"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, 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!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Eolyn's Amazing Audio Book Tour and Giveaway

Welcome to our month-long celebration of the release of the audio edition of Eolyn!

We have a lot of exciting activities planned over the next four weeks, including author interviews, posts about magic, and previews of Darla Middlebrook's wonderful interpretation of this epic tale.

Best of all, as part of the tour you have the opportunity to win a FREE copy of the audio book! Just sign up for the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, or at any of the stops on the tour. Five copies are being raffled. There are lots of opportunities for entries. The winners will be announced at the end of the tour on August 11. 

Many thanks to The Magic Appreciation Tour for helping me put together this awesome list of blog stops. Join us for a virtual adventure through the Kingdom of Mosiehén. All are welcome. Enjoy!

July 14-Aug 11 Eolyn's Amazing Audio Book Tour and Giveaway  

Scroll down to enter for your chance to win one of five FREE copies 
of the audible edition of Eolyn. Winners will be announced on August 11th. 

July 14  The Places that Inspired Eolyn's World: Talamanca. Eolyn's source of magical power can be found in the South Woods, a dense wilderness inspired by the highlands of Costa Rica. Learn about these forests and why I love them so at DelSheree Gladden's The Edible Bookshelf.

July 16 Author Interview at The Story Teller's Inn. Join me and fellow author Susan Stuckey for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat about all things magical

July 18  Magic in Eolyn's World.  A full overview of the history and structure of magic in the Kingdom of Moisehén. Join us for a discussion of this and other systems of magic at Daniel Marvello's The Vaetra Files

July 21 Dragon. Author Lori Fitzgerald's recent release The Dragon's Message provides a perfect opportunity to talk about the role of Dragon in Eolyn's world. Stop by and share your favorite dragon stories, too!

July 23 The Origins of Magic.  Every young mage and maga learns this story. Now, thanks to a special request by author Matthew Reuter, you will learn it, too!

July 25 Author Interview with Heidi Lynne Burke.  My second author interview on the tour.  Questions about what inspired Eolyn, why an audiobook, and what to expect next from Eolyn's world.

July 28 Aen-lasati: The Magic of Love and Desire One of my favorite posts about one of the most intriguing yet controversial aspects of Eolyn's world. Check it out at author Tracy Falbe's blog, Her Ladyship's Quest.

July 30 The Romantic Leads of Eolyn.  A visit to Marsha Moore's blog Illusions of Intimacy inspires the romantic in me. Learn about the men who compete for Eolyn's heart -- and the readers' hearts, as well!

August 1 Born of Fire: the Ancient Forests of East Selen.  The forests of the Pacific Northwest reflect the wild beauty of the home of the Clan of East Selen, an ancient and powerful line of mages and magas. Explore these forests with me on Linda Ulleseit's blog Books Books Books.

Aug 4 Chat at the Independent Bookworm.  Author Will Hahn and I kick back for a friendly chat about the ups, downs, ins, and outs of producing an audio book. Bring your questions, and help yourself to the virtual brownies at the back of the room.

Aug 8 Author Interview with Eliabeth Hawthorne.  My last stop on the tour is a visit with the co-authors of the YA fantasy series Blind Sight.  If you've got any lingering questions about Eolyn and it's audio edition, here is your chance to ask them!

On August 11, Winners of Amazing Audio Book Tour Giveaway will be announced on this site! Good luck to all our participants. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Checking in From Las Cruces

On the trail in Amistad Biosphere Reserve.
 This summer has been so extraordinarily active, I've had very little time to just "hang out" on the internet.

All in all, NAPIRE has been an amazing new journey through Costa Rica. From the lowland Caribbean forests to the high reaches of the Talamanca mountain ranges, we have seen a lot in a very short period of time.  The students are running a great blog about the program, and I invite you to visit their website. There are a lot of photos and updates on the various sites we have visited, including La Selva Biological Station, the Bribri indigenous community, and of course, Las Cruces.

My role this summer is very different from previous NAPIRE programs. As a NAPIRE mentor, I was basically out in the forest every single day. Now, I am more tied to the station as we seek to facilitate some twenty research projects over the next few weeks.

Still, I get my chances. Yesterday I took a half-day hike up the Ridge Trail and along the Wilson loop. I was able to visit the plants that my students have worked with in the past.  They are looking well; probably enjoying the rest from nosy scientists like me.

Wildlife was a little scarce compared to previous summers; no monkeys or snakes or elusive cat-like animals. I did come across a giant toad. Well situated in the middle of the path, it sat like a stone while I took pictures. Not one of my photos really did it justice, but at least it was patient with all the flashes.

Our happy-go-lucky group at the peak of Cerro Chai.
We spent last weekend at Las Alturas Biological Station, on the border of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve in Costa Rica. Amistad stretches across the Talamanca mountain range into Panama and provides a home for many montane ecosystems, including the highland oak forests that inspired Eolyn. There we saw countless animals, including two species of monkeys, various birds, and a wonderful variety of colorful butterflies. I was secretly hoping to come across the giant peccaries I saw two years ago, but no such luck on this trip.

Las Alturas and Las Cruces are not that distant from each other, and are only 300m apart in elevation. So it's always striking to see the difference in animal life between the two sites. Probably the main reason for fewer mammal species at Las Cruces is that the forest here is much smaller and more isolated.

The station director, Dr. Rakan Zahawi, has done a great job of adding pieces to the reserve over the past decade, bringing the total area to about 250 hectares. Still, that pales compared to the 570,000 has set aside for La Amistad International Park.

A glimpse of the vast expanse of La Amistad.
There is a long term project to connect Las Cruces to the nearby Ngobe Indigenous Territory, and from there create a corridor that runs all the way from Amistad to the Pacific lowlands. A corridor that size would transform the natural landscape and ensure the future of wildlife in the region. If you're looking for a great conservation cause to contribute to, visit OTS' website and make a donation to Las Cruces Biological Station. You can specify what you want your donation to go to; in this case, indicate the funds are for land purchases for the biological corridor.

Speaking of great causes, Hadley Rille Books indiegogo campaign is in full swing, and looking for more donations. Hadley Rille Books provides a different sort of habitat for another rare and beautiful species, the True Heroine. There are many great perks for all levels of donation, but the best perk of all is knowing your money is going toward a quality small press that supports historically underrepresented voices in the genre. Please visit their site to learn more about the campaign and make your contribution today.

Last but not least:  Eolyn's Amazing Audio Book Tour is about to begin!  I've coordinated this tour through Daniel Marvelo's Magic Appreciation Tour network, and added a couple friends of my own in the mix. In addition to many great posts about magic, publishing, and the adventure of producing an audio book, the tour will include a giveaway of 5 free copies of the audio edition of Eolyn. I will post the full tour schedule by Monday, July 14th, so look for that in the coming days.

Those are the updates for now. I'll leave you with this fun video by Juan Luis Guerra; it's a song that has for some reason become my personal theme for Summer 2014. (Must be the road trip through the Latin American country side!) Enjoy.

Pura Vida!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Appeal of the "Underdog"

Costa Rica's National Soccer Team
It's so exciting to be in Costa Rica this summer, with the national soccer team carving out its little piece of history in the World Cup.

A couple weeks ago, even Costa Ricans were doubtful that their team would make it past the first round. Group D, which included Uruguay, Italy, and England, was popularly referred to as El Grupo de la Muerte, or "The Group of Death".

Then on June 14th, Costa Rica defeated Uruguay with a stunning 3-1 win. Since then, the entire country has watched each game with bated breath, and celebrated each victory with increasing confidence and enthusiasm.

I watched yesterday's game against Greece on a small, old-style television set here in Las Cruces. We were a modest group, but we packed the room that was available to us. Many NAPIRE students and mentors opted to travel to nearby San Vito to see the event in restaurants and bars. It was a long and difficult game; toward the end our collective experience degenerated into a series of groans and cheers. We were all sweating so much our little room began to smell like a futbol locker.

Keylor Navas and Michael Umaña moments after making
When Keylor Navas deflected Greece's fourth shot, everyone in the room fell silent. Those seconds while Michael Umaña stepped forward, set down the ball, and prepared for his kick were probably the longest I've ever experienced during a soccer game.

Then in split second, it was over. The ball shot past Karnezis, and Costa Rica had won.

Costa Rica had WON!!

Shouts, dancing, and hugs exploded not only in our little TV room in Las Cruces, but across the nation.  For hours after the game, one could watch televised reports of the riot of celebration that took hold of Costa Ricans everywhere.

I've sung the praises of Costa Rica many times and for many reasons. Once again I'm impressed by how this little country holds in own in the big leagues, in politics, conservation, and now in sports. Not without effort, and certainly not without cost. But always with a sense of joyful determination, a passion for the game that often pays off.

Costa Ricans celebrate the win against Greece in one
of the major intersections of San Jose.
As a Gringa, I sometimes think my own country has lost something along the way when I witness events like these. We no longer seem to have national projects, not even in sports, that pull us together as a nation, and the fill us with shared joy when an extraordinary goal is reached.  The Olympics used to fill that hole, but those games don't seem to resonate among Americans like they used to when I was a little girl. The Space Program was another effort that brought the nation together decades ago, but that too has fallen out of fashion with the current generation.

Tomorrow, the U.S. team will play Belgium in the World Cup, hoping for its own spot in the Round of Eight. I'll be watching that game with baited breath, too. I hope we win, but even if we do, I know the party back home won't be nearly as good as yesterday's party in Costa Rica.

...Let me just close by saying that I simply must use the name Keylor in one of my future fantasy novels.

Pura Vida.
Felicidades, Costa Rica!