I’m currently working on a short story, The Christmas Guest, for inclusion in a holiday anthology coming out this November. For someone like me, so used to four seasons, it’s kinda weird to be writing about sleet and snow, hot cider and sugar cookies, while sitting poolside in 95+ degree heat. Oh, I know the store merchants will start moving their holiday decorations and gift ideas onto the sales floor right after the kids go back to school, but I need holiday inspiration now. Memory and imagination only go so far. I’ve had to find a way to get into the holiday spirit by artificial means.

Music is always necessary when I write, so for this one, I scroll to my meager Christmas tune playlist. Seriously, I have…like…three or four Christmas songs on my iPod. Most played among them: Steven Colbert’s Another Christmas Song. Surprised? Yeah, I didn’t think so. With lyrics like, “Chestnuts singing on a silent night, reindeer kissing by candlelight,” it’s goofy and nonsensical and perfect. For me, anyway.

And speaking of candlelight, another way I get into Christmas mode is to light scented candles: pine, pumpkin pie, winter snow. I have half a dozen holiday flavors to choose from and believe it or not, smells do help to set the right mood.

So do foods. Okay, I’m not going to bake an apple pie or roast beef any time soon. But I can grab an apple pie yogurt or a chocolate raspberry coffee and that draws my tastebuds into the holiday spirit.

One last sense to manipulate. Sight. Enter snow globe. I’ve got a beautiful Spode snow globe I received as a gift one year, complete with a delicately carved Christmas tree in full holiday regalia with fairy lights and ornaments. One good shake, and it’s winter in that tiny world. Perfect!

Authors can’t always choose the timing for a story. Sometimes, we just have to create the “write” atmosphere.

As details develop on this new project, including an official title and release date, I’ll let you know.

Until then, Happy Holidays!

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