Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where Do YOU find Inspiration? ~Tanya Hanson

Howdy all, thanks for the great time in the Sweethearts corral! Merry Christmas in Jesus’ name, and a most blessed 2015!

Today is my farewell post at this wonderful blog. I've felt so cozy as a Sweetheart...it's been a very difficult decision. But  I’ll be guest-ing in future, for sure. In the meantime, I hope all y’all will stay in touch at www.tanyahanson.com

Okay, so if you’re like me...places you go inspire your stories. I drove through Red Cliff, a tiny mountain town in Colorado a year ago, when my story Open Hearts cried out to be set there. So back at the condo, I hunkered down on a snowy day and started to write it.

Something similar happened to Reverend Phillips Brooks in 1868. (Good heavens, not that I’m comparing myself to one of the most gifted orators of the 19th century.) Nonetheless...the young Pennsylvania pastor (1835-1893) was touring the Holy Land at Christmastime when he got the inspiration for the most popular Christmas carol of American origin.

(I know this hymn got mentioned a few days ago, but consider this a double-dose of a wonderful song.)

Gazing down on Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, he experienced one of the “sublime memories” of his life. Three years later, he wrote a poem about that night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, for the children of his Sunday School at Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia.

Church organist Lewis Redner (1830-1908) promised to write a melody for the poem so the children of the Sunday School could sing it at the next Sunday’s church service. When he went to bed on Saturday night, he had yet to compose a melody. During the night, he claimed an angel refrain woke him, Jumping from bed, he quickly jotted down the notes he’d heard. He presented the new song the next morning, and Redner forever after insisted the music was a gift from heaven.

Phillips Brooks, who became one of the greatest orators and best-loved preachers of the 19th century, was the Episcopal Bishop of Boston when he died in 1893. He was popular for preaching not from the pulpit but from the chancel steps. Lewis Redner remained organ-master and composer at Holy Trinity for 19 years.

Anyway, to make writing this post even more fun, the wonderful Prairie Rose Publications has just released Open Hearts, originally part of an anthology, as a singleton story for just 99 cents! If you love snowbound love stories, this one’s for you!

Ps. The hero’s name was inspired by one of my former students! He and his wife were delighted when I asked if I could use Keith’s name in a story!


To honor her brother’s last request, Barbara Audiss takes on his identity as a district judge. Letting loose her secret will get her arrested. But keeping it prevents her from giving her heart to handsome sheriff Keith Rakestraw.

Furious at “Judge Audiss’” latest verdict, Keith discovers she’s a fake and consequences seem easy: toss her in jail. But he finds himself eager to give her his heart.


  1. I love stories related to Christmas. I'm addicted to the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movie marathon right now.
    This was such an interesting post about the composer of the popular hymn, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.
    I'm going to miss your Sweethearts of the West posts, Tanya. I understand the need for some down time though. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

  2. Hi Sarah, thanks for the kind words, my friend. This definitely is not good bye. I too am a Hallmark movie junkie. All year around, but Christmas movies, my favorite. I have also found some good ones on two other random cable stations, Up and Ion. A very merry Christmas and blessed new year to you and yours, Sarah.. Xoxox

  3. Great post, Tanya! Sometimes places I visit inspire my stories, but other times I visit those places because I want to set my story there. When I researched a plausible location for my Kester Ranch series, I decided on Tyler, TX, so when hubby headed to Dallas for a fire convention, I was right there with him. lol.

    Congratulations on your newest, Open Hearts. Looks and sounds fabulous! I can see why you need a blogging break...you crank these books out faster than I can write a blog post. Love ya, sweet sister!

  4. Hi Dora, I am so looking forward to visiting Kester Ranch! I think I mostly visit a place first, then decide to set some plot and people there. But maybe...it'll happen in reverse some time. Thanks so much, my dear friend, for sending me off into the sunset so nicely today! xoxoxox

  5. This is such an inspiring and sweet story, Tanya. I believe the reverend did hear the song as a gift from God. Why not believe that? We all want to believe in something we cannot do or produce, something unattainable except through the miracles and the graces of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I love the story.
    You have truly been a joy to us here at Sweethearts. Caroline and I felt blessed that you would join us in our quest to write good historic posts, along with telling others about our stories. Well done. And I wish you all the best in 2015. God knows..and I really mean that "God knows"...that we need a good year. 2014 has been hard, but we've all survived, and we've wished and prayed for some who didn't.
    So, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  6. Celia, thanks, my friend, for such loving encouragement. I have been so blessed to be part of this great blog and who knows LOL...maybe my path will be full circle and I'll be back some day. And you're so right, I believe in miracles AND angels, and I know that organist indeed heard angels that night. I too hope 2015 brings a bit better batch of things...not that I want to wish my life away! Thanks again for everything. xoxox

  7. Tanya, what a nice post. I had no idea how the song was inspired, but I love "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Wishing you the very best.


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