Monday, January 12, 2009

Sandi Kahn Shelton and Kissing Games of the World

Today's guest blogger is Sandi Kahn Shelton, author of Kissing Games of the World. Sandi is the author of three novels, all contemporary novels about relationships and family, including What Comes After Crazy, A Piece of Normal, and the latest, Kissing Games of the World. She’s also the author of three nonfiction humor books about parenting, and is a feature reporter for the New Haven Register. For years she wrote the “Wit’s End” column for Working Mother magazine, and she has been a contributor to Redbook, Salon, Reader’s Digest, and Woman’s Day.

You can visit her website at,and her blog at

Thank you so much for inviting me to come and write a guest post on your wonderful blog! It’s lovely to be here.

I love writing about quirky relationships. Most of my novels are about the ways in which families matter to us—and how sometimes we have to go out and find and create the families we need, if the ones we have aren’t doing the trick. My protagonists are often funny, edgy women who have been disappointed by love in the past, and who (like me and my friends) are mainly trying to make the best of things and just get their lives to settle down some. Oh, yeah, and they’d like to find a guy to love, too, but that’s not the main thing they’re looking for. In my books, a guy often shows up—but I’d leave it kind of up in the air whether he was going to be The One.

But when I set out to write Kissing Games of the World, I knew I wanted to make the story a real, genuine (gasp) LOVE STORY. Now I was a little embarrassed about this, you understand. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, actually. You know, when you start writing about all that love stuff and romance and kissing and I-love-you-more-than-you-love-me-no-you-don’t-oh-yes-I-do stuff…well, I didn’t see how I could type and still keep my self-respect. (Thinking about it now, maybe I was teased too much as a kid if I had a boy I was interested in. I was used to people falling over themselves, guffawing, if I tried to talk about love feelings.)

So when the main character, Jamie McClintock, showed up and started talking to me, she wasn’t one bit interested in falling in love…which, call me crazy, I did not see as a HUGE impediment to her being in this love story I was writing. She was an artist and a single mother disappointed by love, and she was raising her little boy who had asthma, and that was the main thing on her mind: doing her art and making ends meet, and also keeping enough inhalers within easy reach so that Arley (that’s the little boy) wouldn’t die. She shared a house with an elderly man, the former town rascal and womanizer who was now tamed and raising his grandson, and everything was just fine by her. But—well, in fiction, you have to give people troubles, so I knew I needed to have the old guy drop dead (mean of me, I know) and then have his son Nate–a son he’d talked bad about to Jamie—come back with the plan to sell the house, toss Jamie and her kid on the street, and take his little boy and leave town.

Only I knew that he and Jamie were going to have to fall in love.

The trouble was, I could not figure out how to get them to like each other! Jamie was all prickly and worried and untrusting, plus she was grieving for the loss of her friend and very sad about the idea of losing the little boy, the old man’s grandson whom she’d come to love. And Nate was a salesman who has had his heart broken by his father’s abandonment of him as a child. Plus, he’d lost his wife four days after the baby was born, and after a lifetime of disappointments, he’d finally found something he was good at: travelling the world selling communications systems. And now he had to come back to the small town where he grew up and accept the fact that his dad is gone and that he now had to figure out how to be a father to his sad little boy, who kind of hates him.

It was a puzzlement how to get this to work. I walked around for weeks with a frown on my face, wondering how (or if) these two particular characters were going to be talked in to doing what I intended for them.

But it was a delightful challenge just the same. Whereas usually in my books, the main woman character tells me the whole story, almost like she’s dictating it in my ear, in this book, Nate DEMANDED to tell his part, too. So I had both these characters giving me alternating chapters, and their voices couldn’t have been more different. Nate was exciting, cynical, sexy, over-confident about his ability to be a parent and yet at the same time, scared out of his mind. Jamie was stubborn, serious, and also scared out of her mind. The two of them fought passionately about everything. They even kept me up nights with all this back-and-forth.

But I honestly did not know if I was going to be able to pull off getting them to get together. And when you’ve set out to write a love story, you certainly don’t want the reader to be rooting for the two of them to NOT get together. I’ve read books or seen movies in which I’ve thought, “Oh, NOOO! These people have to break up FAST. It’s all wrong, and someone needs to step in and stop this!”

I don’t want to give away everything about how it worked out, but I’ve been pleased when reviewers have said that this book goes deeper than a typical romance, and that it has twists and turns that make you feel that they earn the ending they come up with.

Because, honestly, I didn’t push them to fall in love. I feel as though they took care of that all on their own. And I couldn’t have been more relieved when the best-selling author Patricia Gaffney said in her endorsement of the book, that Kissing Games of the World is the “funny, genuinely touching story of two incomplete people finding the rest of themselves in each other.”


The KISSING GAMES OF THE WORLD VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '09 will officially begin on January 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Linda's blog stops at in January to find out more about this talented lady!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. One winner will be chosen by Pump Up Your Book Promotion each month.

No comments: