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Friday, May 16, 2014

Taking Tea with... Lisa Belcastro + Giveaway

When you see the word "Shenandoah", apart from being a lovely song, thoughts come to mind of the beautiful Shenandoah River and images of the American Civil War.  In fact the actual CSS Shenandoah was a Confederate War ship that visited my home town of Melbourne during the the Civil War... but that is a story for another blog.

When I saw the title of Lisa Belcastro's books AND they are time travel stories, I felt she was destined to be a guest of Ms. Stuart. Lisa writes seafaring historical time travel novels and lives in (or is that on) the island of Martha's Vineyard. 

Hi Lisa…tea or coffee?

Hello Alison, and thank you for having me visit with you. I am an avid fan of Australia and delighted to stop by and pretend I’m actually IN Australia. I spent a month there a few years ago. Had a fabulous time, swimming the Great Barrier Reef, horseback riding for five days in the Snowy Mountains, and flying over to Tasmania and the Cadbury Chocolate factory. As to your question, I am a tea drinker. I have a large assortment of teas to suit my mood, the weather, or a guest’s palate. (AS:  I was only at the Cadbury factory in January... sadly you can no longer do the tour!)

I have a confession. I am no sailor… being out on a small boat on the big, wobbly blue thing (to quote Blackadder) absolutely terrifies me. How big a part of your life is sailing and when did you begin?

I wish I could tell you that I own a sailboat, even a small one, and that I’m on the water at least once a week. Sadly, no such luck. The boat I’m on most frequently is the car ferry between our Island and America. If a friend invites me to go sailing or fishing, then I can get dressed and ready to go in five minutes! My love for sailing on a proper sailboat – no motor, straight wind power --  began five years ago when I chaperoned my daughter’s school trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah. All of the Island schools are offered the opportunity to sail for a week aboard the beautiful vessel, and the students experience life as it would have been hundreds of years ago – no electricity, no cell phones, no iPods, no running water, no hot water for that matter.  I fell in love with the peace and solitude. Nights were the best, anchored in the ocean with gentle waves lapping the sides of the ship while I drifted off to sleep. Pure bliss! (AS:  It sounds wonderful... and I love this picture)

You live on Martha’s Vineyard which the whole world knows as the summer playground of Presidents of the United States. Firstly, how did this little island get its name and have you always lived there? I also have to ask, what is it like when the President comes to holiday there? (Imagining the place swarming with security and gawping tourists!)

You have the right image in your mind, Alison. “Swarming” brings to my mind the annoying buzzing of hornets around one of their nests. When the president is here, there is much swarming about. The traffic increases, the noise increases, roads are closed down, and people act a little silly as they hope to be in the place he or his family are passing through. I went for a walk one afternoon with a girlfriend who’d recently had a child. We strolled down familiar streets in my neighborhood, happily chatting and ooohhing over her precious baby girl. Next thing we know, we round a corner, and are stopped by four secret service. The President was playing golf on the course to our left. We couldn’t walk any further. Two moms and a newborn baby were a threat to national security. Go figure!

The Island was named Martha’s Vineyard by the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602. The “Vineyard” part of the name is easily explainable. Many years ago, an abundance of grape vines grew all over the Island. When I moved here fulltime, there was only one winery left, and it has since closed. There are no clear records where the “Martha” came from. Gosnold had a mother-in-law named Martha and his second child, who died before her first birthday, was also named Martha. Depending on which historical account you read, the namesake varies. (AS: That's fascinating - I love knowing the origin of place names)

When you are not writing, what occupies your days? 

I am an outdoor girl at heart. I love walking the beach looking for sea glass, or packing up a cooler and hitting the beach for a picnic and evening sunset. During the warm weather months, I’m often found in my gardens, weeding, harvesting or planting seasonal flowers and vegetables. I am also a runner. Over the last five years I completed a full marathon (26.2 miles) in all fifty states. Now I’m training for a 50-mile race this fall. With summer coming, I can’t wait to get back to hours in the sunshine.  (At this point, Ms. Stuart, collapses fainting on the sofa and has to be revived with smelling salts!)

You have written three time travel stories (and I LOVE a good time travel!), SHENANDOAHNIGHTS, SHENANDOAH CROSSINGS, and SHENANDOAH DREAMS (which comes July1, 2014). Here in Melbourne, Australia, we have a special affinity with the real life Confederate Ship Shenandoah which docked here during the American Civil War (fabulous story – I must do a blog about it).  What was the inspiration behind your Shenandoah?

I’m so glad you asked, Alison, and I’d love to read a blog about the Confederate Ship Shenandoah. In 1964, Captain Robert Douglas launched the Shenandoah from Vineyard Haven Harbor. She has been sailing the Island waters and beyond for the last fifty years. As I mentioned above, I was fortunate to chaperone two school trips aboard Shenny. During the first summer sail, my mind begin to imagine what it would have been like to live, sail, and experience life during the American Revolution. Living without hot running water, a modern-day toilet, and electricity can do strange things to my already overactive imagination. The following summer, when I was back on board to chaperone another trip, I took copious notes and pictures. From those two journeys and my notes and imagination, Shenandoah Nights became a reality. The first book led to another, and now I’m toying with the idea of writing a Christmas novella because I miss those characters.

Thanks so much for having me to visit. It’s my goal and dream to go back to Australia, and then to hop on over to New Zealand. I’ll be sure to let you know, and we can plan a non-sailing activity – such as chocolate consumption!

“It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream,” Melissa Smith whispers as her eyes focus on the two men standing before her. 
She lives in the twenty-first century. She is chaperoning her sixth-grade students on an educational sailing trip. They are not visiting Plimoth Plantation, or the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They are sailing over the waters of the Vineyard Sound around the island of Martha’s Vineyard. So the men before her, dressed as though they’ve stepped off the set of a movie about the American Revolutionary War, cannot possibly be real. She’s dreaming. She will wake up.
But can a dream man touch her and send bolts of electricity through her veins and ignite a fire in her heart the likes of which she’s never felt before? Can a dream man serve her food that tastes divine? Can a dream lasts for weeks on end? 
And if she’s not dreaming, then she’s traveled back in time, which is impossible. But here she is, in 1770, uncertain how she arrived, how she’ll get home, and if her heart could bare to be parted from Captain Isaiah Reed. Only time will tell if Melissa is given a chance at love with Isaiah or swept forward once again to her previous life.

 ALL THREE BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON and LISA is generously offering to give away copies of her first two books to one lucky commenter :-)

Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard. She writes inspirational romances set on the Island and the surrounding waters.  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.  To find out more about Lisa and her wonderful time travel stories visit her website. Click HERE

And down under... Williamstown's own Shenandoah connection
Please stop and say hello to Lisa and I and go in the running for copies of SHENANDOAH NIGHTS and SHENANDOAH CROSSING but also get the chance to enter the May Rafflecopter CONTEST.