"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, March 27, 2011


I've mentioned Dragon many times in my various posts on Magic in Moisehén, but I haven't yet dedicated a post to this mythological beast, who plays a role of great importance in the history and traditions of Eolyn's world.

For the Mages and Magas of Moisehén, Dragon is not a biological and physical creature, but rather a spiritual entity.  It has appeared in its true form -- as a winged serpent -- only a handful of times in the history of Eolyn's people. 

Sent by the Gods, Dragon first appeared to the legendary figures Aithne and Caradoc, and taught them the ways of High Magic.  (To learn more about the story of Dragon's appearance to Aithne and Caradoc, listen to the audio recording The Origin of Magic.)  Many generations after appearing to Aithne and Caradoc, Dragon returend to teach the first mage warrior Caedmon how to use magic in warfare, and in that same era the winged serpent granted the warrior chief Vortingen the crown of Moisehén, following his victory against the People of Thunder.

Although Dragon has appeared in its true form only a few times, it can take on the shape of any living creature that inhabits the earth.  As such, it has walked the earth on countless occasions, and appeared to every Initiate of High Magic since the time of Aithne and Caradoc.  In Chapter 12 of the novel, when Eolyn makes her pilgrimage into the forest to petition for a staff of High Magic, her tutor Ghemena advises her to be prepared for all possibilities when waiting for Dragon:

The Initiate must open her mind to the greatness of all beings, lest she fail to hear Messenger’s voice in the sinuous movement of a millipede’s legs or in the fearsome roar of an angry bear.

It is Dragon who reveals to the Initiate what elements are to be incorporated in his or her staff.  Under the traditions of the Old Orders, it was widely taught that Dragon appeared as a male to Mage Initiates and as a female to Maga Initiates, although there were of course exceptions to this rule.  If Dragon does not appear during the pilgrimage of the Initiate, it is understood that the petition has been denied, that the Gods for whatever reason have judged the petitioner unworthy or unready to practice High Magic. 

Dragon is often referred to in Moisehén as the Silver Serpent.  The very few who have seen it in its true form know its scales are, in fact, iridescent and highly reflective, and can take on a variety of colors.  Nonetheless, artwork in Moisehén portrays Dragon only in silver.  The sigil of the House of Vortingen, for example, is a silver dragon against a purple night.  Mage Corey wears a clasp on his cloak in the form of a silver Dragon. In Chapter 11, Akmael gives Eolyn a silver bracelet with images of the many forms in which Dragon has been known to appear:

On the etched surface of winding silver she recognized multiple forms of Dragon: winged serpent, snake, lion, butterfly, river otter, fish and many others. Each figure blended into the next, creating a single creature as fantastic as imagination itself.  

Dragon, then, is the guardian of the people of Moisehén and the patron of all its Mages and Magas.  Its spirit can be present in any living creature, but it has appeared in its true form during important moments in the history of Moisehén.

Will Dragon appear in its true form in EOLYN?  You'll just have to read the book to find out. . .

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

...and since I've got a lovely picture for you this week, I won't be writing that much.  Here's the cover art by Jesse Smolover, for EOLYN:

Bravo, Jesse! 

Jesse Smolover, Eric T. Reynolds and I have been in conversation for many weeks over this image, working step-by-step from sketches to the final product; backtracking on more than one occasion.  I am very happy with the result of all this effort, and mostly with Jesse's incredible gift for capturing the image and the mood we were after.

As some of you may know, Jesse also did the cover art for Terri-Lynne DeFino's fantasy novel FINDER.   If you click onto the title, you can see Terri's cover for comparison.  I find it interesting because Jesse had to capture two very different environments for each of these novels, given that FINDER is set in a desert and mediterranean environment, whereas EOLYN is embedded in a humid landscape of deep forest.  In Terri's words, "Eolyn's cover is so lush and green that I can smell that wind blowing back her hair, and Finder's is so dry and dusty I can feel the heat. Crazy cool."  (Hope you don't mind me quoting you, Terri!)

Of course, cover art and cover design are two different things.  Melissa J. Lytton will now take this image and integrate it into the cover for EOLYN, including front cover and back cover text.  So, not too long from now, I'll be able to post the completed cover for my new novel.  Hooray!

Just 49 days to go until EOLYN's release.  Remember, the Launch Party will be at the Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, Kansas City Missouri, on May 7.  The event is open to the public and will run from 2pm to 5pm. 

Also, fans of EOLYN who live in and around the Portland area, I will be doing a signing for EOLYN at Powell's Books on May 15, in Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, Oregon starting at 5pm. 

And I will be attending Kansas City's own ConQuest May 27-29, in the Hyatt Regency at Crown Center.  I'll post more details on that event as the dates get closer. 

Once again: Thank you, Jesse!  This is a beautiful work of art, and I can't wait to see it on the cover of EOLYN.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Castles on My Mind

Mid-March, and it's still snowing in Kansas City.  A light, easy snow that's not leaving any ice on the streets, but snow nonetheless.  Sometimes it seems that winter (like me) doesn't like to say good-bye.

Something very strange happened this week.  I woke up one day and realized I didn't have anything to do for EOLYN.  I'd turned in my final edits for the ARC.  We'd made our final decisions on the cover art (due to be unveiled later this week).  And although there will be a few details to attend to here and there during the coming weeks, the creative journey that was EOLYN is fast drawing to a close.  Soon she will be available in bookstores and via internet, and while I will still be doing a lot to make sure she gets into the hands of as many readers as possible, my life as a writer will move away from EOLYN and on to new projects.  It's really odd for me to think about. Having lived with this obsession now for more than four years, it's hard to imagine devoting my time to something else.  Not that I don't have other projects on my desk -- not the least of which is a sequel to this novel -- but still.  It's going to be strange not working anymore on EOLYN. 

