channeling our inner Picasso

 

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Passeig de Colom (Pablo Picasso 1917)

I had the extraordinary opportunity last week to visit the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. The museum houses one of the largest collections of his early works, and gives the visitor an excellent chronicle of Picasso’s development as an artist, from his teenage years all the way up through his later masterpieces.

 

I’ve had different encounters with Picasso throughout my life, but this exhibit was unique in allowing me to see the emergence of his voice and in particular, how his example is a challenge to us all, whether in our art or in our lives.

One of my important takeaways from this visit was that Picasso was not always Picasso. This may sound obvious, but as someone who has gone through the process of trying to find her own voice as a writer, seeing first hand how Picasso’s voice struggled to emerge from some of his early works resonated in a way it never had before.

As part of this process, Picasso played with multiple styles – and mastered them all – but it would take years of effort before he found the brush strokes that were uniquely his. And when his own voice finally broke through, it was a Revolution. Not only for him as an artist, but for the world and history of art. Picasso transformed the canvas into a place without limits, an open playground for imagination, an opportunity to reconstruct the very nature of reality – if only we dared to do so.

Most of us don’t have the talent to be a Picasso, but I firmly believe all of us have the potential to undertake the same journey with the same courage. Like Picasso, each of us has a unique voice struggling to break through the old patterns. Each of us has an ability to look at our world in a brand new way. Above all – and I believe this is one of Picasso’s most important messages – each of us has the capacity for playfulness inside our passion and even inside our pain.

So today’s lesson, from the Picasso Museum through me to you, is this: Dare to accept Picasso’s challenge. Set your voice free. See beyond convention. Ignore the borders. Create your own art, your own life, and paint your unique message across the universe.

Who knows? The next Revolution might follow in your wake.

 

Kirkus Reviews ‘Daughter of Aithne’

Snow Tiger

Snow Tiger, a detail from the cover art by Thomas Vandenberg.

I was excited (and nervous) last week to receive Kirkus Reviews’ assessment of Daughter of Aithnethe third and final installment of The Silver Web Trilogy. 

Nervous before I read it, excited afterwards.

All three novels of The Silver Web have received positive reviews from Kirkus, but Kirkus seemed to like Daughter of Aithne best of all: “Thankfully,” the reviewer writes, “[Gastreich] ends her series with the strongest entry.”

The novel is praised for its “superbly fleshed-out characters” and “refined, assertive style.” The unexpected climax is deemed “impactful and wholly satisfactory.” In summary, Daughter of Aithne is described as “An enticing and elegant series finale, filled with magic and turmoil.”

You can read the entire review by visiting Kirkus on-line.

More than an editorial review, this marks a moment of real closure for me. The writing and publishing of The Silver Web has been a journey of more than ten years, filled with ups and downs; inspiration and disappointment; set backs, reboots, failures and a smattering of triumphs that was just enough to keep me going.

In other words, writing an epic saga is a lot like living an epic saga!

I’ve written elsewhere that Daughter of Aithne is the novel I’ve always wanted to write: a thoroughly woman-centered epic fantasy that honors the old tropes while transforming them into a new vision. After reading Kirkus Reviews last week, I can rest easy in the knowledge that I’ve succeeded.

I am so proud of this trilogy: the bright innocence of Eolynthe dark terror of Sword of Shadowsand the final triumph of Daughter of Aithne. Finishing this series is probably among the biggest goals I’ve ever set for myself, and it means a lot to know it’s a job well done.

So I’m going to bask in the glory of this moment for at least a little while, and then… I’ll be on to the next epic project, and all the ups and downs that come with it.

Bewitching Books Week 2

Daughter of Aithne Banner 851 x 315Our celebration of the release of Daughter of Aithne continues this week with the following stops on a tour hosted by Bewitching Books:

May 8 Author Interview on Literary Musings

May 8 Spotlight: Whiskey With My Book

May 8 Spotlight: Shh, I am Reading

May 9 Spotlight and review: Booklove

May 9 Spotlight: For Love of Books4

May 9 Author Interview on Infinite House of Books

May 9 Spotlight: T’s Stuff

May 10 Author Interview on Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

May 10 Spotlight: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

May 11 Author Interview on The Book Junkie Reads

May 11 Spotlight: Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

May 12 Spotlight: 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, and Sissy, Too!

