"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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Welcome to My Annual Christmas Reading!

This year for may annual reading, I've decided to do an excerpt from High Maga

The manuscript for High Maga was finished in the fall of 2012, and is now undergoing final edits in preparation for publication. I don't have a release date yet. It's possible High Maga will be released toward the end of 2013; more likely that you will see it in print early in 2014. In either case, stay tuned to this site for updates, previews, and giveaways. 

For the Christmas reading, I always try to find cozy scenes.  That was something of a challenge this year, as High Maga has relatively few scenes that could be called "cozy".  After some thought, I settled on this excerpt from Chapter 8, a scene between Eolyn and her youngest student, Ghemena.  It takes place at Eolyn's Aekelahr, the humble home of her new coven in the highlands of Moehn.  In this passage, Ghemena has just woken up from a nightmare, and Eolyn comforts her with a story and a very special gift.

If you're looking for more fun things to do between now and New Year's, stop by Heroines of Fantasy and help us build a story with the Brothers Grimm.  While you're at it, you can register to win a holiday ebook bundle, including four novels by HoF authors.  The winners of the holiday giveaway will be announced January 31st. 

I hope you enjoy this reading, and the rest of the holiday season. I will be taking a break from my blog and other on line activities until the New Year, but will be back in action starting January. I look forward to seeing you then.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and all the best in the New Year.

If you would like to know more about the novel High Maga, you can preview it here

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A World of Wonder in 5000 Words

The cover art for Creatures of Light is taken
from Claude Lorrain's 17th century painting,
"Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba."
Hadley Rille Books has released a Kindle edition of my short story Creatures of Lightand has made it available for free download today and tomorrow.

Creatures of Light provides a glimpse into the life of Selenia, a brilliant and ruthless woman scientist, and her lover Nicolas, intrepid explorer of the high seas.  They live in a fantasy age of exploration, an imaginary world that mixes the art and politics of Renaissance Italy with the wonder inspired by  17th and 18th century European explorers.  Theirs is an unapologetically imperialistic and misogynistic society, and Selenia has learned to do whatever it takes to establish and maintain a place of power in the context of this brutal world. 

I've had many sources of inspiration for Creatures over the years.  The first seed was probably planted when I read A Naturalist in La Plata by WH Hudson, which chronicles the 19th century biologist's journey through the Pampas of Argentina. 

Since then, many more books have crossed my path.  Biographies of powerful women of the 16th and 17th century, such as Lucrezia Borgia, Isabella de Medici, and Catherine de Medici.  Stories of 17th and 18th century women scientists such as Maria Gaetana Agnesi and Maria Sybilla Merian. 

Additional chronicles of exploration have also fed into the mix, such as the extraordinary adventures of Alexander von Humboldt in South America.  Most recently, I started The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes, which documents the discoveries of 18th century scientists such as Joseph Banks and Caroline Herschel, as well as the colorful, romantic, and disturbing times in which they lived. 

Holmes historical account had little influence on the short story Creatures of Light (since I picked it up long after the short story was written), but it is providing a lot of fodder for the imagination as I prepare to write a full-length novel by the same name.

Creatures of Light emerged as a short story about three years ago, when my local writer's group did a holiday story exchange.  It first appeared for the world at large in the Fall 2010 issue of Adventures for the Average Woman.  Now Hadley Rille Books has picked it up and made it a stand-alone short story available on Kindle, complete with its own beautiful cover.  And for FREE, no less!  At least for the first couple of days of its release. 

I hope you enjoy reading Selenia's story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I am certain you will.


Enter Eolyn's Winter Book Blast Giveaway for your chance to win a FREE signed copy of the beautiful hardcover edition of the nove Eolyn.

Visit authoer DelSheree Gladden's Blog to enter the Winter Book Blast Grand Prize Giveaway, including 18 novels across various genres.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stock Up on Your Holiday Reading!

The holiday season is here, and with it multiple chances to win FREE books for your winter bookshelf! 

Heroines of Fantasy is sponsoring a holiday giveaway this month. Enter to win an ebook bundle with four novels by HoF authors, including

Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich,

The Poets of Pevana by Mark Nelson,

Your choice of Finder or A Time Never Lived by Terri-Lynne DeFino, and

Your choice of The Song and the Sorceress or The Northern Queen by Kim Vandervort.

It's easy to enter; just comment on one of our weekly posts, or choose from other entry options, such as liking the Facebook page for Hadley Rille Books.  The giveaway will run until the end of the month; winners will be announced on January 31st.  Visit Heroines of Fantasy to find out more, and enter to win!

If ebooks are not your thing -- or if you're looking to enter multiple raffles this December -- check back on this blog later this week for the Winter Book Blast.  Enjoy an nine-day virtual tour of great titles across many genres, including romance, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, and young adult. 

The Winter Book Blast is being organized by author DelSheree Gladden.  It will include a Grandprize Giveaway of 18 novels, as well as individual giveaways sponsored by participating authors.  Visitors to the blog for Eolyn will have the opportunity to win one signed copy of the beautiful hardcover edition.  Enter away -- you never know when you might get lucky!

Last but not least, as my personal gift to you, this month I have at last posted a preview to High Maga, the companion novel to Eolyn.  My annual Christmas reading, which will be posted on December 24th, will be an excerpt from the new book.  Come January, you can look forward to more previews, updates, and giveaways for this story of war, courage, endurance, and triumph.

That is the news for this week.  Again, please check back December 15th thru 23rd to register for your chance to win free novels as part of the Winter Book Blast. 

Happy holiday reading!

Enter to win a signed copy of the beautiful hardcover edition of Eolyn:

Visit Heroines of Fantasy and enter to win an ebook bundle of four fantasy novels by HoF authors.

Visit DelSheree Gladden's Winter Book Blast to browse multiple giveaways, including a grand prize giveaway of 18 novels.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Guest Author: Karen L. Azinger

Friday, December 7, is the last day of classes at Avila!  One week more of finals (and grading grading grading), and we are DONE. 

I am very excited about the weeks between now and Christmas Eve, as we have a lot going on both here and on Heroines of Fantasy.  There will be games, giveaways, blog hops and more surprises; opportunities for you to win books of all genres -- even book bundles! --as we get closer to the year's end.  It is shaping up to be a very exciting holiday season, so please stay tuned to learn how you can join the fun.

Today, it's my pleasure to welcome Karen L. Azinger, author of The Silk and Steel Saga. 

Karen has always loved fantasy fiction, and always hoped that someday she could give back to the genre a little of the joy that reading has always given her. Ten years ago on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge, she realized she had enough original ideas to finally write an epic fantasy. She started writing and never stopped. The Steel Queen is her first book, born from that hike in the gorge.

Before writing, Karen spent over twenty years as an international business strategist, eventually becoming a vice-president for one of the world's largest natural resource companies. She's worked on developing the first gem-quality diamond mine in Canada's arctic, on coal seam gas power projects in Australia, and on petroleum projects around the world. Having lived in Australia for eight years she considers it to be her second home. She's also lived in Canada and spent a lot of time in the Canadian arctic. She lives with her husband in Portland Oregon, in a house perched on the edge of the forest. The first four books of The Silk & Steel Saga have already been written and she is hard at work on the fifth and final book.

Please join me in welcoming Karen L. Azinger.

What's in a Name?

What’s in a name? Everything! Names evoke mystery, menace, magic and wonder. Whisper a single name and readers are instantly transported to another time and place. Arthur…Camelot…Excalibur…Frodo…Mordor…Voldemort, these names shimmer in our hearts and dreams like magical touch-stones. Some evoke wonder while others embody dread. More than any other genre, fantasy tasks authors to create unique and interesting names, but these names should not be a jumble of alphabet soup, impossible to pronounce and even harder to remember. For my medieval epic fantasy, The Silk & Steel Saga, I took great care in choosing the names for my main characters, striving for names that are both unique and memorable and reflective of my characters’ prominent traits.