Today's image is another sketch done by Jesse Smolover, from the early days when we were playing around with different ideas for the cover art.  There was a lot of discussion about the option of putting a castle on the cover, where and how it should be positioned, style and color and so forth.  I am not, of course, going to tell you what we decided in the end -- you'll find out soon enough! -- but I will say the image of a castle was really important for me, even though Eolyn's home is in the forest and as a character, she is not particularly fond of castles. 

The first time I saw a castle in person was when I was eight years old.  Okay, let me correct that.  I may have seen castles when I was two, as that was the first time my parents took me to meet our family in Germany.  But I don't remember anything from that trip, and if I did, I have a sneaking suspicion the most memorable moments for my two-year-old mind were probably the ones spent with my maternal grandfather's chickens.  By the age of eight, however, when I returned to Germany for the second time, I had been thoroughly primed for castles, having seen my fair share of Disney films and read a long list of Grimm's Fairy Tales.  I'd also been duly educated in the lore of the paternal side of my family, which included -- to my great delight -- a 14th century castle where the first Gastreich lived.

It was my paternal grandfather, Karl Gastreich, who took me to see that castle.  I admit, it wasn't what I expected it to be.  I was hoping for a palatial building, something like what the Disney princesses lived in.  But this fortress (which did not actually belong to the Gastreichs; it's just that the first Gastreich lived there in service of the count) was all narrow spaces, tiny windows and thick walls.  Much of it, actually, we weren't allowed to see.  A boy's school, or something of that sort, had been installed there and visitors apparently were not welcome.  Even visitors with blood ties to that particular place in history.

Still.  It was 'my' castle.  After all, none of my friends at school could point to that little town on the other side of the Atlantic and say, "That's the castle where my great-great-great-hundredth great-grandfather lived!" 

Sometimes I'd like to be able to recapture the fantasies of my childhood, to know what kind of stories my eight-year-old mind invented about the first Gastreich and the life he led in that medieval fortress.  I wonder if any of those fantasies survived to wiggle their way into my novel EOLYN, or other stories I've written, or will write?  I wonder if any part of that eight-year-old girl spoke through young Eolyn as she grew up with Ghemena and built her friendship with Akmael? 

It'd be impossible to trace now, with all these years gone by.  But I like to imagine that was one of the places where it all started, my journey to becoming a story teller:  in the Saarland of Germany, with my grandfather holding my eight-year-old hand and walking the steep path up to those castle gates, making it clear this was not simply a relic from a forgotten time, but a part of our family.  A part of me.

Just 54 days until EOLYN's release.  Hadley Rille Books will host the Launch Party on May 7 at the The Writers Place3607 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, Missouri.  The event is open to the public, and the fun starts at 2:00 pm.  I really hope to see you there!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Devilish Details

I had really hoped to be able to share the final cover art for EOLYN with you this week, but we just aren't quite there yet.  As they say, the devil is in the details, and the details right now are being particularly devilish.  Well, maybe next week.  In the mean time, I'm posting this little image of Ghemena's cottage in the South Woods, where Eolyn and Akmael first met. This is from one of Jesse's early sketches back in December.  We had thought perhaps to use something like this for the back cover, but eventually abandoned the idea in favor of. . . Well, you'll just have to stay tuned to find out. 

Speaking of devilish details, I've finished proofing the ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of EOLYN and today I've been reviewing my proposed edits (that is, proofing my proofs) before sending them off to Hadley Rille editor Eric Reynolds.  I found about a hundred edits, most of them very nitpicky -- a word here, a phrase there.  (What can I say?  A manuscript is never truly 'done' for any author!)  But overall the novel is in great shape.  I am so looking forward to having the final print version in my own hands!

This past week, the blog for EOLYN topped 4000 page views. Hooray!  I've seen countries all over the world show up on the audience list -- basically, every continent except Antarctica has been represented, and several island nations have appeared as well. The top three visitors, country-wise, are the United States, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica. I'm really happy to see my adopted country right up there at the top. Way to go, Ticos!  Pura vida.

For those of you who are curious, the top three posts in terms of number of visits are

The Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King, which talks about how this classic by E.T.A. Hoffman has influenced me as a story teller.

Epic Love -- one of my favorites, too!  The title is self-explanatory; if you haven't read it yet please do.

Full Circle with DHS, which is a reflective piece about my interaction with one of my writers groups, the Dead Horse Society, during the crafting of this novel.

In looking at other people's favorites, I've been thinking about my favorite posts as well.  Nutcracker Prince and Epic Love are definitely near the top, along with pretty much anything I've written about Magic.  But I think my personal favorite is The Boy by the River, an audio recording I posted of the first time Eolyn and Akmael met in the South Woods.

Speaking of magic, I have a new page for you this week:  Magic in Moisehen, which provides a directory of all the posts that I've written about magic so far. 

Well, as you can judge by my meandering, I don't really have a specific topic this week.  (Guess I was counting a little too much on the cover art idea. . .)  But while we're talking about favorites, I'm curious to ask:  Those of you who have followed this blog more-or-less regularly, which posts have been your favorites?  And why? 

Please leave your comments below.  I'm looking forward to hearing from you.