May 12 Spotlight: Books N Pearls

Join us for the fun & don’t forget – each stop earns you another chance to enter the giveaway for a $15 Amazon/B&N gift card!

Triumph of the Magas

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Happy Beltane!

This great spring festival, which exists in Eolyn’s world as Bel-Aethne, makes the perfect backdrop for the release of Daughter of Aithne, the third and final book in The Silver Web saga.

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Book One is FREE on Kindle this week only!

It’s been a long journey, for Eolyn and her cohorts, and for me as an author. There were times when I thought I might never see this third book in print, and part of me still doesn’t quite believe it’s happening. But it is! Daughter of Aithne is now available in Kindle and paperback, just in time for summer reading. Another reason to dance the spring nights away!

We’re celebrating on line with a number of events this week.

First, those of you who haven’t started on The Silver Web will be pleased to learn that the first book in the series, Eolynis available free on Kindle through Friday, May 5. Visit Amazon to download your copy today.

In addition, I’m running a Goodreads giveaway for the second book in the series, Sword of ShadowsFive paperback copies are up for grabs. The giveaway ends tonight, so if you’re feeling lucky, visit Goodreads or click the link at the end of this post to enter for your chance to win.

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Goodreads giveaway for Book Two ends tonight!

Of course, Daughter of Aithne is the star of our show, so most of our attention will be focused on her. A tale of two women – Eolyn, Queen of Moisehén, and her political rival, Taesara of Roenfyn – Daughter of Aithne transcends the innocence of Eolyn and the dark violence of Sword of Shadows. The parallel journeys of these remarkable queens offer a unique opportunity to bring resolution to generations of conflict. As a war-torn history propels Eolyn and Taesara toward final, decisive confrontation, they hold in their hands the fate of four kingdoms – and the magic that sustains them all.

Which woman will emerge triumphant? Will magic flourish or at last be erased from their lands? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Personally, this is my favorite novel of the three, and I am confident you will enjoy it, too.  

The virtual launch party starts today with a Goddess Fish Book Blast and will continue through May 19 with a Bewitching Book Tour.

The book blast includes 37 stops! I won’t list all of them here, but you can visit Goddess Fish Promotions to see the complete list with links. Best of all, the tour includes another giveaway! Visit one of the tour stops, and you can enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon/B&N gift certificate. The more stops you visit, the more chances you have to win.

Daughter of Aithne Button 300 x 225Last but not least, today I start a 3-week virtual tour with Bewitching Books. As I’ve done in the past, at the beginning of each week I’ll post a list of tour stops for that week. This tour also has a giveaway for a $10 Amazon/B&N gift certificate, so come by, comment, and enter once again for your chance to win. Here are this week’s links:

May 1 Spotlight: Fang-tastic Books

May 1 Review: Romance Authors That Rock

May 2 Spotlight: Jeni’s Bookshelf, Reviews, Swag, and More!

May 2 Spotlight: The Authors Blog

May 2 Spotlight: Ramblings of a Book Nerd

May 3 Guest Blog at Marsha A. Moore: “How old is too old for romance?

May 3 Spotlight: Just another bookaholic

May 4 Spotlight: Mello and June, It’s a Book Thang! 

May 4 Spotlight: Books,Dreams, Life

May 5 Guest Blog for I Smell Sheep: “If I were a mad scientist, I would…”

May 5 Spotlight: Share My Destiny

That should be enough to keep you busy for now! I may be back later in the week with updates as reviews and other news comes in, and I will certainly post again one week from today with a new list of tour stops. But the best place to find me is out and about on the internet. I’d love to hear from you, so please come along with all your questions and comments about Daughter of Aithne and The Silver Web.

Don’t forget: Eolyn is FREE on Kindle this week only! And the Goodreads giveaway for Sword of Shadows ends tonight.

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

 

Ramblings of a Book Nerd

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