Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Goodbye to the Darling Diaries

The blog title pretty much said it all. I've created a brand new blog (that I'm quite excited about) and I'm saying goodbye to the Darling Diaries. Please head on over to my new blog To Find a Castle and check it out! I hope you will all enjoy it. There will be some fun interviews and guest posts, so please stick around to enjoy some pretty poetry and amazing artistry. Also, I might be meeting Matt Smith in the near future, and I will be posting pictures of that encounter if I actually decide to spend a good bit of money to go see him.

Enjoy my new blog!

<3 Clara 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Until That Distant Day Cover Reveal!

Are you a fan of historical fiction that is steeped in suspense, action, intrigue, and romance? If so, then you've come to the right place! Award winning author Jill Stengl is releasing her first novel in seven years. This is quite obviously a big deal, and I'm terribly excited to announce that there will be several giveaways from the author herself along with tantalizing sneek peeks about her her new book Until That Distant Day.

But first things first. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU MRS. JILL!

Yup, Jill Stengl's pristine new cover (designed by the ever amazing Anne Elisabeth Stengl) is being revealed on her birthday! How exciting is that?

Now, for the moment you have all been waiting for, here is the cover for Until That Distant Day.

Paris, France

Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?
Coming April 25, 2014
From Rooglewood Press

Such a beautiful cover! I especially love the blue color of Colette's dress.


Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.


Until That Distant Day
Opening of Chapter 1
I was born believing that the world was unfair and that I was the person to make it right.
One of my earliest memories is of Papa setting me atop a nail keg in the forge; I could not have been older than two at the time.
“Colette, give Papa a kiss,” he said, tapping his cheek.
“Come and sit on my knee.”
My response to every order was the same, asked with genuine curiosity. I did not understand why his watching friends chuckled. Why should I press my lips to Papa’s sweaty, prickly cheek? Why should I hop down from the keg, where he had just placed me, and run to sit on his knee, a most uncomfortable perch? I felt justified in requesting a reason for each abrupt order, yet he never bothered to give me one.
Mama, when thus questioned, provided an answer in the form of a sharp swat. This I could respect as definitive authority, although the reasoning behind it remained dubious.
My little brother Pascoe was born believing that the world was his to command. As soon as he acquired his first vocabulary word, “No,” he and I joined ranks in defiance of established authority.
Many impediments cluttered the path of destiny in those early years: parents, thirteen other siblings, physical ailments, and educational difficulties. And as we grew into adulthood, more serious matters intervened, even parting us for a time. But I will speak more of that later. For now, let me assure you that, no matter the obstacles thrown in our way, our sibling bond seemed indissoluble; the love between us remained unaffected by any outside relationship.
Pascoe and I were young adults when revolutionaries in Paris threw aside the tyranny of centuries and established a new government based on the Rights of Man. From the seclusion of our little village in Normandy we rejoiced over each battle fought and won; and when our local physician, Doctor Hilliard, who had first mentored then employed Pascoe for several years, was elected as deputy to the National Assembly from our district, a whole new world opened at our feet.
My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the back of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house. Perhaps it wasn’t truly my domain, for it did not belong to me. I was merely the doctor’s housekeeper and could lay no real claim. Nevertheless, the kitchen was more mine than anything had ever been, and I loved that small, dark room; especially during the hours when sunlight slanted through the bubbled-glass kitchen windows, making bright, swirling shapes on the whitewashed walls, or each evening when I arranged my latest culinary creation on a platter and left it in the warming oven for the doctor to discover whenever he arrived home. That kitchen was my home. Not the home I had grown up in, but the home I had always craved.
On that particular day, however, it did not feel the safe haven I had always believed it to be. Loud voices drifted down from the upper floor where the doctor and Pascoe were in conference, disturbing my calm. When I closed the connecting door to the dining room, the angry voices drifted in through the open kitchen windows. I couldn’t close the windows; I might smother of heat. Yet I needed to block out the sound, to make it stop.
So I slipped a filet of sole into a greased skillet and let it brown until golden on both sides. The hiss and sizzle did not quite cover the shouting, but it helped. Then I slid the fish onto a waiting plate lined with sautéed vegetables fresh from my kitchen garden; and I topped all with an herbed wine-and-butter sauce. A grind of fresh pepper finished off my creation.
But my hands were still trembling, and I felt as if something inside me might fall to pieces.
Pascoe often shouted. Shouting was part of his fiery nature, a normal event. He shouted when he gave speeches at section meetings. He shouted about overcooked meals or inferior wines. He shouted when his lace jabot refused to fall into perfect folds.
But never before had I heard Doctor Hilliard raise his voice in anger.
Doctor Hilliard was never angry. Doctor Hilliard never displayed emotion. At most, he might indicate approval by the glance of a benevolent eye or disapprobation by the merest lift of a brow. Yet there could be no mistaking the two furious voices overhead. I well knew Pascoe’s sharp tenor with its sarcastic edge; but now I also heard the doctor’s resonant voice crackling with fury.
I managed to slide the hot plate into the warmer alongside a crusty loaf of bread and closed the door, using a doubled towel to protect my shaking hands.
Behind me the connecting door was flung open, and Pascoe burst in as I spun to face him. “Gather your things; we are leaving,” he growled. His eyes blazed in his pale face, and the jut of his jaw allowed for no questions. He clapped his tall hat on his head as he passed through the room.
I donned my bonnet and sabots and picked up my parasol. “What has happened?” I asked just above a whisper.
“I’ll tell you once we are away from this house.” His lips snapped tight. His chest heaved with emotion, and he grasped a portfolio so tightly that his fingers looked white.
I could not recall the last time I had seen my brother in such a rage.


