Archive for January, 2015

In the Darkness of the Pit

The Light Shines Brightest


Drums summon the chieftain’s powerful son to slay a man in cold blood and thereby earn his place among the warriors. But instead of glory, he earns the name Draven, “Coward.” When the men of his tribe march off to war, Draven remains behind with the women and his shame. Only fearless but crippled Ita values her brother’s honor.


The warriors return from battle victorious yet trailing a curse in their wake. One by one the strong and the weak of the tribe fall prey to an illness of supernatural power. The secret source of this evil can be found and destroyed by only the bravest heart.


But when the curse attacks the one Draven loves most, can this coward find the courage he needs to face the darkness?


Coming May 25, 2015









Enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of three ARCs (advance reader copies) of Draven’s Light.


 anne elisabeth stengl


ANNE ELISABETH STENGL makes her home in 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 is the author of the critically-acclaimed Tales of Goldstone Wood. Her novel Starflower was awarded the 2013 Clive Staples Award, and her novels Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Dragonwitch have each been honored with a Christy Award.

To learn more about Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her books visit: www.AnneElisabethStengl.blogspot.com



Pre-order Draven’s Light today!




Excerpt from


By Anne Elisabeth Stengl

(coming May 25, 2015)



He heard the drums in his dreams, distant but drawing ever nearer. He had heard them before and wondered if the time of his manhood had come. But with the approach of dawn, the drums always faded away and he woke to the world still a child. Still a boy.

But this night, the distant drums were louder, stronger. Somehow he knew they were not concocted of his sleeping fancy. No, even as he slept he knew these were real drums, and he recognized the beat: The beat of death. The beat of blood.

The beat of a man’s heart.

He woke with a start, his leg throbbing where it had just been kicked. It was not the sort of awakening he had longed for these last two years and more. He glared from his bed up into the face of his sister, who stood above him, balancing her weight on a stout forked branch tucked under her left shoulder.

“Ita,” the boy growled, “what are you doing here? Go back to the women’s hut!”

His sister made a face at him, but he saw, even by the moonlight streaming through cracks in the thatch above, that her eyes were very round and solemn. Only then did he notice that the drumbeats of his dream were indeed still booming deep in the woods beyond the village fires. He sat up then, his heart thudding its own thunderous pace.

“A prisoner,” Ita said, shifting her branch so that she might turn toward the door. “The drums speak of a prisoner. They’re bringing him even now.” She flashed a smile down at him, though it was so tense with anxiety it could hardly be counted a smile at all. “Gaho, your name!”

The boy was up and out of his bed in a moment, reaching for a tunic and belt. His sister hobbled back along the wall but did not leave, though he wished she would. He wished she would allow him these few moments before the drums arrived in the village. The drums that beat of one man’s death . . . and one man’s birth.

His name was Gaho. But by the coming of dawn, if the drums’ promise was true, he would be born again in blood and bear a new name.

Hands shaking with what he desperately hoped wasn’t fear, he tightened his belt and searched the room for his sickle blade. He saw the bone handle, white in the moonlight, protruding from beneath his bed pile, and swiftly took it up. The bronze gleamed dully, like the carnivorous tooth of an ancient beast.

A shudder ran through his sister’s body. Gaho, sensing her distress, turned to her. She grasped her supporting branch hard, and the smile was gone from her face. “Gaho,” she said, “will you do it?”

“I will,” said Gaho, his voice strong with mounting excitement.

But Ita reached out to him suddenly, catching his weapon hand just above the wrist. “I will lose you,” she said. “My brother . . . I will lose you!”

“You will not. You will lose only Gaho,” said the boy, shaking her off, gently, for she was not strong. Without another word, he ducked through the door of his small hut—one he had built for himself but a year before in anticipation of his coming manhood—and stood in the darkness of Rannul Village, eyes instinctively turning to the few campfires burning. The drums were very near now, and he could see the shadows of waking villagers moving about the fires, building up the flames in preparation for what must surely follow. He felt eyes he could not see turning to his hut, turning to him. He felt the question each pair of eyes asked in silent curiosity: Will it be tonight?

Tonight or no night.

Grasping the hilt of his weapon with both hands, Gaho strode to the dusty village center, which was beaten down into hard, packed earth from years of meetings and matches of strength held in this same spot. Tall pillars of aged wood ringed this circle, and women hastened to these, bearing torches which they fit into hollowed-out slots in each pillar. Soon the village center was bright as noonday, but with harsh red light appropriate for coming events.

Gaho stood in the center of that light, his heart ramming in his throat though his face was a stoic mask. All the waking village was gathered now, men, women, and children, standing just beyond the circle, watching him.

