"Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes." ~Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn

"The characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst." ~Publishers Weekly review of High Maga

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Fever


The Buffalo River in early spring.
My husband and I had a wonderful stay in the Ozarks last week. My only regret was that we had to return so soon.

We stayed at a lovely cabin near the Buffalo River, slept in during the mornings, went hiking in the afternoons.  Read, listened to music, watched videos, ate and drank as we pleased. We made a bonfire under a starry night, and then we went hiking some more. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better trip. I am already scheming to see when I can go back.

I was also able to write, truly write for the first time in ages. Bringing High Maga to press without Eric T. Reynolds at the helm of Hadley Rille Books had gobbled up all my time for the last several weeks. But I found some breathing space in the peace and beauty of the Ozark Mountains, and that gave me a fresh start on my continuing project with Daughter of Aithne. 

AND - here is the surprise I promised you last week: I've been listening to the brand new audio edition of Eolyn!  

Darla Middlebrook is the reader. I am in awe of her work. Listening to the story through her voice has been like discovering Eolyn's world all over again. Every scene, every moment, every word seems fresh and new; and, if I may say so myself, the story very well written!  ;)

A view from our cabin.
The audio edition of Eolyn will be available through audible.com, as soon Hadley Rille editor Terri-Lynne DeFino and I give it a thumbs up. Judging by my listening rate, that will be in about two weeks. My personal goal, actually, is to see if we can have it released in time for Eolyn's birthday on May 7th.

In other news, historical fiction author Louise Turner has a great post up on Heroines of Fantasy this week about real medieval women. Many of my own characters are based on historical figures, so if you want to learn about the women who inspired the women of Eolyn's world, have a look at Louise's post.

Also, my Orangeberry Tour continues this week with author interviews, excerpts, and more. I hope you have a chance to visit some of those posts and say hi!

We're going into the last stretch for the semester right now, so things may be a little hectic over the next couple of weeks. I will be posting regularly, though, as there is a LOT happening in May, and I want to keep you up-to-date with the latest news.

For now, have a good rest of the week.  Enjoy the magic of spring!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Adventure Has Begun

Launch party at Avila University.
I am very grateful for the outpouring of support and positive energy that has come with the release of High Maga. It's been a wonderful ten days, both on line and in the 'real world'.  The excitement of readers, friends, family, and colleagues has been contagious; welcome medicine after what was a fairly stressful two months in bringing the book to press.

Two positive and very thoughtful reviews of High Maga have been posted on line, one by DelSheree Gladden at The Edible Bookshelf and the other by David Hunter at Heroines of Fantasy

We had a great turnout for the launch party at Avila University. Hadley Rille Books editor Eric T. Reynolds was able to join us, his first foray into the outside world since a stroke took him out of commission about two months ago. I spoke a little about the inspiration behind the novel, and read several excerpts. And of course, I signed a lot of books. Unfortunately, in the excitement I forgot to record my readings, so I can't post them here. But I'll make up for that with some audio recordings in the coming weeks.


On Tuesday, April 15, I'm starting a blog tour with Orangeberry Book Tours.  There will be book features, author interviews, excerpts and more. To see the full schedule, visit my Orangeberry Book Tour page.

This will be a short week at Avila. The university is closed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, one of the perks of working at a Catholic institution.  My husband and I will take advantage of the spring weather by heading to the Ozarks, where we hope to indulge in some well-deserved rest and recreation. 

When I return, I will have a very special surprise for fans and friends of Eolyn.

Until then, enjoy Eolyn's new adventure!


With Mom and Dad after the show.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Launch Day!

Here's a look at the full cover of the print edition, front and back.
The bird on the back cover has special significance, but you'll have
to read the novel to find out what it is!

High Maga has hit the market about a day before the official release date!  You can now purchase both the print and Kindle editions through Amazon. Here are the links:


I'll keep this short so you can purchase your copy and start reading. Thank you to everyone for all your support and enthusiasm as we've brought this novel to press. You've had a long wait; now it's payback time. Enjoy the adventure.

Remember that the launch party will be in the Whitfield Conference Center at Avila University on Saturday, April 12th, at 5pm. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Hope you can join us!




Friday, March 28, 2014

Adiana Confronts Mechnes

Our countdown is almost finished. This time next week, High Maga should be available in print and ebook format the world over.

I want to take a moment to thank ALL of my readers for your steady support during the long and sometimes difficult road between Eolyn and High Maga. I also want to thank the folks at Hadley Rille Books, most of all Terri-Lynne DeFino, Kim Vandervort, Heather McDougal, and Thomas Vandenberg, who really pulled together to help get this title out on time in the wake of Eric's illness.

Eric continues to make good progress in his recovery; some of you may have noticed he even visited my blog earlier this week! Hopefully he'll be back in full action soon. Until then, Hadley Rille Books continues to move forward.

