Publishers Weekly reviews Daughter of Aithne

doa-2b-copyI’m very excited to report that this week’s edition of Publishers Weekly includes a review of Daughter of Aithne!

The review caught me a little by surprise. I’d submitted the novel at the beginning of 2017 using BookLife, the independent author platform managed by Publishers Weekly. My hope was to score a PW review in time for the novel’s release in May.

PW reviews are free, but there’s no guarantee they’ll select your novel. So when months went by without any news, I assumed that Daughter of Aithne had been passed over in favor of other books in the slush pile.

Then, about six weeks ago, BookLife informed me my novel had been selected for review. Woohoo!! Imagine my joy – and my angst!

It’s a great privilege to get the attention of PW, but nothing tweaks an author’s nerves like the prospect of an editorial review. I’ve long since learned to let reader reviews wash over me, but editorial reviews matter, because they are guaranteed to be seen by people – librarians, publishers, agents – who could play a significant role in getting your novel out to more readers. Editorial reviews are also critical to building a professional resume as an author.

And this editorial review is a good one.

PW describes Eolyn as a “standout character,” and states, among other positives, that “the best elements of love, war, and plotting” have been retained from my previous novels. The conclusion? “Fans of the trilogy won’t want to miss this hard-hitting finish.”

Did you hear that? My novel is hard-hitting

You can read the complete review on Publishers Weekly’s web site. 

This is a very exciting moment for me, and also one of deep satisfaction. I now have a complete set of editorial reviews from two highly respected sources. Both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly have considered all three novels of The Silver Web Trilogy, and both of them have been consistently positive in their analysis.

It’s a nice note to end the year on, and great way to start holidays. The closest feeling I can compare it to is drinking a cold beer at the end of a long days hike. Sure, the hike itself was rewarding, and I don’t really need anything more than that beautiful sunset over a mountain lake to believe the intense pain in my muscles was worth it, but hey, if someone wants to hand me a cold drink to top off the day?

By all means, pass that bottle my way!

It doesn’t get any better than this.

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Let’s talk about sexual harassment

Anita Hill Testifies on Clarence Thomas Nomination

Anita Hill bears witness to the truth in front of an all white, all male Senate Judiciary Committee.

Like many women I know, I have an extraordinary capacity to internalize anger. Maybe I was born this way; maybe this is how I was trained. As a proponent of the phrase talent gets you nowhere without training, I’m guessing it’s a little of both. 

The point is, I let things wash over me. The daily affronts of being a woman – what I’ve experienced myself and what I’ve seen happen to friends and family, what I read in history and what I watch on the news – get buried under an instinctive resistance to open complaint. After all, why would I want to upset anyone with my opinion? So my anger is kept deep inside, where it is processed and transformed into fuel for an internal oven that keeps me working quietly – though never meekly – toward a better world.

Once in a while, something happens that triggers an overload inside that system. Heat builds and bursts out like a solar flare, and I find I’m no longer able to ignore my anger or hide it from anyone else. I am compelled to speak and to make others listen.

One of my earliest experiences of this sort of conscientious anger was in 1991, when Anita Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the harassment she suffered under Clarence Thomas. I was appalled at how Anita Hill was treated, appalled that so many chose not to believe her – or more cynically, tore down a testimony they knew to be true out of political expedience. Because those senators chose to be complicit in a culture of sexual harassment, we now have a sexual offender sitting on the Supreme Court and deciding on the constitutional rights of all women.

Among my most recent experiences of conscientious anger – and there have been many the past couple years – was the November 2016 election. During that long and torturous campaign, I found no shortage of reasons not to support the Republican nominee for president. But to see sexual harassment come up again – and be ignored again – was particularly infuriating. Now, thanks to every single voter who chose to be complicit in our culture of harassment, we have a sexual predator sitting in the White House and wreaking havoc on our nation.

In recent weeks, we have confronted a multitude of allegations that expose – not for the first time – the environment of harassment that characterizes congress, including a pedophile who may be elected senator in the not-so-distant future. While members of Congress cynically cut investment in education, healthcare and other important public programs, they use our tax dollars to settle claims of sexual harassment.

Concurrent with this, a rash of sexual harassment accusations have rocked the entertainment industry. With each new story that has emerged, murmurings have ranged from “Yup, I figured” to “What? I’m shocked!” peppered by the occasional, “Don’t let this turn into a witch hunt!” I’m sure you can guess, and have even observed, how these comments tend sort out among gender lines.

By the way, if you are at all fuzzy on the difference between a witch hunt and an accusation of sexual harassment, I invite you to read Lucy Huber’s wonderful essay on the topic.

There’s also been a fair amount of teeth gnashing and weeping over whether we can continue to admire the work of an artist once we know the awful things he has done. For examples of that discussion, check here and here. For my part, I’m not troubled by this question. I have plenty of artists to admire without digging to the bottom of the barrel and giving my hard-earned money and valuable attention to sexual predators.

But for those struggling with what to do about the artists you once considered heroes,  remember this debate is not only about where we’ve been, it’s about where we are going.