The drums came up from the river, pounding in time to the tramp of warriors’ feet. Then the warriors themselves were illuminated by the ringing torches, their faces anointed in blood, their heads helmed with bone and bronze, their shoulders covered in hides of bear, wolf, and boar. Ten men carried tight skin drums, beating them with their fists. They entered the center first, standing each beneath one of the ringing pillars. Other warriors followed them, filling in the gaps between.

Then the chieftain, mighty Gaher, appeared. He carried his heavy crescent ax in one hand, and Gaho saw that blood stained its edge—indeed, blood spattered the blade from tip to hilt and covered the whole of the chieftain’s fist. Gaher strode into the circle, and the boy saw more blood in his beard. But he also saw the bright, wolfish smile and knew for certain that his sister had been correct. The night of naming had come.

“My son,” said the chief, saluting Gaho with upraised weapon.

“My father,” said Gaho, raising his sickle blade in return.

“Are you ready this night to die and live again?” asked the chief. His voice carried through the shadows, and every one of the tribe heard it, and any and all listening beasts of forests and fields surrounding. “Are you ready this night for the spilling of blood that must flow before life may begin?”

Gaho drew a deep breath, putting all the strength of his spirit into his answer. “I am ready, Father.”

Gaher’s smile grew, the torchlight flashing red upon his sharpened canines. He turned then and motioned to the darkness beyond the torchlight.

The sacrifice was brought forward.




#anneelisabethstengl, #dravenslight, #coverreveal, #goldstonewoods, #cominginMay


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lake surrender


Every life endures storms, trials. Mastering them is basic survival. A double upheaval demands greater skill. Ally Cervantes found herself rather in a Perfect Storm of life’s turbulence: a son on the autism spectrum, a divorce, and a sudden halt to her career. And with the divorce came the loss of the house and her life as she knew it. What does one do when the options are dislike, dislike more, and no way on earth?

Ally moved her family – minus the husband – half-way across the country, to a lifestyle as vastly different from what she left behind as her Jimmy Choos from flip flops. As different as the perfumed fragrance of roses from the bitter sting of thorns. And that’s what she felt she had walked into, a bramble patch.

Faced with a devastated present, an uncertain future, and embarrassing memories from her past, Ally forges a new life for herself and her children.


Ms. Stratton has woven into her story, the uncomfortable issue of having a child on the Autism spectrum, a topic not often, in this reviewer’s experience, seen in fiction. Ms. Stratton has skillfully melded the issues of life – divorce, preteen daughter, moving – into a compelling story. I found myself crying with Ally, rooting for her, scolding her even, as she faced down each of her demons. I felt her frustration and heartbreak, and wanted to step into the story to lend a hand. I applauded Aunt Nettie for being the hero-in-the-background, loving quietly with the love of Christ, urging but never pushing. I felt no small measure of disgust for other family members who were less supportive. And I felt near contempt for Ally’s ex-husband.

And I thrilled with each step Ally took into a life of faith, each step away from disdain for all things Christian, each step toward freedom in Christ.

I was pulled into this story from the opening lines, a quote from Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I was riveted when Ally pulled up in front of her glorious home to see the “for sale” sign already there. And my heart plummeted when her boss came to the house to personally give her the bad news.

Ms. Stratton makes every scene come alive with characters I wanted to get to know – and felt I did – with places I now want to visit, descriptions so real I felt like I was there. And love so true I felt it leap off the pages.


Lake Surrender is a story you don’t want to pass by, and a story you won’t soon forget. Lake Surrender is a story of hope and courage – and never giving up.



Lake Surrender, an inspirational women’s novel published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and can be purchased at Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/qxjz7z2


 carol stratton


You can connect with Ms. Stratton on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007N7NZ1O ;

on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Carol Grace Stratton ; or

on her website:http://tinyurl.com/cow3jnkwww.ChangingZipCodes.com



#lakesurrender, #carolstratton, #autism, #perfectstorm, #reallife, #campcook, #faithandhope

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 golden daughter

Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is a vivid telling of one girl’s journey. Schooled in the formal, and strict, ways of a Golden Daughter of the emperor, Masayi Sairu’s life is laid out for her. She, as every Golden Daughter, is “raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly.” She is to become a secret guardian of a patron in an arranged marriage. Sairu, however, is not contracted to a marriage partner, but is bound to protect an honored and esteemed temple Dream Walker.

Sairu must accompany her patron, Lady Hariawan, to the Temple Daramuti where the abbot will provide for her protection. The journey itself proves harrowing and dangerous, and along the way another Dream Walker is encountered. More danger than protection awaits them at Daramuti, and Sairu must decide: how can she best protect Lady Hariawan?

