December 30, 2012

Holiday Cheer - The Family Gathers Near

Win a 2013 Calendar and a Nook below for how....

by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Thanks for having me today, Anna. Happy New Year to all.
The major rush and bustle of holiday activities have settled, but many of you are probably still in the “relaxing with the relatives” mode. I’m currently about 400 miles from my mountain home, visiting with my step-daughter’s family that includes my two granddaughters. Plus my son and youngest daughter have traveled from southern California and are under the same roof. I love that feeling of a mixture of families hanging out together.  Memories are made and old times recollected as we share meals, play board games, do puzzles, and read stories.

All these elements ran through my mind as I plotted out my historical Christmas story, The Ring That Binds, released by Prism Book Group. Because of the holiday, I wanted a small child as part of the story, which meant a single parent (this is a romance, after all). Plus I wanted to include a “from the heart” gift because we all treasure those special gifts. My publisher says the story has the “aww” factor and so far, I’ve received three 5-star reviews on Amazon.

RECIPE: (luxury wasn’t part of Celina’s household so this sweet cornbread would have been considered a treat)

Molasses Cornbread
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
1 cup sweet milk
¼ cup vegetable oil

Place dry ingredients in medium bowl, make well in middle. Mix in all wet ingredients and pour into greased 8” square pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 min or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
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?
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.”
Where to find the book:
Prism Book Group has a 30% off sale until January 2, 2013—use code Holiday12


Barnes & Noble:              


As a child, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about characters having exciting adventures in places far away. Upon reaching a landmark birthday, she decided to write one of those romances she loved so much. Easier said than done. Perseverance paid out and twelve years later, she received her first call from a publisher and a confession story was published. Now Linda writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor, and many have a tie to her previous home of Texas.
Linda currently lives in the southern California mountains with her husband of 34 years and their two spoiled dogs, Shiba Inu Keiko and terrier mix Phoenix.

Where to find me:
Twitter @lcarrollbradd
Linda can also be found on LinkedIN, Goodreads, Classic Romance Revival, and Manic Readers.
Leave a comment here (including your email address) and be eligible to win a 2013 calendar, and also be entered in the big giveaway drawing for the Nook HD.


Amy S. said...

The excerpt and the recipe sounds great.

Linda Cacaci said...

The excerpt was realy good and I can't wait to read it. Please enter me in the drawing.
Linda Cacaci

Bookie said...

I rarely read around too much as I don't have the time, but today I treated myself. This excerpt is fetching! Please allow me a chance to win your give away! Happy New Year.

Angela Adams said...

Linda, I love your traditions of how to spend the Holidays with your family. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

This book sounds absolutely charming--and the recipe sounds good, too!

Edith said...

Your story sounds just perfect!

Cara Marsi said...

You sound like you're having a terrific Christmas with your family. I love the premise of your book. It sounds like a wonderful read. Good luck. I hope I win.

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

Amy, Thanks for stopping by and posting.

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

Linda, I appreciate your comments.

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

Bookie, Glad you explored enough to find my excerpt on the Holiday Cheer blog.

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

I'm loving that I get to spend time with my adult children and granddaughters. Unfortunately, my husband had to stay home for lack of vacation time. But there's always next year...

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

Thanks for posting.

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

I'm glad I conveyed enough of the story. I appreciate you stopping by.

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

And the great thing was the story was fun to write. Always an added bonus.

Victoria Pitts-Caine said...

I enjoyed reading the post on how you’re spending the holidays and I also enjoyed The Ring That Binds. It is a wonderful Christmas story.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

I love sweet cornbread. Thanks for the recipe. Loved the excerpt, too. Thanks for sharing. :) Can you believe 2012 is almost over. How did it fly by so fast?

Let's hope for a wonderful 2013!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

oops forgot my email:
kmnbooks at yahoo dot com


Mary Preston said...

You should never discount the "aww" factor. I'm looking forward to a great read & thanks for the recipe.


Mary L. Ball said...

A lovely novel and I just may try the cornbread!

Linda Carroll-Bradd said...

Victoria and Karen, thanks for supporting the blog.
Mary P, I do appreciate the magic when it occurs. Thanks for posting.
Mary B, thanks for the nice words and for stopping by.

Good luck on the drawing to all.