"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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Celebrating the Journey

March is my birthday month.  As part of my celebration, I'll be using the Facebook Page for EOLYN to post a thank you to all the people and places that helped me somewhere along the way in the writing of this novel.  I'll post one 'thank you' per day -- and that may very well carry me to the end of the month or beyond.

By then, we will be at most a month away from the release date for EOLYN.  So at last, all of you who have been waiting faithfully, reading my blog and accompanying me on this journey to publication, will be able to read the novel about which I have spoken so much.  Hadley Rille Books will release EOLYN in hardback, paperback, and electronic format, including for the Kindle and the Nook.  There is also the possibility of an audio version, but that will be a little further down the road.

(Just this past week, by the way, Hadley Rille released nook versions of several of its existing titles, for just $5 a piece.  There is something for everyone on this list -- science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction, including some of my personal favorites, like THE SONG AND THE SORCERESS by Kimberly Vandervort, THE PRIESTESS AND THE SLAVE by Jenny Blackford, FINDER by Terri-Lynne DeFino, and TRANSCENDENCE by Chris McKitterick.  To see what all is available, visit editor Eric T. Reynold's blog by clicking HERE.) 

I have been proofing the ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of EOLYN this last week, and while I've found a fair number of small edits I would like to make before we go to print, I must say that I believe this will be a wonderful story for you to read.  Eolyn's journey is a tale that touches the heart, engaging from beginning to end. That is, of course, my biased opinion, but I'm confident that you will agree when the time comes for you to get to know this admirable protagonist and all the characters that populate her world.  This story is for you, and I truly hope that you enjoy it.

It's hard to believe we are really approaching the final stretch here.  Lately I've been reflecting on the experience of writing in general, and of writing EOLYN in particular, and the old saying it's not the destination that matters, but the journey keeps returning to my thoughts.  I am delighted with the destination I'm seeing on the horizon, but in looking back I realize what gives that destination meaning is the journey that has brought me here.  The emergence of the need to write this story, the discovery of my own creative power, the revelation of every aspect of Eolyn and her world, the exploration of the craft of writing and especially fantasy writing. Most of all, the many colleagues and friends that I would not have met if this novel had not brought us together in one way or another. 

So, I'm finishing February in a nostalgic mood, and looking forward to a month of thanksgiving in March.  And soon, oh so soon, after that we will have the biggest celebration of the year (if I may say so myself), with EOLYN's release on May 6, followed by the launch party on May 7.  If you're in Kansas City around that time, please come to join us.  We'll be at the Writers Place. The fun starts at 2:00pm. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Warrior Magic

I usually start these posts with some sort of digression before getting to the topic at hand, but this week I put my pre-topic digression in my livejournal blog.  It's entitled "Why I love my small press". If you'd like to have a look at that, click HERE

Now, on to this week's topic:  Warrior Magic

In Chapter 9, the girl Eolyn says to her friend Akmael:  "I don't understand how magic can be applied to warfare.  Magic should be used to create not to destroy.  And in war one always has to destroy.  How is it possible for a mage to become a warrior?"

Young Akmael, a warrior at heart, responds with great enthusiasm, demonstrating ways in which magic might be incorporated in a fight.  Mage warriors can perform maneuvers that seem to defy the rules of gravity, he points out.  They can also alter the path of flying objects.  "A skilled warrior mage detects the fears of his enemy and turns them to his advantage. . . A warrior mage trained in High Magic can use his staff to invoke a death charge. . . "

In the end, despite Akmael's best efforts, Eolyn is unconvinced.  Her challenge to Akmael in Chapter 9 is an expression of an essential part of her nature.  For her, magic and death will always be at odds; one should not be used to invoke the other. She will remain firm in this conviction for years to come, even though she will be compelled by circumstance to participate in war and use her magic to kill time and time again.

Despite Eolyn's personal misgivings, the use of magic in war has long been a tradition in Moisehén.  According to legends that are never fully articulated in the novel EOLYN, the first mage to become a warrior (or depending on whose story you listen to, the first warrior to become a mage) was Caedmon.  Some traditions claim Caedmon was a descendent of Aithne and Caradoc; others give him a separate heritage.  But all legends agree he was a contemporary of Vortingen, the warrior chief who established the line of kings from which Akmael descended.

As you may remember from last week's post on High Magic, the discovery of magic by Aithne and Caradoc led to a division among the gods, between those who supported the use of magic by humans and those who did not.  This division would, generations later, manifest itself in a bitter and long war between the People of Thunder, who saw the use of magic by humans as evil, and the People of Dragon, considered the early predecessors of the modern kingdoms of Moisehén, Galia, the Mountain People (also known as the Paramenites) and the Syrnte.   

It was in the darkest time of this epic war, when the People of Dragon had all but lost their struggle to avoid annihilation by the People of Thunder, that Dragon appeared to Caedmon in its true form and showed him how magic could be used on the battlefield.  The revelation turned the tide of the war.  Caedmon and his mage warriors united with the warrior chief Vortingen, and together they defeated the People of Thunder, securing extensive territories in which magic would be practiced for generations to come. 

Ever since that time, Moisehén has sustained a class of Mage and Maga Warriors, who protected the territories of the kingdom without fail until Akmael's father Kedehen assumed the crown and the Magas rose up against him.  As a result of that civil war and its aftermath, the tradition of warrior magic in Moisehén imploded, leaving no maga warriors and only a handful of mage warriors in its wake.  Akmael and his tutor Sir Drostan are among the very few left who conserve this tradition.

Eolyn's own mother, by the way, was a maga warrior who fought against Kedehen.  Her name was Kaie, and she appears in Chapter 1 of EOLYN.  If I ever write the prequel to EOLYN, Kaie will figure prominently in the story. 

That's all for this week's post.  I hope you enjoyed it, and that you'll be back next week for more.

Monday, February 14, 2011

High Magic

Here's the Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) for EOLYN!  Hadley Rille editor Eric T. Reynolds handed it to me on Friday.  I've been a little giddy every since.  This week, more copies will be going out to reviewers and fellow authors. 

We are just under three months to the release of EOLYN in May.  There's still some work to be done between now and then.  Artists Jesse Smolover and Ginger Prewitt will be finalizing the cover art and map of Moisehén, respectively.  Melissa J. Lytton will be doing our cover design.  And of course, I have to read this book -- my book! -- to see if there are any final details I'd like to change before we go to press.  The Events Page on this blog will start filling up over the coming weeks and months, so you may want to keep an eye on that.  In addition to a pre-launch party and a launch party, I'll be doing some book signings and attending a few fantasy conferences.  All the details will be posted here.  You can also 'friend' EOLYN on Facebook for regular updates.

On to this week's topic, High Magic.

This is the third post in my short series about Advanced Magic.  The first post, about three weeks ago, covered 'Simple Magic', and the second talked a little about 'Middle Magic'.  Just to recap, what I'm relating here is the worldview of the magas and mages of Moisehén with respect to of magic.  There are other cultures in Eolyn's world, such as the Galians and the Syrnte, who conceive of magic in somewhat different ways from what I describe here.  But we'll discuss all those other witches and wizards when the time comes...

According to the legends of Moisehén, High Magic is a form of knowledge and power that was gifted by the gods to Aithne and Caradoc, the first people to discover magic.  Aithne and Caradoc had together learned the techniques of Simple and Middle Magic by 'listening' to the world around them; to the plants, animals, rivers and stones.  Their achievements caused dissention among the gods, a great conflict arose between those who admired the practice of magic by humans and those who felt threatened by it. The gods who supported Aithne and Caradoc sent Dragon to grant them the staves with which they would eventually master High Magic.  (You can hear the complete story of Aithne and Caradoc in the May 2010 post entitled The Origin of Magic.)

Practitioners who have become adept at Simple and Middle Magic must petition the gods for their staff.  The initiate generally spends time alone in the forest, and at the end of his or her retreat Dragon appears in the form of an animal with instructions as to what elements are to be incorporated into the staff.  (Note that Dragon has only appeared in its true form, the winged serpent, a handful of times in the history of Moisehén: to Aithne and Caradoc, to the warrior chief Vortingen -- who was not a practitioner of magic -- and to the first Mage Warrior Caradoc.  Every other petitioner of magic has encountered Dragon in some other form, whether that be a wolf, an owl, an ant, a snake, or another creature of the forest.)  If Dragon does not appear, it means the gods have denied the initiate's petition to learn High Magic.

The three or four elements that go into each individual staff are unique.  For example, one maga's staff may be made of cherry wood, with a crystal of amethyst and the feather of a thrush.  Another may be made of oak with a crystal of smoky quartz and the wings of a dragonfly. Each staff is thus tailored to its user, and it is difficult --though not impossible -- for one practitioner to use the staff of another.

Staves in Moisehen are said to be 'forged' because the integration of the elements that make them is achieved in a sacred fire prepared by the tutor of the initiate. With a staff, the mage or maga can draw on very deep powers of the earth to accomplish many feats of magic and illusion, such as flight, shapeshifting, the invocation of sound wards and vision wards, and the deflection of flying objects such as arrows (which comes in pretty handy).  They can also invoke a variety of flames for ceremonial purposes, for self-defense, or in the case of Mage Warriors, for use on the battle field. 

Magic in Moisehén is an evolving craft, the High Mages and Magas try to push magic beyond the traditional limits of their predecessors.  Eolyn and Akmael, for example, have certain powers that develop during the course of the novel.  One of their ongoing challenges, as individuals and companions, is to recognize these abilities and make proper use of them. 

Related to this idea, it is also true that sometimes High Magic acts in unexpected ways.  So, while certain rules and limitations apply to the practice of magic, magic can also occasionally slip outside of its boundaries in a manner that surprises even practitioners.

Well, that's my post for this week.  Next week, if everything goes as planned (and in life as in magic, sometimes it doesn't), I'll talk a little about that special class of practitioners who succeeded in bringing magic to the battle field:  the Mage and Maga Warriors.

Hope to see you then!

