Monday, March 25, 2013

Introducing: Jennette Mbewe!

Dear readers, I am excited to take a moment today to introduce an up-and-coming fantasy novelist to you. Jennette Mbewe, to celebrate the release of her new short story, Desert Rose, is here today for an interview . . . and a particularly generous giveaway from her publisher! Be sure to check below for the details. But first, let's meet Jennette and learn about her writing!

Can a desert princess find love with a foreign king?

Johari lives in the shadow of her beautiful sister until a foreign king notices her, but in her haste to prove herself worthy of affection she finds herself compromised and on a difficult journey to make things right.
Welcome, Jennette! I am excited to have you here on the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee?
Jennette: Sure, but first I want to say thank you so much for doing this interview, Ms. Stengl. I am so honored and humbled, I just want to fall on my face before God, because it is all Him—not me! Thanks!

Now, a little about me…let’s see. For starters, I’m married to a man who believes in me and supports me in my writing endeavors. We have two precious blessings from God. Sam is four and Ariah is two, and needless to say, they keep me busy.

I don’t know about hobbies, but I do love to create whether its painting, drawing, writing, baking, sewing, hammering, scrapbooking, etc. I love to collect rocks. When I was a child, I would help my dad “pick rocks” to prepare the fields for planting, and he would tell me what the rocks were. I ended up collecting all the agates I could find, and now I have them in jars sitting atop my kitchen cabinets.

Speaking of tea or coffee. I have a similar story to yours, Ms, Stengl. I loved coffee until my husband, who is from Zambia, Africa, introduced me to English Breakfast Tea with cream and sugar. I converted. Although, I still love the smell of a coffee shop, especially it’s inside a bookstore, and I still do coffee every now and again.

What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller?
Jennette: That is long story, but I’ll keep it brief. I loved books as a kid even before I could read. If you’d have asked me at eight years old what I wanted to be I would have told you an author. I had written and illustrated and stapled together my very first story about a missing cat who finds a home. I even had an author’s portrait drawn on the back. But life happened and the dream was swept under a rug and forgotten for many years. I continued to write in my journal to express myself, and in a way writing became my lifeline. Then in 2003, I was reading through the parable of the talents, and God asked me: What are you doing with what I gave you? And I was like: What did you give me? And the word writing formed in my mind’s eye. So I started putting one foot in front of the other, and my dream was rebirthed.
Tell us a little about your new short story, Desert Rose. How long have you been working on it? Is it part of a bigger project?
Jennette: Desert Rose is a story of a young woman who lives in the shadow of her beautiful sister until a foreign king notices her, but in her haste to prove herself worthy of affection she finds herself compromised and on a difficult journey to make things right. Her story is set in the world of Nälu thirty years before the first book of my fantasy trilogy. I’ve been working on it for about three months: writing, exchanging critiques, polishing it, submitting it, and then polishing it some more.
Can you pick a favorite character from this new story?
Jennette: Johari. She is naïve and makes mistakes, but she is determined to do what she thinks is right.
What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?
Jenntte: Life. Anything and everything. I’ll see or hear something, and an idea will spark. Movies and books inspire me too. I love going outside and letting my thoughts to wander, but often times it’s while I’m washing dishes or folding laundry. Ha! Not sure about the renewing my inspiration yet. At the root of everything, my writing, my life, parenting, etc, is my philosophy: seek God first, and everything else will fall into place. So, I think my “renewal of inspiration” flows from that as well. I’m still learning.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Jennette: I love almost every aspect of the writing process from the birth of an idea, to brainstorming, to writing it, to editing it. I think the least favorite part would be the battles I have to fight in my mind that hinder me from being productive. Sometimes the alone aspect comes into a close second as a least favorite. When I’ve stumble upon a problem in my story, I wish I had a clone, so I could bounce ideas off and discuss the possible solutions.
If you were forced to pick a single favorite author, who would it be?
Jennette: Oh, this isn’t a fair question. Would it be improper to say Anne Elisabeth Stengl? I love the Harry Potter novels. J. K. Rowling’s creativity, red herrings, the interwoven plots amaze me and challenge me to think outside the box. Nothing really topped them, until I discovered the Tales of Goldstone Wood with the creativity, the interwoven plots, the allegory. And I was like: this is published by Bethany House?! Awesome! (*grin* Thank you, Jennette!)
So what is next on your publishing horizons? Can we look forward to more fiction from you soon
Jennette: Yes! I am so excited to announce that Secrets Kept, book one of the Hidden Dagger Trilogy has been contracted. Eek! There will be other short stories coming as well between now and when the book is published.
(Huge round of applause for Jennette, everybody!!!)
What are you actively writing right now?
Jennette: Right now, I am writing another short story set in the world of Nälu, but this time it has to do with the merpeople and dragons.
Would you share a short snippet from Desert Rose?
Jennette: Yes! I hope you all enjoy it.
Desert Rose
Shades of night slipped between the trees. Her knees ached, and her feet began to tingle, so she repositioned herself and sat cross-legged. The hair on the back of her neck stood up, and she shivered. She wrapped her arms around her belly. She should return to the keep, yet she lingered.
Johari’s abdomen tightened. She exhaled through her nose. She couldn’t leave now. It was too late. She opened her eyes, but her vision darkened. The trees beyond her disappeared into a black abyss. Branches like grey spider webs stretched above her, crisscrossing against the starlit sky. Had it grown so dark so quickly? She blinked her eyes. Why couldn’t she see?
A shadow broke from the abyss and slid toward her.
Johari focused on the gliding form, but it wavered like a mirage. An icy chill encompassed her; her breath slipped through her lips in a fog. Johari shivered.
“No moon tonight, but the stars are bright,” the woman said.
Johari sniffed the air, but the woman had no scent. “Who are you?”
“I am nothing to you, but everything. I am a priestess of the Nuja.” She came closer, cloaked in tattered shadows, weaving on her feet.
“Are you drunk?”
“Nay.” She pointed to the heavens. Ribbons of blood dribbled down her pale arm. “The stars are bright tonight.”
“Yes, so you have said.” Johari glanced around. Why had she run out here beyond the protection of the king? She eyed the woman’s arm. “Are you hurt?”
“Death is written in the stars.” She lowered her arm.
“Death is a constant. I do not need a star to tell me that.”
“Silence.” She lurched forward. “The underworld groans as a woman in labor. It hungers for the death of this child. The queen will have her way.”
A contraction seized Johari. She grasped the tree roots. Not now. Not here.
What a thrilling excerpt!!! I hope all of you readers are as excited to read this story as I am now.
And guess what? Jennette's publishers are also excited for you to read it, and they are offering such a generous deal. Anyone who leaves a comment on this post can email me ( and receive a coupon to download Desert Rose FOR FREE! That's right! Just leave a comment, email me, and I will send you the coupon and link you need in order to claim your free copy of this exciting new fantasy!
There is also a fun Grand Prize giveaeway for one lucky winner. Be sure to enter your name below for a chance to win goody prize packet, including the beautiful metal bookmark pictured below, a signed copy of The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and other exciting novels from AltWit Press.
Be certain to follow Jennette on facebook, and also visit her blog: You can also check out her exciting book trailer here:
And to you bloggers out there: Share this bookcover and description, and consider inviting Jennette to come do an interview on your blog!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sarah Pennington said...