We are all victims to and participants in a perverse system that for too long has favored this kind of behavior on all levels. It is on us to set the past aside and look forward to a new standard, one of zero tolerance that we all honor and enforce.

The ability to treat every single person – women and men, young and old, of every race, ethnicity, and creed – with respect and dignity should be a point of departure, not an afterthought, in defining the career of an individual. To argue anything else is to cling to a perverse ideology; one that has hurt too many people for too long and in so doing, has undermined our society as a whole.

To reach our full potential in every aspect of the human endeavor, we must support the women at the forefront of this battle. We must make certain sexual offenders meet with justice, and we must put an end to sexual harassment now and for generations to come.

Season of Thanksgiving

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Cuba was one extraordinary destination in an all-around extraordinary year.

Well, when I said I was going to check out for a while, I meant it! Last time I posted, the trees Kansas City were just beginning to turn. Now, the holidays are upon us!

It’s been an extraordinary year, on all levels. I feel at once emptied out and renewed – as if the landscape of my heart has been cleared, the earth turned over and everything drenched with rain. Somewhere along the way, seeds were planted, but what they will yield – if they will yield anything – remains a mystery.  

I’ve battled some terrible demons in 2017, and been visited by some true angels. Reflection has been an enduring theme, along with family, friendship, and travel. The road has not been easy, but I think I’ve come away a better person because of it. More confident in my instincts, less inclined to call certain turning points “mistakes.”

Just over a month ago, around the time I checked out of my on-line journal, I began putting thought into how to finish 2017. I want to let go of the old year and bring in the new with a sense of companionship, gratitude, and celebration.

 

Chloe and Claudia Christmas in Thailand

Looking forward to making more holiday memories with my nieces.

Now, with December just around the corner, I can say I have a plan. My plan spans a few weeks across Christmas and New Years, and – as befits 2017 – involves family, friends, and a little bit of travel. I’m very excited about this holiday season. Much like 2017 as a whole, I anticipate the next few weeks will be a time of reflection, joy, some pain, and much healing.

 

I hope this holiday season will bring you what you most need. If you’re worried it won’t, take a few moments in the next couple of days to imagine things differently. Then, once you’ve decided what you really want, dare to create the holiday season that would be best for you.

Just remember – what you think might be best for you isn’t necessarily so. But that’s okay. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after all these years, it’s this: when you reach for what you want, you almost always find what you need.

Peace and joy in this holiday season, to you and all your loved ones.

~*~

While I’ve been absent from this blog, I haven’t been away from internet. My Goddess Fish Name Before the Masses tour is ongoing. Here are the links to some of my recent posts. Remember each visit earns you a chance to win a $15 B&N/Amazon gift certificate!

October 25 – Author Interview at Christine Young

Nov 1 – Women in History Who Inspired The Silver Web Trilogy, at Books Chatter

Nov 8 – Ten Real-Life Creatures that Inspired the Magical Beasts of Eolyn’s World

Nov 15 – Five Reasons You Must Read Daughter of Aithne, on Fabulous and Brunette

Nov 22 – Interview at Independent Authors

Also, to kick off the holiday season, Daughter of Aithne is now available as part of Amazon’s Kindle Countdown deals. Starting today, you can download Daughter of Aithne for just $0.99! The price will go up a little bit every day for the next week, so the longer you wait to buy, the more you’ll have pay. This is a great deal on a fabulous book, so take advantage of it now! If you already own Daughter of Aithne, share the magic by spreading the word!

Checking In to Check Out

 

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Costa Brava, Spain. Wish I were still there!

While I was in Barcelona last summer, I made a concerted effort to stay off-line and away from social media.

 

I feel myself being tugged that direction again, so I’m stopping in today to let you know you may not hear from me for a few weeks. I have friends who have done this sort of thing as well, and I cannot recommend it highly enough: sometimes the best thing you can do for your emotional health and personal well-being is to get away from the internet’s dizzying virtual reality and dive back into the organic, gritty, and all-around-beautiful place we call real life.

Of course, I do have a few commitments that will keep me coming back. My Name Before the Masses Tour with Goddess Fish Promotions is ongoing. This week, I’m over at Sharing Links and Wisdom, where I talk about what makes a good villain. As part of that discussion, you’ll meet the three antagonists of The Silver Web: the wizard Tzeremond, Prince Mechnes of the Syrnte, and Princess Taesara of Roenfyn.

Next week, if you just can’t do without me, stop by Long and Short Reviews on October 18 and check out my lively discussion on how to handle negative criticism. You may be surprised by some of my advice!

Last but not least, I’ll have a guest interview at Christine Young Romance Writer on October 25. Maybe by then, I’ll be back here as well – but no guarantees!

As with all my stops with Goddess Fish Promotions, each post provides you a chance to win a $15 Amazon/B&N gift certificate.

Take care and I look forward to seeing you on the other side of my break!

 

The Never Ending Storm

Nate Costa Rica

Nate makes its debut in Costa Rica.

