Frankie Bonny has to find the man who murdered her mom, oh and say yes to a dress.

Luckily, she’s got some serious magical muscle backing her up on this quest, and even a vampire, or two!

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Newsletter: https://www.andrenelowauthor.com/thelowdown

Clodagh Murphy

A funny, feel-good romcom about old friends and new beginnings.

The Reboot

Former school friends Ella and Roly have suffered some major setbacks since they last met. Now they’re both ready to start over, and they rekindle their friendship as they each try to get back what they lost. But Ella’s never told Roly what really happened the night his life fell apart … 

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BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/clodagh-murphy

Stella Bixby

Light-hearted humorous mysteries set in the Colorado Rockies. 

Snowed

The last thing Rylie needs is a dead body ruining her big day. Or a jealous ex. Or a massive snowstorm.

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Newsletter: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/6163ab4cc71e8685f183c7f0

Marika Ray

A sweet RomCom about second chance love and the power of well-placed mistletoe.

Text Before Christmas

Pamela Cunningham is really getting into the holiday spirit, and she’s finding herself thinking about things she hasn’t considered since her husband died. All thanks to the debonair winemaker she hired from France. Will the text he receives sending him back home to France spoil their holiday together?

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3mK0GeE

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marika-ray


Heather Huffman

Cozy Mysteries set in St. Augustine, Florida!

Trouble in the Treasure

When a treasure map is discovered among her uncle’s things, Nora Jones learns the hard way about the old adage treasure is trouble. Trouble in the Treasure is the second installment in the lighthearted Nora Jones Mysteries series, full of endearing characters, intriguing mysteries, and a dash of romance.

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3bWfKjb

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/heather-huffman

Kirsty McManus 

A sweet resort rom-com set near the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Love at Coco Bay

With a recent promotion from receptionist to co-assistant manager—not to mention the ongoing opportunity to live and work with her best friends—everything is perfect for Sasha. Well, except for one tiny thing. Sasha has never had much luck in the boyfriend department, and the only guy she’s ever been interested in is event planner Dash, a Channing Tatum lookalike who is oblivious to her affections. But when a resort guest insists that Sasha work with Dash on an upcoming wedding, they are suddenly thrust into a three-month-long high-pressure environment. 


Can Sasha survive the chaos, make the wedding a success, and end up with her dream guy?

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Newsletter: https://www.kirstymcmanus.com.au/get-free-stuff/

Margaret Amatt

A heart-warming and sparkly Christmas romance.

A Christmas Bluff

She’s about to trespass all over his Christmas.

Happy-go-lucky Georgia has a festive problem and to solve it, she’s going to hijack a castle on a Scottish island from grumpy landowner, Archie.

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3H0uV9g

Newsletter: https://www.margaretamatt.com/subscribe

Marie Higgins 

A Historical Romance Cozy Mystery!

Diamonds and Dust

Pinkerton agent, Dusty Sloan, isn’t just another cowboy who enjoys charming the ladies. He is dedicated to his job, especially when stolen diamonds and a stubborn woman are involved. Can he protect her and find the mystery of the stolen gems, or will his heart get involved?

It’s the journey that makes the romance interesting… Expect the unexpected!

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3ELshlC

Newsletter: https://www.authormariehiggins.com/newsletter

Phillipa Nefri Clark 

Cozy mystery series set in Australia.

The Shadow of Daph

Daphne Jones loves nothing more than travelling with her husband, John, in Bluebell, their cute restored caravan. Instead of retiring, she started a new career as a celebrant, officiating at weddings, funerals, and all manner of ceremonies. And even a spot of sleuthing…

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3o0IUmA

Newsletter: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/dgvlijnwfk

Jess Mastorakos 

Fans of modern-day royal romances will love this fish out of water adventure!

A Princess for the Marine

Zara is a runaway princess, desperate to make her dreams come true. When she begs Huck to lend a hand, he can’t help but oblige. But Zara is looking for something he can’t provide, and Huck hates that he’s falling for her after what happened the last time he gave his heart away. Can this princess and her protector figure it out before she rides off into the sunset alone?

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3k7xJaB

Newsletter: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/2dmzkfoy1i

Whitney Dineen

A laugh out loud royal romcom full of heart!

