Mourning Dove

mourning_dove_7As long as I can remember, I’ve used two different names for the exact same bird. The gentle dove, Zanaida macroura, has lived in my mind as both “mourning dove” and “morning dove.” I use the two names interchangeably, without any thought or notice of when I make the switch, or why.

It’s fitting, in a way. Mourning and morning are twin sides of the same moment. Mourning almost always precedes a new morning; and no morning dawns without some degree of mourning over what was lost the night before.

The aftermath of divorce is like this; light and dark mixed into one, each regenerating the other in a rainbow collection of abiding pain and bittersweet joy. The mind walks the path of the lost relationship from beginning to end, over and over, in search of that moment when a bad decision was made or wrong turn taken. Sometimes you find what you’re looking for: An answer. More often than not, you come up empty handed.

In the end, we cannot berate ourselves for decisions made in good faith. Mourning always brings us to this conclusion, though we never quite succeed in accepting it.

One of the decisions I made in good faith was to marry a man who did not want to be a father. I didn’t know this at the time I accepted his proposal. It wasn’t until a few years into our marriage, when I felt my biological clock ticking, that the situation became clear.

One day, I said to him, “If we’re going to have children, we should probably start trying now.”

To which he responded with an expression of mild surprise, “Children?”

Honestly, I never saw that coming. He was always wonderful with kids, especially with our nieces and nephews. It was easy to imagine him as a father, and it had never once occurred to me he might now want that.

The unexpected moment of truth initiated a two-year conversation, including work with a counselor, during which he tried to come to terms with the idea of being a father, while I tried to come to terms with the prospect of never being a mother.

I might have, through some other path, ended up not having children anyway. But deep down inside, part of me believes that if I’d married a man who wanted children, I would have almost certainly had them.

Of course, there’s the rub: I never met that other mythical man. Of all the men I knew and dated, my ex-husband was hands down the best match I found. I wanted to be with him and no one else. I wanted to enjoy life and grow old with him. When it became clear that choice might mean not having children, I set the dream of children aside in favor of committing my future to the relationship I’d found with him.

For years I was at peace with my decision. But then the marriage ended, and now this moment from our journey together has come back to haunt me.

I cannot berate myself for decisions made in good faith, but as I mourn the end of my marriage, I find I am also mourning, once again, the loss of the child I never had. I always imagined there would be at least one, and that she would be a daughter; bright and full of laughter. I even had a name for her: Eolyn.

When prospects began to dwindle that Eolyn would ever grow in my womb, I began to grow her in my head. I gave her form and beauty, magic and a world of her own. I gave her a forest to grow up in, and since she couldn’t be with her mother, a kind old woman to take care of her. I gave her true love in all its joy and pain. I gave her companions and adventure and suffering and triumph. I gave all of this to her because I had to give it to someone. The creative impulse of my heart simply could not be refused.

It’s impossible to know if the Eolyn of my flesh and blood would have been anything like the Eolyn of my stories. But drawing her as I did with pen and paper helped me find a morning inside my mourning. The words I wrote mixed dark with light and sunshine with rain, generating in their turmoil a small but lasting rainbow.

I miss the daughter I never knew. I will always love her.

 


Goodreads giveaways are running simultaneously this week for books two and three of The Silver Web, Sword of Shadows and Daughter of Aithne. Visit Goodreads to enter, or click on the links below. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich

Sword of Shadows

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends May 01, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Daughter of Aithne by Karin Rita Gastreich

Daughter of Aithne

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends May 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Together At Last

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The thrill that never gets old: seeing your novel in print for the first time. 

I was so excited last week to receive my first ever print copy of Daughter of Aithne, Book Three of The Silver Web. Ironically, this was not the first print copy delivered, even though I ordered direct from the printer. Two critique partners of mine who ordered their copies through Amazon received Daughter of Aithne several days before I did. So there you go. Amazon delivers faster than the printer itself!

It was especially great to see Daughter of Aithne united with the first two novels in the series, Eolyn and Sword of ShadowsDon’t they make a handsome trio? Credit for the cover art and design goes to Thomas Vandenberg, who has been working on this project a long time and has done an amazing job!

