Sunday, July 14, 2013

Facing the Dragon ~ Interview & Giveaways with Anne Elisabeth Stengl!



I'm excited to see the epic and beautifully written “Tales of Goldstone Wood” series continue with the release of Dragonwitch! Anne is here to share a little more about the book with us today...

***

Amber: Welcome, Anne! First off, what are your thoughts on the cover? It’s quite different from the other covers in the series, especially since the villain is featured vs. the heroines on the other covers. Like/dislike? Does it set the tone well?

Anne: I was surprised when I received the cover for, as you say, it is very different from the others. I liked it right away, but was also concerned. Combined with the title, Dragonwitch, I feared it might be off-putting to some of my target audience. But when I questioned my editor, he said that he believed it provided a necessary contrast to the “sweet” cover used on Starflower. My one complaint with Starflower’s gorgeous cover was that it lacked any hint of the menace to be found in the story. That is certainly not an issue for Dragonwitch!

And ultimately, Dragonwitch has appealed much more to the male audience, which is also nice. I don’t think of my stories as “girly,” but with a steady stream of lovely ladies on the covers, most boys aren’t likely to pick them up. But Dragonwitch looks epic!

Also, for all there are a number of wonderful characters peopling this tale, it is ultimately the Dragonwitch’s story. She had to be on the cover.

Amber: It is indeed epic, and I am intrigued by the fact that this is her story!

What “dragons” did you have to face in writing this particular story? Was it more difficult to write than previous stories?

Anne: I wrote five different beginnings of 40,000 words each, none of which worked with the story I was trying to tell. Each time, I would try a completely different approach to the same basic story, and each time, I failed. And, with a deadline looming, that did not make for a happy writer! I have never had so much difficulty with a story before or since.

I think the problem stemmed from a stubborn insistence on holding onto storylines and ideas I had conceived years before, back when Dragonwitch was just a few notes in a spiral notebook. But many of those ideas simply did not work anymore, or weren’t as good as the ideas I was having later. But it’s hard to let go!

When I did finally stop insisting the story had to be any one thing and let it tell itself the way it wanted to be told, it started coming together. The final draft that became the book it is now really wrote itself in just three months! But I never forget the thousands of unprinted words that form the foundation of the story as it is now.

Amber: Wow, Anne! Your dedication and effort are incredible! You set such a great example for other writers - appreciate you sharing that!

Now, a little lighter of a question... If your cats could read, which of them would most love Dragonwitch and why? For some reason I’m guessing Minerva Louise… *wink* (Picture from Minerva's blog.)

Anne: I think Minerva would like it best, though she would definitely view the Dragonwitch as a sympathetic, misunderstood heroine, and all the other characters as Minions Who Should Be Crushed. Thank heaven Minerva doesn’t care to read!

Amber: Hehehe...

Back to another serious question: What is your “weapon” of choice for slaying the dragon of writer’s block? 

Anne: I’ll call it the 500 Word Knife. I faced the worst writer’s block of my life while working on Dragonwitch, but with a nearing deadline, I dared not step away from the manuscript. So I would sit down and tell myself, “You only have to write 500 words.” They didn’t even have to be 500 good words. Just 500 words that generally moved the story forward. After those 500 words were written, I would take a break, do something else, clean the kitchen, etc. Then I would sit down and write 500 more. It was a slog, but I could usually get 1,500 or 2,000 words written a day this way. (My normal is between 3,000 and 4,000.)

When the writer’s block was at its absolute worst, I ignored the deadline, took a few weeks off, and threw myself into intense research. Not even research for Dragonwitch necessarily. Just research in general, to see if ideas would come. I read books of theology, studied the history of the Norman Invasion of England, pulled out a book on British dragons, and more, taking copious notes while I read. Eventually, while pursuing these studies, I began to feel new ideas forming. Then it was back to the 500 word stints for a little while. And finally, I was able to start writing freely, and the book took shape.

Amber: Again, what can I say but "wow"?! 

So, can new readers pick up Dragonwitch and understand it on a basic level as a stand-alone? Or do you recommend readers start with Heartless and work their way up to Dragonwitch?

Anne: I wrote Dragonwitch to serve as a standalone novel, but I do think readers will enjoy it best in the context of the entire series. Only Veiled Rose and Moonblood need to be read back-to-back, but all of the stories are intricately connected.

Amber: So enjoy having you visit, and appreciate your thoughtful responses! Congrats on the release of Book 5!!

***

Are you intrigued now, my friends?? Read on for a chance to win Anne's books and catch up with Anne on other blogs during this tour! (And stay tuned for my review of Draongwitch, coming soon-ish!)

Giveaway!

Not only is Anne hosting a giveaway across all blogs in the tour for all five of her books, but she's also offering a copy of Dragonwitch for one of my readers! Here are the rules:

~ Leave a comment - whatever sort of comment you'd like to share. *smile* Suggestions: If you're a writer, what's your weapon of choice for facing the dragon of writer's block? If you're a reader, what are your thoughts on Anne's latest cover? What sort of covers attract you the most?

~ You must have a U.S. mailing address, and you must leave your e-mail address in a comment below so I can contact you if you win!

~ Giveaway is open through Saturday, July 20, with the winner announced on Sunday, July 21. Winner will be chosen randomly from qualifying comments via Random.org.

And if you'd like a chance to win all 5 of Anne's books (not Shadow Hand, as that releases next spring)...


 ...just enter via the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule

Check out all the other cool spots on the tour! Visit with Anne and her loyal fans:


Tour Schedule
July 14 - Day 1
Seasons of Humility - Interview  ← You are here!

July 15 - Day 2
Crafty Booksheeps - Interview
Young Adult Books - Sneak Peek
Darling Diaries - Interview
Blooming with Books - Interview/Sneak Peek

July 16 - Day 3

July 17
Blog Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales of Goldstone Wood!

26 comments:

Sarah said...

I love the Dragonwitch cover; it's beautiful and makes me want to read the book. Of course, I do try not to judge a book by its cover . . . though it's hard.

My favorite weapons for defeating writer's block is the promise of a reward. (E.g., after I reach x words/pages/other goal, I can read a book/get a snack or treat/get online.)

Rebeka B. said...

Awesome interview, Amber and Anne! Loved the creative questions you asked, Amber--and thanks so much for sharing your struggles, Anne Elisabeth! It's definitely encouraging. :)

Oh, and I don't want to be put in the drawing--I have a copy coming in sometime this month. Just wanted to stop by and see all the awesome posts!

Hannah said...

Heh, heh, I remember being rather startled when I first saw the cover for Dragonwitch. It was so different from the others. But it didn't take me long to get used to it, and then I loved it!

I loved this interview, Anne!

And my favorite Tale of Goldstone Wood...Ooh, it's so HARD! I adore Starflower, Moonblood was great, but Dragonwitch...not only is it the newest, but it also reaches an epic level like none of the others before! I think it's my favorite!

Jennette Mbewe said...

Hey yall! Great interview Amber!

I echo Rebecca, no need to enter my name in the drawing, but want to say hey and great job! I have such a hard time coming up with questions to ask people, so I appreciate it when others do it. ha!

Writer's block....depending on why I'm blocked. I haven't really faced it, I think. I've had times where I had a problem arise and didn't know the solution so I would write the question out by hand and just free write, asking questions, making suggestions, solutions, etc. Have come up with some cool stuff to include, and sometimes not so much. :-)

Panda Incognito said...

Great interview! Speaking of Minerva, she needs to post some more nefarious thoughts on that blog of hers. ^.^

Amber Stokes said...

Sarah,

Oh, I'm the same way - a good cover can really make me want to read a book, and a not-so-good cover can turn me off, sometimes regardless of the story. :( I think this cover is beautiful, too, in an epic way!

And that's a great way to combat writer's block! I like rewards. ;)

~Amber

P.S. Did you want to be included in the Dragonwitch giveaway? If you could leave your e-mail address (if you're interested), that would be great! :)

Amber Stokes said...

Thanks, Rebeka!

I love themes, so I always enjoy doing some sort of "themed" interview, tying in the questions together, if possible. :)

Anne's stories (both about her writing and the writing itself) are always so encouraging, aren't they?

Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Hannah,

Haha, yeah, it's certainly different than the first four books! Red and black vs. all the blues, and a villain vs. all the sweet heroines? Yep, it's different - but fitting, I'm guessing! :)

And oh, I'm intrigued by your favorites! I haven't read Dragonwitch yet, but Starflower is favorite, followed rather closely by Moonblood, I believe... So now I'm curious if I'll love Dragonwitch even more! Wouldn't be surprised. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jennette,

Aww, thank you for the kind words! I enjoy trying to come up with themed questions. :) Interviews can be quite fun!

