I wrote my first Christmas story, Together by Christmas, in 2002. Since then I’ve written many more, working hard to come up with the magical combination of story elements to make the perfect holiday read, including all the ingredients that readers crave at Christmas time. And in my opinion those are:
- A sweeter-than-average heroine and an honorable hero: I enjoy edgy, provocative main characters as much as the next person. But when I’m looking for a holiday read, I want to root for a woman who is truly a kind and good person, and an honorable man who is willing to put his woman’s best interests ahead of his own.
- Delicious baking and cozy settings: I always include the flavors, textures and aromas of holiday favorites like gingersnaps, hot cocoa, roasting turkey, etc. And I try to draw my readers into the sorts of cozy settings that they would love to enjoy over the holidays—rooms with wood-burning fireplaces, comfy chairs, and decorated Christmas trees.
- Small-town settings: Maybe it’s because I grew up in a rural area, but I favor stories set in ranching communities such as Marietta, Montana, for my holiday stories. And I generally include at least one major snowfall—sometimes a blizzard!—as well. Because, frankly, there is no Christmas like a white one.
- A special child: Since Christmas is for children, I almost always include a child who is in need of “rescuing” of some sort. In The Gift, I included a preschooler who needs to escape an abusive situation, while in A Bramble House Christmas, we meet a spirited boy, Scout, who has just recovered from leukemia and longs to be a normal kid again.
- Happily Ever After Ending: Think of the way you feel when the credits roll at the end of your favorite holiday movie. Whether it’s Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, or something else, I bet you have both a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. And that is how I hope to leave my readers, with each and every Christmas story I write.