September Happenings

Sword of Shadows Kindle 3I’ve been kind of busy with the start of classes, among other things, so I’m going to skip the formal blog post this week. But I do want to share some news with you all.

First, Sword of Shadows, which was released this past July in Kindle, is now available in paperback too! You can order it on-line through Amazon or Barnes&Noble. You can also order Sword of Shadows (and Eolyn) through your local book store – just ask!

To celebrate the release of Sword of Shadows, I’m starting a blog tour next week with Goddess Fish Promotions. For three weeks, I’ll have a new stop every day with fresh content, including interviews, blog posts, and more.  The tour will include a giveaway for a $15 B&N/Amazon gift certificate; the more tour stops you visit, the more chances you can have to win.

Concurrent with the Goddess Fish tour, I’m hosting a Goodreads Giveaway for Sword of Shadows. Five signed paperback copies are up for grabs. The giveaway ends on September 21, the eve of the fall equinox. You can enter by visiting the giveaway page on Goodreads, or click on the link at the end of this post.

Finally, for the month of September only, Eolyn, Book One of The Silver Web, will be marked down to just $1.99 on Kindle. If you haven’t started the adventure yet, now’s your chance! If you already have your copy of Eolyn, please share the magic by spreading the word.

I will be back here on Monday with a full listing of blog tour stops for next week. I hope you’ll join me; it’s going to be a lot of fun!

Oh, and here’s that link to the giveaway on Goodreads:

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich

Sword of Shadows

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends September 21, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Not-So-Benevolent Sexism

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Nora K. Jemisin won the Hugo Award for best novel this year. A victory to be celebrated, but the struggle has not yet ended.

The night I watched Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic nomination for president, something shifted inside of me.

More than shifted; there was movement of seismic proportions. A complete re-ordering of my internal universe.

Until that moment, part of me believed that this was impossible; that as long as I lived, a woman would never be nominated for the presidency of the United States by a major political party. As committed to women’s rights as I am, somewhere along the way I had come to accept the exclusion of women from our nation’s highest office as inevitable.

That revelation renewed my awareness of the constant, quiet sexism that weaves through the fabric of our daily lives, shaping the assumptions we make about what is and what is not possible for women.

I’m not new to the idea of structural limitations placed on women; I’ve studied them, reflected on them, written and even taught classes about them. But this year’s election cycle brought it all out again in ugly, bold face. The many ways in which women are silenced angers me, and I’m not always sure what to do with that anger.

Let me share a handful of examples from just this past week, all of them connected to the world of science fiction and fantasy:

Incident: A woman author gives a reading from one of her fantasy novels. After the reading, which is well received, a man approaches her with a big, enthusiastic grin. Under the guise of friendly conversation, he launches into a monologue about all the great male authors who have already written the kind of story the woman just wrote (this without actually having read her novel). He finishes with the smug revelation that as a reader, he has now moved on to “grittier” stuff.

Take home message: Men are qualified to judge women’s work without having read it, because by default, women authors rehash what male authors have already done. And in any case, a woman could never write anything “gritty” enough for the manly tastes of most manly readers.

Incident: At a science fiction and fantasy conference, an all-male panel discusses biological and technological aspects of immortality. When the panel opens up to the audience for questions, several women put forward compelling thoughts about the psychological, social, cultural, and economic impacts of achieving immortality. Every question or idea put forward by a woman is politely shot down by the panel, and ultimately labeled as irrelevant or unimportant.

Take home message: Women are allowed to speak here, but their ideas are either misinformed or uninteresting, and therefore not worthy of discussion.

Incident: At the same conference, a panel of mixed gender discusses the advantages of securing a literary agent to represent an author’s work. The discussion is engaging, and the hour flies by as the panelists speak. With five minutes left at the end of the period, the floor is opened up for questions. Around thirty audience members raise their hands, men and women among them. The moderator (a white male) manages to call on six people before time is up. You know where this is going, don’t you? Despite the fact that multiple women are in the audience with their hands raised, only men are invited to speak.

Take home message: When push comes to shove, a man’s voice always takes priority over a woman’s. Oh, and if you happen to be an author looking for a science fiction or fantasy agent, we don’t really want to hear from you unless you’re a man.

This is how it happens, folks. In small moments, in invisible ways. Each particular instance seems insignificant, but together they pack a mighty punch. The same mantra is repeated with different words and actions, over and over, hour after hour, day after day, year after year.

I am absolutely certain the majority of the people involved in these situations -men and women alike – didn’t even notice what was going on. Nonetheless, because of our unconscious biases and insidious habits, men are routinely given voice and legitimacy in public forum, while women are not. And this practice reverberates through every aspect of our lives.

This is an ironic moment to be posting about sexism in the genre, on the heels of WorldCon 2016, where women swept the Hugo awards for fiction. Their recognition is a victory to be celebrated, especially in a time when right-wing activists keep trying to sabotage the Hugos. In spite of the best efforts of the worst elements of fandom, women and people of color are starting to get the recognition they deserve. And long-time con-goers confidently report that WorldCon and its cousins have made important progress toward being more inclusive and welcoming on the whole.

But these victories, as big as they are, have not quite undercut the daily routines that silence the voices of so many. Nor are those routines unique to fandom; they are part and parcel of the larger society in which we live.

About a year ago, a meme was passed around that challenged readers to go one year without reading a book by a white heterosexual male. For reasons I won’t go into here, I didn’t quite buy into that meme back then. But I’ve decided to take up the challenge now, and to make it even more exclusionary: For one year, from September 1, 2016, through August 31, 2017, only women authors will be allowed to speak in my literary world. If the novel’s not by a woman, I’m not going to bother to pick it up.

It’s not that I don’t value male authors – on the contrary. But there are other voices out there that deserve to be heard, honored, and even occasionally put forward before all the rest. Voices that have been silenced for too long, and that should not be silenced any more.

Maybe if I start listening to them in a conscientious and deliberate fashion, a few others will listen, too. And then, who knows? We just might change the world.

Going Out With a Bang

13923590_1627370550926644_4494081479866663912_oomg – Where did my summer go??

Just yesterday, summer stretched out before me like the open prairie: vast and laden with possibilities. Now it’s slipping through my grasp, on the verge of a rapid descent into the start of classes, and the beginning of that long, uphill slog toward the winter holidays.

It’s been a good summer. I wish it wasn’t so close to being over. I celebrated a friend’s wedding, visited Costa Rica (for a not-so-pleasant purpose, but still, it was Costa Rica!), played with my little girl nieces and caught up on the news with my college-age nephews. I released one novel, finished writing another, even sold a few books along the way.

What I haven’t done is [ahem] prepare for my fall classes. But there’s still time. There’s always time. Más tiempo que vida, as I’ve learned to say.

These last two weeks before the start of classes are packed with activities, so I wanted to take a moment to give you the full list of events:

August 12-14 Kansas City ComicCon, Bartle Hall, KCMO

This weekend, I’ll be with my fellow Uptown Authors in Writer’s Alley. Stop by booths 1225 and 1227 to visit and peruse our books on display, including everything from children’s stories to sci-fi/fantasy to adult erotica.

We also are running a four-person panel on Saturday,  August 13, entitled “Hitting the Wall: How Not to Crash and Burn Before Publishing Your Story.” We’ll cover important benchmarks and hurdles in the writing process, and how to manage them on the way to completing your novel. Look for us at 1:00pm in room 2504.

August 13 Inklings Books and Coffee Shop, Blue Springs, Mo

From 6pm to 9pm, Uptown Authors will be at one of our favorite Kansas City area independent book stores, Inklings. This will be an informal evening with great conversation, story telling, and snacks and refreshments. And yes, we will have books available for purchase and signing. I LOVE this store!! I really hope you will come by not only to spend time with us, but to peruse Inkling’s wonderful shelves, filled with an awesome collection of new and used books.

