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Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After Christmas

Okay, Christmas is over, passing in a blur of laughter, food, friends and family, wrapping paper, and cranky, over-stimulated children. It was totally glorious, but I’m so tired I can hardly move. I’m so worn out I’m even thinking that next year I might BREAK SOME TRADITIONS!

Gasp! What horror! How could you? We’ve always done it this way! Yeah, well, my reply is I’m doing it out of self-preservation. Here’s the schedule; see what you think of it.

On Christmas Eve morning we go to my sister-in-law’s house for breakfast. It’s such a lovely gesture on her part. We don’t have to bring a thing. We just go and enjoy eating and being with the family. But we can’t stay as long as we’d like because we have to have to meet our best friends at lunch time to exchange gifts. We can’t visit as long as we’d like with them because we have to get home to cook for the Christmas Eve dinner.

We’d like to take a little nap, but we can’t because if we deviate from our schedule even one little bit we’ll be up half the night catching up.

We have dinner on Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, but we can’t stay as long as we’d like because we have to hurry home to cook for tomorrow morning.

On Christmas morning we have to get up by six o’clock because we have my family coming for breakfast. All we have to do this morning is make coffee and tea, bake a casserole, and warm up the things we cooked last night. The breakfast isn’t fancy, but we do have plenty of it. We’d like to have some more coffee after we get the presents opened, but we can’t because we have to get the house straightened out for dinner. We also have to bake and carve the turkey.

By three everyone is arriving. We eat too much, open some more presents and just generally have a good time. This is the one gathering during the past two days where we don’t have to hurry. After everyone leaves we have to take out the garbage, wash the dishes, scour the kitchen, sweep up the grass and dirt tracked in, and finally we’re finished.

And I haven’t even mentioned washing the Christmas china, pulling out linens, and advance baking I did before Christmas Eve rolled around.

As I said, it’s glorious, but I’m wondering if maybe next year I can cut a few corners. I have to use the Christmas china. I love it so, there’s no compromise there. Now about the food… Who says that I have to bake the turkey? I have a friend who does turkeys for people; I’ll get him to do it. And who says that I have to bake all the desserts? I know a lady who owns a bakery. Why not buy some baked goods from her?

And that breakfast. I love it dearly, but why not simplify the menu a bit? I mean, do we really need four different desserts? I wonder if our friends would be willing to do our gift exchange at a different time, a time when nobody has to rush off.

We’ll see. Maybe I'll remember for next year, but maybe not.

Hope all of you had as wonderful a time as I did.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Please Welcome Linore Rose Burkard

I've got a treat for you today! Readers of regency or inspirational romance will undoubtedly be familiar with Linore's work. Spirit and Sensibility
for the Jane Austen Soul perfectly describes Linore's s work. She specializes in
Fast-paced adventure, falling-in-love, humor, all the Regency atmosphere you could want and feisty heroines who aren't afraid to fall on their knees to pray. Her work is filled with twists and turns when you least expect them and happy ending made in Heaven.

Welcome, Linore. Thanks for stopping by. I know everyone's eager to hear about you and your work. My first question if for Linore the writer.

For the benefit of anyone not familiar with your work, can you tell us how you became a writer? Is it something you always wanted to do?

It’s something I long felt was too exalted a thing for me, little me, to do—write a book! I loved books from the time I could hold them in my hands, and especially from when I started reading; but I thought authors were like a special order of being, not, surely not mere mortals like the rest of us. Now that I’m an author I can say that authors are a certain kind of people—imaginative, persevering, hard-working, and driven. But we clean house and run errands like anyone else!

That's funny because I felt the same way. My husband told me for years I should try to write, but I didn't believe I could. Could you tell us about your writing? What genres do you write in, etc.

I write inspirational romance for “the Jane Austen soul.” In other words, regency romance with a twist of faith. My books take readers back in time to experience life and love during the regency, while inspiring them to believe that God is involved in everyday life. I also think my stories remind us that happy endings are possible for anyone.

Are there any other authors who’ve inspired you?

Jane Austen, Dickens, and Georgette Heyer; as well as Rumer Godden, and one of my childhood favorites, Eleanor Estes. Probably lots of others, too.

It's hard to narrow it down, isn't it? What are your future goals as a writer?
I’d like to be the author who brings the Regency to life for the Christian market the way Georgette Heyer did for the world at large. If I can succeed in tucking in a good amount of fun, wit, and research, alongside of memorable characters and that all-important faith element, I believe I will do it. The reader response to my first book, Before the Season Ends, has been overwhelmingly, even passionately, favourable, so my prayer is that I’ll be able to maintain the same quality of writing in all of my books.

I've read Before The Season Ends and can highly recommend it. In fact I'm looking forward to the sequel The House In Grosvenor Square. Where can we find more information about you and your work?

On my brand new website! I have some truly nifty free resources there for readers, too. If you’re new to the Regency you will really appreciate some of them.

What's that address?

It's a very pretty website. I love the colors. What do you hope that people will be saying about your work fifty years from now?

That each book was great in its own way; that I was the author who first introduced them to Christian regency romance and they’ve loved it ever since.

That sounds great, Linore. I also a few questions for Linore the person. What three words best describe you as a person?

Authentic (I am what I am!)
Expectant (God slowly reveals his plan for my life)
Diversified (I’m a mom, I have to be!)

If you had an entire day just to have fun and amuse yourself what would you do?

Right now, it would be to go shopping. I’ve been so busy this month I’ve had to do most of my Christmas shopping online. But I prefer to be there, among the bustle and rush of the season. Just long enough, not all day, and then I’d come home and watch “A Christmas Carol,” or a good period film.

Care to share one of your most embarrassing moments with us?

I did that on another blog! But here’s a different one: Once I was driving with my husband and two of our friends, another couple, in the backseat. Mike (my husband) had to get out and check the oil level in the car, and when he climbed back in he was complaining that he had somehow got some oil on his arm. I blurted out, as if I was with one of my kids, “Don’t lick your arm!” To peals of laughter from the backseat, my husband thanked me profusely for reminding him not to lick his arm, since, of course, he was in a terrible habit of doing so. I still get teased about that.

Yes, no doubt you do. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Spending more time baking, cooking, decorating, going places, playing games with the kids, and making my yard beautiful (gardening). Since I still have my children at home except for one who is away most of the year at college, I have to sacrifice a lot of my other creative outlets to give myself to the writing life. There are rooms I would have wall-papered by now, and some I still haven’t painted that I would have. I try not to take anything away from interacting with my family, but I do choose not to pursue “prettifying” things as much as I’d like.

There's never enough time for everything. Since I became a writer my house isn't quite as nice as it used to look. Thanks so much for talking with me.

Before The Season Ends is available at or at

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Gift Of Books

Besides being an author, I’m a social studies teacher at our local high school. A month or so ago, I noticed something very unusual going on in my first period class. I was standing in front of the class discussing feudalism with the kids, but three of the girls weren’t listening to me. Not that they always listen to me, mind you, but these girls weren’t talking. They weren’t passing notes, sleeping, or trying to do their homework before it was due. So, what were they doing? They were reading.

Yes, reading, and yes, it’s a very big deal. The majority of my students say they don’t care for reading. They say it’s boring. Almost, I don’t blame them. If I never read anything but textbooks, I’d think reading was boring too.

Okay, they don’t read. Is that a problem? You bet it is! Many literacy skills don’t get developed including reading comprehension, and let’s face it; people who read understand a whole lot more about what’s going on in the world. They score better on standardized tests too, and of course all of you readers know how reading can enrich your life.

What were the girls reading? Twilight. I asked them if it was good, and you should have heard them carrying on. One of them told me she’d never read an entire book in her life until she started Twilight. She was almost finished with it and already had New Moon ready to read. I was so intrigued I bought a copy of Twilight that very day.

I did like the book, but more importantly it impressed on me the need to provide young people with books they can enjoy, books that’ll make readers of them. So, this Christmas please consider a gift of books for any young adult or child on your list. In the long run it’ll be of more use to them than another sweater or video game.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Victorian Christmas Tree

When we think of Christmas during the Victorian Era, most of us picture a Charles Dickens Christmas complete with a goose or turkey and a Christmas tree, but the English haven’t always had Christmas trees. They were introduced into England in 1841 when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Her husband Prince Albert decorated the first Christmas tree. Albert was from Germany, a place where they’d long used Christmas trees. He decorated a tree for Windsor Castle using candles, candies, and paper chains. The custom spread, and before long all of the English had Christmas trees. So did the Americans.

