Holiday Express

One questions authors are frequently asked is “where do you get your inspiration?”

My typical answer is “EVERYWHERE!”

It’s true. I find ideas for stories while flipping through magazine ads, standing in line at the grocery store, wandering through the mall (when we used to wander through the mall), even when I’m doing super exciting things like folding laundry.

But my favorite place to dream up new story ideas is when I’m on vacation with Captain Cavedweller. Ideas for some of my favorite stories have popped into my head while we were driving, exploring, or at a museum.

Such was the case two years ago when Captain Cavedweller and I were making the long, long drive all the way through Nevada.

On a whim, we decided to stop at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely, Nevada.

The museum is a national historic landmark, but it’s also an operating historical railroad. The brochure you’re given when you pay your admission says: “It’s gritty. It’s dirty. It smells of coal smoke, creosote, and sweat…” It is not an exaggeration.

But the museum complex consists of a full-service rail yard encompassing 56 acres with 63 buildings, shops, and structures that served the historic copper mining region of Central Nevada for more than a century. Original railway locomotives, rolling stock, track, a passenger station includes three steam locomotives (two that are operational), six diesel locomotives, and more than 60 pieces of historic equipment.

I loved it! You can walk into the engine house and watch the mechanics working on train repairs. Right after I snapped this photo, a guy popped up in the smokestack. It’s was fascinating to wander around and see everything up close. It really put everything into perspective.

Several trains on display. Some of them were open for guests to climb on and look around.

I loved this train. It made me think of the Polar Express.

In 1910, the railroad needed a new locomotive to pull the passenger train on a daily round-trip from Ely to Cobre, hauling passengers, mail, and express shipments. Number 40 was purchased from the Baldwin Locomotive Works for a cost of $13,139. The train entered scheduled service with a speed of 40 miles per hour pulling a railway post office/baggage car and a first-class coach, both of which are still in service at the museum. When the locomotive was no longer needed after World War II, #40 was put on the list to be scrapped. Because the crews loved the engine, it mysteriously disappeared whenever someone in authority came looking for it. Because of the ghost-like movements of the engine, it became known as “The Ghost Train.”  Thanks to the efforts of the crews, the train survived and still operates today, pulling passengers along the track.

And this train became the inspiration for Hope, a steam engine that travels though a whole new holiday series I’m releasing soon!



Another fun thing to see was this rotary snow plow. After a massive snow storm halted operations in 1907, the railway purchase a snow plow. The rotary blade could slice through drifts of snow and keep the track operation. A steam boiler resides inside a wooden body, but instead of turning the wheels on tracks like a regular locomotive, this one turns the massive blade. It could take up to three engines to push the plow through the snow.


In addition to seeing the locomotives, there were several displays with interesting historical items and information. The velocipede was invented by George S. Scheffield in 1877. This particular one was used to inspect the track from Ely to Kimberly and McGill daily. It is operated by pushing and pulling the handles while pushing on the pedals. Weighing only 140 pounds, it could be moved off the track by one person. This velocipede was rebuilt by Rick’s Restoration and featured on the History Channel program American Restoration. There were several pieces of equipment Rick’s Restoration had restored.

There’s also a great gift shop at the museum. They had dirty cat ornaments. I wish I’d taken a photo of the cat, but somehow failed to snag one. When we were in the engine house looking at the trains, a cat that was absolutely filthy wandered up to us and started rubbing on CC’s legs and purring. He kept the cat happy and purring for a while with some good scratches behind the ears then we went back to exploring. When we went to the gift shop and saw the ornaments, we mentioned meeting the cat. The volunteer working in the gift shop gave us a surprised look, then explained that most people don’t see the cat because it usually hides from visitors. We felt pretty special to have received personalized attention from their resident star feline.

Back to the inspiration: Within moments of arriving at the depot, I started thinking about an idea for a mail-order bride story. The more we saw at the museum, the more ideas that popped around in my head. By the time we left, I knew it wasn’t going to be just one book, but an entire series. One that involved a steam engine named Hope, a family tied to the railroad, and a series that spanned many generations. As we drove onward on our trip, we spent the next several hours brainstorming and jotting down pages and pages of notes which have turned into four full-length sweet romances that start in 1884 and conclude with a modern day romance.

The first book in my Holiday Express series will release November 30! I can’t wait for you to read it! And right now, I have it on sale for a special pre-order price of just 99 cents!


Holiday Express

Four generations discover the wonder of the season and the magic of one very special train in these sweet holiday romances.

Available on Amazon

Aren’t the covers glorious? The amazing Josephine Blake from Covers and Cupcakes waved her magic wand and created them for me.


