"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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Eolyn's New Coven

I'm going to give you a preview of High Maga today: a glimpse of the coven Eolyn establishes in the highlands of Moehn. 
Those of you who have read the first novel will recognize some of the characters from this scene that takes place around the hearth of the Aekelahr.  Renate, a maga of the Old Orders, and Adiana, a musician from Selkynsen, have joined Eolyn in this humble but happy enterprise.  Together, these women provide a new home for five young girls gifted in the ways of magic, from oldest to youngest:  Sirena, Mariel, Catarina, Tasha, and Ghemena.
This scene happens early in the book, shortly before the Syrnte invasion will bring chaos into their lives. 

If you'd like to know more about this companion novel to Eolyn, you can also visit the page for High Maga on this blog. 

High Maga

Chapter 10 (excerpt)

Adiana hovered over the breakfast table, refreshing supplies of bread, fruit, and Berenben cheese. She glanced up as Eolyn set down her satchel, winked and said, “Well, don’t you look like the maga warrior this morning, with a sword on your hip and a staff in your hand!”
There were gasps of delight and giggles from the girls, but Ghemena’s disappointed moan rose over it all. “You’re taking Kel’Baru?”
“Of course she is, child,” replied Renate. “It’s her weapon, isn’t it? She can take it wherever she pleases.”
Ghemena pushed out her lower lip in a frown.
“You should get yourself some chain mail, too,” said Adiana, “and a nice shiny helmet. And a pair of a fancy gauntlets like the ones Sir Borten had delivered from Moisehén.”
“I’d lose myself under so much metal.” Eolyn took a place at the table. and accepted the tea Renate poured for her. “I wouldn’t be able to hear anything, not the trees or the animals. Not the plants whispering on the wind, or the earth pulsing beneath them.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Adiana helped herself to a generous portion of Berenben cheese, and served Eolyn as well. “You don’t need to hear anything if you’ve got a plate of metal over your chest and a sword in your hand. That’s why men don’t bother listening. Once they’re armed, all they really need to settle an argument is a few good blows.”
“Adiana.” Eolyn’s reproach was quiet, held in the tone of her voice. She had come to accept her friend’s cynicism regarding men, and to understand its origins, but she worried the girls might pick up the musician’s constant disparaging banter.
“If you’re taking Kel’Baru, you should take all of us!” Ghemena blurted. “Catarina and Tasha want to go, too.”
At once the three youngest sprang upon Eolyn with wide suffering eyes.
“She’s right, Maga Eolyn. Please take us along!”
“There’ll be nothing to do here when you’re gone.”
“What do you mean there’ll be nothing to do?” Eolyn threw up her hands in mock irritation. “All of you have spells I expect you to master before we return. Maga Renate and Mistress Adiana will have plenty of lessons and chores for you. Your days will be very full. Even if they weren't, a maga is never bored, because her joy--”
“--comes from the endless renewal of the earth itself,” they recited in unison, before breaking into exaggerated groans and sighs.
“We’re going to make pies, breads, and jellies.” Adiana draped her arms around the young girls’ shoulders and spoke into their ears with a mischievous grin. “We’ll eat all the sweets we want while Maga Eolyn’s away.”
“That’s not true.” Ghemena shrugged her off, indignant. “You said that the last time she left, and it wasn’t true then, either.”
“Well you caught me in the act, didn’t you? Clever girl!” Adiana seized Ghemena and tickled her without mercy. “Now you know not to listen to my promises. And it’s a good lesson that one, never believe a promise.”
Squealing, the girl wriggled out of Adiana’s grasp and darted around the table, taking shelter beside Eolyn. Her small body heaved with breathless laughter as the maga pulled her close. The girl wrapped her arms around Eolyn’s waist.
“I want to go with you to the South Woods,” she said.
Eolyn’s heart wavered, overtaken by a sudden nostalgia, the intense joy of companionship intermingled with the haunting sense that everything she most loved in life was constantly slipping away.
“You will.” She looked at all of them as she spoke. “When Melanie, Sirena, and I return, we will organize another trip for everyone. We will journey to the South Woods together, and we will dance with the trees under the light of the next full moon.”
They cheered and clapped and set to work clearing the table.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Progress on DAUGHTER OF AITHNE, and Plans for May

I've been working this week on a scene with a new character, Mariel.  She is one of Eolyn's students, part of a new generation of magas, and a maga warrior.

I like Mariel a lot.  She has a lot in common with Eolyn -- similar origins and temperament. I tend to think of her as the kind of maga Eolyn might have become, had she not been burdened with the love of a King. 