As time passed, people started to use more elaborate decorations on their trees, including gingerbread men, marzipan candies, hard candies, cookies, fruit, cotton-batting Santas, paper fans, tin soldiers, whistles, wind-up toys, pine cones, dried fruits, nuts, berries, and trinkets of all kinds. They also enjoyed hanging cornucopias filled with sweets, fruit, nuts and popcorn on their trees. Small homemade gifts, such as tiny hand-stitched dolls or children's mittens were also popular. Beautiful angels were the tree toppers of choice, and some families set up a Nativity scene under the tree using moss for grass and mirrors for ponds.

Eventually, people started to use German store bought ornaments which first appeared during the 1860’s. Glass icicles came first followed by hand blown glass globes called kugels. People also liked Dresdens, embossed silver and gold cardboard ornaments in many shapes.

Decorating a Victorian tree today would be pretty simple without investing a great deal of money. Here are a few things I’d do.

1.String popcorn and cranberries to make a garland. The kids should have a great time helping.

2.Shape small paper doilies into cornucopias. Fill with candies of your choice.

3.Recycle old Christmas cards. Cut out shapes you like and attach them to the tree with ribbons to make mock Dresdens.

4.Make or buy small cookies to hang on the tree. You can decorate them with glitter if you like. Hairspray works great as a preservative.

5.Fill small mesh bags with colorful candy and tie them with ribbon.

6.Spray nuts in the shell with gold paint and glue a slender cord to them so they'll hang on the tree.

7.I don’t recommend lighting the candles if you use real ones, but you can buy strings of electric lights in the shape of candles. That sounds a lot safer to me.

8.Don’t forget to fill the tree with small toys. Personally, I’d add some cherubs, another Victorian favorite.

9.Decorative tassels would look beautiful on your tree.

10.Buy some pretty ribbon-Victorians preferred velvet-and shape it into pretty bows or swirls.

11.Fold wrapping paper in the shape of fans and put them on the tree. We used to love making fans when we were kids.

If any of you decide to do a Victorian tree, email me a picture at and I’ll post it on the blog for others to see.

Oh, and the picture that accompanies this post is from an 1841 engraving showing Victoria and Albert and their children.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Here!

The Best Selling Toy Of The Season is now available at I think it's a great story for Christmas reading because it shows that love can overcome any obstacle, scale any barrier, and happen to anyone-even people who think they probably don't deserve it. And isn't Christms all about love?

Don't forget to check out my web site. I posted a free short story titled Misktaken Identity. Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Christmas Blog Ride

Hi everyone. Christmas is coming soon! To celebrate I'd like to share several things with you. First of all, on December 1 The Best Selling Toy Of The Season will be released by Midnight Showcase. To buy the book you can go to

Want to read a little excerpt? Here it is!

The Chicken Shack was located several miles outside of town, and when Tommy slipped on the greasy floor, he guessed that the business specialized in fried chicken. They seated themselves at a booth with a scarred Formica table top which needed a good washing. Undeterred, Nikki took a paper napkin from the holder on the table and wiped away the rings left by the previous occupants’ glasses.

“I hope you don’t mind sitting beside Michael,” she said. “It’s easier to talk if you and I are facing each other.”

“I don’t mind. Michael and I are buddies.” He turned to Michael and asked, “Did you like what Santa brought you?”

“I sure did. It was the best Christmas ever.”

Teddy snickered. “You said that last year.”
“I did not!”

“Yes, you did.”

A loud and lively conversation broke out. It took Nikki a few moments to quell the riot. Good. The noise had made his ears ring.

Nikki propped her elbows on the table and frowned at Teddy who looked ready to argue. “I wish that Dan was here. He can always make the boys mind. All he does is give them a look, and they behave just fine. I think it’s because he’s a man. Boys respond to a man better than a woman.”

Privately Tommy hoped that he, too, would be able to compel the respect of Nikki’s boys, for that’s what made the children obey Dan, respect.

Michael tugged on Tommy’s sleeve. “Mister? Hey, Mister.”

“What do you want them to call you?” interrupted Nikki.

“They can call me Tommy.”

“You interrupted me,” Michael complained.

“Go on then.”

Michel did so. “Are you going to be our daddy?”

The last thing I'd like to talk about is the multi-author blog ride. Would you like to win some great ebooks or a grand prize of $75.00? Yep, bet you would. It's super simple too. I'll give you some words from a Christmas carol. Figure out which carol they come from and leave a comment identifying the carol. What's the prize for identifying the carol? An ecopy of Purple Heart.

Now, what's this thing about $75.00? To spread more Christmas cheer, the authors of the blog ride are giving one lucky person a $75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate! All you need to do to enter is attend each day's blog post, identify the carol, and make a complete carol list to submit after the final blog post of Christmas Eve. Don't forget to check the list twice! Send it to by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008 write it down.

Okay, here's my clue. Round yon virgin mother and child. Your next stop will be

What are you waiting for? Better get busy!

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life... Love

Friday, November 28, 2008

An Excerpt

Let's have another excerpt from The Best Selling Toy Of The Season. This takes place immediatly after the excerpt I posted two weeks ago. A beautiful clerk has just helped Tommy find a gag gift to take to a party, and now he's ready to check out.

Tommy glanced at his watch; he was going to be late. He hurried to the checkout line, and there time stood still. Every register had an enormous line, and it took forever to check out even one customer.

Finally, his turn came. He thankfully paid for his gag gift and joined the throngs of people either going out or coming in. He saw Bill English and lifted his hand to wave goodbye, but he didn’t see the woman in front of him until he plowed into her. Both he and the young woman who had helped him find his gift went sprawling to the floor. Something in her bag broke with a loud crash when Tommy’s knee smashed into it.

All the Super Mart employees in the vicinity came running, including Bill English. “Are you guys okay?”

“I’m fine,” Tommy assured him as visions of lawsuits danced in his head. “Ma’am, are you okay?”

To his horror, the young woman burst into tears. “You’ve ruined everything! Teddy and Michael are going to be so disappointed, and I guess they’ll stop believing in Santa Claus, but you don’t care.”

She jerked her bag toward her and held out two broken toys for Tommy to see. “These robots are all that my boys asked for this year. I put them on layaway back in September, and I finished paying for them today. They’re the best selling toy of the season. You can’t find them anywhere, and now you’ve broken mine.”

She shot Tommy a look of bitter enmity. Wiping the tears from her cheeks, she scrambled to her feet and stalked out of the store.

“Be ashamed,” lectured one of the customers. “You ruined her boys’ Christmas.”

“Yeah,” a man in the crowd contributed. “You could at least have offered to pay for it.”

The Super Mart employees nodded their agreement. “Look at the way he’s dressed. He’s got money to burn. He won’t even pay for Nikki’s loss, and it was all his fault.”

The crowd drifted away, and Bill picked up Tommy’s bag and handed it to him. “It was an accident, Tommy. I know you didn’t mean to do it.”

“Who was that woman? I’ll go back to the toy department and buy two more robots to replace the ones I broke. Give me her name and address, and I’ll have them sent to her tonight.”

Bill shook his head. “She told you the truth. Everybody’s sold out of those little robots. You can’t buy them anywhere.”

A look of determination came to rest on Tommy’s face. If Bill had ever seen Tommy in court, he would have recognized it immediately. Many of Tommy’s legal opponents shivered when this expression crossed his face, for as one of them put it, ‘A rotweiller would turn a steak loose quicker than he’d give up when he looks like that.’

“You let me worry about finding the toys. What’s her name and address?”

“Her name is Nikki Lane, and she lives in trailer number five in Higgins Court.”

“Nikki Lane. Isn’t she Dan Wakefield’s cousin?”

“Yeah, she is.”

“I thought so. Dan trains my horse, and he asked me to get her no account boyfriend to pay child support. Did they ever get married?”

Bill laughed shortly. “No, not hardly. He pays Nikki because he knows that he has to, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her or the boys.”

“Why not? Is he blind? She’s drop dead gorgeous.”

