Thank you so much for having me here on your blog! I am so happy to announce the release of my new holiday novel, Christmas Wishes. I love the characters in this story. Sophie reminds me of myself (a long, long time ago), and Mitch is the kind of guy every girl wants to meet—hard working, with a strong sense of family. The story takes place in southwest Michigan, where I grew up and where I still live. This area reflects the names and customs of the Dutch settlers who came here long ago. Zutphen is modeled after some of the villages near here – everyone knows each other, and most of the names begin with the letters in the last part of the alphabet! Growing up, I asked my dad why our last name didn't start with Van or Vander like most of my friends. He told me I was welcome to put a Van in front of our last name, but that our Japanese relatives might be confused by that!
I spent 28 years teaching elementary school (15 years teaching music and 13 years in a regular classroom), and when my kids were young I directed the Christmas programs and spring musicals at our church. So I drew from those experiences to write about Sophie's challenge in directing the Christmas pageant. And though I've never longed to live in the Big City, I've enjoyed visiting them often. I can understand the lure they have for young people. But like Mitch, I prefer the small-town sense of belonging and security for raising my kids. Both of my daughters have expressed the desire to move to larger cities far away—that's why the central conflict of this story is a personal one for me. I hope you enjoy reading about Sophie and Mitch and how they resolve their differences.
Mitch Carson is tired of the big city. In his former life, he'd been a news photographer in
Sophie Gardner wants to be a screenwriter. She's ready to leave small town Zutphen, Michigan and go to Hollywood. With a theater degree under her belt, she's busy writing scripts while helping out her sister Joanie, who's bedridden with a difficult pregnancy. Unfortunately, Joanie has somehow coerced Sophie into directing the Christmas pageant at Zutphen Community Church.
When Sophie and Mitch meet, the attraction is instant and mutual. But each wants what the other is trying to get away from. Can they deny their feelings and pursue their dreams? Or will the holiday prove to them that their true wishes might not be what they'd thought?
Her eyes crinkled as she smiled, and he hoped his return smile wasn’t as goofy as it felt. “So, let’s take a seat and I’ll give you the low down on the teenagers in the area.”
“Right.” He spied a small table and carried their drinks to it. She raised a brow when he pulled out a chair, but said nothing as she sat. Curiosity finally got the best of him.
“You know, that’s the second time you’ve looked at me as if I’ve done something strange. Apparently, opening the car door for you isn’t normal, and neither is pulling out your chair. Is that not done in Michigan? Should I give up those habits?”
Mitch nearly jumped out of his chair at the force of her answer. And then he realized she hadn’t spoken alone. The barista who’d poured their coffee, as well as two other women seated in the cafe tables around them had echoed Sophie’s answer.
An elderly woman seated behind him tapped him on the shoulder. “Young man, you’ve been raised with good manners, and you should never give them up. If Sophie was surprised when you opened doors and pulled her seat out, it’s because she’s grown up with young boys who don’t know how to treat a lady. She deserves the best, so you just keep right on doing what you do.”
“Yeah, and maybe some of the men around here can learn something,” the barista added.
The other ladies in the area nodded in agreement. Mitch nodded too, his ears burning. He hadn’t realized his voice had carried and he murmured an apology to Sophie, who looked anything but embarrassed. She seemed fascinated with her coffee, having it raised to her lips, but her shaking shoulders told him she’d enjoyed his discomfort.
Author links: Patricia Kiyono can be found at her website, blog, facebook, and twitter @PatriciaKiyono