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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Robin Hood's daughter stars in Sherwood trilogy

A warm welcome to Laura Strickland.  Please get comfortable, Laura, and tell us a little about your adventure.

What books have most influenced your life most?

     Wow, this is a difficult question.  I’ve read a lot of books over the years, and treasured a great many of them.  I suspect that every book I’ve read – good or bad – has influenced me on some subatomic level, sculpting the stuff of my brain and adding a little something.  I’ve always said I learned to write by reading great writers, most of them British.  Maybe I learned a bit about how not to write by reading the other kind.
     When I was younger, I measured my love for a book by my desire to own a copy.  I would save my allowance until I could order copies of books like Sally Watson’s Witch of the Glens.  After I read Louisa May Alcott’s Rose in Bloom I made up my mind to memorize it word for word – and that was long before I saw the movie Fahrenheit 451!  I didn’t prove too successful, but the effort did give me time to save enough money to purchase a copy, which I still own.
     I think I’ve actually been most influenced by books that created a world that then drew me in, like Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Discworld Series by Sir Terry Pratchett, who qualifies as my favourite author of all time.  Those kinds of books inspired me to create worlds of my own, like that inhabited by the characters of my latest release, Daughter of Sherwood.

What book are you reading now?

     Well, I’m a voracious reader, so I tend to go through books very quickly and I have a wide range of interests when it comes to reading fiction.  I generally choose what to read based on my mood of the moment, but once I start a book I always finish, even if I don’t particularly like the story.  It’s as if having opened a book, I feel I’ve entered into a pact with the author and committed myself to follow through.  I have the good fortune to work for a Library System (right, could it be more perfect?) so I have access to a wide range of books at all times.  I read Historical, Mysteries, Romances, Humor, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult and occasionally even Westerns. 
     I also love to read books written by my fellow authors.  The Wild Rose Press is publishing an amazing array of fiction and there’s definitely something to meet every taste and every mood.  When I see the talent of my fellow Roses, I’m humbled to be in their company.
     Right now, though, I’m reading a Young Adult novel by Michael Rubens called Sons of the 613, a coming of age story that’s so funny it makes me laugh out loud.

Can you give us some details about your upcoming release/s?

     My latest book, DAUGHTER OF SHERWOOD, is Book One of The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, and the next book, Champion of Sherwood, has an estimated release date some time next spring.  It’s a funny thing, because when I wrote Daughter of Sherwood and submitted it to my publisher I had no notion of writing a trilogy.  Not till I received a contract from my editor did that idea strike me.
     Daughter of Sherwood is a story of threes: the heroine, Wren, is born three days after the death of her father, Robin Hood; her mother, Marian, cares for her three days before succumbing to her grief and withdrawing to a convent.  At the beginning of the book Wren learns she is destined to be part of a magical triad that guards Sherwood Forest, along with the sons of two of Robin’s men, Martin Scarlet and Sparrow Little.  It just seemed a given that there should be a trilogy and I began work almost at once on the second book, Champion of Sherwood, which tells the tale of Wren’s daughters and a young Norman knight.  The final book of the trilogy, called Lord of Sherwood, is now in the final stages of editing.  It brings the tale round in a circle to end where it began.  Each book can be read and enjoyed separately, as each tells a complete story, but I’m particularly proud of how the three books fit together to advance the legend of Robin Hood and his descendants.

What historical person would you want to meet and why?
      
     There are so many people I’d love to meet.  I love ancient Celtic music so I’ve always wished I could meet the 17th-Century Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan.  Only imagine sitting and listening to him play and tell stories!  I’ll bet Thomas Jefferson would have been a fascinating conversationalist.  And I’d find it hard to turn down a meeting with Leif Ericson or William Wallace.  Do I really have to choose?  Can’t I have a banquet?  Jefferson can bring vegetables from his garden, Ericson can catch some fish in the fjord, Wallace can bring down a deer off a Scottish hillside and O’Carolan can keep us all entertained while we eat.  We’ll talk late into the night, share a dram or two, and they can give me ideas for stories.

If you could time travel back, or forward, for one day, where would it be and why?

     I love this question!  If I could time travel for a day, it would definitely be back and I’d land myself in Celtic Iron Age Britain.  In fact, the first Celtic Historical I ever wrote was a story about a man who crashes his car and, while in a coma, wakes up in Iron Age Scotland to find he’s a warrior in an ancient clan.  So it’s not much of a stretch to imagine myself doing the same thing. 
     Just plop me down anywhere along the coast of Kintyre or near the foot of Glen Etive and I believe my imagination will do the rest.  I did visit both places when I was in Scotland several years ago, because both are settings for books I’ve written.  I found them to be wondrously similar to the way I’d pictured them in my mind.  I’d like nothing more than an opportunity to see them in days of yore when factories, automobiles and airplanes were mere concepts in the minds of dreamers. The problem is, I’m not sure I’d want to return after my day was done!

Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

     When I was in grade school, we had something called “film day” once a month.  Each student was asked to bring ten cents from home and a movie would be rented and shown for the whole student body, in the auditorium.  I remember I was in sixth grade and seated next to my best friend, Debbie, the day they showed a movie called “A Dog of Flanders”.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but it’s a touching story about a young boy whose dog – a Bouvier des Flandres – is his only companion and his sole means of support.  The dog would do anything for the boy, and vice versa.  Well, to make a long story short, the dog does not survive the film and this animal lover was reduced to a state of inconsolable grief.  When the movie finished and the lights came up, Debbie and I were both still wallowing in tears though no one else seemed so terribly affected.  Embarrassing, but even to this day I flinch when anyone mentions a movie that involves animals, and I refuse to watch unless I’m promised any and all animal characters will still be alive at the end.

DAUGHTER OF SHERWOOD blurb:

     Raised in the kitchens of Nottingham Castle, Wren has no idea she is the daughter of the legendary Robin Hood until she is summoned to Sherwood Forest.  Since Robin’s death many years before, the resistance against Norman tyranny has been upheld by a magical triad, but now one of the guardians has died.  With two young men, Sparrow and Martin, Wren must form a new triad with a bond strong enough to defend Sherwood’s magic.  To one of them, she will also give her heart.
     From the moment Wren bursts into his life, Sparrow loves her.  But he knows she may choose his lifelong rival, Martin, as her mate.  Martin wants Wren also, but Sparrow fears Martin is driven not by love but ambition.  When Martin is captured and held at Nottingham Castle, will the conflict between love and duty destroy the triad?

DAUGHTER OF SHERWOOD excerpt:
In the gathering gloom, the man looked tall and slender, a shadow seen only indistinctly. But she knew him, had seen him numerous times in both dream and imagination.
            A sob burst from her throat. "You are dead."
“But I live on, here in Sherwood. That to which we give our love in life is never lost."
            Rennie continued to examine him through narrowed eyes. This must be how he had looked at the time of his death, strong and handsome, vital as the forest itself.
            "Long have I tried to reach you, Daughter, to tell you the importance of your place here."
            There, he had said it: daughter. A chill chased its way through Rennie's limbs.
"Wren, life is a series of cycles. The flesh rises and falls as do the stars in the sky; the spirit endures.  The three of you – Sparrow, Martin and yourself – must prepare to take your places on the wheel."
            "The wheel?"
"Of life."
"It is not fair," Rennie cried, suddenly aware of how much she would have liked knowing this man.
            "It is not fair," he agreed, "when a child is born into serfdom, an old woman bled to death for the king's taxes, or the father of a family deprived of his hand, so those he loves must starve. There is but one thing fair about our world."
            "And, what is that?"
 "That love does not die, but rides the wheel and goes round until it meets with those who love, again. You must do as you must do.  Keep the magic strong."

Bio:
Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Currently she is at work on the third book of the Guardians of Sherwood series.