“Oh, you should have seen her six months ago. She dyed her hair brassy blonde and frizzed it all over her head, she wore enough makeup for three people, and her clothes made her look like a… well, you know.”

“What happened to her?”

“Her cousin came to visit and gave her a few pointers.”

“Oh. Could you write down the name of the toy for me?”

“Sure, but don’t hold your breath. I don’t think you can find them anywhere.”

The Best Selling Toy Of The Season will be available December 1 at

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome to Pam Thibodeaux day! I'd like to thank Pam for agreeing to the interview. An award-winning author, Pam is the Co-Founder/President & Treasurer of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” To date, Pamela has 5 full-length novels and three short stories, as well as numerous articles published.

So, Pam,

1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing?

PST: Hi Elaine! Thank you for having me here today. First and foremost, I am a Christian, housewife, mother, grandmother, full-time insurance sales producer and last but certainly not least, a writer.

2. Most people always ask where authors get their ideas, so tell us: where do you get your ideas?

PST: Like most authors, my ideas come from every day life. Sometimes a dream or vision will occur and sometimes a simple question will arise and a story or novel evolves from that. For instance, when I heard about Harlequin’s NEXT line focusing on women over 40 this thought came to mind…..they say that life begins at forty but for Rebecca Sinclair that’s far from the truth. Of course, that simple thought incited a whole bunch of ‘why’ questions and thus, my novel The Inheritance was born.

3. How long did you write before you got published?

PST: Forever LOL! Let’s see….I wrote in 5-subject notebooks for 11 yrs then used a word processor for 7yrs before I switched to a computer. I was e-published that same year (2000)

4. To date which of your books was hardest to write and why?

PST: My novel, The Visionary. Though a romance, it deals with adult survivors of child abuse and was very difficult to get through.

5. What do you think makes a book a page turner?

PST: For a book to be a ‘page turner’ to me, I must fall in love with the characters. Of course plot is important, but the characters do it for me.

6. Tell us what you’re working on now.

PST: Right now I am editing the two novels my agent is interested in, editing a short story which I hope to resubmit it to The Wild Rose Press soon, and attempting to write another short and have started one of two novels I wish to write within the next year or so.

7. Which author would you most like to meet and why?

PST: Depends if I only get to meet them or have an actual uninterrupted conversation LOL! If the latter, Nora Roberts.

8. What future goals have you set for yourself?

PST: Keep writing and one day I’d like to write my books into movie scripts.

9. Could you share some of your links with us? Tell us where we can find you?

PST: Website:

10. Could you share an excerpt from your latest release with us?

PST: I’d love to!

From Tempered Joy ISBN: 1-933866-14-4

Alexis Jayne Morgan, better known as Lexie, frowned over at Ace Harris while her foster-father Scott Hensley, marveled on and on about Ace’s accomplishments. Ace had competed in rodeos since before his freshman year, and won in every event from roping to bull riding. Now, as a junior, he held more titles than any other boy his age. Lexie grunted in a very unladylike manner, “A true cowboy.”

“Lexie,” Scott’s voice held warning.

She ignored his tone and turned to him, eyes wide. “Well everyone knows that rodeo cowboys have rocks for brains and a death wish for a soul,” she remarked, her tone a tad too innocent.

“Enough, Lex,” Scott insisted.

“Its okay, Scott,” Ace interrupted. “It’s obvious that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” All afternoon he’d listened with his father while Scott talked of the return of their most recent foster child. He’d spoken fondly of the girl who had been in and out of their home for the past two years. ‘She’s bright and intelligent, smart as a whip. And, sadly, wise beyond her years.’

Now all Ace could think was how moody she was. Within the span of an hour she’d gone from shy to happy to grouchy. Her opinion of rodeo cowboys grated on his nerves worse than the sound of a gate that needed oiling and challenged the very core of his identity.

Tempered Joy is book 4 in my series and is available now from

Thanks for stopping by, Pam. I enjoyed your excerpt very much. Come back and visit anytime.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life... Love

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Best Selling Toy Of The Season

I love my cover! Isn’t it so seasonal and cheerful? It’s appropriate too because the story begins at Christmas time, a time of magic, new beginnings, and…possibilities.

Let’s talk for a minute about my heroine. Her name is Nikki Lane, and she could easily be someone you know. She works at Super Mart, the local discount store. She lives in a single wide mobile home in a trailer park that doesn’t have a very good reputation.

She hasn’t been very lucky in love. As a teenager, she fell hard for her first love, Tim, but he abandoned her after she got pregnant the second time. Nikki doesn’t trust men-with the exception of her cousin Dan. If not for his help she’d have to move back in with her parents, and her Dad drinks.

You probably also know someone like my hero Tommy Price. He’s everything Nikki isn’t-wealthy, socially acceptable, and prominent in community affairs. That didn’t keep him from losing the woman he wanted to marry, though. Tommy’s looking for love, but he’s tired of cookie cutter women who’re more interested in his money and his family name than they are him.

So, how’d these two get together? Let me share an excerpt from The Best Selling Toy Of The Season.

In this excerpt Tommy Price, the best lawyer in Fairfield, has just been reminded by his secretary that he has to buy a gag gift to take to a party.

“Tommy, you told me to remind you that you have to buy a gag gift to take to the party tonight.”

Tommy sighed. “I don’t know what to get. What do you recommend?”

“Beats me. You know I don’t have a sense of humor.”

Tommy gave up. If Mattie didn’t want to help him, nothing would move her, and he knew he had made her angry when he refused to go out with her cousin, Tia. He wouldn’t say so to Mattie, but Tia was too stuck on herself for him to enjoy her company. “I’ll see you Monday, Mattie. Have a good weekend.”

“You too, Tommy. If you change your mind about my cousin, give me a call.”

Mattie went back to her desk, and Tommy donned his coat, and left for the day. It had started to snow harder now, and the weather report called for several inches accumulation. Maybe I could find a gag gift at Super Mart, he thought, and on impulse he wheeled his car into the discount store’s parking lot.

It took a few minutes to find a place to park, for Christmas arrived in a few days, and the last minute shoppers had clearly panicked when they took note of the date. Tommy hurried into Super Mart and immediately spied Bill English.

At one time he had hoped to be Bill’s son-in-law. He had fallen deeply in love with Bill’s daughter, Susan, but Susan hadn’t felt the same way about him. She had broken up with him and married another man shortly afterward.

Bill worked at Super Mart so he handed Tommy a sale paper. “Merry Christmas, Tommy.”

“Hi, Bill. Merry Christmas. How are Susan and Kurt?”

“Doing great. You need to think about getting married yourself, Tommy.”

Tommy decided to beat a hasty retreat. Why did everybody want him to get married? “I’d better run, Bill. I’ve got a party to go to.”

He waved to Bill and dashed away, grateful for a quick escape. He wandered down the center aisle of the store, but he didn’t see anything that he thought seemed funny. He spotted a woman wearing the orange coat that identified her as Super Mart staff; maybe she could help him. He tapped her on the shoulder. “Excuse me, ma’am. Could you help me?”

The clerk turned around and Tommy’s breath caught in his throat. He had stumbled across a princess. She had dark, smooth hair, creamy, porcelain skin, indigo blue eyes, full, red lips, and a shape that even the orange coat couldn’t hide. For a moment, he couldn’t remember what he wanted.

“Cat got your tongue?” the young woman cheerfully inquired. “You look familiar. Do I know you?”

“I… don’t know, I mean, I don’t think so,” Tommy floundered, mentally kicking himself for allowing a beautiful woman to reduce him to the level of a gauche freshman.

“Well, what do you want? I’m too busy to just stand here and talk. You aren’t trying to pick me up are you? You’re tall, dark and handsome as they say, but I’ve sworn off men. Every time I get involved with one it turns out bad. Your hair is as black as can be. You don’t dye it, do you?”

“Uh, no, I don’t dye it.”

“You won’t tell me what you want, so I’ll have to guess. You look like you might be an athlete, so I expect you want sporting goods. Follow this red line on the floor, and it’ll take you where you want to go.”

“No,” Tommy replied hastily. “That isn’t it. I want a gag gift.”

“Let me think.”

Tommy waited in silence for a moment or two. “I know just the thing,” she assured him. Follow me.”

She led Tommy to the lingerie department which didn’t please him at all. It embarrassed him to look at underwear with a beautiful woman.

