It Is Well

I’ve received a few messages from readers looking forward to my next book. Thank you for your encouragement. It’s been a little harder than I believed it would be to write, but I’m pushing through life, the lack of motivation and time constraints. Even if I only type 50 new words, it’s progress, and each day it’s getting easier. Yesterday, I even spent an hour writing.

One thing that helps me write is listening to music. It sort of drowns out all other noises and the tyranny of the urgent calls from household chores.

I’m currently working on Dr. Benjamin Northrop and Ellie Sims’ story, supporting characters from The Negotiated Marriage. They’re both a hot mess, and it’s been a bit of a challenge to figure out the right balance. They’ve both experienced the joys of young love, but they’ve suffered pain, rejection, and loss. They’ve been disappointed by life. They not only fear, but also expect even greater disappointment. I want to torment them until they reach their happily-ever-after, but I don’t want them depressing, if you know what I mean.

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joshua 1:5 (NIV)

I playing different scenarios around in my head, trying to figure it out when the song, It Is Well came on. I recalled the story behind the original hymn written by Horatio Spafford and the earthly tragedy that plagued his life. This song  sums up my season, it has helped me remember that no matter my circumstances, God’s goodness and grace abounds, and that when I fully trust in God I find rest and perfect shalom, the peace the surpasses all understanding, a place of nothing missing and nothing broken. I’ve been resting in and seeking to maintain this peace. But when the song began to play, it flipped on a light bulb where my story is concerned. It’s the victory and happily-ever-after I want to give Ellie and Ben. By the end of the story, I want my characters to be able to stand in the middle of a torrential life-storm, lift their face to the heavens and sing. I want them to know with assurance that no matter what they face, it is well with their soul. I want them to know God has them in all their circumstances, that He covers them and He will never leave them or forsake them.

For Horatio Spafford’s story, go here.

Wanna Free Book?

officialSome of you know that I have a new book coming out in July!! I should be getting my author copies anytime and I have a few spots left for anyone interested in being a part of my street team for The Warrior’s Vow.

What is a Street Team? My team will help promote The Warrior’s Vow. This can be done several ways

  • Read my book and leave a review at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads etc (this is a requirement)
  • Submit reviews to your local papers, church newsletters, your blogs.
  • Have me as a guest blogger. (I’ll do book giveaways)
  • Post pictures of my books from your local store with a link to your review on Facebook, Twitter, etc
  • Hold a discussion group about The Warrior’s Vow
  • If you come up with something creative, let me know so I can share with others.

What’s in it for you? Well, for one you’ll be reading a fabulous book! 😉 For Free!!!

  • You’ll get a chance to read The Warrior’s Vow before it hits the shelves.
  • You’ll be entered into a drawing, exclusive to my street team. I’m still working on the details, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

If you think you’d be interested in joining my street team, please contact me through the link at the top of the sidebar and let me know why you’d like to be a part of my street team.

Spots are limited.

The Warrior’s Vow

He Was Hers to Command

Swept away from her home and into the desert, Abigail is as much a prisoner as she is a princess. A ruthlessly ambitious captain of the palace guard intends to force her into marriage and rule Judah through her. Yet the badly beaten soldier Abigail rescues offers another choice—if she dares trust him.

She is royalty, yet Jesse is surprised by the gentle compassion Abigail shows him as he heals. In return, he will help her escape to Jerusalem, protecting her life with his own. But Abigail’s rank and Jesse’s deadly past makes any future impossible, unless forgiveness forged by love can triumph over all.

Lisa Belcastro and a Giveaway

Please welcome back Lisa Belcastro!

DSC_0017_1bFor two years, Tess Roberts has longed for Hawk, her father’s first mate, to glance her way. With vivid clarity, she can recall the exact moment she placed her hand in his eight hundred and thirty-seven days ago. She was climbing up the gangway to board the Shenandoah, and there he was and he’d offered her a hand. Tess was a goner. Her heart had hammered in her chest, her eyes stared into the deep pools of blue looking down at her, and she knew she never wanted to let go of the hand holding hers. But she had, because she was carrying her father’s lunch and couldn’t very well stand there holding a stranger’s hand.

Minutes later, she discovered the man in question was her father’s recently hired first mate. Two seconds after that revelation, Hawk found out she was the captain’s daughter. And that was the last time he’d held her hand. Pretty much the last time Hawk had spoken to her, except for those rare occasions when he had to.

At twenty-five, Tess is convinced God’s on vacation and He sure isn’t visiting Martha’s Vineyard. Hawk ignores her, she can’t captain one of her father’s ships because she’s a woman, and her heart feels as though there is a gaping hole growing larger every day. She’s too old to run away from home, but Tess can do something better. She knows a secret. She knows that Cabin 8 on the Shenandoah is a time portal and that she only has one night to go on the adventure of a lifetime. She throws caution to the wind, and disappears to 1776.

She never expected Hawk would come after her. He can’t stand to be in the same room with her, so why would he care that she’s gone? But he does show up and demands that she return home with him. She refuses, and begs the men aboard the colonial ship to allow her to stay.

Troubles arise when a British warship appears. During an attack, Hawk reveals his deep faith, an unwelcome surprise to the prodigal Tess. More surprising, is Hawk’s declaration of love as he is taken prisoner. Tess isn’t sure what to fret about more, that Hawk might truly love her and die on an enemy ship, or that he might return and find out she’s not too keen on God.

The situation appears hopeless to Tess. If he dies, she can’t be with him. If he returns, he won’t want her because he’s a believer and she’s not sure God exists. She realizes that she can never be a wife to Hawk if she doesn’t share his faith. She’s seen what her parents have. She’s heard them talk about the three-part cord between themselves and God. She can’t give Hawk what she doesn’t have.

Minutes become hours, and Tess wears a hole in the floor she is pacing. She begins to question everything – and in turn learns that she has choices to make. Choices of faith, choices of trust, choices that will affect every day of her future.

Like so many people with broken dreams, broken hearts and broken lives, Tess is afraid to surrender all to God and trust his path for her life. I won’t ruin the story for you by revealing Tess’s stubbornness and a few foolish conclusions she will reach. Have you ever been a slow learner in life’s lessons? I know I have – too many times to count!

Blurb:

9781602903791-Perfect.inddTess 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 onboard 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….

 

 

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 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, training for her first 50-mile road race, or walking the beach looking for sea glass.

http://www.lisabelcastro.com

http://www.twitter.com/lisabelcastro19

http://www.facebook.com/belcastrolisa

Lisa is giving away one e-book copy to one commenter!

Ohhhhhh!!!! And I’ll throw in a paperback copy of The Guardian’s Promise (must live in the United States) to one commenter too.

So, show us some love and leave comments. 😉

Laying It All Out There ~ Book Launch, Book Signing and TV Appearances, Among other Things

The last few weeks have been crazy, and I know several of you are probably interested in my experience.

On March 15th, I had a book launch party. It wasn’t a huge success in terms of numbers, but I initially had intended it to be friends and family. Soon invites were flying left and right. I was very thankful for the turn out. Several local friends showed up as well as family. Some family drove a few hours to get there.

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Book Launch Party

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I love the flower arrangements my mom came up with. First of all I can’t kill them, and secondly, aren’t those little book covers cute?

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Gluten Free Cake Balls made by my wonderful sister-in-law Holly

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This gluten free cake my mom made was absolutely delicious. It’s a recipe from cousin Sarah Johns. Watch for the recipe on The Most Important Thing.

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The vase was given to my mom by my grandmother when I was born. My grandmother passed away on my 5th birthday. It was nice to have a piece of her there. I know she would have been thrilled for me.

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Isn’t it beautiful? My mom put this together. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Now, the scrapbook:

702439_10154018606625294_1118307624_nAfter my little book launch I got up the nerve to walk into Wal-mart and ask for permission to move my books from the bottom shelf to eye-level and for permission to sign them. I also ran into Barnes & Noble and signed the copies they had ordered.

On March 22, I had a book signing at God’s Storehouse Thrift Store. Again, I had no idea what to expect. Only people I knew showed up, which was okay with me. I like to ease into things. I was blessed with seeing a good friend drive in from out of town and with seeing a good friend from high school. I hope she doesn’t mind me snagging this photo from her facebook page. 😉

My next little thing, well, it was big to me, was the upcoming interview with one of our local television stations. Now, you have to understand that I’m a very shy person. I flunked speech in high school, and I’d become nausea whenever someone asked me to stand in front of people. I’d usually find ways out of it.

This time I knew short of a family member dying or me having a car accident on the way to the studio that there was no way I was getting out of it. The teleprompter for the host was already set. And, I knew my mother was most likely at home pacing back and forth in front of the television waiting to hear my name. I also knew if she didn’t hear my name, well… there’d probably be a lot of h*** to pay. 😉 Love you, Mom! Besides, this was one of those honoring your elders kind of things. My dear Aunt Liese got the ball rolling and my mom and dad made sure it kept rolling know matter how many excuses I came up with to not do the television appearance.

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Awesome camera guy, Eric Ives and host Ralph Hipp interviewing our local Zoo folks.

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Me, waiting. This was actually taken before the zoo crew went on air.

I walked out of there alive. My three minutes on the red couch didn’t kill me. I survived. And then I went home and there was hubs waiting to watch it with me. Gulp! Gulp! Whoever said the camera adds on ten pounds lied! It’s more like 20-30 pounds. Anyway, it was all done and over. Or so I thought. The private link I shared with my brother and mom soon appeared all over facebook, and then it showed up on Goodreads and then to one of the writer’s email loops. I was all over, and it wasn’t supposed to happen that way.It wasn’t supposed to be seen by that many people! I mean it’s like being stripped bare for all to see. Seriously.

But that’s okay. I’ll chalk all of this up as a learning experience.

1. The book launch went very well. Much better than I could have hoped for. There weren’t even any wardrobe malfunctions.

2014-03-30 17.46.132. On my way to the book signing I stopped at the store and bought what I thought was a nice looking shirt. I ripped off the tags and changed in the car, put on some cute wedges and strutted into the building. I did NOT know the back of my shirt was completely see-through. Thank goodness my back was to people most of the time, but I also did not realize how thin the front was and how much of my, uh, jelly rolls showed. Embarrassing!

3. I made another trip to the store before my television stint. Yep, a few hours before I had to be there. My time is that tight. Anyway, I about had breakdown because 1. large sizes in the regular section are too small and the 1x in the plus size are too big, 2. the majority of the plus size shirts were to thin. I did not wish to share my jelly rolls on live TV.

4. Finding no satisfaction with any of my clothing options, I chose to where a sweater. My favorite, plain beige, sweater was still in the dryer and far from being dry even though it had been in there for quite some time, so I went with my striped sweater. It looked good in the mirror, but not so much on the monitor or on the television screen.

*big smiles here* Learn from me… don’t do like me. Lord knows I’ll be more aware of my attire before any more public appearances.

Okay, so I suppose y’all want to see this video, huh? Well, here it is.

My First Interview

Now, I don’t want you all to think I thought it was all bad. It wasn’t. Even though I stumbled over some of my answers and wished I would have answered them differently, this interview did bring an awareness to a genre of fiction that is often overlooked; Christian Romance. And I’m happy with that.

A Prayer from A Reader

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Ephesians 5:2

I received a lovely surprise in the mail today; a card from a reader who has yet to read my book. What’s so special about this card? The prayer inside.

sarahbakercardLord, thank you for the gift You’ve blessed Christina with; the ability to take ordinary words and tell a story in a way that catches a person’s attention and grips their heart.

Please continue to guide her as she writes, give her the stories you have for her to tell and the words with which to express them.

In all things we give You praise.

Amen.

sarahbakerprayerThe writing journey can seem lonely. Only other writers understand the voices running in your head and the frustration that occurs when the story just isn’t working out like it should. Family and friends don’t always get the countless hours of work to create a story, and the countless more that goes into revisions and marketing. The don’t always understand the inability to stop and watch a movie or needing to order take-out.  Funny, as a writer, it’s not always easy to take ordinary words and tell a story that catches a person’s attention and grips their heart, especially when the stresses of life press in and demand attention, leaving little time to create gripping stories.

Standing on the outside, I understand that when I ask for prayers from my family and friend, they don’t always know how to pray. The above prayer is a great example.

Sarah, thank you for blessing me today. This prayer will be a constant to carry me through my stories. I accept the prayer and the blessings through it, may it be so. And may God bless you tenfold in your endeavors.

Coutdown to Release Day

9780373282579 Official

According to Amazon, The Guardian’s Promise will be available for purchase in 7 days! And, yes, I am super excited!!!! It’s a long time dream in the making, ever since Love Inspired launched their historical line back in 2008, because I wanted my books to be affordable for the single income family.

I began reading the line. Many of their authors became auto buys for me. On November 4, 2010, I printed off an article written by Elizabeth Mazer called Top 10 Tips for Writing Love Inspired Historical. It remains taped to my wall right in front of my computer.

On November 5, 2011, I sent off my first partial request to Emily Rodmell at Love Inspired. October 26, 2012 I accepted an offer.

It’s been a bit of a surreal whirlwind. I can’t believe that soon, a story I wrote, one with my name on the cover will grace the shelves of books stores.

Keep writing, keep submitting. Prayer and persistence are the keys to seeing your dream realized.

 

Here’s a little excerpt for you.

Near En Gedi, Judah 835 BC

Ari’s heart hammered in his chest as the horses thundered toward the groves. Instinct had him reaching for where his sword should have been, a sword he had discarded years ago when he’d traded his life of a warrior for that of a bond servant. He’d been a fool to leave his weapons hidden away when danger lurked close at hand, but he could not very well play the servant dressed as a soldier.

