Monday, June 30, 2014

Interview Feature: CJ Darlington!

Today I have a fun feature for all of you . . . bringing a slice of Dystopian to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog, I give you C.J. Darlington, author of the exciting new YA novel, Jupiter Winds. She is offering a giveaway copy of this awesome novel to one lucky winner, so be certain to enter your name in the giveaway. And I hope you will enjoy getting to know C.J. via her interview!

First, here is a little about the book:

In 2160, a teenager becomes the bait to capture her missing revolutionary parents she thinks are long dead.

Grey Alexander has one goal—to keep herself and her younger sister Orinda alive. Not an easy feat living unconnected in the North American Wildlife Preserve, where they survive by smuggling contraband into the Mazdaar government's city zones. If the invisible electric border fence doesn't kill them, a human-like patrol drone could.

When her worst fear comes true, Grey questions everything she thought she knew about life, her missing parents, and God. Could another planet, whose sky swirls with orange vapors and where extinct-on-Earth creatures roam free, hold the key to reuniting her family?

A fast-paced, character-driven space adventure that's reminiscent of science fiction's golden age.
--KATHY TYERS, author of the Firebird series

 About the Author: C. J. is the award-winning author of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over fifteen years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore.
In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction ever since. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a Paint horse named Sky. For the latest info on C. J., visit her website:


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.J. - Thank you so much for having me, Anne Elisabeth! It’s an honor. Well, let’s see . . . I’ve taken those personality tests online, and I always seem to end up with a different result each time. Ha! I do tend to be introverted, analytical, and too serious at times. But I do love to have fun! If I’m not home working on my own writing or the writing of others with our new publishing company, I am probably at the barn with our horse, Sky! When I’m at the barn, all of life’s concerns and worries fade away, and it’s so easy to lose track of time. I love nature and being outdoors and enjoying my critters. They are what make me smile the most! 

If I had to pick, tea would be my drink of choice. I love a good cup of English Breakfast with a little milk or cream. Irish Breakfast is also delicious. Here’s an interesting story--in my first novel I have a character drinking Bigelow English Breakfast tea. Months after its release, a big package came to my door. I opened it up and saw this gorgeous gift basket of tea assortments, honey sticks, and a mug. They were from Bigelow Tea! The company is family run, and Cindi Bigelow, the President and CEO wrote me a lovely note saying she appreciated that I included their family’s tea company in my book! I have no idea how she got the book, but that was awesome! Thank you, Cindi, if you’re reading this. 

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

C.J. - There’s something about stories. I have always loved them, first as a reader, but quite early on in my life, as a writer. When I was young I had great fun writing out silly stories about my dogs on my dad’s old word processor. Get this--I once said I would never write stories about humans, but only write about animals! God instilled the love of writing stories in my heart as a kid, and that carries me through the tougher days when the words don’t flow as easily as I’d like. I can rest assured that it’s His plan as he placed the dream in my heart. 

I dreamt about my words being read by others early too, but it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that the dream became a reality. I had been writing and submitting my work for publication for many years with only an occasional short story accepted. My big dream was to publish a novel. I took every tidbit of insight from editors who rejected my first novel Thicker than Blood and kept revising it until eventually I entered it into the 2004 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. I was a semi-finalist that year, but I didn’t win. I kept submitting and entered the contest again in 2008. That year I was shocked to find out I had won. Tyndale House published the novel and my next book Bound by Guilt.

Tell us a little about your work! Jupiter Winds is your first spec fiction novel, right? What other genres have you written in the past?

C.J. - All three of my previous novels are contemporary stories that take place in Colorado. Each features a different rare book and fun book collecting tidbits. When Thicker than Blood and Bound by Guilt went out of print with Tyndale, I re-released them with my family’s publishing company, Mountainview Books, LLC. I also released a third book called Ties that Bind.

Jupiter Winds is indeed my first speculative novel. 

Now tell us a little about Jupiter Winds specifically. When did you begin to come up with the idea? What led to this switch in genres? 