She went down aisle five and selected a box from the shelf. “Here you go. This is a perfect gag gift unless you’re going to a church party. It might be a little over the top for church. Not that I think it’s bad myself, but ministers might. What do you think?”

“I don’t know what it is so it’s hard to have an opinion,” Tommy pointed out.

The girl handed him the box. “It’s a passion meter. You hold the round glass part in your hand, and your body heat causes the red liquid to rise in this little tube. You know; like mercury in a thermometer, but see on the side here? It tells you what kind of lover you are based on how far your body heat makes the liquid rise. Take it out of the box and try it.”

“I don’t need to do that.”

“Oh, you might as well. Don’t you want to know?”


The woman removed the device from the box and handed it to him. “Wrap your hand around the glass bulb.”

Tommy did as she instructed. Suddenly the liquid boiled and shot straight to the top of the glass tube.

“Look at you,” the woman laughed. “You measured red hot super stud.”

Tommy’s face turned a color very similar to the red liquid, and a fit of laughter so intense that she had to hold the shelf for support seized his lovely companion. “You’re awfully shy, aren’t you? I guess you weren’t trying to pick me up after all. Is there anything more that I can show you?”

“No, but thank you for helping me.” Why did she have to laugh at him? No man wanted a beautiful woman to make fun of him.

“Merry Christmas,” she said and bustled away.

Okay, they’re acquainted. Sort of. Now what? Check back next Friday for the next excerpt.

The Best Selling Toy Of The Season will be available at beginning December 1.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Tea Party

Tea first arrived in England somewhere between 1652 and 1654. The price of tea was high, but people loved it, and it soon became so popular it was seen as the unofficial national drink of England.

The tradition of afternoon tea was first introduced by Anna the Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. At that time, breakfast was served at nine or ten in the morning and dinner around three or four. Some people had a very light lunch, but two meals a day was the norm. By the time Anna came along, the dinner hour had gradually moved from three or four in the afternoon to seven or eight at night, so the duchess found she needed a little snack around four in the afternoon.

She had some tea and other refreshments sent to her room every day, a ritual she enjoyed so much that she invited her friends to join her, and the idea of the afternoon tea was born. Don’t be confused, though. There’s a difference between afternoon tea and high tea. Afternoon tea was a nice little snack consisting of bread and butter, cakes, cookies, English trifle, dainty tea sandwiches, and of course tea. Scones with Devonshire cream and preserves were popular too. High tea was eaten between five and six and was likely to be the main evening meal. Coffee and cocoa were also served at high tea although tea was still the most important drink. Earl Grey and Darjeeling were popular choices.

Earl Grey is a blend of Chinese and Indian teas and is scented with oil of Bergamont. Darjeeling is grown near the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s expensive and is often found in blends.

Good conversation became an important part of the tea ritual. Nothing unpleasant was ever discussed because everyone was supposed to relax and enjoy herself. The lady of the house would always sit at the head of the table and pour the tea. They used nice tablecloths and good china but seldom used flowers because their scent might compete with the scent of the food.

In the modern world tea parties are still popular. If you’d like to give a tea, here are a few suggestions.

1. Don’t be afraid to mix and match china if you don’t have a full set. It looks beautiful and is totally acceptable. Flea markets and thrift stores are good places to pick up china.

2. Use your nicest table linens. Layering makes a pretty table, maybe with a lace cloth on top.

3. Use your best silver and crystal. If you don’t have the real stuff, nice cut glass makes a good substitute for crystal, and today’s stainless flatware comes in many pretty patterns. You can also find plastic trays that look like cut glass. It looks nice to place a doily on the serving pieces before you put the food on them.

4. You can use edible flowers such as nasturtiums as garnishes.

5. A centerpiece is acceptable in the modern world, but not necessary as the tea pot, creamer, and sugar bowl will look beautiful in the place of honor. Lumps of sugar is preferred, but if you use them be sure to have a small pair of tongs for the guests to serve themselves.

6. Napkins folded into fancy shapes look nice. Always use fabric napkins.

7. It’s a neat touch to send elegant invitations to your guests.

8. Soft background music and candles create a nice ambiance, but the music shouldn’t be very loud.

9. In pretty weather it’s lovely to dine outside.

10. For each guest be sure you have a cup and saucer and a teaspoon, a dessert plate with a butter knife, and a fork and knife.

11. Think about using some pretty place cards.

What should you serve? Sandwiches and scones are a must, but after that just about anything goes. It depends on your personal preferences. Here’s a couple of my favorite recipes.

Cream Cheese and Date Tea Sandwiches

3 oz. dried, pitted dates chopped
6 oz. softened cream cheese
8 slices of cinnamon and raisin sandwich bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
fresh sprigs of mint

1. Chop the dates fine. In a small bowl combine the dates and cream cheese. Mix well until combined.

2. Spread bread slices with the butter. Spread half of the bread slices with the cream cheese mixture. Press the other slices of bread on top to form a sandwich.

3. Trim off the crusts. Cut each sandwich into 3 fingers. (make 2 parallel cuts to form 3 sandwiches.) Place sandwiches onto a serving platter. Garnish each sandwich was a small sprig of mind. The tea sandwiches may be made up to 2 hours ahead, if they are covered tightly and refrigerated. (Recipe from Tea Time by Nancy Akmon.)

Chicken Salad Croissants

4 cups cubed, cooked chicken. (I use the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.)
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green pepper
1 2ounce jar diced pimentos drained
½ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
3 TBSP sliced green onions
2 TBSP minced fresh parsley
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. Cider vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
salt and pepper
¾ cup salted cashew nuts
Mix together the first four ingredients. Combine next 10 ingredients and mix well. Pour over chicken mixture. Mix and add cashews. Chill in refrigerator. (Recipe from Darlene Rucci.)

Chocolate Delight

1 cup flour
1 stick butter
1 cup chopped nuts

Soften the butter and mix all ingredients. Bake at 300 for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool.

1 8 oz cream cheese softened
2 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip

Mix together and set aside.

2 small instant chocolate pudding mix
3 cups milk


Crumble the baked crust and layer the ingredients in a trifle bowl.

The holidays are coming up, and I can’t think of a better time to entertain your friends. Trust me; they’ll be impressed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

That's My Story And I'm Sticking To It

Do you believe in ghosts? No, seriously, do you? I’d say I’ve always had an open mind on the subject but, I couldn’t say I believed because I’d never had a paranormal experience. (Didn’t want to either.)

Some of my friends did. One of them lives down the road from me in a well maintained two bedroom, brick ranch house built in the 1950’s. It certainly doesn’t look like a haunted house, yet she tells some odd stories about her kitchen. It seems that one Saturday morning her husband left to go hunting, and since she had the house to herself she decided to clean the kitchen. She mopped her floor and sat down in the family room which is visible from the kitchen to wait for the floor to dry. Fifteen minutes later she went back into the kitchen and found potato chips scattered on the floor.

That in itself wasn’t enough to convince her the house is haunted, but there are other things too. Frequently, she’ll go into the kitchen and find recipes lying on the stove. Her husband denies putting them there, and she knows she didn’t do it. They’ve decided the ghost of the former owner is still in the house, so they talk to the ghost and call it by name.

A few years ago I had a student who said that his house is haunted. It’s an old house that looks like I think a haunted house might look. It’s made of dark brick and sits in the middle of a grove of pine trees. It’s totally isolated from other houses, and frankly the shutters could use a coat of paint. According to John, a young child maybe around eight or nine is in the house. She has long blonde hair and wears a white gown. Sounds like a cliché to me, but he swears the entire family frequently encounters this little girl who stares at them before vanishing.

Okay, weird, but not enough to convince me. So, what’s my story? Here goes. Several years ago my cousin called me and told me she’s sure her house is haunted. She doesn’t think whatever is in there is friendly either. She said she was reading in her living room one evening. When she looked up, an old man with a bald head and gray suit was standing in her foyer. She jumped up, thinking someone had come into the house, and when she did he vanished into thin air.

Things started hopping after that. She was asleep one night and woke up when music started to play. She opened her eyes and saw a group of people clustered around the bed looking at her. The smell of flowers filled the room. She screamed and almost gave her husband a heart attack, but when he woke up the room was clear. After that she often heard music and the sounds of talking from downstairs. (Her bedroom is upstairs.)