Be sure to check out Until That Distant Day' s new book page right here.

And also decorate your blogs with this pretty little blog button!


Don't forget to enter the giveaway right here at Jill Stengl's blog! She is graciously offering ten of her marvelous novels for us to win...so enter away!

<3 Clara

Friday, November 15, 2013


My brother-in-law is an amazing photographer, and he is training my sister to become quite good at the art as well. It just so happens that they've traveled all the way from Arkansas to the swamps of LA to shoot a wedding  this weekend. We are all going to have so much fun watching season three of Falling Skies together (my brother-in-law and sister have not seen it yet. Poor things.)  Hopefully I can get some pictures up of the wedding before too long so you can see some pretty wedding pics. (Seriously, who doesn't love some good wedding pictures to look at?)

Me, Laura, Anna
In the meantime, I'm reunited with my gorgeous sister, and we're sure to have a good many laughs! Hope you all have a wonderful Friday full of good movies, pizza, and books!
<3 Clara

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thor and My Wild Red Headed Sister

Hello, all! It's been a while since I've posted, and I'm terribly sorry for that. I've been writing like a madwoman trying to get my short stories done by the deadline. I almost have Life at the Crystal Shoe Factory finished, and I'm half way through The Moon Master's Ball. I'm happy with the way both of them are turning out, and I certainly am excited to read everyone elses's stories that they've submitted! If you are a writer and want to have  a chance to be published, click on the button on the side of my blog that says "Five Glass Slippers", and it will take you to the website where you will be told the stipulations for the short story contest. This is a publishing opportunity that you writers don't want to miss out on!

On to other happenings of the day, Thor: The Dark World comes out, and I'm SO EXCITED!! If you would like to see a hilarious video featuring Loki and a bunch of kiddies or some goofy Thorsday pictures, head over to James's blog J and J Productions.

I am utterly thrilled about going to see this movie, but for more reasons than one...

I have a sister named Laura. She has red hair and the wild personality that goes right along with it. She, my brother and I went  to see Thor when it first came out at midnight, and I got so frustrated with Laura. When I go see a movie I want to sit quietly and soak up every line and every action scene, and as soon as Thor started, I realized that it was going to be an amazing movie.

But when I saw Laura with her giant bag of popcorn over by the pump where you can squirt out more butter pumping pumping pumping, I knew that the butter was going to soak through her bag. And sure enough, after we sat down and the movie started she's sitting beside me, chomping away at the popcorn and then I hear her say, "There's butter all over my jeans!"
She somehow remedied the problem and we continued watching the movie in silence. After Thor's almost coronation, Laura looks over at me and chuckles. "You're soaking this up, aren't you?"

I shushed her.

Then Thor and his companions get to Jotunheim and Hogun says, "We shouldn't be here." Laura starts laughing and leans over to me again. "That's an understatement."
"Will you be quiet?!" I was getting quite upset by now, and I looked at her to give her an angry look, but she made a goofy face, making me laugh.

The third incident happened when you see Loki as a blue baby. That got Laura tickled once again and I hear her quote softly, "I had a fairly standard childhood." (Those of you who are fans of Megamind will get that reference) I couldn't help but laugh along with her at that moment.

The night continued in a similar fashion. Laura being annoying, and me not be able to get angry with her because she's so funny. But now she's married and living far away from me so she won't be able to ruin my first viewing of The Dark World. Of this, I am excited; but....I might just miss her a little bit....

<3 Clara

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Robin Hood

The Disney cartoon of Robin Hood is one of my favorites. I love the scene when Robin proposes to Marion and the pretty song "Love" is played. I recently learned on my guitar and my brother recorded me playing it  with an app on his phone. Anywho, here it is, and I hope you all enjoy it! We may do more songs in the future:)

<3 Clara

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Something I Can't Copy: M. I. McAllister

My life has been rather hectic of late. Between traveling to Arkansas to see my beautiful sister and handsome brother-in-law, and between my work, life’s been crazy. And when life is crazy, the blog gets ignored.
But now I’m back and here’s a new post!

M. I. McAllister.

Mrs. McAllister has written books with characters in them that have become my friends over many years…and they’re all animals. Yes, M. I. McAllister writes completely epic stories and centers them around her main character, the squirrel with the pale fur, Urchin of the Riding Stars. But there are many more characters than just Urchin! She created a whole world full of hedgehogs, squirrels, moles, otters, and the occasional swan. This world, rather, island, is protected by magical mists that prevent anyone harmful from entering into the peaceful little world of Mistmantle.
I’m getting carried away talking about her books! Anyway, these books have been near and dear to my heart since my brother bought Urchin of the Riding Stars for me one Christmas long ago. But my very favorite aspect of her writing is how she makes an island ruled by animals and protected by magical mists so real. I can practically taste the warm cider in Brother Fir’s tower, or smell the herbs growing in his room. I can nearly feel the autumn breeze as it clips through the trees of Anemone Wood, carrying the smell of salt from the ocean surrounding the island. I can clearly see in my mind the Castle, the center point of the island, and the beautiful glistening harbor down below it, otters playing in the waves.
And how does M. I. McAllister do it, you ask?
I haven’t the slightest idea.   
But one thing is for certain: her books are classics, and no matter how hard I might try, I can’t recreate this feeling of wistfulness in my own little story. This is something that I can’t copy, even though I try to!

Have you read any of Mrs. McAllister’s works? If so, please comment and tell me what you think!  Here are some illustrations from her books.

You can visit M. I. McAllister's blog at The House of Stories

<3 Clara

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Being a Copy Cat: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

There are tons of fabulous books on my bookshelf written by equally amazing authors, and as I looked at the rows of many exciting fantasy books this morning, I realized something.

I want to copy the authors that I look up to so much.

Now I don’t mean copy as in plagiarism, but I mean copy as in finding what makes their story so wonderful, and applying it to my own work-in-progress. There are many authors that I look up to. Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Gail Carson Levine, Jessica Day George, Elizabeth Goudge, M. I. McCallister, Dave Barry, and Ridly Pearson are just a few. Each of these authors has the ability to make me feel whimsical, frightened, enthralled, mystified, and I realized that I personally want to convey their fantastic writing traits in my own story.

In Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s marvelous book series, The Tales of Goldstone Wood, she gives such a pristinely clear vision of when and where her books are taking place. This is something I want to express in my own work. I can easily picture where all of her castles and lands are, what  her characters look like, and where the story is taking place, because she herself obviously has a clear vision of the where, when, and who. Before I started my story, I took this into account. I tried to map out in my head where all of my kingdoms will be located, who my characters are and how their paths will cross, and have their paths crossed before? Of course, I am no expert. I only try to copy the authors who I look up to, and hope that my story will turn out alright!

While there are many more traits of Anne Elisabeth’s writing that I admire, the art of making her world feel so very established is what stands out to me the most when I read her books.

So my question for you today is this:

Who are the authors that you look up to? Are there any traits of theirs that you try to copy?

<3 Clara