Sally Chambers Speaks Up!

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Everyone’s Story warmly welcomes this week’s guest, Sally Chambers. Sally and I are fellow Elk Lake Publishing Inc. authors, but I had the pleasure of reading Sally’s The Stonekeepers before signing with Elk Lake. What a great story! It’s been fun getting to know Sally since that point. A caring and sweet woman, I hope you’ll pull up a fave chair this week and take a couple of minutes to sample Sally’s excerpt, read her uplifting words, and try for her Giveaway. We’re looking forward to chatting with you.

 

 

 

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BookGiveaway:

Sally is offering 2 randomly chosen commenters each 1 copy of the The Stonekeepers. 1 winner will receive 1 print copy; 1 winner a Kindle edition. The winners will be announced here on Friday, January20th between  5-6 PM EST.

** For Giveaways: it’s not necessary to insert your private email information within comments.

 

 

Excerpt from The Stonekeepers:

An excerpt from first chapter of Sally Chambers’ YA suspense novel, The Stonekeepers

Chapter One Excerpts

Nantucket, Massachusetts

There has to be an explanation.

Outside Lexi Christensen’s bedroom window, the world shook. The fast-moving storm hurled shards of silver lightning, and thunder bruised the heavens above rain-swept Nantucket Island. She leaned over her empty cedar chest, and again smoothed her hand across the base. Surely she’d only imagined the solid base had moved as she’d dusted the bottom.

There. A small indentation shifted beneath her fingers. She pressed the end of the wide slice of polished wood and drew in a quick breath. As if hinged, the slender board rose straight up, revealing a compartment.

Someone had carved out a section just big enough for a business sized—

The overhead light flickered. Another explosion of thunder rocked the house as lightning illuminated an envelope tinged yellow with age. She bent closer. Emblazoned in sweeping black script, her name, Alexia E. Christensen, traced across the face of the envelope.

Why would an envelope bearing her name be in her cedar chest? How long had it been there? She’d never completely emptied the box, but with her first year of college looming, she’d decided to clean it out. Remnants of her life had been layered like tree rings in the chest. Plaster-of-Paris handprints from kindergarten, old books and diaries, rumpled report cards, loose photos, awards, and more lay around her in short, not-so-neat stacks.

Then she’d lifted the old paper liner from the bottom of the chest. And found this.

The handwriting on the envelope wasn’t familiar, and the possibilities that twisted through her mind didn’t offer a single credible explanation.

The storm quieted, moving eastward over the island. Twin fires of curiosity and anticipation burned through her fingers as she picked up the envelope. The thin wood cover fell into place with a soft swish.

A clatter of pans sounded from the kitchen. Mom, fixing lunch. Good. For a while at least, Mom wouldn’t barge in with more orders or an interrogation. Right now, Lexi wanted privacy.

She stretched to ease the tension in her neck, then sat back with her knees drawn up under her chin. Her hands trembled with excitement—or was it apprehension—and for a second, she hesitated.

Do it, for heaven’s sake. It’s just an old envelope.

The glue easily gave way as she slid her finger beneath the flap. She pulled out a fragile sheet of thin, crackly paper, and unfolded it. Several lines of text were written in the same handwriting as her name outside the envelope. Most of it was faded, barely legible, ink almost obliterated by brown stains. But the words of the first line stopped her, made her suck in a breath.

Northbrick House.

Northbrick. A vivid image of the aging mansion filled her mind. Massive, elegant with tall pillars and mottled cinnamon brick—and abandoned. Every time she passed the place, she felt drawn to it like a metal filing to a magnet. She had no idea why.

Three weeks ago, her half-eaten breakfast had been forgotten when she’d listened to the one-minute TV news blurb highlighting that “Northbrick House was scheduled for demolition.”