Buy link for Daughter of Sherwood:

 Or via author’s web page: http://www.laurastricklandbooks.com

Saturday, October 19, 2013

There be dragons by Nancy Lee Badger

Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness,
 the background of Dragons in the Mist
This week Adventures in Authorland takes a break from the usual questions to tell you all bout dragons and their sex.lives.

Welcome once again Nancy Lee Badger. Leave a comment for Nancy and you could win a copy of her book, DRAGON BITES 

     Paranormal romance opens doors to all kinds of creatures, be them vampires, shape-shifters, sorcerers, the Fae, Hobbits, gnomes, unicorns…or dragons. Writing a romance novel in the paranormal genre means taking a chance that your characters will be accepted by your readers. Making my characters sexy, while keeping to the code when describing their shape-shifting traits, is how I create a sensuous adventure for my reader.

     A romance writer usually follows a few rules, and one taboo is against using bestiality. So, I can mention two dragons having sex, but I must tip toe away from even suggesting my dragon will mate with a human. Ergo, my characters can shape-shift. Sometimes this shifting is unmanageable and can make for a great story plot point. In DRAGON BITES, my collection of several Scottish dragon tales, Dragon’s Curse is the story of Draco and Brianna. My hero was cursed by a witch to turn into a dragon at inopportune times. Here is what happens when he attempts to make love to the beautiful Scottish seer, Brianna:

Higher and higher Brianna flew. Her vision dimmed and her body arched. She heard the sound of moans and grunts.
Mine, or his?
She forced both eyes open. All the muscles of Draco’s face strained and his skin flashed a pale green. His closed eyes snapped open and she stared into red-hot orbs.

     Needless to say, their day was ruined because Draco left their bed so fast, Brianna was left speechless. He wants to keep his curse a secret from the woman he has grown to love. To have his body start to morph into a terrifying creature when all he wants is to make love, pulls the reader in to the story, and makes them want to see if these two can get past this stumbling block.

     I turned the tables in my next two books by making my heroines the shape-shifting dragons. In Southern Fried Dragon, I set my story in and around Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. I gave my dragon a history of fear and a yearning for love, which propels her to fly far from her home and to search for love among humans. I wrote the opening with an attack on my heroine by drunk humans while she is also in human form. How she reacts gives my readers a sense of what she really is:

Dru kicked until her booted foot met bone. A dark shape dropped to the dirt.
Dru smiled. Her tongue licked the tips of her lengthening fangs still hidden from her assailants. A third man stepped back, his eyes wide.
Maybe, not so hidden.
The sudden splitting of thin human skin tore a scream from her dry throat. The pain increased each time her talons escaped from beneath her human fingernails.

     Showing a near rape is allowed, and the scene goes on to include my hero, a federal soldier, who scares away the attackers. Why couldn’t my heroine be a Scottish dragon looking for love while hiding from a rogue dragon? I am the writer, and the paranormal world is where a writer suspends belief. The addition of sexual innuendo and romance heats up each plot line.

     The other story came about while researching historical dragons. I stumbled on a listing of Loch Ness. Some Scottish folklore assumes that the Loch Ness monster is actually a dragon. I turned this information into my award-winning short story, Dragon in the Mist. My heroine has lived her life as a wingless serpent living beneath the surface of Scotland’s famous lake. Nessía is lonely, and the last of her kind. She becomes human and meets an American scientist who has come to study unusual earthquake activity. Neither is looking for romance. They realize they are too different. I give them problems to overcome by literally throwing them together:

     Nessía tripped over the hem of her dress and a steaming plate of food and a mug of foamy ale went flying. A cry of surprise filled the suddenly silent pub interior. The American with the broad shoulders and muscular calves, whose stare had startled her, jumped from his chair. He stood, still staring, covered in food.
Mac, the tavern owner, appeared at her side.
     “What ye trying to do, lass? Drown the man?”
     Nessía couldn’t sputter one word in reply. Heat rose along her neck and cheeks. Embarrassed at her clumsiness and, knowing she had been watching Rory’s eyes when she should have been watching her feet, she backed away.
     “Fetch this feller a fresh meal. And bring some of my best whisky.”
     Nessía turned and stumbled toward the kitchen.
     “And bring a new tablecloth and some towels, ye clumsy wench!”
     Nessía’s eyes burned, humbled by a mere human for her ineptness. “I heard ye, Mac,” she snapped, intimating she wasn’t upset. A lie, of course, but a dragon never shows its weaker side.
     And I have a weakness for sea-green eyes.

