Montana Christmas By Alanna Lucas

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Over the past several weeks I have been asked numerous times how do I find “stuff” to write about? For me, inspiration and ideas for my novels come in a variety of forms and media. Sometimes it is from a song I hear while driving, an image on a billboard, or even while shopping. The latter was the case with the inspiration for Once Upon A Montana Christmas.

It was my daughter’s birthday and she decided that the mall was the best place to celebrate. What was to be a simple (ha!) trip to the mall turned into a marathon shopping excursion with my teenager, little man, and grandmother. Towards the end of the day, my little man spotted a Lego store and begged to go inside for a quick browse. It took some convincing, but my daughter acquiesced when her grandmother agreed to take her to a more- and I quote- “fashionable” store, leaving my little man and I to explore to our heart’s content.

Building with Lego’s has become a favorite past time for my little man and I. Sometimes we give each other challenges, other times we collaborate and build within a specific theme. There have been several times when he decided that I needed inspiration for my writing and has surprised me with his own special creation. My favorite to date is a plane that he attached a banner to which read, “Write romance.”

As we walked around the store, he explained the various sets, added pieces to his wish list, and decided which set he would save up for next. One of the sets he was interested in was a train set. I was marveling at all the little details when all of a sudden I saw my heroine. She was standing on a dusty platform, cradling a baby, waiting for a train that would never arrive. From this simple vision a Christmas novella was born.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt:

“Oh! It’s here!” Eva heard Aunt Carol bellow from downstairs. She gathered Lily in her arms and went down to see what all the fuss was about.

Eva arrived downstairs just in time to see Hunt and Mr. Walker carry a large crate into the house and place it beside another.

Aunt Carol’s face was bright with excitement. “Oh, dearie, you are just in time.”

“Just in time for what?” Eva said as she edged closer to the crate.

“Christmas decorations, tinsel, and treats from my brother in Germany!” As Aunt Carol explained about the contents of the crates, Hunt and Mr. Walker pried them open, revealing wrapped packages and tins full of fragrant spices.

Eva sat down on the floor with a very curious Lily on her lap. When she opened a tin with the embossment of a German landscape, the scent of cloves filled the air. The next package Eva pulled contained a smooth wood block engraving of a Christmas tree.

“This is beautiful,” she said as she admired the engraving.

Eva was surprised when Hunt began to explain the significance of the wood engraving. “It’s a cookie mold. We use the molds to make decorative Lebkuchen, a type of spiced cookie, and ornaments for the Christmas tree. It has been a tradition in my family for many generations. My Oma taught my siblings and I how to make them.”

She could hear the pride in his voice. Despite his tough exterior, underneath it all was a sensitive man. Not for the first time, Eva wondered what had hardened him.

“Did you have any family traditions, dearie?”

Eva did not know how to answer that question without raising sympathy from Aunt Carol. Her family was not close and they would never dream of sitting on the floor, rummaging through crates. She could hear her stepmother now: “That is why we have servants. Let them get their hands dirty.” Looking away, she shook her head without a word, and continued on with unpacking their traditions, wishing desperately she had some of her own.

A special thank you to RomCon for having me as a guest.

One lucky reader who comments on my blog will be randomly selected to win a Kindle copy of Once Upon A Montana Christmas. Good luck!