Inspiration in Fairbanks


Sometimes people ask authors, “Where do you get your ideas?”  Most of the time, we don’t know. But for my next book, AN ALASKAN FAMILY CHRISTMAS, I do know, or at least I know how I came up with the setting. Warning: Vacation photos included, but no slide shows, I promise.  

In March, 2018, my daughter brought her boyfriend (who has since become her husband) to visit us in Alaska, and we all flew to Fairbanks for the weekend. We walked through Pioneer Park and toured the amazing creations at the World Ice Carving Championships. And then we boarded the train to Anchorage. It followed the highway for a while and went through the station at Denali National Park, but eventually the rails parted from the road and we saw a part of Alaska we’d never seen before. And along the way, we discovered that people had built cabins that were only accessible by railroad. The Alaska railroad allows people to flag the train and it will stop and pick them up. And I knew I had to set a story in one of those backcountry cabins I never knew about.

Natalie, the heroine of this story, doesn’t know about them either. At least not until she gets herself stranded in the middle of nowhere with the next train not scheduled for several days. Good thing Tanner is there to offer her a place to stay. And so much more.

And now for those photos:

We Stayed at Pike's Landing

A jack-o'-lantern big enough to live in

Team carvings about 20 feet long

Ice slides 

Boarding the train
Those two dots in the middle are moose.

Spinning ice cups

See the man running for the train?

Somewhere in Alaska

Single artist Carving

Have you ever had a situation like Natalie’s that started off looking like a disaster but turned into something good?  I’d love to hear about it.


An Alaskan Family Christmas

A little mix-up…
Could make her Christmas wonderful!
Natalie Weiss is mortified. After mistaking handsome Tanner Rockford for his cousin, she’s followed him to rural Alaska. Now she’s stranded—until Tanner invites her to spend Christmas with his family in their rustic, cozy cabin. But in this idyllic winter wonderland, Natalie discovers the family she’s never had…and the love she never knew she needed. But what happens when they all discover why she’s really there?

Available for pre-order


  1. I love that they can flag down the train! And don't worry, I enjoyed the vacation photos, too!

  2. I love the vacation pics and would also love to take that train trip. Great plot premise. I'm looking forward to reading how Natalie copes being cooped up with Tanner and family. :)

    1. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it.

  3. I love your vacation photos. And what a great idea for a story!

  4. I love ice sculptures and I love trains...what a great post!

  5. I love your pictures, and I can't wait to read this book!

  6. That's cool how the rail road services those out in the bush.

  7. I love the photos. I really want to visit Alaska. What was the temperature like?

    1. In March it was warmer (relatively speaking), not below zero while we were there. Fairbanks is a lot colder than Anchorage.


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