Welcome to November! Yesterday was about all things spooky and now we've fallen straight into the holiday season. Christmas ads have started popping up everywhere, and it seems like every coffee chain is hyping their seasonal menu today. And while pumpkin- and peppermint-flavored food items are certainly part of my holiday indulgences, there are many other traditions my family and I have cultivated over several years.
I don't know if releasing a holiday story will ever become one of my traditions, but I have written a few over the past several years. The free reads page features the ones I wrote which are connected to my Firebend Chronicles steampunk series. The Thanksgiving and Christmas stories were freshly updated last year, so if you want some more holiday fluff, please check those out. This year, however, I'm releasing something a little meatier. Summit is now live and is considerably longer than any of my other holiday stories. I even decided to release a paperback version of this one and the image above is the cover for that. I've had the privilege to be able to visit the mountains during the holiday season and that snowy, fairy-lit landscape is truly magical. Just don't think about the traffic you'll have to fight to get there...
Fun fact: I didn't really learn how to ice skate properly until I lived in Minnesota for a few years. It's just such a part of the culture there that it's easy to pick it up and there are ample opportunities to practice. Of course, I also haven't been on my skates in a few years either. Winter traditions for my family included sledding, tubing, building snowmen, and my siblings and friends and I pelting each other with snowballs. And if you're wondering--since I live in ski country and all that--if I ski or board, I'll have to say no. My father did teach me to ski when I was a kid, and I tried to pick up snowboarding because my husband loves it, but I just never found sliding down a slippery hill on laminated boards to be fun. My fear of heights might have something to do with that, but I learned a long time ago to not torture myself with a hobby I don't enjoy. I like ice skating much better. So, Liam's experience with his snowboarding lesson and discovering his love of skating? Yeah. He got that from me. He's a much better skater than I am, though.
One of the things I love to do in the mountains during the holidays is wander down the streets of the towns, especially at night when all the lights and decorations are glittering in all directions. Hot drinks are mandatory. For several years, my family would rent a condo in downtown Keystone, where my dad, husband, and siblings could hit the slopes while my mom and I stayed warm by the fire. There are so many cute little shops and cafes at the base of the slopes there. I have lots of great memories of those trips. Breckenridge, which is the ski town I used for Summit, is gorgeous in the winter too. Artistic liberty has been taken, of course, and my Galactic Explorers stories are set in the future, so anything could have changed by then, but I tried to keep the charm of the town alive. Oh, and the crepe stand? It's real. Breck has a well-known crepe business that used to have a front range location in the mall where I used to live. That location is no longer in business, but the original still is! Do NOT click on this link if you're hungry. You've been warned. And yes, they are as delicious as they look.
One of my favorite holiday mountain trip memories was the time my family and I went skating on one of the ponds outside the large hotels in Keystone. My nephews were little and wanted everyone to pull them around on the ice and when we couldn't feel our fingers anymore, we'd go warm up by one of the fire pits. It was like a fairy tale to skate around under the clear (COLD!) night sky, with a massive amount of stars overhead and the pond surrounded by huge evergreens simply covered with lights. I made the image above with that memory in mind.
I really hope everyone enjoys this new story. Ethan gets his love of Colorado directly from me, so I filled this book with the things we both cherish about our home and the family traditions we think are worth passing down. Just thinking about these things makes me excited to see my family this year so I can get a hefty dose of the nostalgia I've been missing. Whatever your holiday traditions are, I hope you find joy in them too.
Until next time, enjoy the season, and thanks for reading.
Leah Ross is a writer and graphic designer with a penchant for loud music and sappy love stories. She believes that love should be both unconventional and unconditional, rules are negotiable, and age is nothing but a number.