"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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

The Gaelic festival of Samhain was the inspiration for Samhaen in Eolyn's world. 

Though Samhaen is somewhat different in the details from the corresponding holiday in the real world, the basic idea remains constant.  As a girl, Eolyn celebrated Samhaen with singular devotion, as it was one of the few nights of the year when her dead family could reach across the void to visit her. She never failed to leave out food for them, including her brother's favorite snack, honey-sweetened bread.

Halloween snuck up on me this year.  I haven't done that much at all in terms of decorating, but I have the candy ready and am looking forward to seeing all the neighborhood kids in costume tonight.  I'm also very happy for the children in Kansas City that the big rain storm forecast for this week happened yesterday, instead of today.

I've been invited to participate in an exciting project with DGS Games.  They are sponsoring an anthology based on the richly imagined world of Faelon.  The project is being undertaken in coordination with the Dead Horse Society, the speculative fiction writers group where I got my start as an author.  They are an amazingly talented group of writers, and this is going to be a great anthology.

As honored as I was by the invitation, I was a little hesitant to accept.  I've been keeping a good pace on Daughter of Aithne, and I'm reluctant to pick up obligations that will cut into writing time meant for finishing the novel. More importantly, short stories are not my gift.  I have two stories out there that I am very proud of ('Turning Point' and 'Creatures of Light'), the hard-won products of countless failed attempts at writing a story inside of 5,000 words.  But practice makes perfect, and in the end I decided I'll never get good at writing short stories if I keep shying away from doing them.  Also, the opportunity to work with such a fine group of writers was really too much to resist. 

After mulling over different ideas for about a month, this week I started on writing my story for the anthology. The short will be set in the Kaliphate of Koronna, a prosperous region of cosmopolitan cities, with a rich culture that is more-or-less balanced in terms of gender relations.  The protagonist of the story is an elderly woman, known only as 'Nana'.  This is a first for me, to have a protagonist well into her later years, and it makes for some very exciting possibilities.  Nana is a refugee, having fled to Koronna at a very young age for reasons she has never shared with her family, though they will be gradually revealed as the story progresses.  We will also meet Nana's intriguing grand daughter, Mirella, and learn about her mysterious heritage and unique destiny. 

It's all in the very early stages now, but if things pan out as I hope they will, this is going to be an awesome story. DGS' Faelon anthology is scheduled to be released in the latter half of 2014. 

In other news, we are just days away from launching the new web site for Hadley Rille Books. And, sometime in the month of November I will, at last, do a full cover reveal for High Maga.  The release date is closer than it seems; even though we will not see the book in print until April 4, 2014, the e-galleys are well underway and must be sent out for editorial review in the coming days. 

Editorial reviews -- aaagh!  The very thought stresses me out.  Please wish me luck, keep a candle lit, say a few prayers or cast a few positive spells, whatever it is you do to send positive energy, now is the time to do it, so that High Maga will be well-received by the critics who will soon find her on their desk.

That's all I have for this week.  Happy Halloween, and enjoy the weekend to come!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Festivities

I spent a wonderful three days with my husband on the Katy Trail near Hermann, MO. The autumn weather was perfect for long bicycle rides.  We passed through golden fields and painted forests, and enjoyed spectacular views of the sparkling Missouri River.  In the evenings, we slipped into Hermann to sample the local Tin Mill brews.  Wildlife was not super-abundant, but we did see some cool animals like turkeys and a coyote.  I wish we could have stayed longer, but classes resumed at Avila today.  It will probably be spring before I can indulge in the luxury of a multi-day bicycle adventure again.

There are so many exciting things afoot right now, I don't know where to begin. 

Tomorrow, October 22, as part of DelSheree Gladden's month-long Meet the Character Blog Fest, you will get to see the most detailed preview yet of the cover for High Maga.  I have a post that compares images of Eolyn, past and present, and I talk about how the cover art for my novels reflects Eolyn's development as a character. 

I also invite you to visit last week's Meet the Character post on Adiana of Selkynsen, a musician and close friend of Eolyn's.  Adiana is a minor character in both Eolyn and High Maga. While she does not command magic like Eolyn, her music confers a special power of its own.  Adiana has been one of my favorite characters since she appeared in my first novel, and I look forward to sharing more of her story in the second one.

If you visit DelSheree's blog, don't forget to register to win the grand prize of over forty free books.  There are lots of opportunities to enter, including free entry for fans of Eolyn on Facebook and followers of Eolyn on Twitter.

We are working hard on a new web site for Hadley Rille Books.  I love the new format; it gives a much better idea of the dynamic strength of this small but very busy press.  It's also designed to make it easier for visitors to browse HRB titles and meet HRB authors.  The new site may be up as early as next week, but (hopefully) no later than the first week of November.

I'll close with another vagancia.  For some reason, lately I've taken to making videos about my courses at Avila.  I shared the first video, about Ecology through the Writers Lens, a couple weeks back.  Now here's a video about my introductory course on Environmental Science.  Enjoy, and stay tuned because there is much more news to come. . .

Friday, October 11, 2013

La Reina Católica

My new favorite novel.
I recently finished C.W. Gortner's wonderful historical fiction novel, The Queen's Vow, based on the life of Isabella of Spain.  After I posted my review on Goodreads, a friend informed me that the Spanish television channel RTVE is currently broadcasting an award-winning series that covers the same period, entitled Isabel.

This couldn't have been more perfect timing.  With all the emotion and drama of the novel still fresh in my mind, I was so ready to see it in action on screen. My husband and I watched the first two episodes of season one last night, and I couldn't be more pleased.  The acting is superb, as is the recreation of the brutal, passionate, and complex culture of 15th century Spain.

The STARZ original series The White Queen comes off as insipid by comparison (despite the fact that I've enjoyed the series, and look forward to watching the final episode this weekend).  As for HBO's rendition of Game of Thrones. . .I'm sorry.  Even with its intrigues and dragons and zombie-beings from the frozen north, Westeros doesn't hold a candle to the real world of 15th century Spain. 

Major players in the RTVE series Isabel.
Why am I so taken by Isabel?

Well, for one I'm a sucker for historical fiction of any sort. Even poorly done historical fiction keeps me happy; well-done historical fiction makes me ecstatic.

Then, there is the extraordinary character of Isabella, as portrayed in both the novel and the series.  After nine episodes of watching Elizabeth Woodville wring her hands and cast spells to ensure her fortune in The White Queen, it is wonderfully refreshing to have the Princess of Asturias take on the dangers of the Spanish court with intelligence, wisdom, and most especially action. 

Must we believe Elizabeth Woodville's success was
only a matter of beauty, love, and a touch of magic?
Gortner's rendition of Isabella's life appeals for all the same reasons.  In his novel, he gives us a queen whose world does not revolve around the love of her king (though by most accounts, Isabella did love her Ferdinand); a woman whose powers extend far beyond looking longingly out the window as her husband goes to war. 

Isabella does not sit by idly while others defend her will and prepare to fight her battles. She is the key player in forging the alliances and securing the conditions that made possible the victorious campaign to unify Spain. 

Not that Isabella's record is spotless.  There is the small matter of the Spanish Inquisition, and the continuing controversy as to whether her sponsorship of Columbus' quest was, in the end, a good thing or a bad. 

But whether or not you admire all the faces of Isabella, to see her portrayed as a real woman -- forthright, determined, taking command of her own fate despite the odds -- feels like a unique and special event.

Why is it so difficult for us to bring the remarkable women of history to life on screen? 

Young and capable, Isabella of Castile understands
what it will take to secure her throne.
I suspect Elizabeth Woodville had her own cunning, as well as a real capacity to contribute to the security of her husband's reign, in ways The White Queen refuses to acknowledge. Instead, the series chooses to focus on her great beauty as the reason for her rise to power, and resorts to magic as an explanation for her ability to remain on the throne.

Isabella of Castile was beautiful, too. And while she did not practice magic, she had absolute confidence in the power of her prayers and her faith.

Yet beauty and prayers were not what won Isabella the throne; nor did she ever seek to rely solely on these gifts. What secured the crown of Castile was young Isabella's ingenuity and her capacity to take action in key moments that transformed her people's history.

Isabella is not the only woman in history to claim such gifts. There have been extraordinary women like her throughout the centuries.

Maybe some day having their stories rendered in novels and on TV in the way that Gortner and RTVE reconstructed the life of Isabella will, while never ceasing to be delightful, at least feel somewhat less unique.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meet the Characters Blog Fest

Welcome to the Meet the Characters Blogfest!

Readers, get ready for a whole month of some of the most interesting, hottest, attention grabbing characters in today's YA, NA, Romance, Horror, and Paranormal fiction! 

Meet the Characters will be hosted at author DelSheree Gladden's blog. All month long we'll be introducing readers to amazing characters through character bios, artwork, interviews, and contests. Check out the schedule below from what you'll find each day this month. 

That's Not All...

We'll be having some fabulous contests, each of which has it's own giveaway. Readers will get to vote on the characters, and one lucky voter in each contest will win a copy of the book the Winning Character comes from. The character giveaways will include: 

Hottest Guy Contest (10/4)
Feistiest Girl Contest (10/11)
Cutest Couple Contest (10/18)
Steamiest Couple Contest (10/25)

There will also be one MAIN GIVEAWAY starting today where 1 LUCKY WINNER will win a prize pack of 40 books from some of today's hottest new authors. Additional winners will be chosen to receive runner-up prize packs as well. Scroll down and enter below! 


10/2 -- Character interviews with Zadie Stonebrook (My Sister's Reaper - Dorothy Dreyer),            Tizzy Donovan (Laid out and Candle Lit - Ann Everett), Kristi Becker (A Plain                  Wish - Cyndi Lord), Zander Roth (Wicked Hunger - DelSheree Gladden)
10/3 -- Character Bios from Kristi Becker (A Plain Wish - Cyndi Lord), Bryan Sullivan                    (Arcadia's Gift - Jesi Lea Ryan), Brandon James (Love and Other Games - Aria                  Kane
10/4 -- Hottest Guy Contest (Stop by and vote for your favorite!)

10/7 -- Character Surprise Posts from authors RH Ramsey and DelSheree Gladden
10/8 -- Character Artwork from The Other F Word (Susan Stec) and Wicked Hunger                    (DelSheree Gladden) 
10/9 -- Character interviews with Kate Everett (A Slight Change of Plan - Dee Ernst),                  Jean (In Polester Pajamas - Catherine Dougherty), Ben (Twenty-Five - Rachel                    Hamm), Vanessa Roth (Wicked Hunger - DelSheree Gladden)
10/10 -- Character Bios from Kassia (Ice Magic), Maze (The Ballerina and the Fighter -                    Ursula Sinclair), Lucien (Smoke, Wings, and Stone - Marijon Bradley)
10/11 -- Feistiest Girl Contest (Stop by and vote for your favorite!)

10/14 -- Character Surprise Posts from authors Kara Leigh Miller, Sharon Kleve, Linda                  Budzinski 
10/15 -- Character Artwork from On a Wing and a Dare (Linda Ulleseit), Invisible                            (DelSheree Gladden)
10/16 -- Character interviews with David Corbin and Jon Reyes (Sign of the Throne -                    Melissa Eskue Ousley), Rosie (In Polyester Pajamas - Catherine Dougherty),                        Ketchup (Wicked Hunger - DelSheree Gladden)
10/17 -- Character Bios from Nadia (love and Other Games - Melinda Dozier), Karin Rita
             Gastreich (Adiana of Selkynsen, from Eolyn and High Maga), (HL Carpenter)
10/18 -- Cutest Couple Contest (Stop by and vote for your favorite!)

10/21 -- Character Surprise Posts from authors Stephanie Wardrop, Lucy Crowe, Ana                    Blaze
10/22 -- Character Artwork from Haunting Joy (Lena Goldfinch), The Destroyer                        Trilogy (DelSheree Gladden), Eolyn and High Maga (Karin Rita Gastreich)
10/23 -- Character interviews with Rachel Blackstone (The Relcutant Medium - GG                        Collins), Nell (The King Series - Tawdra Kandle), Arcadia ( Arcadia's Gift - Jesi                  Lea Ryan), Olivia & Mason (Invisible - DelSheree Gladden)
10/24 -- Character Bios from Karin Rita Gastreich (Mage Corey from Eolyn and High
             Maga), Sam and Cole (Fate War: Alliance - EM Havens)
10/25 -- Steamiest Couple Contest (Stop by and vote for your favorite!)

10/28 -- Character Surprise Posts from authors Susan Stec, Shauna Roberts, Lisa                          Cresswell
10/29 -- Character Artwork from My Sister's Reaper (Dorothy Dreyer), Twin Souls                            (DelSheree Gladden)
10/30 -- Character interviews with Nathan Shaw (Reflection - Kim Cresswell), Nia (In the              Winds of Danger - Linda Ulleseit), Jayden or Merch (dark Night of the Soul - EM                Havens)
10/31 -- Winner's Announcements!!!

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