Tonight, I’m celebrating. Sweeter Than Tea, an anthology of southern short stories, is published and available for purchase. This collection contains my short story, “Made With Love,” a romantic short story about a baker who sends cupcakes to the troops in honor of her father’s military service. When one of the soldiers shows up in her bakery to thank her in person, things heat up! This fabulous collection of thirteen southern short stories is the latest in the Sweet Tea anthologies published by Bell Bridge Books.
This is the 4th anthology in which I have seen one of my short stories published, and every time I see words I’ve written in print out in the world for people to read, well, it never gets old. It is such an honor and a blessing to get to what I love–tell stories.
My first published short story was called “The Trip” and it appeared in an anthology in which all of the stories were set in the North (United States). This was a small press collection that reached very few people, but that story will always be special because it was my first. It is my homage to those bigger than life Harlequin tycoon heros.
My next short story was “My Christmas Angel.” I entered it in a Christmas short story contest. By being selected as one of the winners, the story was published in a collection called ‘Tis the Season. There were two special things about this story. “My Christmas Angel” was the first Angel Ridge story I ever wrote. As you may know, the fifth book in that series will come out September 2012. The story appeared in what I affectionately call “the jingle bell book.” The books were handcrafted by the publisher, Neighborhood Press, with fabric covers bound with ribbon. And yes, they had jingle bells, so when you turned the pages you could hear the tinkle of bells. It added to the seasonal atmosphere 🙂 This short story was reissued by Bell Bridge Books and included in the back of A Home for Christmas.
My third short story to appear in an anthology was “Aphrodite’s Garden,” which appeared in Romancing the Holidays, Vol. 2. These were collections of short stories all centered around different holidays. Just after the publication of this volume of short stories, the publisher of these stories went out of business.
Back when I was struggling to learn to write novels and find a publisher, I used to take breaks to write short stories just to take a break. Now that my novels have found a home, I don’t have as much time for short story writing, but I love this fiction form. The stories I mentioned above are all available for you to read on Amazon Kindle and a steal at only .99 each. I was so pleased Bell Bridge invited me to write a southern story for Sweeter Than Tea. I had a great time writing Hannah and Sam’s story. So, grab your copy, grab a glass of sweet iced tea, put your feet up and enjoy!
Here’s an excerpt from “Made with Love.”
Hannah grabbed a cup of coffee and a cupcake and sat at a corner table with her laptop wand overflowing in box. Instead of sorting through it all, she wound up doing some mindless Internet surfing. The bell on the front door signaled the arrival of a customer. She didn’t even look up, just tapped away on the mouse pad and sipped her coffee while deleting junk emails.
“Welcome to Goode’s,” Gracie said. “What can I get you?”
“A double-chocolate buttercream cupcake and a bottle of water, please.”
She looked up to check out the owner of the rumbling, deep voice and she found a man wearing fatigues with an American flag and several bars on the sleeve that indicated his rank. The insignia said he was in the Air Force. He was average height, but nothing else about him was average. Like most soldiers, he was in great shape and powerfully built. Tanned, clean-shaven, close cut dark hair. She propped her chin on her hand and irrationally wondered what color his eyes were.
“For here or to go?”
The man inhaled deeply. “The smell is so amazing, I think I’ll sit awhile and enjoy.”
Gracie smiled. “Have a seat, and I’ll bring it right out to you.”
“How much do I owe you?”
“It’s on the house. Memorial Day is this weekend, and cupcakes are free to members of the military.”
He nodded, twisting his cap in his hands. “Thank you.” He reached into his pocket and dropped a few bills in the tip jar, then sat at a table not far from Hannah. He caught her eye and smiled a greeting. Hannah smiled as well, then looked back at her computer screen, but soon, she was sneaking another peak at him. He had a compelling face that kept her looking past what should have been polite glances. There was something about his eyes, which were the color of rich, velvety chocolate. He couldn’t be much older than her, but his dark eyes held a sadness that said he’d seen more than a man so young should.
He looked up then and their gazes locked. Caught again. Hannah swallowed hard, but didn’t look away. Instead she smiled. Good thing she wasn’t standing, because his smile literally made her knees weak.
Gracie set his cupcake and the bottle of water in front of him. “Let me know if you need anything else.”
The man looked up at her. “Actually, I was wondering if the owner of the shop might be in.”
Gracie looked over at her shoulder at Hannah, unsure if she’d wanted to speak with anyone since this was her first break of the day. Hannah stood and walked over to join her cousin. “I’m the owner,” she said, holding out her hand. “I’m Hannah Goode.”
The soldier stood and took her hand, smiling. “Lieutenant Sam Evans. It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am. If you don’t mind me saying, I wasn’t expecting someone so young and pretty.”