Saturday, December 31, 2011

Terry’s Spicy Collard Soup

Terry Chrisman, a great north Louisiana cook, made a powerful pot of collard soup today. She said it had a spicy Italian-flavored kick. It was so good she didn’t have a leftover. She said she just made it up as she went along. She has a well-stocked spice rack. When she cooks, she says she “makes a pass by the spices.” Today she told us exactly what she added. With some cornbread, this soup would make an excellent New Year’s Day meal.

Terry’s Spicy Collard Soup

1 can collard greens (spicy ones)
1can pinto beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 chopped onion
1 heaping teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
a shake or two of parsley, Cajun seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper,
dash of Tabasco
1 cup seashell macaroni

Sauté onions and garlic. Add all other ingredients except macaroni. Add enough water or chicken stock (Terry uses water) to make it soupy, cook for ten to fifteen minutes, add macaroni. cook till al dent. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. (Terry adds parmesan last and stirs it in whole soup. She also adds one teaspoon of dry ranch style dressing mix.).Serve with dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Character Interview with Caroline from Secret Promise

Secret Promise is a historical inspirational romance to be released in early 2012.

Mary Lou: Hello, Caroline. Thank you for taking some of your time to talk with us today. I know you are busy.
Caroline: Yes, I’m very busy this summer. I have to make dresses for my stepsisters to wear in a revue. The styles they have selected are elaborate. As a result, I have to spend more time on these dresses than necessary. You see, the fashions they selected are out of style.
Mary Lou: Why didn’t you tell them?
Caroline: They went shopping without me. They never ask my opinion. They just go buy fabric and bring it home for me to sew.
Mary Lou: Too bad. What is the special occasion that requires them to wear new dresses?
Caroline: In our little town of Taylorsburg, we’re having a revue. The young ladies are going to be presented. I think they are trying to let the eligible bachelors see them look their best. The new man in town, Jacob MacGregor, is the master of ceremonies for the event. My sisters have their eyes on him.
Mary Lou: What are you wearing to the revue?
Caroline: I don’t have time to make myself a dress. Besides, my stepmother would have a fit if I participated.
Mary Lou: Why do you allow your family to mistreat you?
Caroline: It involves a secret promise I’ve made. I must make sure my family looks good in the community.
Mary Lou: So you make sacrifices because of your promise? I noticed your eyes sparkled when you mentioned Jacob MacGregor.
Caroline: All the young women in town are looking at him. He’s the new owner of the Mercantile. He may be interested in my sister Lydia. At least, she thinks so.
Mary Lou: Your situation seems hopeless. How do you handle it?
Caroline: I have to trust in the Lord. I look to our cook Rachel and Aunt Haley as my mother substitutes. I try to deal with my resentment. Lydia is mean like her mother, my stepmother. Millicent, the baby sister, may turn out all right, but she has no discipline.
Mary Lou: Thanks again for the time. I know you need to get back to your sewing.
Caroline: Oops, my last sewing needle broke. I need to head down to MacGregor’s Mercantile to buy a replacement. Maybe I’ll see Jake.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When Cinderella Meets a Man like Job

Cinderella – the ever-popular old folktale of unjust cruelty – remains a favorite. For centuries Cinderella has been a favorite character. Imagine a real, true-to-life, beautiful young woman who is mistreated by a stepmother who abuses alcohol.

Now place this situation in 1907 in a south Mississippi timber-and-railroad town. What is the result? Caroline Clemons, who has made a secret promise she will keep no matter the cost. Her life’ struggles seem as impossible as those of the Cinderella we know and love.

To make matters worse, Prince Charming has endured a life similar to that of Job; but, unlike Job, he voices anger at the Lord. How can he overcome his perceived misfortunes and return to the love for God he knew before disaster struck?

Tonight I moved one step closer to giving you this inspirational romance with a historical setting. I edited the cover and the galley proofs. I am excited about sharing this book with my friends.

Monday, December 19, 2011

She lives alone with her dogs. They don’t hit her or yell at her.

A dear sweet friend of mine – let’s call her Sherrie – told me she found abusive men attractive. Her husband yelled at her, pushed her around, and eventually slapped her. She doesn’t divorce him, because she hopes and prays God will change his heart.

