Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Kahn Shelton

About the Book:

Jamie McClintock, an artist who already has a precarious life caring for her asthmatic little son and struggling to pay the bills, doesn’t have time for love or romance. She and her son live in an old farmhouse with an elderly widower who is raising his grandson—but when her beloved elderly landlord dies of a sudden heart attack, her life is thrown into chaos.

When the late landlord’s estranged son Nate arrives in town to settle his father’s affairs and claim his son, Jamie discovers that the spirited old gentleman devoted to raising his young grandson was actually a philandering, deadbeat dad in his day. At least, according to Nate, a widower whose late wife’s accident left him bereft and entirely incapable of caring for the boy.

Jamie and Nate can’t stand each other from the beginning. He’s a self-absorbed, charismatic, world-traveling salesman who thinks being a dad means just letting his five-year-old son come along with him on his many business trips until he can convince his business partner girlfriend to marry him. He’s sure Jamie is just the latest of his dad’s girlfriends, and he’s only too happy to kick her and her son out of the house so he can sell it and get back to his life.

But then he discovers that being an instant dad isn’t so easy after all, especially when he’s blindsided by feelings of grief over the death of his father whose transgressions he never forgave. And even while he and Jamie are fighting over everything from children’s nicknames to Jamie’s odd-ball fashion choices to Nate’s home renovation methods, they discover that they have two little boys looking to them to ease their grief and loss. It’s not long before Jamie’s defensive self-preservation and Nate’s blustery bravado crumble under the laws of attraction.

In a story that is as much a humorous, poignant contemporary romance as it is the tale of a man coming to terms with his father’s desertion, readers will discover new twists to the modern-day mating dance. Sometimes, Jamie and Nate discover, the person you can’t stand is also person you also can’t stand to live without.

About the Author:

Sandi Kahn Shelton 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.

She’s been a writer for longer than she can actually remember—but she does remember her first sale. When she was 6 years old, her mother wouldn’t give her money for the ice cream truck, so she ran home and wrote a story and sold it to the neighbors for 20 cents. It was called “The King Who Slept For Three Hours and Forty-five Seconds” and she saw this as the beginning of a promising career path that would keep her in frozen desserts for the rest of her life.

You can visit her website at,and her blog at

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask the author a few questions. Here's what she had to say:

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

I’d be delighted! Kissing Games of the World is a love story between two unlikely people who find themselves thrown together at the heart of a family tragedy, and who can’t STAND each other.

When Jamie McClintock’s elderly roommate, Harris Goddard, suddenly dies of a heart attack, she is left not only to grieve the loss of her dear friend, but to figure out how she can bear to part with the child she has been helping to raise, Harris’ grandson Christopher – and how she can explain to her own son, Arley, that they have to leave their home and send Christopher off to live with his father.

To make the situation worse, once Christopher’s father Nate rolls into town in the middle of the night, Jamie is overwhelmed with her dislike for him and her fears for Christopher’s fate. Jamie was warned by Harris about Nate’s irresponsibility – Nate did, in fact, leave his son to be raised by his grandfather after the untimely death of his young wife, and now leads the freewheeling life of a world-traveling salesman.

But this isn’t Jamie’s only point of contention. Nate thinks parenthood is going to be a breeze and that Christopher can just tag along on plane rides and hang out in conference room meetings. Jamie, of course, knows this will never work with a five year old, and in the few days she and Nate spend together packing up and planning the funeral, they fight passionately about that point and nearly everything else.

But once they've gone their separate ways, they come to see just how much they need what the other has to offer. Nate, stunned by loneliness and the sometimes hilarious difficulties of being a single parent, sees what he's thrown away by leaving his old home town, while Jamie learns to put aside her dismal romantic history and let herself trust again.

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

My books tend to come to me from the characters who inhabit them rather than from specific events. I was a single mother for a while after my divorce, and so often the women who come to me as protagonists are single moms who are trying to fashion a life for themselves but are uncertain how to accomplish that and often think they’d just be better off sticking it out by themselves.

Jamie came to me first; she arrived one morning while I was taking a bath, and she just started telling me about this little boy of hers, and the old man she lived with and about his little grandson whom she loved so much. I suddenly just knew the old man was going to die, and that Jamie would lose her home and that her struggle was going to be to come to terms with that loss and learn to trust in love again.

Then I got fascinated by Nate, the young man who has run away from his home town and now must return to deal with the past and his family homestead, and to mourn his relationship with his estranged (and now deceased) father. Everyone in this book is suffering from grief and loss and lack of strength—and yet through each other, they come to recognize their own courage.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

Our human need for love and connection—and our fears of exposing that to other people. I’ve always been struck by the many ways we humans have of disguising our true feelings and trying to pretend that we don’t need each other, and the ways in which we finally can come around to discovering our true selves. I also love stories about people finding families.

Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?

People imagine that finishing a book is probably the most glorious moment on earth—that writers must experience a kind of "ta-daaa!" in their hearts as they’re writing THE END at the bottom of the last page. Instead, it’s kind of like the end stages of childbirth; you’re pleased to be done, but you’re also sweaty and exhausted and almost shaking with the effort. Tying up those last few details and escorting those characters to the finish line is NOT an easy thing to do.
Lately, my books have reached completion in the middle of the night, when I’ve found myself unable to sleep. I think when I actually get there, I am a bit stunned. I sit there blinking at my desk, and wait for either the soaring feeling that tells me that it really, really is done…or else the nagging feeling that the characters just haven’t quite gone away, they have one or two little things more they’d like me to type for them.

But when it’s really, really done—well, I stand up and do my Novel-Ending Happy Dance. (Luckily for me, nobody’s filmed that yet.)

What are you currently working on?

I am writing a new novel, The Year You Think of Nothing Else, and it’s a love story about a middle-aged marriage with a secret at the heart of it that threatens its survival.

Do you have any advice for writers or readers?

To writers I would say DON’T GIVE UP! My first novel (What Comes After Crazy) took me 17 years to write. It was the thing I worked on only when everything else was done in my life (and how often does that happen?) Really, it lived in the drawer and occasionally I’d hear it calling out to me, or hear the characters begging me to come back and do their typing for them. I must have written and rewritten that thing five times in trying to get the story down just right…but once it was done, it sold in two weeks!

What are some of your long term goals?

Really, writing novels is the greatest experience I can ever imagine. I feel as though I’ve been given a chance to have more than one life. I go and live in another character’s head and experience life through someone else, and it’s the most wonderful thing in the whole world. I am never happier than when I have created a little world of my novel and can go around and play there and write to see what happens next. If I can just keep doing this—and getting better at it—I will be so happy!


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.

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