Monday, February 7, 2011


The final word came in from Hadley Rille editor Eric T. Reynolds tonight:  EOLYN has been sent to the printer for the ARCs, or 'Advanced Reading Copies'.  These are previews, as it were, of the novel to be released in May.  They look essentially as the final book will appear, with all the text properly formatted, although certain details may not yet be finished, such as the cover art and the cover design.

We have had a very busy week leading up to this deadline.  Eric has been hard at work formatting the pdf copy of the manuscript, incorporating comments of proofreader Dora Furlong (which, of course, had to be double-checked by me).  Jesse Smolover sent us a preliminary sketch of the cover art over the weekend, and Eric made use of this landscape to give the ARCs some color to their cover.  We don't have a final cover design for the novel just yet, nor do we need one for the ARCs, but we did meet with Melissa J. Lytton last week to discuss cover design and layout.  Another element that will be part of the final novel, but will not appear in the ARC, is the map of Moisehén, which is being finalized by artist Ginger Prewitt.

I got a few more details for the ARC to Eric just under the wire Sunday night -- the acknowledgements, an author bio, and a photo of myself.  (The most recent version of the acknowledgements is now available on this blog; if you'd like to read them, click HERE.) 

The most difficult task of all this past week was picking out a photo of myself; all of the sudden, not a single photo that had ever been taken of me was quite up to the task of appearing at the back of my novel.  In the end, I let my mother make that decision.

So now, what happens to the ARCs?  Well, from what I understand, these previews will go out to reviewers and fellow authors.  I will also receive a copy, so I can read the manuscript one more time in book format, just in case there are any other details that need changing before we officially go to print in May. 

And here's the plan for May:  The release date is May 6; we'll host a launch party on May 7.  We are also considering a pre-launch event at Avila University.  I will certainly keep you posted on all the details of time and place as the dates get closer. 

Here's a small favor I would like to ask you:  Please send lots of positive thoughts EOLYN's way as she makes her first journey to the desks of professional reviewers and other authors.  These are people who can contribute in important ways to the novel's success once we hit the markets in May.  Here's hoping they truly enjoy what they read.

Wishing all of you a wonderful week.  I will be back soon to follow up on my previous discussions of magic in Moisehén, with a post about High Magic. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Middle Magic

Well, today I was scheduled to meet with Hadley Rille editor Eric T. Reynolds and artist Melissa J. Lytton to talk about cover designs for EOLYN, but Mother Nature had a different plan, having whipped up a fine blizzard over the states of Kansas and Missouri.  So I'm keeping warm and cozy at home, watching the snow fall, and fall, and then fall some more. 

We're getting close to putting out the advanced reading copies (called 'ARCs') for EOLYN.  These are basically preview books that go to reviewers and other authors prior to the release date. I will also receive a copy, to comb through it once more in case there's anything left that I would like to change or fix before we go to press in May. Just thinking about it brings to mind a couple things I need to ask Eric about, but before I sign off to do that, let's talk a little more about magic.

Last week I wrote about Simple Magic, one of the three classes of Advanced Magic recognized by the Old Orders of Moisehén.  Students who become adept at Simple Magic eventually advance to Middle Magic.  The distinction between the two can be fuzzy sometimes, and was often a subject of intense debate among the different schools of the Old Orders.  Yet it is generally agreed that the focus of Middle Magic is communication, in a very broad sense of the word.  In Chapter 4, Akmael tells Eolyn:

"Middle Magic is the language of the world, of the animals and the stones and the plants. It’s about integrating the elements. Middle Magic is everything you have to know before you can practice High Magic."

Magas and Mages believe that understanding the natural world is a fundamental prerequisite to being able to manipulate it.  So students of Middle Magic focus on learning how to speak with and listen to the animals, plants and even the stones. 

Now, as I've mentioned in previous posts, plants and animals in EOLYN do not 'speak English' in the sense that you might find in a children's book.  So you will never see Eolyn carry on a conversation with a wolf in the same manner she does with Ghemena or Akmael.  But Eolyn does learn how to interpret the signals of wolves in their own right, to understand what is being 'said' by them, and to interact with them directly.

It bears mentioning that writing is considered a form of Middle Magic in the tradition of Moisehén, primarily because of its ability to preserve human thought and knowledge through time.  For this reason, all students of Middle Magic learn to read and write. 

Other skills learned by students of Middle Magic depend to some extent on the preferences of the tutors with whom they work.  As it turns out, Tzeremond and Ghemena have very similar approaches to instructing their wards, so both Akmael and Eolyn learn, for example, how to 'visualize'; that is, how to create the illusion of a particular object. As a matter of fact, one of their first acts of friendship, described in Chapter 4, is to craft a gift for each other by using this power.  

In addition, while shape shifting is a power associated with High Magic, both Tzeremond and Ghemena turn their wards into animals (or even plants) to supplement their education in Middle Magic.  (And yes, this particular practice is my small tribute to Merlin and Wart, as portrayed in T.H. White's classic The Once and Future King.) 

Okay, that covers my brief introduction to Middle Magic.  Up for next week:  High Magic.  Hope to see you then!