She has decided she should remain alone because she is not worthy of someone who would treat her well. Through a process of soul searching, she has come to realize why she feels unworthy of a decent man. When she was a teenager at home, her stepmother abused her. As she matured, she concluded she was unworthy of being treated kindly.
She lives alone with her dogs. They don’t hit her or yell at her. Her life has sadness in it that is painful to watch. Sherrie is beautiful, vivacious, intelligent, and accommodating. Her sense of humor and playful spirit brighten the lives of all the people with whom she interacts at work. Her Christian spirit radiates from within her.

When I was eight years old, I owned a little paperback novel telling the story of Cinderella. It was my favorite story. As soon as I finished it, I started over at the beginning and reread it. I never failed to emote with tears, laughter, or anxiety when I read certain passages. I knew Cinderella would marry Prince Charming, but in my heart I had trouble believing her story would end in such a happy fashion. At various points in the story, I used to stop and invent different conclusions.

In my romantic historical novel, Secret Promise, Caroline suffers from her stepmother’s abuse. Despite all her wonderful qualities, she sees herself as too flawed to expect a happy life. I hope you enjoy reading about Caroline, the brutal struggles of her life, her joys, and her sorrows. I hope you love Caroline as much as I have loved writing about her.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Walk down the Street One Week before Christmas

My neighborhood in north Louisiana doesn’t know we have only a couple days of autumn remaining. The leaves continue to glow with the beauty of fall colors. Some years the trees and shrubs are lovelier than others; this year the leaves have been exceptionally brilliant with subtle nuances.

I took Foxy, my standard poodle, for a walk down the street to admire the leaves this afternoon, but she had eyes only for the cat that teased her. She’s more interested in the winter wonderland we have after dark than in the leaves. Tonight the twinkling lights with plastic snowmen catch her eye.

After Christmas my neighbors and I will settle into a gray world punctuated by evergreens. We’ll be saying it’s raining too much or not enough. We’ll rejoice if we see any snowflakes. As always, springtime will come early. Then summer, our dominant season, will take over.

Do you ever wish you could stop time and hold onto one lovely moment? We keep walking down the street and doing all our other business until the time comes when time is no more.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Secret Promise

Sharing with you the opening of my first romantic novel, Secret Promise. It is due to be released soon.

Chapter One
The Clemons Household

Spring 1907

The thought occurred to Caroline that no one would believe what went on inside the Clemons household. She slipped out of Millicent’s bedroom. Glancing over her shoulder, she rushed through the dining room back to the warm kitchen, leaned by an open window, and drew the breeze into her lungs.

“Land’s sakes . . . you done got too hot.” Rachel brushed the thick soft back of her brown hand against Caroline’s cheek. “Sit a minute. I’ll fetch you some cool water.”

Caroline swigged it down and set the empty glass on the worktable. “Thank you, Madear. Got to go.”

“You can’t let Miss Horsey catch you back here when you supposed to be at the front door.”

In the parlor Caroline plumped the needlepoint-covered pillows on the sofa. A burst of wind blew a filmy curtain into her moist face. Reaching to straighten it, she looked through the window in time to see two Tennessee Walking Horses pull an elaborate surrey with fringe trim into the circle drive.

A dark-haired man perhaps in his early twenties stopped the team next to a hitching post. He jumped out to tie the horses and bounded up the steps to the high front porch.

A Sneak Peak at the Back Cover of Secret Promise

Secret Promise, my first historical romantic novel, is scheduled to be released in early2012. I'm excited to share with you what is to appear on the back cover:

Caroline is in hiding. She knows that lying in her bed seems too dangerous. If the wind blows, the curtains will fly open. Anyone passing in the yard will see her. She pulls the bed sheets and quilt onto the floor to make a pallet. Then she snuffs out the candle and finds her way to her makeshift resting place.

Caroline prays for God's protection as she lies, holding her pistol. Soon the morning will come, but the sky is still dark. Clump-clump. Clump-clump. It isn't the milkman; the horses and the wagon sound different.

The wagon pulls into the back driveway, and a man's thudding steps came closer, closer, and closer. He pushes against her door. Stuck—this door is stuck. He crashes into it, but the door does not budge. How will Caroline escape?

She watches the front room through the crack by the kitchen door. She feels an inexplicably strong attraction to the handsome young man.

Years ago she made a promise, which she will honor at any cost.