C. J. - When it came time to write my fourth book, I was burned out. I was focusing so much on what I thought my readers would want that I forgot to ask myself what I wanted. That sounds selfish, but if an author doesn’t first write for herself, then it can show on the pages. I prayed and asked the Lord to show me what to write, and it wasn’t long before a little germ of an idea planted in my brain. What if . . . 

I’ve always enjoyed a good speculative tale, and it was a story along these lines that called to me. I gave myself permission to write an “out there” novel just for me, something I knew I would enjoy reading. Admittedly, I am newer to the spec genre than some. But I’ve been a fan of some of the secular dystopian novels of late too. However, one thing that usually disappoints me is their lack of hope. With Jupiter Winds I wanted to include that elusive and much-needed hope that so many YA stories lack. 

Since I am a relative newcomer to the genre, after I finished Jupiter Winds, I was so scared I was breaking unknown rules and readers would bombard by inbox with screams and laments. But thankfully my beta readers assured me that wasn’t the case, and Kathy Tyers actually gave me an endorsement. 

That said, I do realize I am sort of breaking modern science fiction’s rules about Jupiter. I know it isn’t a habitable planet due to scientific fact, but what if everything we thought we knew was a lie? 

Can you pick a favorite character from this new novel?

C.J. - I am usually most attached to my main characters, this time a seventeen-year-old girl named Grey Alexander. But Mrs. March, a spry eighty something woman, stole the show for me. She is so much more than first meets the eye.

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

C. J. - Sometimes watching a good movie will inspire me. I love going to the movie theater and sitting back and immersing myself in another world. I’ve been watching a lot of the super-hero Marvel movies of late, and I think they rubbed off on me as I wrote Jupiter Winds. Spending time outside away from the computer can be rejuvenating as well.

 If I really get in a funk, I find myself reaching out to the authors who have become my mentors for advice. They usually have just the right word—because they’ve been there—to inspire and encourage. Or they might recommend the perfect book to pick up for encouragement. That happened to me just the other day.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process? 

C.J. - I am not a big fan of brainstorming, but that comes from finding it difficult to turn off my inner editor. It’s something I need to work on for sure. I love the first moments of discovery as I’m just beginning to write a story, but I also find joy in the revision because I know that’s where I can sculpt the story.

Research is probably my least favorite part of the process. I’d prefer to make everything up! 

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

C.J. - I could read Sibella Giorello’s books every day. Her Raleigh Harmon mystery series has become a favorite of mine. But I also love James Scott Bell, M.K. Gilroy, Frank Peretti, Kathy Tyers . . . oh, the list goes on! How could you possibly expect me to pick just one? 

What are you actively writing right now? 

C.J. - I just started a new contemporary novel with some elements I’ve been wanting to write for awhile now. I also have the first scene of a second Jupiter novel written. So ask me this in a few months and I’ll be able to give a better answer. 

Can you share a short snippet from Jupiter Winds? 

C. J. - Since you can read the first three chapters or so on Amazon, I’ll pick something from further in the book. This is from Chapter 21 and shows Grey’s first glimpse of the planet’s surface:

 Excerpt from

Grey tensed as the ship decelerated, her face still throbbing. “Prepare to move!”
The soldiers gripped their stocky blueflares. They looked like they were capable of burning through walls. Or through a person. She didn’t realize she was barely breathing until the outline of the cargo door appeared in front of them. Grey exhaled, trying to calm herself. Touchdown came seconds later, a jolt to her feet. The drone assigned to her tightened its vice-like hold.
“Do not resist,” it spoke matter-of-factly.
The door slipped upward on a silent track, and Grey gawked at her first look at Jupiter. A rush of warm, dusty air swirled around them, and for a moment all the humans froze in awe, glancing from the sky to the ground and back. The drones stared straight ahead. 
The soil looked like colored marble—shades of yellow, red, and blue swirled together in a kaleidoscope of dust. Strange, twisted trees with iridescent leaves hulked in the distance. Beyond them were mountains unlike any she’d ever seen. With pointed, vertical rock formations, they looked like a row of massive medieval castles all stretching toward the heavens.
“Move out!”
As one, the Mazdaar army poured from the cosmoship. She labored to keep up while craning to see the sky. Far above the mountains, where on Earth you would expect to see blue, a roiling sea of red and orange clouds writhed and twisted.
“Holy cow,” someone muttered.
The skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Grey heard the words in her mother’s calm voice, and she could almost see Mom’s face and the way she’d stare at a desert sunset with a young Grey at her side. Mom had always loved sunsets.
The drone shoved Grey in the back, shaking away the memory. She focused on keeping her feet moving. Before them stood a massive domed building, very much like something they’d see on Earth. The soldiers rushed toward it, forcing Grey along with them.

