DISCIPLE continues...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

HIGH MAGA by Karin Rita Gastreich

The Accidental Trilogy
By Karin Rita Gastreich
This month I’m celebrating the release of the audio edition of High Maga, book two in a trilogy that chronicles the struggle of one woman, Eolyn, to restore a millennial tradition of magic. Before we wrap up the tour, I want to talk a little about the third book in the series, Daughter of Aithne, which I completed this spring and plan to release by early 2016.

Daughter of Aithne brings Eolyn’s journey full-circle in a way I didn’t foresee when I wrote the first book. Indeed, “book one” wasn’t intended to be the first of a series. But about a month after I signed the contract for Eolyn, ideas began to come together for a sequel. High Maga was born and painstakingly developed over months and years to come. Decidedly darker than its predecessor, High Maga captures a period of Eolyn’s life when her journey becomes exceedingly painful, her choices complicated and accompanied by loss.

You can read High Maga, understand it and enjoy it, without having seen book one or going on to book three, but I’m going to be honest: you won’t understand the full meaning of the events in High Maga unless you complete the series. I’ve often said it’s unfair to hold a reader hostage in this fashion, but as an author I’ve come to realize that certain themes are too complex to receive due treatment in just one novel.

Eolyn is a story of hope; High Maga of destruction. In Daughter of Aithne, we see the building of a new future as circumstances at last come together to allow Eolyn and her cohorts to imagine a world different from the one they inherited.

This is something we don’t see often in fantasy. Most fantasy characters must accept the world as given. They may have the strength and courage to overcome the challenges of that world, but they are rarely allowed to implement real changes in the fabric of the society to which they were born.
So in order to introduce women warriors, fantasy authors create societies in which women-at-arms are acceptable, at the very least as an exception to the rule. To make a woman part of a matriarchal power line, we imagine worlds where matriarchy has existed for centuries, with no real or effective challenge to that status quo.

These are a couple examples of wonderful fantasy worlds where our women characters have been able to flourish. But what about the other possibility? What about the struggle for change that breaks open opportunities never before available to women? And not only for that exceptional character who proves she can do it just like the guys, but for all women everywhere?

I didn’t realize it when I started Eolyn, but these were some of the questions that motivated the series. What if women – key women, of a particular character – were given the opportunity to change the world? Would they imagine it differently from the men before them? Or would they subscribe to the same power structures, the same intrigues, the same tools for resolving conflict?

There are many possible answers to these questions; and a thousand stories waiting to be written to address them. Eolyn, High Maga, and most of all, Daughter of Aithne are just three examples.
Looking back, it’s hard for me to imagine how I ever wrote that first book without envisioning the second and third installment. It’s taken two novels to set up Daughter of Aithne correctly, but soon it too will be on the shelves, and Eolyn’s journey will be complete. On some level, Daughter of Aithne is the book I’ve always wanted to write. I’m very much looking forward to its debut.

In the meantime, I hope you will read Eolyn and High Maga. As with all true change, the triumph of Daughter of Aithne can only be fully appreciated in the context of the struggles that came before. To help you get started, all ebook editions of Eolyn are on sale this month for just $2.99. And as part of this blog tour, we’re running a giveaway for free copies of High Maga. It’s easy to register; just click the Rafflecopter link below.

Thanks so much for your interest in Eolyn’s journey. I hope you enjoy her adventures just as much as I have.

HIGH MAGA [audio edition]
Karin Rita Gastreich (author)
Darla Middlebrook (narrator)

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

In hopes of defending her people, Eolyn tries 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 world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.

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

Purchase Links

About the Author:
KARIN RITA GASTREICH writes tales of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. Inspired by a lifetime of exploring lush forests and breathtaking landscapes, Karin’s stories blend elements of epic fantasy, historical fiction, and romance. The worlds she creates are a strange amalgamation of medieval Europe and colonial Central America, with misty forests, vast savannas, and steamy jungles. They are populated by brave heroines, noble heroes, and twisted villains. From ancient woodlands to uncharted seas, readers will experience gripping battle scenes, heart wrenching loss, hard-won triumphs, and the ultimate magic of love. Karin’s fantasy novels Eolyn and High Maga are available from Hadley Rille Books. Her short stories have appeared in Zahir, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and World Jumping. She runs an on-line discussion forum about women in genre fiction at Heroines of Fantasy. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at krgastreich.com.

