Christmas Comes Early With a St. John Novella

stjohn2 Riders and Readers, please welcome a truly wonderful story teller—Cheryl St. John.

I just love writing novellas for the Christmas anthologies and am always tickled when my editor invites me to participate. I’d wanted to do a train story for a long time, so when I got the call for a historical western anthology, I immediately started thinking about a train. Some stories are meant for novellas and others have enough plot for a full length book. A wise writer knows which is which. I often come up with a story idea and then tuck it away for the future, because the premise won’t sustain a full-length novel.

This time I didn’t go to those stored ideas, I sat down and brainstormed new characters. Characters always come first. Once they’re established, I know what they’ll do and how the plot will come together.

Jonah had a few other names in the process—names are a number one priority for my creative process. Without the perfect names I can’t move forward. I considered and dismissed Cole McAdam, Grady Neville, Ivan Kingsley and Jeremiah Thorpe among others. But Jonah Cavanaugh won out. He sounds like a duty-bound U.S. Marshal, doesn’t he? He’s inflexible, honorable, protective and always on the lookout for danger. With Jonah it’s all about duty.

Meredith was always Meredith. Her name came to me with the story premise, and she was the easiest to flesh out. Born into a well-to-do family with a railroad tycoon father, Meredith is living up to expectations. She doesn’t like to feel ordinary. Nothing is grand enough for her; she loves drama, and she has an adventurous spirit. She’s competent, bossy, headstrong and used to getting her own way. But while Meredith is fearless, she hides her lack of confidence regarding her true worth.

Now to get these two together.

Christmas = snow.

A few days before Christmas Jonah is protecting a gold shipment on a train pulling the Abbott’s luxury Pullman. When he spots a notorious bandit aboard, he knows there’s trouble coming, so he alerts the engineer and uncouples the last three cars, stranding the mail car, the luggage car—and the Pullman in a blizzard.

Little does he suspect the railroad heiress is traveling alone on her way to a Christmas Eve party in Denver, where her suitor will propose. Now, not only does he have a strongbox filled with gold to protect, but a pampered female—and before the day’s out—two stowaway orphans.

stjohn1 Snowflakes and Stetsons Anthology
“A Magical Gift at Christmas”
Harlequin Historicals
, October 2011

Got 2 minutes for a really cool book trailer?

Bound by duty, snared by love

I had so much fun writing this story about the true meaning of Christmas and the promise of love that I believe it’s one of my favorites.

Among my favorites by other authors are Mary Balough’s Christmas anthologies. Many readers tell me that the novellas are their favorite Christmas reads and they buy them all. Are you one of those readers?

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About Kathleen Eagle

Kathleen Eagle is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty novels.
This entry was posted in Christmas story, novella, Western Romance and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Christmas Comes Early With a St. John Novella

  1. Liz Flaherty says:

    Cheryl, Mary Balogh, Carla Kelly, and Susan Kay Law have written my favorite Christmas novellas, but I read them all, just like so many others, so it doesn’t seem fair to pick favorites. I’m looking forward to this one!

  2. loisgreiman says:

    Thanks for joining us, Cheryl. The anthology looks great. But do we really have to think about Christmas already?

  3. Laurie G says:

    I dislike winter especially the cold and snow . However, I like everything associated with Christmas! I’m a big fan of anthologies… quick reads and an easy way to read new author’s work. Christmas is a favorite theme. Nora Robert’s had one called Jingle All the Way. Jill Shalvis had a few… Merry Christmas, Baby was one of them, Alison Kent had Jingle Bell Rock, I remember Santa Baby with Lori Foster, Comfort & Joy with Fern Michaels. I read Silhouette Christmab 90, 92 etc and Harlequin Christmas books. NASCAR has 3 Holiday editions with Pamela Britton and Gina Wilkens. Debbie Macomber , Sherryl Woods and Robin Carr had That Holiday Feeling, Red Hot Santa with Cherry Adair and of course Mary Balough in Christmas Keepsakes with Nicola Cornick. One Christmas Story with your friends,Carol Finch, Linda Banning and Carolyn Davidson was also very good.

    Best wishes for your NY Times bestseller Snowflakes and Stetsons! I have to buy this book!!

  4. Hi Liz! I have to try your other recommendations–I mean you do have excellent taste in reading material. lol

    Hello, Lois! Great to “see” you, you sweet thing.

    Okay, Laurie, you are a SERIOUS Christmas story reader. Oh my goodness. And thank you for the NYT projection! Smooches.

  5. CateS says:

    Yikes, according to Laurie G — I’ve missed some great anthologies!!!! Dang, I got to search for those!! Congrats on your Snowflakes & Stetsons…

  6. Leanne Banks says:

    Welcome Cheryl!! I LOVE Christmas anthologies and your story sounds wonderful! It’s so much easier to squeeze in a short read during the busy season and reading Christmas stories can really help me from becoming a grouch from all the busy-ness!:) xo, Leanne Banks

  7. Definitely will be in my BN cart to purchase! I love Christmas stories, as you know. Can hardly wait to read it. Many Texas hugs, Phyliss

  8. cindygerard says:

    Hi Cheryl. Gosh, it’s been ages since I’ve seen you. So happy you joined us on the ‘vert today! And your trailer was fantastic! The story sounds like so much fun.. congratulations.

  9. readergirl10 says:

    I have never read a novella. but would love to try one but I don’t know where to start.

  10. kylie brant says:

    Welcome, Cheryl! Your novella sounds wonderful! I find writing short to be a special sort of challenge. You think it would be easier because of the length, but as you noted, it takes some planning to figure out how much plot will fit into the shorter length. Good luck with the anthology!

  11. I love to add Christmas novella collections to gift packages, especially for teachers, Girls Scout leaders, gymnastics coach and like that. And don’t forget school secretaries. We have one who loves Romance. I’ve given them with sweets for a hostess gift. This one is going in with my regular Amazon order. Great cover! Imagine it with some old fashioned stick candy and a bow.

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