This book sounds very cool! Thank you, Mrs. Mbewe and Mrs. Stengl, for telling me about it and for doing this giveaway!

Sarah Pennington said...

Whoops. Missed the last bit, about asking Mrs. Mbewe a question about her writing. Hmm . . . where'd you get the idea for Desert Rose?

Jill Stengl said...

I enjoyed this interview and excerpt very much! I just love discovering new voices in fantasy. Blessings to you as you glorify God with your talents.

Therru Ghibli said...

This book sounds amazing! Thank you for this giveaway, I'm so excited!
So, what is your favorite type of scene to write?

Brandi Boddie said...

I'm intrigued by this story. Congratulations to Mrs. Mbewe. I enjoyed learning about your writing process and how your faith has led you to pursue your dream!

Great interview, Ann!

Shadowwolf said...

I am very interesting in this book. It sounds very intriging!

Bookishqueen said...

This book sounds great and the offer is the best! Thanks.

Bookishqueen said...

When you came up with the idea for this story, was the beginning the part you came up with first or a different scene?

Imblest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

Wow! How wonderfully exciting, Jennette! I really like the sound of it.
What genre would you place it in? I understand it is fantastical, but would you call it Historical Fantasy, Romance Fantasy, or just good ol' fantasy?
About what age range would you consider your books appropriate for?
Congratulations, and keep up the hard work! :D

Natalie said...

This sounds really intriguing! I look forward to reading it.

J. L. Mbewe said...

@Sarah said...
Thank you Sarah!I'm very honored to be here!

The idea for Desert Rose came from my fantasy trilogy. I had this important character, and I needed to know his story, and from asking questions to writing it, it has helped deepened my understanding of who he is and the part he will play.

@JillStengl, thank you very much! I love discovering new voices as well. There are some really awesome, talented Goldstone Imps here that can write, and I can't wait until their stories are published. Exciting times!

