Author Interview

Interview with author of Pastels & Jingle Bells by Christine S. Feldman

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Novella 1:  Pastels and Jingle Bells

Trish Ackerly never expected to cross paths with Ian Rafferty again, but when she spots the former bully of her childhood years through her bakery window, she thinks she may just have been given the best Christmas gift ever:  the opportunity to finally give Ian the comeuppance he deserves.

But clearly she does not have a knack for this whole revenge thing, because before she can make good on her plans, Trish gets inadvertently drawn into Ian’s life in an unexpected way that lets her see just how different the man is from the boy he used to be.  In fact, much to her astonishment, she actually starts to like the guy.

A lot.

Trouble is, Ian doesn’t know who she really is, and explaining it to him is going to be a little difficult now—which is bad news, because Trish is starting to realize that all she really wants for Christmas this year…is Ian.



Pastels and Jingle Bells:  Heavenly Bites Novella #1

It was probably inviting the worst kind of karma to be contemplating murder during the holiday season of all times, but that didn’t phase Trish Ackerly in the slightest as she stared through her bakery’s storefront window in shock.

It was him.  Ian Rafferty, bane of her junior high school existence.  She’d know that face anywhere, despite the changes in it.  Sure, he was a couple of feet taller now and certainly broader shouldered, but as he glanced away from the winter scene she had painted on the window only yesterday and at a passing car that whizzed by much too fast on the busy city street, the profile he presented to her confirmed it.  Yes, it was him.  That same nose, the odd little scar above his eye, the familiar way he quirked his lips…

Her eyes narrowed.  Ian Rafferty.  That miserable, mean-spirited little—

Then he turned his face back to the window, and Trish gasped and dropped to the floor before he could spot her staring at him.

“What on earth are you doing?” came Nadia’s voice from behind the counter.

Trish huddled behind a tall metal trash can and glanced up through her dark bangs at her startled friend and business partner only to remember belatedly that they had company in the shop, namely wizened little Mrs. Beasley, whose startled eyes blinked at her from behind enormous tortoise-shell spectacles.

Well, there was little help for it now.  “That guy,” Trish hissed, jerking one thumb in the direction of the window.  “I know him!”

Both Nadia and Mrs. Beasley peered intently through the glass.  “Mmm,” said Nadia appreciatively a moment later.  “Lucky you, girlfriend.”

“No, not lucky me!  That guy made my life a living hell in junior high.  He’s a jerk, he’s a bully—“

“He’s coming in here, dear,” Mrs. Beasley interrupted her, with obvious interest in her voice.

With a squeak of alarm, Trish shuffled hastily behind the counter on her hands and knees and hunched into as small and inconspicuous a ball as she could.

Nadia blinked.  “Trish, are you out of your—“


“Oh, you did not just shush me—“

“SHH!” Trish insisted again, knowing full well that she’d pay for it later, and then she pulled her head down into her shoulders as much as her anatomy would allow.

The bell on the door jangled cheerfully then, and a gust of cold air heralded Ian Rafferty’s arrival.

“Hi, there,” Nadia greeted him brightly, surreptitiously giving Trish’s foot a little dig with one of her own.  “Welcome to Heavenly Bites.  What can I get for you?”

“Cup of coffee would be great for starters,” came a voice that was deep but soft, and far less reptilian than Trish expected.  She cocked her head slightly to better catch his words and heard the unmistakable sound of him blowing on his hands and rubbing them together to warm them.  “Cream, no sugar.”

“Sure thing, honey.”

“Your window art,” his voice continued, and Trish straightened ever so slightly at the mention of her work.  “It’s fantastic.  Can I ask who painted it?”

“Absolutely,” Nadia returned, turning her attention to getting the coffee he requested.  “My business partner, Trish.”

“Is she around, by any chance?”

Nadia glanced down at where Trish sat scrunched up and did what Trish thought was a very poor job of suppressing a smirk.  “She’s, um, indisposed at the moment.  Why do you ask?”

“I’ve got a couple of windows that could use a little holiday cheer.  Think she might be interested in the job?”

Nadia gave Trish another brief sideways glance.

Trish shook her head frantically.

“Tell you what.  Leave me your number, and we’ll find out.”  Nadia stepped out of reach before Trish could smack her leg.

“Great, thanks.  Here’s my card.”

“I’ll see that she gets it, Mr.—“  Nadia glanced at the card.  “—Rafferty.  Here’s your coffee, and you, sir, have a very nice day.”