     All three of these stories are available individually in ebook form, but I recently bundled them into one book that is also available in print.  

BOOK BLURB: Dragon Bites
     This is a collection of three novellas. DRAGON’S CURSE, set on the Scottish island of Staffa in the late 16th century, features a young man cursed to transform into dragon at inopportune times and the woman he protects. SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON pairs a Scottish dragon-turned woman and a federal soldier at Ft. Sumter on the eve of Civil War. DRAGON IN THE MIST is a contemporary love story on the shores of Loch Ness.

     What do you like about dragons? Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of DRAGON Bites. Please make sure to include your contact info and format preference. I will choose the winner on Oct. 24th!

More About Nancy Lee Badger
     She loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Area Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers.  

Connect with Nancy:
Blog                                http://www.nancyleebadger.blogspot.com
Website                           http://www.nancyleebadger.com
Twitter                            https://twitter.com/NLBadger
Facebook                        https://www.facebook.com/#!/nancy.l.badger
Goodreads                       http://bit.ly/Vd1Usg
Amazon Author Page     http://amzn.to/13ICHLq

DRAGON Bites, a 3book Collection of Dragon Tales
Amazon Ebook       http://amzn.to/15LqV24
Amazon Print          http://amzn.to/17Ynsni
NOOK Ebook         http://bit.ly/16aZFuP
B&N Print               http://bit.ly/15vYjhG
Smashwords            http://bit.ly/17GB6K3
iTunes                     http://bit.ly/1hbfbw1


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Colour of the American West Jaye's passion


Hi Jean!

Welcome, Jaye. Please get comfortable and tell us about your adventure.

Thanks so much for hosting me here at Adventures in Authorland. I’ve travelled quite a bit through the years, all over the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, and the Middle East, but your blog is the closest I’ve been to ‘down under’.  I’m very excited to be here!

Jaye Garland
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Much later than you would think. I began dabbling at writing when my kids were still preschoolers. Let’s just say that was a while back. One day, I took stock of how many stories I’d started. There were nine partial manuscripts on my hard drive, but none were finished. I was appalled and felt utter shame. How could I call myself a writer if I couldn’t get one complete manuscript under my belt? With that reality check, the self-dare was ON. The day I typed ‘The End’ to my first completed novel is the day I honestly felt like a real writer.

Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s a different world now than when I first picked up the pen. (Yes, an ink pen and a spiral notebook.  I took out the typewriter when I couldn’t read my own handwriting. My first computer is a whole ‘nuther story. <wink>) With so many publishing avenues now available to authors who take their writing seriously, who truly work at their craft and want to put out the best books they possibly can, then we’re limited only by our own energy, drive, and ambition. Yes, I’m in it for the long haul.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Writing, or something else?
Oh, something else entirely. Back then, my world was filled with adventure and drama. All of it was in my own mind, of course. I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors. I grew up on my dad’s ranch in south-central South Dakota. That’s a lot of open land to explore, and Mother Nature is a wondrous thing. Before I was old enough to actually help around the ranch, I spent my time hiking up and down the three creeks running through our land. I imagined I was Sacagawea guiding Lewis and Clark on their explorations of the great American West. I’m still hanging out in that imaginary world, as a writer, but now others can take the joy ride, too.

