How my story became a book

Many of you have asked me how THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS in SKI COUNTRY became a book.

I give all the credit to my daughter and son. She inspired me to write it and he inspired me to publish it. Let me tell you how. 

Fourteen years ago, it was my daughter's first Christmas. 

OUr daughter's first visit with Santa. At Seven Months old, she wasn't quite sure who this guy was.

I wanted her to have a story that would remind her of Christmas in the mountains. Full of snow, and icicles, towering evergreen trees, and big, fluffy dogs. It was my present to her.

On that first Christmas Eve, my husband and I dressed her in soft, footie pjs and cuddled with her in front of the crackling fire. We hugged her tight. We marveled at the present we had already received for Christmas. And I read my story. 

I want to tell you that she loved it. That she cooed and smiled and gave me a five star review. But that didn't happen. She listened. She wiggled. And then she fell asleep. 

Yep. Sound asleep. Softly breathing in and out, way before I whispered the ending in my deepest Santa voice, "Merry Christmas, Ski County! You'll have snow by first light."

I didn't take offense. I only smiled. I was so happy the rhyme was soothing enough to send her off into a dreamland of sugarplums and cheerios.

We have repeated that night every Christmas Eve since then. Dress in cozy pjs, light a fire, snuggle together, and read my story. 

Over the years, there have been a few changes. We moved to a new house. We welcomed a new dog. And four years later, our son arrived.

He was a bit older than our daughter when I read him my story on his first Christmas Eve. But he still fell asleep. 

Over the years, we moved again, said a sad goodbye to some of our animals and a bright welcome to others. But it's still the same basic tradition. We slip into soft pjs, put out eggnog and cookies and carrots; and my husband and two kids nestle in close while I read my story. 

In 2012, a publisher asked me if I had any Christmas stories. I honestly didn't know what to say. I had held my story so close for so long that I had never shared it with anyone but my husband and kids. It was our family's tradition. 

I was afraid to let it go.

But then I heard my son's fearless, little voice in my head asking me the same question he asked me every Christmas eve after I would read my story. "Mama, when are you going to get that published? I know other kids would love it!" And I knew my answer.

I was lucky enough to work directly with Dana Schlingman, a very talented illustrator, who brought my story to life through her paintings. As she watercolored each and every page, she carefully added little details from my family. (That's for another post. We can play "Where are The Browns?")

Thanks to Linda and Mira over at Westcliffe/ Big Earth Publishing, my story was published last November. And that Christmas Eve my family had another change to our yearly tradition. We still put on our Christmas jammies. We still put out eggnog and cookies and carrots for Santa and his team. And we still snuggled together.

But this time, I read my story as a living, breathing BOOK. 

What are some of your most personal family traditions?

BOOKSuzanne Brown