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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