Holiday Hope

Release Date: November 30

Pre-order Price: 99 cents

 Infuse your holidays with hope and humor in this sweet western romance 

Left alone in the world after losing her parents, Cora Lee Schuster travels across the country to the newly-established town of Holiday, Oregon, to become a mail-order bride. She arrives in town to be greeted by her future father-in-law with her betrothed nowhere to be found. When it becomes obvious her reluctant groom-to-be has no intention of showing up at the family ranch where she’s staying, Cora Lee must decide if she’ll follow her head or heart.

Jace Coleman has loved trains since the first time he rode on one as a boy. Now, he spends his days as an engineer driving the Holiday Express line on a new engine named Hope. When a mail-order bride turns up at his father’s ranch to wed his brother, Jace has an idea his meddling father has tried his hand at matchmaking. The longer Cora Lee stays at the ranch, the harder Jace works to keep from falling for his brother’s intended bride.

Will Jace and Cora Lee discover the gift of hope? Find out in this sweet holiday romance full of memorable characters, warmth, and Christmas cheer.

Holiday Hope is the first book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.


Holiday Heart

Release Date: December 7

Pre-order Price: $3.99

 Hearts and humor collide in this sweet holiday romance

Zach Coleman spent his childhood dreaming about trains, and now he’s one of the repairmen at the Holiday engine house who keeps them chugging down the tracks. Life couldn’t get any sweeter, or so he convinces himself, until he’s on his way home from work and saves a woman from getting hit by a wagon. How was he to know that one, brief encounter would upend his world?

Lorna Lennox grew up with the best of everything in life. Her father, a railroad tycoon, has made sure of it. Now that he’s moved her into a new house in a remote Oregon location, Lorna wonders if she’ll fit into the small community. She’s barely arrived in the town of Holiday when an adventure leaves her at the mercy of a handsome stranger. One she finds impossible to forget.

Will the holidays present a chance for hearts to entwine? Find out in this sweet holiday romance rich with history, humor, and the joys of Christmas

Holiday Heart is the second book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.


Holiday Home

Release Date: December 14

Pre-order Price: $3.99

 A winning combination of romance, humor, and history

 Widow Britta Webster can hardly remember life before her village was overrun with German soldiers during World War II. All she wants is to live a peaceful existence and raise her child. But she will do anything to protect Joshua, even if it means begging a stranger to take her to America where her son will have a safe place to call home.

Honor, grace, and duty are the driving forces behind Bryce Coleman’s approach to life, even as he strives to survive in war-torn France. Severely wounded, he’s left by his comrade in the cellar of a woman who clearly wants nothing to do with him. When she pleads with him for her son’s future, Bryce feels bound by an obligation to the widow for saving his life.

Will a burdensome agreement turn to love when hearts come home to Holiday? Find out in his sweet historical romance packed with vintage charm, nostalgia, and the wonder of Christmas.

Holiday Home is the third book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.


Holiday Love

Release Date: December 21

Pre-order Price: $3.99

 Will delving into the past kindle a forever love?

Kali Hoyt loves old things. Old books. Old dishes. Old cars. Old love stories. Hired as the director of the newly-formed preservation society for the town of Holiday, she can’t wait to begin digging into the history of a place she enjoyed visiting during her childhood summers. When her cousin introduces her to his best friend, Kali has no idea the grease-covered redneck will have such a monumental influence on her future.

Trace Coleman has spent his life being groomed to take over his family’s vast Lennox Enterprises empire. Astute at running the company, he much prefers to spend his days tinkering with the old steam engine that his great-great-grandfather worked on as a mechanic in the Holiday engine house. When he encounters the newly hired director for the preservation society he founded, he knows her presence in Holiday is going to change his life in ways he can’t begin to imagine.

Will two reluctant hearts succumb to the magic of the holidays? Find out in this sweet holiday romance filled with humor, heart, and love.

Holiday Love is the fourth book in the Holiday Express series, a collection of heartwarming, wholesome, holiday romances brimming with the spirit of the season.

I am so excited about sharing these books with you and hope my readers will fall in love with the Coleman family like I have. There’s even a man named Nick who suspiciously looks a lot like a Victorian Santa making an appearance in all four stories!


What inspires you? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a mystery gift from me! 



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After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

72 thoughts on “Holiday Express”

  1. Good morning Shanna- I started Your new book today. Cora Lee & Anna are such fun friends. I love you have the locomotives as inspiration.
    Rick’s Restoration, Rob loves, is it still in rb? He has been looking for it, but can’t find it.
    I’m super excited about this new series. Congrats on another amazing series release.
    Have a great day & stay warm.