If you could time travel back, or forward, for one day, where would it be and why?
My heart belongs in the American West. There are so many stories of survival, adventure, and the challenges of families as they worked their way across the prairie and through the mountain ranges hoping for a better life. Isn’t that was we’re all doing today? Trying to give ourselves, our families, the best we can? In a heartbeat, I’d pick the 19th century. That’s where all the American greats hung out. Annie Oakley, William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, Calamity Jane, James Butler ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok, Belle Starr, and the list goes on and on. Some were famous, others were infamous, but they filled our history books with colourful incidents that kept me wanting more. But, you did say this is only for one day, right? I don’t think I’d make it much longer than a week back then. I’m addicted to my email and indoor plumbing. 

If you could have any super hero power, what would it be?
My all-time wish would be to fly. Like all kids have done, I’d lie on the ground and stare at the sky picking out cloud formations during the day and counting shooting stars at night. Our ranch was in a direct path of the Canadian geese for summer and winter migration. When they flew overhead, I’d yearn to go with them. To soar among the clouds and stars like they could do and see the world from way up high.

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

Study everything you can. Read all the genres, not just what you write. Read the business pages. Keep up with the authors in your genre and learn from them. And, don’t be in such a hurry to publish that you jeopardize your own career. Make sure your work is the very best it can be before you submit to an agent or editor. They want your best work, and readers expect excellence.


Blurb: THE 25th HOUR

Chased through time by her father’s murderer, Houston architect Sheridan Wells unwittingly ‘erases’ herself and hurtles back to 1877 Wyoming Territory, to the moment that changed her family’s history forever—to the source of her father’s wealth—wealth the villain swears is his.

Heart locked by guilt, widower Alexander Reed, a War of the Rebellion hero-turned-rancher, attempts to disprove the transient woman’s story, labels her a charlatan and intends to dismiss her, but his precocious daughter has already claimed Sheridan as her new mother.
           
When the villain renews his quest for wealth and vengeance, Sheridan and Alexander must combine forces to defeat the crazed killer. This time, and no matter the cost, Alexander vows to protect his family. Will Sheridan’s stalker claim his due, or will she find sanctity within the family of her heart…before the window of time fades forever into the 25th hour.

Excerpt: THE 25th HOUR, Time Travel Romance

She squinted against the light and focused on his accent. He towered over her, hovering like her very own guardian angel, and was handsome enough to put the god of gorgeous to shame. Oh . . . my . . . God. I’ve died and gone to cowboy Heaven.
“Easy there. You rest now. You’ll have plenty of time to move around once Doc Patterson sees to that bump on your head.”
She’d forgotten about the bump and touched it again. “Ouch!” The lump had grown.
“That’s a worthy token. Were you thrown from your horse? I didn’t see your mount but they don’t usually wander off too far. We’ll find your ride after we tend to you.”
She tried to think, but the effort cost her as pain converged between her temples. She slumped back into the bed full of pillows in the huge four-poster.
“You said this was your ranch? Did you buy this place from the Culver estate?”
“Culvers? No one by that name in these parts. Are you sure you know where you are? This is the Bar-R ranch. Staked my claim a few years before the war.”
His statement left her confused. According to the contract, the house had been built in the 1940’s. The Culvers purchased the property from the original builders and owned it ever since. It had lain dormant the past few years, overgrown and wasting away. If the estate has already been sold, then how much time, really, have I lost?
Her stomach tightened. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong. “How long, exactly, have you lived here?”
“Broke ground in 1855. My uncle and I were looking for a good place to raise cattle. After the war, the peace and solitude out here kept me from ever wanting to go back East.”
He said 1855? Must have meant 1955 . . . but, if that were true, he’d older. A lot older . . .
The little girl from earlier peeked shyly from behind Heavenly Cowboy’s broad back. He hefted her up on his lap. “She’ll own all of this one day.”
“Angel Rose.” Sheridan breathed the name. It came out in a hoarse whisper.
“Yes. This is my daughter. Apparently, the two of you met out in the barn.”
The lump on her head throbbed and she struggled to recall Heavenly Cowboy’s name. He’d introduced himself moments ago, but his identity slipped from her mind like mist in the night. What was it about this man that struck her as familiar?
Mentally, she retraced the steps of their meeting and an ethereal vision of blueprints blended with the cryptic scenes: Reed. Alexander-freakin’-1868-Wyoming-Reed. Holy shit.

Author Bio:

   Some authors will tell you they’ve been writing from the day they first held a crayon. Well, other than chubby little fingers, I wasn’t that child.
   Instead, I explored my dad’s pastures and creek beds pretending to be Sacajawea, building forts, and waging imaginary war against pirates or invading Vikings. Of course, I was the heroine and my team always won.
   Then one day, I scribbled a skeleton plot on the back of an envelope.  I’d made the leap from avid reader to heartfelt writer and resumed living vicariously through characters of my own creation.
   Thanks to my very own hero hubby, we’ve traveled the world experiencing real-life adventures, all the while collecting scraps of plots and snippets of characters for my next fictional project.
  
Buy links


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Time-travel back to the American Revolution

A warm welcome to Lisa Belcastro.

Hi Lisa, and welcome to Adventures in Authorland. Please get comfortable and tell us about your adventure.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?


Lisa Belcastro
Well, let’s see, Jean.  I’m quite certain I considered myself a writer when I was in elementary school and jotting down stories. Not necessarily good stories, and fortunately none remain in existence today. In reality, though, the urge to write more than unedited ramblings hit me in college.  I switched from a teaching track to journalism. I graduated and went to work for The Chronicle of the Horse, a weekly sporthorse magazine. Get this – they paid me to travel the world writing about something I absolutely loved! I was in Heaven. Until I held my daughter in my arms. Then, the idea of jaunting off to Europe or even the next state didn’t sound so appealing. I found a stay-at-home job and focused on being a mom. A few years went by and I toyed with the idea of getting my masters degree in creative writing. From that moment on, the urge to write fiction became a goal. Seeing my books published is a dream come true. Some days I still can’t believe something I wrote is on the shelf in our bookstores or on Amazon.com.

What book are you reading now?

I just received The Noticer Returns by Andy Andrews. I love his books! The Traveler’s Gift is one of my all-time favorites, as was The Noticer. I’ll be flying across the country this weekend, so I’m hoping to make a serious dent in The Noticer Returns. I just know Jones is going to have more amazing advice and insight that I’ll need in my life.  When I’m done with The Noticer, I’ve got a stack of books on my nightstand, with Callie by Sharon Srock, Pieces of the Heart by Bonnie Calhoun, and The Seduction of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn piled nicely waiting for me to open them.

In which genre do you prefer to write and why?

Romance! Jean, I am a sucker for happily ever after. One of my top ten movies is Ever After with Drew Barrymore. In fact, all of my top ten movies are romances with happy endings.  Though I’ll read non-fiction and enjoy some of it immensely, I need at least one heart-pounding romance a week.  My current Winds of Change trilogy is historical romance with a time travel element, but the next trilogy I’ve outlined is contemporary romance set on modern-day Martha’s Vineyard with disgraced, devilishly handsome movie stars, independent women, bad boy news reporters, a rock star, a Broadway hopeful, a widow newly arrived on the Island, and a few impossible dreams. 

When you are not writing, what are your hobbies, passions, etc?

My most healthy passion is running. Now, please don’t get some silly notion that I’m 5’6” and one hundred pounds. Ha! I’m fit, not thin. I just love running. A few years ago my stepdad suggested that I run a marathon (26.2 miles) in every state. I was 45 then. I decided that I would take that challenge and try to run all fifty states before I turned 50. Today, I’m 49 and eight months with forty-six states finished and only four left to complete. This weekend, October 6, I’ll be in Oregon running my 47th state. I hope to finish the last three before the end of the year.  Then maybe I’ll write a book about my quest. Fictionalized, I think, but with lots of true stories thrown in. We all know that truth is often stranger than fiction and we can’t make up some of the experiences we have or our friends tell us about. 