@Queen Ali Thank you! I couldn't have done the giveaway with Ms. Stengl and my publisher, who put together the bookmark.

My favorite scene to write: I love writing action scenes, then dialogue comes in at a close second. I have to keep reminding myself, keep adding description. ha!

@Brandi Boddie, thank you! I hope you like it. Writing (and reading books) have definitely been part of my journey of faith all starting with the fiction novel: Christy by Catherine Marshal.

@Anonymous, Thank you! I hope you like it!

@Shadowwolf, Thank you! It is a short story about one of the characters in my novel to come. I hope you like it!

@Bookishqueen, Thank you! I will tell the publisher. The beginning came to me first, how Johari's sister was cautioning her, but I wasn't sure how I was going to get to the end. It was one of those stories that unfolded fast and furious, but then I had to go back to edit and add more description.

@Hannah, thank you! Oh, those are tough, but good questions. I draw upon history and different cultures to tell the story of how life could be like without electricity and vehicles, then I use that to build my storyworld. And I like to have a touch of romance in my stories, but I don't think they would be considered Romance Fantasy. Maybe I nice mix of all you've mentioned? :-)

Age range: This was the hardest question for me to answer as I worked on my writing. My main characters are 16-18 years old, of course, we would have to translate that into elf, merpeople, dwarf years. :-) The characters are dealing with coming of age, making decisions about the rest of their life and then they are thrown into a crisis. So maybe 15 on up. Hope that answers your question. :-)

@Natalie, thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

Galadriel said...

That sounds so cool. Thanks to the publishers for the coupon!

Molly said...

I got really excited when I learned that you like collecting rocks! So I'm not weird after all! Ha ha. ;) I love crafts too, especially when it comes to card-making.

Wow, thanks for the coupon! That's SO generous!

Do you ever like walking in the woods? Does that give you any inspiration?

Yikes that's a really cool bookmark! I use bookmarks lots; I've even made myself one put of duck tape! :P

Thanks for this interview! I really enjoyed it. :)

Janeen Ippolito said...

It's great to get to know you a bit, Jeannette! I'm an avid reader, writer, and promoter of speculative fiction, particularly new and reimagined fairy tales, so it is a pleasure to get connected with others interested in this genre. Thanks also for the free coupon! I look forward to reviewing this short story on my blog, and then hopefully move onto your other works.

By the way, I traveled to Zambia to perform some cultural survey work as an undergraduate--a beautiful country.

Courtney said...

Hmm... From what I have looked at so far it looks interesting. I hope to come back later and read more of this post.

Courtney said...

Have you already started writing your trilogy?

Lauren said...

How generous with the coupons!!!

Thanks for the awesome interview and excerpt!

Just one question . . . how do you come up with fantasy names for your characters/countries? I love that yours are actually pronounceable.

I can't wait to start reading!

J. L. Mbewe said...

Hey y'all. Having a little trouble responding to comments earlier, so hopefully this time will go without a hitch.

@Galadriel, thank you! I will let the publishers know. I hope you enjoy the story!

@Molly, Awesome! Yes, I LOVE rocks. My dad used to joke that our trailer house was going to tip over. Ha! Love making cards, just like scrapbooking, but better. :-) I LOVE walking in the woods, and I definitely get a lot of inspiration and just peace walking in nature, but since moving to TX and living in town, I've found it a little more difficult to get into the woods. One day we'll own some land, maybe build a castle or something, and have a nice big woods. ;-)

I'm glad you liked the book mark. I LOVE bookmarks too. Hard to use with digital books, but my favorites books I've got to have physically thus I need bookmarks. That is an awesome idea about the duck tape. I will try that. I've got purple duck tape for my daughter. (trying to keep her diaper on. Ha!)

Thank you for sharing! Hope you like the story!

@Janeen, Thanks! I will have to stop by your blog and say hi, and see what you write. I hope to go to Zambia soon, I've been pregnant the time I could have went, and now my hubby would like the kids to be older before we go, but he goes about every other year leading a mission trip and aiding a school he helped build. I think it would be awesome to go to another country to do an undergraduate, cultural study. We hope to travel a lot once the kids get a little older. :-)

@Courtney, Thank you! Hope you do, and hope you enjoy it! I have book one completely done awaiting the editor's pen, book two is ready to apply critiques from my old critique group, and book three is a rough outline.

@Lauren, thank you! I'm glad you liked it! I will let the publishers know. When I first started writing, I looked through babyname websites, books, and Google translator, because I wanted each nation to have distinct names but also to give it an appearance of their own ethnicity. Then I developed languages, and started naming things within each race's language, but still trying to keep them where they could be pronounceable.