Official release date for Daughter of Aithne is in just over a week, on May 1. The novel is available for pre-order in both Kindle and paperback formats; and apparently, if you order the paperback, you will have your copy inside of a few days – ahead of the release!

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Sisters united at last: Eolyn, Sword of Shadows, and Daughter of Aithne.

Interested in what readers have to say? There are already a couple of independent reader reviews posted on Goodreads! As these reviewers will attest, you can read Daughter of Aithne without having read the first two books in the series, but trust me: You will have a much richer experience if you indulge in the full journey by starting with Eolyn

 

Speaking of Eolyn, the Goodreads giveaway for Book One of The Silver Web ended earlier this week. The winners’ copies are packaged and ready to go to the post office. If you’re looking to try your luck again, I’m running a second giveaway for Sword of Shadows, Book Two of The Silver Web. Five signed copies are up for grabs. You can enter the giveaway by visiting Goodreads or by clicking the link at the end of this post.

On May 1, I will launch a two-week blog tour with Bewitching Book Tours. In addition, there will be a book blast with Goddess Fish Promotions. Both tours include gift card giveaways and other surprises, so be sure to check back for the full schedule. Summer is just around the corner, and it’s time to celebrate with some new reading!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich

Sword of Shadows

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends May 01, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

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The Silver Web trilogy: A fine addition to any bookshelf. True connoisseurs will also recognize the first edition of Eolyn in the upper right hand corner. 

Democracy Is Alive and Well in the Heartland

KansasCity_177334516_1300x700-minKansas City, MO, held its municipal elections earlier this week. A number of important initiatives were approved by significant margins, all geared toward investing in the city and improving our community. Almost all of the bonds involved tax increases, but Kansas City voters took up the challenge with a resounding YES, putting infrastructure improvements, inner city investment, and even an animal shelter over their personal pocket books.

Especially noteworthy was the record turnout: twice the number of voters as is usually expected at a municipal election this time of year. Maybe I’m reading too much into things, but I can’t help but hope this is a small sign of a greater groundswell. I, for one, have sworn never to miss another local or state election for the rest of my life. Judging from the chatter on FB and the turnout at Kansas City’s polls this past Tuesday, I may not be the only one.

This reaffirmation of community commitment was especially refreshing in the middle of what, on a national level, has been a more bleak and divisive political climate. At least I can rest assured that in my home town, we’ve got each other’s backs. And we’re ready to vote to prove it.

In other good news, Daughter of Aithne is now available for pre-order in both paperback and Kindle editions! I’ve been working hard prepping materials for a Bewitching Book Tour and Goddess Fish Book Blast, both of which begin on the release date, May 1.

And – I got a great surprise this week when a review popped up on Goodreads for Daughter of Aithne. Who would’ve guessed I’d see some reader feedback this far in advance? Here’s what they had to say:

“…full of intrigue, magic, treachery, betrayal, love… All of the best ingredients in high fantasy…readers of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series would likely enjoy these books, as well.”

I suspect this review is connected to one of my book tours, though I’m not sure which one. If you’d like to read the whole thing on Goodreads, click here.

I also may have cracked an important nut in the writing of The Hunting Grounds this week, but it’s too early to be certain. So I’ll save that story for later…

That’s all the news for now. Hard to believe I’ve got less than a month to go before the third book of The Silver Web hits the market! It’s been a long and arduous journey, but well worth it.


The Goodreads Giveaway for EOLYN, Book One of The Silver Web, is ongoing. Five signed copies are up for grabs. You can enter the giveaway by visiting Goodreads, or click the link below. The giveaway ends on April 16.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

Eolyn

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends April 16, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Love in the Summer of Our Lives

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Proud to celebrate the big 5-0 in the treasured company of family and friends.

If you know me well – or even if you don’t but you’re good at reading between the lines – you’re probably aware that one of my current life challenges involves moving past the emotional fallout from my recent divorce.

