Project Update: The Christmas Photograph

Christmas Light Post


For the past few weeks, I’ve taken a short sabbatical from writing PAUSE MORE. RUSH LESS. I’ve enjoyed some vacation time with my family and finished the second self-edit of The Christmas Photograph.

The Christmas Photograph is a 40,000-word novella (mini-novel) that tells a story of restoration between a grandfather, father, and grandson after a major family tragedy. It speaks to the importance of “verbally expressing” our love to our loved ones. Travis Cain, 39, (the grandson) is the storyteller and introduces this notion early in the story when he asks:

“Strange, isn’t it, that sometimes we hurt
people most by the things we never said?”

Travis witnesses the emotional chasm between his father and grandfather most of his life because of a horrendous accident that occurs when his father (Marcus Cain) is a young boy of ten on Christmas day, 1960. For Marcus, his best and worst Christmas was the same day.

The novella focuses on a lost and forgotten Christmas photograph taken fifty-eight years ago on that fateful Christmas day. Will it ever be found? Does it really exist? Does the photograph possess the power to unite Travis’ father and grandfather this Christmas—before Alzheimer’s erases his grandfather’s memory?

This heartwarming story introduces the concept of granting “the blessing” to those we love. Most sons crave the blessing of their fathers. The blessing is “parental approval, affection, and value.”

Beautiful Bretton Woods, New Hampshire is the setting for the book. The White Mountains and Mount Washington bound this village of 820 people. The spectacular Presidential Mountain range is nearby. This stunning real-life winter/Christmas village is a setting worthy of a Hallmark movie.

How Has Writing This Book Affected Me?
Last week, when I edited the ending of this book, I’ll admit a few tears escaped as the story’s message stirred my soul. Poet Robert Frost once said:

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”

I believe this story will deliver both tears and surprise.

This novella speaks to the love between fathers and sons—and through the main character, Travis Cain, the growing love of a father for his eight-year-old daughter.

With Father’s Day just a week behind us, this story rekindled my feelings for my father. Though our relationship wasn’t ever strained, it made me reflect on the “unspoken words” that we could have, and should have, said more often.

Another benefit of writing this story was reviving my love for photography. I conducted extensive research on vintage cameras and how to develop 35mm film in a darkroom. As an amateur photographer, I have developed many rolls of film and currently have a small collection of vintage cameras—compared to the vast collection from the 1920s through the 1980s mentioned in this story. My interest in photography preceded my passion for writing.

I look forward to seeing where this story lands—and how it resonates with readers during the Christmas season. At the end of the day, one benefit of being an author is that we are not only blessed for having published a book, but also for just having written it.

Next Steps
I will soon submit the completed story to my literary agent so he can submit it to my current publisher for consideration.

A week ago, Richard Paul Evans, author of The Christmas Box and forty-five consecutive best-sellers agreed to endorse The Christmas Photograph and will approve the use of an Author-To-Watch Gold Medallion for the front cover.


Why is it so hard for fathers to say to their sons, “I love you?” Why is it so difficult for sons to say the same thing to their fathers? Was the main character, Travis Cain, in The Christmas Photograph right when he said, “Strange, isn’t it, that sometimes we hurt people most by the things we never said?” Is there someone in your life that you need to express how you feel about them—verbally?



Other Updates:

The Desert Between Us has completed all “developmental edits” and will move on to the “copy line edit” phase this summer. After the final edits, the cover design will begin, followed by proofreading, marketing plan development, and finally book launch on April 23, 2024. (Publishing a novel is an eighteen-month process.)
My publisher has asked me to prepare an elevator pitch for a sequel to The Desert Between Us.
Currently developing new ideas for future novels, building my social media platform, securing more endorsements, writing Pause More. Rush Less. issues, writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, and enjoying the summer.


Photo by Aaron Burden on

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