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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.