If the place hadn’t wormed its way into her heart, she’d have walked away from the whole thing. But as one of the oldest estates in Nantucket, Northbrick deserved to live, and she made up her mind to make certain it did. She located contacts, but was frustrated with replies that sent her chasing up a chain of responsibility with no answers on how to help halt or even delay Northbrick’s destruction. The historical association, always right on top of saving the old houses of Nantucket, seemed to be trying their best, but nothing had changed.

With the demolition date less than a month away, she had enough time to help save the mansion from the town’s wrecking ball. She’d planned to go inside Northbrick House, take photos, make notes on points of why save the place, and compile it along with her research. Presenting it all to the Nantucket Historical Association’s open meeting on Friday of next week was on her calendar.

And her plan to go inside Northbrick was already in motion—for tomorrow.

She shook her head and stared at the cedar chest then at the opaque sheet of paper she held. “How could I be finding this now?” She whispered the words into the ether, her throat raspy and dry as beach sand. Only her best friends, Jenni and Ridge, knew she wanted to help save Northbrick.

Was it a coincidence? A warning? Did she even believe in coincidence?

As far as she knew, no connection existed between her and the mansion. Was there something inside the old house that might link her to the estate?

Goose bumps rippled down her arms. She looked at the paper. If she read the remaining lines, would it make sense or get weirder?

The paper quivered in her hand, her eyes skipping down past several single, widely-spaced, hard-to-read lines, pulled to the bottom as a wave of unreality engulfed her. Two sketches of a familiar shape—a six-pointed star—like the one she’d worn beside her cross every day for as long as she could remember. She closed her eyes against the barrage of thoughts, questions, in awe at what she held.

Her hand moved to the slender gold chain against her throat. She pressed her fingers against the tiny metal replica of the Star of David, held it out, and turned it over. The two entwined triangles were engraved on the bottom of the left and right angles with two letter A’s. Just like in the sketches . . .

And for a fleeting moment, she was a little girl again, sitting on a whitewashed bench in a garden, cradling a small box in one hand, and in her other, something golden shining in the sunlight. “A is for Alexia, and A is for apple,” Mom had chanted, smiling and pointing at little Lexi. “You are the apple of God’s eye.”

Dear God, hold me together. Help me to make sense of this.

One step at a time. Long, slow breaths.

The stairs outside Lexi’s open bedroom door creaked and footsteps tapped down the hall. Muted thunder rumbled in the distance. She refolded the paper, stuck it back in the envelope, returned it to its hiding place, and covered the base with the old liner.

+++

An unsettling flurry of excitement and anticipation flew through her. She’d soon be driving her car onto the ferry for the trip to the mainland, a moment she’d dreamed of since she’d made her decision to attend MIT.

Convertible top down, sunglasses perched on her nose, Lexi got behind the wheel of the Mini, reveling in the sun and solitude, island breezes playing through her hair—and worries playing through her mind. College prep, edgy parents, Ridge, a crazy letter connecting her to the house she wanted to save . . . She doubted a drive through the rain dampened back streets of Nantucket would ease the mountain of stress she seemed to be climbing.

As Lexi pulled into her best friend’s driveway, Jenni’s brother sent her a high-five from the front porch. She waved at him over the top of the windshield. “Is she home?”

“Nope. She just called and said she’s still at the mall. Something about a monster sale on jeans. Probably won’t be back for another hour.”

Lexi grinned. “So she snuck off to shop without me, huh?”

“Yeah, and she might strangle me for telling you.”

“Don’t worry. My lips are locked.” She shook her head and chuckled. If Jen bought more clothes, even two dorm closets might not be enough. She’d have to invoke “stand your ground” law or the place could end up becoming a war zone.

Lexi backed out of the driveway. Maybe she’d talk with Jenni tonight. She should make the trip to Northbrick alone first anyway. Just being there, scoping it out before the real thing tomorrow, felt right. Jenni’s brain practically left the planet whenever Lexi talked about saving the old place, but Ridge seemed more than interested.

Two blocks south of the estate, she turned right, maneuvering her chili-red Mini onto a narrow dirt side road heavy with trees, weeds, and brush, and parked. Better than leaving the conspicuous little convertible sitting in front of the estate attracting attention. She locked the car and backtracked to Northbrick Avenue. She kept up a brisk pace, anxious to reach the gate.

