Monday, March 19, 2012

With us today is...

Anne Elisabeth Stengl!!  She is here with a giveaway!!

Anne-Elisabeth, welcome to Homeschool Authors.  Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hullo, all! I am Anne Elisabeth, a newlywed cat-loving writer of fairy tales who lives on a steady diet of Sri Lankan teas, lots of prayer, and good fiction. I am the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood through Bethany House Publishers. These are YA adventure fantasies written in the classic Fairy Tale style . . . and always with a spiritual twist!

I met my handsome husband while researching fencing for my first novel, Heartless. We dueled at a fencing tournament, fell in love, and were married seven months later. It was all rather swashbuckler! We live in NC with our sixteen million (as my husband says) cats and one longsuffering dog.

My first published novel, Heartless, won the 2011 Christy Award for Debut Novel, and the sequel, Veiled Rose, is a finalist for the Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year. The third in the series, Moonblood, releases this spring, and will be followed by book four, Starflower, this coming autumn. I live in a constant state of drafting, researching, and revision, and the line between Faerie and Reality has never been more blurred!

What was your favorite part of being Homeschooled?
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to my specific interests. Of course, I was required to study all the basics and to do them well . . . but where my interests and talents were keen, I could drive forward at whatever pace I liked! For me that meant all things literary and writing-related (though I also practiced piano a compulsive three hours a day and studied drawing and painting). Because of this individualized education, I was also able to graduate early and begin taking classes at the local tech college before transferring to the college of my choice.

Home schooling taught me the fine art of self-motivation which has contributed significantly to my ability now to meet deadlines and to succeed in the professional writing world.

What caused you to start writing?
I have always been a writer/storyteller, sprung from a family of writer/storytellers. My mother, Jill Stengl, has sixteen published inspirational romances to her name (including 2005 Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor). I grew up coloring pictures on the backs of her discarded manuscripts, so noveling always seemed very present and very possible to me. I wrote my first "novel" when I was eleven, my first fantasy when I was twelve. And I began developing the first ideas for the Tales of Goldstone Wood when I was fourteen. I scarcely remember a time when I was not writing.

Which book was your favorite to write and why?
My favorite book to write is always the one just finished. Each one has been more difficult than the one before . . . which I take as a good sign, indicating that I am growing as a writer! But that often means the initial "fun" of drafting is not what it was back when I wrote as a hobby. It is now my job, a job I love, and a job I take very seriously.

Possibly the easiest one to write was Heartless, my debut novel, though it went through close to ten major revisions before reaching final published form. Veiled Rose was the fastest, but it was drafted on an intense two month deadline which I would never choose to repeat! I really love my most recent novel, Book 5 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood (as yet untitled). Now that it is finished, I would claim it as my favorite . . . but the writing process itself was often heinous. A good reminder to me that I do this work entirely by God's grace and sustained by His strength!

4. What is the inspiration for your latest book, Moonblood?
Moonblood, as the third in the Tales of Goldstone Wood, continues storylines from both Heartless and Veiled Rose and brings them to a dramatic resolution while leaving the door open for many more books in the series. It picks up the story of Prince Lionheart, who has dug himself a pretty dreadful hole lined with good intentions . . . and he's about to dig it deeper! The crux of the plot was inspired by the heroine, however, veiled Rose Red, an outcast with a secret past that even she cannot guess.

The inspiration for these characters and this plot--as in most of my plots--is the beauty of broken people in God's hands. Looking through Scripture, it never ceases to amaze me how all the primary characters in the history of God's people were broken, sinful, frustrating, and frustrated men and women. Men and women like you and like me. But God chose them and worked powerfully through them to accomplish His will. That's what I like to write: Broken people, unbeautiful people, frustrated, frustrating, loveable, pathetic people who must be rescued from themselves before they can hope to face the monsters in their lives. With characters like these, I never lack for plots!

Where can people get your books?
My books are available wherever books are sold. You can get them through Amazon,, CBD, or your local Barnes and Noble, Book World, or Christian book stores. You can also visit me at and keep your eyes open for various name-drawings and giveaways. I'm running several in the next few weeks to promote Moonblood's release, so don't miss out!

