Thursday, May 29, 2014

Musical Contest 2014--Update!

A quick update to all of you regarding the Music Contest: If at all possible, would you send me your submissions as YouTube videos? Regular videos should work too, but YouTube videos are by far the easiest.

MP3s, as I discovered recently, are going to be MUCH more complicated for me to share here. Not impossible, but complicated. So if you could send your work as videos, it would be greatly appreciated.

You don't have to personally APPEAR on your video. As long as we can hear the music, that's what counts!

We've received several awesome submissions already, but it's still quite a small contest at this point . . . so don't be shy! The more who participate, the merrier!

And if this is the first you're hearing about this contest, you can find all the rules HERE.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Interview Feature: C. E. Laureano

So the other day, dear imps, I was browsing about on Amazon, and suddenly a certain cover caught my eye. It was this one:

Naturally I was bound to click on it and discover what more I could! And I discovered this description:

In a kingdom where the Old Ways hold fast and a man’s worth lies entirely in his skill with the sword, Conor Mac Nir is a scholar, a musician, and a follower of the forbidden Balian faith: problematic for any man, but disastrous for the son of the king.

When Conor is sent as a hostage to a neighboring kingdom, he never expects to fall in love with the rival king’s sister, Aine. Nor does he suspect his gift with the harp (and Aine’s ability to heal) touches on the realm of magic. Then his clan begins a campaign to eliminate all Balians from the isle of Seare, putting his newfound home in peril and entangling him in a plot for control of the island that has been unfolding since long before his birth.

Only by committing himself to an ancient warrior brotherhood can Conor discover the part he’s meant to play in Seare’s future. But is he willing to sacrifice everything—even the woman he loves—to follow the path his God has laid before him?
I found then that I could not rest until I had hunted down the authoress herself and invited her to come and be introduced to all of you! So I hope you will enjoy meeting Carla Laureano and learning more about her work. Also, she has generously offered a giveaway copy to one lucky reader, so be certain to enter the Rafflecopter down at the bottom of this post!

First, though, here is a little about Carla herself:

C.E. LAUREANO has held many jobs—including professional marketer, small-business consultant, and martial arts instructor— but writer is by far her favorite. Her first novel, Five Days in Skye, was recently chosen as a double-finalist in the RWA’s 2014 RITA Awards. Oath of the Brotherhood marks her fantasy debut.


Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog! First of all, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee? 

C.E.--Hmm. I wish I could say I have hobbies, but I’ve had such tight deadlines lately, I haven’t done a whole lot that qualifies. I do read and knit, and one of these days, I’ll manage to get myself back into ballet or martial arts, both of which I’ve studied seriously in the past. 

Personality? Um. Big? Loud? I love being with friends, and I love to laugh. I try not to take life too seriously, but my friends tell me I can be pretty intense. I’m definitely driven and self-motivated, which is probably a nice way of saying a little bit obsessive. 

And I love tea, but tea doesn’t love me, so I drink mostly coffee. Still, there’s nothing like a proper English cuppa. 

What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller? How did you get into publishing? 

C.E. -- I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember. I wrote my first short story at the age of 7. In college, I studied English literature, edited the literary journal for a semester, and began submitting stories to magazines. I also began my second novel, a fantasy (the first was a really terrible historical I wrote my junior year of high school), which I can assure you will never see the light of day. It’s almost as bad as the first!

It took me years to write the story that became Oath of the Brotherhood, between working full time, lots of corporate travel, and eventually having kids. When my youngest turned two, I decided it was time to dig out the manuscript, polish it up, and send it out. I joined ACFW, found a critique group, and within a year, I had a book contract. I guess it’s true that timing really is everything! It like to call it my “twenty year overnight success story.” When I finally got serious about publishing, it happened quickly, but it took a long time to get to that point. 

Tell us a little about your work! Oath of the Brotherhood is your first fantasy but not your first novel, right? What was your debut novel? 

C.E. -- Oath of the Brotherhood is my first fantasy novel, and it was actually the first book that I sold. The first book to be released, though, was my contemporary romance, Five Days in Skye. I’m hugely blessed (and more than a little stunned!) that it was chosen as a double-finalist in RWA’s RITA Awards this year.

I’m one of those weird writers who works best when I don’t take much time off, but I can’t focus on one genre all day, every day. I like publishing in multiple genres because it gives me a chance to let my brain rest in between drafts, but I can still continue to write. 

Now do tell us about Oath of the Brotherhood. How long have you been work on it? Did it present any unusual challenges? Is it part of a series or a stand-alone? 