Author web links
Karin’s website • Heroines of FantasyFacebook • Twitter: @EolynChronicles

About the Narrator:
Darla’s voice is a versatile instrument used with skill. It is a voice filled with intelligence and warmth. Her sound can range from mature to youthful female, and she can also produce convincing male timbres. Narrative is presented in a conversational, down to earth, matter-of-fact manner and also displays a broad emotional range across a large repertoire of characters (female, male, young, old and "creature"). All of that while still conveying a sense of wonder when telling the story.

With 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 narrate podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books.

Narrator Web Links
WebsiteFacebook • Twitter: @GypsyCatVoice

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

After DISCIPLE...


If you're working your way through my gritty fantasy series, Disciple, did you know that there's a prologue?

I wrote Fire's First Kiss as an exclusive gift to my Kickstarter supporters waaaaay back when I was publishing Part I. It's a novella covering the events leading up to that secret mission across the mountains.

It's only $1.99 but you'll never see this on Amazon or for sale anyplace else. You can only get it through my newsletter because it's only for Disciple fans. Sign up now and get the link!

Back cover
Before Kate was sent on the secret mission across the mountains, she faced her first big challenge as an apprentice healer at the original battle of Ansehen. Kiefan was there too, champing at the bit to prove himself to his father. And Anders was skating the edge of giving up and seeking is fortune elsewhere.

Want more from the "Saints of War" universe?
Dreamspinner Press published the m/m romance that I wrote after finishing Disciple. It's set in the borderlands, fifty years before the events of the series.

Back cover
Heathric Felahóf never wanted to be a thief, but his cousinʼs scheme is the only option to keep the town's children from being taken as slaves to cover the year's taxes. So a few men slip over the border into the neighboring kingdom, steal a flock of sheep, and escape before the magically gifted Rangers learn of them. The second time, they're not so lucky, and trouble follows the bandits home.

Adal Sperling has given up on finding a lover who truly wants him. One of the Rangers charged with protecting his people, he pursues the sheep thieves over the border and stumbles across Heathric, a gentle shepherd who only wants to take care of his family. But opposite sides of border incursions is a rough way to fall in love, and the laws of Adalʼs kingdom are clear: the border must remain closed to Heathricʼs people.


Stay tuned for announcements of what's coming in the fall!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DISCIPLE OMNIBUS now on sale!

Now that the six part Disciple series is finished...

Disciple Omnibus
collecting all six parts, 
all the appendices,
all the cover art, all the maps, 
all the character indexes...

one ebook, 
only $9.99!
Read just Part I for free - see below!

one paperback! 
(for all your fantasy doorstop needs...) 
CreatespaceAmazon

Blurb
War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.


Disciple, Part I is always free! 
AmazonB&N 

email me if you can't find it for free:
blankenship.louise at gmail dot com


Sunday, March 1, 2015

DISCIPLE, PART VI now on sale!


I started writing Disciple, Part I in August of 2011. Finished the first draft of Part VI in December of 2012. Published Part I September 2012. As of March, 2015, my series is complete...

Back cover
Two years ago, Kate was a peasant girl who only wanted to serve the saints of her kingdom as a healer during the war. Her gifts led her to cross paths with the crown prince and a ne’er-do-well knight — they shifted the path of her life and of the entire war.

All three of them paid a steep price for having met.

Kate spent a cold winter alone, re-forging her strength out of a deeply broken heart. She’s ready, as an elect, to stand beside her saints and go to war in ways no peasant girl could have dreamed.

She needs answers, she needs absolution, and she needs to discover what she’s truly capable of.

On sale at
Amazon • B&N • AllRomance
Paperbacks at Createspace

And announcing...
Disciple Omnibus
collecting all six books into one handy door-stop
on sale March 15, 2015!
in paperback and ebook


Hey, you also said that Disciple's prologue would be available at some point
Yup! I'm looking at how to put it on sale in late March.
Fire's First Kiss has only been available to Kickstarter supporters up to now -- never on sale through the usual channels -- and that will not change. I'll be selling it here on the blog for only a limited time!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Announcing DISCIPLE, PART VI

Back in October 2012, I clicked "Publish" on Disciple, Part I. I had only just started writing Part VI at the time. I knew there's be highs and lows in publishing the whole six part series -- and it's definitely had both. From my reviews at Amazon:

"Even though the story kept me delightfully entertained I kept banging my head wanting more explanation of why everything was happening."

"I definitely struggled at first to pick up and follow the complex names, places and religious system. However, after catching on I was drawn in. I rarely pay for digital books. I got part 1 free, and immediately after finishing I bought part 2 and will now be buying part 3. Worth it."

"This isn't the land of unicorns and fairy castles - characters die, nations war and spy and betray, and everything has a price to be paid. More than that, it's thoughtful, a fantasy that gets down to the nitty-gritty of figuring out the if/then that the premise implies, making for crunchy, satisfying fantasy fare."

"I loved the drama that kept me turning pages. Great book and I can't wait to read the next one."

I ran two Kickstarters. I had to find a new editor halfway through the series. Over 1500 Part I's got sold through Storybundle -- and none of them came back for Part II, near as I can tell. Five of the covers were done by the same artist and I wish he'd done the sixth (it's #2 actually) as well.

It's been two years since I've spoken to the main characters and now I'm trying to work on final revisions to Part VI.

Because it's time to finish this.

Disciple, Part VI
on sale 
March 1, 2015

to be followed by the
Disciple Omnibus
March 15, 2015

Get reminders, sneak peeks, 
and other special stuff

Back cover
Two years ago, Kate was a peasant girl who only wanted to serve the saints of her kingdom as a healer during the war. Her gifts led her to cross paths with the crown prince and a ne’er-do-well knight — they shifted the path of her life and of the entire war.

All three of them paid a steep price for having met.

Kate spent a cold winter alone, re-forging her strength out of a deeply broken heart. She’s ready, as an elect, to stand beside her saints and go to war in ways no peasant girl could have dreamed.

She needs answers, she needs absolution, and she needs to discover what she’s truly capable of.

Also announcing! 
I will be selling Disciple's prologue novella, Fire's First Kiss, for a limited time!

This story has only been available to Kickstarter supporters up to now. It will never be on sale through the usual online channels. Who knows when it'll be available again? Watch this space for more news!

Monday, February 2, 2015

FADE INTO ME by Charity Bradford

Back Cover
Caeden Frey doesn’t believe humans will evolve to see the magic, much less control it. Even so, he has two months to marry a human or face the wrath of the High Council. Bitter about a responsibility he thinks prevents him marrying for love, he figures any human girl will do. He’s ready to propose when his soul mate stumbles into—and right out of—his arms.

Human, Ryanne Killian might be Caedan’s one shot at happiness while still fulfilling his duty. Unfortunately, she guards a dark secret. She’s determined to push Caedan away to protect him from her past.

Caedan must convince her she’s worthy of his love before a rival family puts an end to his wedding plans. If she can see her own worth, she just might save herself and his people.

Excerpt
He walked to a desk near the back wall that I had completely overlooked. It was covered in paperwork and what appeared to be several glass cubes with bugs inside. Caedan found an old school rotary phone attached to the wall by the cord. It wouldn’t reach the couch so I joined him across the room.

“I haven’t seen one of those in forever.” I giggled as my emotions flipped switches again. Something was definitely wrong.

“Phillips is a bit old fashioned I guess.” He held the base while I dialed Heather’s number.

“Heather?”

“Ry? What’s up?” The radio played in the background, and I knew she was in her room.

“I was in an accident, but I’m okay.” Why did I tell her that? Now she would worry.

“What? What happened?” The radio clicked off.

“Nothing, I’m fine. I just wanted to let you know I’m waiting on the bus so I’ll be later than I thought.”

“No, I’ll come get you! Where are you?”

“I’m—” A wave of dizziness washed over me. Whatever I’d caught was making me see things. The colors were gone, but the room had gone fuzzy around the edges and started rolling like water lapping the sides of a pool.

“Ryanne?” Caedan’s arm shot out and his steadying hand gripped my elbow. “Are you all right?”

