Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nancy Marie Bell, A Christmas Storm

AUTHOR:   Nancy Marie Bell
BOOK TITLE:  Christmas Storm
PUBLISHER:  MuseItUp Publishing
WHAT IS IT?:  ebook Christmas Storm
HOW IS THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN?:  Commenters to answer the question: Where does the story take place- Name of the town.  BE SURE TO LEAVE CONTACT INFORMATION!
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER?:  Nancy will email the book to the winner

Tell me a little about your book.

What could a fancy horse vet and a young woman rancher have in common? Turns out a little more than one might think.

Michelle is prepared to hate the new vet in town before she even meets him. Her parents are gone and Doc has filled the role of father figure for as long as Michelle can remember. Now, one the heels of her fiancĂ©’s desertion, Doc has announced he is going to sell his veterinary practice to a young vet just starting out. The man has impeccable credentials but Michelle can only see him as the embodiment of all the unwelcome changes in her life.

Add to the mix an injured stray dog who keeps pushing Michelle into contact with Dr. Cale Benjamin DVM and sparks fly. The question is: can the new vet in town heal both Storm’s leg and Michelle’s heart?

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

I help out fostering rescue dogs, so Storm, the dog in the novel is the embodiment of bits and pieces of many of the animals I have had the honour of helping. I love Alberta and so the setting was easy, I am privileged to have permission to include The Travelling Mabels in my novel. They are a trio of talented singer/songwriters, I attended their first official concert at the East Longview Hall (yes, the same one in the novel) and thought that us southern Alberta gals should help each other out and reach out to different audiences. My oldest son is a board licensed equine veterinary surgeon so I picked his brains for the technical medical things, my youngest is a driller on an oil rig so I made George, Michelle’s brother, a worker in the oil patch.  The rest of it just kind of came together. I would have to say the impetuous that started the whole thing was the rescue dogs.   

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Oh, a few things, to be sure. The bit where Michelle wrestles with the mare’s afterbirth and loses, is something I have intimate experience with. Have you ever tried to pick up a wet, slimy, slippery mass of membrane sac? Nigh on impossible to do. The time Storm comes home with the peacock for her babies is also loosely based on fact, Lily, one of my fosters, escaped one day and brought me home an unexpected present. Thankfully, it wasn’t a peacock, the names and facts have been changed to protect the innocent. There are a few storms in the novel, the descriptions and events are based on real events. When it blizzards in Alberta people take notice, snow blows horizontally, visibility can be less than an inch from your nose and the wind chill factor can take the temperature to forty or fifty degrees below zero Celcius. Although once you get to minus fifty, the scales are the same. Freaking cold.  There are lots more incidents that have their roots in reality, if I listed them all I’d spoil the story. 

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas theme?

I love Christmas, so I wanted to set the story around that holiday. It was also a catalyst to bring some secondary characters home for the holiday. The Canadian Finals Rodeo is in November and the National Finals Rodeo is in Las Vegas in early December and as they both play a small role in the plot, it made sense to have the story take place near those dates.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?

I think Christmas Storm had enough additional elements in it that the seasonal theme won’t stop it being marketable in other seasons. It has the added benefit of attracting the segment of the reading population who love books about the Christmas season.

How long before Christmas did you submit to your publisher?

I submitted in January or February of the preceding year.

How and why did you choose this publisher?

I have other works published with MuseItUp Publishing.

What about your book makes it special?

The dynamics between the characters and of course the animals.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Family. Peace, joy and the knowledge that the winter solstice has passed and the sun is growing in strength each day. It’s like we’ve turned the corner and headed toward spring.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Every year on Christmas Eve we used to visit my dad’s four sisters who lived in the general vicinity of Toronto. The oldest sister lived near Carlton Place, Ontario so we didn’t drive that far. We did go to my Aunt Ola’s in Whitevale, a small community just north of Pickering, then to my Aunt Loral’s in Etobicoke, although my dad always called it New Toronto, Aunt Gloria lived nearby and then to Auntie Joy’s in Mississauga. We got to see our cousins and often my grandparents spent the winter with Aunt Gloria so we got to see them too.

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?

Candy when we were kids, and those small oranges. The oranges were hard to come by when I was young.

What was your favorite Christmas present?

When I was sixteen I got my first western saddle and breastplate. That was pretty cool.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My website is
Follow me on twitter @emilypikkasso
My Facebook page is
You can also find me at MuseItUp Publishing

Thank you for hosting me and allowing me to be part of your Christmas in July celebration.

Excerpt from Christmas Storm

Michelle picked up the receiver and was relieved to hear the dial tone. She pressed the speed dial for Doc and dropped down into her chair.  Wearily, she tilted her head back and leaned it against the headrest as she listened to the phone ring.  God, I hope you’re home.  Michelle just wanted to hear Doc’s rusty old voice confirm what she already expected.  On the tenth ring, Mary, Doc’s wife, picked up the line.

“Michelle, it’s so nice to hear from you. No trouble at your place I hope,” Mary said brightly.

“Hey, Mary, a stray dog just wandered onto the place, looks like someone’s beaten the tar out of it. I need to ask Doc for some advice. Is he around?” Michelle sat up in her chair and scrounged for some paper and a pen under the papers on her desk.

“No, dear, Doc’s out at Murray’s place.  That fancy roping horse of his has colic, and he’s fit to be tied.  Just got back from the NFR with all his winnings and now this.”

“I guess it could wait ‘til morning.  I just wanted to know how much pain killer I should give…she’s so skinny.” Michelle chewed on her bottom lip.

“Well, dear, you know I could refer you to the new vet in town. Nice boy, Doc and he are talking about throwing in together anyway. Cold nights and crazy cows are getting to be too much for Luke these days,” Mary offered.

Michelle smiled in spite of herself. Nobody called Doc Luke, except his wife of forty some odd years.  Just as quickly a frown clouded her features.  She plain didn’t like the new “boy” as Mary called him.  He wasn’t a rancher. He was a fancy horse guy from what she heard about him.  Used to dealing with all those expensive show jumpers and people with more money that brains.

“It can wait ‘til Doc gets home,” she assured Mary.

“Happens that Cale is here right now and says he can stop by on his way home,” Mary said in that voice of hers she used when some plan she concocted was starting to work out.

“I can’t think that I’m on anybody’s way home.” Michelle laughed.

The ranch was ten miles out of Longview, so Michelle was confident she wasn’t on the new vet’s way home. Nobody other than her neighbours was likely to venture past her lane on a night like this.
Mary chuckled, and Michelle’s stomach did a flip.  “Silly girl, Cale bought the old Chetwynd place across the coulee from you.  He’s your closest neighbour now.”

“Oh.” Michelle’s voice was small. “I haven’t got around to meeting the new people yet.”

“Obviously, darlin’.” Mary snorted. “You can meet young Cale tonight on his way home.”

“But, I…” Michelle trailed off when she realized she was talking to a dial tone.  “Damn and double damn.”

Michelle ran her hand over her unruly hair and sighed. Mary, bless her soul, was her mom’s oldest friend.  Mom was gone over five years now. With her brother, George, being away more than he was home working on the rigs, Mary had appointed herself Michelle’s guardian.  Michelle pushed herself out of the comfortable chair with an exasperated sigh. She knew Mary was matchmaking again.  Every eligible bachelor who came into town for any length of time somehow managed to find their way to her door on some made up errand for Mary.

“Well, dog, we’ll let him look you over and give us his exalted opinion and then tomorrow I’ll call Doc.” Michelle spoke as she stepped out into the hall to check on the mutt.

The black dog was awake, and her mouth was open as she panted.  Her body language was wary, and her narrowed eyes indicated she expected to get hit.  Michelle knelt beside the dog and offered her hand.  The dog ignored the outstretched hand and continued to watch Michelle. Finally, deciding there was no threat, the dog laid its head wearily back on the rug.  Michelle got to her feet and left the animal to rest. She entered the kitchen and grabbed a cloth to wipe the table with and then briskly swept the bits of hay and shavings off the floor which had fallen from her clothes.  She stored the broom back its place and went to stand by the wide kitchen window, where she observed the storm was blowing as bad as ever.  If that vet doesn’t have a four by, he’s never getting down my lane, let alone home.  Michelle thought with some satisfaction.  Fancy city boy.


  1. You have so many elements in your story that are dear to my heart--animals, rodeos, Christmas. And a romance too? Wonderful! Best wishes.

  2. Hello! I enjoyed the interview. I also enjoyed the book excerpt. Beautiful cover. I've put this book on my TBR book list.

    QUESTION: Where does the story take place- Name of the town.

    MY ANSWER: Longview


  3. Wonderful post. I really enjoyed getting to know you a bit more, Nancy. Hi Penny!

  4. Hi everyone. Nice to see my "faithful" blog followers checking in.

  5. Oh, I love horses and dogs and stories about them. Great cover. Congratulations on your book. Enjoyed reading about you, Nancy.

    Penny, when you get a chance, I left you a surprise at my blog.

    Have a nice weekend, everyone.

  6. Bev, that was a nice surprise. Thank you. I appreciate you thinking of me.

  7. Hi Everyone, thank you for dropping in and visiting. I'm so happy you all liked the excerpt. I love that cover, CK Volnek did a terrific job on it, it is perfect for the story. Storm is based on a real dog and so it was important to me that the dog on the cover looked like the sweet momma dog. Her personality is based on many dogs I have fostered, but in particular one called Lily. If you listen to the song Mabel (Eva Levesque) on the Travelling Mabels first CD Lily and Mabel could be sisters. LOL The town where the story takes place is also a real dusty little prairie town and the East Longview Hall is real as well and without a doubt the best place to attend a concert.
    Thanks to Penny for hosting me!

  8. Hey Nancy...good post and yes I actually have dealt with slippery afterbirth - YUCK! The book sounds really great - Congrats and can hardly wait to read it!

    thanks for sharing, Penny

  9. Another for my TBR, Nancy. I'm so far behind, I've got books on TBR from the 19th Century. And they're all written by friends!

    Um, it says 10 miles outside of Longview, so I'll go with that, but I think of Washington State, not Alberta.

  10. Marva, What says 10 miles outside of Longview?? What did I miss? Longview Alberta is south of Calgary on Highway #2 on the way to the Coutts/Sweetgrass border crossing. And yes, that is the correct answer. :~)

    Penny's Tales, yes me too, that's where that part came from. Nothing worse than cold slippy afterbirth when your hands are already cold. LOL But it is all worth it.


  11. There were two who answered the question to vie for a copy of Christmas Storm. I couldn't choose (my bad) so both Susanne Drazic and Marva Dasef win a copy of Christmas Storm!

    Congrats and thanks to all who dropped by and commented.


  12. Nancy, you are in the Christmas spirit! Thanks for giving out two copies. As your line editor, I know in advance both Marva and Susanne will love this story. Thanks for being my guest.