She had trouble in her garage as well. After a particularly trying morning, she decided to go shopping to take her mind off ghosts. She got into her car and cranked it. The car came on, but so did the radio, the windshield wipers, and the horn. The garage door kept opening and shutting by itself. She tried to get out of the car, but the door wouldn’t open. Finally, she slammed her shoulder into the door, and it came open. She ran back into her house and avoided the car.

After this incident, she consulted a priest who came to the house and prayed and sprinkled it with holy water, but the hauntings continued with some being truly terrible, like the time she was going downstairs and felt someone push her from behind. She fell and broke her wrist. She said that even her cats saw the balls of light that floated in the air in the study. Their eyes followed the lights as they moved around the room.

Or did they? My cousin has a serious medical condition that causes her to take a lot of high powered pain medication. I began to wonder if maybe she was having hallucinations. Then, one evening she called me to talk. We were discussing her ghost problem when I heard someone say, “Who-oooo.” I’ve tried to phonetically reproduce the sound, but I can’t quite do it. I’ve heard my grandmother use the sound many times, though. It was definitely a noise meant to get your attention.

My cousin got really excited. “Did you hear that?” she exclaimed. I told her I had and asked her what it was. I expected her to say her husband had picked up the phone and was trying to get our attention. “It came from the filing cabinet not three feet away from me,” she said. I decided not to talk about ghosts anymore.

So, what do you think? I didn’t see any of the things she saw, but I heard that sound as plain as day. When I go to visit her, I think I’ll wear a cross. Maybe I should also take some garlic…no, that’s for vampires. She doesn’t have vampires. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. What’s yours?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Say hello to guest blogger Claire Sanders

My thanks to Elaine for inviting me to join her at this beautiful web site. I’ve just published my first romance novel, “Fresh Start”, available from The Wild Rose Press. I hope you’ll go to to check it out. You can also read excerpts and see a book trailer at my web site:

For my first romance novel, I chose a cowboy as the hero. I don’t know about you, but the cowboy has always embodied the ideal man for me. Masculine, strong, well-mannered, sincere and hard-working. Of course, being raised in Texas, the cowboy ideal was drummed into me from an early age. There are two images that always make my heart flutter just a bit: a cowboy atop a fine horse and a man wearing a tool belt. (I’m sure the carpenter or contractor will show up in a future novel.)

When I finished college, I saw an advertisement for teachers needed in Montana. My adventurous soul wanted to go, but my ties to my family made such a move impractical. But for all these years, I’ve wondered how my life would have been different if I had been bold enough to pack my car and go. That’s where the idea for “Fresh Start” came from.

I learned a lot from the process of writing my first novel. Of course, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I wrote two complete books and literally threw them in the trash because they were so bad. Then I wrote my first draft of “Fresh Start”. It took two more years to get that story to a point where it would be acceptable to an editor.

You can imagine my delight when the story was a finalist in the first contest I entered. The “Emily” award is sponsored by the West Houston Chapter of Romance Writers of America and my story garnered enough points to make the first cut. Confident of its merit, I happily sent it off to two agents who promptly rejected it.

All writers can tell horror stories about rejections so I took it in stride and kept sending it out. When The Wild Rose Press accepted it, I danced around my computer!

Currently, I’m putting the final touches on an Inspirational Romance titled “Shades of Grace”. The heroine, Judith, has made a successful life for herself as an illustrator, but she has a lot of hurdles to overcome. First, she’s notorious for her quick temper and stubborn disposition. Second, she’s haunted by her mother’s death. While being raised by her workaholic father, Judith tried to put her mother out of her mind, but her questions never ceased.

When she inherits four hundred acres of forested land from her mother’s father, Judith is astounded. Her father had told her that her grandparents were dead. Now she realizes that not only did her father lie to her, but she’d also missed the opportunity to know the last link to her mother. Despite her father’s misgivings, Judith packs her things and leaves the big city for rural east Texas.

But a few hours after her arrival, she’s asked to lend an abandoned church on her grandfather’s land to an African American congregation. Their church, along with several others, was the victim of arson. Judith knows that lending her grandfather’s church may lead to trouble, but she’s determined to do what she believes is right.

Local forester Jacob Fraser also wants to help the African American congregation. But he advises Judith to step back from her righteous anger and to fight hate with love. This is a concept that Judith can’t get her mind around.
Answer acts of hate with acts of love? Turn the other cheek? Pray for her enemies?

I hope you’ll check my website often to see when this story will be released. (Yes, I am employing positive thinking!) And please send me an email ( to let me know if you liked “Fresh Start”. I’d love to correspond with you!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Victorian Era

Today’s post is for all of you historical readers and authors. I’ve never written a historical novel, but I do teach history, so I thought from time to time I’d throw in a little history for those of you who like it. I thought we’d start with the Victorian Era.

The Victorian Era, which is named after England’s Queen Victoria, is remembered as a time when people were very proper. If you were a Victorian gentleman you’d:

1.let a lady walk or ride along the wall

2.never speak to a lady unless she spoke first

3.precede a lady walking upstairs and follow one walking downstairs

4.take the backward facing seat in a carriage and get out first to help the lady dismount

5.never smoke in a lady’s presence

If you were a proper Victorian lady you’d:

1.never walk alone or unchaperoned if you were unmarried and under thirty

2.never go alone to make a social call on a man

3.never wear pearls or diamonds in the morning

4.never dance more than three dances with the same partner

5.never uses a gentleman’s Christian name

I hope you enjoyed this look into the past. Be on the look out for my next historical post when I’ll tell you about the Victorian tea and share some original Victorian recipes with you.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I've Been Tagged


1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know when he or she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Wow, six random things about me. Let me think… Okay, here goes.

1.My granddaughter and I always put up a theme tree at Christmas time. This year we’re doing a cowboy and Indian tree. In the past we’ve done polka dots and candy among other things. You should have seen the candy tree. It was totally beautiful! We may do something for my grandson this year too. I’m thinking a little tree with match box trucks tied to it. The little guy loves trucks.

2.One of my best friends has coached volleyball for the past seven years and has won 5 state championships. She’s also one of the people who encouraged me to write.

3.I have degenerative disc disease in my back. Not fun.

4.I love Arizona. My husband and I took a trip there a few years ago and had a wonderful time. We bought ourselves some turquoise jewelry and have worn it ever since.

5.My sister lives in a haunted house, and you ought to hear the stories she tells. Maybe she should write a letter to the ghost hunters on TV. I like watching that show.

6.I got up one morning and found that our two black labs had chewed a hole through the utility room door. A black, furry face with a huge grin was stuck through the hole.

Now, who can I tag… Here goes.

Billie Williams
Linda Ambrosia
Adelle Laudan
Diana Castilleja
Aasiyah Nolwynn
Lynda Coker
Be sure you also check out the one who tagged me at Ginger Simpson.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Premonitions, Boo Boos and Sales

Do you believe in premonitions? Have you ever just known something bad was about to happen and it did? That’s the way I felt when I saw an email in my box from By Grace Publishing. Something told me I wasn’t going to like what I’d find, and I didn’t. Unhappily, By Grace is shutting down which means my first inspirational novel, The Sentence, no longer has a publisher. So, it won’t be released in October after all.

On the bright side, working with By Grace was a nice experience. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and easy to work with. I’m sorry the company had to close, and I wish the very best for everyone connected to By Grace. Authors, good luck in your search for new publishers.

What do premonitions and boo boos have in common? In this case nothing. I just made a boo boo last week when I posted the blog. Billie Williams is a member of MurderX5, and I got her name wrong. I’ve corrected the error, but I want to apologize to Billie who besides being a good author is a very nice lady. I’m posting her cover and listing her web site again in hopes you’ll pay her a visit. If you do, check out her current contest. I totally love the prize. Her web site is

Now what was that about a sale? Don’t you love that word? I just wanted to say that both Purple Heart and The Welcome Inn are on sale at for 25% off. You can get both of them for under ten dollars.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

Friday, September 26, 2008


Last week I had the good fortune to have Beth Trissel stop by the blog, and today I have a fabulous group of authors called MurderX5. The ladies in the group are Nancy Lindley-Gautheir, Norma Seely, Marie Held, Billie Williams, and Linda Suzane.

