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Author Jaimie EngleJaimie Engle is the author of Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light, a middle-grade adventure story in which a modern-day boy has a chance to be a hero in fifteenth century England. The novel is published by Wayman Publishing and illustrated by Debbie Johnson. Jaimie joins adventure fans today to answer some questions about her debut novel.

Blogger asks: One of the things I found most interesting in your novel is the time period to which the arrow whisked Clifton away. What made you choose to write about this moment in history?

Jaimie answers: It actually started when I came across an oil painting by Philip James de Loutherbourg depicting the Battle of Bosworth Field, which is the final battle of the War of the Roses. There’s this teenage boy holding up a sword among piles of horses and soldiers. I gasped. It was my main character, Clifton Chase, only instead of holding a sword, I envisioned a blazing Arrow of Light. I began some research on the time period and discovered King Richard’s two nephews who had been locked away in the Tower of London, never to be seen again. That’s when the questions swirled.

 A story is often inspired by a question. What question inspired you to write this novel?

Jaimie answers: The biggest question I had after my research was: What happened to those two boys? I wondered what it felt like to be forgotten by history, after everything had been stripped from their lives, and how someone might be able to remedy this travesty. They died without honor and I think that’s such a sad way to leave this earth. No legacy. No tombstones. No memory.

Were there things about your favorite character in this story which couldn’t be included in the novel? Can you tell us a little bit about something you know about the story that the reader may not know?

Jaimie answers: Great questions! One of my favorite characters is Dane the dwarf. He’s feisty, he speaks his mind, and he has a tender side that he keeps hidden. Dane is extremely old, much older than is natural. I imagine he was created back during the Old Testament days, maybe some time after the flood, and he stayed in an unseen form until the middle ages. He is connected to another character in a very fundamental way, and his abilities weren’t fully exposed in this novel. Maybe in the next one…

Are you currently working on another novel? Will there be a sequel about Clifton and his magical arrows?

Jaimie answers: I have completed a second novel—not a sequel—which is a YA fantasy taking place in Viking Era Canada, which is currently under review by beta readers. I’ll begin shopping it to agents, hopefully by October. I have had several children and students ask me when the next Clifton book will release. I guess I’d like to see the book reach some level of success before I invest in the series. But I do have some ideas for two more possible Clifton Chase adventures.

One of the great things about middle grade and young adult fiction is that it has such power to mark our memories. Sometimes the stories we read during those years really stick with us for the rest of our lives. What stories did you fall in love with as an early teenager? Who or what awakened an urge to write in you?

Jaimie answers: That’s an easy one for me. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass have smudge marks from where I turned the pages over and over again. These stories whisked me to amazing, beautiful worlds where anything was possible. I knew when I was seven years old that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I actually still have about 50 stories I wrote in crayon when I was in the 1st-3rd grades, and lots of humorous poetry inspired by Shel Siverstein.

What advice do you have for other aspiring young writers?

Jaimie answers:My best advice would be to read as much as you can. Read books in the genres you like, books on the craft of writing, and books that are classics or bestsellers. Then, write. Write short stories, poems, songs, whatever you feel inspired to write, with the understanding that, like anything else, you don’t begin as professional. A six year old playing t-ball will never swing a hit like someone in the MLB. But as they practice and grow in their sport, studying others and perfecting their shortcomings, they may one day become an amazing ball player who is recruited by a college team or into the professionals. I’d love to help answer questions for any aspiring young writers. Feel free to email me at jaimiengle [at] cfl [dot] rr [dot] com!

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Leave a comment on the review posted here and “like” the Clifton Chase fan page on Facebook before Sunday 10/06/13 at 11:59pm Eastern Time. One participant will be selected to receive a FREE copy of Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light. Two copies will be given away: a paperback copy is available for one participant chosen from those who enter with a US or Canada address, and one winner will be chosen from all entrants worldwide to receive an ebook copy!

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Goddess TitheYesterday we had the pleasure of seeing the next lovely cover in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. (Click here to see reviews and other earlier posts about the series.) Today I’m pleased to bring you an excerpt from the novella itself, with an opening description by the author, Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Enjoy!

***

Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:

__________

“And what do you make of him yourself?”
Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”
“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.
The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”
Munny made neither answer nor any move.
“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”
“I hope—” Munny began.
But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”
The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.
Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.
“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.
“It’s a sign!”
“She’s warning us!”
“It’s a sign, I tell you!”
Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.
They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.
They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.
Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”
There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.
But it was.

