Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I Don't Cook for 50% of the Year -- by Linda Carroll-Bradd

It's true, folks. Imagine, only having to cook for fifty percent of the year. My toes curl at the thought. But wait, why does my guest only slave in the kitchen for a few months at a time? Read on and you'll find out.
Vonnie, you certainly know how to grab someone's attention. My thanks to you for hosting me today. I am happy to claim we’re both in the author ranks with Still Moments Publishing and The Wild Rose Press.
1.   What is your life like away from the computer? Tell us something about your household.
My household (me, hubby & 2 small dogs) is a bit different than most. My husband is the Maintenance Supervisor of a denomination-run camp in the southern California mountains. Our little 750 s.f. cabin is in a national forest so we’re surrounded by trees, rocks, wildflowers…and wildlife. When program camps are in session, we eat with the campers. So for approximately 50% of the year, I don’t have to cook—at all.
When I’m not at the computer writing, promoting or freelance editing, I love watching movies. Right now, I’m convinced if I watch enough Christmas movies, I’ll figure out how to write a holiday screenplay.
2.   What authors and genres do you like to read?
I usually read in a genre other than my current project so I don’t inadvertently catch the rhythm of the author’s voice. When I want to get away from romance, I love thrillers set in Scandinavian countries. Got hooked with “The Girl…” series and keep discovering more authors I like. Although the tone is grittier than US thrillers, I can’t stop turning the page.
3.   How do you research your storylines or locations?
When I first started writing (before internet resources were developed), I used the travel guides issued to Automobile Association of America. Included in the population, geographic location & elevation data are often tidbits of historical significance that spark story ideas. My husband and I love to visit museums whenever we travel. I’ve discovered books written by residents of that particular area often include anecdotal information that add depth to a story. I also save museum brochures.
4.   What part of the writing process brings you the most pleasure? The most angst?
I love the pre-planning stage so much that I often have to set a deadline. I could research locations, weather, architectural structure, regional historical facts, etc. forever—way more information than I need. Once I launch into the story itself, I get real pleasure out of discovering the characters’ personalities—is she long-winded, does he bestow physical touches, can they banter?
The angst part comes when I receive editor revisions and smack myself upside the head with a “duh, of course that is needed.”
5.   Has your road to publication been a walk in the park or a steep mountain climb? Give us some details?
Twelve years passed from the time I became interested in writing and my first fiction publication, which happened to be a story in a confession magazine. Oh, I had all the regular reasons for not sitting my behind in the chair (young children, fulltime job, family obligations). Then our family relocated and I wasn’t working. I connected with two women of the San Antonio Romance Authors who became my critique partners. We were all at about the same stage in our writing journey. For several months, we met every Friday or Saturday morning and the requirement was you had to bring pages to be critiqued. Those were my first deadlines and I learned to honor them. I also learned to take critique comments and use them to strengthen my writing. None of us live in Texas anymore but we stay in touch. I’m forever grateful to Elle and Delilah for their encouragement.
6.  Tell us about your current release…or soon to be release.
My most recent release is a Christmas historical novella titled The Ring That Binds released by Prism Book Group. Set in 1886 Aspen, the story is of a widow raising her young daughter and living with the fallout of her adventure-seeking late husband who left behind debts. The hero is co-owner of the general store who wishes for a way to make her life easier. When the child becomes ill, the adults hold a bedside vigil which draws them close. Gifts brought by the hero at the end bond the characters together as a family.
~*~  BLURB  ~*~ 

Widow Celina Innes, a dress shop owner in the small 1886 mining town of Aspen, Colorado, struggles to run her shop and live down her late husband’s bad choices for the sake of her four-year old daughter, Keena. She made the mistake of following after one man’s dream of striking it rich and has sworn not to do it again. Co-owner of Toussaint’s General Store, Mikel, watches this proud woman run a successful business but wishes he could make her life a little easier. He has to be contented by slipping treats to the child in hopes of pleasing her mama. When illness strikes the child, Celina turns to Mikel for help and they work together all night to get past the crisis, deepening their friendship. But when the crisis is over, Mikel disappears from Aspen and Celina learns he is seeking to increase his stores. How could she have been so wrong about the man? Can a woman sworn to put down roots and a man looking for more riches find happiness?

~*~  EXCERPT  ~*~ 
Plastering on a smile for her most cantankerous customer, Celina turned and had to bite back a gasp. Only two weeks had passed since the first fitting, but she could see the side seams would have to be let out so the front could button properly. The banker’s wife did enjoy her cakes and pastries. “Yes, ma’am. The dove gray wool with black collar and cuffs. Such a smart fashion choice.” If only she could afford a new coat half as fine.

She grabbed her box of sewing pins, and slung the measuring tape around her neck. “Go ahead and step up on the platform.” To avoid pointing out the obvious problem, she ran her hand over the fine wool to check the sleeve hem then looked at the back side to see how the pleat folded. “The length at your wrist looks good, don’t you agree?”

Mrs. Peabody held out a pudgy arm, and looked at her reflection in the oval mirror on the wooden stand. “I suppose.” She half turned to get a glimpse of the back and then faced the mirror again.”But these front panels are wrong. Did you deepen the seams?”

“Possibly today’s dress is of a heavier weight, now that we’re further into December.” Oh, the merchant’s dance of choosing the most tactful words. With a quick move, she pulled the measuring tape across the open span of the jacket’s front pieces and noted the gap’s measurement. “Nothing’s permanent. I can taper the side seams.” She held the tape along Mrs. Peabody’s side, as if gauging where to make an adjustment when what she needed to do was let out the seams at least an inch on each side.

The bell over her door tinkled, and a whoosh of cold air swept inside.

“I’ll be right with you.” Celina glanced over her shoulder and spotted Mikel Toussaint, one of the two owners of the general store. Her heartbeat kicked at the sight of one of the town’s most eligible bachelors. “Oh, hello.”

“Mikel!” Keena ran around the counter to greet the tall, dark-haired man. “See what I made.”

“Ah, a necklace fit for a princess.” He scooped up the little girl in his arms then tickled her tummy before turning to acknowledge the women. “Hello, Mrs. Innes, Mrs. Peabody. How are you ladies this fine day?”

“Fine?” Mrs. Peabody sniffed, turning back to preen before her silvery reflection. “A Colorado winter hardly deserves that compliment.”

“A winter day in the mountains without snow is a fine day, my papa always says.” He smiled, white teeth flashing above his green woolen scarf. “Back in the old country, in Espana, on a day like today, people sit on verandas, enjoying wine and pintxo.” He raised Keena to head height and swung her around, causing her to erupt into a fit of high-pitched giggles. In a flash, a peppermint drop appeared in his hand and he presented it to the little girl.

Mikel’s smile softened his dark, slashing eyebrows, and nose with its hawk-like bend, making him almost good looking. Celina had heard ladies whisper about his older brother Danel’s rakish handsome features. But her preference was for a man who knew how to smile.

Celina shook her head at his foreign word that she’d learned meant some type of tasty food from his Basque homeland.

A throat clearing behind her was a not-so-subtle reminder that she was with a customer. Her stomach tightened with a nervous twist.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Toussaint?”

“Oh, my errand. I forget when surrounded by three lovely ladies.” He set Keena down with a pat on her head, and then reached inside his jacket for a flat brown envelope. “I know you look for magazine with eager eyes each month. All the way from Philadelphia.”

Godey’s Lady’s Book. Her link with the latest in the fashion world was the one item of pleasure in her tight budget. When she accepted the mail, she felt the warmth left by his hands on the paper, and her fingers slid to capture it. “Thank you for dropping by with this.” She jerked her head toward the waiting customer, hoping he’d take the hint and depart.

“I am off to cafĂ© for early dinner and wish you all a good evening.”

“Bye, Mikel.” Keena dashed to the window so she could watch his exit.

“Yes, yes.” Mrs. Peabody waved a hand in his direction. “Good evening to you. Now, Mrs. Innes, back to my jacket.”

Celina lifted the envelope in a good-bye salute, and then laid it on her desk before crossing to the fitting platform. To satisfy her customer, she etched light chalk marks at the waist and bust line of the jacket, and then stepped onto the platform to ease the garment off Mrs. Peabody’s rounded shoulders. “Those markings will do the trick. I can have this ready by Saturday at noon. Will that suit?” That allowed her another week to work on holiday decorations and presents for Keena.

“Yes, that will do. I want to wear it to church services on Sunday.” She stepped down and headed to the changing area, her boots making dull thuds on the wooden floor. “I’ve often commented to Mr. Peabody on that man’s strange eating habits.”

Strange? Wondering what she meant, Celina folded the jacket and laid it on the wooden display case that held samples of embroidered collars, cuffs, hankies, and aprons she sewed during her evening hours.
Buy links:
BIO: After years spent in the administrative support field, Linda decided to exercise another part of her brain and write a novel. She loved reading romance and figured that’s what she’d write. Easier said than done. After years of workshops and RWA chapter meetings, she finally saw her manuscripts place in contests. Twelve years after her first writing class, she sold a confession story. From that point on, she couldn’t be stopped and is always pleased when her sweet contemporary and historical stories find homes.

With interests as widespread as baking, crocheting, watching dog agility matches, and reading thrillers by Swedish authors, Linda is the mother to 4 adult children and grandmother to 2 granddaughters. She currently lives in the southern California mountains with her husband of almost 34 years and their two spoiled dogs.
Twitter: @lcarrollbradd
Giveaway: On December 23, one name will be drawn from those liking my author Facebook page (mention Vintage Vonnie’s blog) Winner receives a free download of this story (choice of pdf, kindle, nook)


Victoria Pitts-Caine said...

I enjoyed Linda's The Ring That Binds. It takes us back to a gentler time yet one filled with hardships. It is a wonderful Christmas Story with a happy ever after ending.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed getting to know Linda. I definitely plan on getting her book and reading it over the holidays.

Willa Blair said...

Great excerpt, Linda. You've drawn the details of the characters' interactions beautifully. I can see them all.

Here's to many sales!

Angela Adams said...

Linda, Great job with this book. I'm looking forward to that Christmas screenplay (smile!)

CH said...

Thank you for the interesting interview. I enjoyed this beautiful website - love the pink! Now I have to put The Ring That Binds on my TBR shelf.

GayNLewis said...

Linda Carroll Bradd has recently joined Prism Book Group, our author group is pleased to have her. This release sounds wonderful, and I plan to read it during Christmas vacation. It promises to be the perfect read I'm looking for.

Calisa Rhose said...

Your life sounds fun, Linda. Great excerpt and that cover is lovely!