Do have any final thoughts?
If God has given you a passion for something, He intends for you to use it. Pursue your passions, pursue your dreams, be open to learning from many different sources, and remember that every experience, whether good or bad, can be used by God to shape your life in amazing directions as long as you are submitted to His leading. He uses broken people, not perfect people. And His grace is sufficient.

For those of you aspiring writers out there, my best advice is this: READ! Read a lot, read in many genres, read things you disagree with, read things you love. Study what you read, figure out why you love it or why you don't. Then WRITE! The only way to finish a novel is to write it. No excuses. Put words down on the page, good, bad, or indifferent. Foster a teachable spirit . . . remember that we are called to lives of courageous humility, and the writing world is a top-notch arena in which to practice that lifestyle! *preaches to self*

Feel free to contact me via my writing blog. I love to interact with my readers. And I hope you will pick up Tales of Goldstone Wood and disappear with me for a time into the strange and wonderful realm of Faerie!

Anne-Elisabeth is giving away a copy Moonblood. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be chosen randomly on Mach 31


  1. As a formerly homeschooled student, I heartly agree.

  2. What is your favorite part about being a writer?

  3. Good morning!

    @RJ: My favorite part is the opportunity to explore. Through writing, I can explore new time-periods, new civilizations, new dimension, new customs, new points-of-view. And, of course, as a writer of fantasy, my only limit is the scope of my imagination. It's a thrilling experience and an unusual phenomenon singular to a writer's life. What other art form has the possibility to take you so FAR outside yourself?

    For this to truly work, however, I, as a writer, have to be constantly willing to grow. This, however, can be a mixed blessing! Each new book I write is bigger and better than I am, forcing me beyond my comfort zone, forcing me to grow. But growing can be painful sometimes! So while I love it, I sometimes have to hate it a little as well . . .

  4. This is a wonderful interview! So inspiring! I loved reading it! :) By the congratulations on your marriage and on this very lovable series (I adored the first book and can't wait to read the others!).

  5. Oh, I just clicked on the Rafflecopter button and realized I was supposed to write a question. :) Okay, what comes first for you: the plot or the character(s)?

  6. Good question, Rachelle Rea!

    I suppose for me it depends on the book. Each novel I've written has been so different from the last! HEARTLESS began with the plot, but didn't take life until the characters of Una and Lionheart (and Aethelbald) became clear in my mind. VEILED ROSE absolutely began with the main characters and actually required two stabs at a plot (the second plot, my editors liked . . . the first one I wrote, not so much! LOL).

    The more I've written the more I've realized that even an individualized formula doesn't work for me. I've had to let each one be its own thing . . . and even now, while I'm drafting Book 6 in the series, I wouldn't say I've "learned how to write a book." I simply learn how to write each book as it comes!

  7. I'm also a Homeschool Graduate who is now working on writing my first ever Fairy Tale-esque inspired novel.

    How do you decide whether or not to pull ideas from other cultures' folklore and olde fairy tales that have been passed down from storyteller to storyteller for your own works?

    I tend to have very unique ideas of my own, but I love to use history/folklore/fairy tales/other cultures to help shape my own story as I go along. I'd love to hear how you work around, or with, such things.

  8. Hi, Sarah Elizabeth!

    I tend to pull ideas indiscriminately. If it works with the story I'm telling, I'll drop a reference to Asian mythology here, a nod to Shakespeare there, a reflection of the Norman conquest over there . . . anything that inspires me is up for grabs!

    Ultimately, because you are writing YOUR perspective on all these cultures and stories and mythologies of old, they will still have a fresh an original feel. You will both be linking yourself to the greats (look at how brilliantly C.S. Lewis does that with ALL his references to old mythlogies, various folklores, and even his favorite authors, like George MacDonald)and bringing a new perspective that is all your own. That's what makes fiction wonderful, those links to older works, that tapestry of themes that weaves together ancient and modern literature. Shakespeare dipped his pen into the inks of ancient mythlogies and contemporary popular tales, but it is Shakespeare himself who made his stories original.

    Does that answer your question? I'm afraid I'm not all that good at explaining WHAT I do . . . I just have a great time DOING it!

    Good luck with your Fairy Tale-esque novel. That's my favorite genre, so I hope I will one day get to pull it off a shelf and read it!

