Winter Things: the Compositions

The initial idea for Winter Things came to me when I was reading the young adult holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins and featuring some of my favorite YA authors like Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl) and Ally Carter (The Gallagher Girls series). It reminded me of the Christmas short stories I have written on and off over the years. Christmas tends to inspire me to take a break from whatever I’m working on and explore some sort of little holiday love story or new interpretation of the biblical Christmas story. When digging through my personal writing archives for stories to use for this project, I found Christmas short stories from as far back as 2007.

I put together this collection in about a month, so the biggest deciding factor was which stories I felt I could throw together in that time period, but ultimately I wanted a mix of old stories and a few new ones. In the end I narrowed it down to five. Here is a little background on each one:

  1. Christmas & Chill: I wrote this one last year after seeing Nathan Sykes in concert unexpectedly. If you’ve never heard him sing, do a quick Youtube search right now. He has the most amazing voice. He also used to date Ariana Grande, who has a great collection of modern Christmas music out. Her Christmas stuff, specifically “Last Christmas” and “Santa Tell Me” inspired the version of Christmas & Chill I posted last year as fanfiction. I think this new version serves as a nice intro to the collection. It also seems only fair that I start with a tribute to Ari, as her Christmas material helped supply a lot of titles for the anthology.
  2. Merry Un-Exmas: When I was coming up with the concept for the collection, I had just discovered Little Mix’s single “Shout Out to My Ex,” which made me wanna do an epic girl power breakup story. This story is the result of that effort. It was a lot of fun to write and hopefully will be just as fun to read. It was heavily influenced by Little Mix, especially their “Hair” music video.
  3. Method Acting: This story is the oldest in the collection. I wrote the original version in 2009 during my first high school drama production, an original Christmas musical called “3rd Time’s a Charm.” The story kicked off a tradition of me writing short stories that correlated with every show I was in. It only last a few more shows, but it was a fun way to entertain me and my friends backstage. I included this story in the anthology because I thought the concept was really fun and because theater was always a really big part of my Christmas experience, growing up in church choirs and school drama ministries.
  4. Love is Everything: When I got the idea for this anthology, I was standing inside a small church in Lone Pine, California. One of the first story ideas that came to me during that brainstorming session (in-between worship songs and sermon notes) was the idea of a modern Mary and Joseph visiting a small church with a new pastor. I thought about all the ways Mary and Joseph were social pariahs in their day and tried to come up with a modern equivalent. I then did my best to logically play out how a modern church community might react to them. Once this story became controversial in my own mind, I tried to give up on it but church sermon after church sermon made it clear that it was something I needed to write. I think the message of the story is important and I hope people can take positive things away from it, even if they don’t agree with the position I took.
  5. Christmas in the City: As a native Southern Californian, one of my biggest dreams is to experience various types of Christmases. One of the original story ideas for the collection was a Tennessee Christmas story, but ultimately that idea proved too underdeveloped to be ready in time. The story I chose instead fulfills my fantasy of a city Christmas. It also features some characters I’ve been writing for a few years now as part of a modern Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys series I hope to get published some day. While I’m waiting for all that to pan out, I thought it would be fun to introduce people to these characters in a Christmas-themed short story. Hopefully readers will grow to love Nina, Ethan, Lewis and Sage as much as I do.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed these little snippets into my creative writing process. I cannot wait for you all to read them in a few days! In the meantime, please comment and let me know which story you’re most excited for.

Check back the rest of blogmas this week for more info on the cover shoot! While you’re waiting, here are some of the outfits I tried on while figuring out what to wear for the cover. What did I decide on? Stay tuned to find out!

xoxo, CMB

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Winter Things: the Cover

I am by nature a very visual person. I knew when I decided to self-publish “Winter Things” that the cover was going to be really important to me. I didn’t want to just choose some stock image. I wanted it to be an image that captured the way the Christmas season made me feel and the overall feel of this anthology. 

For me, Christmastime is the most romantic time of year, which is why most of the stories in the anthology revolve around a love story of some kind. I wanted the cover to reflect that. I considered all sorts of things from having someone draw a cover to asking one of the real-life couples I knew to pose for the cover. 

In the end, however, I realized it was really important for me to have a multi-ethnic couple on the cover of my book. The greatest part about making independent art is the ability to create your own rules. Hopefully someday I will be working with a publishing company that will have all sort of input on what goes inside my book and what it looks like on the outside, but for now, I am my own boss. For me, it was important that there wasn’t some “generic” white couple on the cover if for no other reason than because “generic couple” somehow automatically means all white and probably blonde. I’d like to do what I can to change that stereotype or at least challenge it.

Once I had landed on a general concept for the cover, I needed to find someone to pose for it. That then led me to rack my brain for any non-white models I knew. I came up blank, which is when I realized that I had to be the representation I was seeking. So no, the decision to put myself on the cover was not because I’m just that full of myself. It’s because I think it’s important to see girls like me on the cover of books. And I am so excited for a Christmas romance book to be out in the Kindle universe with a multi-racial couple on the front.

The search then began for a male model and a photographer. Spoiler alert: I found them and they were both amazing!

More on the cover team later this week along with some fun BTS from the cover shoot! In the meantime, here’s a picture of the dream team to tie you over.

Stay tuned…

xoxo, CMB

Winter Things: the ConceptĀ 

So, if you guys have noticed, usually when I go a long time without working on a project, I tend to go a little crazy and create (or attempt) something big and ambitious. Well, this time my burst of creativity resulted in my first self-published e-book! It is called “Winter Things” and it is an anthology of holiday-themed short stories I written over the years. I am so excited for you all to read it.

I am also so grateful to my wonderful team for helping me put it all together and cannot wait to share the journey with you guys over the next few days.

Stay tuned this week for more on the story of the book’s evolution from idea to actuality! Including, but not limited to, behind the scenes information on the cover shoot, teasers for each short story in the collection, and how my vision for the cover came to life! This wonderful week of blogmas will of course culminate with the publication of “Winter Things: a holiday anthology” on Christmas Eve.

Look forward to sharing this journey with you all!

In the meantime, check out the Ariana Grande song that inspired the title!

xoxo, CMB