You’re So Vain

Family drama is something Lutéce Choate struggles to avoid. With a mother who’s an award-winning country western song writer, an aunt who’s a Country Music Hall of Famer, and a brother who’s a rock star, it hasn’t exactly been a low-key kind of life, and she’s ready for a break.

Then Lu’s younger sister, Claire, goes off and gets engaged to a prince from Malquar, bringing the dreaded spotlight back to shine on their family once again. Lu wants to go to the engagement party about as much as she wants to yodel the Star Spangled Banner at the Grand Ole Opry with her crazy relatives. Alas, not going, doesn’t appear to be an option.

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3mJ359i

Newsletter: https://whitneydineen.com/newsletter

Whitney Dineen

A billionaire romance with a Hallmark happy ending!

Mistle Text:

‘Twas the Text Before Christmas…

Holly Snow not only needs a job, she needs a miracle. So when her best friend Toni finds her a personal shopper gig for her billionaire boss, Holly jumps at the opportunity. But then Archibald Harrington offers her a much better paying job as his pretend girlfriend over the Christmas holidays, and that’s when things get sticky…

Book Link: https://amzn.to/3wfHrMV

IG: https://www.instagram.com/whitneydineenauthor

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Enjoy these fun Fall Romance and Cozy Mystery #NewRelease Books!

Again, Enter the Contest at: https://bit.ly/3Ey06Xt !

Hosted by

@Chick Lit Shop (IG) & Mary Smith – Book Blogger (FB)

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The Evolution of Rylie Cooper

Hello! Today I’m going to delve into how Rylie became Rylie. 

But before we begin, I have to let you in on a secret . . . Rylie wasn’t initially Rylie’s name. 

*Gasp*

I know, I know. Settle down. Breathe. 

At first, her name was . . . 

Courtney. 

Courtney Cooper? 

Well, in the first draft her last name wasn’t Cooper—she didn’t actually have a last name at all at that point. 

But to get to Rylie we must begin with Courtney . . . 

Pinterest is typically where I begin when thinking about my characters. It helps me to have an image in my mind of what my character looks like. 

In my head, Courtney was a pretty young blonde. 

She’s pretty, but almost too pretty. Too made up. 

But I had to start somewhere. 

Then I looked up Blonde in Aviator Glasses because Rylie/Courtney would obviously wear Aviator Glasses. 

Good. But not quite right. 

Then her name changed to Rylie. With a new name in mind, I eventually settled on this initial image: 

She’s probably skinnier than how I envision Rylie since Rylie is more muscular, but I liked how her hair wasn’t perfectly done, how she wasn’t wearing lipstick, and the overall flirty vibe she puts off. 

It worked to get me started. 

Next, I had to work on her life. How old was she? Was she in college? What were the circumstances of her becoming a park ranger? 

At first, I thought she would be in college. Maybe only working on the weekends at first. I tried to think of how I could include college into the stories. I even wrote this little passage as a possible beginning for Catfished(which wasn’t called Catfished at first, but that’s a story for another time): 

College classes were supposed to be challenging and ultimately rewarding. But as I sat in a room of almost fifty students learning how best to create a game that seven year olds would enjoy, I could feel my patience slipping. Getting a degree was something I’d always wanted to do. In fact, I always wanted to be a lawyer. Something about arguing for money really made my interest pique. 

So I went to one of the top colleges in the state as a pre-law student with a hefty academic scholarship. I studied really hard for about a semester and then dropped out so I could be closer to Troy. My parents, who had paid for that very expensive first semester, promptly informed me that they were cutting me off. I wasn’t worried, though. I had the fire department and Troy and everything was going to be great. Right? 

Yeah, so here I was getting a degree at one of the cheapest colleges in the state in one of the easiest majors. My student loans were amassing but I don’t have to pay for them until I graduate, which I hoped would be next fall. 

Okay, aside from the lack of polish, this passage was interesting for me to go back and realize that I thought Rylie wanted to be a LAWYER? 

Say what!?!

When did that happen? 

It must have been a fleeting thought, though, because she ended up with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management and loves it. 

I axed the idea of including college in the mix, because it added an element that wasn’t necessary to the stories. 

Now Rylie is a full-fledged park ranger who, in my head, looks nothing like any of the above pictures. 

She’s strong and fierce and makes lots of mistakes, but I love her nonetheless. 

What do you think? How do you picture Rylie? 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases on some links.