AESAbout the Author

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Giveaway:

Visit Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s blog to enter for a chance to win one of two proof copies of Goddess Tithe! U.S. and Canada only, please.

Here’s a peek at the gorgeous cover of the next book in the wonderful Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. The cover image is accompanied by the back cover copy below:

Goddess Tithe

The Vengeful Goddess

Demands Her Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya’s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

Anne Elisabeth Stengl talks about the beautiful cover:

I had the fun of designing this cover—finding reference photos, inventing the composition, applying the text, etc.—but the actual artistic work was done by talented cover artist Phatpuppy (www.phatpuppyart.com), whose work I have admired for many years. It was such a thrill for me to contact and commission this artist to create a look for Goddess Tithe that is reminiscent of the original novels but has a style and drama all its own.

The boy on the front was quite a find. I hunted high and low for an image of a boy the right age, the right look, with the right expression on his face. Phatpuppy and I worked with a different model through most of the cover development stage. But then I happened upon this image, and both she and I were delighted with his blend of youth, stubbornness, and strength of character! It wasn’t difficult to switch the original boy for this young man. He simply is Munny, and this cover is a perfect window into the world of my story.

You can’t see it here, but the wrap-around back cover for the print copy contains some of the prettiest work . . . including quite a scary sea monster! Possibly my favorite detail is the inclusion of the ghostly white flowers framing the outer edge. These are an important symbol in the story itself, and when Phatpuppy sent me the first mock-up cover with these included, I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!

Goddess Tithe Illustration by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Goddess Tithe Illustration by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

About the Illustration by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

There are eight full-page illustrations in Goddess Tithe featuring various characters and events from the story. This is the first one in the book. I decided to share it with all of you since it depicts my young hero, Munny the cabin boy, under the watchful eye of his mentor, the old sailor Tu Pich. Munny is on his first voyage, and he is determined to learn all there is to know about a life at sea as quickly as possible. Thus we see him utterly intent upon the knot he is learning to tie. Tu Pich is old enough to know that no sailor will ever learn all there is to know about the sea. Thus he looks on, grave, caring, and perhaps a little sad. He might be looking upon his own younger self of many years ago, fumbling through the hundreds of difficult knots his fingers must learn to tie with unconscious ease.
I enjoyed creating all the illustrations for Goddess Tithe, but this one was my favorite. I love the contrasts of light and dark, the contrasts of young and old . . . youthful intensity versus the perspective of age.

AES

About the Author

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Giveaway:

Visit Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s blog to enter for a chance to win one of two proof copies of Goddess Tithe! U.S. and Canada only, please.

It's ComplicatedIt’s Complicated

Laura L. Smith

When Claire meets a girl looking for a third and fourth college roommate, she takes a chance and accepts. Sharing a room with Hannah and her friends will be awesome. Hannah is bubbly and bright. Palmer, Hannah’s bestie is looking for friends to fill the gap that will be left when she moves away from her long-time boyfriend. Despite her excitement about being on the college soccer team, Kat is thrilled at the possibility of friends off the field. But just as roomie preparations are finally in place, the unthinkable happens, and one of the girls is raped. How can she face her new friends now? Maybe she’s too soiled to fit in with them anymore.

As the four girls juggle classes, homework, living space and boy interest, they learn they have more in common than they initially thought. And they’ll need all their strengths if they are to band together and help each other through the heartaches and hardships of freshman year at college.

When it comes to dating and relationships issues, author Laura L. Smith doesn’t mess around. Hitting heavy topics like date rape and peer pressure, she remains frank but not intensely graphic. The rape victim asks real questions and endures a grieving process. As the characters face peer pressure, they respond with realistic emotional confliction and growth. The spiritual journey by comparison begins deep for each girl, but doesn’t seem to undergo the same beautiful blossoming as the emotional journey of the girls. Spiritual themes may have been strengthened if the girls began their journeys at more varied levels of spirituality. Over all, this first novel in the Status Updates Series is a warm, fun read about having great girl friends.

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
One of the girls is raped. The scene is brief and only a few graphic details are given. The boyfriend of another girl pressures her to have sex with him. Sexual tension between the two runs high and in a couple scenes, he touches the edges of her underpants before she stops him.

Spiritual Content
Each of the girls is a Christian, but since only two girls have known each other prior to becoming roommates, they don’t at first recognize their shared faith. Once they realize they are four Christians together, they believe God has placed them in each other’s lives to help them work through the issues they each face, particularly issues in their relationships with boys.

Violence
See sexual content.

Drug Content
A boy from the soccer team smokes something outside a coffee shop which leaves him pretty stoned. He justifies this behavior by telling Kat it’s completely legal and nowhere near as bad as some things other players do. Kat isn’t swayed by this argument. There are other brief references to college parties which include alcohol, but no central characters participate.
Playlist Fiction Sampler

Get the first five chapters free!

Right now (today is the last day) on Amazon.com, Playlist Fiction is offering a summer sampler for free. It includes sample chapters of this book as well as two others I’ve reviewed: Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill. Click here to see the sampler. Enjoy!

Victoria and the GhostVictoria and the Ghost

Janet K. Brown

4RV Publishing

As if her parents’ ugly divorce wasn’t bad enough, fifteen-year-old Victoria Peterson is yanked away from her whole world in Dallas and plopped down on a rundown farm in a teeny tiny north Texas town. No more good friends a few minutes away, no more fancy city life, and no more Mom nearby to dry her tears. Her older sister Marcy seems to be settling in fine, but the only friend Victoria has been able to find is as fickle as the Texas wind. Victoria retreats to the beautiful cemetery garden for solitude, but even there her peace is disturbed by strange happenings. A mysterious voice. Objects disappearing. Town rumor says a ghost inhabits the grave yard. As a Believer, Victoria isn’t sure what to make of that, but she can’t deny that something strange is occurring. As she meets others who’ve had similar experiences in the grave yard, she begins tenuous bonds with the townspeople.

Of course, it’s all temporary. Once Mom gets back from her month-long honeymoon, she’ll call wanting the girls to come and live with her. Then it’s back to the city and all her friends for Victoria. No more of this awful country stuff. As days tick past and the call doesn’t come, Victoria begins to wonder if her mother will come through at all. She’s always been Mom’s favorite. Why is it taking so long for her to reach her?

When Mom finally calls, she invites both the girls for a visit. When Marcy and Victoria arrive at their mother’s new mansion home, neither is prepared for the venomous surprise that awaits them in the form of their new step-sister, Crystal. Rude and manipulative, Crystal is determined to be queen of the castle, and she’s not leaving room for anyone else. Mom and her new husband Sam seem oblivious to Crystal’s conniving ways. Rejected and discouraged, Victoria returns to her dad’s farm. How will she ever get out of the country now?

A health crisis and a threatening letter send Victoria’s world deeper into a spiral. Only by banding together and accepting help from others can she ever hope to survive, especially with her mother being so distant. Victoria must learn to accept life and those around her as is, but how can she learn to trust anyone when she is let down at every turn?

Divorce is one of the most difficult events a child can be asked to overcome. As Victoria struggles to make sense of both her parents’ behavior, she often feels sad and unwanted and cannot understand why her parents act as they do. As she learns about forming new relationships with others, she reflects on the relationships with her parents and begins to see their behavior in a new way. Perhaps Dad is really grieving; maybe Mom feels rejected. She also learns the value of forgiveness and community. Author Janet K Brown draws readers in to the small Texas town, filled with western-style characters and close-knit community feel. In a few places, the narrative seems to zoom out, telling readers what Victoria really means or is experiencing, more often it feels true to the teen experience. Readers who’ve experienced a difficult move to a new place or been through a family divorce will enjoy this story and its messages of hope and healing.

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
Characters discuss living a life of Christian love and forgiveness. Victoria wonders whether ghosts exist, a question echoed by others in her life. Characters conclude that God can do anything, even use a ghost for his purposes.

Violence
References to an arson plot. A boy shows up at a party looking like he’s been in a fight.

Drug Content
Some kids appear to be drinking alcohol at a party. They are not welcome, and the main character does not associate with them.

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DRAGONWITCHDragonwitch
Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Bethany House

Lord Alistair, heir to the Earl of Gaheris, finds his sleeping hours plagued by night terrors prophesying his death and his waking ones by his mother’s political schemes to make him king. Alistair resigns himself to a loveless marriage with Lady Leta, the daughter of the second-most powerful earl in the land. Leta appears to meekly acquiesce to the plans made for her. Inside her, however, a battle of wills rages, and the rebellious Leta will not so easily be silenced. Befriended and challenged by the reclusive Chronicler, Leta begins to desire more for herself than a lonely life as a silent and powerless queen.

