"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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thank you for visiting!

Eolyn's great adventure has moved elsewhere. Please click the image below to share your magic with other magas and mages at Karin Rita Gastreich's official web site. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Small Escapes

I've been reflecting lately on the importance of momentary escapes in our lives, when we break away from routine on a small but important scale. The afternoon cup of coffee, for example. Or the evening glass of wine. A walk through the woods at sunset. An unexpected call from an old friend.

This past weekend I had two small escapes worth noting, one expected and one unexpected.

A new friend from Konza Prairie.
My expected escape was an overnight trip to Konza Prairie, a reserve and biological station located in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The site is truly spectacular. The wildflowers are in bloom right now, and the sumacs are beginning to turn scarlet red, leaving splashes of color across a sage sea. We saw bees, butterflies, and beautiful spiders; hawks, turkeys, deer, and bison.  Amy Milakovic and I will be taking a course there in a few weeks, and I look forward to sharing that adventure with you.

My unexpected small escape was sinking into the opening passages of a truly engaging novel.

I've read a lot of good books these past few months, but not every story teller can convince you in the first couple of pages that you are in for a great tale. It's been a while since I've come across an author with that particular gift.

The author in question is Susan Carroll, and the novel is The Dark Queen, a historical fantasy set in France during the reign of Catherine de Medici. It has been on my shelf for a long while. I believe I picked it up in the used section of the Boulder Book Store during one of my visits to Colorado. It caught my attention because I had just read a biography about the infamous queen. I brought the novel home, put it on my shelf, and promptly forgot about it for months and years to come.

A new treasure for my reading list.
I have a habit of doing this; snatching up a book in the moment and then setting it aside for rediscovery at a later date. It's kind of like organizing my own personal Easter egg hunt. Because I have a variety of books I've stashed away for later, I'm never quite sure what treasure I'll find the next time I search my shelf.

In addition to the book being very well written, I feel like I may have come across a kindred spirit in the author. Carroll's main character, Ariane, is a "daughter of the earth", a descendant of practitioners of white magic whose craft has long been forbidden and buried beneath the customs of her people. The parallels with Eolyn and the magas are apparent, though of course the stories are very different. Still, reading this book feels like coming home and settling into a familiar place.

Those are some of my small escapes right now.

To celebrate the fall equinox, the Kindle and Nook editions of Eolyn are on sale this week for just $0.99!  Also, don't forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for High Maga, which ends on September 30.

We are in the final countdown to moving to my new web site at krgastreich.com. I'm excited, but also nervous and nostalgic. I've been at this blogspot site since 2010, and I've really enjoyed it. But I also feel it's time for a change. I'm looking forward to exploring my new domain and sharing it with you. Plus, the site looks great!  Be sure to join us on October 1 as we inaugurate the new site. There will be more special offers and giveaways then.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ask the Author

This week I'm trying out Goodreads new "Ask the Author" program as a way of engaging with readers and other lovers of fantasy, sci fi, and historical fiction. If you're a Goodreads member, please visit my profile page for a chance to ask any questions you like about my books, writing, and publishing in general.  Friend and follow me, too! I'm always looking to widen my circle of fellow book lovers, and I'd love to see you in that neck of the virtual woods.

Don't forget we are running a Goodreads Giveaway for High Maga. The Giveaway ends on September 30. You can enter by clicking the announcement at the end of this post, or on the right hand bar of the blog.

Last week, I started back in my regular slot on Heroines of Fantasy. If you haven't already, stop by to check out my latest post on romantic elements in epic fantasy. For the next six months, I will have a regular spot on HoF every second Monday of the month.

As HoF coordinator for September and October, I am also lining up our guest posts. On September 22, DelSheree Gladden returns to talk about her dark and intriguing Wicked Hunger series. September 29, we will welcome Jon Cleaves, owner of DGS Games, in a first-ever post from a gaming master. On October 27 we will feature historical fiction and fantasy author Joseph Finley.

Only two weeks left before we move this blog to the new website at krgastreich.com. That move will be celebrated with some very special offers, events, and giveaways as well. Stay tuned!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

High Maga by Karin Rita Gastreich

High Maga

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Magic of Kir

I am very happy today to welcome L. Blankenship as a guest author. I met L. Blankenship through the Magic Appreciation Tour.

L. Blankenship started writing animal stories as a kid and it's just gotten completely out of hand since then. Now she's out publishing her gritty fantasy and hard science fiction adventures. L grew up in New Hampshire but currently lives near Washington, DC.

L. Blankenship has written a great post on the unique magic system of her Disciple series. Please join me in welcoming her to the blog!

A simple plan

The kir-magic system in Disciple is rooted in three deceptively simple rules:

1. All magical charms (spells) are fueled by kir.
2. The laws of physics, conservation of mass and energy, etc., fully apply.
3. No other “para-normal” forces or beings actually exist.


Kir is sort of a cold plasma that’s reactive to willpower. The stuff wells up out of the earth in select places called founts. Kir founts always involve a water spring as well, regardless of whether a spring “ought” to be in that location, and kir-laced water is especially bright, clear, and attractive.

