Sunday, June 14, 2015

Guest Review: Draven's Light by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Hey everyone!I am handing the reins over to my sister, Cortney, for her review of Draven's Light by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Here she is!

Thanks for having me, Heather!  And congratulations on your new book, Carried Home!

This review is of one of my new favorite books: Draven’s Light by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.  It is a fantasy book (but with a strong historical feel) from the Tales of Goldstone Wood series.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s books are always amazing, so I had high expectations for this book, and Draven’s Light certainly did not disappoint.  The characters and their relationships with each other are deeply developed, the setting is darkly and brilliantly drawn to life, and the story itself reveals the bright beauty and power of love in a seemingly bleak world.

As the newest addition to Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Tales of Goldstone Wood, Draven’s Light can easily stand alone as an outstanding story, but it also casts new light on the history of the Goldstone Wood world.

The story contains both familiar characters from the series as well as various new and unique characters.  The Brothers Ashiun will be the most familiar for readers of the series.  One of the brothers, Akilun, tells the story to a young girl.  His story is about a young man named Draven.

Growing up in a dark and barbaric world, the young man knows that he will have to kill an enemy in order to earn his name and the respect of his tribe.  However, when the time comes, he cannot kill, so his father, the chief, renames him Draven, or coward.

Only Draven’s club-footed sister, Ita, does not despise him even though the village sees them as complete opposites: Draven as a large and powerful coward and Ita as a weak but incredibly brave young woman.  She earns a place of honor among her people for her bravery, but she still values her brother’s “cowardice” for what it truly is: the bravery and compassion to stand up against the brutal and bloody rituals and conventions of their people and their father.

Unlike Draven, the fierce Ita does not have the courage to oppose their father’s will, so she blames herself along with her people when they invite a curse down upon their heads.  Soon, the lives of the people who despised and shunned Draven are at stake.  Is the coward they rejected brave enough to save them and his sister in time?  Not only their lives but the future is very much at stake, and the actions Draven takes will affect the entire area and its people for generations to come.


His story is a beautiful example of love and the true meaning of bravery, and I would highly recommend this book to any fans of fantasy and great stories.


Thanks, Cortney! Sounds like an interesting book!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Romantic Time's Convention (RT) Part 4

I think this is going to be my last post about RT, so if you were annoyed by me before, please bear with me and know that this is the final post. :)

So. After about three non-stop days of the busy writer's convention, I was ready to have a small break. So my dad and sister and I decided to go on an expedition to the mall and I had Dippin' Dots, which I hadn't had in years. It was almost eerie going to the mall, where things were much more quiet and in a "normal" setting. But after a while, I was itching to go back to the convention, especially because the next day was the Giant Bookfair.

 Finally, the day of the book fair came. I was SO excited, because my awesome publisher's mom had sewn me a dress that matches the cover of Swept to Sea! How fun is that??? It was a joy to do the book signing in the dress. I had so much fun, especially because a lot of young girls came up to me, excited, and said I was a princess. A lot of people wanted to take a picture of me. I loved talking to the younger people whose eyes brightened when they heard that I was published when I was 16. I love inspiring other people like that.

Oh, also: I ran into Arianna Rebolini of Buzzfeed once again, and wound up on another Buzzfeed post. I am number 53 on this list, where I mentioned one of my favorite romance novels.


Here's me and the owner of Clean Reads, my publisher. I always love a chance to see Stephanie! 

Below is me and Clean Reads' very own handsome cover model, Rob Bierman. He represented Clean Reads at RT this year, and he's so sweet. 

Regina Jennings and I with our matching book cover dresses! She wasn't wearing hers, but she had brought it along. 


My awesome friend Karen


The one and the only Francine Rivers!

Below is.. another Karen!  This is one of my favorite authors, Karen Witemeyer. All of the inspirational authors were organized into one line this year, which was really convenient. 

Tamera Alexander! Love her!

