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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!