I intended to have this ready to go last year, but, um . . . I didn't. ;-) Given that the book was only half written last November, I instead took the holiday season to finish it up and then had this year for editing and feedback and that sort of excitement. ;-)
But I'm so excited to share the story of Cyprus and Nikolaos and Petros. And seeing it reviewed in RT Reviews two weeks ago with a 4.5 Star Top Pick rating was pretty darn awesome too. This is what RT had to say:
Perfect for the Christmas season, White’s latest is a story that begs to become a tradition. The setting comes alive in sights, sounds and smells, but it’s the people in this book that make it so memorable. Despite the general solemnity to the plot, vivid characters and their strong and unswerving faith frame the tale in life and warmth and love. This story of love and faith belongs on every holiday reading list, it’s a beautifully crafted reminder of the true purpose of giving.
So I figure I'll share a bit of behind-the-scenes on this book today and tomorrow--and then later in the week is the Fall 2016 Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt, where I'll be hosting Stop #4--so be sure to swing by then for a chance at the epic grand prize and for a giveaway just from me too, where you can choose from either of my recent releases.
Now . . . Cyprus.
When I decided to write this story, I figured it would be fun to get a peek at the Visibullis family that I've written about in A Stray Drop of Blood and A Soft Breath of Wind--two hundred fifty years after those stories. Though readers certainly don't see any of those previous characters on the page, we do see their legacy. At one point, Dorus Visibullis, father of my heroine, receives a shipment of scrolls and codices (think early books) from his uncle, part of his inheritance. And on each scroll and codex is part of his Christian heritage--including an eye-witness account of the resurrection by Abigail, which Benjamin transcribed in her later years.
I hope readers enjoy this sort of nod at the early books--and that they fall in love with these characters too. Cyprus has in a way been a long time coming for me. I was in college when I decided I wanted to use the name for a heroine someday. Not sure why, but I just love the way it sounds. So I had Dorus and his wife Artemis name their girls after cities where they'd lived. Alexandria, Rhoda (after Rhodes), and Cyprus.
When I was brainstorming what I would make happen in this book, I knew it was crucial that Cyprus not look like the typical Greek/Roman girl. I wanted it to be dangerous for her to venture out alone in a world where it wasn't unusual for children to be kidnapped and sold as slaves. And the rarer the coloring the better. At first I'd thought blond would work, but then I remembered reading that no slave in Rome fetched a higher price than a redhead. So that's what Cyprus needed to be.
I searched for images forever. Seriously. Looking for some appropriate stock photo that I could use for Cyprus. But I couldn't find one. Anywhere. So I took to DeviantArt and eventually stumbled upon Kirilee, who had this amazing series of "Greek Queen" photographs.
Cyprus is a girl who receives a miraculous healing in the opening chapter . . . and who then spends the next years of her life wondering why God would save her. She has always believed in Him . . . but she is just a girl, as her father keeps reminding her. A girl has no purpose but to marry advantageously. Can that really be all the Lord wants from her? Or will she doubt too much and have that paralysis overtake her again?
When tragedy strikes her family, the questions only get worse. Why save her for this? But love for her sisters spurs her onward, into a fight against the culture, the expectations, and into the realization of what God really asks--for everything, sacrificed freely to Him. So that He can work His wonders.
It's a story of love at its foundation. Love for our parents, our siblings, our children. Love for our friends, love for the one who becomes our spouse. But ultimately, love for God.
This is a story about the man we now call St. Nicholas. But in my typical fashion, it's not the sort of story you might expect when you hear that. Because it's not just about the man who created traditions we still keep today. It's about the God-given love, the God-given gift of healing that spurred him to take extreme actions to save his friends. And it's about those whose lives were forever changed by it.
Also, quick note!
I have four other books on sale this month!
The Lost Heiress - $2.99
Ring of Secrets - $2.99
Whispers from the Shadows - $1.99
Circle of Spies - $0.99