The bell on the door jingled again, and Trish cautiously poked her head up long enough to verify that Ian was indeed gone.  She then ignored the fascinated look Mrs. Beasley was giving her and fixed an icy stare on Nadia.  “I’m going to kill you.  How could you do that?”

Nadia tossed her dark braids over her shoulder.  “Hmph.  Shush me in my own shop…”

“I don’t want to talk to that guy!  I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”

“He seemed nice enough to me,” her friend returned, shrugging unapologetically.  “And easy on the eyes, too.”

“And single,” put in Mrs. Beasley eagerly, one wrinkled hand fluttering over her heart.  “No wedding ring.”

“Of course there’s no ring!  No woman wants to marry the devil!”  Trish sank back down onto the floor and leaned back heavily against the shelves behind her.

“He used to be the devil,” Nadia corrected her, examining the business card he had handed to her.  “Now he’s ‘Ian Rafferty, Landscape Architect’.  And he’s a paying customer, Trish.  Face it, you could use the money.”

“Forget it.  I’m not so hard up that I’d go crawling to Ian Rafferty for a job.”  Trish scowled and folded her arms across her chest.  “I have my dignity, you know.”

“Yeah?  Why don’t you get up off the floor and tell me all about your dignity.”

“Oh, shut up,” Trish muttered, getting to her feet and snatching the card from Nadia’s hand.  Wadding it up, she tossed it in the direction of the trashcan and stalked into the bakery’s kitchen.



Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!


I’m from the Pacific Northwest, I’ve been happily married for 10 years, and my husband and I are parents to a sweet little beagle who tends to sleep on my arm when I’m trying to write.  Makes it kind of challenging, but I don’t have the heart to ask her to move.


I write fiction and screenplays in different genres.  I’ve had a couple of contemporary romances published in the last year, a series of novellas coming out right about now, and I’m hoping to turn a couple of my screenplays into novels—so my schedule for the next several months seems to be filling up fast.  I may not emerge from the writing cave for a while.  Sigh.  I’ll miss fresh air and sunlight…


Tell us about your book? How did it get started?


Pastels and Jingle Bells is a contemporary holiday romance novella about a woman who crosses paths with a man she remembers as a bully from her childhood.  Since he doesn’t recognize her, she thinks she’s got a great opportunity to give him a much-deserved comeuppance—only it turns out he’s a very different person than he used to be.  In fact, he’s actually pretty great, and the heroine is starting to like him a lot.  Problem is, coming clean about her real identity is going to be a little difficult now…


I started writing Pastels and Jingle Bells when I heard the publisher of my previous books had put a call out for short Christmas romances, thinking I would submit it to them, but my word count ended up exceeding what they were wanting by several thousand words.  So I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for me to explore self-publishing, and…voila!


How do you create your characters?


I usually start with a glimmer of an idea, a brief glimpse into whoever he or she is, and then start fleshing the rest of the character out as I flesh out the plot.  Character and plot are pretty closely entwined when I’m working on a story, so one builds upon the other.


What inspires and what got your started in writing?


I get inspiration from all sorts of things:  books, movies, conversations, people I pass on the street…  For example, the first stories I ever wrote were about horses (I was about six or seven years old), and they were inspired by the Black Stallion books.  I’ve always had an active imagination, and I suppose writing just became a natural outlet for that.  It’s very freeing—if I don’t like the way a story or a movie ends, I just completely rewrite the thing in my head.  Incidentally, in MY version of Titanic, Jack and Rose live happily ever after… J


Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to


write (music, drinks?)


I need my couch, my laptop, and my beagle.  She’s my muse.


How do you get your ideas for writing?


Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing a snippet of a TV show or hearing about something in the news, and then I start adding my own details and wondering, “What if…?”  Other times I start with a general theme and mull over who would be the best characters to illustrate that theme.


What do you like to read?


I like to read just about everything.  I love fantasy and a little Tolkien now and then, or a good mystery, or maybe a little romance mixed in with some humor.  Sometimes I’m in the mood for Jane Austen; other times Stephen King does the trick.


What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards


to writing?


Be persistent.  Carve out time for writing today instead of telling yourself you’ll do it someday when you have more time, because time has a way of flying.  Sometimes I think it seems like the authors who achieve success in writing are the ones who gut it out the longest and don’t give in to self-doubt or naysayers.


Anything else you’d like to share?


Well, I’m including a photo of my muse, just in case you’re curious.  J

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Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

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