It's always a joy to see Deeanne Gist! She is such a sweetheart. I love all of her books. 

This is what I look like after standing at the book fair for four and a half hours in a heavy dress. I collapse on my hotel bed and eat Pringles and drink coffee. 

After I recharged in my hotel room, I went to a fascinator-making party. Here I am with my sister and my friends, Karen and Angela! Aren't our fascinators lovely?
At the final party of RT, I ran into Rob again, so we had to take another picture. This party was Heather Grahams's annual ball, which promises lots of yummy food and a spooky performance.



And...that's it! I packed up late that night and went to the airport for another early flight back home to make it to Kansas City in time for my performance at the Coterie Theatre.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Romantic Time's Convention (RT) Part 3

Be prepared for another chronicle in my adventures at the RT convention. 
So, remember how I told you about Club RT? Well, it was finally time for my slot of appearing at Club RT. After much ado, trying to find where on earth I was supposed to do, I spoke to a lady who gave my my name plaque and told me I could sit anywhere I liked. So, I set up shop and waited for people to come near me so I could tel them about my books. All in all, it was a fun experience. 

Right after my time slot at Club RT, Melanie Dickerson appeared for her time slot. So, naturally, I had to stop to say hi and get a picture with her. She is so sweet! 


That night, after many rehearsals, my sister and I skipped out on the night's parties and went out to dinner with our dad and one of his friends from work. The lemon cake at the restaurant we visited was ABSOLUTELY fabulous. It was also a nice change of scenery to get away from the fabulous hustle and bustle of RT.

The next morning, I attended the "How Sweet It Is" breakfast mixer held by many fabulous inspirational authors. This is always my favorite part of RT. So fun, and such a great time to see lots of friends! 


The lovely Lenora Worth and I. I'm so glad she was able to come this year! She's so sweet. 

Betsy St.Amant and I! We knew each other from Facebook, so it was great to finally meet in person.


So..that's all I will post about for today. Catch me later for more about the convention including lots of details on the Giant Book Fair where I signed books, dressed as my main character Eden!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Romantic Times Convention (RT) Part 2

So...here's some more about the Romantic Time's convention.
I made a stop at Club RT. This was a room where, throughout the week, authors were scheduled to just sit at tables and talk to current fans and hopefully future fans. What a cool idea, right?  I was signed up to appear on Thursday, so I had to stop and take a picture of my name on this lovely sign. Then, at 12:00, the real work began. 
There were hundreds of workshops that went on, and the choices were endless. Basically, most days at RT went like this:
Get up. Get breakfast.
10:00-12:00 workshops. 
12:00-1:00 skip part of a workshop to get lunch in the crowded hotel venue. 
1:00-5:00 attend workshops.
5:30-12:00 parties, line up for parties, meet other authors and readers. 
So basically,, the schedule is jam-packed. On my first day, I attended a lot of very helpful seminars, and then got ready for the party of the night. This night's theme was cowboys and barbecue, so I dressed in fringes and, of course, a glittery cowboy hat. 

For dinner, they served: iced tea, (Which needed to be sweet. Oh my goodness. I put so many packets of sugar in there.), barbecue, potato salad, coleslaw, corn bread, and delicious fruit cobbler. The party featured dancing and a mechanical bull, but I didn't partake in either. 

So, while I was standing in line for this lovely party, I was approached by none other than Arianna Rebolini of Buzzfeed. You can imagine my shock at seeing the person who had written many Buzzfeed posts that I had read. (Thanks, Buzzfeed, for taking time away from my writing. Just kidding!) Arianna introduced herself and informed me and the group of people around me that she was writing a post about RT for Buzzfeed, and wanted to know reasons why we read or write romance. So, surprise surprise, I got to be featured in a Buzzfeed post! (Read it here. I am number two. on the list.) I also got her beautiful business card and some super cool Buzzfeed stickers. I felt really special. LOL

The next day, I started my day off right with attending an Inspy-author western pictionary party. That's right, folks, I played pictionary with the likes of Becky Wade, Francine Rivers, Colleen Coble, and many, many more. It was quite fun. 

