The tree's been lit. The first batch of cookies has been baked. I'm humming "Winter Wonderland" (because I can never remember the words).
But here's how you can really tell I've got the Christmas spirit: I'm playing Santa Claus. Ho ho ho, gifts for one and all! So what if it's the same gift for everyone? You see any elf slave labor around here?
I do have a magical helper, though. It's called Amazon and it's helping me give away my book Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime. Just click here before Saturday, December 1, and (assuming you have an Amazon account) you can download the book for free. In it, you'll find nine holiday-themed crime stories originally published in Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Reviewer Elizabeth A. White wrote about how much she enjoyed the collection here, and the lady has taste. (How do I know she has taste? Because she enjoyed Naughty, of course.)
Is this some kind of promotional campaign/marketing gimmick aimed at boosting the book's visibility at the start of the holiday season? Nope (though a better salesman than I -- which is all of them -- might think that wasn't a bad idea). Really and truly, I'm just doing this because I can.
Have you been a good little boy or girl this year? Well, I don't care! You get the book no matter what! That's the kind of Santa I am. You won't get any creepy "He sees you when you're sleeping..." stuff from me. Just follow the link, download the book and (if you're so inclined) enjoy!
UPDATE: Well, the big Naughty giveaway is over, and the book's back to $2.99. So how'd I do as an Amazon Santa? Not too shabby, I think. More than 2,600 people downloaded the book. Most of them were in the U.S., but there were hundreds in the U.K. and Germany and a smattering in Japan, Italy and elsewhere, as well. So while I can't compete with a guy who brings goodies to every kid in every country (or so his publicity machine would have you believe), I did alright. And FYI, Naughty is still a freebie for some folks: It'll be in Amazon's KDP Select program until December 11, so if you're an Amazon Prime member you can borrow the book for zero dollars and zilch cents. Tell 'em Santa Steve sent you!