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.

The Whys and Hows of it All

Angela MyronLast month’s meeting of OCCRWA, I met a young mother of twins. It was her first meeting, and seeing the flush of her cheeks, the sparkle in her eye as she listened to the speakers and networked with other writers, it made me smile. Because I remember, because I still do this. Because underneath the exterior of a busy, inspired, prolific writer is one giant WHY that compels us.

Why do you wake at 5 a.m. every day? Why do you take your free Saturday, exhausted from a week of work, to attend a lecture on craft, or business of writing?

And then there’s the stunned HOW that emerges when you meet another parent, and they learn that in the delicate, intimate first years of your children’s lives, you launched a career as an author…

There are as many reasons as there are people under the sun why a person would want to be an author. But it’s when the Whys and the Hows combine in a compelling narrative, that’s when you find the Way.

For each of us, the Whys and Hows and Ways are different. But it’s also the same, for all of us. It’s the touchstone we revisit when starting a new work: Why am I doing this? What matters so much that I must communicate it through story? It’s how we muscle through revising and editing the story until it’s good. It’s how we weather rejection from agents, editors, and readers.

Under the surface, there is always a driving WHY.

My Why stemmed from a need to share philosophy, varied and collected over my formative youth, a combination of Science, Buddhism, Christianity, world myth, and old world magic passed down through generations before me. At least, that’s my Why was when I started writing fiction. Today, still, I’m driven by philosophy, but it’s mixed with my interactions with my readers. The kids I meet at book fairs and school events for my Ennara series are a huge inspiration.

What’s your Why?

I’ll be signing books at the upcoming OC Book Fair. More info at: http://ocwriters.org/book-fair and  https://www.facebook.com/events/516548848506569/. See you there!

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