How'd they get that name? I'll let them tell you.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life... Love

1. I understand that you are all working together to promote
your books, how did that happen?

LINDA: I sent out a request on a writer’s loop for help on
promoting. Nancy was one of the authors that responded. I
noticed from her sig line that she had a book coming out in
September, just as I did. I wrote her and we decided to work
together if possible to promote our books. Then we emailed
our editor to find out if there were any more mysteries being
published in September and it turned out that there were 5
of us, so we started emailing back and forth. We debated
about what to call ourselves and finally decided on

MurderX5 included Nancy Lindley-Gautheir - Offshore
Threat, Norma Seely - Maze of Secrets, Marie Held -
Savannah’s Secret, Billie Williams - Ancient Secrets, and
Linda Suzane - The Murder Game

2. Today Norma, Linda and Billie join us. Tell us a bit more
about MurderX5.

LINDA: We are a very varied group. Marie is a new writer,
Savannah’s Secret is her first book. As Billie says, she is
probably the most prolific author, most experienced at
promotion. Norma has been published for a long time with
major publishers, Doubleday and Avalon. Maze of Secrets is
her first book with an ePublisher. Nancy and I have several

While we are all mysteries, we vary there as well.
Savannah’s Secret and The Murder Game are romantic
mysteries. While Maze of Secrets is definitely a cozy. And
Offshore Threat is a suspense thriller. Ancient Secrets is a
paranormal mystery. Maze of Secrets and The Murder
Game both take place on the West Coast and involve old
mansions. Offshore Threat and Savannah’s Secret take
place of the East Coast and involve sailing. And Ancient
Secrets goes to deepest and definitely darkest Africa. I
thought it was interesting that three of the titles include the
word secret. We tried to think up a clever slogan and came
up with “Secrets, not a Game, definitely a Threat, one
Secret leads to more Secrets. Wings September Mysteries:
Maze of Secrets, The Murder Game, Off Shore Threat,
Savannah’s Secret, and Ancient Secrets.” Not really catchy,
but. . .

3. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you actually
get started?

NORMA: The first thing I remember writing was a play
performed in the 4th grade. As I recall it had something to
do with a missing pearl. The first step I took toward actually
being what I considered a writer, was to take a
correspondence course in writing.

BILLIE: I always told stories and made up scenarios for
playing games etc. I didn’t start writing seriously until I took
some college courses later on in life and found out I wasn’t a
grammar/creative writing failure after all. {smile} I had my
first piece of work published in 1998- Dandelion With Angel
Wings about my youngest daughter. Then I wrote Death by
Candlelight and got it published in 2001 – since then I have
twelve books with Wings ePress as well as others with other
publishers and a dozen or so more under a pseudonym I
use for romance writing.

LINDA: No, I didn’t always want to be a writer. It wasn’t until
after I was in college and married that I began writing. As a
child and young adult, I spent hours in my fantasy worlds.
Once I was married, in 1968, I thought I was too old and
mature to waste time just fantasizing, but writing legitimized
what I really enjoyed doing. When my husband was in
ministerial school, I started writing nonfiction and had my
first article published in Unity Magazine. Then after my
daughter was born in 1978, I began thinking about
becoming a professional writer, focusing on writing
romances, but the first novel I finished was a Star Trek
novel, The Addonian Affair, in 1983.

4.For you, what's the hardest part of writing? What's the

LINDA: Copy editing is probably my least favorite part of
writing. Since I am a perfectionist, it takes me a really long
time to finish the book and by the time I do, I am sick of it.
Easiest is when the creative flow takes over and the story
almost writes itself. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does
it is absolutely a wonderful experience.

BILLIE: I can’t say that any part of writing is hard –
marketing is hard for me because I’m intensely shy – but
writing I love it. I love to be paid to do what I love. Deciding
on characters to people my stories and doing their character
charts is the most fascinating part and my stories have a
tendency to hinge on them as much as, if not more then, plot
itself. So that is probably the easiest part, because I enjoy
doing it so much.

NORMA: The hardest part of writing? Sitting down at the
computer and not being side tracked. What's the easiest?
Telling stories.

5.Who are some of your favorite authors? Did any of them
influence your writing?

BILLIE: I have so many authors I admire for different
reasons. Stephen King is the world’s best at characterization
– and making you believe this person would do this thing.
Dorothy Branden, Elizabeth George, Marcia Golub, and
others make the how to of writing seem easy; Rachel Ballon
PH D shows you how to breathe life into your characters;
Patricia Cornwell, gets you to understand how a body
trauma reacts in time and space, Mary Higgins Clark will
show you a killer trail and make it an easy read, Dean
Koontz – shows you how to crank up the fear equation, Jude
Deveraux will give you an appreciation for the beauty of the
written word. As I said there are so many authors I love to
read that give me a handle on the craft of writing. And all of
them have influenced my writing to one degree or another. I
think the single best writing instructor is reading other
authors; the good, the bad, the downright ugly.

NORMA: So many of my favorite authors are long dead.
D.E. Stevenson, Agatha Christie, Clifford Simak. After just
having seen the Lipizzaner stallions perform I'm re-reading
Mary Stewart's "Airs Above the Ground". Did any of them
influence your writing? Both Christie and Stewart, because
I like to write both cozy mysteries and romantic suspense.

LINDA: Wow. I recognized some of the names, but not a lot.
More authors to go explore. For me, Frank Herbert’s DUNE
was one of the books and authors that most influenced me.
DUNE was the first adult book, the first science fiction I ever
read. The power of the writing created the world of Dune
and made it so vivid, so real. That has always been my
writing goal, to create worlds that the reader feels they are
living there and they don’t want to leave. Anne McCaffrey is
another world creator that I love. The Murder Game is a
case of trying to write about what I know, building the story
world through reality. I explore how we deal with grief and
disillusionment, as well as how to writer a murder mystery

6.Everyone thinks writers live glamorous lives. Describe
you typical writing day.

LINDA: As I spent a 6 year hiatus from writing due to ill
health, I am just trying to find a working pattern. My daughter
and son-in-law and 2 grandchildren live with us. Draven is 9
and Adrianna is 2. Unfortunately, that means I do a lot of
babysitting. And even when I am not actually babysitting,
since my so-called office is a corner of what used to be the
dining room, there is the constant noise of kids. I am finding
that earphones and loud music is my life savior. Because of
the pain of arthritis, my computer time is limited. Some days
are much better than others. The major problems is the pain
medications I must take. They numb my mind and stop my
ability to think or create. So when I have an arthritis flare up,
I can’t think to write, so I focus on tasks that don’t require
creativity. It is all a balance act. There is no way to plan,
there is no typical writing day. And it definitely isn’t

BILLIE: Up at 5 a.m. to write first in my journals, then on my
current WIP until 8 or so when hubby gets out of bed. Then I
fix breakfast for him. He goes and picks up the mail and I
spend half hour to an hour going through it. Then I type up
the writing I did long hand in the wee morning hours. Then I
check email; do laundry or whatever household or garden
chore needs to be done. By then it’s lunch time. After lunch I
usually spend more writing and marketing time on the
computer. Until about 3 or 3:30 when I take a break and
watch Judge Judy and the news and do supper/diner.
Evenings are more writing or marketing since I have several
publishers I need to spend time on those author’s loops,
chats, marketing and promotion for each. It takes the rest of
my day. I’m an early to bed person so by 10 p.m. if I didn’t have
to go to work that day I’m in bed. I work part time which can
be from 41/2 to 40 some hours a week.

NORMA: Breakfast, walking the dogs, 45 minutes of
exercises to keep me mobile and then I sit down at the
computer and write. That is on the days I don't work part

7.What genre do you write in? What are you working on

NORMA: What genre do I write in? Mostly mystery.
Although I'm currently polishing a children's fantasy and a
non-fiction article on ghost-hunting.

LINDA: Right now I am focusing on learning how to market
myself and my books. I had just gotten my 3 books
published when I got sick six years ago. I did no publicity
and as a result the sales of the books were dismal, so
dismal my two other publishers dropped my books, so I
approached Wings ePress about reprinting them. THE
MURDER GAME is my first romance, and probably my last. I
don’t like having to fit into the strict romance mold, although
I enjoy writing about romantic relationships and I’m pretty
good at sex scenes. But I definitely like writing mysteries.
EYES OF TRUTH is a fantasy mystery, one of a series of
stories based in an oriental style fantasy world, the Kingdom
of Naj, and will be reprinted in January 2009. CAPTIVITY,
DARKHOUR VAMPIRES VOL 1, also published by Wings
ePress, is the first in a series of vampire novels. I have just
begun working again on the second in the series.
FREEDOM is pretty close to being finished and hopefully
will be accepted for publication by Wings ePress, too.