Me and Becky Wade! I love her!

Stay tuned for more posts about my adventures at RT later this week. Read yesterday's post (Part 1) here.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Romantic Time's Convention (RT) Part 1

So...the morning after my graduation, I got up at about 3:30 AM for my super duper early flight to Dallas.

This was one of those early morning flights when it still looks like it is nighttime when you board the plane. When you see the darkness below you, only penetrated by the bright airport and streetlights as you take off. When you're well into the flight and you get to see the sun rise over the countryside and the whole world turns pink. I may have not been very happy about getting up so early, but this picture I took really reminds me of how cool it was to see the world like that. Flying never gets old. 

You could see the Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy from my room. I loved the view. 
Anyway, waiting for me a the end of the flight was something pretty cool. It was a bit of a drive from DFW to the RT Convention hotel in Dallas traffic, but we eventually made it. This was my first time attending the RT convention where I actually stayed at the convention site, and it was pretty cool and pretty convenient. I barely left that building during the week that I was there!

This is on the elevator from my floor, 15. This hotel had 28 floors. Never go from floor 28 to floor 1 on the super speed glass elevator while looking down at the ground. It was not a wise choice. They should charge admission for this thing, because it might as well be a ride at an amusement park. Really. 

I got all signed in and settled in my hotel room, when my publisher, Stephanie texted me. She wanted me to come to her room for a surprise, and boy, was I surprised! She had a box full of print copies of Carried Home for me! How exciting, right????

Book selfie on the glass elevator!
Better quality picture with a better backdrop of Dallas!
After that, I met up with my completely awesome friend, Karen who is an aspiring writer. (Heads-up: she's totally awesome and totally motivated. I'm sure she will be a published author soon.) I spent most of the week at RT with Karen, and I miss her a lot already. :( 

So, I don't want to bore you with a super-long post, so that's all I'll share for today. Look for another post soon to tell you more about my adventures at RT!




Friday, May 22, 2015

Catching Up: Graduation


My graduation week was a whirlwind to say the least. And so, rather than to overwhelm you with one really long post, I am going to break things up into a few smaller posts.

Last week, I graduated. That still sounds weird to me because I cannot believe I am out of high school already. I am definitely glad to be out of school, but it really does feel weird. Texting my friends who aren't out of school yet feels weird. My best friend rejoicing about entering her senior year feels weird. (I've known her since she was in kindergarten!) Planning my next year at college feels weird. Everything feels weird, actually.

But I've already had a ton of fun. At 4:00 AM in the morning, after I had gone to bed at nearly 2:00 AM, I left for Dallas to attend the RT Writer's Convention. On Sunday, I flew home bright and early in time for my performance at the Coterie Theatre. Despite the many nights with little sleep this last week, I have had a blast. (This counts the day after I got home when I fell asleep on the couch at 1:00 in the afternoon watching The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It's a good show. Really.)

Anyway, my graduation night was a blast. I got all dolled up and ready to head to the country club where my graduation was being held. (Don't you just love my glitter shoes?)

After I arrived at the graduation in style, I got to devour (Ahem, I mean dine on) some yummy food, chat with friends, and eat two desserts. The school staff presented awards (I got the Presidential Award and a perfect homework award and attendance award.) Then, I went up onstage (I guess there wasn't really a stage there, but you know what I mean.) and I gave the valedictory speech to the Class of 2015. It was a totally fun experience to write the speech and deliver it to the crowded room. After my hopefully-not-boring speech, the Class of 2015 received our diplomas. The room erupted into a flurry of cheers, tossed gradation caps, and flashing cameras. 
Aww, look at me throwing my cap in the air.
After receiving many congratulations from friends, family, and teachers, and stopping for photographs with my friends, my graduation night was over. And it was on to another adventure.