Monday, July 25, 2011

Contemporary Romance Author, Elaine Cantrell

Today, my guest is contemporary romance author, Elaine Cantrell, discussing her latest release, A New Dream.

AUTHOR:  Elaine Cantrell
PUBLISHER: Astraea Press

      Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?   I’m a southern girl born and bred.  I say ya’ll (which is always plural) and eat grits with butter and salt.  Shrimp grits aren’t bad either.  I started writing ten years ago, and I’m so hooked that now my house is a wreck and I take a computer with me on vacation. But I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.  I have three precious grandchildren, two dogs and two cats, and if I get a few spare minutes I love to read.  My newest hobby is collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.  I write contemporary romance because I enjoy it.

Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.  A New Dream is the name of the book, and it’s published by Astraea Press.  It also happens to be one of my favorites.  Sometimes I think having a favorite book is like having a favorite child; you shouldn’t do it, but I do love this one. Matt McCallum is one of my best heroes to date.  I like to write slightly out of the box, and in A New Dream, I’m a little out of the box.  

       Here’s a blurb about the book:

What do you do when you lose everything?

After an auto accident destroys his pro-football career, Matt McCallum struggles to find a new dream for his life, but nothing engages him the way football did. After a stint in rehab, he takes a job managing a grocery store where he meets Violet Emerson.
Violet works in the bakery department, but her dreams carry her far beyond the doors of Chef’s Pantry. As soon as she can save the money, she plans to open a catering business. And she thinks the new manager’s broad shoulders and blue eyes are simply divine.
Thrown together at work, Matt and Violet find a common dream for their lives, but a loose end from Matt’s past returns to jeopardize their future. Will love be enough to save their new dream before it turns into a nightmare?  

How long have you been writing?   I started writing in May of 2001 and haven’t stopped since.   
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?   Oh, that’s an interesting story.  My son came home one day and told me he’d written a book.  I wasn’t terribly surprised because he’d already won a contest for a short story he’d written.  Imagine a mother’s pride!  He told me that he had always made up stories in his head to amuse himself so he thought he might as well write them down.  Glory be!  I had always done the same thing.  So, I got busy and wrote a book that I called A New Dream.  My husband didn’t like what happened to the hero, but I didn’t care.  I loved writing so I wrote another book. 
The second book A New Leaf won the Timeless Love contest and was published by Oak Tree Books in 2004.  I sort of forgot about A New Dream.  It sat on my computer for ten years before I dusted it off and sent it to Astraea Press who loved it and contracted it within twenty four hours of submission.  So, A New Dream is now published ten years after its creation.
May I brag on it for a minute?  Reviews are great for A New Dream.  The latest review came from Romance Junkies who said, ‘A NEW DREAM is a wonderful contemporary romance with heartwarming characters and heartfelt moments. Elaine Cantrell creates a beautiful, believable relationship with old fashioned values that adds sweetness to the story. All of her characters were likable with emotions and reactions that one can relate to. My favorite though had to be the hero Matt, who had to face a very difficult reality. His growth and the way Ms. Cantrell portrayed his struggles with coming to terms with the changes in his life was nicely done. This is one of the best inspirational romances I’ve read in a while.
The term inspirational needs clarification.  The book isn’t a religious romance.  The reviewer meant it was an inspiring read.
 Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?  No, I don’t outline.  I have a starting point, and I know where I want to go.  I usually have a few key plot points in mind, but other than that it’s write as I go.

      Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?  My heart almost breaks for Matt McCallum.  Matt plays football for the Green Bay Packers until an accident takes his career away.  It was just a piece of the plot to me until I made my video trailer for the book.  As I watched it, I suddenly understood exactly what I’d given this guy to cope with.  A loss like his would cause bitter heartbreak, and could never be undone.  Watching Matt cope with all the changes in his life almost broke my heart, but it really was inspiring to watch as he grew and matured and found a new dream to take the place of the old one.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?  No, I didn’t have to do a lot of research on this one.  I read a few articles on medical procedures, and that’s about it.  I can crank out a book in a matter of weeks, but then I have to revise it, and that takes forever!  Remember A New Dream?  Took ten years.
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?  I like to do things that aren’t in fashion at the moment.  Things like having too many points of view, an omniscient POV, and loving adverbs.
Describe your writing space. My writing space is a small bedroom that I appropriated for myself after my younger son moved out.  I left his small bed but removed everything else.  Then I found a big bookshelf and a computer desk.  I was enjoying the room, but everybody noticed my absence downstairs.  “Why are you up there by yourself?” they asked.  When my husband checked it out, he said, “I’ll put my desk on the wall beside the bookcase so you won’t be by yourself up here.”  He also brought in a TV.  It’s too crowded, but there are advantages.  He’ll rub my feet if I ask, and all I have to do is turn around and put my feet in his lap.  If I beg real hard, he’ll go downstairs and get me a snack too.  He wants me to move the bed so we’ll have more room, but the bed stays.  If I get sleepy, all I have to do is stand up and fall onto the bed.  

