October 2020 Featured Article
When I begin a new book, I get to know the characters by using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment to learn what makes them tick. It’s fun to meet strangers who’re friends-in-the-making. Come along and meet three characters from A Rock Creek Christmas Novella Collection:
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1) First up, Ella McFarland Evans:
“Merry Christmas 1908! Come into this house, friends. Pull up a chair. Pour yourself a cup of hot cider. And let’s visit awhile. I’m tickled to death to meet you.
“I’m a blonde, curly-haired Oklahoma girl, born and reared. I’m what folks describe as ‘no bigger than a grasshopper’ but I’m a strong-minded farmer’s daughter, teacher, suffragist, wife, and now mother to six—yes, six—daughters. My handsome husband Andrew and I adopted the eldest five two years ago. Orphaned sisters, four of them are as blonde as newborn chicks and the youngest as dark-haired as sable. They’re named for the beauty in their first mother’s garden—Amaryllis, Blossom, Camellia, Dahlia, and Ebony. Julia Jane, our sixth daughter with hair as dark a brown as black walnut shells, was born to us only months after taking the other five to our hearts. Now they’re my life—along with Andrew, of course—no more so than at Christmas.
“Speaking of which, I’m worn to a frazzle this fourth day before Christmas 1908. I’ve a long list of chores to complete, and Andrew’s doing his best to convince me he and the girls would rather have time with me than all the delights I’ve planned. But I’m hard-headed as a mule, so it remains to be seen if I’ll listen. Ya’ll, stay around and see what’s coming up. I can guarantee this will be a Christmas to remember.”
2) “Now, please meet one of my favorite characters, Lily Sloat.”
“Hi, everyone. I’m Lily. I call the other side of Rock Creek—a forgotten horseshoe-bend in the stream that no one dares invade—my former abode, not my home. You see, when Ella found me in 1905, I was a bedraggled, copper-haired girl who worked the fields alongside my mother Ruby. We sharecropped in my no-good pa Walter’s place and took his abuse at quitting time.
“When Pa beat me to the edge of death for taking up for Ma, Ella took me in. She cleaned me up, dressed me in fine clothes, and taught me to read. When she and Andrew married, I went to live with her best friend and neighbor, beautiful, auburn-haired Adelaide Fitzgerald, a former opera star in Italy. Addie taught me how to stand and walk and speak as if I amount to something. She saw to my schooling and enrolled me in college. Addie has opened a world I could only have dreamed about on the other side of the creek.
“Ella’s brother Cade claims my eyes are as green as the foxfire’s light and my freckles are where angels kissed me, but I know better. I’m just Lily. I turned eighteen last August, and the society girls Addie invited to my party didn’t even know my name. But Ma loves me beyond measuring, no matter where Walter has dragged her. Something tells me this Yuletide 1910 will serve up a Christmas measure of Ma’s kind of love.”
3) “Finally, friends, I’m honored to introduce you to the Angel of the Opera, Adelaide Fitzgerald.”
“How delightful to meet you, new friends. I’m Addie. I was born, orphaned, and reared at Broadview, my ancestral estate in Oklahoma. My mother died birthing me, and my father followed her when I was a small child. Thankfully, he left me more than an inheritance; he left me in the care of housekeeper-turned-mother, Maggie. She made Broadview so much more than a beautiful estate; she made it home in the truest sense.
“Having been blessed with the gift of music, I concentrated on my vocal performance and landed leading roles on Italy’s opera stage. But an unexpected matter of the heart interrupted my career plans, and I returned home in time for Ella’s wedding the last day of 1905.
“I met Lily that day, took her into Broadview, and, like Ella and me, we’ve become like sisters. I wouldn’t trade these seven years with Lily for anything in the world. She has enriched my life far more than I ever could hers.
“Now it’s Christmas 1912. Broadview’s attired for the holiday with garland and berries, candles and angels, and a dazzling two-story tree. Everyone I know has left to celebrate with other friends and family—except two of Ella’s girls, Blossom and Camellia. They’ve foregone their family’s holiday in Denver, choosing instead to celebrate Christmas with their Auntie Addie.
“I simply must make this their most wonderful Christmas ever. Have I thought of everything? Have I done enough? What would make the grandest topper of all?
Something tells me we’re about to embark on a Christmas tale that’s fit for them and every other little woman in the world.”
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There you have it, friends, the main trio in the cast of characters you’ll meet in A Rock Creek Christmas Novella Collection. I pray these women will enrich your anticipation of Christmas and that in 2020, you’ll enjoy A Christmas to Remember, A Christmas Measure of Love, and A Christmas Tale for Little Women.