August 17-24 Midamerica Con II (74th WorldCon), Bartle Hall, Kansas City, MO

Yes, World Con is coming to Kansas City! This will be my first WorldCon ever, and I am very excited. In an effort to maximize my enjoyment, I’ve decided not to bother with vendor tables or panels this time around. I just want to hang out and have fun.

Look for me in the audience, at the coffee shop (afternoon) or the bar (evening). My publishing alma mater, Hadley Rille Books, is hosting a party Saturday evening that I plan to attend, so that would be another good place to find me. If you’re going to WorldCon, please drop me a line so I can look for you, too.  Get ready to geek out, Kansas City style!

Other End-of-Summer News

I’m preparing blog posts and interviews for an upcoming virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. We’ll be featuring Sword of Shadows, Book Two of The Silver WebThe tour runs for three weeks starting September 5, and will include two Amazon/Barnes&Noble gift card giveaways: one for readers who follow the tour, and another for the tour hosts.

Interested in hosting? There may still be time to sign up. Please stop by the Goddess Fish web site for more information.

Well, that’s more than enough to keep me busy until the end of the summer. I hope you, too, are enjoying your last days in the summer sun!

VBT_TourBanner_SwordOfShadows

Double Dipping on Kindle Countdowns

The Kindle countdown deal is still live for Eolyn, Book One of The Silver Web. Through the end of this weekend, you can start the adventure for just $2.99.

Even better, a new Kindle countdown deal has begun for Sword of Shadows, Book Two of The Silver Web. Right now, the gripping sequel to Eolyn is available on Kindle for only $0.99.

That means this weekend only, you can get both books for the price of one. Actually, for a penny less than the price of one! (But who’s counting pennies, right?)

For more information about Book Two of The Silver Web, read on below or visit Sword of Shadows on Amazon.

If you already have both books, please share the magic by spreading the word!

About Sword of Shadows (Book Two of The Silver Web)

Sword of Shadows Kindle 3Lands ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.

Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a millennial tradition once forbidden to women. When war strikes, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured, or scattered.

Determined to defend her people against the darkest forces of the Underworld, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.

Even as their paths are separated and their world torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where women’s magic will flourish in a world set free from violence and war.

But that dream will not be possible unless both women are willing to offer the greatest possible sacrifice…

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

Download your copy for just $0.99 cents today!

Meltdown

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While my nieces were in town, we took them to see Beauty and the Beast. A lovely performance, but half way through the musical, I wanted to stand up and shout, “This is all such a lie!”

This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through divorce.

I’m not very proud of that statement. In fact, I’m embarrassed by it.

If you’d known me for the devout Catholic girl I once was, you might understand how remarkable it is that I’ve grown up to be the twice-divorced child of the family.

Even now, saying I’m twice-divorced evokes a deep sense of failure, even shame. Toward myself and my family, toward the values and traditions they taught me. I know that’s not quite rational, but when you’ve had it programmed into your head for 18+ years that only lazy people get divorced, these are the emotions you must contend with when you face the realities of adult life.

My first marriage was a flash in the pan. We were over and done within the space of a couple years; the kind of thing that happens when you’re too young to choose the right partner, yet thankfully mature enough to recognize you’ve screwed up.

I’m not going to dredge up all the pain and turmoil of that first breakup, but I was thinking about it today because I remembered a dream I had a couple years after I signed my first divorce. In the dream, I was angry with my first husband, overcome with a sort of irrational rage that I rarely experience. And all that rage was directed at him.

When I woke up, I realized that despite the pain and frustration I felt, despite the mistreatment I’d suffered during my first marriage, I’d never allowed myself to get angry with him. I’d tried to be rational, understanding, stoic. To see our conflict from both sides, and give him the benefit of the doubt. There was no right or wrong in what was happening between us, I had told myself. We were just two good people who did not belong together.