Our final excerpt from High Maga is a "throwing down of the gauntlet" of sorts between two of our minor characters, Adiana and Prince Mechnes. You've met each of these characters in previous posts, so without further ado, here's a peak at the first of many scenes between them.

High Maga

Chapter 12 (excerpt)

 
“I don’t intend to find a place among the Syrnte.” Adiana's breath stalled under the look Prince Mechnes gave her, a strange mixture of amusement and menace. “What I mean is, my home is here, in Moisehén, not with the Syrnte.”

“It’s all one kingdom now. Or perhaps better stated, will be soon.” Mechnes nodded to the guards. “Unbind this woman.”

In an instant, the cords that secured her wrists were removed. Adiana cradled her hands against her breast, rubbing the places where the leather straps had left her skin raw.

Mechnes closed the distance between them in two strides.

“You will have to find a place among us, Adiana, or you will perish. That is the way of conquest.” He took her hands in his and studied them carefully, strong fingers tracing the fine delicate length of her own. “What do you play?”

Adiana’s skin crawled at the intimacy of his touch. His aroma was sharp, like coals on the hearth, and laced with the smell of blood. She wanted desperately to look elsewhere, but could not. Mechnes’s massive frame filled her vision; his presence, at once sinister and magnetic, demanded all her attention.

“The cornamuse.” Her voice had dropped to a nervous whisper. “The dulcimer, and the lute, the short wood, as well. Among others.”

He pressed her hands between his. Adiana was visited by the sudden image of him snapping her fingers one by one, as if they were nothing more than dry twigs.

“I see you are telling the truth, in this much at least,” Mechnes said. “You have beautiful hands, Adiana. We must be grateful they were not damaged during the attack on Maga Eolyn’s Aekelahr. And we must also hope they will come to no harm here, under my care.”

A heavy silence followed. Adiana understood the unspoken threat that hovered between them. Who else would he ask? The children, the survivors of the siege, the members of Lord Felton’s household, if any of them still lived. There were untold numbers of people in Moehn who might give him the information he sought. What would Adiana’s deception gain for Eolyn in the end—fifteen minutes? Half an hour? It did not matter. Every additional moment could mean the difference between Eolyn’s escape and her death. Adiana had already lost one friend tonight. She would not betray the other.

She lowered her eyes and held her tongue.

~*~
 
Next week: Purchase links for HIGH MAGA.  Woohoo!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Publishers Weekly Reviews HIGH MAGA

Full cover, front and back, for HIGH MAGA.
Art by Thomas Vandenberg, cover design by Heather McDougal.
 
 
I'll be honest:  I didn't think it would happen, this late in the game, but HIGH MAGA has gotten some attention from a proper editorial magazine. Hooray! You can read the Publishers Weekly review at the permalink, but I've also copied it below for your convenience. 
 
PW always finds a way of needling the author, but in general it seems the reviewer was pleased with the story. I'm especially happy that s/he liked Adiana and Mage Corey. 
 
One more scene to be posted this Friday, and then next week it's launch time! 
 
 

High Maga

Karin Rita Gastreich.
Hadley Rille (Ingram, dist.), $16 trade paper (363p)
ISBN 978-0-9892631-9-1
 
Eolyn is a powerful high maga, a female mage, living in a maga community she founded in the peaceful town of Moehn. She assumes that she will never again see her onetime love, Akmael, now Mage King of Moisehén and married. But the ruthless young Rishona of the Syrnte Empire launches a war that forces Eolyn and Akmael to reunite in both love and battle. Gastreich’s sequel to Eolyn takes a while to find its feet and repeatedly undermines tension by telegraphing important plot points. War propels the book forward, and the characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst. Most of the shine comes from secondary characters like the musician Adiana and Mage Corey. Fans of Gastreich’s previous work will want to catch this continuation of her story. (May)
 
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Swords and Staves

When the going gets rough, who would you prefer to have at your side:  a brave knight or a cunning mage?

In High Maga, Eolyn has both. When the Syrnte invade Moehn and destroy her home, she finds herself alone in the highlands with Sir Borten, a loyal knight of the king who was assigned to her protection. Soon they are joined by Mage Corey, who took Eolyn under his wing years ago and still considers the maga his ward.

The alliance between Eolyn, Borten, and Corey is a fragile one haunted by failures of the past. Eolyn has reason to distrust both men. The knight and mage have no fondness for each other. As if this weren't enough, the Gods weave their mischievous magic with all three of them, striking sparks of attraction in unbidden moments. A volatile mix, these three, but if they are unable to overcome their differences and succeed in this task, they will perish and the rest of the kingdom with them.

Sir Borten


In my first novel Eolyn, Borten appears only twice. Both occasions play a crucial role in the realization of Akmael's fate as a king and ruler. Early in his reign, Akmael pardons Borten for a transgression that should have cost him his life. In return, Borten submits to his king with unfailing loyalty and becomes one of Akmael's most trusted servants.

Like Eolyn, Borten is a native of the isolated province of Moehn. It is partly for this reason that Akmael designates him captain of Eolyn's guard when she establishes her new Aekelahr

Though Borten has blood ties to the impoverished nobility of Moehn, his family is of low rank. This allows Corey to refer to him disparagingly as a "peasant knight", a habit that does little to encourage the knight's friendship. 

When I wrote Eolyn, I did not anticipate the importance Borten would eventually assume in the maga's journey. Indeed, even in the opening stages of High Maga, I had few plans for Borten beyond letting him wield his sword in the Eolyn's defense. 

Then one day, one of my critique partners said to me, "You should let Borten have a crush on Eolyn."

So I did. 

That's when Sir Borten's story became most interesting. . .


Mage Corey of East Selen


Corey was born to a family of magas and mages that ruled the eastern province of Moisehén.  One night when he was still a boy, his clan was massacred by the Mage King Kedehen. Corey escaped thanks to the intervention of his cousin Briana, who was captured by Kedehen and made queen.

At once a prisoner and adopted son of the royal family, Mage Corey struggles with conflicting motivations.  On the one hand, he desires vengeance for the obliteration of his clan. On the other hand, he is bound by loyalty to the few individuals who still share his bloodline, among them Briana’s and Kedehen’s only son, King Akmael. 

Corey and Eolyn first meet under the auspices of his Circle, a travelling show that brings the illusion of magic to the people of Moisehén. The mage recognizes Eolyn’s importance early on, but much time will pass before Eolyn fully understands the true extent of Corey’s power, and what his influence and ambitions will eventually mean for her.

The chemistry between Eolyn and Corey crackles with tension. Their relationship is one of constant disagreement, wary admiration, and latent attraction. Although Corey might be considered a minor character, his fate is tightly intertwined with Eolyn's. The final outcome of the saga, to be revealed in the third book Daughter of Aithne, will depend crucially on the resilience of this besieged friendship.

~*~

Next week, our final preview before the release of HIGH MAGA.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ghemena Plans Her Escape

We are getting very close - only two more excerpts left before High Maga is released on April 4th!

Today we meet two of the youngest members of Eolyn's Aekelahr, Ghemena and Tasha. This scene happens shortly after the invasion of Moehn. Eolyn's coven has been attacked, and Ghemena and Tasha taken prisoner. But little Ghemena is not one to remain bound and imprisoned. Already, she is planning her escape...

~*~


High Maga

Chapter 13 (excerpt)


Sitting up, Ghemena looked around the bare tent, illuminated by a thin shaft of light streaming through a break in the canvas. Catarina and Tasha slept, bodies curled side by side on the hard dirt floor, faces swollen from the many tears they had shed. With growing dread, Ghemena realized Mistress Adiana was not with them. 
Tasha whimpered and stirred. She lifted her head, tangled dark tresses hanging in her rounded face, and stared with bleary eyes at their grim surroundings before focusing on Ghemena.
“Where’s Mistress Adiana?” she asked.
A painful lump in Ghemena’s throat would not let her speak. She bit her lip, working her arms and wrists against each other, trying to get the blood to return to her fingers.
Tasha moaned and hid her face against Catarina’s shoulder. “This was supposed to be a dream. I was going to wake up, and have it all be a very bad dream.”
“We’ve no time to cry,” Ghemena replied sharply. “We have to get out of here as fast as we can.”
Tasha dragged herself away from Catarina’s sleeping figure and sat up. She pointed to her bound arms with her chin. “How are we supposed to escape tied up like this? And where would we go if we did? You saw the town last night. Nothing’s left of it, and those horrible men are everywhere.”
“I have a way to find Maga Eolyn, but I have to free my hands first.” A burning sensation moved through her palms, followed by the prick of a thousand pins on her fingers. Ghemena knew this was a good sign.
“What way?” asked Tasha.
“A magic way. Maga Eolyn showed me how before she left. I’m going find her and tell her what’s happened, and then she’ll come to rescue you.”
“You mean we can’t go with you?” Tasha’s brow furrowed and she glanced nervously at Catarina. “Don’t leave us alone here. Please.”
Ghemena stopped fidgeting and gave Tasha a worried frown. “I don’t think it’ll work with more than one of us.”
“Why not?”
“Maga Eolyn never said anything about taking more than one person.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”
“No,” Ghemena conceded doubtfully. “I guess we can try.”
“Promise me you’ll try, Ghemena.” Tasha’s eyes were wide beneath her dark brows. “Promise me you won’t leave without us.”
Ghemena looked at her friend. Tasha had always been the quiet one, forever trying to make peace between Ghemena and Catarina.
“We’re sisters,” Ghemena said. “We must be loyal to each other, right?”
Tasha grinned and nodded.
“So you see then, I won’t leave you alone, Ghemena assured her. I can’t.”

~*~

Next week, everyone's favorite mage: Corey of East Selen.