Is anyone else in shock we've reached mid-October already?? Despite the fact that we got a little snow here in Minnesota over the weekend (yikes!), I'm not ready to start thinking about Christmas quite yet. However, I have a new short story that recently released in a Christmas anthology! I was thrilled to find a home for "Return to Callidora" in Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path, and even more excited when I read the other stories in the anthology because they're fantastic! This is one of those story collections that has something for everyone with a variety of writing styles and genres - the uniting factor is that each is a Christmas story that goes beyond the typical, Hallmark-type norm. I enjoyed every one, and now I get to share them with you!
Mary, Did You Know? by Patricia Meredith
This sweet story, inspired by the famous Christmas song, imagines life leading up to and beyond the nativity from Mary's perspective. I loved the way the author worked in some quiet moments with Jesus as a baby that any parent can appreciate. Definitely a touching way to start off the Christmas season and get a new perspective on Jesus's early family life.
Those Who Stayed by Ronnell Kay Gibson
Wow, this read was intense, but so well done! A gunman terrorizes a store full of Christmas shoppers with an emotionally-packed, unexpected outcome. I'm not usually a fan of suspense, but this story really drew me in with a sympathetic protagonist and powerful message. I found it thought-provoking in a way that really made me question the way I view others and the strength of my faith.
A Rose from the Ashes by J.P.C. Allen
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this story, but I loved how it came together! A young woman sets into motion a plan to reveal the man who tried to kill her mother. The way the mystery unraveled kept me on the edge of my seat, and I really enjoyed getting to know the characters. Best of all, it had an ending that totally put a grin on my face :)
Not this Year by Sandra Merville Hart
"Not this Year" tells the all-too-relatable story of a man who must reluctantly tell his family they won't be buying Christmas presents this year due to the financial constraints of pay cuts at work. This was probably the most quintessential Christmas story of the anthology, with a beautiful illustration of the power of a family's love and the true meaning of the holiday.
Return to Callidora by Laurie Lucking (me!!)
A princess in a dragon-guarded tower awaits her rescuer. But things get complicated when the servant who brings the princess's yearly Christmas deliveries reveals his feelings for her, and the knight who slays the dragon seems to be hiding a secret. Not the typical makings of a Christmas story, perhaps, but I completely fell in love with these characters as I wrote and I hope you do, too!
Crystal Christmas by Michelle L. Levigne
I'll admit I had a little trouble following the details of this story since it's a part of the author's larger Guardians of the Time Stream series. That being said, the fun characters and cool fantasy / steampunk setting made me eager to go read her other books! The sweet romance, joyful sense of community, and happy ending made it a great way to wrap up the anthology.
So there you have it! If you're interested, you can find Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Do you have any Christmas anthology recommendations? What Christmas stories are you looking forward to this year?
Thanks for reading!