Okay, maybe it was wise to manage my first divorce in this way. But maybe, just maybe, I also needed to get angry.

A year ago this month, my second husband and I had the conversation that officially marked the beginning of the end of our marriage. At the time, we’d been together for sixteen years. For months after that conversation, I cried every day. Somehow I managed to survive fall semester (still not sure how). Then, over the winter holidays, I visited my brother and his family, a trip that proved deeply therapeutic. I came back rejuvenated, more ready to face the next stage of my life.

Since the beginning of this year, every week has been a little easier than the last. At the same time, not a week has gone by without tears. I’m never quite sure what’s going to provoke them. It might be a song, a particular place, or even unexpected kindness from a friend.

These past few days, I’ve begun the process of reclaiming my (second) ex-husband’s office space. That’s been predictably tough. There were documents to sort through, old photos of him and us, notebooks where he laid out his plans and ideas for projects that he wanted to complete while he was here.

I got through all of that in one piece, though not without some sadness. I cleaned out the bookshelf and the closet; I put all the important looking papers in safe storage. I vacuumed and dusted everything. Then, I started rearranging the furniture.

This is going to be my new writing place, you see. During the years of our marriage, “my” office was confined to a corner of the guest bedroom. To be fair, that made sense at the time, because he spent many more hours working out of the home than I did. But now I have the opportunity for a proper home office of my own, and I intend to make use of it.

In the midst of moving around bookshelves, chairs, and whatnot, my big toe had an unfortunate encounter with his old desk. That’s what triggered the meltdown. From one moment to the next, I became pure rage. For the first time, I hated my ex-husband. I did. Or maybe hate and anger are the same thing; I don’t know. But I hated him for having such a big, stupid desk. Most of all, I hated him for leaving me alone with all of this, for making me clean up everything that had been left behind.

Because the honest truth is, as many times as I’ve rationalized his decisions, as much as I’ve respected his choices, I don’t understand why he did what he did. I think I never will. There’s a part of me that still believes we could have had a good life here together, a part of me that cannot forgive him for giving up on us. A part of me that needs to be angry.

So just for today (and maybe a few days beyond), I’m going to give myself a break from being mature, responsible, understanding, and compassionate about this whole thing. I’m going to let myself be angry. I’m going to let my rage be felt. Anger is part of the path to healing, after all. Sooner or later, we must give it its due.

Kindle Countdown: EOLYN

From now until August 8, Eolyn (Book One of The Silver Web) will be included in Amazon’s Kindle Countdown Deals.

How does the countdown deal work? Well, the Kindle edition starts the week at a price of 99 cents. After that, the price increases in regular increments from 99 cents to $1.99 and then to $2.99, until it returns to the list price of $3.99 on August 8. The longer you wait, the more you’ll pay; though let’s face it: Every price this week and beyond is a great deal for the 110,000 words of sheer adventure, magic, and romance that you’ll get with this novel.

To find out more, read below or visit Eolyn on Amazon.

If you’re already part of Eolyn’s world, please share the magic by spreading the word.

About EOLYN 

Eolyn cover flat2 reduced 1 22 16In a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a ruthless purge of the magas. Eolyn, last daughter of the magas and sole heiress to their forbidden craft, seeks refuge in the vast and impenetrable South Woods. When she meets the mysterious Akmael, heir to the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of hope, seduction, betrayal, and war. Desire draws Eolyn toward Akmael’s dark embrace, but fate binds her to Corey of East Selen, a cunning mage whose ambition challenges the limits of love and loyalty.

Can she trust either man?

Hunted in a realm of powerful wizards and brutal deceptions, Eolyn must find her own path to freedom or she will burn on the pyre.

“Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes, with a romantic thread.” -Publishers Weekly

“Masterfully written.” -The Kindle Book Review

View on Amazon.