Monday, January 31, 2011

Elaine Cantrell talks heroines

Elaine Cantrell has dropped by to visit today. Please, make her feel welcome.

Let’s Talk Heroines


Everyone says that if you want people to like your book, they have to like your characters, especially your heroines. I think that must be true because not long ago I read a book where I loathed every single one of the characters. They were all selfish, foolish people who rubbed me the wrong way the minute they spoke. I kept reading the book because I wanted to see if I warmed up to the characters, but I never did. I promise you, I’ll never read that author again. So, what does make a good heroine? I can think of three criteria which turn up over and over in my own writing.

First, she loves with her whole heart, with everything that’s in her. Sometimes she makes mistakes, but she’s never lukewarm about the man she loves. In my coming soon release from Astraea Press, A New Dream, my heroine Violet breaks up with the man she loves because she thinks he’s sleeping with another woman. She grieves his loss so much that her friends and family are concerned for her well-being.

Second, my heroines are strong women in themselves. They love their men and like to be pampered, but they can take care of themselves. Violet works in a bakery, but by the end of the book she opens a catering business. In Return Engagement ( Elizabeth is an actress. In The Welcome Inn ( Julianna is a motel manager.

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Third, they aren’t afraid to take a chance. In Return Engagement Elizabeth takes a big chance. She risks her job and her reputation, and she breaks off an engagement to a fine man just to be with my hero. In A New Dream Violet is willing to take a chance on a man who had a reputation for being buck wild and way too friendly with the ladies. ( Astraea won’t be open until February.)
Now, I’d like to introduce you to Violet Emerson heroine of A New Dream. In this excerpt Violet first meets my hero Matt McCallum. This excerpt is totally unedited, but you can still see what happened at that first meeting.

“Psst, Marjorie, he’s here.”

Marjorie English finished the swirl of yellow roses on the cake in front of her before she answered. “Who’s here, Violet?”

“The new manager,” Violet whispered.

Marjorie wiped her hands on a towel and joined Violet at the front counter. “Poor man,” she compassionately remarked.

“I thought he’d be all scarred up,” Violet confessed, “but from a distance he looks fine.”

“He wasn’t hurt anywhere except his legs.”

Marshall Chapman, the retiring manager of Chef’s Pantry, the largest grocery store in Wellington, had slowed his customary brisk pace to accommodate the limping man beside him. He saw Violet and Marjorie at the bakery counter and paused to introduce them.

“Good morning, ladies. I’d like you to meet your new boss, Matt McCallum. Matt, Marjorie English is the manager of our bakery department, and Violet Emerson is her assistant.”

Matt shook hands with each of the women. “Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, Mrs. English. My mother asked me to order a cake from you.”

Marjorie smiled at him, the smile she reserved for special people. “What would you like on the cake, Mr. McCallum?”

“Please, call me Matt. She didn’t say what to get. He’s been offered a football scholarship at Tri State Tech, so maybe a football theme.”

“He’ll be playing for my son-in-law, Kurt Deveraux,” Marjorie said.

“Well, how about that? They say he’s a good coach.”

Marjorie just laughed. “We think he is. I believe I’ll let Violet do your cake if that’s okay. She’ll do a nice job for you.”

“That’s fine.”

“Leave it to me,” Violet promised. “I know just the thing.”

Marshall moved the new manager along, so the women went back to work. “I wonder if he has a girl friend?” Violet presently wondered.

“Who? Marshall? I think he’s married,” Marjorie teased.

Violet blushed prettily. “No, Matt McCallum.”

“Handsome, isn’t he?”

“He goes beyond handsome,” Violet fervently declared. “How tall do you think he is?”

“Oh, probably six two or six three,” Marjorie replied as she boxed the cake she had just finished decorating.

“You could see the muscles in his chest through his shirt.”

Marjorie’s eyes twinkled. “I thought you liked brunettes. Matt’s blonde.”

“Well, his hair is a dark blonde,” Violet defended herself, “and his eyes are a pretty shade of blue.”

Marjorie laughed as she removed a pecan pie from one of the store’s big ovens. “Violet, I think you’ve got a crush on the man.”

Violet flushed a pretty pink. “He is awfully sexy. He can’t walk too well, though.”

The grin faded from Marjorie’s face. “He’s lucky to be walking at all the way I hear it. They had to amputate his right leg above the knee, and his left leg was so mangled and crushed he’ll always walk with a limp.”

Violet stared toward the manager’s office even though Matt was nowhere to be seen. “Can you imagine what it must be like for him? He was a big football star. He was going to have the world on a string, and now he can hardly walk.”

“And his brother has a football scholarship. That has to hurt,” Marjorie sadly commented. She tore off a piece of plastic wrap to cover the pecan pie. “Violet, if you like Matt’s looks, why don’t you flirt with him?”

Violet laughed heartily. “I’ll get right on it.”

“I’m serious,” Marjorie insisted. “I know you were a sickly child, but you’re as healthy as a horse now. It’s time for you to stretch your wings and start thinking about a family of your own. Matt McCallum liked what he saw, and so did you.”

Violet cocked her head and thought for a minute. “I doubt he’d have any interest in me, Marjorie.”

“You don’t know until you try,” Marjorie objected. She slapped a sticker on the pie and went to place it on the shelf beside the muffins. She returned to the bakery and said, “You’re like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy room. You aren’t selfish and jaded like a lot of young women I know which is a surprise because your parents were so protective of you when you were younger.” She reached for a bag of sugar. “So, why wouldn’t Matt be interested?”

Violet shrugged and threw up her hands, and Marjorie went to take a birthday cake order from a customer.

Could Marjorie be right? Could Matt McCallum ever take an interest in someone like her? Violet pondered the matter as she pulled out the ingredients she’d need for Matt’s cake. Matt was like a fairy tale prince come to life in a mundane setting like a grocery store.

When she was little, she had a storybook that told the story of Cinderella. The prince had resembled Matt McCallum in so many ways. He was tall and blonde as was Matt, and like Matt he had a handsome face. The prince in the storybook had six pack abs, and from what little she’d seen of Matt, she’d bet he did too.

Of course no matter what Marjorie said, she would never expect someone like him to be interested in her. After all, superstars didn’t date little violets. Oh, she guessed she was pretty; she’d have to be brain dead not to know she looked okay, but shy, gauche girls didn’t attract men like Matt McCallum. It didn’t hurt to daydream about him, though. She’d make him a beautiful cake. She could at least do that much for him.

Great excerpt, so glad you could drop by, Elaine.

Becca, thanks so much for letting me come today. Thanks to your visitors for reading!

Elaine Cantrell -- Hope. Dreams. Life… Love


  1. Nice excerpt. I hope Violet and Matt can work out their problems. ;)

  2. Fun excerpt. I like the name Violet, a lot! Thanks.

  3. I only read books with strong independent heroines. They are the best!

  4. Enjoyed your post Elaine. I agree with you, our readers have to like our characters, be able to feel and relate to them. They have to be real.

  5. I love your characters, Elaine! Congrats on the new contract...I saw the post on your blog.

  6. I agree - that is a great excerpt. Makes me want to read the book, and that's sort of the point isn't it? Thanks for hosting Elaine. She is obviously gifted writer.

  7. Thanks to everyone for dropping by. Violet is one of my favorite heroines. I have a release date for A New Dream now. March 8 at


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