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Thursday, December 5, 2013


Gemma Juliana is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity. Today Gemma joins us to talk about the magic of train travel. Learn more about Gemma and her books at her website. 

The Magic of Train Travel

A few months ago my dear friend of forty years treated me to a train trip that started in Seattle and ended in Los Angeles. We took a break for a few days in San Francisco.

Maybe it’s because of The Orient Express of old, and more recently The Polar Express, but I have always considered trains a mysterious and glamorous form of travel that has languished in recent years.

Is it because we are all in such a hurry? Sure, you can fly from Seattle to San Francisco in two hours as compared to a day and a half on the train. Granted, it doesn’t make sense to take the train if you are on a business trip or are limited for time. It’s not even the way to go if you are on vacation unless you envision the train ride as part of the joy of your time off.
For me, I haven’t been on a train in about twenty years. The last train I rode was in Europe, and that was an entirely different “high speed” experience.

Driving down the west coast was always on my mental list of dream things I’d like to do one day when I had time. When my friend suggested this train trip, I jumped for joy like a girl again. It would be better than taking a car. I’d get to spend quality time with my friend, chat, doze, play games, read… we could eat in the dining car—another dream experience for me—and watch the scenery change from urban to rural, flatland to mountain, field to forest.

Trains are romantic, and an aura of déjà vu cloaks them in a mystique that belongs to bygone times. As we move ever faster in our very functional world, we risk losing appreciation for things that take time. We can even forget that it isn’t always about getting from A to B, but sometimes it’s about the journey itself.

When I was invited to contribute a short story to Volume 1 of A Holiday Anthology by Exquisite Quills, my summer train ride came to mind right away and my contribution, Shooting Star Holiday Express, was born. This time I saw the journey as a winter trip. Bella White and her daughter Julie were traveling south to San Francisco for Christmas. Julie doesn’t know her mom just lost her job, and Bella doesn’t have the heart to cancel the trip. Since her husband died, nothing has brought a sparkle to Julie’s eyes except this train trip. Christmas magic blends with train magic when something unexpected happens on their journey.

If you like a slightly longer read, I’ve written an autumn novella, AutumnMasquerade, and a Christmas ghost love story, Christmas Spirits.

Do you have a train trip to share with us? 


Gemma Juliana said...

Thanks for having me, Anastasia and Serena! The post looks lovely!

Helena Fairfax said...

What a beautiful post, Gemma! Like you, I love the romance of train journeys. Afew years ago I did a train trip around Europe. I would really love to do the train trip you describe, across the States. I enjoyed your Anthology story very much!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Gemma,

I haven't traveled by train except NY subway by many years. You remind me how lovely it can be. The holiday anthology is a fine one. Congrats.

E. Ayers said...

Supper story, Gemma! I know because I read it!

I've never had a long train ride. Just on the Reading Railroad from where I lived into Philadelphia. And it was always special when I went for a Christmas outing with my mother. Wearing my good wool coat and naturally my white gloves, we'd go into town, see the sights, the Christmas displays, and have lunch in the tea room. It was a magical day!

Victoria Adams said...

Great post. I love riding the train. When my daughter was much younger, we rode the trains to visit my parents. It's an 8 hr trip. She could play. I could relax.

I loved your story in the anthology :-)

Rose Anderson said...

Great post! I love train rides. I haven't done much more than the occasional ride to Chicago but when I was a girl my older sister and I took a 4 day trip to California on the California Zephyr -- a streamlined and classy ride. It had a dome car and I spent all my time looking at the scenery and starry skies. Thanks for the memory.

Gemma Juliana said...

I agree, Helena, there is a mysterious sense of romance attached to train travel.

So nice of you to visit, Jacqueline. I'm glad you enjoyed the anthology.

Thanks, E! I enjoyed your story too! Sounds like you have magical memories associated with your early train rides.

Hi Victoria, I think train travel is a relaxed and enjoyable way to travel with children.

Rose, I did the same on the train - stared out at the scenery and starry skies by night. Sounds like a lovely journey you enjoyed with your older sister. Thanks for sharing.

Kaye Spencer said...


Your train trip story in the Holiday Anthology is touching and left me with a wonderfully warm 'ahhhh' feeling. ;-) My one and only train trip was a round-trip excursion with a friend. It started in Lamar, Colorado and ended in Kingman, Arizona, which was about a 20 hour trip. It was great fun for all the reasons you've already shared. The return trip ended in Las Vegas, New Mexico (5 hours from Lamar) where we became stranded because of a washed out bridge foundation ahead of us. It was quite the experience that I'll someday use as the plot of a romance novel. ;-)

Andrea said...

Great covers and wonderful post! Tweeted.

Gemma Juliana said...

Hi Kaye, Now you've got me wondering how you made it home after being stranded in Las Vegas, NM. Yours was a true adventure! I'm sure the scenery on that route was amazing.

Hi Andrea, Thanks for your kind words and for the tweet!