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