I am also an avid gardener. I have a large vegetable garden that provides us with plenty of fresh organic produce: tomatoes to make and freeze tomato base; beans, summer squash and zucchini to blanche

and freeze; and bushels of onions, garlic, potatoes and winter squashes to store in the cool basement.  In ten days, I’ll be cutting herbs and hanging them to dry for use throughout the winter months. Though many of my flowers are still blooming, the days are not too far away when I’ll be digging up gladiolus bulbs, dahlias, calla lilies and canna, and putting the beds to rest. My hours in the gardens are pure joy.

Have you ever travelled to a place and come away with a story unexpectedly?

OMGosh! Yes!!  My first three books were all inspired from one amazing adventure. I live on Martha’s Vineyard, and our six elementary schools send the graduating fifth graders on a weeklong sail aboard the schooner Shenandoah.  The magnificent ship is a true sailboat - - no electricity, no motor! The students board minus their cell phones, Gameboys, iPods and any other modern-day electronic device. The children are, for all intents and purposes, on a moving, working classroom. They learn about life at sea two hundred years ago. The kids serve as members of the crew and must weigh anchor, raise and lower the sails, work in the galley, scrub the deck, polish the brass and silver, learn knot tying, rigging plans, ship terminology, wind direction, nautical speed and more. It is the chance of a lifetime for these children. One year, I volunteered to organize the trip and serve as the female parent chaperone. Best decision of my life! While onboard Shenandoah I imagined how cool it would be to travel back in time and live on a ship during the American Revolution. As the days passed and my mind kept drifting through time, I began to make notes.  My notes became sentences, which eventually became Shenandoah Nights. I signed up again the following year, secretly planning to research Shenandoah Crossings. I had no clue when I volunteered to chaperone that my journey would lead to an altogether different journey in the publishing world.  A school trip! Who knew??!!

Do you have any advice for new writers beginning their adventure?

Dream, write and don’t stop dreaming and writing! Even if you’re juggling a family, a job, caregiving, school, whatever distracts you from writing, just do what you can as much as you can. If you can only write for ten minutes a day, those minutes and words will add up and soon you’ll have your first manuscript completed. Just keep at it.  I also find writer’s conferences incredibly helpful and a great place to meet and interact with authors, editors, agents and publishers. I’ve met author friends, my agent and publisher at various writing conferences, so I highly recommend attending one or two a year.

Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

I own stock in all the tissue companies!  Just kidding. Sort of. I don’t think I could count all the movies I’ve cried in. And, if I could, I’d take up a week or two of your blog time listing them.  On that, I’m not kidding!  I cry at happy movies, sad movies and even some funny movies. I’ll share with you and your readers a classic moment in my theatre crying life:  Years ago, when Beauty and the Beast first came out, my family came down to Virginia to celebrate Thanksgiving in my home. My oldest niece was four at the time. She had already been to see the movie, but none of us had and she was eager to go again. So, the Friday after Thanksgiving eight of us walk into the sold-out theatre and sit down to watch Disney’s latest masterpiece. When the Beast tells Belle that she can leave to go save her father, my heart is breaking for them and the tears are streaming down my face. My sweet little niece stands up (in the packed theatre, mind you) and yells, “Auntie, it’s okay, stop crying. She comes back. Belle comes back to the Beast. It’s going to be okay.”  Umm, can we say “mildly to highly embarrassing” as dozens of heads turn to see whose Auntie is sobbing hysterically over the cartoon characters! I love a good cry, and attend every movie with popcorn, water bottle and a large handful of tissues.  J 

What’s your favorite tearjerker – movie or book? Any embarrassing moments as the tears flowed? Please share, I cant be the only one!

Leave a comment about your favourite tear-jerker and be in to win a copy of SHENANDOAH NIGHTS and SHENANDOAH CROSSINGS by Lisa Belcastro.