Wow, thank you for that thrilling glimpse of your world, C.J.!

I hope all of you readers are ready to pick up a copy of Jupiter Winds and try a dose of space-adventure and Dystopian drama. Be certain to congratulate C.J. on this awesome release and feel free to ask her questions about her work as well. I'm sure she has plenty of tips and words of encouragement to aspiring novelists out there! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Storyboarding Contest Winner!

Dear imps, I have a fun announcement from animator Melanie J. Morgan concerning her pick for the winner of the alternate prize for the Goldstone Wood Musical Contest! Here is what Melanie has to say:

"All right, I have deliberated and prayed all week and listened to every song dozens of times, and I believe I've come to a decision.  

My decision is based not simply on quality, but on what vocal piece has the best storytelling dynamic. The entry I chose had a beautiful dynamic, fantastic storyboarding potential, and a simply amazing potential for a reprise.  It will also give those who see it a fantastic introduction to the world of Goldstone Wood.  My decision is
by Brittney

 Also, they all have absolutely shocked me with their talent. If they would like to work with me at some point in the future for other storyboarding/ musical projects I may come up with, they can feel free to email me if they're interested.  I can't even begin to imagine the masterpieces we could all create by working together!

I congratulate all of them and I want them to know I listen to their music over and over in my free time (I've also found that it really helps me write, so I'll be listening to the songs quite often).

I also have my tickets and flights booked for SIGGRAPH, an animation industry convention in Vancouver, Canada in August, so I'm going to be taking my portfolio with me, including the animatic to Brittney's "Prince of Dreams," so it's finalized!  The eyeballs of the likes of Disney and Dreamworks are finally going to get a glimpse of Goldstone Wood!

Congratulations Brittney!  Your music is fantastic and I can't wait to work with you!

Anne Elisabeth, thank you so much for letting me be a part of this!  This was so much fun and I'd love to do it again sometime if that's a feasible possibility!"
I hope to do it again too, Melanie! This was such an exciting extra, and I'm sure everyone will be eager to pursue more fun ideas like this in the future. Seriously, imps, don't be shy if you have a collaboration project you'd like to tackle with Melanie. Be sure to let her know!

And BIG congratulations to Brittney for this wonderful win. I can hardly wait to see the animatic when it is complete!

EDITION: I just realized some of you might not be familiar with Melanie's work . . . so I thought I'd share some of the gorgeous Goldstone Wood-themed pieces she has rendered.


I love these soooooo much! Eanrin's expressions are perfection.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour: Featuring Clara Diane Thompson!

What a fantastic event this blog tour has been! Each of our lovely ballroom belles has answered a variety of interesting and amusing questions, not to mention given us a glimpse of their dream ball gowns and favorite dance tunes. If you want to be sure to catch all the fun, visit tour hostess Amber Stokes' blog, Seasons of Humility. And don't miss out on this great deal for the Kindle edition of Five Glass Slippers! Just 0.99 until the end of the week!

Today, on the last day of the tour, I am featuring our fifth "Cinderella," Clara Diane Thompson, author of The Moon Master's Ball, a magical retelling of the classic fairy tale that spins new lore all its own! Curious about this mysteriously spooky story of hers, I asked Clara this question: 

"Where and when did the idea for The Moon Master’s Ball begin? Did you wake up one morning with the whole thing clear in your head, or did you have to work with it to make it come together?"

Here is Clara's answer: I had a very vivid dream one night about a traveling circus, and when I woke up, I had fantastic Beauty and the Beast idea where the circus was basically the Beast’s “castle”. Cinderella didn’t even come to mind. Who thinks about Cinderella? Beauty and the Beast is the way to go as far as retellings! (Or so I thought.) I scribbled the idea down in my journal and promptly forgot about it.