There’s energy inherent in kir. In its raw state, it takes the form of a green mist that even un-gifted people (or animals) can detect when it’s close by or concentrated. Drinking kir-laced water or absorbing raw kir is energizing for anybody, but few people get the chance to do that.  Since kir is in limited supply, it’s carefully controlled.

Humans generate small amounts of surplus kir simply by living -- it’s an energy reserve, both biological and mental. It’s only enough for one small charm every few days, though. Once used in a charm, kir disintegrates and returns to the earth.

Laws of physics

Within these, kir can do almost anything. I took a fairly conservative, reality-based version of physics -- no quantum effects or anything too theoretical, and came up with these limitations:
  • No teleportation. Time/space can’t be torn open, worm-holed or otherwise screwed with.
  • No clairvoyance/ESP. See above.
  • No true telepathy or mind reading. Body language can be read to a fine degree and that can resemble mind-reading. Saint-bonds allow for a limited sort of telepathy.
  • No “luck” manipulation.
  • No prophesy.
  • No “spirit-walking”.
  • Conservation of mass applies to shape-shifters, though they can play with their density a bit if they are skilled enough.
Plus two rules:

Line-of-sight limitation. Charms cannot be targeted at something or someone the caster cannot see. If the enemy’s standing behind a door, it’s perfectly legit to kill him by ramming the door into the far wall -- but you can’t telekinetically reach through the keyhole and strangle him, for example.

Only kir cuts kir. When it’s acting under the influence of a mage, kir can project force. It can be a club or a blade, but no ordinary club or blade can break it. Kir-blades also have an unnerving ability to “skip” armor or flesh and cut through the victim’s vitals. So when a kir-mage goes on a rampage, the goodfolk’s only defense is another kir-mage.

Only game in town

The goodfolk believe in kobolds (goblins), shades (ghosts), various denizens of the Winter Wood (hell), and things like luck, fate, or prophetic visions -- but these spring from the same roots as they do in our world.

Innate skill

Everyone has at least a little ability to manipulate kir. Training will improve one’s skill, but the ultimate limit is determined by innate talent. Technically speaking, this a multi-factor para-genomic predisposition which I am not going to clarify any further than that.

Saints are the strongest of the kir-mages, and the Elect are the next step down. It’s said that there might be a hundred saints in the world, at any given time. Perhaps two or three hundred Elect.

As of Disciple, Part V, Kate has reached the rank of Elect and works directly with Saint Qadeem in defending the kingdom against the invading Empire. The rest of her life, however, is in shambles. Love and war have both taken their toll on her, but she must find her strength and face the final attack.

Back cover

Kate faces winter with a broken heart: betrayed by one lover, the other lost to her.

Kiefan will not give up on the alliance his kingdom desperately needs — even though the Caer queen refuses to speak to him.

Anders, alone and despairing, faces the Empress’s seductive offers of power and privilege.

Each of them must carry the ongoing war in their own way, whether cold, alone, or backed into a corner. Each must patch together a broken heart as best they can. Duty will throw them together soon enough and they must be ready.
On Sale Now!
Read Disciple, Part I for FREE

Disciple, Part VI ends the series early next year!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop

I am very happy today to welcome author Linda Ulleseit to my blog.

Linda 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. It’s sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER, was released March, 2013. The focus of that book is the misty past of a groom and the murky future of a rider. The last book in the trilogy is UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, May 2014. It follows a brother and sister, new to High Meadow, who become involved in a plot to steal flying horses.

As a child, Linda always loved to write. She took her first creative writing course in seventh grade, accumulating a closet full of stories that she never showed anyone until 2007. At that time, she gave the first draft of a flying horse book to a teacher colleague to read. ON A WING AND A DARE began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2009. It was revised with the help of reviewers on thenextbigwriter.com over the next two years. For NaNo 2011, Linda drafted the sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER. NaNoWriMo 2012 brought the first draft of UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, and NaNoWriMo 2013 saw the completion of UNDER THE ALMOND TREES. This last is a historical fiction that follows three women who struggle for women’s rights in early California.

Linda has also written a novella titled WINGS OVER TREMEIRCHSON, released as an ebook in Fall 2013. It follows the story of Hoel and Neste, parents of a main character in ON A WING AND A DARE. 

Linda is celebrating the new school year with a month-long blog hop. Check out her novels below; you just might find your next favorite book. You can visit Linda at her blog Books Books Books

Book Blurb: 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.


Book blurb:
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?


Ralf knows he must take over his father’s bakery, but is it wrong to want some adventure before he does? New to High Meadow, he is befriended by the beautiful and dangerous Branwen, who has her own goal—to entice Ralf to help her steal a winged horse and return it to Tremeirchson.

Meanwhile, Ralf’s sister, Alyna, dives into barn life. Becoming a groom to a winged foal is a lot of responsibility to the horse, to the barn, and to her father, who idolizes the wrong barn leader. Politics, greed, and revenge swirl around the teenaged siblings as they struggle to be true to their family and their future.

