An Evening of Wine and Friendship

The official date, time, and place has now been set for the launch party for High Maga:

Saturday April 12th
at the
Whitfield Center
Avila University Campus
11901 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO 64145
The event will start at 5pm and end at 7pm, or when we run out of cake, whichever comes first.  (After the cake runs out, we are likely to proceed to the nearest pub.) I’ll post an announcement in the side bar of the blog soon, but please mark your calendars.  If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you at the party.  The event is free and open to the public, and books will be available for purchase and signing. 
Of course, April 12th is a full eight days after the official launch date.  If you can’t wait a week to get your copy, don’t worry!  The book will be available through Amazon starting April 4th.  Also, next week I will start a Goodreads Giveaway for High Maga, giving you a chance to win a free signed copy. (If you haven’t entered the giveaway for Eolyn, now is your last chance! That giveaway ends on March 4th.)
My editor Eric T. Reynolds has been released from intensive care at the hospital and moved to a rehabilitation center closer to home.  We are all really happy with the progress he is starting to make, and look forward to his continued recovery. 
Heather McDougal is just about done with the full cover design for the paperback edition of High Maga, so this time next week you may get to see it.  The cover is magnificent. I am not exaggerating. I could not be more pleased with how the front and back cover art have come together, and I cannot wait to share it with you.
Sometime in the coming weeks, I will also post a full preview of the first three chapters of High Maga.  So stay tuned for that!
Speaking of previews, onto our feature for this week.  Last Friday, you met Eolyn’s sisters in magic, Adiana and Renate.  Today you get to join them for an evening of wine and friendship. This is one of my favorite scenes; it is light-hearted, gossipy, and full of charm, without undermining the deeper conflicts that plague Renate, who tells this part of the story.  Enjoy, and thank you, once again, for accompanying me during the countdown to High Maga

High Maga

Chapter 11 (Excerpt)

“I speak in earnest, Renate.” Adiana’s words were slurred by drink. “Borten would be an excellent suitor for Eolyn. He’s good man, a considerate lover—”
Wine escaped Renate’s lips in a sputtering laugh. “How would you know Borten’s a considerate lover?”
Adiana shrugged. “I can see it in his face.”
Renate let go a high pitched cackle and shook her head. “See it in his face? I’ll wager you’ve seen more than his face. You’ve been restless as a lynx in heat since Eostar.”
Adiana gave a mock cry of protest and struck Renate playfully on the shoulder. “How dare you! One does not have to be a maga to see into the hearts of men. I learned a few things working the taverns in Selkynsen, you know. I can read a man as surely as Eolyn reads her books.”
“As surely as Eolyn reads her books in bed,” Renate replied in crisp tones.
Adiana flopped back on the blanket with an indignant harrumph. They had settled in the courtyard for an evening of wine and companionship, after having tucked the girls into bed. Days had passed since Eolyn departed for the South Woods, and the week would likely see its end before she returned.
 “And you accuse me of inventing stories and gossip!” Adiana complained. “Even if I had ‘read Borten in bed’, what would it matter? The magas always had untamed teachings with respect to that sort of thing. Isn’t aen-lasati the source of a woman’s greatest magic? I swear to the Gods, Renate, sometimes you seem too much of a prude to be a maga.”
A prude. Renate rolled the word over her tongue as she swirled the wine in her cup. Yes, that’s what she was. Tight inside, dry as autumn leaves underfoot. Forever bound by the failures and disillusions of her past. “The Magas of the Old Orders were disciplined women, not harlots at a summer festival. To lay claim to their understanding of aen-lasati while ignoring all their other teachings does their memory a disservice. It’s precisely that sort of myth that led us to the pyres in the first place.”
“Oh, Renate.” Adiana groaned, sat up, and reached for the wine skin. “Why must you take everything so seriously? It’s finished, remember? The war, the purges, the rebellion, the prohibition. We’re free now. The magas have been restored to their rightful place in Moisehén. We’ve got a proper Aekelahr, aspiring young magas, the protection of the Mage King, and a nice little regiment of handsome guards. Even you could have some fun, you know.”
The thought of her tired old body wrapped around one of the King’s men made Renate giggle until the giddiness shook her ribs and broke upon her lips.
 “That’s the spirit!” said Adiana. “Here, have some more wine. And tell me, which one of the guards do you like the most?”
“Oh, for the love of the Gods, Adiana!” Renate was laughing uncontrollably now, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I am an old woman.”
“Age is meaningless for a true maga. That’s what Eolyn says.” Adiana rested her head on Renate’s shoulder.
The older woman returned her warm embrace, inhaling the sweet smells of night mingled with Adiana’s vibrant aroma, of primrose and summer winds, of the riverside city that had once been her home. She envied her friend in that moment, not so much for her youth and beauty, but for her continued faith in the possibility that anything could be finished. Someday time and experience would break that faith. Desire and loss, terror and death, treachery and abandonment, all of it stayed with a person until the end of her days, animating the shadows at night, invading dreams, stealing away tranquility in the lonely hours before dawn.
Adiana gave a happy sigh and lifted her cup to the sky. “I love this moment, when the wine makes the stars shine brighter than ever. Gods bless the vineyards of Selkynsen!”

Sisters in Magic

I found this 19th century work by John Everett Mallais a while back,
and it kind of spooked me out with the similarities between these
women and Eolyn’s fledgling coven in Moehn.  From left to right:
Tasha, Adiana, Mariel, Renate, Catarina, Ghemena, Eolyn, and Sirena.

No one gets by alone in this world, and magas are no exception.  On today’s installment of our countdown to High Maga, we meet Eolyn’s sisters in magic, Adiana of Selkynsen and Maga Renate. Both appeared as minor characters in Eolyn; both assume more important roles in this second novel.  Adiana and Renate teach music and magic, respectively, as part of Eolyn’s new coven. They each bring unique gifts to the Aekelahr, and they are each dedicated, in their own way, to the restoration of women’s magic.

Adiana of Selkynsen

Adiana was born to a family of wealthy merchants. Her parents recognized her talent for music when she was very young, at a time when the purges of the Magas were in full swing. Though Adiana was not a maga, her parents feared knowledge of music would ignite dangerous suspicions, so they sent their young daughter to a neighboring kingdom to complete her studies.

While Adiana was away, the purges claimed her parents. Her mother was burned at the stake and her father beheaded. At the age of fifteen, Adiana found herself orphaned, denied of her inheritance, and left to fend for herself.

Adiana’s fate turned for the better thanks to her father’s former steward, who rescued Adiana from the streets and took her in as his own daughter.  Some years later, Mage Corey recruited Adiana into his Circle, where she quickly established herself as his most valued musician. 

By the time we meet Adiana in High Maga, she has become Eolyn’s closest friend. In many ways, she is the co-protagonist of the story. Though war separates them, their paths remain connected. Adiana does not command magic like her friend, but her extraordinary music confers its own power, and its own promise of salvation.

Maga Renate

Renate was trained in magic during the last years of the Old Orders. A youthful woman when the war started against Kedehen, she survived the purges that followed through somewhat shady circumstances. She chose to betray her sisters in magic and to publicly renounced her own powers.

The bitter burden of this failure haunts Renate for the rest of her life.  In the wake of the purges, she finds an uneasy peace as a dance mistress for Corey’s Circle. Here she meets Eolyn, who eventually invites her to help renew women’s magic as part of the fledgling coven of Moehn.

Renate brings to  the coven a wealth of knowledge from the kingdom’s oldest traditions of magic. She is strict in nature and demands the highest standards of discipline from all her students. 

She believes that one day the Gods will exact a price for her cowardice and failure during the purges.  Every morning and every evening she reflects upon this expectation, and she prays for the strength to meet her moment of ultimate sacrifice with dignity, humility, and courage.


I had thought to introduce you to Sir Borten this week too, who is another important character of the Aekelahr, but I’ve decided to hold off on that just a little longer. 

Next week, another preview of the novel with a scene featuring Adiana and Renate.

Bad News and Good News

Another break from the regular programming today.

I wanted to touch base with all of you and let you know what is happening behind the scenes at Hadley Rille Books.

Those of you who are in touch with HRB through other channels have probably heard by now that our editor-in-chief, Eric T. Reynolds, has taken very ill. We’re hopeful and confident that he will recover, but it’s going to take time, patience, and a lot of support.

For a press as small as HRB, the loss of one person is a big blow. The loss of the MAIN person is like a crater shot through the moon.  The hole left is so big sometimes you can’t see around it, only through it.

Questions are starting to trickle in with respect to the short-term future of HRB. Terri-Lynne DeFino, who is now acting editor-in-chief, will be posting a formal announcement in the coming days as to where HRB will remain active and where it will suspend activities until Eric’s return.  Not to steal her thunder, but I can say, for example, that HRB will move forward with audio editions of several of its titles, including Eolyn. Also, the Ruins Anthology is still a go, with the deadline for submissions set for February 28th.

Most relevant for visitors to this blog is the future of High Maga. It’s been a little touch and go the last couple of weeks as we have been sorting out what has been done, and what is left to do, to meet the release date.  Just a week ago, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but now I can say with confidence that the Kindle edition will be released, as planned, on April 4th.  The paperback edition will be available on or around the same date. 

I have a lot of people to thank for this.  Most especially, Terri-Lynne DeFino who has stepped up in an amazing way to organize the press in the wake of Eric’s illness.  Heather McDougal will be working with Thomas Vandenberg to finalize the cover design.  Eric’s wife Nancy has assisted us with accessing crucial files on his computer.  But most of all, I am so very grateful to Eric, who really had everything pretty much ready to go, leaving us with very little to worry about as we start the final stretch toward the publication date. 

I miss Eric. I miss him a lot. I hope he recovers soon, and that he will be able to enjoy the roll out of High Maga with the rest of us. In the mean time, we are working in his spirit, giving everything we can to bring you high quality electronic and print editions of HRB’s next great title.  As always, we appreciate your patience and enthusiastic support, and on this occasion, we also ask for your positive thoughts and prayers toward Eric’s recovery.  I will keep you posted as things develop.

In other news, it’s been a while since I’ve pointed you over to Heroines of Fantasy. We’ve been having very lively discussions there this past month or so.  Also, the blog has started a Wednesday book review series.  Please stop by to join the fun when you have a chance.
Hadley Rille Books is sponsoring a Goodreads Giveaway, which you can join by clicking the “Enter to Win” button on the right hand bar. Win a FREE signed copy of Eolyn for you or for a friend. The Eolyn giveaway ends on March 4, and soon after that we’ll start a new giveaway for High Maga.
This Friday, we’ll continue the countdown to High Maga with character bios for Eolyn’s closest allies and friends: Adiana, Maga Renate, and Sir Borten. See you then!