Happy Tuesday, friends! There’s been lots of talk this month here on InspyRomance about Christmas books…and I’m ready to board that train! I love Christmas, but, surprisingly, before this last year, I had only written one teeny tiny Christmas romance novella in all my 7 years of publishing–12 Days of Snowmen (a free download for those who subscribe to my author newsletter). Crazy, I know. Over the last year, however, I’ve written two more Christmas romances and now I’ve become a little obsessed, and I think I’d be happy adding a lot more festive love stories to my backlist (dare I say only write Christmas books?). Of those 2 stories, one released this season and one will release next year. I honestly hadn’t even planned to write Kiss Me on Christmas until I was invited by some other authors to join in a collection with the theme being Destination Christmases. Of course that got my mental wheels turning. What would a destination Christmas look like? Where would it take place? Then I kind of laughed because if that scenario–going somewhere instead of staying at home–ever presented itself to my family, it would not go over well…especially with my son. *Cue epiphany sounding bell chimes* Ladies and gentleman, a story idea was born.
Maybe you can guess who I’m going to say the inspiration for one of the key characters in Kiss Me on Christmas is. Hint: It’s not Chris Hemsworth or any other good-looking actor. Second hint: This character isn’t the hero or the heroine though he’s a main catalyst for the plot of the book. If you guessed my son, the birth point of the story if you will, then you’re correct! Now the question to answer is why would I laugh at the idea of a destination holiday and why would that sounds so terrifically horrible to an 11-year-old boy. Well, if you’re an 11-year-old boy on the autism spectrum in which change is a major trigger to anxiety and Christmas is your favorite holiday because it is so steeped in tradition, i.e. things you can count on that happen every year, then you might not think going some place new or exotic for the holiday is a good idea either.
Character: Liam Stafford
Hobbies: Watching YouTube, Minecraft, strategy board games
Dislikes: Change, soft-textured foods, wearing clothes not made from wicking material
My son, Elijah, gave me permission to use him as inspiration for the character of Liam. Both Elijah and Liam received their diagnosis of ASD (autism spectrum disorder), ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and GAD (general anxiety disorder) later than maybe a lot of other kids and are still processing what this means to the way they think and experience the world around them. While Liam and Elijah have a lot of similarities, they have a few differences as well. Both of them, however, want you to maybe come to a better understanding of neurodivergency and the challenges and successes that come from a brain that may process things a little different than typical.
Character: Kaitlyn Stafford
Marital status: Divorced
Occupation: Freelance editor, Stay-at-home-mom
Hobbies: Parents have time for hobbies?
Dislikes: Feeling helpless, judgmental people, things out of her control
So if my own son was the inspiration for the son in the story then I guess it’s no leap to say that I used myself as inspiration for Kaitlyn Stafford, Liam’s mom, the heroine. Obviously our stories are not identical. I’m happily married and have been for almost 14 years and Kaitlyn is divorced. However, the parts about being a mom and learning about a new diagnosis and navigating those waters while trying to make the world as easy to navigate as possible for her child…those parts are definitely all from me. In that aspect, this book is an #ownvoices story.
Character: Beckett Walsh
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Engineer, YouTuber
Hobbies: Hiking, Tinkering, Sitting on the back porch watching squirrels traverse the maze he built
Dislikes: Internet trolls, being recognized from his YouTube channel
I knew I wanted Beckett to be a YouTuber so I went through the list of YouTubers my son likes to watch and immediately bypassed the ones that play Minecraft and the one that lets venomous animals bite and sting him and settled on Mark Rober. Now, Beckett doesn’t really look like Mark Rober since Beckett has red hair, but I fashioned him with the same education background–engineering–and some of the same type of videos that Mark Rober likes to film–educational and engineering based. Mark Rober also has a son on the autism spectrum. But besides the engineering and YouTube similarities, any other similarities between the two are strictly coincidental.
Now that you’ve met some of the characters in Kiss Me on Christmas, here’s a little more about the book:
Single mom Kaitlyn Stafford has never considered Christmas a balancing act, but when her sister calls with the news that she’s getting married in less than two weeks—on Christmas Day—that’s exactly what the holiday looks like becoming. Helping with the out-of-state wedding will be fun. The challenge will be doing so while accommodating her neurodivergent son’s need to keep every single one of their Christmas traditions while they’re away from home. It’ll be tricky, but she can do it.
At least, that’s what she thinks before her son’s favorite YouTuber, Beckett Walsh, shows up on the scene, knocking her world off-kilter with his speaking glances and knowing smiles. How on earth is she supposed to pull off her balancing act when her world’s just tilted on its axis?
Kiss Me on Christmas can only be read in the Destination Christmas collection for ebook format but it is also available as a stand alone in paperback.
I’m happy to offer a giveaway opportunity exclusively for InspyRomance readers! For a chance to win a paperback copy of Kiss Me on Christmas (US only) (ebook of the Destination Christmas collection for international), please tell me either where you’d like to go for a destination Christmas or what your favorite Christmas tradition is.
I have never experienced a “white Christmas” , probably because I live in South Africa! So a dream Christmas would probably be a white Christmas, with my sister who lives in Massachusetts
I grew up in Florida so my Christmases were usually quite warm as well.