  9. I can't wait to read your books. They sound like exactly the kind of books I love to read.

  10. Sorry, I forgot to ask my question. What other areas of research have you explored beyond fencing?

  11. Hi, Rachel Rossano!

    Fencing was the most hands-on research I have ever pursued. Most of the rest of it has been reading research instead. But writing fantasy can lead to ALL KINDS of interesting and strange researching! For instance, in the manuscript I just finished drafting, I researched inlaid tile decorating, baking with heated stones, pagan element-worshipping practices (I know, right?), castles of various eras and cultures, inheritances among earls of Conquest-era Britain, illuminated manuscripts, and wolf hunting with dogs. That's just to name the few that jumped immediately to mind!

    I also read a LOT of classic literature while writing: romantic-era poets, old fairy tales, Shakespeare's plays . . . anything and everything that might be inspiring as I shape my own world and Faerie stories!

    I hope you will enjoy the Tales of Goldstone Wood. I have a wonderful time writing them, and I do love to share them with other lovers of Faerie! :)

  12. That is awesome how you met your husband! :D I'm curious... did you take any writing classes? How much were you able to write on your own in college?

  13. I have always been a fan of fairytale books either original or retelling, so this series sounds amazing. I thought I would ask a fun question: Which fairytale is your favorite? Thank you so much for the giveaway!

  14. Hi, Katherine Sophia (such a pretty name!).

    You know, I did take two creative writing classes at two different universities. But I have to say, while the teachers were lovely and encouraging, I didn't find either of those classes very helpful. For one thing, the classes had to be structured for poetry and short stories only. Well, I dabble in poetry, but am no poet, and I am a pretty dreadful short story writer! People sometimes think of short stories as being basically the same thing as novels only . . . shorter. It's not true. A great short story is a VERY different animal from a great novel. And often, those who are skilled at one are pretty sorry at the other.

    So, while it was good for me to experiment with the medium that is the Short Story, I can't say that either of those classes helped in the development of my creative writing . . . really at all!

    When I was about ten years old, my mother (a professional novelist, as said above) hosted a small creative writing class for the pre-teen and high school girls in our home school support group. This was actually more helpful for me because Mummy simply had us bring whatever we were working on at the time, read a selection from it, and then we all talked about it . . . usually not even criticisms, just talk! This provided all of us with encouragement to KEEP WRITING, so we learned how to tackle and finish projects. Even I, at ten (the youngest in the class, wrote two novels just because I wanted to be sure I hadsomething to contribute each class.

    Other than that, I think those are the only writing classes I took! I have known a handful of creative writing majors in college, but I have to say, I haven't seen that degree lead to success in the professional fiction writing world. It is a lot more common for English Literature majors (such as myself) to find their way into publishing. This is only a theory, but, I think a creative writing major can tend to focus an aspiring writer too much on SELF . . . while an English Lit. major focuses the writer on OTHER writers, GREAT writers, and the fine-tunes important analytical skills.

    So that's my two-cents plug for an English Lit. degree! I HIGHLY recommend college study to anyone wanting to pursue a professional writing career. Any major, really, can be the perfect jumping-off point for a writing career. I have known novelists who were chemistry majors or health education majors . . . the point is to be always growing and challenging yourself academically!

    So that was a bit off-topic . . . ;)

    Writing on my own in college, I have to say, didn't happen a whole lot. I wrote snippets here and there, and during summers I wrote by hand and made lots of notes. But the actual creative writing went on hold through college simply because there was no time. HOWEVER, I think that might have been the very best thing for my development as a writer! As said above, I was obliged to focus on what the great writers of old had done rather than fixating too much on my own work. It was a good and healthy time for me to step back and learn other aspects of storytelling.

    And the summer after college, I sat down and penned HEARTLESS within three months, got an agent the next year, and signed with a publishing house the year after!

    GREAT question. Sorry for such a wordy answer! I'm a novelist, you know? ;)

  15. Hi, Margaret!

    Ooooh, fun question. :) I am a BIG fan of all the variations on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale! This includes the classic Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont, to Robin McKinley's wonder retelling in her debut novel, "Beauty." I also like the fairy tales that bear similarities to the original . . . The Lady and the Lion, The Yellow Dwarf, The Marsh King's Daughter, and the classic myth, Cupid and Pschye. It's such an interesting and versatile theme! Not one I've dealt with overtly yet . . . but one day, I promise you! :)