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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Spotlight: Claire Ashgrove

Making Dreams Come True

For those who are tuning into the discussion late, I’m talking about the inspiration behind my novels this week. Today I’m talking about my 2010 Christmas release.

At the core of its inception, A Christmas To Believe In was crafted as a need to meet certain parameters that the cooperative series effort required. Setting, plot, theme, etc – all the base elements including some character archtypes – were necessary to make the final book in the Three Kings series tie everything to a close.

But Clint King’s struggles with his dreams, again came from the struggle with my own. Raising horses isn’t easy. At times it seems nature works against you at every turn. Breaks don’t come when they are needed, and when a break does come, it’s often overlooked because everything else seems to be going fine.

There’s a deeply personal part of this book as well – the need to gain a deceased father’s approval. My parents gave a whole heck of a lot to help me achieve dreams through all of my life. My father passed away before ever seeing the fruition of his efforts. He died two months before I sold my first book. I still struggle with the hope that I made him proud before he passed on and the knowledge that as his daughter, he was proud of me regardless. Clint also struggles with this.

Conversely, Jesse has everything she wants and needs… except love.

We didn’t specify in the series exactly where the setting was, beyond North Kansas City. What was in my head, at the time of writing, however, was Gladstone, my old stomping grounds in my late teens and early twenties. That was fun bringing back some memories.

One of the pivotal scenes takes place under the Mayor’s Christmas Tree in Crown Center. I worked in this area for two years, and the Mayor’s Christmas Tree is one of the highlights of Kansas City’s Christmas festivities. (Along with The Plaza lights.) I’ve spent time at the Ice Terrace, I’ve played on the wooden figurines beneath the tree. I’ve spent more time wandering through the window displays that Clint is looking at than I could ever count. Christmas in Kansas City isn’t Christmas without a mention of this place. It’s truly breathtaking. This year I took my oldest son to see Crown Center, and it was so nice to see that the magic I remembered and put into my book, is still evident through a child’s eyes. I hope you find it just as enchanting.

Come back tomorrow for an in-depth look at Waiting for Yes.


Struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, hasn’t been home for Christmas in five years. Like his brothers, Alex and Heath, life has kept him away. Clint’s farm is barely hanging on. His prize mare's due to foal any day, and in the wake of his father’s death, Clint can’t stand the idea of returning. The memories are too much, let alone his father’s imposing shadow. Except, Alex is getting married on Christmas Eve, and their mother’s put her foot down. She’ll have her boys at home. With his mare in tow behind him, Clint prepares to meet a sister he’s never known and Alex’s unexpected triplets. The one salvation he looks forward to is childhood companion, tomboy Jesse Saurs. Yet when he reunites with Jesse, he uncomfortably discovers she’s become all woman.

Jesse Saurs has everything she needs – financial security, a home, and a foster child who’s about to become her son. She’s spent two years breaking down Ethan’s emotional barriers, and with the final hearing scheduled just before Christmas, this year promises to make his dreams come true. When she learns Clint and his brothers are returning, she anticipates a holiday reunion that’s sure to entertain Ethan. But on the night of Clint’s return, the ‘brother’ she expected leaves her trembling after just a single hug. Even worse, Ethan makes it clear Clint's not welcome.

Will this Christmas destroy what's left of hopes and dreams, or will it give the three the gift they've all been longing for?

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