Liandra, the Queen of Lanverness, is one of my favorite names in the saga. Naming this character was one of my top priorities. After discarding half a hundred mundane names, inspiration finally struck. As soon as I thought of Liandra, I knew I had the perfect name. Lyrical and feminine, yet it has an underlying strength, a fitting name for a queen who uses “beauty to beguile, spies to foresee, and gold to control.” Liandra is a unique name, one I’ve never seen used in fantasy, perfect for my Spider Queen.

Kath, the princess of Castlegard, is a strong female character who is often underestimated and frequently overlooked. Because she is ignored and overlooked, I wanted her to have a common girl’s name, but I also wanted my character to be bold enough to name herself. Katherine is her birth name, the name her father calls her, the name of a princess destine to wed for the good of her kingdom, but my character rejects that destiny and therefore rejects that name, choosing instead to be called Kath, a unique and catchy twist on an otherwise common name.

The Mordant is the name for my darkest character. This name pays homage to the land of Mordor in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but instead of an eye wreathed in flame, the Mordant is a very real, very complex character who has lived for over a thousand years. One of the unique aspects of The Silk & Steel Saga is the way the reader gets to view the world from the perspective of a very malevolent evil. It is through the Mordant that my books explore the mechanisms of evil.

Sir Blaine is my classic knight, always striving to be worthy, determined to be a sword wielding hero. This character required a very “knightly” name. When naming a knight, one instantly thinks of the Knights of the Round Table, but authors need to steer clear of stereotypical names like Lancelot, Galahad, Gwaine, Percival and Tristan. Instead I chose a name that sounds like it belongs among Arthurian legends yet is fresh and unique. Blaine rhymes with Gwaine, the perfect original name for my classical knight.

In epic fantasy, the names of settings deserve just as much thought as the character names. If you get stuck, just glance at any world map for inspiration. For example, Inverness is a city in Scotland and also in New Zealand. I’ve never visited either place yet the name always struck me as lyrical, magical, even mystical. Putting my own twist on the name, Inverness becomes Lanverness, the only kingdom of Erdhe ruled by a queen. For the capital city of Lanverness, I chose the name Pellanor, a twisted spelling of Pellinore, a king from Arthurian legend who is famous for hunting the Questing Beast. Choose the names of your kingdoms, cities, and castles with care. Names can instill a touch of classical legend in your epic fantasy.

And last but certainly not least, writers must choose the names for their books. A book’s name should infuse an instant sense of genre. The name should attract attention, create expectation, and be easy to remember while being distinctive. The name of my first book, The Steel Queen, was chosen by my London editors. They wanted a name that could work as a cross-over title to attract both fantasy and historical fiction readers. After a month of e-mailing long lists of names back and forth, they finally settled on The Steel Queen. Once I broke free from my London editors and reclaimed the rights to my books, I chose the rest of the titles as well as the saga name. To “brand” the titles and identify them as part of a saga, I patterned all the titles after first book, resulting in, The Steel Queen, The Flame Priest, The Skeleton King, and The Poison Priestess.

Choosing a saga name is similar to choosing a book name, but with an added twist. In the fantasy genre, epic sagas are often referred to by their acronym, so The Lord of the Rings becomes LOTR. One of the things I love most about my saga name, The Silk & Steel Saga, is that the acronym is SASS. I hope my readers will agree that the women in my saga have a lot of sass!

What’s in a name? Everything! Choose wisely!

About The Poison Priestess

While Kath and her companions chase the Mordant into the far north, the southern kingdoms erupt in Flames. The Lord Raven marches south, unleashing a holy war against Lanverness. Vastly outnumbered by a ruthless enemy, Queen Liandra spins desperate gambits in a dire struggle to save her kingdom. New alliances and new awakenings hatch deeper levels of intrigue. The Oracle Priestess and the Lord Raven form a tenuous alliance, while deep in the Southern Mountains the Kiralynn monks stir, revealing more than prophecy. Armies clash, battles rage, and cities fall, as lives, loves and crowns hang in the balance, but swords are not the only way to wage war. Treachery, deceit, assassins, and the power of seduction will face-off against steadfast courage, forgotten magic, and the power of truth. The Poison Priestess is the fourth book in this epic tale of Light versus Dark.