"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, May 30, 2010

My Brush With Greatness

This weekend, I attended ConQuest, Kansas City’s own science fiction and fantasy conference. It was my first ‘con’ ever, as both a fan and an author. I sat on a panel for Hadley Rille (shown in the picture on the left), with authors Michael Swanwick, Christopher McKitterick, M.C. Chambers and editor Eric T. Reynolds. I also attended several other panel sessions, spoke with many interesting people, and all around just had a really fun time.

One of the great things about ConQuest is it is a small convention, which means there's the potential for one-on-one time with famous people that you might not get in other places. Yesterday I had a full 10 minutes with one of my personal heroes, George RR Martin. He was very approachable, and easy to talk to. I made him sign all my volumes of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (I only have three actually – haven’t yet purchased the fourth). He noticed the 'author' flag on my name tag and asked about my work, so I told him a little about EOLYN, too.

I was not particularly well read in fantasy when I started writing EOLYN, and it wasn’t until about a year into crafting this novel when A GAME OF THRONES was recommended to me. I was struggling with a very specific issue just then. I wanted to find effective ways to integrate the history of Moisehen into my story – to make it a seamless part of the plot, as opposed to an annex, or a prologue, or a ‘data dump’ chapter somewhere midway through the novel. Laura Hardenbrook and Joe Baric, both members of DHS, thought Martin would be a good place to start as an example of how to accomplish this.

I have to admit: EOLYN almost died the day I started reading A GAME OF THRONES. The prologue alone was brilliant – gripping, vivid and terrifying - and found myself thinking, “Why do I even bother, if there’s someone out there who can do what George RR Martin does?”

But in the long run, it was through reading A GAME OF THRONES - and other fantasy novels -that I learned appreciate my own work. I came to realize that all of us who write fantasy have something unique to offer to the craft, and whether great or small, our individual contribution is always valuable. So I went on to finish EOLYN, and I am very very happy that I did. I think you will be, too!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Origin of Magic

Truth is, I don't like listening to recordings of me. But I'll let you guys do it. This is a gift from my friend Brent Bowen, a wonderful author & member of my local writer's group, the Dead Horse Society (DHS). It's a recording of a reading I did last fall with several other DHS authors - my first public reading ever. I read ALL of chapter five, where Ghemena tells Eolyn how magic was given to her people. So it was quite a preview. But it was also very looooong. 13 minutes!

For your benefit, I've spliced this version to about 8 minutes. (It took me the better part of the afternoon to figure out how to do that, by the way - I've never spliced a video before!) Shorter, but you may still want to get a cup of coffee or tea or something before you sit down to listen.

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 24, 2010


"A house of sweet bread! Who would invent such nonsense?"

This is one of my favorite quotes from EOLYN. In chapter 2, Ghemena, a maga of the Old Orders, pokes fun at imaginative villagers and their stories of old hags in edible houses. Of course, in so doing, she also pokes fun at me, the author, who - having declared that gingerbread houses are just so much nonsense - proceeds to lead the reader into a world where an amulet transports a prince halfway across his kingdom, where a young woman learns to shapeshift and cast flames from the palm of her hand, and where dragons sail fierce and silent over mist-covered forests.

I've often been asked why I write fantasy. I write fantasy because I wanted to write Eolyn's story, and Eolyn lives in a fantasy world.

So the real question is this: why did I write EOLYN?

Now, this novel has been brewing for a very long time, and many events, places, stories and dreams influenced the 118,000 (or so) words that became the novel. So I can't cover all the "why's" of Eolyn in a single post. What I can do is start off with a few guesses, and leave the rest for posts to come.

My earliest memories of scenes from EOLYN come from my college years - times when I was daydreaming, perhaps, instead of paying attention in lecture. Or listening to music instead of reading the next chapter of my textbook. I didn't have any names for the characters, or a story outline, or anything written down for that matter. But I knew Eolyn would lose her family to a violent fate, and that this event would somehow be connected to an act committed by her mother. I knew Eolyn would be a gifted maga in a world where magic was forbidden to women, and that her nemesis - the Mage King - would, through some trick of destiny, also be her closest friend.

It's probably no coincidence that my college years were also marked by my first reading of JRR Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy -- we'd be hard pressed to find any fantasy writer who has not been inspired by this great author. I remember loving those books, and yet - as a young woman - feeling disappointed by the lack of engaging, well-rounded female characters. Now, in the 20 years since I read 'Lord of the Rings', women have carved out their place in fantasy, and there are many many books and movies that feature strong female protagonists - often written by incredible women, like Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Still, given that the first stirrings of EOLYN came at a time when I was reading Tolkien, I have to recognize that a driving force in the creation of this novel was a very personal need to have a fantasy story in which women played meaningful and complex roles - where they, too, could change the course of history, or make courageous decisions that alter the destiny of their people - even if they lived in a world largely ruled by men.

In short, Eolyn is a protagonist I can relate to and admire, a woman capable of overcoming extraordinary challenges and making a positive difference in a brutal world.

And there is nothing nonsensical about that.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

EOLYN to be published by Hadley Rille Books in 2011

This is one of the most exciting times of my life.

Just three days ago, Eric T. Reynolds of Hadley Rille Books contacted me with the good news. I had already set up this blog - worked out formats, images, content, etc. - but I never anticipated that my first official post would be this announcement:

EOLYN is going to be published by Hadley Rille Books in 2011.

Like me, Hadley Rille is based in Kansas City. I first found out about them through my local writer's group, the Dead Horse Society. Last fall, I attended a Hadley Rille event - the book opening of Kim Vandervort's wonderful novel The Song and the Sorceress. It was this book - which follows a courageous and determined heroine through a world rich in adventure and history - that inspired me to submit my own manuscript to Hadley Rille. I thought, "If they like Ki'leah, perhaps they will like Eolyn too." And I was right! Hooray!

Now, what was going to be a blog about writing my book will also be a blog about publishing my book. But most of all, this blog is about the amazing journey I've had - am having, will continue to have - with "Eolyn". Everything that I've experienced and learned through writing (and now publishing!) her story is everything that I want to share with you.

So welcome to the adventure! I look forward to sharing it with you.

Today's photo was taken in Talamanca, Costa Rica - the same forests that inspired Eolyn's childhood home in the South Woods.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Thanks for dropping by to see my new blog!

I'm working on getting things set up, so regular posts won't start for another week or so. In the mean time, if you have comments or suggestions about content & layout - or questions about my novel 'Eolyn' - please let me know.

I'm looking forward to your next visit, and I'm very excited to tell you more about Eolyn.