I hope you like it! And that you find all the names pronounceable. :-)

karina said...

Ah, what happens!
I love the names; they roll of the tongue nicely like spices!

Cindi said...

Jennette, I find that God offers me subtle nudges as well to keep me on track!! I always try to keep my ears open to his suggestions. The books all look AWESOME! Stories about princesses, and kings, and strong women are the best!!

J. L. Mbewe said...

@karina, thanks, I practice saying them out loud to see if I like it or not before I settle on them. Hope you like the story!

@Cindi, thank you and I agree with you. Those are the best kind of stories. I try to listen for those subtle nudges, but pray God knocks me over the head with a 2 x 4 in case I miss them. :-)

Meredith said...

Ms. Jenette:

Thank you so very much for sharing the excerpt from your intriguing-sounding story. The scene was very tense and really whetted my appetite to learn more. Loved the title of your story as well. I also loved hearing how your faith is so integral to your desire to write. That's very inspiring and wonderful! Congratulations on your novel publication as well. It's interesting that you like to write action scenes and dialogue so much. They are my favorite scenes to write as well, so I have to be careful and not overdo the dialogue especially. Do you write in the allegorical style predominatly, or do your ideas come to you when least expected? Keep up the outstanding work. God bless you.

Renee S said...

Thanks for the excerpt- I definitely want to read more. :)

J. L. Mbewe said...

@Meredith, thank you so much! I've learned important insight into their lives & the story when I just let my characters talk to each other. Although later I might have to cut some or make it better. I love to see all the aspiring writers around here. I wish you the best on your writing! In this world I've created, and the books set in it, I started out wanting to create an allegory. A Pilgrim's Progress meets Lord of the Rings, but I didn't want it too be too obvious and as result no one would be able to recognize it. I spent the next 9 years rewriting it and reworking it to bring out the story and the characters better, so it wasn't like a big Chess game anymore but an adventure with characters we can fall in love. At least I hope so . :-)

My other stories that I have waiting on my computer have just come to me more organically, and I can't wait to see them brought to life. But I believe there will be elements of allegory and symbolism as I love those types of stories.

@Renee, thank you! I hope you like it!

Unknown said...

I just downloaded Desert Rose and finished reading it. Wow! It was amazing, and I am looking forward to more books by you. :) What inspired you to write Desert Rose?

J. L. Mbewe said...

@Deanna, oh! Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it!

I knew Johari's son and the King before I knew her (as they are characters in my trilogy to come), the son's birth had been shrouded in mystery even though I had an idea of what happened, but writing this story took me by storm and brought me deeper into the lives of my characters and the choices they make and why.

ConTom said...

Always happy to discover a new fantasy author! Thanks for the book! Jennette, how do you pronounce your last name? I want to get it right when I tell my friends about you. :)

J. L. Mbewe said...

@ConTom, awe, thank you! I hope you like the short story! my name is pronounced : mm-bay-way. :-D

Anonymous said...

Jennette, that excerpt was absolutely thrilling! I have a sneaking suspicion that I will enjoy your book as much as The Tales of Goldstone Wood! I adore the writing perspective you chose because I find it the most easy to imagine in my mind's eye.

All the best in your writing endeavours!

Lady DragonKeeper said...

Sounds like a neat series, Mrs. Mbewe!

As someone hoping to major in art, I'd like to know about your experience with the book cover development. Do you have any input in the design or is it mostly your publisher's decision?

J. L. Mbewe said...

@anonymous, thank you! I'm glad you liked the excerpt. I hope you enjoy the story!

@Lady DragonKeeper
Thank you! Publishers vary on how they operate on so many different levels, but it's been a team effort at my publishers. We've worked on the concept together, but they have the final say. Wish you well on your endeavors in art!

Becky said...

Jennette, congratulations on the publication of your books! You and your family must be thrilled. Your excerpt is quite the cliff hanger...and pretty scary too! Thank you and your publishers for the book offer. It was wonderful to read your interview and learn more about you and your heart for God.

I'm glad to learn how to pronounce your name. I have been wondering. :o)

God bless you, your family and your writing endeavors.

J. L. Mbewe said...

@Becky, thank you! I will pass on your thanks to the publisher. Hope you enjoy the story!

J. L. Mbewe said...

Congratulations Amber M.!

Ms. Stengl, thank you again for this opportunity. And another big thank you to you all for commenting. Your words are encouraging and your questions were great. I enjoyed it all!

Thank you!

Now go have an adventure, read a book! ;-)