"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, April 30, 2011

Pre-Launch Party at Avila University

EOLYN made its debut last night, one week before the official release date, in the Hooley-Bundschu Library at Avila University.  We had a great turnout; everyone was very excited about the novel and we sold all the trade paperbacks we had available for the event.  Many thanks to Kathleen Finnegan, Becky Nichols and Shawna Westphal for making this a successful and fun event. 

Thanks to the pre-launch festivities, I have a lot of treats for you this week.  Photos from the event are posted on my Facebook page for EOLYN.  This link should take you to the album:  Pre-Launch Party for EOLYN.

I'm also posting two audio recordings from last night.  The evening started with my reading of Chapter One:

After the reading, Hadley Rille editor Eric T. Reynolds and I received questions from the audience about all aspects of writing and publishing:

I'm trying a new experiment -- in addition to listening to these recordings online, you should be able to download them from the following links:

EOLYN Pre-Launch Party -- Chapter One

EOLYN Pre-Launch Party -- Q&A Session with Eric T. Reynolds

Let me know how that works.  The files are kind of big, and I couldn't figure out how to condense them, so it might take a while to download.  (Note that these files are simply audio and do not include the pictures.)

My biggest surprise last night:  A phone call from Kimberly Vandervort, author of THE SONG AND THE SORCERESS, the novel that inspired me to submit to to Hadley Rille.  Thanks so much, Kim, for remembering EOLYN's big night!

In other good news, the hardcover edition of EOLYN is now available for purchase through the following links:

EOLYN on Amazon

EOLYN on Amazon.uk

EOLYN on Amazon.canada

The novel will be available soon in paperback and electronic format for Kindle and Nook, but if you're looking for a new volume to grace  your bookshelf, consider purchasing EOLYN in hardcover.  It's beautiful.  To give you an idea, here's what it looks like on my bookshelf:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My New Beginning

There's a Minneapolis group called Semisonic (formerly Trip Shakespeare) which for various reasons has long been close to my heart. I've got one of their songs, 'Closing Time' running repeatedly through my head lately, and my mind always returns to the same verse:

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

Today I had a beginning that was also an end. I held in my hands, for the very first time, a trade paperback entitled EOLYN, published by Hadley Rille Books. ISBN13-978-0-9829467-9-4. Written by Karin Rita Gastreich. Edited by Eric T. Reynolds. Cover art by Jesse Smolover. Cover design by Melissa J. Lytton. With a map of the Kingdom of Moisehén by Ginger Prewitt.

It is the end of my journey of writing EOLYN, and the beginning of my journey of sharing her with the world. I am thoroughly excited, moved to tears. Happy and sad -- and hopeful -- at the same time. Hopeful that she will bring as much joy to you, the reader, as she has brought to me during the last four-and-a-half years.

One week from Friday, on April 29th, Avila University will host a pre-launch party for the novel at the Hooley-Bundschu Library, starting at 7pm. I am so happy that I will have the opportunity, seven days before the official release date, to share this magic with the Avila community, where I have taught biology and related topics to many wonderful students for nearly eight semesters. Avila student Shawna Westphal has designed two great posters for the event. This one, which I think captures very nicely Avila's family style:

 And this one, which invokes a more dramatic mood:

It's been really great working with Shawna and all the folks at the Avila library.  I know we're going to have a great evening, and if you're in the Kansas City area, I hope you'll come and join us.  For those of you who can't make it -- stay tuned to this blog, as I'll be telling you all about it, and plan to post audiorecordings of the readings for your enjoyment. 

I keep thinking, as I turn the book over in my hands, "Isn't there something else left for me to do on this?"  But there isn't.  Not with this manuscript, at any rate.  That beginning has now ended; a new beginning is on the horizon.  It's time for us to celebrate, enjoy the fruits of this labor, and step forward into the next adventure. . .

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Women, Epic Fantasy and George RR Martin

Who'd've thought -- just days after my celebration over the positive review for EOLYN from Publishers Weekly, I find my hackles raised over a rather scathing commentary on the life's work of one of my heroes, George RR Martin.

The New York Times published its review of HBO’s new miniseries A Game of Thrones this week. The HBO production is based on the first book of George RR Martin’s classic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

The review, written by Ginia Bellafante, is more than a little acerbic.  She criticizes not only the HBO series, but Martin’s work and epic fantasy in general, lumping all of it into a single category of “boy fiction” that would never appeal to any self-respecting, well-read woman. From her review:

'While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first.'

Now, I haven’t seen the TV series yet (HBO will premier its rendition of A Game of Thrones tomorrow evening), so I can’t speak to whether the HBO’s interpretation of Martin’s work will leave me similarly indignant. But I am one of those “women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s”, and I must take issue with the statement that his work, and especially Tolkien’s work, is anything less than marvelous – and certainly, The Hobbit is well worth reading before picking up the latest from Lorrie Moore. (Who may be an excellent author, but frankly I had to google Moore’s name after reading Bellafante's review because I’d never heard of her…)

That’s not to say I am insensitive the relative absence of female characters in Tokien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, back when I first read Tolkien’s work, it was the perception that women didn’t have much of a place in the sagas of Middle Earth that planted one of the first seeds for my own novel Eolyn. (I talked about this a few months back in my post “Why Eolyn?” ) But that does not make Tolkien’s work any less engaging, or his prose any less powerful.

I have been reminded lately of the immortal quality of Tolkien’s words by listening to the audio book Children of Hurin, part of his unfinished tales. The appeal of Tolkien's stories isn’t just about orcs and elves and dwarves (though I find all of those elements very appealing). It’s the eloquence of his prose that captures this reader’s attention; the vivid imagery, the heartbreaking and very human conflicts, the ability to paint complex characters (male and female) with a few master strokes. As good as Moore or any other author of contemporary fiction may be, when predicting whose name will be more widely recognized fifty or a hundred years down the road, I am still putting my money on Tolkien.

Martin in A Song of Ice and Fire, unlike Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, does have female characters that play formidable roles throughout the first three books of the series. (I haven’t gotten to book four yet; and book five is slated for release sometime this summer.) To be fair, the women in Martin's world are still outnumbered by the men. But they are very important and very vivid. The eight-year-old daughter of Eddard Stark, Arya, is quite possibly one of the best female characters I’ve read in any genre.

Many of Martin’s female characters have qualities I don’t like; but then again, so do many of the male characters. They are all complex and flawed, all deeply steeped in the social structure of their world, driven by events and motivations often they themselves don’t understand.

The society Martin developed to write his tale of the Seven Kingdoms is among the most elaborate and well-crafted I have come across in all my years of reading. His work is not, as Bellafante claims, “boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half”.  It is story telling at its very best.

To read more about how George RR Martin inspired me during the writing of EOLYN, please visit the May 30, 2010 post "My Brush with Greatness". 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Great news!  PUBLISHERS WEEKLY reviewed EOLYN this week.  This is my first professional review ever.  You can see the review, along with reviews of other novels, at this link:  PW Reviews April 11  Or, you can just read the text which I've copied and pasted below:


Karin Rita Gastreich. Hadley Rille (Ingram, dist.), $28 (328p) ISBN 978-0-9829467-4-9; $16 trade paper ISBN 978-0-9829467-9-4

A child is hidden before her village is destroyed by the tyrant king's soldiers, after which she finds shelter in the forest with an old woman rumored to be a witch. Readers who persist beyond this familiar setup will find that the story deepens as young Eolyn, possibly the last of an ancient order of female magic users, matures while befriending Akmael, the prince whose father killed her family. Though Eolyn becomes the hope of a rebellion, she never has to carry the whole weight of the story; Akmael, the "witch" Ghemena, and other characters develop many intriguing facets. Gastreich allows her heroes to have flaws--including moments of cowardice--and some victories bring new sorrows. Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes will satisfy fans of traditional epic fantasy with a romantic thread. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/11/2011
Permalink: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9829467-4-9; $16 trade paper ISBN 978-0-9829467-9-4 (978-0-9829467-4-9; $16 trade paper ISBN 978-0-9829467-9-4)

I am very pleased with this review, especially the part about 'vigorously told battle scenes', as the battle sequence was hands down the hardest part of the novel for me to write.  Hooray!  Time to celebrate.  I  am so glad (and relieved!) this review turned out well.

In other news, I have a guest post this week on Write Like Authors Do, a blog for young aspiring authors, run by friend and fellow author Linda Ulleseit.  My post talks a little about what to do when things don't go as planned in our stories.  If you'd like to read it, and see the other great posts on Linda's blog as well, click HERE

That's the news for now.  More to come later this week.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Kingdom of Moisehén

Here it is:  The final version of Ginger Prewitt's map of Moisehén.  Eolyn's and Akmael's world, laid out on paper.  Ginger is an incredibly talented artist who also did the maps for Kim Vandervort's THE SONG AND THE SORCERESS and Terri-Lynne DeFino's FINDER.  And I am so very happy with this work that she has now done for EOLYN.

I've actually had this map for a couple months now, and have posted it on the Facebook Page for EOLYN.  But the version I had did not include the nice Celtic-style border with the little Dragon insignias, and I really did not want to post it on the blog until I had the final version with the border.

If you click on the map, you'll get to see a larger version.  Moisehén is a landlocked kingdom bordered by mountains, forests and rivers.   On the far side of the eastern forests, we find the lands of the Syrnte, not pictured in this map.  To the south, you'll see the foothills of the Paramen Mountains, the home of Eolyn's ally Khelia and her Mountain Warriors.  To the west, the Furma River and the Black River mark the border between Moisehén and the neighboring kingdom of Roenfyn.  The impassable Wastes of Faernvorn and the rugged Eastern Surmaeg mark the borders of a northern wilderness that is little explored and virtually unknown to the people of Moisehén.

Moisehén consists of four provinces. The ruling province bears the same name as the kingdom. This is the seat of the line of Vortingen, the dynasty of kings of which Akmael is a part. Much of the Province of Moisehén has long since been cleared for cultivation and grazing. The northern border of the province -- the foothills of the Eastern Surmaeg -- contain vast reserves of iron ore.

South of Moisehén lies the Province of Selkynsen, a wealthy territory of merchants and craftsmen, who have over generations assumed control of the trade routes that run south along the Furma River to the Sea of Rabeln.  Eolyn's friend Adiana, a talented musician, was born in the Province of Selkynsen. 

Moisehén and Selkynsen are separated from the Province of Selen by the Maeskon Hills.  Prior to the War of the Magas and the purges that followed, Selen was the seat of magical power of the kingdom.  The dense forests along the eastern border were once the home of the Clan of East Selen, a centuries-old line of Mages and Magas.  Akmael's mother, Queen Briana, was a daughter of the Clan of East Selen. 

The most isolated province of the kingdom is Moehn.  This is the home of Eolyn, who grows up as a refugee in the South Woods following the destruction of her village by the King's Riders.  Moehn is a land of farmers, often looked down upon by the more sophisticated citizens of the wealthier provinces, but its fertile soils are very productive and are said to feed the kingdom. 

And that is the Kingdom of Moisehén in a nutshell.  Now that you know the geogarphy, if you'd like to learn a little bit about its history, visit the page on this site entitled A Brief History of Moisehén.

One more month to go before the release of EOLYN.  In addition to the launch party on May 7 at the Writers Place in Kansas City, Avila University will host a Pre-Launch Party on April 29 at the Hooley-Bundshu Library.  Books will be available for purchase and signing at both events.  For more information, visit the Events Page on this blog.  I hope to see you there -- if not at one party, then at the other! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A New Look for Spring

I took some time this week to make a new banner for the blog, incorporating Jesse Smolover's cover art for EOLYN.  I hope you like it.  It's wonderful to have an image unique to this novel now, and Jesse did such a fantastic job of capturing the mood we were after.  I've also put the cover art on my desktop, so every time I open up the computer, there she is:  Eolyn, looking out from the forest, ready to meet her destiny. 

We have 33 days to go until the launch of the novel!  The cover design by Melissa J. Lytton is looking marvelous, though it's not quite ready to unveil yet.  I'll be sure to post as soon as it is. 

I anticipate that from now until the launch, I will be posting on the blog as news comes up (as opposed to regularly once a week, as has been my habit).  So, when the cover design is ready for EOLYN, I will put it on the blog.  When a professional review is published (and those are due to start coming down the pipelines any day now), I will share it.  I will also keep you posted on events, as there will be many in the coming weeks.  Here are a few to keep in mind:

On April 29 at 7pm  (date and time to be confirmed shortly), Avila University will host a pre-launch event for EOLYN at the Hooley-Bundshu Library.  I'll do some readings from the novel, and copies will be available in paperback for purchase and signing.  This event is open to the public, so feel free to invite friends and family.  It's a good alternative if you can't make the official launch party on May 7 (although you are, of course, more than welcome to attend both parties!), and it will give you the chance to preview the novel before it's officially released.

On May 7 at 2pm, Hadley Rille Books will host the official Launch Party at the Writers Place in Kansas City, Missouri.  This is going to be a great event -- the guest list is starting to come together, and I am so excited about the amazing and talented people who will be in attendance.  Please join us for a wonderful afternoon of story telling and book signing, and bring friends and family -- the event is open to the public.  EOLYN will be available in hardback and paperback for purchase and signing.

On May 15 at 5pm, Powells Books will host a signing at the Cedar Hills Crossing store,  3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, Oregon.  Those of you who live in the Portland area, this is your chance to obtain a signed copy of the novel!

May 27-29, I will be at Kansas City's own ConQuest, a great weekend celebrating the traditions of sci-fi and fantasy.  I'll be participating in readings and signings and will post the details as soon as they are available. 

Make sure you visit the Events and Announcements Page for the most updated information on signings and other activities for EOLYN.