BILLIE: I write in many genres, from mystery/suspense, to
adventure, YA, Poetry, Romantic Suspense, paranormal
suspense non-fiction — I haven’t tried Sci Fi or Fantasy yet
though I admire writers who can do that whole world building
thing and I would like to write a children’s book. Right now
I’m working on two novels. Mansfield Park Secrets for my
secrets series with Wings, as well as a book 5 in the Zodiac
series for Wings both of these are mystery/suspense. I am
working on the second book in the Purple Feather Murders
series, a Romantic Suspense with a bit of sizzle for

LINDA: I would classify Ancient Secrets as fantasy, what
they call urban fantasy, which deals with magic in the
modern world. The necklace in Ancient Secrets is definitely
magical as is the Goddess Ebony. So you can’t say you
don’t write fantasy. But I admit, it doesn’t have any dwarfs or
dragons or sword fighting.

8. Tell us more about your books. Do include a buy link for
your new release.

All 5 books can be bought from They
will eventually be available from and But buy them direct from Wings ePress.
They cost less and we poor authors don’t have to split our
royalties with middlemen.

Nancy Lindley-Gautheir
Offshore Threat (Thriller)
A coast guard officer must find who killed a young girl
as well as protect national security. Mysterious adventure on
the high seas.

Norma Seely
Maze of Secrets (Cozy)
Irmajean Lloyd, volunteer gardener at historic
Rosewood Estate, thinks there's nothing more deadly in the
garden than black spot on the roses. The murder of the
estate's director soon changes her mind.

Marie Held
Savannah’s Secret (Romantic Suspense)
Curiosity about an explosion in an old house in
Savannah leads Serena to do a title search which draws the
deadly attention of others.

Billie Williams
Ancient Secrets (Paranormal Mystery)
Sorcery, jealousy, legends rivaling an Indiana Jones
tale drags three unlikely adventurers to the South African
jungles, where there is no guarantee of survival.

Linda Suzane
The Murder Game (Romantic Mystery)
Gwen loved creating murder mystery games until
someone used her game to commit a real murder and left
her the prime suspect.

6.Give us your links so we can find you on the web

You can find MurderX5 at On Wings of Murder

Linda Suzane’s homepage
Billie A. Williams homepage
Norma Seely homepage
Nancy A. Lindley-Gauthier homepage
Marie Held homepage (none)

Ladies, thanks for stopping by. I think it's great that you're doing promotions as a group, and I'm looking forward to reading your work.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Interview with Beth Trissel

Hi readers! You're in for a treat today. Please welcome author Beth Trissel to the blog.


1.Tell us a little bit about youself, including how you came to be a writer.

Thank you for having me as a guest! To answer your question, research into family genealogy, my early English/Scots-Irish forebears, and a deep-seated fascination with early America and the Shawnee Indians inspired my initial writing journey.

2.What genre do you prefer? Would you ever write in something else?

I love historical romance and have a tendency to mix in paranormal elements. Increasingly so, and am also writing light paranormal with historical elements. Depending on which element is the strongest, determines which romance genre a story falls into. I write for both the American and Faery Rose lines at the Wild Rose Press. If I wrote something else, it would probably be mystery. Somewhere My Love has a lot of mystery in it.

3.Tell the readers a little bit about your writing day.

Ideally, I write. Summer has been insane with the demands of family. I’m eager for fall and a return to my routine.

4.I'm always surprised at how many people ask me about my work space. (It's a mess.) Tell us about yours, please.

My bedroom, at this point. You definitely don’t want to ‘go there.’

5.How long does it take you to write a book? How many books do you produce in a year?

Writing time for me can vary from three-six months to five years because each novel is so different. Enemy of the King was my toughest novel to complete. I would like to average at least one book a year.

6.What's the hardest part of writing for you?

Writing. J Actually sticking with a project no matter what and finishing the story.

7.Most authors are also avid readers. Is this the case with you? If so,

Not lately, aside from research. I love reading but suspect I may have to take early retirement in order to have the time to really read. My TBR pile is up to my chin or would be, most if it’s in the form of digital downloads.

Who are some of your favorites? Have any influenced your writing?

Going back in the distant recesses of time, I’d have to say Jane Austen, Baroness Orczy, who wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel, Daphne Du Maurier…to name just a few. I was brought up reading the classics by my English professor father, then I discovered people don’t actually write like that anymore. I had years worth of learning ahead of me after I crafted that first rough draft.

8.Please tell us about your new release, including where we can buy it.

Somewhere My Love is a murder mystery/ghost story romance with flashbacks to early nineteenth century Virginia. The idea for the story came to me after I toured old plantation Homes along the James River, the setting for ‘Somewhere.’ This Faery Rose novel will be available at the Wild Rose Press starting Sept. 26th.

The trailer for ‘Somewhere’ is getting a lot of hit on YouTube:

I’ve also signed for three other novels to be released in the not too distant future. Please check my website for details.

An excerpt from Somewhere My Love:

A cold finger laid its icy touch on Julia and ran
down the length of her spine. “How did it happen?”
“He’s said to have been run through by the very
man who made that mark on the door. A Mr.
Cameron. Scottish fellow he was, back in...” Mrs.
Hensley pursed her thin lips, blue eyes distant. “Ah,
yes, 1806. Some fuss over a woman.”

“How dreadful. What about Mr. Cameron?”

“The friend of a neighbor, I believe. He escaped
and was never found. No justice was ever done in the

Julia hesitated, then asked, “And the woman?”

“Heartbroken, poor thing. She returned to
England. She was a guest of the Wentworth family
and greatly enamored of Cole. All the young ladies
were, but he had a particular fascination with this

“Why was she so special?”

“Apart from her legendary beauty? She had an
angelic quality about her. Or so the story goes.”

An irrational jealousy twanged a jarring note in
Julia. In the space of a few short minutes she’d
fallen in love with the man in the portrait—typical
of her impractical nature and unlikely to advance
her nonexistent love life. And yet, she couldn’t help
plunging into this sweet madness.

She tore her eyes from the painting. “Do you
recall the lady’s name?”

Mrs. Hensley gave a little laugh. She tapped a
finger to her furrowed forehead. “Isn’t that odd? It
was Julia something...hmmmm.”

Was Mrs. Hensley teasing her? She had to

“I’ve got it. Julia Maury,” the guide continued
and arched graying brows. “You’re from England,
aren’t you, Miss Morrow? Tread with care here, my
girl. We don’t want you stirring up any ghosts.
Foxleigh has enough already.”

For those of you who didn't know, Beth was a Golden Heart finalist. Yes! What a thrill. I finaled with the lead story in my colonial frontier trilogy, Through the Fire, coming to the Wild Rose Press, release date TBD.Thanks for doing the interview, Beth. I'll send you an email when it's posted.

Thanks for having me!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Character Interview Rachel Amos

Good morning, viewers. I’m Elaine Cantrell, legal reporter for WYXA. The jury in the Clint Hayes case just returned a guilty verdict which certainly isn’t a surprise, but the judge’s sentence is the reason for all the commotion on the court house steps. Judge Lowe just sentenced Hayes to six months under the care of Reverend Neal Amos, the pastor of Saved By Grace Community Church. Reverend Amos will in effect be Hayes’ jailor.

For those of you who haven’t been following this story, Hayes accidentally burned down Saved By Grace back in April when he stopped in the parking lot to throw away a beer can and have a cigarette. At first the police charged Hayes…wait a minute. I see Rachel Amos the minister’s daughter coming this way. Rachel, Rachel, Elaine Cantrell of WYXA here. Could you give us a comment on Judge Lowe’s sentence?

Rachel: What is there to say? My parents and I discussed it at home, but we never expected the judge to go along with it.

Elaine: So, this was your parents’ idea, not the judge’s?

Rachel: That’s right. My father’s a minister, so he believes in second chances, and thinks he can help Mr. Hayes. He intends to let Mr. Hayes help us rebuild the church.

