25 Christmas Eves: A Retrospective

I wanted to say a few parting words about this series, both because I'm proud of it and because it was a pretty intense experience. I don't have exact notes on this, but this definitely felt like the vast majority of time I devoted to the blog this year.

By my calculations, I wrote more than 55,000 words of fiction for the blog this year. The total word count for the stories published is actually a little more (just shy of 58,500), but three of these stories were started last year, then finished and published this year. If you're interested, those were "Mistletoe", "One Night in Bethlehem", and "Tribes of Gypsies". Actually, Mistletoe's inclusion on that list is misleading: I had a version started but completely rewrote it from scratch. The first third of "One Night in Bethlehem" was already done and was basically unchanged. "Tribes of Gypsies" gets complicated. I had about a quarter of it done, but that got overhauled (actually, that piece has been written and re-written more times than I can remember: I spent a lot of time last December trying to get it to work).

My favorite stories are "25 Christmas Eves" (the title piece), "Department of Letters", "Last Minute", "Milk, Cookies, Whiskey", "The Christmas Thief", and "Tribes of Gypsies." Include last years' stories, and you can add "Sleigh" and "He Came Down the Chimney" to that list. There aren't as many I'm embarrassed about as I expected to have when I started , but I think the weakest are "Mistletoe" and "Christmas Conquers the Universe".

Like I promised in my intro, I put up twenty-two stories this year. The title story was carved into four chunks, so fiction was, as promised, posted every day. The stories were a pretty even mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. On average, the stories aren't as dark as the ones I did in past years, though there are still a handful of bleak, pessimistic tales ("Wings in the Night", "A Ring", and "The Perfect Gift" are about as dark as anything I've done for this blog).

Along with the three Christmas Eve stories published last year, this puts us at exactly twenty-five stories about Christmas Eve posted over two years. And yes, that was intentional. The kernel for this idea started last year, when I'd realized that all the stories I was working took place on Christmas Eve or could be easily adjusted to do so (there's no reason Mistletoe had to be set on Christmas as opposed to a week before, but it works just as well). The prior year, I'd written five stories and released them as an e-book on Christmas Day. I thought it might be fun to do so again, and what better thematic tie than having them all be about Christmas Eve.

Thus was born the idea for Five Christmas Eves: five tales about the day before Christmas. But things didn't pan out. Mistletoe wasn't coming together, and my ideas for "Tribes of Gypsies" (then titled "Chasers of a Star") were all over the board. I was busy and a little overwhelmed. Plus, I'd started late in the year. By the time Christmas rolled around, I only had three stories posted. I was too tired to even finish "One Night in Bethlehem."

Instead of forcing myself to rush through a few more stories, I decided to hold off and write them next year. I'd do two stories in 2012, which I'd combine with the three from 2011 and publish as an e-book. Perfect.

Then things got... interesting. I moved across the country and started working from home. In New York, I'd been spending two hours a day commuting: suddenly I had that time back. I was working on a novel in the early fall, and I hit a wall. Nothing impassable, but I decided I needed a break. I started thinking ahead to Christmas, and I got some ideas for my unfinished stories. Then I started getting more ideas. Five Christmas Eves became ten. But I had even more ideas I wanted to explore.

At about that time, I realized if I wanted to do this right, I really needed twenty-five, one for each day in December leading up to Christmas. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

So. Where's the e-book? Well, you're going to have to wait for that. We edited and assembled "A Man of Snow" that first year in about a week, and it was a hell of a lot of work. Most of that was done by Lindsay, by the way, who was between jobs at the time. Well... she's working now. In addition, this is a hell of a lot longer than the first collection. All told, this will clock in at 65,000 words; it isn't getting assembled overnight. But we'll have it eventually. Until then, you can read the stories right here on Mainlining Christmas. Hell, we even set up this handy landing page to make it easier for you.

At this point, I am absolutely not planning on doing anything remotely similar to this next year, but if you'd asked me in 2011 if I'd be posting 22 stories in 2012, I'd have laughed at you... so I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Oh, and in case anyone was curious, I made all the intro-art pieces myself. They were done in Photoshop from scratch. I thought some of them turned out pretty well. Others... not so much. But, hey - I've been busy!

For those of you who stuck with this - or even just read a story or two here and there - thanks for taking the time. I hope you enjoyed what you came across!


  1. I'm going to get a bit exposed and embarrassingly un-ironic for a moment here. Reading through these stories this year has been really amazing. More than that; it's been transformative. I'm not really exaggerating when I say you've been something of a mentor to me in the past, from nearly the beginning of our relationship. Wow, that feels weird saying that. Anyway, these stories are fantastic. You have become a very good writer, just from an execution standpoint. You've always been uniquely creative in a way very few people are. I remember some of your writing ten years ago, and it was pretty good, but you are a completely different writer than you were then. Your prose is solid and flawless in the mild sense of that word, your plot construction is elegant, your pacing is consistently engaging, and your dialogue is realistic and compelling. Plus, you're very good at voice.

    Reading these, and thinking about them way too much, has really changed my perspective on short stories. I think I have a much better idea how to go about them from my own direction, and the last few weeks have been creatively exciting for me personally. I pretty much owe that entirely to you.

    So yeah, well done. Mainlining Christmas has been the highlight of my holidays since it started, and 25 Christmas Eves has really been something special.

    1. Thanks: that means a lot to me. I'd love to see some of your fiction, when you're ready to share it.

  2. Also, Christmas Conquers the Universe was one of my favorites.

    Even though it didn't have a plot.


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