We have a winner! Jenny Chlipala, you are the lucky recipient of Sinclair’s fabulous giveaway prize! She will be in touch with you! Thanks for commenting and thanks to everyone for stopping by!
What a treat it is to welcome my friend, my editor, and fabulous author, Sinclair Jayne back to the Author Spotlight! She’s here with her new holiday release, The Christmas Blueprint and a fantastic giveaway, so be sure to comment for a chance to win!
Sinclair is a former journalist and middle school teacher who holds a BA in Political Science and K-8 teaching certificate from the University of California, Irvine and a MS in Education with an emphasis in teaching writing from the University of Washington. She has worked as Senior Editor with Tule Publishing for over seven years. Writing as Sinclair Jayne she’s published fifteen short contemporary romances with Tule Publishing with another four books being released in 2021. Married for over twenty-four years, she has two children, and when she isn’t writing or editing, she and her husband, Deepak, are hosting wine tastings of their pinot noir and pinot noir rose at their vineyard Roshni, which is a Hindi word for light-filled, located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Shaandaar!
Sinclair, I turn it all over to you, my friend…
I’ve always loved to say that—not just Merry Christmas, although that is lovely, but Happy Holidays because from the middle of November—when the rains in the Pacific Northwest descend, squatting on our couches and stealing the remotes, I struggle with how dark it becomes. I get up at five am to write, and it’s dark for nearly two more hours now. And by four p.m., when I’m in the process of wrapping up work to again walk the dog and plan dinner, night’s already tapping on my door. But because Thanksgiving’s around the corner, where I see friends, try new recipes, and my son drives home from college, the cold, wet dark remains on my periphery. December kicks off with lights, decorations, parties, various religious celebrations and culminates with bubbly and fireworks and goals for the new year before January arrives with a grey, chilly bump. But by then I can rationalize—only two months until March. Also in February, the daffodils poke their gorgeous sunny heads up—nature’s glorious candles defying winter’s gloom.
Family and friends have traditionally helped me to slay the gloom of winter. But now that I am an author, writing also perks me up, as does reading, and this time of year, one of my favorite pleasures is settling in by the fire with my beverage of choice and reading (or writing) a holiday romance. Holiday romances feel like their own category—an ideal world—even when it’s not ideal. For me, the perfect holiday romance is sweet, yet full of longing, an emotional homecoming is involved, as is a reconnection to family or the community, and then, of course the soul mate—so long denied, is finally reunited.
This fall I published The Christmas Blueprint with Tule Publishing. While it is a stand-alone story, in many ways it is a sequel to last fall’s holiday release Lighting Up Christmas. I created a small town in Southern Oregon, inspired by Nan’s Indiana town along the Ohio River—River’s Edge. My town is called Bear Creek, and The Christmas Blueprint is only the second story set there, so I have a long way to go to create anything as thriving and full of history and characters as Nan has done, and yet I have the Flanagan and Gonzales families for my hero and heroine, an entitled, slightly corrupt mayor from a greedy, wealthy family, a high-tech millionaire intent on putting his stamp on the town, a historic downtown, a thriving wine industry, and tension between business and farmers, established families, and tourism.
In The Christmas Blueprint, hero Killian Flanagan comes home for a year as a favor for a friend and takes a part time job as the city planner and architect. He’s immediately pitted against his sister’s best friend, whom he’s always secretly crushed on. They want different things but must work together to achieve them.
I enjoyed playing with the dynamic between Killian and Sophia. Killian has been gone for fifteen years, and he hasn’t realized how much the town—and Sophia has changed. Sophia is devoted to the Bear Creek businesses and community and determined to finally step into her strength. What I’ve always loved about reunion romances is that there is already so much history and emotion to work with, and yet—especially with this story—the hero and the heroine have changed so much. As they grapple with their shared past and struggle with the challenges they face, they must also fight their attraction while achieving their goals.
As I’m writing, I’m always thinking let the games begin, which keeps me on the edge of my seat as I crank up the tension between my hero and heroine, as well as exert pressure from the external world. My hero and heroine must battle themselves as well as each other and yet, find a way to work together push back on the forces against them.