A few feet ahead of her, as if it had no beginning or end, the tall iron fence emerged from a dense tangle of brambles and trees. It continued on the slight grassy rise that edged the sidewalk along Northbrick Avenue for close to the length of two football fields before disappearing into the woods on the north side of the estate. Set in the middle of the sturdy iron fence, two tall gray granite sentinels held the entrance gate.

Soft currents of late June air held the sweet-sour scent of pine, wild honeysuckle, jasmine, and weeds as she neared the mansion. The low hum of bees blended with the soft music of birdsong. Every sensation nudged her with whispers—and twinges of familiarity.

Lexi reached the fence and followed it to the twin pillars. How many times had she stopped and walked her bike past these imposing seven foot giants? Countless.

Northbrick House faced west, and unlike most of the stately old mansions on the island, sat back nearly a hundred feet from the street. She stepped from the sidewalk and climbed the four stone-and-mortar steps to stare at the gate. Heavy, rusted, no lock, and open just inches, it sagged onto the stones beneath it. She pushed hard against it, and might as well have tried to push an elephant. The gate didn’t budge. It didn’t matter. Ridge would open it tomorrow.

Beyond the gate lay unkempt grounds, a chaos of trees, tall weeds, wild trailing vines, and thick brambles. Strange how dirt and dead weeds appeared scattered along what she could see of a wide, flat stone walk, as if someone had recently tried to clear the path. With no other way in except through this gate, she’d soon follow those stones to go into the house.

She set her cellphone to video, holding it between the bars, panning it across the house and grounds, then took still shots of the rusted black gate. Enough for now. There’d be more time and sunlight for photos tomorrow afternoon.

Lexi stuffed the phone in her jeans pocket and paused for a last look. A tingly shiver scattered down her arms as her fingers curled around the cold metal bars, still damp from the earlier rain.

Through the door. The first words of the letter. Dare she follow the instruction?

The second line, beneath the floor. A cellar maybe. There’d be a lot to do when they went inside.

The sun rode low on the horizon, lengthening late-afternoon shadows. Wind moved dark strands of hair around her face. She shoved them away as a round, dark-gray, rat-sized lump skittered across the stone path behind the fence and disappeared into the weeds. Just stay away from me, varmint.

She needed to go home and tie up loose ends in her room. She hadn’t exactly gone “just to Jenni’s,” but she’d be home in minutes. Time to leave.

She gazed at the abandoned mansion’s ominous façade, the front door calling to her. Why did this place have such a strong pull on her? The paper involved her. How? Useless questions! There was only one way to find out. Should she? Lexi glanced around. No one in sight.

The iron bars iced in her hands. She tightened her grip and pushed. No movement. Instead, the ground beneath her feet thundered for long terrifying seconds . . .

#

 

Yes, You Can by Sally Chambers

“I can’t, Lord—there are plenty of others who can.”

You do it.

But, I can’t make a major change like this.

Yes. You can.

I’m 44. It’s crazy. I just can’t.

Yes. You can. I am with you.

In my office, elbows on my desk, chin cradled in my hands, mired in doubt, my faith fades like the flood of red rays from the setting sun pouring through the window. In front of me, an agent contract from a large insurance company . . . and a pen.

Gideon’s doubt in Judges 6, reminds me of times I’ve doubted—myself, God, others. My doubts are far less important than Gideon’s, but they sure follow a similar pattern.

Gideon’s story (from The Living Bible, rewritten a bit) goes like this:

For seven years, the people of Israel were cruelly treated by their enemies. It reached a point when the Israelites “took to the mountains, living in caves and dens”—they hid and began to “cry out to the Lord for help.” Gideon was there with other fearful Israelites when the Lord spoke to him.

You do it.

The Lord, who knew Gideon’s heart as He does ours, turned to Gideon, “I will make you strong! Go and save Israel from the Midianites! I am sending you!”

But, I can’t do it.

And in came Gideon’s doubts, questions, and argument, “Sir, how can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least thought of in the entire family!” I can’t!

Oh, but yes you can.

The Lord said to Gideon, “But I, Jehovah, will be with you!

I’ll need proof.

Gideon, still doubting, said to the Lord, “If it is really true . . . then I’ll need you to do some miracle to prove it . . . so please stay here until I get a present for you.”

All right, I will stay.

The Lord, gracious and merciful, reassured him. “I’ll stay here until you return.”

Gideon went home, prepared meat, bread, and broth, returned, and presented them to the Lord.

Now I need you to do something.

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The Lord instructed Gideon “Place the meat and bread on that rock and pour the broth over them.”

I will . . .

“Gideon followed these instructions.”

Watch.

The Lord touched the meat and bread and fire consumed them.

Ah, You will help me.

His faith strengthened, the Lord with him, step-by-step, Gideon “. . . did as the Lord commanded.”

Our Lord is as gracious and patient with us as He was with Gideon when we doubt or cast a fleece before him or want to run the other way. Whether we’re writers or mothers or teachers or realtors or engineers or any of myriad other things we do, we want assurance we’re in God’s will and have his help.

I sounded like Gideon when after fifteen years of working in the insurance industry for others, I felt the nudge to do it myself. And again, after a strong nudge to write and submit devotions, articles, Sunday school take-home papers, and drama. And again, when I felt the strong assurance that I should write novels—suspense novels—like The Stonekeepers, released in May of 2015, and a second novel that’s already interested my agent and publisher.

Have you experienced moments of doubt when something you’ve worked hard to achieve becomes an exciting, scary reality?

Never say never. Pray. Listen. Believe. Do the work. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV.)

Just as with Gideon, God is always with us, never leaves or forsakes us. Simply love Him with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, ask Him, thank Him, include Him in all you do.

Two favorite mini-prayers you might enjoy too: Jesus, please come and be with me. Awaken me to your presence. Jesus please come and sit with me. Guide me into your truth.

Yes, you can!

John Oxenham wrote in Bees in Amber

Not for one single day

Can I discern my way,

But this I surely know—

Who gives the day,

Will show the way.

So I securely go.

Sally’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Author @sallychambers2 Speaks Up! on Everyone’s Story: Yes, You Can (especially when God says so). (Tweet This)

How did @sallychambers2 react when she felt a nudge to write a novel? (Tweet This)

Win @sallychambers2’s #BookGiveaway of The Stonekeepers. #ChristFic (Tweet This)

Author’s Bio:

Sally Chambers and her husband, Jerry, live in sunny, sub-tropical Florida, happy to have their two married children living within driving distance. Their grandchildren and great grandchildren visit from the UK and Colorado! Since retiring from her career in insurance, she’s focused on her love of writing.

An author of Christian fiction, Sally enjoys writing for young women, creating suspenseful, faith-filled stories with a dash of romance. She was a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s inaugural First Impressions Contest and has won awards for her poetry and short stories.

Sally loves walking on the beach or anywhere there’s a trail, enjoys reading to children, writing, reviewing and editing for writer friends, has fun taking photos with her iPhone, and reading, especially mystery, suspense, adventure.

Places to connect with Sally:

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Pinterest

Amazon

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 I want to thank you–readers, friends, family, and fellow authors–who have helped me to get where I am today (rejoicing each milestone as they come). Please stop by this Sunday, January 15th, for fun, sharing, and Giveaways!! Hope to see you   Party Page

~*~*~*~*~

Sally and I look forward to your comments.

 

42 comments to Sally Chambers Speaks Up!

  • Sally Chambers

    Thanks, Elaine, for having me as a guest on your blog and with, you, I look forward to comments!
    Blessings,
    Sally

  • I am so blessed to know Sally! She lives what she says. She is also an awesome writer and her next novel is going to be fantastic! Thank you for this interview with her. 🙂

    • elaineadmin

      Terri, I’m happy to see you! Glad you enjoyed Sally’s encouraging words.

      If you’re interested in a guest appearance yourself please contact me privately. I’d love to host you!

  • Sally Chambers

    I’m with Elaine on you being a guest on her blog, Terri! Thanks for stopping by and for your wonderful comment! So glad you came.
    ♥Sally

  • Sally Chambers

    Terri, I was so excited to have your comment I plumb forgot to congratulate you on your brand new suspense novel, The Bend, already on pre-sale. I have ordered mine and look forward to reading it. ☺ Thanks again for your comments!

  • Loved your post and I love the story of Gideon 🙂 So glad I stopped by. Looking forward to reading your books. Praying for God’s blessing on you both, Sally and Elaine this year!!

  • Zillah

    That’s so encouraging, Sally. I particularly like the message of going step by step with God. And loving Him with all our being; never say never – pray, listen and believe; and John Oxenham’s poem.

    Sally, our Lord gives you wonderful insights and wisdom.

    And “Stonekeepers” is a lovely, lovely book.

    God bless you. And thanks to Elaine for having you on the blog.

  • Sally, I really enjoyed the excerpt you provided. I’d love to read The Stonekeepers.

    • elaineadmin

      Ada, so nice of you to visit. You’re definitely entered in Sally’s BookGiveaway!

    • Sally Chambers

      Hi Ada, A warm welcome to Elaine’s wonderful blog! I’m so glad you enjoyed the excerpt from The Stonekeepers that Elaine graciously posted for us. I hope you have the opportunity to read it soon–maybe even as a result of the BookGiveaway.☺ Thanks for stopping by to join us!
      Many blessings for you in this new year ahead.

  • I loved the excerpt and then later “I can’t do it” and the Lord responding, “Yes you can.” How often we each have had similar situations doubting our abilities? Yet, God is always there with us answering our protestations.
    Wonderful, Sally.

    • elaineadmin

      Waving from up north, Karen 💗 As for doubts, I think I go through an I-can’t-do-this at least daily but Praise God, He always whispers in my ear that with Him, yes, I can!

      Thanks for visiting us this Saturday morning.

    • Sally Chambers

      Hmm. If Elaine is waving to you from “up north,” Karen, then you must be at least a little “down south” where I’m waving too! ☺ I so glad you loved the excerpt and post. Like Elaine, the “I can’t do it” comes a little more often than I like to admit. But God has different thoughts for us. So very thankful for that and Him. Thank you for visiting Everyone’s Story, we loved having you with us!
      God bless you, your new year, 2017, and always.

  • God will equip us for whatever He calls us to do, so why do we resist so hard? Because we’re like Gideon and first look to our own power instead of God’s. May we all follow God’s call on our lives. And trust Him.

    Great post, and The Stonekeepers sounds wonderful!

    • elaineadmin

      You know, Pat, we’ve discussed this theme so often yet LOL, us humans still don’t get it! Thankfully He is patient with us all.

      Glad you enjoyed Sally’s feature.

    • Sally Chambers

      Lots and lots of years have passed since the time I said, “I can’t, Lord.” Wonderful, fruitful, even fun-filled years filled with opportunities to share freely, love and help people in countless ways. Our Father never makes mistakes. and I’m a perennial student, (we all are if we listen to Him) having learned so much. Oh, what I might have missed, but didn’t! ☺ Thanks for a thoughtful comment full of insight and wisdom, Pat. I so appreciate your words.
      New Year blessings to you and those you love!

  • Marilyn

    A very captivating excerpt from Sally’s book that yells a must be read story. I can definitely identify with the story of Gideon in my own life. But God walked each step with me once I stepped out in faith. God blessings on you both as you write for His glory.

    • elaineadmin

      Thanks for visiting us today, Marilyn. You have such a kind heart.

