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“My Bears in the Woods: Or, Sometimes Playing Hooky Is the Best Plan You Can Have”
Here’s a secret: Let It Snow wasn’t supposed to happen at all.
Last year at about this time, my editor at Samhain put out a call for holiday stories of any length. I thought about it for all of three point five seconds, glanced at the snarly mess that was Love Lessons at that time, and deleted the email. No time for holiday stories, not until Walter and Kelly were done.
Except Love Lessons was seriously killing me dead. I’d had this fantasy I’d finish it before GayRomLit in Albuquerque, but by mid-December I was so stuck in the middle I really did cry because I thought I’d never get out of it. Hating the book, hating that it was eating my holiday, I declared I wasn’t doing a damn thing with it until after New Year’s Day. I wasn’t to write a word until then but dissolve into reading books and making cookies and experiencing some holiday joy, goddamn it. My agent said she thought this was a good plan. So did my editor. My husband said, “About damn time.”
Three days into my respite, the three bears showed up.
I am a real sucker for snowed-in stories, as I’ve said many a time, and I kept entertaining myself with the idea of a city mouse stuck in a snowy, remote cabin with a bunch of burly men. I was going to make them all bears, but Frankie swished in, said, “Forget that,” and started telling me all about growing up in a small town, of moving to the Twin Cities and yet still missing the closeness of a smaller community.
It dawned on me I was dangerously close to writing a story, which I’d said I wasn’t doing. I tried to stop.
Naturally, the more I tried to not write, the more Frankie talked. I could see his bear, all gruff and grumpy but with his soft heart. I knew all kinds of things about the bears, the town they lived in, why they lived there…I thought, okay. I’ll just write down the opening, and then it will shut up, because I’m supposed to rest, not write. It’ll peter out after a few scenes, and either I’ll have something for later, or it will die a natural death.
Three days and twenty thousand words later, I emailed my editor. “Um, so, I think I’m writing you a Christmas story.”
What I love the most about Let It Snow was that it was in every way an escape, a respite, a good time I gave myself. I finished it I want to say in under a month, something I rarely ever do. I had it turned in before Love Lessons, and I could see at least two sequels right off the bat. I discovered I love writing Christmas stories. I wanted to do it again and again.
I’m writing Arthur’s story now (Paul is next year), and wouldn’t you know that’s going down the same way, with me ready to rend my shirt over Fever Pitch (Love Lessons #2) and escaping into Sleigh Ride like a sigh. I don’t know if it’s the bears, the snow, or Minnesota making the magic work. I just hope it doesn’t ever stop.
I hope you enjoy Frankie and Marcus, that you have as much fun reading as I did writing. And if you get snowed in this winter? I hope some bears on snowmobiles stop by.
The weather outside is frightful, but this Minnesota Northwoods cabin is getting pretty hot.
Stylist Frankie Blackburn never meant to get lost in Logan, Minnesota, but his malfunctioning GPS felt otherwise, and a record-breaking snowfall ensures he won’t be heading back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Being rescued by three sexy lumberjacks is fine as a fantasy, but in reality the biggest of the bears is awfully cranky and seems ready to gobble Frankie right up.
Marcus Gardner wasn’t always a lumberjack—once a high-powered Minneapolis lawyer, he’s come home to Logan to lick his wounds, not play with a sassy city twink who might as well have stepped directly out of his past. But as the northwinds blow and guards come down, Frankie and Marcus find they have a lot more in common than they don’t. Could the man who won’t live in the country and the man who won’t go back to the city truly find a home together? Because the longer it snows, the deeper they fall in love, and all they want for Christmas is each other.
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com