Lisa will give away a copy of Shenandoah Nights to a commenter. The winner may select either paperback or ebook. Please leave your email address to enter the drawing.
Please tell us about your upcoming release.
Hi Brenda, Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited for the release of Shenandoah Dreams, the third book in my Winds of Change trilogy. Dreams will be out early this summer. I spent two years thinking about and living pieces of Melissa Smith’s story. Melissa was the first woman to go missing aboard the schooner Shenandoah, but her story is the third one told. In Dreams, we learn what happened to Melissa on that fateful morning she was reported missing, how she ended up in 1770, and whether her dream man is fact or fantasy. I had so much fun discovering Melissa’s story and writing it down to share with others.
What inspired this story?
I imagined the Winds of Change trilogy while chaperoning my daughter’s weeklong class trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah. The ship is truly a throwback to the Golden Age of Sail. She is wind powered, no auxiliary motor, no electricity, no twentieth century distractions. As we glided through the Vineyard Sound, I imagined what it would have been like to travel aboard the Shenandoah during the American Revolution. The idea became notes, the notes became paragraphs, and suddenly I had a story that became Shenandoah Nights.
What is the story behind the story?
I didn’t have a trilogy in mind when I first wrote Shenandoah Nights. At a lunch meeting with Ramona Tucker of OakTara Publishers, she asked if I could create a trilogy. I said yes without thinking about it, and then had to create two more books.
Why do you write romance?
Happily ever after is my favorite theme. I’m a sucker for a good love story. If I’m not reading it or watching it, then I’m writing a romance.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
Is it cheating to say Martha’s Vineyard? I vacationed here for decades. Eight years ago I arrived for a summer vacation and decided to stay. I love the ocean, the salty air, the tight-knit community, the variety in the landscape, and the peace that seeps through my bones every time I’ve been away and I’m on the ferry heading back to the Island. It is my little bit of paradise.
Which element of story creation is your favorite?
I love dreaming about the characters and what they are doing, where they going and who they are going to meet. It’s as if I’m spending time with friends, and they include me on their amazing adventures.
What inspires or motivates you?
If you’re asking about the inspiration to write, then it’s all about God’s love for us and God’s love expressed through other people. Simple things such as stories about random acts of kindness, Hallmark commercials, or a sappy song can bring me to tears. I’m an avid listener to couples’ real life love stories. Focusing on the joy in the world fills me with ideas for happily ever afters, which is what my heart is all about.
Please tell us about your other books.
Shenandoah Nights and Shenandoah Crossings, the first two books in the Winds of Change trilogy, were released last year. Nights is the first book, and tells Rebecca O’Neill’s story. Rebecca is not happy when she’s asked to chaperone a weeklong class trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah, but unhappy quickly becomes terrified when she wakes up one morning in 1775 and is accused of being a spy for the British Regulars. As if facing charges of treason weren’t enough to worry about, Rebecca soon finds herself falling for Captain Benjamin Reed, a man she has no hope of having a future with. Her life completely out of control, Rebecca must learn to trust in God’s plan for her and to believe that His plan is good. In Shenandoah Crossings, Tess Roberts, only daughter of the present-day captain of the Shenandoah, is fed up with life, men and God. She can’t work at the job she wants because she’s a woman. The only man she’s interested in is her father’s first mate, and he won’t give her the time of day. And the few prayers she’s offered have gone unheard as far as Tess can tell. But she knows how to escape her life. Tess knows where Rebecca has disappeared to, and she is determined to have an adventure and to visit her friend, regardless of the dangers, regardless that her father has forbidden her to go, and regardless of the fact that she may not be able to return. When the first mate Hawk follows her across time with the sole intent of bringing Tess home immediately, sparks fly from more than guns and cannonballs.
Excerpt from Shenandoah Nights:
“I have an idea, Captain,” Rebecca interjected before he could comment. “Why don’t you ask me what it is you would like to know? Perhaps that would be easier?”
His open-mouthed expression let her know she’d caught him off guard. Rebecca allowed herself a moment of satisfaction.
“As you wish, Madam.” He stood with his legs slightly wider than shoulder length with his arms crossed. In that moment he looked every bit the captain and Rebecca hoped she was ready for him. “Where do the island residents stand? Are they for the King or the colony?”
Finally! An easy question she could pull from a history test. “They are fairly cautious, Captain, though most favor the colony. There was a meeting in June and almost all of the young and able men signed up to serve. There were Vineyarders serving at Bunker Hill, and I believe in Lexington, too.” Rebecca paused to see if the captain was interested or if she had said something to abate his curiosity. He motioned with his right hand for her to continue.
Adam appeared through the galley’s hatch. “Are you talking war with a lady, Captain?”
“No, Adam, I am asking about life on the island.”
Adam gave the captain a hard fatherly look and frowned. “Sounded like talk of war to me. Why not ask Mrs. O’Neill to play a game of piquet? She seemed quite capable with Jonah. She may be good enough to play you.”
The captain matched his stare. “She is not here to be entertained, Adam.”
“Quite right, Captain. But as she is here, no harm in passing the time of day. We shan’t be sailing today.” Adam placed a deck of cards in front of Rebecca. “I brought these for ye just in case.”
Rebecca picked up the cards and began to shuffle. She gave the captain a challenging look then asked sweetly, “Do you know how to play piquet, Captain?”
“Aye, Mrs. O’Neill, I am well acquainted with the game.”
“If you’ve nothing better to do, perhaps we could play while you question me? I promise not to beat you too soundly.”
Rebecca picked up the deck of cards and pulled out the twenty lower ones. “Shall I deal first, Captain?” she asked while expertly shuffling the remaining thirty-two cards.
“Indeed, Mrs. O’Neill. Ladies first.”
The captain lowered his six-foot frame to the roof deck and sat, an inch or two closer than necessary, facing Rebecca.
Rebecca arched the cards in a perfect shuffle and listened to the rhythmical sound as they fell into place.
“Have you played often, Mrs. O’Neill?”
Rebecca shrugged nonchalantly and dealt them each twelve cards. She expected a steady stream of questions during the game but found there was little conversation. The captain focused on the cards, speaking only to make a declaration or tally points. He dealt the fourth game, ahead in the count two games to one.
Rebecca immediately lowered her hand to the deck calling, “carte blanche.” The captain reached across to fan her cards and brushed his fingers over hers. Goosebumps moved up her arm like ripples on the water. Her body gave a slight shiver. She needed air. She caught the amused look on the captain’s face as she was about to snatch her hand back. Her emotions reeled. He’d done it on purpose. He’d wanted to touch her, to see her reaction. Of all the . . . Rebecca couldn’t finish the thought. She didn’t want to think about her reaction or his desire to tease and touch her.
She put on her best poker face and asked politely, “Looking for face cards, Captain?”
He stared into her eyes. “Aye, Madam. One should never underestimate one’s opponent.”
She swallowed the lump in her throat. “No, Captain, one should not. It is your move, Sir.”
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! This winter has not been fun for Lisa. Being on or near the water is pure joy for her, and she can’t wait for the warmer weather to arrive.
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 daughter’s school, serving in her church community, gardening, trying to run a marathon a month, or walking the beach with her husband looking for sea glass.