I've had the holiday season in a few of my books; but so far, only one (a contemporary western) is centered around the Christmas season. A Montana Christmas is set on a working ranch with the emphasis on hoping to heal a family.
I liked the idea of writing a Christmas story that was a slice of life story as much or more than a romance. It does carry on the love story in From Here to There, serving as a kind of epilogue as it's set several years later. At its center is love, which is what the season is about. I also thought that while Christmas is considered a time of magic and goodness, for some, it's a time of stress and unmet expectations. So take two families and see if the Christmas season can bring together those who have chosen to be apart for reasons that once made sense. Do they still?
It was rewarding to set this story on a ranch since I live the ranch life and understand the work doesn't stop because of a holiday-- not even such an important one as Christmas. Setting it in a state I love being, Montana, but where I have never spent a Christmas added to the enjoyment of immersing myself in the beauty of the season.
The characters in this novella are good people, with true Christian values, but not actually part of any church at this point-- not that it is ruled out for the future. Part of what they do is something I know many choose when not traditionally religious-- they also celebrate the Solstice with some ancient, Celtic traditions. Bringing into the family both the Solstice and Christmas is done by many as well as adding in Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and whatever other traditions were part of their growing up.
Joining together those who have had problems in the past doesn't always work well in any season-- let alone at a time of the year when there are already a lot of stresses and expectations. So all of that is part of A Montana Christmas, which follows the ranch family in From Here to There. I liked seeing how these characters, who I'd come to love, were doing a few years down the road. Writing it also suggested a future story for the family which I have yet to write because this was the year of historic romances but next year, it's in my plan.
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