Elaine: Isn’t your father worried about Hayes’ background? He’s a high school drop out who works for Bud’s Private Club, right?

Rachel: Yes.

Elaine: The club doesn’t have the greatest reputation.

Rachel: No, it doesn’t.

Elaine: Excuse me for saying so, but you don’t look thrilled over the sentence.

Rachel: I loved the church. It’s been there for a hundred years, but in one careless, drunken moment the building goes up in flames. I don’t understand how any responsible person could…I’m sure things will be fine. If you’ll excuse me I have to go now.

Elaine: What do you think, viewers? Will Reverend Amos be able to turn Hayes’ life around? Will Rachel forgive him for what he’s done? We’ll keep watch on this story for you and report when we have more news. Now, back to Lisa in our studio.

Curious about what this desperado looks like? Click on the following link and work a quick puzzle to find out.

The Sentence will be available in October from By Grace Publishing.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life... Love

Monday, September 8, 2008

Welcome To The Blog Train Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the Blog Train Scavenger Hunt, chugging from url to url. I hope you enjoy this brief stop at my blog. Somewhere on this page, you'll find a hidden word, plainly labeled, that is part of a famous saying...not too famous though, so you'll have to use some brain power to assemble all the words you find during your travels--there are 16, total. The hunt will end on September 13th, so you'll need to forward your final entry to by midnight on the 13th. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing, but you never may be the only person who gets it right.

While you’re here I hope you’ll look around and enjoy yourself. If you’ll look at the August 9 entry you’ll find a link to my last two video trailers. On August 30, I also have an excerpt from my upcoming release The Sentence. (secret word-Churchill) This blog is new, so I still have some work to do on it, but I think it’s coming along. For plenty of excerpts and other contests, go to my web site at

As soon as you finish perusing my site and find the word here, please get back on the train and visit for your next word. Remember, although this is fun and there are prizes involved, we are all authors doing this as a promotion for our blog sites. We hope you will bookmark us and visit often. Thanks for joining the Blog Train and have a happy trip. Remember, you can be the winner of 16 wonderful downloads. :)

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Contests Everywhere

After nine weeks of summer vacation, I’m back at work with an entire group of new students. So far everything is going really well. The students are pleasant, and most of them are diligently doing their work. I am been busy, though. In fact, I’ve been so busy I forgot to mention a couple of things I’m involved in, things you might like to know about.

First, Two Lips book reviews is celebrating their second anniversary with a scavenger hunt. Lots of authors are participating, so there are a good many prizes up for grabs. For information on the hunt, go to Be sure to check my web site too. I’ve cleverly hidden the secret icon in an interesting place.

I’m also participating in another scavenger hunt, this one involving my blog. This hunt doesn’t begin until September 8. The winner of this hunt wins sixteen books. To participate, go to on September 8 and follow the Blog Train instructions.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life… Love

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Sentence

My first inspirational novel, The Sentence is coming in October from By Grace Publishing. Today, I'd like to share an excerpt with you because I'm pleased with the way the book turned out. I'd considered an inspirational for some time but kept putting it off because I really like to write mostly sweet contemporaries. Still, this story kept nagging at me until I wrote it. I hope you enjoy the excerpt.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life... Love

The Sterling Daily
October 10
Upstate Edition

Judge Shocks Community

Controversial Judge Marion Lowe shocked every person in his packed court last Wednesday when he passed sentence in the Clint Hayes case. Hayes, 27, who works for Bud Parsons at Bud’s Private Club, was found guilty of burning Saved By Grace Community Church last April.

Originally, Hayes was arrested for arson. His fingerprints were found on a beer bottle in the church parking lot the night the church burned, but a sheriff’s investigation revealed the fire was caused by a cigarette that Hayes threw into an azalea bed. Authorities believe the cigarette caused the dry mulch around the bushes to catch fire, and the flames spread to the church. The building was a total loss.

After consultation with Reverend Neal Amos, the pastor of Saved By Grace, Judge Lowe sentenced Hayes to six months in the care of Reverend Amos who in effect will be his jailor.

“The verdict was a surprise,” admitted Rachel Amos, 24, the minister’s daughter. “My father discussed the situation with my mother and me, but to be honest we never dreamed the judge would go along with it.”

Several members of Saved By Grace have expressed their support for Reverend Amos’ decision, but they admit there are some who want nothing to do with Hayes.

Local civil rights groups have announced their intention to get the verdict overthrown, but so far Hayes says he wants the sentence to stand.

Until the new church is constructed, Saved By Grace is meeting at Sterling High School. Sunday School is at ten o’clock followed by worship at eleven. Anyone wishing to make a donation to Saved By Grace’s building fund may do so at People’s National Bank.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wow What A Surprise!

I got an email the other day that really surprised me. According to the editor I'm working with at By Grace Publishing, they want to publish my book in October of this year which is a lot sooner than I expected. I'm agreeable, so if all goes as planned I'll have The Sentence coming from By Grace in October, and The Best Selling Toy Of The Season coming from MS Fiction in November. How's that for ending the year with a bang?

I thought I'd offer you a blurb for each book just so you'd know what they're all about. In September I'll start offering some excerpts from each one.

Blurb: The Sentence-By Grace Publishing

For a hundred years, the little church pointed the way to Heaven for the congregation. Then, Clint Hayes stopped in the parking lot one night to throw away a beer bottle and have a cigarette. The cigarette made him cough, so he threw it away too. It came to rest in an azalea bed beside the church.

Aided by a fingerprint on the beer bottle Hayes was arrested for arson, but it soon became apparent he hadn't meant to burn the church down. Everyone expected him to spend a few months in jail, but the judge had a better idea.

He sentenced Clint to six months under the care of Rev. Neal Amos, the pastor of Saved By Grace, a move the pastor's daughter Rachel isn't happy about. Why didn't her father let this criminal go to jail? That's what he deserved.

But as Rachel gets to know him, she finds herself falling for a man with no education, family, or faith. And he's falling for her too.
Will Rachel overlook his past and believe he's given his life to God, or will she let him walk away when his sentence is over?

Blurb: The Best Selling Toy Of The Season

Who'd want to be Nikki Lane? Sure, she's beautiful, but her family isn't much. She isn't married either, and supporting her two boys on a minimum wage job has cost her more than one sleepless night.

Tommy Price is everything Nikki isn't. He lives on James Street, the best street in town. Naturally, his rich, influential family has a suitable woman picked out for him to marry.
Tommy and Nikki's two diverse worlds literally collide one evening at the discount store where Nikki works, giving both of them a glimpse into a life they never knew existed.

Can the growing attraction between them bridge the vast gulf which separates them, or will their romance end before it even begins?

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life... Love

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Muse Online Writer's Conference

Going to a major writer's conference can be a daunting experience in terms of both time and money. It's not something everyone can do. If you haven't attended a conference and would like to go to some workshops and maybe make some pitches to agents or publishers, an online conference might be what you need.

I attended an online conference last year sponsored by SORMAG. I enjoyed it. I received some useful information and made a few friends as well. I also made some online pitches to a major literary agent. (Unhappily, nothing came of that.)

I've signed up for another online conference which will be held this fall. This one is sponsored by The Muse Online writer's group. You can find information about both the conference and this group by going to If you're interested in the conference you'll need to be sure to register before September 1. They say they won't take late registration.

Thanks for reading!
Elaine Cantrell
Hope. Dreams. Life... Love

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Can't Believe I Did It!

What did I do? Oh, I made video trailers for each of my 2007 releases. Why is that such a big deal? I've been talking about ebooks and technology for three weeks now? It's a big deal because yours truly is technologically challenged. I didn't grow up with computers, so technology doesn't come as easy to me as it does to some people.

Anyway, I had watched other people's trailers and wanted one, so when I was offered the chance to take a class on Windows Movie Maker I did. To my surprise, the basics weren't that hard to master. That doesn't mean I didn't struggle with it. I did, and I know I still have a lot to learn, but I made one trailer for Purple Heart and another for The Welcome Inn.

Here's a link to my masterpieces:

If you do watch them, send the technologically challenged one (me) a note and tell me how you liked them. Be kind. They're my first ones.

Thanks for reading!

Elaine Cantrell

Hope. Dreams. Life... Love