WINGS OVER TREMEIRCHSON (a flying horse novella)
Book Blurb: Eighteen year old Neste rides a winged horse in Tremeirchson's Aerial Games and she is betrothed to the barn leader's son, Hoel. Life would be wonderful if Hoel wasn't so unpleasant to the other riders. Adam, on the other hand, is handsome and nice but a terrible rider. Together, Hoel and Adam are the perfect man. Obviously she can't have both of them. When Neste's winged horse is involved in a terrible accident, her life changes and she must make different choices about her future. Can she go against her father's dying wish that she marry Hoel? Can she forgive Adam? Can she make a life away from the barn and the winged horses she loves?



Under the Almond Trees is the story of my family – three ordinary women in California who lived extraordinary lives. It started with a falling tree branch that killed Ellen VanValkenburgh’s husband in 1862, forcing her to assume leadership of his paper mill, something women weren’t allowed to do. Women weren’t allowed to vote yet, either. Ellen decided that had to change, and became a suffragette. In 1901, Emily Williams , Ellen’s daughter-in-law, became an architect – very much against her family’s wishes. No one would hire a woman, but Emily would not be deterred. She and her life partner Lillian set out to build homes themselves. By the 1930’s women enjoyed more freedom, including the vote. Even so, Ellen’s granddaughter Eva VanValkenburgh chose a traditional life of marriage and children, even closing her photography business at her husband’s insistence. When he later refused to pay for their daughter’s college education, Eva followed the example of her Aunt Emily and reopened her photography business. I am proud to call these women family and honored to share their story.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dicho y Hecho

What does Dicho y Hecho mean?

"Said and Done."

When I get a project in my head - something I am really exciting about - it's almost impossible for me to think about anything else until I get that project done.

This can be both a blessing and a curse, but I like to think that more often than not, it's a blessing.

Last month I got it in my head that I wanted a proper web site - that is, a domain that carries my name. This is not a new idea; I've been toying with it almost since I published my first novel. But for many reasons, now seems the right time. I have several publications out and more on the way. I have a better idea now of how I want to engage with my readers and develop my brand as an author. I've also been around on the internet and interacted with enough authors to know what website platforms are out there, and which of those might work best for me.

So [drum roll please], I have at last purchased my own domain and set up a true author web site.  You can visit me now at http://krgastreich.com. In fact, I cannot wait to see you there! I am integrating the site with my Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads accounts, so we can have various avenues of communication converging in one place.

I will also, at the end of this month, move my blog to krgastreich.com. All of my past posts, from 2010 forward, will be exported to the new domain, and as of September 30 I will no longer be sharing new posts here. The blogspot site will remain on line for archival purposes, and also to receive and redirect any stray visitors who still have the old address.

I am very excited about this move and I sincerely hope you will make it with me. Click on the image below to stop by the new site. Sign up to follow via email or wordpress, and let the adventure continue. I look forward to receiving you in my new home!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Plans and Prospects

Nothing pleases a geek more than
a fresh set of bookshelves!
Classes have started now at Avila, and wow! We have hit the ground running. New offices, new labs, new faculty, new students, new textbooks, new courses, and soon in my house - out of necessity - a new air conditioner.

Sometimes it seems the whole universe has gone into renewal mode. Not surprisingly, I am inspired to follow suit.

Setting up my new office and labs at Avila has been thoroughly exciting. The space is so much more comfortable than what I had before, with a big desk and proper bookshelves, and most important, space to receive and meet with students. The first time I walked into my office, I thought, "I could have a party in here!" In a sense, I will be hosting a party, an academic party focused on supporting students in their journey through the exciting and challenging field of biology.

Maybe I'll inspire a few of them to write, too.

Having new digs on campus has pricked my skin a little, and now I want new digs on line, too. I've been thinking a lot these past few weeks about new and better forums for engaging with fans of Eolyn and readers of fantasy.

Typically about once a year I remodel my blog, and that will almost certainly happen again between now and December. But I would also like to set up an entirely new 'virtual' office. So I am in the process of designing a proper website, a domain that carries my name and that will serve as a central gathering point for readers interested in the kinds of stories I have to offer.

Konza Prairie is the destination for our new interdisciplinary
course, Ecology Through the Writer's Lens.
There's no tight deadline on the new web site, but as a loose goal I intend to have something up and running for the World Fantasy Convention at the beginning of November. It may happen before then, depending on time and inspiration.

For those of you who follow this blog, Eolyn Chronicles will continue to be my place for weekly posts. The website will include links to this site as well as to Heroines of Fantasy. 

What do I want from my new web site? I want it to be cosy, exciting, inviting. I hope that, upon arriving at the site, my visitors will feel welcome, and that they will have the sense of standing on the threshold of a great and magical adventure.  To that end, I'm working on banner ideas, text copy, and so forth. As the web site comes together, I will probably make changes here and on my Facebook page to have continuity between the different platforms.

This is the start of the exciting news - there is more to come. This fall I will be welcoming guest authors and hosting giveaways and special offers. We are also looking forward to the release of an audio edition of High Maga before the year is out. And of course, work continues on Daughter of Aithne. 

Those are the updates for the moment. Have something new in your life right now? I'd love to hear about it! Let the fun begin.