Lori R says
I would love to have the whole family go to Vermont and stay in an old, quaint inn. I think it would be a lot of fun.
You would definitely have to sing some song from “White Christmas”!
I love the sound of this story! My son is 7, is diagnosed on the ASD spectrum and has so much in common with your son and the character you based on him – especially the Minecraft YouTubers lol, I’m glad your hero makes different sort of videos!
My favourite Christmas tradition is carol concerts, but my son doesn’t like the loud music, so our favourite as a family is going out to see the Christmas lights in our neighbourhood, he always spots the differences and changes from last year.
Haha I kind of figured my readers wouldn’t quite fall in love with a guy who played video games all day as a job. 😂
Lisa Cobb Sabatini says
This Christmas, I am very happy to stay home in my new home. There is no place I would rather be! My favorite family Christmas tradition is our Christmas Eve walk around the neighborhood to see all of the decorations. If a child is present, an adult carries jingle bells. Toward the end of the walk, the bells are jingled and the child is informed that Santa must be near and the child had better get into bed quickly! Works every time!
Well, last year I went to TX for the first time ever at Christmas, so that was my “destination Christmas”! I had so much fun with my friends!! This year, I’ll be staying home, so starting new traditions, but keeping some of the old, too.
A mix of old and new is always nice.
Heather Dreith says
When I was 3, we went from Kansas to New Orleans for Christmas. My mom had recently lost her mother and wanted to get away. I remember a very skinny Santa Claus in the French Quarter and I remember a flaming dessert at Antoine’s but not much else. Thank you for the chance to win Kiss Me on Christmas. I have been intrigued to read several books lately with neurodivergent characters. One of my favorites was a Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice variation with an autism spectrum Mr. Darcy. The title is “Through a Different Lens” and the author is Riana Everly…if you are interested in JAFF.
Oh! Thanks for the recommendation!
Jan Olmstead says
I’d like to go with my hubby to visit our friends who live thousands of miles away.
That would be fun
I like staying home for Christmas too. We always have a nice big meal on Christmas and just enjoy the day by relaxing and being together.
That sounds nice!
Kendra Muonio says
We stay home for Christmas my mom likes to buy her grandchildren and her 2 year old and almost 4 year old matchup pajamas or similar pajamas and put them on Christmas Eve and take pictures of them. my grandma used to do that for all her grandchildren but then it got to much when she was getting older now that she passed away her children and grandchildren like doing the matching pajamas for their children and grandchildren.
I bet that makes adorable photos.
I would love to go to Japan for a destination Christmas or Disneyland
I’ve been to Disney World as a kid on Christmas. It was packed!
Kathleen Mattingly says
We have a tradition of going to a Christmas Eve service and singing Christmas carols. Your book sounds really interesting.
I love that tradition!
Lelia (Lucy) Reynolds says
I would like to go somewhere warm and sit on a beach just once for Christmas 🎄.
I guess I shouldn’t mention the beach is less than a mile away from me…’
Lori Smanski says
what a wonderful post today. thanks for sharing. I would love to go to CA and see our daughter the week between Christmas and New Years eve.
That would be so nice! We have to video call in our families since they live on the other side of the country.
Bonnie Heringer says
I can’t think of a good destination because Christmas happens wherever you are (corny, right?). Which brings me to my favorite tradition of being with family on Christmas Eve with lots of presents and lots of good food.
Oh that brings up our family debate—Christmas presents in Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Pam K. says
I like being with all my family (my kids, my siblings and their families) for Christmas so a destination Christmas probably wouldn’t be a preference for me. One of my favorite traditions is attending the Christmas Eve service at church.
Love the holidays with family
Debra Pruss says
My favorite tradition is reading Luke 2 from the Bible on Christmas Eve. We are disabled. It is challenging for us to get out. We like being home. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.
I would go to Hawaii. Right now it would be warmer than here! But It would be nice to do.
I have done a couple trips to Melbourne for Christmas as I wanted to see the Boxing day test (Cricket) which starts the day after Christmas for up to 5 days.
Abigail Harris says
Not really in the near future, but one day, I’d like to spend Christmas in Colorado.
Marina Costa says
I am from Romania. From Bucharest, the capital, where traditions are less kept. For me, a destination Christmas would mean the North of the country, Bucovina or Maramureș, in a rural guest house, where all the Christmas related traditions are kept (and where usually it snows on Christmas).
Here are illustrated traditions in English http://visitingbucovina.ro/cjsuceava-fisiere/2019/07/2016_craciun_en_fara.pdf
My personal favourite tradition that I always keep (well, even if adapted a little) is not for Christmas, but for New Year: a pie is baked with a coin inside, to be eaten after midnight. It has to be cut in as many pieces as people around the table, plus one for the home (household? Which is correct?). The one who finds the coin is the luckiest in the new year. The piece for the home is eaten by the household dwellers together and if the coin is there, the prosperity is inside the home.
Teresa Warner says
We always open one present up on Christmas Eve. It’s usually something we can do that night such as books , games or movies!
Denise Turner says
Favorite Christmas tradition is having Chinese Hot pot on Christmas Eve.