Not that I have any issues with the kind of maga Eolyn became.  I love Eolyn just as she is!  But Mariel enjoys a freedom that her tutor did not, in part because of the constraints of her relationship with Akmael.

As much as I like Mariel, things will go badly for her in this third novel. The noose is starting to tighten around Eolyn and her followers.  Mariel is one of the primary targets of the enemies of the magas; they know that if they get to her, they can bring down almost everything Eolyn has managed to rebuild in a single, devastating strike.  Worst of all, Mariel has no clue as to her own importance, or the danger she is in.

I'll stop there -- have to, or we will start getting into spoilers.

May is on the horizon, and it is going to be a very exciting month.  I'll be returning to Virginia Beach for another writing retreat this year with Terri-Lynne DeFino and eight other magnificent women writers.  I am so looking forward to that week; I can almost taste the salty air of the sea already!

The last weekend of May, as I hope all of you already know, is ConQuesT, Kansas City's own science fiction and fantasy convention.  It's going to be a great weekend with authors and fans from all over the country, and a few from beyond the borders as well. Guests of Honor include author Patrick Rothfuss, artist John Picacio, and editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden. 

Hadley Rille Books will be well-represented, with editor Eric T. Reynolds, and authors Terri-Lynne DeFino, Mark Nelson, Lawrence M. Schoen, Christopher McKitterick, and Mary C. Chambers, among others.  Artist Tom Vandenberg will also be there.  HRB will be launching Mark Nelson's second novel King's Gambit, which just received an awesome review from Publisher's Weekly.

As a warm-up to ConQuesT, Hadley Rille Books and Prospero's Parkside Bookstore are hosting a Tolkien night the Thursday before the con.  There will be reading and food contests, games, roundtable discussions, and all-around Tolkien revelry.  I'll be talking about this a lot more as the dates get closer and plans firm up, so please keep an eye on this site (or follow Eolyn on Twitter & Facebook) if you'd like more information. 

I invite you this week to visit Heroines of Fantasy, where my post on empathy and fiction has inspired some fun discussion.  Does reading make us more empathetic?  Or do empathetic people simply like to read more? Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One year to the release of HIGH MAGA

an image that reminds
me very much of the
captivating Rishona

We are now officially one year away from the release of High Maga, the long-awaited companion novel to Eolyn. The launch party will be on or around April 25th, 2014, with the release date a couple weeks earlier.

Fans of Eolyn are in for a very special treat with this sequel.  Many of your favorite characters will return -- Eolyn and Akmael, of course, lead the cast of characters.  Mage Corey will be back, along with a host of people who were minor characters in the first novel, but now have the opportunity to step foreward with their own stories: 

Adiana, the lovely and talented musician of Selkynsen; Rishona, beguiling warrior princess of the Syrnte; the noble Sir Drostan and troubled Renate, mage and maga of the Old Orders; and the handsome Sir Borten, a loyal knight of the Mage King. 

Among its new characters, High Maga features a most wonderful villain in the person of Lord Mechnes, a ruthless and brilliant Syrnte general.  We also have a new generation of magas with Eolyn's students, from oldest to youngest:  Sirena, Mariel, Catarina, Tasha, and Ghemena.  (And yes, that's a little bit of author-imposed karma there, that Eolyn's youngest student should have the same name as her beloved tutor.)

If someone out there should ever
decide to design an Eolyn tarot,
Lord Mechnes would make an
excellent King of Swords 
High Maga will be Hadley Rille Books' first release in 2014.  The manuscript is ready to go, though it has yet to be run through the copy editing mill.  Tom Vandenberg, artist for Mark Nelson's Poets of Pevana and King's Gambit, will do the cover art for High Maga.  I am so very excited to see what he puts together!  If everything goes as planned, we will have advanced reading copies ready -- and perhaps start some giveaways -- as early as next fall. 

As we begin the countdown toward release day, I want to take a moment to extend my deepest gratitude to all the loyal followers of Eolyn, especially those who have been with me from the beginning.  I appreciate your patience in waiting for the sequel, and I promise you that very shortly after the release High Maga next spring, we will start the one-year count down to third and final novel of the series, Daughter of Aithne

The coming months are going to be a very exciting.  I'll be talking about different characters, posting selected scenes from the new novel, making audio recordings of excerpts, and of course keeping you updated at every step on the road to publication. 

In truth, when I first wrote Eolyn, I did not envision expanding her story into a trilogy. 

Now not only am I glad to have written the second -- and started the third -- book; it's hard for me to imagine this epic journey as anything less than three complete novels.  I am very excited to share the next stage of Eolyn's story with you.  The adventure has only just begun!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Guest Author: J. Ellyne

Today I welcome J. Ellyne, a new author of erotic alternate history. 