Book Blurb:

Tess Roberts may live on Martha's Vineyard, vacation spot for movie stars and presidents, but the Island feels anything but idyllic. Tess has had it with lousy dates, lying, cheating men, and the rules that forbid her from working on her family's centuries-old schooner, Shenandoah. Lucky for Tess, she knows a secret-the Shenandoah has magical powers. Her best friend, Rebecca O'Neill, once stayed in Cabin 8 and discovered a time portal that transported her to 1775. A month after Rebecca's "disappearance," Tess's father, brother, and Shenandoah's annoying first mate, Hawk, plan to shut down the time travel for good by dismantling the cabin. But what if Rebecca might someday need to come home? What if Tess isn't ready to say good-bye forever? Sneaking onto the ship late at night, Tess slips into Cabin 8 and drifts off to sleep. She wakes anchored off the New England coast amidst the American Revolution in 1776. The British frigate HMS Greyhound has seized Shenandoah and taken the crew, cargo, and all on board hostage. To make matters worse, Hawk is relentlessly tracking her, determined to bring her back to the twenty-first century against her will. Sparks begin to fly, from more than cannonballs and gunpowder....

Excerpt from SHENANDOAH CROSSINGS

Tess shook her fist, barely containing her desire to smack someone or something. “How many more jerks are there like him walking around? And you wonder why I don’t want to date! Creeps—way too many of them! Can you imagine how hollow Megan must feel, telling someone her dad is lying while her father is standing there actually lying to the guy! If he’s the example of single men on the island, Shenandoah, take me away!”
“And what about Hawk? You’ve had a crush on him for the last two years. Don’t bother denying it.”
            Tess snapped her head to the right, ignored her know-it-all brother, and stared out the passenger-side window. The coffee shop was closed, the gym looked empty through the big glass windows, a few cars were moving at a snail’s pace down Main Street, the yellow and orange mums in front of the bank were in full bloom. She thought about Hawk and his wavy blond hair and gorgeous blue eyes and the way he smiled when the sails were being raised and the sound of his laughter as he joked around with the crew or her father. And then she pictured every single moment she’d wished he had talked with her or smiled at her, but all he’d done was look away and ignore her.
Tess kept her eyes on the passing scenery and spoke softly, the slight tremble in her voice giving away her feigned disinterest. “What about him? He barely gives me the time of day. Only nice guy around for miles and two years later he still can barely speak to me, never mind ask me out. Rebecca had the right idea. Maybe Ben has a friend.”
            Andy glanced in the rearview mirror, and then slammed on the brakes. “Don’t even joke about it, Tess. If Dad didn’t kill you, I would. The boards are getting changed tomorrow, and that will be the end of any and all time travel from the Shenandoah. Got it?”
            Tess didn’t reply. She reached over and turned up the radio before slouching down in her seat. Arms crossed, heart saddened, and jaw set, Tess closed her eyes. She thought about Rebecca and considered the idea that maybe Captain Benjamin Reed, in his Colonial Boston sailor’s suit, was a knight in shining armor. And maybe all the knights live sometime prior to 1800. Rebecca had been gone a month. Surely she would have come home if she was unhappy.
Tess exhaled into a long sigh. She’s probably married by now and blissfully happy. She did mention Ben had a younger brother. Wonder if she’d like a visitor?

About the Author

     Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard.  She loves chocolate, reading, writing, running, working in her gardens, including weeding, and almost all outdoor activities -- as long as the temperature is above sixty degrees! Being on or near the water is pure joy for Lisa.
     When she’s not at her desk working on her next novel or writing the cuisine column for Vineyard Style Magazine, Lisa is volunteering at her daughters’ schools, serving in her church community, gardening and cooking up those vegetables, trying to run a marathon a month, or walking the beach with her husband looking for sea glass.
     It’s October in New England so I’ve got to say -- GO RED SOX!


Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Shenandoah-Crossings-Lisa-Belcastro/dp/1602903794
OakTara link: https://www.facebook.com/OakTara/app_200829146697795
www.lisabelcastro.com
www.facebook.com/belcastrolisa