It would do no good to dwell on this lack of foresight, even if it had almost got him killed years ago. Instead, he picked up a curved lava stone and prepared for battle.

He peered around the corner. The queen’s soldiers brought their mounts to a halt on the dusty pathway, their eyes trained in the distance. Ari followed their line of sight and inhaled a sharp breath.

Sh’mira, his master’s daughter, stood at the edge of the grove. She cradled a white flower in her palm, her nose mere inches from the petals with her eyes closed.

He knew she was lost in the fragrance as she was wont to do and completely unaware of her audience.

Hefting an empty pot onto his shoulders, he straightened to his full height. With the lava stone firm in his palm, he stepped out of the shadows and made as if he were about his everyday chores.

Perhaps his presence would discourage the warriors from their wicked intent, for their arrival could result in nothing but evil. Ever since Queen Athaliah had killed most of the royal family near seven years ago-her sons, daughters and grandchildren-the royal guards had terrorized all of Judah. Stories of their infamous conquests had reached even this remote village, putting fear into the hearts and minds of all. A fear that rivaled the fear of the fabled Leviathan and other sea monsters.

A horse snorted. Ari’s feet wobbled on the pebbles as he worked his way toward the grove. He’d never feared a battle before and although his warrior instincts thrummed through his veins, his years out of service shook his confidence. Perhaps, it was the crude scar on his thigh, a reminder of his last encounter with the queen’s men.

“You should not be here alone.”

Mira turned, her lips tight, gaze guarded. “Who are you to tell me such?”

He sat the clay pot to the ground and broke off a dying branch. “A servant looking after his master’s interest.”

“I am a grown woman, able to care for myself.” She jerked a withered limb from its mooring. “Just because I am maimed,,” she bit, “does not mean I’m helpless.”

He dropped his hands to his sides. Her gaze a pool of desert water after a heavy rain. “I did not mean-“

This woman was far from helpless, he knew that.

“Did you not?” She tossed the branch into the pot. “You are forever following me around tending my duties. You would think Father bonded you to be my nurse.”

“I only think to repay your kindness for tending my wounds when I first arrived.”

“For seven years?” She let out a disgruntled sigh and walked farther down the lane.

“It has not been quite that long.” Ari grabbed her arm, turning her back to him. Her cheeks flushed and his warmed at the contact. He released her. Crossing his arms over his chest, he stepped back. He was nearing the end of his sixth year and beginning his seventh with her family, and he’d never touched her. The contact caught him off guard. “If not for you, I would have died. I would not have you meet the same fate.” He tilted his head toward the guards high on their mounts.

She leaned forward, peering around one of the trees, and then straightened. The length of her tresses brushed over his forearm like a feather. The flowery fragrance of henna blossoms tickled his nose. How had he not noticed this about her? Odd, one touch after all these years, and he was suddenly aware of how she smelled.

A whinny from the horse brought his head back to reality. He glanced over his shoulder and bit down on his tongue. The devastation left in the guards’ wake, remained fresh in his mind even after all these years. The young king’s mother had been badly used before they slit her throat. Fortunately, Jehosheba, the boy’s aunt and Tama, Mira’s cousin, who had been serving as a nurse in the palace, had the wits about them to take the babe from his dying mother, giving Judah hope for the future. A truth Mira did not know. “In their eyes, all women, young and old, are helpless.”

Mira’s gaze shifted toward the riders once again. “I will not cower before them.”

Her lack of cowardice was worthy of any warrior. However, it was not courage that fueled her attitude. “Would your pride see your father brokenhearted?”

She sucked in a sharp breath. “I wonder how a man of your wisdom became destitute enough to become a servant.”

The horses’ hooves came closer. “As you know, I repay a debt of kindness. Your father offered me refuge when I was wounded. Come.” He extended his hand toward the small village. “We must get you back within the walls of your home.”

The sound of the muffled clops halted, replaced by the creaking of leather as the men dismounted. Ari’s muscles tensed. He faced the pair of guards and forced his life’s blood to an even rhythm. The men standing before him were the queen’s own personal guards, which meant they were on a mission much higher than destroying altars to God and keeping peace. Had they discovered the child survived?

“Looks like we’ve interrupted two lovers.”

She squeaked. “You dare-“

Ari pierced her with a dark look and shoved her behind his back. He bowed his head. “Forgive my mistress.”

 

Stephanie Snow~25th Day of Christmas Winner

Oh, my goodness! In all the hustle and bustle of the last week, and the fact that I’ve been trying to stay in my cave, I completely forgot to announce the winner of the 25th Day of Christmas book. And guess what I have in my hand right at this moment. Yep, that’s my book!

 

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