I met Jini through Goodreads, and have read her first novel Maginaugh.  Jini brings to vivid life a world few fantasy authors have explored:  Maginaugh is set in North America some 9,000 years ago, in a lush territory inhabited by three very different cultures. 

Jini is 39 years young, writes songs as well as books, plays guitar, does yoga daily and loves to play tennis and swim in the ocean at Vero Beach, Florida, where she lives.

In addition to Maginaugh, Jini has published a second novel in the series, Maahilund. She is currently working on the third novel The Fair and Fey, and anticipates it will be available sometime mid year.

Please join me in welcoming Jini, and don't be shy with your questions and comments about her wonderful new series and the fascinating world it depicts.

About Maginaugh

Hello to all Karin's blog readers. I'm happy and honored to be here as her guest today. My pen name is J. Ellyne and I'm the author of an epic adult fantasy series with the first two books published and the third almost finished. You can call me by my real first name - Jini. Today we're going to talk mostly about the first book, Maginaugh, but let me tell you a little about the series as a whole first. The protagonist is a strong female character with an interesting background and an even more interesting future. More about her later. The series is called The Fair and Fey. The specific genre is adult, erotic, alternate-history, fantasy. Each of the three books take the reader to a different world. Each world is in a place you might recognize within our real world but the events that take place there are events of fantasy - or are they?

Maybe these events really could have happened. I did a ton of research before and during the writing of each book, to make the worlds as real as possible. The research included names of real people, religious beliefs of the time, folklore of the place and period, and scientific evidence of things that might otherwise be thought of as fantasy. To me folklore of ancient times was the most interesting part of my research. No one wrote history books until relatively recent times. So what we call mythology is sometimes simply an oral history, passed down by word of mouth. Of course facts can get stretched when repeated from one story teller to the next. Maginaugh, for example, is set in a time approximately 9,000 years ago.

In her review of Maginaugh, Karin mentions that the setting is quite unusual for a fantasy. I wrote about the region where I was born and where I spent every summer, even after I left my hometown. This was the upper peninsula of Michigan where I used to take walks in the north woods much like my characters do in the book. I used to paddle canoes just like they did. I even once made myself a deerskin shirt, just like my protagonist in the book wears.

My main character's name is Sashegh and I have to admit that much of her is based on my personality and my experiences. In the book she experiments with her sexuality as have I. She marries a man who is similar in some ways to my husband and has a female lover who is very similar to someone very special to me. Oops, this is getting quite personal isn't it? Maybe it's more than you want to know?

I want to tell you that what inspired me to write was a love of the books I was reading at the time I began, in particular Stephen King and Tom Robbins. My favorite book of all time is Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume and my favorite series of all time is King's Dark Tower. I bought everything they wrote. I have to say I more consistently enjoyed Robbins. I'm not into horror stories at all so it's hard for me to read some of King's stuff. I read him for his fantasies. I love being taken to fantastic other worlds and that's what I hope to do for all my readers.

So when I found a book of King's called On Writing, I was eager to read what he had to say about the art of writing. It was way better than any English composition course or writing workshop could ever be. To me, it's the bible for anyone who wants to write well. And, it's inspirational. It gave me the kick in the panties I needed to begin a novel and stick with it to the end. It's lots of work believe me and most published authors will tell you the pay's not great.

So when I started writing, I used fantasies I had as a young girl, playing Indian in the woods. Gradually my protagonist, Sashegh, being the strong character she is, took over and did her own thing. I just followed her around and wrote about her adventures. Strangely they seemed to parallel many experiences I've had in my own life. I guess I have a lot in common with Sashegh. So the book took an unexpected turn (even to me) halfway through when something surprising happened to Sashegh. I won't tell you what though; it would be a spoiler.

My favorite character in the book is Nanong, a native american. What a man he is: strong, handsome, brave, loyal, faithful, and a terrific lover. I still get all gooey when I think about him. No, Sashegh doesn't get to sleep with him, I'll tell you that much. He's too much older, he's faithful to his mate, Sashegh already has a man/boy when she meets him, and she has her eye on a certain girl instead. But if he wasn't taken .... hmmm.

Anything else anyone wants to know about me or my fantasy novels, please ask. I will be monitoring this blog thread and give answers.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Guest Author: Linda Ulleseit

I am very happy today to welcome Linda Ulleseit to my blog.  I met Linda a few years back through the on-line writers worskhop, thenextbigwriter.com.

Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga, California, and has taught elementary school in San Jose since 1996.  She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family.  Her favorite subject is writing, and her students get a lot of practice scribbling stories and essays.  Someday Linda hopes to see books written by former students alongside hers in bookstores.