As guardian of a Dream Walker, Sairu finds herself battling shadows and phantoms. Is the mysterious cat friend or foe? What of Crouching Shadows? Who is for them and who against? Sairu must discern good from evil, must trust her training and her instincts to keep her Lady safe.

I was reminded at times of Neverending Story, as Ms. Stengl weaves her tale into the Dream realm and back again, evil lurking at the borders of “the Between,” threatening to destroy reality and everyone in it.


This is a new genre for me, and I enjoyed my initiation. Woven like a multi-faceted tapestry, Golden Daughter encompasses characters whose paths criss-cross, as one life affects another affects a third. Distant tribes link back to Sairu’s life, and threaten Lady Hariawan. The slave, who has a surprising and unexpected connection. Layer upon layer, twist begetting more twists, and Sairu ever on her guard.

Ms. Stengl has created and crafted worlds, and conveyed them vividly with descriptive color and nuance; she takes the reader into the worlds she has created. The characters are vibrant and realistic, not cardboard and dull. I rooted for Sairu through the pages of Golden Daughter. I was crushed, as was Sairu, when the unthinkable happened. And I thrilled with her, when the unexpected took her by surprise.

Golden Daughter is a commitment of time, and of the heart, and I look forward to entering all of Ms. Stengl’s worlds.

 anne elisabeth stengl


#anneelisabethstengl, #goldendaughter, #fantasyadventure, #dreamwalker, #neverendingstory

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Hey, ever’body!!! I’m B-A-A-A-CK!!!




Didja miss me??? After my blog-intense month of October, I took November as a sabbatical. Also intent on writing for NaNoWriMo. While I did get started on a story, I did not achieve 50K words [a mere 16K] I do have start on what will be the first of a series. It is, however, shelved for now, as I will focus my writing on the sequel to Tessa. I had not intended on a sequel, but 2 or 3 people asked about it, so I set my mind to it. and find myself more than a little bit amazed at how the story lends to it so beautifully! It’s not a sequential story, as Tessa ended in January of 2012, but a tangent that I wrote right into Tessa, without realizing it at the time!!!

And now…..




On setting goals. I’ve never done the whole New Year’s Resolution bit. Attempted it a few times, because it was a challenge, and I felt obligated. To prove I could do it. Gauntlet thrown and all that. But quantifying an objective, let alone a reasonable objective, let alone an objective I thought I could actually attain, that proved the greater challenge. And so, I failed before I even tried.


That said, this year is different. For many reasons. 2014 was a year of SHIFT.

And this year, the new year, 2015 is a year of FORWARD:


After being “in the boat” going to “the other side,” this year the “going” becomes “arrived,” and I’m moving FORWARD. This scenario was the basis for a devotion I read a week or so ago, based on Matthew 8:23. Jesus slept because a) He has no fear or concern about storms, but also b) when He said to get in the boat to go to the other side, He knew they would GET to the other side. I have now got to the other side.


Not only have I not been much on resolutions, it never occurred to ask Holy Spirit for a Word for the new year, either. A word for me, a word to focus on in the new year. When someone posted their Word the other day, I liked the concept, and in the twinkling that my mind thought to ask, Holy Spirit whispered to me, “FORWARD.” So, forward I go. Stepping onto a new shore, into new territory – MY territory – breaking new ground.


And with that in mind, I have set goals. Also new for me. Not having goals, for I’ve always had some vague and lofty notion of what I intend to attain or achieve. This year, I have given thought and purpose to my goals. And prayer. And I have written them down, and now share with you my dear readers.


2015 GOALS




  • finish Clara Bess (the sequel to Tessa) – I’ve just barely started, but I’ve the general story arc [I’m a pantzer, NOT an outliner] – based on Tessa, I’m figuring on 120K words, and allowing for 1000 words per day, that puts me to April to finish, and with editing, etc, my GOAL is to publish by the end of May!!!
  • design and develop my website [upgrade my blog]
  • author interviews – I’ve discovered a rather enjoy doing interviews, and especially enjoy getting to know other authors
  • book reviews – #MUSTREAD – my weakness is not allowing, ahem, MAKING enough time to read. I read more in 2014 than perhaps in the past [sad for a book lover such as myself] and in doing so, have discovered genres I might not have ventured before! Brian Knack, Jane Ann McLachlan, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, names come to mind!! GREAT stories, and probably wouldn’t have read them if not for the intent to write a review!!!
  • tech smart – need to be more savvy with the tech side of things, and not have to run crying to my techie friends when I need help!!
  • learn Photo Shop – I love designing mine own covers, and PS would open a whole world of possibilities heretofore unknown to my designing abilities!



There ya have it! my FORWARD goals for 2015!!!


#2015, #newyear, #noresolutions, #goals, #SHIFT, #FORWARD, #writingmysequel

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