As Alistair’s uncle, Earl Ferox’s life draws to its end, he reveals a secret that sends the entire nation reeling and upsets all plans to unite the people under one king. In the midst of this chaos, an evil army marches, determined to destroy the would-be king and his people and capture the fabled House of Light. Meanwhile the Dragonwitch waits, searching for the enchanted sword which ended her first two lives. Only a hero can wield it.

Once again, Stengl excels at drawing readers into the world of faeries and monsters. Dragonwitch reveals more story surrounding Starflower, as earlier Goldstone Wood novel Veiled Rose added to the series beginner, Heartless. Fans will enjoy piecing scenes from the two stories together as well as the cameo appearances by beloved characters from previous stories.

 

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
Brief kissing.

Spiritual Content
Spiritual references are more understated in this novel than in previous books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. The Prince of Farthestshore (who seems to represent Jesus) makes a brief appearance. The idea that God has a plan, and it may not look like our plan, is discussed more than once during the course of the story.

Some characters are part of a cult in which they worship and serve the Dragonwitch. An acolyte first defends her goddess, but later sees her as an imposter who imprisons and abuses her people.

A mysterious narrator recounts the tale of two brothers given gifts by the true God who use those gifts to spread light and justice. One brother carries a lantern and the other a sword.

Violence
Battle violence. Some brief details are given.

Drug Content
None.

 
BOOK GIVEAWAY!
Like the sound of this book? Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy! Contest begins July 25, 2013 at 7:53 am Eastern Time and ends Sunday July 28 at midnight Eastern Time. (Must have US address to win.)

To enter, scroll to the top of the blog post and leave a comment about one of your favorite fantasy characters. One random commenter will be chosen to receive a FREE copy of the book.

 

DRAGONWITCHSneak Peek from

Dragonwitch

By: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

 

The Twelve came to the doors of Omeztli Tower and their voices carried from the ground to our high perch above.

“Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn.”

I clutched Tlanextu’s arm in terror. I could not bear to lose him! He took my hand and held me gently.

Then we saw a powerful form rising up from Itonatiu Tower. It was Citlalu, our father. He flew across the city, his wings like a griffin’s, like a roc’s, blocking the sunlight from view they were so vast! He landed before us, and I shivered with fear and love at the sight of him, for he was King. A true King. Not like the foolish little kings we see nowadays wearing crowns, waving swords and scepters, ruling by feeble kinship-rights. He was King of Etalpalli, bound to the realm by his own blood, by the beat of his heart. He was strong as the nation itself, stronger, I thought. The pinions of his wings were like daggers, like swords, and he shouted down to the Twelve below:

 “Be gone, back to your master! You will take none of mine into that Mound, not while I have life yet coursing through my veins!”

His voice shook the foundations of Etalpalli. I thought the Twelve would run, would scream with terror, would flee the storm of his gaze.

They did not. They merely turned and retraced their path to the Mound and the concentric circles of bronze.

But the next day, they returned. Once more they called up to the heights of Omeztli: “Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn.”

Once more, my father denied them.

Anne Elisabeth StenglAnne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. She makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University.

 

Dragonwitch Banner

Tour Schedule

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about the Goldstone Wood series with reviews, interviews, giveaways and more on these other great blogs. Be sure to visit the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog for a chance to win the first five Goldstone Wood novels!

July 14 – Day 1

Rebecca’s Book Blog – Interview

Jennette Mbewe – Sneak Peek

Bluerose’s Heart – Top Tens List

The Wordsmith’s Shelf – Sneak Peek

The Wonderings of One Person – Guest Post

Seasons of Humility – Interview

Worthy 2 Read – Guest Post

The Endless Road – Interview

Tea and Bree – Interview/Sneak Peek

JoJo’s Corner – Interview

July 15 – Day 2

Letters to the Cosmos – Guest Post

The Writer of Dream Things – Character Interview

The Sassy Sister – Sneak Peek

Makai Queen – Interview

JoJo’s Corner – Sneak Peek

Crafty Booksheeps – Interview

Young Adult Books – Sneak Peek

Darling Diaries – Interview

Blooming with Books – Interview/Sneak Peek

 

July 16 – Day 3

The Writer’s Window – Character Interview

Penning Praises – Guest Post

Crimilia – Interview

Rachel Herriman – Guest Post

Rina’s Reading – Top Tens List

JoJo’s Corner – Guest Post

Living On Literary Lane – Interview

Onto Her Bookshelf – Interview

An Ink-Made Maiden – Interview

July 16 Evening

Blog Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales of Goldstone Wood!

 

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