His deep voice rumbled in my ear. The vibrations toured my body and landed in my toes. Or maybe my toes were just going numb? Whatever it was, I decided I liked the way I felt.

“Who’s that?” Heather’s voice shot up an octave. “Ry?”

“I like how you say my name.” The giggles escaped again. I clamped a hand over my mouth.

“Ry!” Heather was shouting now. “Who’s with you? Are you alone with him?”

“I think you need a doctor.” Caedan took the phone from my hand and cradled it against his ear. “Hello?”

The room stilled and quieted enough that I could hear the buzz of Heather’s angry voice over the line.

“Look, my name is Caedan Frey. I’ll make sure she’s taken care of. Don’t worry about anything.”

“What?” Something was wrong with my ears. Everything came in muffled waves. Did he say Caedan Frey, multi-millionaire and Life magazine’s number one bachelor of the year?

Caedan talked to Heather and eased us toward the desk. He set the clunky phone down, keeping contact with me the entire time. My body followed in spite of my growing distress.

The feel of money at the wedding made sense.

“Was that your sister?” My voice came out in a croak. “At the wedding?”

Caedan hesitated before answering me. “Yes, Sedonia’s my sister.”

“I’m so sorry! I really didn’t know. I never would have—” My mouth snapped shut. The last half hour had only been his way of avoiding a lawsuit. Nothing more. If I hadn’t stepped in front of his motorcycle he never would have noticed me.

“Ryanne?” Caedan reached for my hand. “Heather, she’ll call you soon.”

He hung up and caught me as I swayed. My stomach fluttered as a jolt ran through me. Learning how unobtainable he really was had not removed the attraction I felt. I pressed my fist to my temple. A dull humming joined the ringing in my ears. I couldn’t think, but my mouth worked on autopilot.

“You don’t have to worry about the accident. I won’t sue or anything, you know. That’s not who I am.”

“Let me take you to the doctor.” He reached up and stroked my face. “Did you hit your head when you fell?”

“I don’t know.” I mumbled. What’s wrong with my lips?

My hand moved to touch them, but I couldn’t feel anything. Dark shadows gathered around the edges of my sight. A strange floating feeling overtook me. Somehow I knew Caedan was carrying me again.

“Do you know I’m in love with you?” I gasped then giggled as Caedan Frey, the supremely unattainable, set me in a waiting limo. “I’m not in love with you. I’m never going to fall in love.”

I rested my face against his neck and sobbed. For a brief moment I’d let myself pretend Prince Charming was real. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My eyes were too heavy to keep open. Before falling asleep, I heard Caedan talking to someone.

“I’ve found her, but something’s wrong.”

Buy it in Print 
Buy it for Kindle 
Watch the Trailer 
Read the first 2 chapters Website • Twitter • Facebook

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HAWKS & RAMS on sale now!

Hawks & Rams 
by L. Blankenship
a m/m fantasy romance novella
ON SALE NOW! 
from Dreamspinner Press

Back Cover
Heathric Felahóf never wanted to be a thief, but his cousinʼs scheme is the only option to keep the town's children from being taken as slaves to cover the year's taxes. So a few men slip over the border into the neighboring kingdom, steal a flock of sheep, and escape before the magically gifted Rangers learn of them. The second time, they're not so lucky, and trouble follows the bandits home.

Adal Sperling has given up on finding a lover who truly wants him. One of the Rangers charged with protecting his people, he pursues the sheep thieves over the border and stumbles across Heathric, a gentle shepherd who only wants to take care of his family. But opposite sides of border incursions is a rough way to fall in love, and the laws of Adalʼs kingdom are clear: the border must remain closed to Heathricʼs people.

New goodies!
There's a map in the ebook, but chances are you're reading on a small screen and can barely see it. Here's a copy that you can embiggen and study at your leisure.

Readers of Disciple: this story takes place in a small stretch of the borderlands between Wodenberg and Suevia, about 50 years before the events in Disciple.

I also have a habit of including a character index in my self-published ebooks -- Disciple has a pretty big cast of characters, so it made sense. Hawks & Rams is much smaller, but my editor at Dreamspinner suggested an index and some pronunciation help. Here it is on Google Drive.

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