IT’S HOLIDAY MASH-UP TIME!

by Barb DeLong

Are you one of those crafty types—you know, one of those creative creatures who swoon upon entering Michael’s or Hobby Lobby? Then you’ll have noticed that, starting sometime in July, Christmas project supplies elbow Halloween frights in an ever-growing mash-up aisle after aisle, week after week. You might have to ask where the Pilgrim hats are located. Disneyland famously combines Halloween and Christmas in its IMG_1611Nightmare Before Christmas-themed Haunted Mansion open in early September. Some retailers have begun sneaking in some holly among their scary zombie masks.

Christmas in July is a popular promotional tactic used by many businesses, not the least of which are authors of holiday stories. Be sure to read Ottilia Scherschel’s recent WSR post called “Love for Christmas” for insights into the possible origins of the Christmas-in-July phenomenon. And yes, Ottilia, I confess to watching some wonderful snowy Hallmark holiday romances this past summer and loving them with temps outside in the 80’s.

So, what’s my actual point here?

My Writing Something Romantic author group missed the boat—er—sleigh this past July for our Love for Christmas holiday romance anthology promo. Here it is September and we feel perfectly justified in doing so now, especially because the paperback version of the anthology will be available in October (the e-book is already up on Amazon under Love for Christmas, a Holiday Romance Anthology). Check it out. It’s never too early to get into the spirit of the holidays! In fact, it seems rather late.

 

 

 

Love For Christmas

by Ottilia Scherschel

            Readers often ask how do you decide on a topic for your writing? For my Writing Something Romantic writer group’s short story anthology, we all agreed we wanted to write a Christmas romance, and a topic was born. We individually chose the type of romance we wanted to write. “Love For Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology” contains paranormal, historical, and romantic suspense stories. We needed a deadline for completing our stories. We agreed it should be July that month when all things Christmas happen.

            Why do people make such a big deal out of Christmas in July? That question had pestered me in the past. Now, it came home to roost, and I needed some answers.

            Christmas in July—what happens? Crafters start making their products for the December holiday. The Hallmark channel shows Christmas movies during the entire month as if frolicking in the snow were a real possibility. People have celebrationswhere Santa Claus is the guest of honor. Stores advertise Christmas in July sales. Authors write Christmas stories. But why July?

            I did some research and found two explanations that appealed to my writer’s heart. One claims that Irish tourists went on vacation in Australia’s Blue Mountains in July of 1980. The Southern Hemisphere with its reverse seasons was enjoying a snowy winter. The tourists convinced the proprietor of their local hotel to hold a party and called it “Yulefest.” The idea was a hit. The proprietor recognized an opportunity and held a Christmas Party each year in July. Local businesses jumped aboard for the moneymaking festival and the event became a tradition.

            Another explanation comes from North Carolina’s Keystone Camp, a girl’s campin Brevard, where “Christmas in July” was first celebrated on July 24th and 25th in 1933. Fannie Holt, the camp’s co-founder, put together an unusual party thatincluded carolers, a Christmas Tree, Santa Claus, presents, and fake snow made of cotton. The tradition carries on today in blistering-hot Southern summers.

            Christmas in July has other explanations, but these two appeal to me. I’m writing about them in September since “Love For Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology“will be available in paperback in October, but you can get the e-book now.

How Do Writers Measure Success-Part 2 by Jill Jaynes

How Do Writers Measure Success-Part 2 by Jill Jaynes

 

In my Part 1 Post about “How do Writers Measure Success”, I ended by asking myself:

Why am I doing this?- or What do I really want?

One of the best ways to know if you have succeeded is to have a good idea at the beginning of what the finish line looks like.

In the business world- and many would argue that writers should treat their writing as seriously as any career- one way to know is to have a business plan and set goals. That way you know when you have met them.

That’s great. I’m a writer, what is my goal?

The usual shy answer at the beginning is “to get published” which most often translates into “to convince a publisher to publish my book.”  By the way, these words have led to some of the worst contract agreements in history. Many authors have signed contracts full of clauses that are against their own best interests because they are afraid that if they raise even the tiniest question about any point of a contract offered by a Real Live Publisher, that said publisher will take their golden-goose contract and hit the road.  One newbie (future NYT) author actually naively signed over the use of her legal name to a publisher! She couldn’t use her own name on any books sold through any other publisher for YEARS.

Of course, publishers of various sorts are no longer the only path to publication. But there is still something to be said for achieving the recognition of a professional publisher as a measure of having written a “good” book. Personally, I chose to shop my first work to small press publishers rather than go to self-publishing first, because I wanted to know if my work was marketable. If someone in the business of making money off of books thought mine was worth acquiring, well, that said I was on the right track.

So, getting published is a great goal. Am I done yet? Am I a success now?

It’s a funny thing about goals, but one is almost never enough. Once you reach it, you find another one waiting for you.

So, now I’m published. And  I’m still asking “What is my goal? But now the answers start changing.

My next goal could be “I want to sell more books.” Or  “I want to get good reviews on my books.” Or maybe “I want to make the New York Times or USA Today list.”

But about now, I have some real decisions to make about what goals I’m willing to pay for. Because success, as we all know, most often comes at the price of hard work.. So I have to ask myself, what kind of success can I afford?

Tune in next time for Part 3!