Blog writing has been a challenge this season. All the things I usually write about seem trivial in the face of recent world events.

Those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria are facing a long and difficult recovery. I’d like to urge everyone to donate to relief efforts, if you haven’t already. Every little bit counts, and there are many excellent organizations to choose from when deciding where to invest your contribution.

Also, if you have recommendations for volunteer opportunities, I invite you to share them here in the comments. For now, I’ve registered with Puerto Rico VOAD in hopes of joining reconstruction efforts sometime in the spring. That may sound a long ways away, but the damage is extensive, and recovery efforts will extend over months and years. In other words, if you can’t volunteer right now, consider planning to volunteer six or twelve months from now. It’s guaranteed your help will still be needed.

On top of all this, tropical storm Nate is gathering steam over the Gulf of Mexico and will hit the southern U.S. coast as a full-fledged hurricane in the coming days. Nate has already ravaged my beloved Costa Rica with devastating floods and landslides, killing at least 15 people. It breaks my heart to see the pictures and stories coming out of this beautiful country, which was my happy home for so many years and is still home to many of my good friends and colleagues.

And then there’s Las Vegas. I have a lot to say about that, but no real desire to tackle it now. Unfortunately, our morbid love affair with guns and violence will not end anytime soon, so I’m confident I’ll have another chance to broach this topic later.

If all of this has you down too, consider going for some lighter reading: I have an author interview over on Jennifer Macaire’s blog. This is the second stop on my Name Before the Masses tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. As always, a visit to the site can earn you a chance to win a $15 Amazon/B&N gift certificate. Nothing like book money to lift one’s mood!

Speaking of lifting one’s mood, today is apparently international hug day. As a result, I’ve received a lot of hugs from all over, and given out a few myself. Hugging might very well be the most important thing we can do for each other this week (and beyond), so here’s one for you to have and share:

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Wishing you clear skies and brighter horizons.

Caught by Surprise

TourBanner_DaughterOfAithneI had it in my head that my book tour with Goddess Fish was starting Thursday of this week, but – whoops! – it started yesterday!

The tour is part of an ongoing celebration of the release of Daughter of AithneBook 3 of The Silver Web. My first stop is an author interview at Lisa Haselton’s blog. Stop by to find out what inspired me to write a women-centered fantasy novel. At this and all other stops on the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for a $15 Amazon/B&N certificate.

I’ve had my mind on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean this week, and I hope you do, too! Between Harvey, Irma, and Maria, we have a long road of recovery ahead of us. Please give generously in any way you can. The PBS News Hour as well as other media outlets have put forward many suggestions for what you can do.

That’s all for now. I wish you a great weekend, and many thanks for stopping by!

Equinox

Summer 2017

The most important thing I did this summer was spend time with my nieces and nephews.

Lately, I’ve been making an effort to record the most important thing I do each day in my journal. It’s been an interesting exercise; I’ve generally found “the most important thing” has no relationship to the things that cause me stress.

Here are some examples from recent entries:

  • Spent the evening with good friends.
  • Held a baby’s hand.
  • Enjoyed dinner with Mom and Dad.
  • Reviewed a student’s research proposal.
  • Ordered a book I’m very excited to read.

As a result of this periodic reflection, I’ve found myself looking forward to the day in a somewhat different way. When I wake up, I’m more aware that in the next 12 hours or so, I’m going to do something important. And when I come across that something, I’m more likely to focus on the moment – because this is the most important thing I’ll do all day – as opposed to my usual habit of letting my worries distract me.

It’s been a good exercise for centering, for focusing on things that really matter. I put it out there in case it’s useful for you because today is fall equinox, and equinox is all about equilibrium.

With the official start of autumn, I also have some news to share. Next week, I’m launching a Names Before the Masses tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. In the past, I’ve always done the 2-4 week intensive blog tour, with multiple stops per week. Now, I’ve decided to take a calmer pace (equilibrium!) with a tour that will last longer (about 4 months), but involve fewer stops per week (1 or 2 at most). I’m looking forward to it and also curious to see how it works out, in terms of both sales and general sanity.

Official start date for the Goddess Fish tour is September 27. Between now and then, I’ll activate my Appearances page with a full list of stops. I’ll also include links in my weekly blog posts. Like all Goddess Fish tours, there will be a giveaway for an Amazon/B&N gift certificate. The more stops you visit, the greater your chance to win!

Speaking of giveaways, with Halloween just around the corner, I’ve listed a Goodreads Giveaway for the darkest of the three Silver Web novels: Sword of Shadows. Lands ravaged! Dreams destroyed! Demons set loose upon the earth! In short, everything you most want to read about during the Halloween season is in this book! Five signed copies are up for grabs, and the giveaway ends on October 31st.

If you’re a member of Goodreads, you can enter using the link below. If you’re not a member, it’s easy (and free!) to join. Visit Goodreads for more information.

Happy Fall Equinox! No matter what challenges come your way, I hope your autumn days are filled with the quiet joy of important things.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich

Sword of Shadows

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends October 31, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway