"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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ask the Author

This week I'm trying out Goodreads new "Ask the Author" program as a way of engaging with readers and other lovers of fantasy, sci fi, and historical fiction. If you're a Goodreads member, please visit my profile page for a chance to ask any questions you like about my books, writing, and publishing in general.  Friend and follow me, too! I'm always looking to widen my circle of fellow book lovers, and I'd love to see you in that neck of the virtual woods.

Don't forget we are running a Goodreads Giveaway for High Maga. The Giveaway ends on September 30. You can enter by clicking the announcement at the end of this post, or on the right hand bar of the blog.

Last week, I started back in my regular slot on Heroines of Fantasy. If you haven't already, stop by to check out my latest post on romantic elements in epic fantasy. For the next six months, I will have a regular spot on HoF every second Monday of the month.

As HoF coordinator for September and October, I am also lining up our guest posts. On September 22, DelSheree Gladden returns to talk about her dark and intriguing Wicked Hunger series. September 29, we will welcome Jon Cleaves, owner of DGS Games, in a first-ever post from a gaming master. On October 27 we will feature historical fiction and fantasy author Joseph Finley.

Only two weeks left before we move this blog to the new website at krgastreich.com. That move will be celebrated with some very special offers, events, and giveaways as well. Stay tuned!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

High Maga by Karin Rita Gastreich

High Maga

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Magic of Kir

I am very happy today to welcome L. Blankenship as a guest author. I met L. Blankenship through the Magic Appreciation Tour.

L. Blankenship started writing animal stories as a kid and it's just gotten completely out of hand since then. Now she's out publishing her gritty fantasy and hard science fiction adventures. L grew up in New Hampshire but currently lives near Washington, DC.

L. Blankenship has written a great post on the unique magic system of her Disciple series. Please join me in welcoming her to the blog!

A simple plan

The kir-magic system in Disciple is rooted in three deceptively simple rules:

1. All magical charms (spells) are fueled by kir.
2. The laws of physics, conservation of mass and energy, etc., fully apply.
3. No other “para-normal” forces or beings actually exist.


Kir is sort of a cold plasma that’s reactive to willpower. The stuff wells up out of the earth in select places called founts. Kir founts always involve a water spring as well, regardless of whether a spring “ought” to be in that location, and kir-laced water is especially bright, clear, and attractive.

There’s energy inherent in kir. In its raw state, it takes the form of a green mist that even un-gifted people (or animals) can detect when it’s close by or concentrated. Drinking kir-laced water or absorbing raw kir is energizing for anybody, but few people get the chance to do that.  Since kir is in limited supply, it’s carefully controlled.

Humans generate small amounts of surplus kir simply by living -- it’s an energy reserve, both biological and mental. It’s only enough for one small charm every few days, though. Once used in a charm, kir disintegrates and returns to the earth.

Laws of physics

Within these, kir can do almost anything. I took a fairly conservative, reality-based version of physics -- no quantum effects or anything too theoretical, and came up with these limitations:
  • No teleportation. Time/space can’t be torn open, worm-holed or otherwise screwed with.
  • No clairvoyance/ESP. See above.
  • No true telepathy or mind reading. Body language can be read to a fine degree and that can resemble mind-reading. Saint-bonds allow for a limited sort of telepathy.
  • No “luck” manipulation.
  • No prophesy.
  • No “spirit-walking”.
  • Conservation of mass applies to shape-shifters, though they can play with their density a bit if they are skilled enough.
Plus two rules:

Line-of-sight limitation. Charms cannot be targeted at something or someone the caster cannot see. If the enemy’s standing behind a door, it’s perfectly legit to kill him by ramming the door into the far wall -- but you can’t telekinetically reach through the keyhole and strangle him, for example.

Only kir cuts kir. When it’s acting under the influence of a mage, kir can project force. It can be a club or a blade, but no ordinary club or blade can break it. Kir-blades also have an unnerving ability to “skip” armor or flesh and cut through the victim’s vitals. So when a kir-mage goes on a rampage, the goodfolk’s only defense is another kir-mage.

Only game in town

The goodfolk believe in kobolds (goblins), shades (ghosts), various denizens of the Winter Wood (hell), and things like luck, fate, or prophetic visions -- but these spring from the same roots as they do in our world.

Innate skill

Everyone has at least a little ability to manipulate kir. Training will improve one’s skill, but the ultimate limit is determined by innate talent. Technically speaking, this a multi-factor para-genomic predisposition which I am not going to clarify any further than that.

Saints are the strongest of the kir-mages, and the Elect are the next step down. It’s said that there might be a hundred saints in the world, at any given time. Perhaps two or three hundred Elect.

As of Disciple, Part V, Kate has reached the rank of Elect and works directly with Saint Qadeem in defending the kingdom against the invading Empire. The rest of her life, however, is in shambles. Love and war have both taken their toll on her, but she must find her strength and face the final attack.

Back cover

Kate faces winter with a broken heart: betrayed by one lover, the other lost to her.

Kiefan will not give up on the alliance his kingdom desperately needs — even though the Caer queen refuses to speak to him.

Anders, alone and despairing, faces the Empress’s seductive offers of power and privilege.

Each of them must carry the ongoing war in their own way, whether cold, alone, or backed into a corner. Each must patch together a broken heart as best they can. Duty will throw them together soon enough and they must be ready.
On Sale Now!
Read Disciple, Part I for FREE

Disciple, Part VI ends the series early next year!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop

I am very happy today to welcome author Linda Ulleseit to my blog.

Linda was born and raised in Saratoga, California, and has taught elementary school in San Jose since 1996. She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family. Her favorite subject is writing, and her students get a lot of practice scribbling stories and essays. Someday Linda hopes to see books written by former students alongside hers in bookstores.

Her first novel, ON A WING AND A DARE, was published in 2012. It is a Young Adult fantasy set in medieval Wales, complete with flying horses, a love triangle, and treachery. It’s sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER, was released March, 2013. The focus of that book is the misty past of a groom and the murky future of a rider. The last book in the trilogy is UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, May 2014. It follows a brother and sister, new to High Meadow, who become involved in a plot to steal flying horses.

As a child, Linda always loved to write. She took her first creative writing course in seventh grade, accumulating a closet full of stories that she never showed anyone until 2007. At that time, she gave the first draft of a flying horse book to a teacher colleague to read. ON A WING AND A DARE began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2009. It was revised with the help of reviewers on thenextbigwriter.com over the next two years. For NaNo 2011, Linda drafted the sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER. NaNoWriMo 2012 brought the first draft of UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, and NaNoWriMo 2013 saw the completion of UNDER THE ALMOND TREES. This last is a historical fiction that follows three women who struggle for women’s rights in early California.

Linda has also written a novella titled WINGS OVER TREMEIRCHSON, released as an ebook in Fall 2013. It follows the story of Hoel and Neste, parents of a main character in ON A WING AND A DARE. 

Linda is celebrating the new school year with a month-long blog hop. Check out her novels below; you just might find your next favorite book. You can visit Linda at her blog Books Books Books

Book Blurb: Flying horses…a love triangle…poison….Welcome to Tremeirchson.

In Tremeirchson, a barn leader’s children are expected to follow their parents into the sky, becoming riders of the magnificent winged horses that are the medieval Welsh village’s legacy. Neither Emma nor Davyd, however, want to follow that tradition.

Sixteen-year-old Emma risks losing her family by following her heart. Eager to take her place in the air, she longs to ride a forbidden winged colt born in barn of her father’s biggest rival. She also dreams of the rival’s sons, not sure which she truly loves. Bold and exciting, Evan will someday lead his father’s barn. Davyd is quieter, more dependable, with an ability to get things done. Her father disapproves of both boys and pushes her toward an ambitious newcomer. He also insists she ride the colt he’s picked for her.

Davyd, also sixteen, is plagued with a secret—he is afraid of heights. Refusing to become a rider means public humiliation, his parents’ disappointment, and lifelong ridicule from his brother, Evan. He reluctantly prepares to join his family aloft in the Aerial Games that provide the entire village with its livelihood and tries desperately to think of an alternative.

As Tremeirchson’s barns prepare for the Rider Ceremony, winged horses suddenly start dying. Shocked, the adults hesitate, mired in tradition and politics. Is it a disease or poison? Accidental or purposeful? Someone must discover the answer and act before all the winged horses in the world are gone forever.


Book blurb:
Nineteen year old Nia is shocked when she is secretly offered the leadership of Third Barn. This new barn full of flying horses will need someone confident, experienced, and innovative, so why are both warring factions pursuing an untried girl? Suspicious that both sides want a puppet instead of a leader, Nia races to discover their secrets before making the biggest decision of her life.

Some of those secrets are unknowingly buried in the disconnected memories of a young groom named Owain. Terror and guilt haunt Owain’s dreams – and then a face from his nightmare arrives in High Meadow. Owain looks for answers in his past and uncovers a dangerous plot that could doom High Meadow's future. How can he foil the plot and save his people as well as the winged horses?


Ralf knows he must take over his father’s bakery, but is it wrong to want some adventure before he does? New to High Meadow, he is befriended by the beautiful and dangerous Branwen, who has her own goal—to entice Ralf to help her steal a winged horse and return it to Tremeirchson.

Meanwhile, Ralf’s sister, Alyna, dives into barn life. Becoming a groom to a winged foal is a lot of responsibility to the horse, to the barn, and to her father, who idolizes the wrong barn leader. Politics, greed, and revenge swirl around the teenaged siblings as they struggle to be true to their family and their future.

WINGS OVER TREMEIRCHSON (a flying horse novella)
Book Blurb: Eighteen year old Neste rides a winged horse in Tremeirchson's Aerial Games and she is betrothed to the barn leader's son, Hoel. Life would be wonderful if Hoel wasn't so unpleasant to the other riders. Adam, on the other hand, is handsome and nice but a terrible rider. Together, Hoel and Adam are the perfect man. Obviously she can't have both of them. When Neste's winged horse is involved in a terrible accident, her life changes and she must make different choices about her future. Can she go against her father's dying wish that she marry Hoel? Can she forgive Adam? Can she make a life away from the barn and the winged horses she loves?



Under the Almond Trees is the story of my family – three ordinary women in California who lived extraordinary lives. It started with a falling tree branch that killed Ellen VanValkenburgh’s husband in 1862, forcing her to assume leadership of his paper mill, something women weren’t allowed to do. Women weren’t allowed to vote yet, either. Ellen decided that had to change, and became a suffragette. In 1901, Emily Williams , Ellen’s daughter-in-law, became an architect – very much against her family’s wishes. No one would hire a woman, but Emily would not be deterred. She and her life partner Lillian set out to build homes themselves. By the 1930’s women enjoyed more freedom, including the vote. Even so, Ellen’s granddaughter Eva VanValkenburgh chose a traditional life of marriage and children, even closing her photography business at her husband’s insistence. When he later refused to pay for their daughter’s college education, Eva followed the example of her Aunt Emily and reopened her photography business. I am proud to call these women family and honored to share their story.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dicho y Hecho

What does Dicho y Hecho mean?

"Said and Done."

When I get a project in my head - something I am really exciting about - it's almost impossible for me to think about anything else until I get that project done.

This can be both a blessing and a curse, but I like to think that more often than not, it's a blessing.

Last month I got it in my head that I wanted a proper web site - that is, a domain that carries my name. This is not a new idea; I've been toying with it almost since I published my first novel. But for many reasons, now seems the right time. I have several publications out and more on the way. I have a better idea now of how I want to engage with my readers and develop my brand as an author. I've also been around on the internet and interacted with enough authors to know what website platforms are out there, and which of those might work best for me.

So [drum roll please], I have at last purchased my own domain and set up a true author web site.  You can visit me now at http://krgastreich.com. In fact, I cannot wait to see you there! I am integrating the site with my Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads accounts, so we can have various avenues of communication converging in one place.

I will also, at the end of this month, move my blog to krgastreich.com. All of my past posts, from 2010 forward, will be exported to the new domain, and as of September 30 I will no longer be sharing new posts here. The blogspot site will remain on line for archival purposes, and also to receive and redirect any stray visitors who still have the old address.

I am very excited about this move and I sincerely hope you will make it with me. Click on the image below to stop by the new site. Sign up to follow via email or wordpress, and let the adventure continue. I look forward to receiving you in my new home!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Plans and Prospects

Nothing pleases a geek more than
a fresh set of bookshelves!
Classes have started now at Avila, and wow! We have hit the ground running. New offices, new labs, new faculty, new students, new textbooks, new courses, and soon in my house - out of necessity - a new air conditioner.

Sometimes it seems the whole universe has gone into renewal mode. Not surprisingly, I am inspired to follow suit.

Setting up my new office and labs at Avila has been thoroughly exciting. The space is so much more comfortable than what I had before, with a big desk and proper bookshelves, and most important, space to receive and meet with students. The first time I walked into my office, I thought, "I could have a party in here!" In a sense, I will be hosting a party, an academic party focused on supporting students in their journey through the exciting and challenging field of biology.

Maybe I'll inspire a few of them to write, too.

Having new digs on campus has pricked my skin a little, and now I want new digs on line, too. I've been thinking a lot these past few weeks about new and better forums for engaging with fans of Eolyn and readers of fantasy.

Typically about once a year I remodel my blog, and that will almost certainly happen again between now and December. But I would also like to set up an entirely new 'virtual' office. So I am in the process of designing a proper website, a domain that carries my name and that will serve as a central gathering point for readers interested in the kinds of stories I have to offer.

Konza Prairie is the destination for our new interdisciplinary
course, Ecology Through the Writer's Lens.
There's no tight deadline on the new web site, but as a loose goal I intend to have something up and running for the World Fantasy Convention at the beginning of November. It may happen before then, depending on time and inspiration.

For those of you who follow this blog, Eolyn Chronicles will continue to be my place for weekly posts. The website will include links to this site as well as to Heroines of Fantasy. 

What do I want from my new web site? I want it to be cosy, exciting, inviting. I hope that, upon arriving at the site, my visitors will feel welcome, and that they will have the sense of standing on the threshold of a great and magical adventure.  To that end, I'm working on banner ideas, text copy, and so forth. As the web site comes together, I will probably make changes here and on my Facebook page to have continuity between the different platforms.

This is the start of the exciting news - there is more to come. This fall I will be welcoming guest authors and hosting giveaways and special offers. We are also looking forward to the release of an audio edition of High Maga before the year is out. And of course, work continues on Daughter of Aithne. 

Those are the updates for the moment. Have something new in your life right now? I'd love to hear about it! Let the fun begin.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I've had to hit the ground running after an amazing and intense summer with the Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience (NAPIRE) Program in Costa Rica.

With classes starting on Wednesday at Avila, I am working hard to organize syllabi and lectures.  I have one brand new course plus two courses with new edition textbooks. So there's a lot of work ahead in the coming months, but also a lot of excitement.

The new general biology lab at Avila University.
As if preparing for class weren't enough, we have brand new installations in O'Reilly Hall. Offices and labs were gutted last summer and completely remodeled.  I have a beautiful office complete with shiny new furniture and REAL bookshelves. I also, for the first time since joining the faculty at Avila, have my own designated lab for personal and student research.  Setting up house in the new digs this week has been a real joy, but also a real distraction. At this point I'm not sure just what I will have ready for my students by the time classes start on Wednesday (save for my bright and happy smile), but I've been in this business long enough to know that somehow it will all get done.

Speaking of that "somehow", while the NAPIRE experience was unforgettable, and while I am so very glad I participated in the program as co-coordinator this year, it is true that the decision to work at Las Cruces meant some sacrifices in other parts of my life.

My niece with Grandpa, Dad, and cousin Gary at the
King Tut exhibit, Union Station, Kansas City, Missoui.
One of those sacrifices was time with my family, most especially my husband, but I also missed a valuable opportunity to see my brother when he came through Kansas City with my nieces, ages 3 and 6, this summer. He and his family live in Hong Kong, so every moment they spend with us in the States is precious, especially with the girls growing up so fast.

The other sacrifice was my writing. Summer has traditionally been a time to get a significant chunk done on the WIP (work in progress), but with the level of dedication required to keep NAPIRE running, it just wasn't possible to move forward that much on Eolyn's final adventure in Daughter of Aithne. 

That being said, I can't really complain. While I didn't get as much done as I would have liked, I did complete the revision of the first 70,000 words of the manuscript, which began last January. During the course of eight months, I threw out major chunks of material, rewrote entire scenes and chapters, and tightened up everything that I decided to keep. And while the word count ticker didn't moved that much, I am approaching the 80K mark on this project. I guess that's nothing to sneeze at.

All things considered, this is where I wanted
to be this summer. Everything else would
just have to wait.
I also at last finished my short story submission for the Faelon Anthology, a special project of DGS Games and the Dead Horse Society. Will they accept it? I don't know, but at least I managed to write a short story, and one that I am proud of.

Those of you who follow my blog may be aware that short stories are my nemesis. I have a couple out there floating around, but for the most part it's hard for me to confine my story telling to something inside 5000 or 10,000 words.  The Faelon short, for the moment entitled "Lamya of the Sea" clocks in at around 6500 words. I started it last November and finished about two weeks ago, which puts my average on this one at 650 words a month.

Sometimes I despair at how little writing I can get done with all my other commitments, but if the Faelon project has taught me anything, it is that the old saying still holds true:

Slow and steady wins the race. 

With the fall semester just starting, you can look forward to regular posts on this blog again. Many thanks to everyone who followed me during the summer as I blog hopped during Eolyn's Amazing Audio Book Tour.  High Maga is scheduled for release this fall, so be looking for another blog tour and giveaway not too far down the road.

My other family: NAPIRE 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Winners of Eolyn's Audio Book Giveaway

Many thanks to everyone who participated in Eolyn's Amazing Audio Book Tour and Giveaway! We had so many Rafflecopter entries that I decided to be extra generous and give away seven free copies instead of five. (Many thanks to my publisher Hadley Rille Books for being amenable to this idea!) The winners are:

Keri Rison
Elliot Waugh
Blair Smyth
Zoe Blair
Lora Madera
Rob Finney
Lucki Grrl

If you are on the winner's list and you haven't heard from me by email, drop me a line at eolyn.of.the.south.woods[at]gmail[dot]com. I will get your download code to you right away.

Thank you again, and enjoy the adventure!