C. E. -- Oath of the Brotherhood went through multiple drafts over a five year period before I ever submitted it. Then of course, there’s the submission time, and an editorial process that took almost 18 months. So this book has been an eight year journey from start to finish.

This is definitely the most ambitious project I’ve taken on. It is a trilogy, and each book is pretty long for Christian fiction, almost 450 pages each. Giving each book its own storyline while sustaining an overall arc for the three books in the series is way more challenging than I anticipated. I have a whole new respect for TV writers! 

Can you pick a favorite character from this new novel? 

C.E. -- I love all of them, but my favorite has to be my main character, Conor. He starts out as an uncertain, scholarly boy with lots of insecurities, and he ends up being a pretty awesome hero. And it’s been really fun to write the duality of the character: he’s forced to make himself into the type of person he never wanted to be—a warrior—but he doesn’t want to lose his true identity in the process. 

What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration? 

C.E. --  I love stories of all sorts, so when I feel myself running low, I retreat with a stack of books and a bunch of movies. Oddly enough, the breakthrough of my plot for the second book in this series came while I was in the theater watching Star Trek: Into Darkness. JJ Abrams is a great storyteller, and he understands the Hero’s Journey better than almost anyone.

I can usually tell when I’m in need of spiritual renewal because I find the faith thread nearly impossible to write. It’s a signal I need to take some time away from work, read my Bible and a devotional or listen to a Bible study podcast. As a writer, it’s very easy to take more out of the tank than you’re putting back in.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process? 

C.E. -- I’ll admit it. I hate first drafts. I write them as quickly as possible, just to get everything down on the page. But I truly love the editing process. There’s something satisfying about taking the raw material and transforming it into something that someone might actually want to read! And I do lots of drafts. Lots of them. My editors think I’m a little insane. 

If you were forced to pick a single favorite author, who would it be? 

C.E. -- Oh, that is just mean! It’s like picking a favorite child. But the author who has had the biggest influence on my writing would have to be Guy Gavriel Kay. I can trace my decision to write historically-based fantasy directly to his books. He’s an amazing writer. 

What are you actively writing right now? 

C.E. --  I’ve got two projects going simultaneously, including another contemporary romance. But the current focus is drafting the third book in the fantasy series. This is definitely the most challenging of the three, but I’m happy with the way it’s shaping up. (This is the third “first draft” I’ve written so far, by the way. Told ya. Insane.) 

Would you share a short snippet from Oath of the Brotherhood? 

C.E. -- Sure! This is from the first chapter, where Conor returns from fosterage to realize his homecoming might not be as welcoming or as safe as he initially thought. His father, the king, is being advised by what he thinks is a Red Druid, and he has odd gaps in his memory about the castle itself.
Excerpt from

It was bad enough he was about to face his father and explain why he had not yet laid hands on a sword. Now he might have to contend with a Red Druid, whose kind were notorious and ruthless inquisitors, a man who looked at him as if he already knew Conor’s most dangerous secret.
He forced down his unease and stripped off his travel-stained garments. His skin prickled, but a quick glance over his shoulder assured him the door remained closed. He slid quickly into the bath’s meager concealment. Breathe. They couldn’t know. Labhrás had been careful. No books of Scripture or religious symbols had come with them, and Dolan’s discretion was unquestionable.
If the king found out, it would take only a whisper to destroy Labhrás’s status in the kingdom. Galbraith may have relaxed the restrictions on Balianism during his reign, but not so long ago, adherence to the forbidden faith would have landed their severed heads beside the keep’s gate. Even now, Balian converts did not retain possession of their lands and titles for long.
Lord Balus, protect us, Conor prayed silently, not daring to give voice to the words. May You be the shield between us and our enemies. May You be the Light that guides our path. May everything we do further the work of Your kingdom.

He let out a long, shuddering sigh and sank further into the warm water, concentrating on moving his breath in and out of his lungs. Inch by inch, he forced his mind away from his worries. He could not afford to seem afraid here. To show any discomfort would only make them wonder what he was hiding.

He sat bolt upright in the bath, sloshing water over the sides. He whipped his head around, looking for the source of the whispered voice.
I know what you conceal, Conor. Soon, they all will. I can protect you.

Gooseflesh prickled his skin, and the warm water turned cold. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”

Join me, Conor. You’ll be safe . . .


Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Carla! Best of luck with your launch.

So tell me, dear imps: Aren't you excited to try her story now?

Don't miss out on this giveaway opportunity and the chance to tell others about this exciting new fantasy. And be sure to thank C. E. Laureano for visiting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway