Friday, November 3, 2017

Loving Stories and Love Stories with @NathanBurgoine

While the Husky loves the ever-cooling weather, his intrepid thrice-daily-walker (a.k.a. me) is less thrilled. I struggle with the season of wet (followed by the season of snow and ice), though he certainly helps. It's hard to begrudge the frost-covered leaves when it makes the husky run in circles of abject delight.
See? He loves it.

Me, on the other hand? I want to run and fetch a blanket, some white hot chocolate, and sit down with some short stories or novellas. Happy ones.

I think this reaction to the cooling weather mostly came from working retail for a couple of decades. The tilt of our lovely planet's axis means that pretty soon, those of us in Ottawa will be waking up in the dark, and coming home from work in the dark (though, this weekend, we get some light back in the morning for a while, at the price of early evening sunsets). Heading to a retail job in the dark, returning in the dark, and not seeing the sun until a day off? Doesn't breed love for late fall nor winter's approach.

It may sound silly, but November and December are months where my reading habits completely change. For one, I re-read things I've loved. I need to dive into waters I've already explored, and swim along with the current knowing it's going to take me somewhere nice, or just get back out of the water when I'm ready, since I already know how it ends.

On the re-read side of things, a few books of the season: A Coventry Christmas by Becky Cochrane is a book a re-read every year at some point in November, and it starts my "find the joy of the season" quest. Similarly, no December is complete without a re-read of A Christmas Carol. And it's not always about the holidays. I often dive back into the early Harry Potter books.

For another, I read shorter things almost exclusively. The same way the sun seems to fade, so goes my ability to hold attention on a longer story. I need my jolt of happy endings to come faster.

Enter short stories and novellas.

I'll re-listen to Blame it on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton (usually while baking cookies), and page my way through The Firflake by Anthony Cardno. I'm looking forward to revisiting A Little Queermas Carol by Sassafras Lowrey, too, which I discovered last year. I'll re-listen to I Heard Him Exclaim, by Z. A. Maxfield, too (usually while walking the dog). Basically, all the happy holiday stories I can find? Gimme.

I dig out my Year's Best collections, be they science fiction, romance, mystery, or otherwise, and stack them beside the bed, often reading a story a night. I find my magazines, too, and load my e-reader with short fiction and novellas I've picked up throughout the year.

Heavy on the holiday romances, of course.

Between the dog's joy in the snow, and all these small tales of happy loves, (and ginger cookies and white hot chocolate and a lot of commiseration with my husband, who feels the same way and generally adds video games to his list of coping mechanisms), I get through the dark months.

As a writer, I hadn't done a holiday romance story before. Mostly that came from working retail (I swear there's little to top that in sapping a person's love of the holidays), but since I stopped, a few ideas circled in my brain, and eventually, I sat down and wrote one. It wasn't on contract, and it wasn't for a specific call, and when it was done I realized I didn't have the slightest idea where I could give it a home.

Happily, NineStar Press was willing. So this year? This year one of those holiday novellas out there, hopefully adding a bit of light to the dark for readers like me? One of them is mine.


At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren’t a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it’s a place to start.
A year later, Nick has realized he’s not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first “Christmas for the Misfit Toys.” Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick’s tree, and a tradition—and a new family—is born.
As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick’s tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who’d share more than the holidays with him.
Handmade Holidays is available for pre-order at NineStar Press.

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