Her first novel ON A WING AND A DARE, was published in 2012. It is a young adult fantasy set in medieval Wales, complete with flying horses, a love triangle, and treachery.  Its sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER, was just released last month. 

You can visit Linda at http://ulleseit.wordpress.com/

Please join me in welcoming Linda, who has written a fun post today on magical realism. 

Magical Realism

Most well-read students of literature have a working knowledge of magic realism. For one class or another they’ve read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges. It wasn’t until an early critic said of my own novel, “It approaches magic realism” that I delved deeper into what exactly magic realism is.

Like all post-twentieth century researchers, I started with Wikipedia, which stated, “Magic realism is a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment.” My own novels, On a Wing and a Dare and In the Winds of Danger, certainly do that. They are basically realistic fiction novels set in a medieval mountain town where horses fly.

Magic realism in its original form comes from Latin America. Magic realism observes the world as it is and tells that reality from a different frame of reference. Latin Americans can be very passionate about life and spirituality. Their normal beliefs include things that are supernatural or magic to Westerners. By way of illustration, in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez creates the character of Melquiades, a traveling gypsy. Over the span of hundreds of years, this gypsy visits the town and brings wonders such as ice and flying carpets. A Westerner sees much to question in that sentence, but my Spanish grandmother-in-law would accept every word as possible.

On a Wing and a Dare assumes the reader will not dwell on the scientific possibility of a flying horse and instead will look at the symbolism of living out a dream. When people ask what my novel is about, I generally respond, “It’s about flying horses.” I say that because the horses are the coolest part, but that’s not really the significance of the plot. When the winged horses are threatened, the adults in the town are trapped by tradition and policy. Only the fresh ideas of the teenagers, and the courage to take a risk, will save the horses and the town itself. That, however, sounds too normal. So I say it’s about flying horses.

On most sites, On a Wing and a Dare is labeled fantasy, which has a lot in common with magic realism. Fantasy gives readers an opportunity to try out new roles and see ways to work through situations. They learn perseverance pays off, and that setbacks don’t always cause failure. In essence, we are looking deeper inside the human experience with both fantasy and magic realism. Fantasy speculates on worlds that might be, however, and magic realism deals with the world that is. In addition, magic realism is considered a serious form of literature while fantasy is escapist.

In conclusion, I have a great deal of respect for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I’m flattered that someone thought of my work as approaching the quality of his. I cannot, however, refer to On a Wing and a Dare or In the Winds of Danger as magic realism and be totally honest. They are fantasy, maybe historical fantasy. And that’s just fine!


On a Wing and a Dare

Flying horses…a love triangle…poison….Welcome to Tremeirchson.
In Tremeirchson, a barn leader’s children are expected to follow their parents into the sky, becoming riders of the magnificent winged horses that are the medieval Welsh village’s legacy. Neither Emma nor Davyd, however, want to follow that tradition.
Sixteen-year-old Emma risks losing her family by following her heart. Eager to take her place in the air, she longs to ride a forbidden winged colt born in barn of her father’s biggest rival. She also dreams of the rival’s sons, not sure which she truly loves. Bold and exciting, Evan will someday lead his father’s barn. Davyd is quieter, more dependable, with an ability to get things done. Her father disapproves of both boys and pushes her toward an ambitious newcomer. He also insists she ride the colt he’s picked for her.
Davyd, also sixteen, is plagued with a secret—he is afraid of heights. Refusing to become a rider means public humiliation, his parents’ disappointment, and lifelong ridicule from his brother, Evan. He reluctantly prepares to join his family aloft in the Aerial Games that provide the entire village with its livelihood and tries desperately to think of an alternative.
As Tremeirchson’s barns prepare for the Rider Ceremony, winged horses suddenly start dying. Shocked, the adults hesitate, mired in tradition and politics. Is it a disease or poison? Accidental or purposeful? Someone must discover the answer and act before all the winged horses in the world are gone forever.


In the Winds of Danger

Nineteen year old Nia is shocked when she is secretly offered the leadership of Third Barn. This new barn full of flying horses will need someone confident, experienced, and innovative, so why are both warring factions pursuing an untried girl? Suspicious that both sides want a puppet instead of a leader, Nia races to discover their secrets before making the biggest decision of her life.

Some of those secrets are unknowingly buried in the disconnected memories of a young groom named Owain. Terror and guilt haunt Owain’s dreams – and then a face from his nightmare arrives in High Meadow. Owain looks for answers in his past and uncovers a dangerous plot that could doom High Meadow's future. How can he foil the plot and save his people as well as the winged horses?