    • Hi Tonya! So excited you are excited about the book. Yay! I’m not sure about the show. I haven’t actually seen CC watching it for a while. Fun that Rob likes it! Stay warm and enjoy another beautiful day!

  2. Beautiful covers. What inspires me is my imagination when I paint. And my children and grandchildren. Life itself. I give thanks for everything and every day. Thank you for sharing this with us all. Hugs

    • Hi Charlene! Oh, that’s so neat you paint! And I love your sources of inspiration. Thank you – the covers are so lovely. Josephine did a fabulous job with them. Wishing you a marvelous day!

  3. We have been watching Rick’s Restoration show and have seen many of these items being restored – what fun to see your side of them! I love that this special place inspired your new series! Thanks!

  4. Shanna, you are amazingly creative! I totally love the premise of this series, and having been married to a railroader his whole career, I would’ve enjoyed this museum, too. Congrats on another fun series coming up!

  5. Nature, music, grandkids, new books, and most importantly, my faith are just a few things that inspire me. Authors inspire me, like you Shanna! This new series looks absolutely divine! We have a train museum in Duluth, MN and it is so interesting. My grandpa Cecil was a train conductor and I cherish that memory. My husband bought me a wood stove that used to be in a caboose. He had it sandblasted and painted it back. I also have a big scale and a cart that the workers hauled bags of grain or baggage on. Your post brought back so many memories today. Thank you!

    • Hi Kathy! Oh, I love that your grandpa was a train conductor. So neat! And how fun you have a stove that used to be in a caboose, as long as some other treasures. The train museum would be fun to visit! Thank you for sharing your inspiration, and your kind words! So appreciated!

  6. Watching my many nieces and nephew thrive in this world. They all have good hearts and some have earned degrees and work hard. They are kind and generous of their time for others in need. I am so very proud of them. They all have great hears.

  7. The beauty and complexity of nature always moves me – human kindness and creativity is also a source of inspiration.

  8. Oh, this sounds sooooo good!! I’m inspired by many things, but one of the biggest is the ocean. Every time I’m there, it fascinates me with the pounding of the waves, that you can see so far out and not see land, and it seems the sky meets the ocean. I made up a story one time while a friend and I were sitting on a balcony in a very small town when we watched a man deliver a bouquet of flowers to the B & B we were staying at. We met the couple the next morning at breakfast, and the story I made up was almost as good as the real story!

    • Oh, Trudy! I love the story about the man with the flowers! So fun! And the ocean is inspiring – so vast and incredible! Neat that you find your inspiration there. And thank you for stopping in today!

  9. I absolutely love these gorgeous covers!! I would have to say that I am inspired by two things that come to mind immediately..the majesty of Creation and the writings of great authors!! I love discovering and meditating on new ideas, jotting them down in notebooks to pour over in the days to come. Thank you for this fun chance as well as the introduction to this series!

    • Hi Toni Ann! Oh, I love what you shared. I’m so grateful for wonderful readers like you! And thank you – Josephine knocked it out of the park with these covers!
      Have an amazing day!

  10. Enjoyed your post– it brought back good memories! We stayed in Ely on our first long road trip and took the Nevada Northern stargazing night train. The museum was interesting! I am inspired by seeing historical sites and hearing stories about the people who lived there.

  11. Beautiful covers, I just started the first book, thank you for the chance to be part of your street team. I get my inspiration from my family, they are all so different people yet we make it work and I love how they use their unique gifts to help each other, especially my youngest, she is so talented in drawing and has made some beautiful artwork that I love to frame and give as gifts.

    • I’m so glad you are part of my Street team, Laura. Thank you!
      I love your source of inspiration and what you shared about your family. That’s fantastic about your youngest being talented in drawing. I always admire people who have an artistic side because I can’t even draw stick figures.
      Thanks so much and have a lovely day!

  12. I would love to visit the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. I have always been fascinated by trains. One day I would love to take a trip on one. Your story about the cat was special to me as well as I love cats too. I am inspired by my oldest sister right now. She has fought cancer the last four years and this last round of chemo made her worse and it has spread to her lungs. She has decided to stop all treatments and live the remainder of her life to the fullest. She is being very brave and even made plans for her funeral. My mom is having a special Thanksgiving dinner for her.

    • Your sister is inspiring. My heart goes out to you and your family. May every moment you share with her be one full of joy, and may they make sweet memories you come to treasure. Sending tender thoughts your way and wishing you a Thanksgiving full of blessings.

  13. Just wandering back roads and stopping to explore. My husband does have an elaborate train layout so train museums always attract us.

  14. I’m inspired by the many volunteers that do all kinds of work for charities, food banks, hospitals, and rest homes. They are very loving and giving people.

  15. Hi Shanna , wow, your books sound like great reads, and the book covers are all Stunning, I love them! I love, love trains also when I was growing up there were railroad tracks and trains went by every so often, it was a walking distance from our house . We would go on walks and alot of times we saw the trains going by kind of close to us. I would love to someday travel by train to different states. When we were growing up at home, we used to have a train set and my dad would always take out around Christmas, I always looked forward to that. My dad passed that exact train set to me, so I enjoyed putting it under our Christmas tree for many years, it is now retired and safely put away. After retiring the train set, we got a Thomas and friends Christmas train set and we put it under the Christmas tree where it goes round and round playing Christmas music, my 3 grandchildren have really loved it and of course, I do too. Nature inspires me and all the little critters and all the plants in the desert and how they thrive without anyone taking care of them, but of course we know God takes care of them. My family inspires me and our pup inspires me, we should all be like animals they know how to relax and how to live life without stress . Have a great week and stay safe. I am looking forward to your new Awesome sounding and looking series.

    • Hi Alicia! Thank you for the kind words about the covers and the books. I love them, too!
      That is so neat you grew up with trains nearby. I think it would be fun to take a train trip too. What a keepsake you have in the train set – and so fun you have one the grandkids can enjoy!
      And your inspiration is wonderful! Wishing you beautiful, blessed days ahead!

  16. Baking inspires me. I love tinkering around with recipes until they suit my family’s taste. I love seeing how happy it makes them when eating the finished product. These three books sound amazing! I love the covers too!

  17. Those are beautiful covers! I am inspired by folks who do animal rescue, as those groups have provided most of our four legged family members. Always like to remember those organizations at Christmas.

    • Those people who rescue animals are amazing and have such caring hearts. A wonderful thing to be inspired by. Thank you about the covers, Cathy. She did such a great job! Happy Holidays!

  18. After my spouse passed in Dec 08 i didnt enjoy the holidays until my beautiful great grand children were born My granddausghter was born a week before i had major surgery she gave my spirit to love the holidays again

  19. When I walk in the foothills I am inspired by the beauty which surrounds me everyday and I know it makes me feel uplifted.

  20. That’s sounds like a really fun trip! I really enjoy looking at older houses, touring historical sites and such. I like to watch HGTV quite a bit and I usually get ideas from watching programs on there as to things I can do to spruce things up.

  21. I’m inspired by the caring hearts of the wonderful people in my city and province . British Columbia is experiencing another natural disaster. After record heat devastating fires and whole communities wiped out this summer we are now having towns evacuated lives lost and roads destroyed because of flooding. All roads connecting the coast to the Interior are closed . 8000 people from one community alone arrived here in the past few days . It’s heartwarming how we always find a way to dig deep and help .

  22. Welcome today. Oh but this museum looks wonderful. Such pretty covers. When making quilts and greeting cards, I am inspired by others works, by nature a lot and by anything and everything. I tend to see patterns in everything. My husband is used to me keeping a pad and pencil in the car and in my purse. Never know when inspiration will hit.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Thank you, Lori! It was a grand museum, and I love these covers Josephine designed for me.
      That’s so neat you are inspired by nature and find patterns in them. I love hearing that!
      Have a fabulous evening!

  23. Having been to several railroad museums, I could smell it as I looked at your photos.

    I seem to get inspiration everywhere, especially when I’m driving and can’t write it down.


  24. What a wonderful series. I enjoy books that cover generations of a family and the changes time brings. The continuity of the lovely covers ties the series together nicely. I have now added another place to visit next time we get out West.

    I have often had ideas for the stories I think up from places we drive through and visit as well as people we meet. Going through historical houses and venues has been an interest since my youth and one I engage in as often as possible. Seeing the way they lived, what they produced out of necessity that in reality was often art (quilts, iron work, furniture), how they coped with the difficulties of the time, and how they celebrated is inspiring. It is always interesting to see how different time periods and different regions dealt with similar issues. One thing for sure, I will never run out of things to explore.

    This is the second time I have seen this type of plow for train tracks. The other was in Alaska. Thanks for sharing your pictures and information about the museum. We are so lucky there were people who realized how important it is to preserve the past and present for the future.

    • We are so lucky, Patricia, they did preserve the past for us to enjoy. Like I, I love exploring old houses. They just hold such charm that can’t be duplicated. May you have many exciting adventures ahead. And thank you about the covers. I just adore them. Josephine did a grand job creating them!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  25. I get inspired to be creative when I see all the neat crafty things that people make. I love quilts and have my first one almost completed! Thanks for the chance to win a prize!

  26. My grandchildren and great grandchildren inspire me ! Love the post and the covers of your new books are Beautiful!

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