***GIVEAWAY! For three signed holiday books and a $10 Starbucks card, what are some of the things that you enjoy about winter—or if not, what are some of your coping mechanisms for keeping your happy on during winter?***
Below is an excerpt from The Christmas Blueprint and if you’d like to learn more or have a chance for more reader swag, you can sign up for my newsletter on my website.
Thanks, and oh, Happy Holidays!
The Christmas Blueprint
She needs a win this Christmas. He’s standing in her way.
Boutique owner Sophia Gonzales is ready to shake off her grief and make some changes. As a new member of the town’s planning commission, she agrees to run point on an exciting proposal to repurpose an abandoned, historic mill for the city. But proving herself becomes far more challenging when she meets with her project partner—her late fiancé’s best friend who’s never agreed with her about anything.
The last thing architect Killian Flanagan wants is to move back to Bear Creek, but his best friend needs him to watch his daughter while he completes his last deployment. So Killian accepts a part-time city planner job, hoping he can avoid the one woman he’s never been able to forget. But not only is Sophia the first to greet him, she’s already got plans in motion for his—no, their—project.
It’s the ghost of Christmas past, with Sophia and Killian trying not to fall in love in the present…but maybe a future together is the real blueprint for happiness.
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“Oh, yeah,” his sister Riley teased. “How’s your romantic life? No. Don’t tell me, mister blink and you’ll miss it. Next. What’d you bring me and Sophia? I can never drink enough coffee.”
‘The barista made me three preview holiday drinks, and I might share if you’re nice, Riles, which you aren’t.”
“I have the tray with the coffees,” Sophia said, walking toward her bestie, teasing her brother as if fifteen-years hadn’t happened. “So it looks like you’re the one who needs to behave,” Sophia said, smiling sweetly. “Good luck with that, Killian.”
“I can behave with the proper motivation.”
Sophia didn’t want her mind to go there, but of course it did. Heat washed over her.
“That I’d like to see.” Riley reached for a coffee.
“We are going to be jangled up today,” Sophia noted. “Three of us and seven coffees.”
“We can have a taste test with these three since they are all different, Soph,” Killian said.
Soph. The nickname warmed her, yet felt like a slap. She was still a kid to him.
“You could have taste tests for holiday coffees in your shop if you coordinated with the Caffeinated Goat,” Riley said enthusiastically.
“I have more room now since I annexed the space next door,” Sophia mused, liking the idea. “Maybe I could—” She began to think of some local food and drink vendors who might enjoy providing samples and a few items to sell on consignment. Sophia always had more sales help at the holidays—local high school kids in the business and marketing pathway program who needed internship hours.
“Let me know if you need anything built. Happy to help,” Killian said. “It’s the least I can do.”
Her heart chilled and plummeted. Killian only made the offer because of her former fiancé, Enrique’s passing. It was some bro code. Take care of the woman left behind. She’d been taking care of herself long before Enrique, and she’d do so long after.
“So, you still get your hands dirty?” she asked and nearly jumped out of her skin at the low, husky note in her voice. Was she flirting?
“Very dirty,” Killian growled a reply, his warm breath tickling her ear.
Riley, dividing the three holiday coffees into three separate cups so that they could actually do a taste test, nearly poured some of the coffee on the table. Her eyes were wide as saucers, and she looked between Sophia and Killian like it was match point of a mental ping-pong game.
“Killian,” Riley said, her eyes lasered on him and her voice laced with warning.
“I can leash my own dog if I need to, Riles,” Sophia said.
Whipped cream plopped out into one of the cups of the mystery holiday coffee brew splattering Riley, who’d been trying to divvy up the drinks and whipped cream evenly.
“I’ll take this one,” Sophia said, swiping the one with all the whipped cream. She lifted the cup to her lips to hide her expression and toasted them.
She felt on edge, alive in a way she hadn’t felt in a long time. The tension in the room was cuttable if anyone had thought to bring a knife.
“How does it feel to finally be home again, Killian?” The question was definitely a challenge.