Peace on Earth, Good Will to All

10858456_10204538789861735_4113431568904521826_nI’m settling in for a very nice holiday. The whole family is in town for Christmas, and that of course makes these days extra special.

Fans and followers of Eolyn know how very important Winter Solstice is for the mages and magas of Moisehen. One of my favorite chapters in the first novel covers the events of Winter Solstice at Mage Corey’s estate in East Selen. Corey’s carnival-like celebration is a new and daunting experience for Eolyn, who until that time has known Winter Solstice only as a quiet vigil of shared stories and spiced wine, enjoyed with her beloved tutor Ghemena.

In Eolyn’s world, Winter Solstice can be observed as an intimate family event or as a great festival, but however practitioners choose to celebrate, it is always a time of deep magic. Magas and mages weave their spells together through song, dance, and sometimes more intimate rites, in order to bring the sun back from the Underworld and maintain the balance of the nature.

Balance is the ultimate goal of Eolyn’s journey, and it has proven a difficult goal indeed. Eolyn has survived two novels worth of war, oppression, and conflict. The third novel, now in progress, brings us to the final game, with the highest stakes and the greatest losses as Eolyn and her cohorts struggle to overcome history and attain a lasting peace for the Kingdom of Moisehen.

It’s funny how the prayers of the real world often flow into the worlds of our imagination. In this holiday season, I find myself wishing Eolyn and all her people peace, just I pray for peace in ours.

Of course, one might argue that as an author, I have much more control over whether this dream is realized for the Kingdom of Moisehen than any of us do over the fate of peace on Earth. Yet through the trials and epiphanies of this past year, I have reaffirmed my belief that all of us contribute to the peace (or conflict) of our times in small but significant ways.

So here is my prayer for you, and also for myself: that each of our paths to peace will be revealed in the coming year, and that we will find the courage to walk the paths that are given to us.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and most of all, peace for you and all those you love.

HIGH MAGA now available in audio book

HM audio cover final 5MB

The cover of the audio edition of HIGH MAGA features the same spectacular art work by Thomas Vandenberg.

I’m a little late on posting this news, but it’s true! You can now enjoy High Maga narrated by the extraordinarily talented Darla Middlebrook.

Darla, who also narrated the audio edition of Eolyn, did an amazing job with this second novel, though it represents a much darker journey than its predecessor. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Darla again, and I couldn’t be more pleased with her work on this novel.

Visit Amazon to listen to a free sample. You can purchase your copy from Amazon or iTunes. Even better – download it for free with a trial Audible membership.

Shortly after the new year, I’ll be organizing a blog tour to celebrate this release. Stay tuned for that, as there will be activities, giveaways, and a series of posts that reveal the inside story on the writing of High Maga and the production of the audio edition.

For those of you unfamiliar with the novel and its narrator, I’ve posted a blurb about both below. I hope you will consider purchasing the audio edition for yourself or for a friend. This is a great way to discover the adventure and magic of Eolyn’s world.

HIGH MAGA (audio edition)

Karin Rita Gastreich (author), Darla Middlebrook (narrator)

Lands ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons let loose upon the earth.

War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.

“War propels the book forward, and the characters are at their best when the events engulfing them are at their worst.” –Publishers Weekly

“A must read for any fantasy lover.” -Amazon Customer Review

View High Maga on Amazon.

About Darla Middlebrook

Darla MiddlebrookWith experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.​

​Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrates podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.  She is able to produce retail quality audio books from her home studio in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – Canada.

Darla’s Web Links:

Website: http://www.darlasvoice.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/damiddlebrook

Twitter: @GypsyCatVoice

Will Hahn – REUNION OF THE SOULS Tour and Giveaway

Will 4Will Hahn is back!  I’m so happy to have this very entertaining author as a guest on my blog again.

I met Will through The Magic Appreciation Tour. Will has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.

Will didn’t always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.

Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). His current epic is Judgement’s Tale; parts one and two, Games of Chance and Strength of Conviction came out in 2014 and part three, Reunion of Souls is available starting December 26th.

Please join me in welcoming Will Hahn!

Tell us about your latest release.

It’s called Reunion of Souls, the third installment in the epic fantasy Judgement’s Tale. This is classic fantasy with all the trimmings—sure, there’s the “meat and potatoes”, a dragon and a liche and a demon, miracles and spells, secrets from ages past in rhyme, that you just know are important. The main character, Solemn Judgement, is an alien and an orphan in the Lands of Hope. His first act after stepping ashore is to bury his father, and in many ways his life doesn’t get any better after that. But for “trimmings”, this series also has seen a bizarre tide-wading prayer ritual, six-legged wolves, a city where the law hasn’t been broken in forty centuries, and a four-year old narrator. Now in Part Three, you’ll read of actors who are normal-sized offstage but eight feet tall in character, a lost order of knighthood found again, and probably the most disastrous tea-party since the guy in the top hat yelled “no room!”

What inspired you to write Judgement’s Tale?

I cannot tell a lie. He did. But as for “inspired”… Solemn Judgement was the very first thing I ever saw about the Lands of Hope. He has been stalking my conscious thought for more than thirty years—I always see him gazing at me, and he hardly ever speaks, but his face is always so driven and purposeful. He hounds me, the truth to tell. I took copious notes on all parts of the Lands, and yet in every country I visited, following heroic bands whose deeds I have chiefly chronicled since 2011 in my books, it always seemed that Solemn Judgement was there, near the center of the action but not with anyone. Adventurers are not a well-respected group in the Lands of Hope, yet they are fiercely loyal to each other. But Solemn Judgement was a pariah even to them; it made me wonder, where he came from and what drove him to be like this. So I started looking further back into history than before, and I realized some of what shapes him, the reason why he is the Man in Grey. That is Judgement’s tale.

What do you find most challenging about the writing process?

first graphic

What do you enjoy most about crafting a story?

second graphic

Which is harder: writing, publishing, or marketing?

Writing to me is not measured in hardness, only relief. Just getting around to it is always fun, always rewarding. So by that light, all of Publishing and all of Marketing are harder. I’m also haunted by the constant thought that I made poor choices in Publishing, at least in my early career. Since I recently signed with a micro-publisher for the Judgement’s Tale series, I feel greatly reassured. As for Marketing, I’m more at ease; I’m quite sure I was never any good at that! But again, Katharina my publisher has helped me tremendously to do better there.

Is this the final book in the series, or is there more to come?  Tell us what you have in the works right now.

Reunion of Souls is the third installment of Judgement’s Tale, which concludes with Part Four, Clash of Wills in late March of 2015. But the epic continues in the second novel, entitled The Eye of Kog, which is scheduled for publication starting in July 2015.

That is clearly job one right now and I’ve been writing fairly well towards that end. The stretch goal for me is to return to my other series, called Shards of Light, and complete Part Three, entitled Perilous Embraces. That’s been a rough go I can tell you!

Everyone has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is. What does success in writing look like to you?

The focus for me is on steady improvement. The only area where I don’t require an increase from year to year is in the word count; that will take care of itself. But to write more cleanly, to have to revise less, to get better comments each year from beta-readers (by which I mean, deeper and more detailed because I’ve cleared the way grammatically). I want more sales each year naturally, the “slow burn” that people talk about is the method. I never want to write a tale, or even a chapter of one, and look at it later to think I could have done as well two years ago.

Why would Judgement’s Tale make a great holiday gift?

Because right now, TODAY and going forward, you can give so much for so little! Reunion of Souls will be out soon, and you can get a fantasy-loving friend started with Part One, Games of Chance now for just 99 cents. And as you send that gift, let them know there will be two more books ahead of them, with the fourth on the way. That’s a lot of Hope in one present!

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? Any important messages hidden in your work?

Epic fantasy is not the home of brand-new morals or deconstructed philosophy. I can promise you that Hope is better than Despair, that crime does not pay, and that those who sacrifice for the ones they love are heroes. Solemn Judgement discovers that “noble” is an adjective, not a noun, and this great truth carries much of the action in this tale. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but he was never one to shirk responsibility.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Please enjoy the holiday season—I think it’s more than nice to have, it’s vital. Whether in the Christmas spirit or whatever way you celebrate, it’s life-sustaining to feel the joy of giving. This is the fuel you will need in the very cold months ahead. And at the risk of shattering the mood I’ve just tried to create, I should mention if you’re stuck for ideas that e-books make excellent gifts!

~*~

About Reunion of the Souls

LoHI_JT_RoS_cover_frontWith a world in crisis, its heroes reach out to find companions, to take stock for the struggle ahead, and to look beneath the surface at clues that may make the difference between a person’s fame and a nation’s doom.

On the fringe of the cursed Percentalion, Treaman’s adventuring band revives the glory-days of Trainertown, celebrated by all—except themselves—as the hand of destiny. Somewhere in the remote Marble Swords, Sir Renan abandons name and fortune to seek a brotherhood that no one else believes exists. Near the forests north of Shilar, Prince Gareth wrestles with the choice to preserve his honor alone, or rejoin his royal father’s house and in so doing, cause a war between the children of Hope.

Now at the heart of Conar—safest city in the Lands—Solemn Judgement, the Man in Grey, uncovers the gateway to peril; he is thrown among adventurers that include his only friend, the woman who refused to teach him, and a man who has vowed his death, in… Reunion of Souls.

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LINKS

Will’s Weirdly Whimsical Website is where he posts news about upcoming releases and blogs about writing, classic fantasy works you’ve never read and the unique photo-based series “It Figures”.

The Lands of Hope Facebook page contains a chronology of the Lands.

Will’s Tales of Hope are available at many online retailers:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

http://www.williamlhahn.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheLandsOfHope?ref=hl

http://www.amazon.com/William-L.-Hahn/e/B0057RBIO8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WillHahn

Beggar Magic Premier Tour and Giveaway

I am very happy today to welcome author Heidi Lyn Burke, who I met through the Magic Appreciation Tour.

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Heidi is launching a new novel, Beggar Magic. 

Heidi, Please tell us about your book.

Beggar Magic is a young adult fantasy set in a world of audible magic. The Strains are an invisible, intelligent force that communicate with various sounds, from voices to  musical instruments, and they permeate the world of this story.   It’s like living with your own soundtrack, which was fun to play with. It’s also about friendship and finding your place in the world. My last several books before this one had a focus on romance, so I wanted to take  a break from that as my primary focus. Not that this book doesn’t have a little bit of romance. It does, but just a little. (I’m addicted to writing kissing scenes, so I had to slip at least one in there)

Who are the main characters? What are the challenges they face?

The  main character is Leilani Weaver, but  her best friend, Zebedy, is pasted to her side for most of the story. Leilani is of a lower class than Zeb and doesn’t have as much access to the magic. However, she’s more persistent and has both courage and common sense. When unknown forces threaten the Strains, Leilani’s the one who  has to take charge. Since she’s considered a ‘second class citizen’, she has to fight for people to listen to her and take her seriously, and in the end her desire to find the truth no matter the cost endangers even her friendship with Zeb, who is a little less of a rule breaker.

What inspires you to write?

Writing lets me live vicariously through my characters. I started writing to put myself into the stories I enjoyed reading as a kid, but after a bit it becomes a part of your brain you just can’t turn off. I can hardly read now without thinking, “Well, this story is great, but what if. . .” and making my own versions or alternate ending.

What do you find most challenging about the writing process?

Finding the right story. I flail about every time I finish a piece, spending  months writing the first few pages of one thing after another, only to get frustrated and put  it aside. I  swear I go through a dozen ideas trying to find exactly what I want to write.  Once I get in a groove, I love it, but gosh, getting there takes a lot of twisting and turning.

What do you enjoy most about crafting a story?

Getting into my characters and letting them live the story. It’s almost  like I’m following them around watching them do stuff.

Any projects in the works right now? Tell us what we can expect in the future.

I usually have one piece I’m writing and one I’m editing. I jokingly call it my writing assembly line. Right now I’m on mid-way  drafts of a middle grade chapter book called Thaddeus  Whiskers and the Dragon. It’s so stinking cute that some people who have read it have gone into shock. I’m thinking about putting a warning label on it. Seriously, the main character is an eternal kitten who never grows up and can fit into his owner’s slippers. Also, it has a dragon. I’m simultaneously writing (for National Novel Writing Month) an epic fantasy piece with the working title Lands of Ash, but that’s just a baby novel right now. We’ll have to see what it looks like when it grows up.

Who are the authors that have most influenced you?

It’s weird because the authors I like the most, I don’t particularly write like. My favorite authors are J. R. R. Tolkien, Kate DiCamillo, and Dostoevsky. However, the ones who influenced me the most would probably be Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine, simply  because they  introduced me to the “full length fairy tale” format that I usually work in. I like the concept of taking time honored tales and tropes and putting my own twist on them.

What is your approach to marketing? Any tools out there that every writer should be aware of?

I’m still very much a beginner in marketing. Right now I’m still dealing with readers and bloggers one on one whenever I can, creating fans by just being me and being open to communicating with people about  my work. I think it is because I spent some time blogging before I  started publishing my  fiction. Blogging  is more about “selling” my personality and creating connections. I will say, though, that you  kind of have to be willing to give as much as you get. I help bloggers promote their pages on my  pages. I retweet and like and pin, for other authors, yes, but also for book review bloggers and others who can use a hand up. People get sick of self-promotion really quick, so you have to have something out there, something they  can identify with and come back for, even if it is just sharing Doctor Who memes on your Facebook page when nothing else is going on.

Everyone has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is. What does success in writing look like to you?

To some extent, I’ve already reached my original definition of success: I wanted to have people read and enjoy my books. It’s so  annoying having all these worlds and characters and ideas and not having anyone else know about them. When I  first decided to self-publish, it was just because I wanted to share it all with someone, anyone, even if only friends and family. Now I have fans, people who  talk about   my  stories and characters the way I would gush about Aragorn or Princess Leia, or any of the other fictional folks who  kept me company growing up.  I will admit, though, that it would be nice to be able to support my  family on this venture. My “other job” is as a stay at home mom, which I love, but financially my  family depends on my  husband. I’d  like him to be able to retire when he reaches 20 years in service (he’s in the military) and for us to be able to live off of what I do, sort of for it to be my turn to  be the bread winner.  That’s my  current goal.

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I watch way too much television, crochet, and play an occasional computer game. I used to be a World of Warcraft addict, but I had to put that aside to make time for my writing. I still indulge in an occasional puzzle or adventure game. In fact, a lot of the aesthetics of Beggar Magic were inspired by  the Myst series of games.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

I consider myself a fun writer. I don’t tackle a lot of difficult topics. I’d prefer to make people laugh and smile than to make them cry. I do admit, though, the first time someone told me a scene in one of my stories had brought them to tears, I did get a little evilly gleeful, but I  usually end my stories in a happy or at least hopeful place. I believe in fidelity and family and good old fashioned heroism. I’m a romantic, so yeah, I want people to  be happy when they finish  one of my books and feeling like they’ve had a bit of an adventure along with my characters.

Beggar Magic

coverA New Young Adult Fantasy from author H. L. Burke!

available December 9th, 2014

In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.

With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls’ friendship opens Leilani’s eyes to the world of the Highmost. She’s intrigued by Zeb’s close relationship with the Strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani’s strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the Strains at their back.

As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts’ intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the Strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind.

Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved Strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the Strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the Strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.

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Link to pre-order on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beggar-Magic-H-Burke-ebook/dp/B00NYSOVLO/ref=la_B00EYQ1HLW_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415243403&sr=1-8

Link to H. L. Burke on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7230868.H_L_Burke

Link to H. L. Burke on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hlburkewriter

Author Website: http://www.hlburkeauthor.com/