    • Sally Chambers

      I think Elaine and I chose unusual stories to write with Always With You and The Stonekeepers, Marilyn. Like you, I know I sure stepped out in faith, but also out of my comfort zone as I wrote. More than a little exciting to follow where our Lord leads! Thank you for stopping by Everyone’s Story to read a little of mine. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments with us. Soli Deo Gloria
      Blessing throughout this new year, 2017, Marilyn.

  • Sally Chambers

    Hi Cindy! Precious words in your response. Thank you. Welcome, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and article about Gideon. It came after lots of prayer, not knowing quite what to share. I took out my Bible and it fell open to the passage about Gideon. I’d found the parallel to write about. God is so good!
    God bless you throughout this brand new year, Cindy, and thanks for stopping by!

  • Sally Chambers

    Dear Zillah, Thank you for stopping by Elaine’s wonderful blog! It’s a thrill and honor to be here. I’m so happy that you liked the post, especially hearing of the ways it spoke to you. It’s so good to have your kind words about The Stonekeepers, too. An encouragement to me to keep going on my next book!
    I pray you’ll experience countless blessing throughout this new year, 2017! God bless you always, sweet friend.

  • Hi Sally and Elaine – Congrats on your books! I’m a big fan of romantic suspense. I’m looking forward to reading both of them.

  • Brenda W

    That little snippet from The Stonekeepers sure has my curiosity going.

    • elaineadmin

      Brenda, these are the words authors love to hear 😊 Thanks for dropping by today.

    • Sally Chambers

      Hi Brenda, As Elaine said, we sure do love to hear that we have piqued your curiosity with what we’ve written! So glad you’re intrigued . . . which The Stonekeepers is full of, as well as other things.☺ Let me know when you have an opportunity to read it. Just maybe you’ll be a winner in the drawing! Thanks for stopping by. New Year Blessings!

  • Becky Smith

    You are a new author to me and The Stonekeepers sounds intriguing! Loved Sally’s post on Gideon. Thank you!

  • Sally Chambers

    Welcome, Becky! And thank you for visiting and for your comments. They make this debut author very happy.☺ I hope you’ll have an opportunity to read The Stonekeepers, and I’m so pleased you loved the post. I pray your New Year, 2017, holds many blessings.

  • This first chapter of The Stonekeepers certainly has piqued my interest. Please enter me in your drawing. thank you.

  • Sally Chambers

    Hi AnnaLee, thanks for joining us at Elaine’s Blog! I’m so happy you enjoyed reading The Stonekeepers excerpt and are interested in reading the novel. God bless you throughout this New Year. ☺

  • Sylvia M.

    This book sounds really intriguing. That is a lovely cover and the plot is interesting.

    • elaineadmin

      Sylvia, thanks for visiting today. I agree–Sally’s cover is quite attractive! You’re in the drawing 👍

    • Sally Chambers

      Thanks for taking a moment to stop by, Sylvia! I appreciate all your thoughtful comments about The Stonekeepers and am glad you’ll have a chance to win the print or Kindle copy to enjoy.

  • elaineadmin

    It’s been an awesome week on Everyone’s Story and I’m so thankful to my wonderful guest, Sally Chambers. Sally, I really feel as if I’ve gotten to know you these past few days–you exude warmth in everything you say!! I sense that my viewers would agree.

    Thanks too for your BookGiveaway of The Stonekeepers. And the 2 winners are…

    Karen, who has won the print copy, and AnnaLee, who has won the Kindle edition. Happy reading, ladies 😊 Both Sally and I will contact you directly via email.

    Blessings to all.

  • Sally Chambers

    Congratulations to Karen and AnnaLee! I”ll be in touch very soon to get The Stonekeepers to you both.☺ Thank you for your comments!

    And thanks to everyone who took a moment to stop by, read, and comment this week. It has been good to get to know you all a little and I hope our paths will cross again one day. Many blessings!

    Elaine, I have truly enjoyed interacting with your blog viewers this last week, and I’ve especially enjoyed getting to know you better. God bless you always!

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