Then you announced the Five Glass Slippers contest, and I started brainstorming, not even thinking about the circus idea I had written down only months ago! The Moon Master’s Ball actually started out very, very, different from the way it ended up. When I started writing, the story was about a small town on the edge of an eerie forest where an “evil” prince lives. That idea didn't work out, obviously, but I still loved the title. So, I referred back to my journal and came across the circus idea . . .

That’s when the true plot of Moon Master’s began to unfold itself to me slowly, but surely. Then I put the Cinderella spin on it. Parts of the story I planned as I went, others I planned out before starting the writing process.  I never knew I would love writing a Cinderella story so much.

 So that is how my short story came to be! Winged some of it, and planned most of it. 

Thanks for the question, Anne Elisabeth! 

I am so glad you rediscovered that old idea, Clara. The Moon Master's Ball is a delicious story, like hot cider on a cold day.

Here is a little more about the story itself for those of you curious! 


After her terrifying experience there several years ago, the one place young housemaid Tilly longs to avoid is Bromley’s Circus. But when kindly Lord Hollingberry begs her to deliver a message to the mysterious Moon Master hidden away among the circus dwellers, Tilly can’t refuse . . . and finds herself ensnared in a web of enchantment cast by the loathsome Mrs. Carlisle and her beautiful goddaughter.



 Clara Diane Thompson lives in the swamps of Louisiana with her loving family, dashing dog, and a very confused frog that resides in the birdhouse outside her window. Aside from writing she enjoys playing guitar, singing, Broadway plays (particularly The Phantom of the Opera), ballet, tea with friends, and long BBC movies. An enchanted circus may or may not appear occasionally in her back yard.

You can find out more about Clara and her writing on her blog:

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 23rd | Cinderella of the Day: Elisabeth Brown
·         Blooming with Books
·         Books, Cats, and Whimsy
·         Fictionally
·         Historical Heartbeats
·         i blog 4 books
·         J.L. Mbewe
·         Not All By My Lonesome
·         Rina’s Reading
·         The Splendor Falls on Castle Walls + Review
·         To Be A Person + Review

Tuesday, June 24th | Cinderella of the Day: Emma Clifton
·         A Curious Thrill
·         A Writer’s Heart
·         Fictionally
·         Flowers of Quiet Happiness
·         Jaye L. Knight
·         Jenelle Schmidt
·         Not All By My Lonesome
·         Tales of Goldstone Wood
·         The Wonderings of One Person
·         The Writer’s Window + Review

Wednesday, June 25th | Cinderella of the Day: Rachel Heffington
·         A Writer’s Heart
·         Blooming with Books
·         Flowers of Quiet Happiness
·         i blog 4 books
·         Jaye L. Knight
·         Jenelle Schmidt
·         Rina’s Reading
·         Tialla’s Tellings
·         Vonnie’s Reading Corner + Review

Thursday, June 26th | Cinderella of the Day: Stephanie Ricker
·         Books, Cats, and Whimsy + Review
·         Home of the Shabby Elf
·         Rina’s Reading
·         Scribbles of Catholic Sisters
·         The Lore-Mistress
·         The Wonderings of One Person
·         The Writer’s Window
·         Tialla’s Tellings
·         Vonnie’s Reading Corner

Friday, June 27th | Cinderella of the Day: Clara Diane Thompson
·         A Curious Thrill
·         Blooming with Books
·         Fictionally
·         Flowers of Quiet Happiness + Review
·         Jenelle Schmidt
·         Kathryn Elizabeth Jones
·         Tales of Goldstone Wood
·         The Wonderings of One Person
·         Vonnie’s Reading Corner

Saturday, June 28th | Giveaway Winner Announced at Seasons of Humility

*Blog Tour Home:  This is where you can keep up-to-date on the blog tour happenings, view the schedule with links, grab the tour button, etc.

Don't miss out on this great giveaway! One lucky winner will receive all of these fantastic Cinderella-themed prizes, including gifts from three of the five authoresses themselves!

a Rafflecopter giveaway