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?   I collect vintage Christmas ornaments for one.  I love playing with my grandchildren, and I do still read.  My husband and I have started to take more weekend getaways now that our kids are grown, and I do love those.  I have some lovely friends, and it’s always a pleasure to see them.  
      What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release?  Return Engagement is still fairly current.  It came out in 2010.  Whiskey Creek Press published that one.
If you’ve never read Return Engagement go to my website and read the excerpt.  Or, you can go to the Whiskey Creek website and read chapter one.  You access it from the buy link page.  Return Engagement is my all time number one favorite of all the books I’ve written. 

A New Dream which I’ve been talking about is my current release, and I’m supposed to have one coming in the not too distant future from Lachesis, but I have no idea when. 
      What is your marketing plan?  My marketing plan includes guest posts at other author blogs and websites, a press release, paid advertising on some major romance websites, sending the book out for review, an ad and review from Romantic Times, book signings,  a talk at several local libraries, Facebook and Twitter, blog hops. Excerpts at my own blog, a cyber release party, and promoting the book on Yahoo groups that I belong to.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?  Don’t quit.  If your work isn’t quite right for a traditional or epublisher, publish it yourself.  Lots of authors go that route today.  I have one book that is out of print because the publisher died, and they shut down the company.  I’m planning to release it on Amazon for the kindle.
      Where can people learn more about you and your work?


When Matt turned around, Violet caught a glimpse of his
face, and it occurred to her how dark and quiet the deserted store
seemed. Maybe she shouldn’t have worn such a revealing costume!

Violet hunched her shoulders and pulled the top of her
gown up. But that only drew attention to her chest. His eyes
lingered and his tongue darted out and lined his lips. Violet
shivered as her senses registered how the air swirled with sensual

“Hadn’t we better go?” she appealed as she fidgeted with
one of her bracelets.

“What’s the hurry? We never have a minute to ourselves.
Someone’s always around.”

Violet’s heart raced as Matt moved toward her. She wasn’t
really afraid of him. She couldn’t imagine him forcing his attentions
on her no matter how big and powerful he was, but he had acted
different the last week or so. With effort, she held her ground at his

“Why are you scared of me?” Matt asked his voice as soft
and rich as velvet. “Your eyes are as big as saucers.”

Violet’s chin came up. “I’m not scared of you.”

“Then you won’t mind if I do this.” Matt trailed his fingers
up her bare arm, leaving a path of goose bumps behind.

Violet quivered and tried to catch her breath as he pulled her
into his arms. She didn’t know whether to bless or curse her
costume, for both of his hands now rested against her bare back.

Matt laid her head against his shoulder. Violet caught his
male scent and shivered; she pressed herself closer to him. A warm,
fluttery feeling deep inside coiled and twisted and threatened to
build into something monumental and wonderful.

He bent his head and nuzzled his face against Violet’s neck.
She felt his lips warm against her throat, and convulsively her arms
tightened around him. A few guys had kissed and nuzzled her
before, but it had never been like this. This was the most arousing
experience of her life. Matt’s masculinity had stimulated all of her
feminine instincts. Had she ever been so aware of a man before?
No, she hadn’t.
Boldly, she stroked the back of his neck and explored the
texture of his hair. Matt didn’t seem to mind, so she rubbed his
shoulders and back; the man did have great shoulders. Matt made
a little sound low in his throat that made her knees grow weak.
What audacity to think she could control the leashed power under
her fingers.

In a sudden, swift motion, Matt pushed one of the brief
sleeves of her costume from her shoulder and kissed the place
where the sleeve had rested. “Your skin is so soft and warm,” he

Violet gasped. “Don’t, Matt.”

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