Friday, February 28, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature: Anne Elisabeth Stengl



Today I welcome an author who weaves a garden of life experiences into her stories: 
author Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Enter to win Anne's 
March 2014 release,
Shadow Hand

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.



While chatting with friends on FB, I met Anne. I heard about the fantasy stories she wrote, and having read many wonderful fantasy stories myself, we dialogued about her new release. I asked Anne to share how God has led her on her journey. Wow! What a beautiful story of hope and healing. Here is what she said:



The Garden of the Soul


Long ago—before I can remember—God planted the seeds of a new world in my head. Those seeds were Curiosity, Wonder, Creativity, and Passion. All the right seeds that must be planted and nurtured in the garden of an artist’s soul if new worlds are going to blossom.

These seeds are gifts from God, and I can take no credit for them. They grew by His will, not my own. My only role was to nurture them to the best of my abilities. To explore the possibilities of the written word, to study and to strive. I knew that this new world blossoming in my head was a rich one, full of tremendous possibilities. I wrote poems and short stories—I read great literature and made notes on what I learned from the masters. I nurtured those seeds and tended that garden to the very best of my abilities, all the while hoping and praying that it would bloom in great bounty.

But there were key ingredients missing.

You see, for any garden to be truly beautiful, the gardener must water it, fertilize it, and pull up the weeds. I did. I watered my Curiosity with tears of Disappointment. I sifted Heartbreak over the soil of Wonder. And with pain, I pulled up the weeds of Fear and Rejection, only to see them grow back again.

And I wondered how a good God could allow me, this child He had gifted with a whole new world in her head, to suffer such discouragement. How could He expect me to produce good fruit amid all this frustration?

Then one summer, in the midst of a near-crippling depression, I began to write. After several years of rarely setting pen to paper, I opened up a little spiral-bound notebook and began to spin a story. It was a simple enough tale—about a princess, a prince, and a lying, poisonous dragon—but for the first time I was able to write it with a true knowledge of the emotions I sought to express. As a child and a student, I could only communicate through hearsay—I could only write about things I had read, for I had not experienced enough of life—both good and bad—to know the truth behind the stories I sought to tell.

But that summer I realized that I did know what Heartbreak meant. I could write about it with sincerity, with authenticity. And the world in my head suddenly took on a life far more vivid than it ever had before!

Disappointment. Heartbreak. Fear. Rejection. All of these pains we seek to avoid. And we long to shelter ourselves and our loved ones from any of these experiences.

But God intended so much more for me. He intended a bountiful garden. Thus He allowed pain so that true beauty could bloom. I would never go back and change the past—I wouldn’t even offer warning to a younger, more foolish me to help her avoid the mistakes I made. No, for these were all part of God’s plan. And I love this garden of stories in which I work, this fantastical world through which I go journeying with each new project I write. Without the gift of pain, none of this could exist. So let me praise God for the pain as well as the pleasures.


And let me always praise Him for the gift of Creativity, in whatever form it takes.


~ ~


Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. Her books include Christy Award-winning Heartless and Veiled Rose, and Clive Staples Award-winning Starflower. 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 practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration and English literature at Grace College and Campbell University.
To learn more about Anne Elisabeth, visit:

Twitter: @AEStengl


Shadow Hand, book 6 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood, releases on March 4, 2014. 
Golden Daughter, book 7 in the series, is coming November 2014.
~ ~

Shadow Hand (available now):

This is a story about love, and blood, and the many things that lie between . . .By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . .


A world that is hauntingly familiar.


Golden Daughter (coming November 2014)

BEYOND THE REALM OF DREAMS
IS A WORLD SHE NEVER IMAGINED

Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.



To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Anne Elisabeth Stengl's book: "Shadow Hand":
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
if you aren't already.

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Anne Elisabeth, for Joining us This Weekend!
.

Have you read Christian fantasy books? 
What I especially like about the fantasy genre is the story takes me to a new world and invites new creatures. Books like "The Hobbit"and "The Chronicles of Narnia" opened my eyes to this genre that weaves great truths into the story.

If you haven't read a Christian fantasy book, join Anne Elisabeth by sharing a praise for God in your comment.

21 comments:

  1. I have read The Hobbit and Narnia but not much more Christian fantasy. For some reason when I have tried to read it I have felt distracted by the choice of names for characters and places used by the author. In reading about these books today that was the first thing I noticed, that I loved the names of these characters and could get into this world. And the covers are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this new to me author.

    Praise be to God for Anne's creativity and for all creativity He provides to Christian authors word by word.

    Blessings, Janice

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    1. I must agree with you, Janice. Sometimes the odd names used in fantasy throw me for a loop. But if the story has some other fantastic quality to draw me into the plot, I settle on a pronunciation in my mind and move forward with the character's journey. And my attention has throughly been taken with Anne Elisabeth's books!

      God is good!

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    2. Hi, Janice! I'm glad you find the names in my stories approachable. Fantasy authors have it tough, because they are trying to create a whole new WORLD . . . which means there needs to be new names as well. Can't just call all the characters by normal "our world" names. But I know what you mean . . . sometimes the crazy spellings and pronunciations can get distracting. I try to strike a balance of creativity and approachability. :) I hope you'll get a chance to pick up Goldstone Wood one day!

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  2. I would love to win! This sounds like a book I couldn't put down!

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    1. Kaye,
      Thank you so much for becoming a follower. So nice to have you here as part of our chat group. You are definitely entered.

      I look forward to seeing you again and hope you have an opportunity to read one of Anne Elisabeth's books soon.

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    2. I hope you'll get a chance to pick it up, Kaye! :)

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  3. I have a love/hate relationship with Christian fantasy. Great writers can use it as an amazing vehicle for wonder over the world and Biblical truth, but there are lots of books which seem to think that they can use their "Christianness" to cover up sloppy plotting, bad prose, and unbelievable characters. Because of this, I was somewhat dubious when I began reading The Tales of Goldstone Wood, and I was delighted to discover that they are some of the best modern Christian fantasy I have ever read. I have really enjoyed this truly well-crafted books, and cannot wait to read the latest installment!

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    1. Welcome! I'm so glad you joined us today, especially since you've read some of Anne Elisabeth's books. You've added a lot to our conversation and your recommendation of the books is very meaningful. I look forward to your next visit. There'll be a chair by the fireside for you. :)

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  4. I'm delighted that you have enjoyed reading the Tales of Goldstone Wood. Your kind words mean a lot to me. I hope you'll enjoy SHADOW HAND as well and will be ready to get a copy of GOLDEN DAUGHTER this Autumn. :)

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  5. I have read Christian fantasy....I read Anne's last 2 books in the series :) I've also read the first 2 in Patrick Carr's The Hero's Lot series. Both are excellent! Can't wait to read more!

    ineedadietcoke at aol dot com

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    1. Christy,
      Welcome to our chat. I'm so glad you came. Thank you for sharing about Anne's books. Which one is your favorite so far? I'm looking forward to your next visit with us.

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    2. Starflower is definitely my favorite so far :)

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    3. I haven't read that one yet. I'll have to get that on my nightstand soon. Thanks!

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    4. It's so good! I forgot to leave my email earlier so here it is :) ineedadietcoke at aol dot com

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    5. Thank you Christy, I was hoping you would come back and leave your email address. Hope to see you again.

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  6. I found Heartless a while back. Towards the end of the book, one night my husband and 8 yr old son were in the room and told me to read out loud. I did. And they were hooked, too. From then on, I couldn't read the book by myself, only out loud when we were all together, which we made a point to do almost every night! We LOVE Anne's books, and are super excited for the next one! And I'm happy to find another Christian writer to check out, too, Mary! ...Did I follow this site correctly? And what's an email addy? lol, sorry! Not blog savvy, I guess. :)

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    1. Jessica,
      So sorry, An email addy is email address. I'll change it on this site to make it easier to understand for others. Sure appreciate you calling that to my attention.

      I love how you say your family likes you to read the books out loud. We did the same in our family, it made hours during trips pass quickly and helped the kids stay up until midnight on New Years Eve. LOL I'm so excited to hear how your family is engaged in fun Christian fiction.

      I don't see where you joined the site. Email me at maryveewriter.com and I will help you.

      Looking forward to your next visit.

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    2. OK, I think I figured it out! lol :)

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  7. I'm a GFC follower: Lady DragonKeeper

    I love Christian fantasy! My username was inspired by one of my favorites, "The DragonKeeper Chronicles" by Donita K. Paul. Of course, Narnia was one of the first I read in middle school, then in high school I discovered Donita K. Paul. I like how Anne Elisabeth Stengl's books have a lot of literary history connected to them ... they almost remind me of fairy tales! Another recent favorite Christian fantasy author I've discovered is Jill Williamson's "Blood of the Kings" trilogy. Though I saw it around the blogosphere when they were first released, I'm ashamed to say that I didn't want to take a chance on them because they were published by a small press I wasn't familiar with --I was so wrong! The books were one of the best I read last year ... I definitely learned by lesson "not to judge a book by the size of it's press" =P I hope to get to RJ Larson and Patrick Carr's fantasy novels ... I've heard great things about them and I am glad to see Christian fantasy expanding to adult audiences instead of just teens!

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

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    1. You have chosen wisely not to judge small presses. The small press is where many new authors get their start. Big presses are difficult to break into. I have a feeling that we will see the authors you have favored in larger presses soon.

      Donita is a favorite of mine as well, as are many others.

      I must agree with you. Thanks to Lord of the Rings and other greats, readers who were fans of fantasy as teens are now adults and are looking for good Christian fantasy.

      Thanks so much for joining our chat. I hope to see you again, soon.

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Thank you for commenting! Your thoughts mean so much.