Sounds like you have a great game plan for when you get stuck! You know, I don't think I've really had much of writer's block yet, either. Probably because I haven't had real deadlines while writing a novel... So I've been able to take my time, generally. And I'm sort of a "pantser" - I do daydream and sort of mentally plot out some future things in the story, but I think a lot of the details kind of just come as I go. Plus, I'm not super wordy - Bleeding Heart is only about 50,000 words. I prefer to think I'm a focused writer who keeps her plots tight. *wink*

Anyway, thanks for sharing and for stopping by!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Panda,

Glad you enjoyed the post - and I agree. ;) Minerva's blog is always such an intriguing place to visit! I imagine she hasn't had much computer time lately, since Anne has had so much need for it, but I look forward to more of Minerva's thoughts someday... ;)

~Amber

Elizabeth said...

Dragonwitch's cover was one thing that made me want to read it! I love the cat question! hehe :) I feel that a lot of her books could stand alone but have much more meaning when put into context with the rest of the series.

I love your questions!

Amber Stokes said...

Elizabeth,

Gotta love an intriguing cover!

Glad you enjoyed the cat question! Couldn't resist bringing in Anne's cats (especially Minerva Louise). ;)

And I agree about the series - I'm personally glad to have read it in order, but I'm sure it doesn't have to be, although all together they add so much. :)

Thanks so much for interacting with the interview and for visiting!

~Amber

Jasmine A. said...

Absolutely loved your interview with Anne! Thanks for taking the time to host to do the interview and hosting this stop on the blog tour!

I think the cover of Dragonwitch is so dramatic! And a bit spooky, can't wait to read it!

I like covers that match the story, colorful, and that really draw me into the story.

Blessings!
Jasmine A.
montanamade(at)gmail(dot)com

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

I'm loving what I'm reading so far! Thanks for the good interview. Still chuckling about Minerva! ;)

May sends special sniffs and greetings!

On writer's block - similar fix. Write. I use the Pomodoro method - write for set amount of time, no interruptions. Just keep those fingers moving.

It works for me!

We'd love to win - may at maythek9spy dot com

Abbi Hart said...

This is definitely an intriguing cover though it's not my favorite of all hers. My favorite fairy tale has always been Beauty and the Beast-it really doesn't get better than that!

Amber Stokes said...

Jasmine,

Aww, my pleasure! So glad you enjoyed the post! :)

Dramatic and spooky - fabulous words to describe this cover! And that's a great point about colors... I think they do play a large part in setting the tone and drawing me in if they're done right. :)

Good luck in the giveaway, and thank you for visiting!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Hey, KC! *Hugs* Your launch post is up now! :)

Anyway, glad you liked the interview! And ah, yes, Minerva Louise...she's an intriguing one! ;)

Thanks for sharing your tip, and good luck in the drawing!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Abbi,

I agree - not my favorite (I kind of like girly covers, LOL), but intriguing! I think my favorite is now Shadow Hand, although Starflower and Heartless are both up there, too!

And oh, Beauty & the Beast, yes! Lovely fairy tale. I love the Disney version. :) Funny thing, though... I came to like him as the beast, so when he changed back into the prince, it's all like, "Who is this guy, and where is my adorable beast??" LOL.

~Amber

NatureFairy said...

Thanks for the chance to win!

Amber Stokes said...

Hey, NatureFairy!

Appreciate you stopping by! Are you leaving a comment for the Rafflecopter giveaway, or the Dragonwitch individual book giveaway here? If the latter, be sure to leave another comment with your e-mail address (if you qualify), and maybe let us know your thoughts on the book's cover. :)

~Amber

Christa said...

I like the cover. It looks so intense, like there should be dramatic music to accompany it. :)

kittyandyoda4ever(at)hotmail(dot)com

Barbara Thompson said...

Great interview!! I loved the last book cover. It was classy. I'm partial to book covers that have a lot of color. To me, it catches my eye. Thank you for sharing and entering me in your giveaway.
Barbara Thompson
barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

Amber Stokes said...

Christa,

Yes, I like that connection! ;) It's definitely intense!

Good luck in the giveaway!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Barbara,

So glad you enjoyed it! :)

Are you referring to Starflower? I loved that one, too. :) Appreciate the note about colors - seems to be a big part of whether or not a cover catches someone's eye!

Good luck in the drawing!

~Amber

Bluerose said...

After seeing Anne's research method, I was thinking "Wow!", too! No wonder she writes so brilliantly. :)

My copy finally came yesterday, so I'm one happy reader! ;)

Amber Stokes said...

Bluerose,

Seriously, right?? Her dedication to the writing craft astounds me. And her stories are definitely brilliant!

My copy came today!!! I'm happy for both of us! ;D Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!

~Amber