It’s been about nine months since we signed the papers. Every day is a little better than the last. Once in a while, I do slip into a pit. Sadness is a persistent companion but not, in my estimation, a bad one. Tears cleanse the heart, and I’m fortunate to count on the ready support of friends and family, who never fail at making me smile.  There’s always a rainbow to be found after the storm; a shaft of sunshine on a cloudy day.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been coaching myself toward a new project: In baby steps and occasional leaps of faith, I’m opening myself up to the idea of dating. This has precipitated no small amount of reflection on what what “dating” means in the context of my independent, middle-aged existence. Many expectations of my 20s and 30s now beg to be thrown out the window. Not because I’m any less capable or less deserving of love and passion, but because the hopes and fears I had back then don’t seem all that relevant now.

Listen to one conversation between twenty-something women in a coffee shop, and you might understand what I mean. Been there. Done that. Not going back, thank you very much.

Once we reach the summer of our lives, that youthful drive to twist ourselves into the shape of our partner’s expectations has all but disappeared. We no longer search for the One who will give “meaning” to our lives. Men, for all their charms, do not wield the same power over the sum total of our future – in part because we no longer grant them that power.

Questions of life style, children, and career paths have all been settled. We’re comfortable with who we are and no longer stress as much about who we want to be or where we’re going in life.

Okay, we are planning for retirement, which carries its own brand of stress. But that’s logistics, not romance. And logistics are always less complicated when you’re planning for one.

After a divorce – or two – the myth of ‘forever love’ hardly seems worth sustaining. We know from experience how much joy and pain love inevitably brings. Having lived through the triumphs and sorrows of a true relationship, we are less inclined to sacrifice our personal truth just to be with someone. Compromise carries its rewards, but it never guarantees the future. Understanding this inspires us to focus on our own dreams, even as we occasionally welcome the presence of another who chooses to walk the same path with us.

Despite this awareness that relationships can never play the same role they once played, a very primordial need for companionship drives me back toward the dance. It’s human nature, after all. We are social creatures. We want to enjoy the good things in life in the company of others, to engage in loving and intimate relationships.

As I turn away from the past and embrace the future, I hear voices of conflict in my head. 50-something me and 20-something me sit at a table in that imaginary coffee shop, arguing about how dating and relationships are supposed to work. 20-something me clings to old expectations and insists on what she considers reliable norms of courtship. 50-something me doesn’t want to hear it. Instead, she strives to reinvent herself, to enjoy the fruits of a life well-lived, to remain open to romance but not particularly dependent on it.

She looks out the door that has been opened to her, and suspects that this might very well be the best period of a woman’s life to date.

Confidence, maturity, and independence; wisdom shaped by experience. Twenty-five years ago, I didn’t have these tools or if I did, I hadn’t yet refined them. I didn’t understand just how much was within my rights to demand, and just how many sources of joy and fulfillment can be found outside of a relationship.

How does the old saying go? I wish I knew then what I know now.

Whether by accident or design, “then” is now once again. And all that knowledge I wish I had had? It’s mine, hard-earned and ready to be put to good use.

The time has arrived to play by my own rules.


The Goodreads giveaway for EOLYN, Book One of the Silver Web, is ongoing. Five signed copies are up for grabs. Visit Goodreads or click on the link below to enter, and good luck! 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

Eolyn

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends April 16, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway: EOLYN

Eolyn cover flat2 reduced 1 22 16To celebrate the imminent release of Daughter of Aithne, Book Three of The Silver Web, I’m hosting a Goodreads giveaway of the first book in series: Eolyn.   

“A tale of female oppression, prejudice, and even deadly seduction, Eolyn touches on issues that are deeply relevant in our own society. At times both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, the story warns young women about the ways in which the world will try to take advantage of them—but it does so in a way that never denies them their magic.” – Apex Reviews

In 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 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.

Five signed copies are up for grabs; the giveaway ends on April 16. Click on the link below or visit Goodreads to enter. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

Eolyn

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends April 16, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Daughter of Aithne Banner 851 x 315

One woman’s journey determines the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.

When the Old Becomes New Again

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The release of Daughter of Aithne will kick off with 2-week tour of 28 blogs, organized by Bewitching Book Tours.

I’ve been busy with final preparations for the release of Daughter of Aithne on May 1, including scheduling of blog tours and book blasts.

Blog tours often involve interviews and guest posts. I find interviews easier to complete than guest posts, so when preparing for a tour, I always start with the interviews (which often, in turn, give me ideas for blog posts).

I enjoy interviews; the questions asked compel me to reflect on the writers journey and the why’s and how’s of my latest novel. Sometimes I even gain unexpected insights about my own work.

My current set of interviews have me thinking a lot lately about why I wrote The Silver Web trilogy, including this third and final installment, Daughter of Aithne. I’ve realized that what seemed rather mundane and obvious just one year ago – writing a fantasy where powerful women call most of the shots – has now become something new and daring once again.

I’m not happy about this, because it’s a result, in part, of the social and political climate that has gripped our country. A short six months ago, I imagined Daughter of Aithne would be published in a world accustomed to seeing women run nations. I saw Eolyn’s fictional realm as a reflection of a society that had already begun to manifest itself – albeit through a democratic process rather than feudal rivalries.

By all appearances, we have instead rolled backwards into an age not unlike Eolyn’s medieval fantasy realm: where men who demean women are uplifted, and women who aspire to equality and fair treatment are despised and ridiculed. What seemed, not so long ago, an almost passé theme – the idea that women can not only aspire to but achieve respect and equality, even in the highest echelons of power – has suddenly become new and urgent, even insurgent, again.

One of my beta readers once told me that she saw The Silver Web as a metaphor for our own past, present and future. In her mind, the first book, Eolyntells the story of where we have come from as women; the second book, Sword of Shadows, reflects the dark, violent, and misogynistic world in which we live; and the third book, Daughter of Aithne, offers a vision of balance and reconciliation that one hopes will be achieved in the future.

I confess I’d never really seen my own work that way. Well, perhaps I had; it’s just that I believed we were on the verge of leaving Sword of Shadows behind, and Daughter of Aithne was less than a dream away. Now, I honestly don’t know.

I guess some dreams just take longer than others.

 

Cover Reveal: Daughter of Aithne

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I’m delighted to announce that Daughter of Aithne will be released this spring in Kindle and print editions!

Cover art and design for this third and final installment of The Silver Web is by Thomas Vandenberg, who also did the covers for the first two books in the series, Eolyn and Sword of Shadows.  The image shows Princess Briana’s first encounter with a snow tiger, under the careful watch of her mother, Eolyn, High Maga and Queen of Moisehén. If you look closely, you just might see a nervous squirrel in the background!

The novel is now available for pre-order on Kindle. This is the climactic finale to The Silver Web, which chronicles Eolyn’s life-long struggle to restore women’s magic to her people. Will she succeed? You’ll have to purchase the book to find out!

Synopsis

Betrayed by her own prodigy, Eolyn is arrested for treason. While power-hungry nobles dismantle her life’s work and honor, the desperate queen forges a risky alliance with the ruthless and cunning Mage Corey. Plagued by enemies old and new, Eolyn must fight her own sisters in magic if she hopes to secure her son’s throne.

Across the Furma River, Taesara of Roenfyn is drawn out of seclusion and into an ever-more vicious game of intrigue and war. Subject to the whims of a scheming uncle and the mysterious ambitions of the wizards of Galia, Taesara struggles to assert control over her own fate even as she joins the battle to defend her daughter’s inheritance.

In the climactic finale to The Silver Web trilogy, threads of love, honor, betrayal, and vengeance culminate in a violent conflict between powerful women, opposed to each other yet destined to shatter a thousand-year cycle of war.

“Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes…with a romantic thread.” -Publishers Weekly review of Eolyn, Book One of The Silver Web

“Lush, evocative descriptions carry readers through an unforgettable journey.” –Kirkus Reviews review of Sword of Shadows, Book Two of The Silver Web.

Cover art and design by Thomas Vandenberg.

Available now for pre-order on Kindle!