I’m so pleased to have Sinclair Sawney (Jayne) as my guest today because not only is she a fabulous author, she is also my editor and my friend. 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!
N: Welcome to the blog, Sinclair. I’m so delighted to have you with us today. Not only are you a prolific writer, but you’re also an editor. What came first—writing or editing?
A: Technically I was an editor first. I started working with Tule Publishing as an editor about eight years ago. I had started writing romance novels when my son was born, and I was home with him, but didn’t publish anything until years later. My first book was Wrecked, which was a reunion romance between am almost washed-up professional Southern California surfer and reluctant physical therapist came out six years ago. Now that I am a published author, I think I am a much stronger, clearer editor.
N: You’ve brought your husband’s Indian heritage to this new series. But what is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing The Cowboy Says I Do?
A: My husband has always said that I am stubborn, and I have never quite believed him, and yet one of the themes of the first book in my Montana Rodeo Brides book The Cowboy Says I Do is similar to another book I wrote a few years ago, Cowboy Come Home where both of the cowboy heroes start off in love with a woman, but aren’t quite able to commit until they figure out their professional lives and so they lose their love and spend the book trying to woo the heroine again, and in so doing, they fall more deeply in love and figure out what they really want and need in life. I felt like I fell short a little bit with Boone Telford in The Cowboy Come Home, and my perceived miss kept niggling at me. I didn’t deliberately set out to right a wrong, and yet as I crafted this story, the areas where I struggled before, feeling like my hero was too wishy-washy, now came together a bit more easily, although it was a lot of thinking and revision to as Jean Luc Picard would say “make it so.”
N: The Cowboy Says I Do will be releasing tomorrow. Can you share with us something about this new story that isn’t in the blurb?
A: The heroine in The Cowboy Says I Do is my first Indian American heroine. She’s biracial, and I wanted to not only pay tribute to my family on my husband’s side, but also my daughter who left home last year to attend her first year of college. She would be mortified to know that I wanted to celebrate her mixed heritage, but most of the schools she attended did not have many students of color, and while she never seemed bothered, she’s been proud of her mixed race and heritage and partially chose her university because it was much more diverse. Also the opening scene with the heroine Ashni, which means lightning in Hindi is based on my niece’s wedding a few years ago.
N: Give me three words to describe your heroine Ashni and three to describe hero Beck.
A: Ashni—creative, loyal, strongly community minded and connected (oops more than three)
Beckett—competitive, loyal, sweet
N: What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
A: I love to write strong, family-oriented cowboy stories because for me a cowboy seems so iconic American. I love creating strong, very man’s men who have a strong purpose but also a blind spot or a flaw that the heroines are only too eager to poke at. I’d love a reader to enjoy the story, escape for a little while and feel encouraged that many problems in life can be solved or reshifted with some determination, time and forgiveness (self and others)
N: What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
A: I am someone who’s never been intimidated by a blank screen. I love beginnings. I love digging deep when it’s hard. I guess the hardest part is finding the time. I have a “day job,” which is flexible but mentally taxing and my husband and I also own a small winery, Roshni in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and family obligations so I have to seize writing moments whether I’m in the mood or not. Usually after twenty minutes or so, I’m in my zone, and if I’m not I just keep trudging into the story. I love editing my own work. The finessing and shifting is very satisfying to get the words and meaning and images just right.
N: What is the toughest criticism you’ve received as a writer? The best compliment?
A: I am probably my toughest critic. I really revise my stories a lot. I’m not too worried about what other people say now. Some of my negative reviews have made me laugh—someone once said my heroine in Burning Both Ends had more baggage than a camel, and she was not wrong, but the choice was deliberate. I love to create characters and give them so much to deal with and watch them pick up their junk and trudge through the desert or forest or jungle or prairie that we call life. I will say that in the early days before I published a friend of mine regularly made me cry, and she, too. was not wrong, and it made me better. Writing, like wine, is often so subjective, and if I feel like I landed the story, then I’m not too fussed if other people poke at me.
N: I know The Cowboy Says I Do is book 1 in your Montana Rodeo Brides series. Want to give us a sneak peek at whose book is next?
A: Bowen Ballantyne, the oldest cousin of the three Ballantynes (who grew up more like brothers and compete with each other endlessly, but always have each other’s backs) is next up. He is the quietest of the Ballantynes. I wanted to write a laconic, laid back, cards-close-to-his-chest cowboy. He’s steady. It was interesting to write the series during the pandemic. I was home with my kids (home from school and college), and my husband is a Dr. so he was on the front lines and we were temporarily separated to keep our risk of infection lower, and to keep from panicking I really immersed myself in the stories and the series. Reading it now, the three stories, which take place the same week of the Copper Mountain Rodeo, have this racing energy, seamless.
N: Writing can be an emotional, stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
A: Write. Don’t make excuses. Just write. Even if you write ten minutes a day, eventually you will have a book. And be kind to yourself. But writing is a muscle that you must exercise to keep in honed and the more you write (and read) the stronger you will become. But don’t ever think about writing. Just open a word doc or text app or whatever and write (or speak). Editing yourself is also an art form and read your work out loud. You will really hear what works or doesn’t work.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A writer.
N: Favorite book when you were a kid?
A: The Secret Garden as a kid. As a teen Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey and then anything Jane Austen. I even gave my daughter the middle name Austen, which makes her roll her eyes at me and NOT read Pride and Prejudice. Agatha Christie is also a favorite—the plots, yes, but the way she could create a character with one sentence is something that eludes me still.
N: And here is my signature question that everyone loves: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
A: Rachel Maddow because I love to talk politics and history and she’s so much smarter than me.
My friend of thirty-five years Jennifer Blaze who is the best story teller of anyone I’ve ever met, and who’s brain I want to transplant, but instead I just threaten to tape our conversations, but I’m usually laughing too hard.
Stacey Abrams because no matter what political party or belief system, I think everyone eligible to vote should not have barriers to voting, and I admire how she’s worked hard to run for office and then when she lost an election, she focused on getting voters registered. She’s smart, determined, and never seems angry or discouraged. She’s taken risks and lost and still gets back up and works. And she writes romances so win-win—conversationally.
The Cowboy Says I Do
He needs her to say I do…
When professional rodeo cowboy Beck Ballantyne returns home to Marietta, Montana, nothing goes as planned. His granddad, flanked by his three determined daughters, announces his plan to sell his legacy ranch after the rodeo. Hoping he’ll reconsider, Beck and his two cousins launch the Rodeo Bride Game. Beck initially has the advantage as he has a long-time girlfriend—except she’s just called it quits.
Ashni Singh has loved Beck since high school, but she’s done living out of a suitcase on the rodeo tour. She’s ready to put down roots and build her own career. Learning she’s unexpectedly expecting makes her even more determined to make a new life. So when Beck dutifully proposes, she does what any self-respecting, career-oriented, educated woman at the end of her patience would do. She says no.
The Rodeo Bride Game may have started as a fun challenge, but Beck has never been more serious about winning Ash’s heart and her hand.
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