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Friday, September 9, 2016

Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich - Virtual Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hey lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host Karin Rita Gastreich and her new book, “Sword of Shadows”!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card.  Also, come back daily to interact with Karin and to increase your chances of winning!

Thanks for stopping by!  Wishing you lots of luck in this exciting giveaway!

Sword of Shadows
by Karin Rita Gastreich


GENRE:  Dark Fantasy



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, 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 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 story forward, and the characters are at their best when circumstances are at their worst." -Publishers Weekly

This is the second book in THE SILVER WEB trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as the sequel to the first book, EOLYN.



Mechnes strode to the table where a soldier had left Renate’s head. He took his time unwrapping the bundle, exposing Renate’s matted tresses, the ragged edge of severed flesh, the face—oh, Renate’s face! Stiff, gray, and lifeless. Never again would she laugh, drink wine, cast a spell, or heal a friend.

Adiana’s stomach clenched, and she fought the surge of bile in her throat.

Calm, she told herself. I must remain calm.

Just as Renate had, just like Eolyn would, without as much as a change in the rhythm of her breath.

“Who is this woman?” Mechnes’s voice hit Adiana like a spear.

“It is…” Adiana’s throat tightened. “Was Maga Eolyn.”

Mechnes grunted as he studied the gruesome package. “And who are you?”

“My name is Adiana.”

“You are this woman’s scullery maid?”

Adiana swallowed. She had learned how to lie during her youth in Selkynsen, after her parents were killed and she fled to the piers. Lies must be presented on a bed of truth, or they lose their seductive power. “No, I am not a servant. I am a musician from Selkynsen. Maga Eolyn brought me to Moehn to teach music to her students.”

“Music?” Amusement broke on Mechnes’s face. He seemed genuinely surprised. “What use do magas have for music?”

“Music is also magic, according to the traditions of Moisehén. Eolyn says…used to say that it’s a form of Primitive Magic, the oldest and most sacred of all.”

“So you are a maga?”

“No.” The thought came, terrible and unbidden, that now she would never be. “I only play music.”

“Then Maga Eolyn was trying to protect you by saying you were a scullery maid? How curious.” Mechnes draped one end of the bloodied cloth over Renate’s disfigured face. “I can assure you a musician will find a much better place among the Syrnte than a scullery maid.”

“I don’t intend to find a place among the Syrnte.” Adiana’s breath stalled under the look he gave her. “What I mean is, my home is here, in Moisehén, not with the Syrnte.”

“It’s all one kingdom now. Or perhaps better stated, will be soon.”



Inventing and Developing Mystical Creatures

Mystical creatures are just like any other character in fantasy: they have origins, motivations, even a cultural context in which they live. By “cultural context,” I mean a set of rules that determine how they interact with the world and with others around them. Another phrase for this would be “behavioral strategies.”

When crafting a mystical creature, you have to pay attention to all these factors. It’s not enough to describe the mystical creature and make it “do” something. There are reasons behind every action in a story, and this is just as true for mythical beasts as it is for human characters. As an author, you should seek to understand the reasons why your mystical creatures behave the way they do in any given situation.

As an example, let’s have a look at the Naether Demons in Sword of Shadows. Naether Demons are beasts of burden for Queen Rishona and Prince Mechnes, who summon these creatures from the Underworld to aid in the conquest of Moisehén. In designing the “look” of a Naether Demon, I took the spindly sway of a praying mantis, mixed in Edvard Munch's The Scream, and stuffed that “mood” into the giant body of an angry, skinned predator.

In addition to deciding what Naether Demons look like, I put a lot of thought into why they do what they do. What is the nature of their Underworld origins? Why do they choose to serve Rishona and Mechnes? What is their interest in bringing destruction to Moisehén?

Like all creatures of darkness, Naether Demons have a story of their own. They once thrived in the living world, as flesh-and-blood predators that hunted the people of Moisehén. The magas and mages of ancient times united not just to kill these creatures, but to banish them entirely from any form of existence. To this end, they crafted the curse of Ahmad-dur, which casts one’s spirit into the Underworld while leaving it tethered to the material body. The spirit is thus trapped in a place of eternal decay, unable to return to the world of the living, but also not capable of making a full transition into the Afterlife, where renewal and hope await.

By casting this curse, the mages and magas intended for the very essence of these monsters to fade into nothing, so that the threat they posed would disappear from all realms forever.

The banished predators, however, proved very hearty. Locked in the Underworld, they learned to prey on the Lost Souls. They hunted spirits rich in magic and by feeding on them, managed to survive. At the same time, the Naether Demons were driven mad by the very realm they came to master. After centuries of imprisonment in a world of darkness and decay, only rage and unbearable hunger remained.

Naether Demons hate the people of Moisehén for the curse cast upon them. For this reason, they heed Rishona’s call when she opens the door to their Underworld prison. The alliance is fragile, and Rishona's hold over the Naether Demons is never certain. But the Demons provide a promise of victory against Eolyn and her people Because of this, they are an irresistible temptation for our warrior queen and her ruthless uncle.

Which brings me to another piece of advice for writers who are crafting mythical beasts: While you as the author need to know why those monsters do what they do, your characters should not always have access to the same information.

In Eolyn’s world, the history of the Naether Demons has been obscured over time. Eolyn and her allies have to do some serious homework to understand just what they are dealing with. Even then, they may not be able to put together all the pieces as to where these creatures come from, what they want, and how to stop them. 

If you, as the author, know why your mythical beasts behave as they do, this will give greater depth, complexity, and authenticity to your narrative. It will ensure internal consistency with respect to how mythical creatures interact with your characters, and how they behave in any given situation.

At the same time, not allowing your characters – or even your readers – to be in the know like you are can really ramp up the tension of your story. Finding the balance between what you, as the author, know and what you reveal to your characters and readers is part of the fine art of writing fantasy.



Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.



Twitter: @EolynChronicles







Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase made I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those awesome giveaways on here.**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.


  1. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Happy Friday! Have a good one and thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Happy Friday, James. Have a good one and thanks for the comment!

  3. Congrats and thanks for this awesome giveaway

  4. Do u have any new releases pending?

    1. In addition to Sword of Shadows, which came out just this past August, the third & final book of the series, Daughter of Aithne, is slated for release next spring.

    2. What first got you into writing?

    3. That's a good question; I'm not sure I know the answer. I've been writing ever since I can remember. The first story I wrote was based on a dream I had when I was a girl.

  5. Do you have any advice for any future authors?

  6. Yes, I've got lots of advice! But I'd say the most important thing to do when you're getting started is to find a good critique group. Some more pointers on this at my guest post today on Long and Short Reviews: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/guest-blogs/my-take-on-critique-groups-by-karin-rita-gastreich-guest-blog-and-giveaway/

  7. When your not writing what are you doing?

    1. Well, most of the time, I'm not writing. I lead a fairly busy life as a university professor. When I'm not teaching, planning classes, grading, serving on committees, advising, or doing something else related to my job, I like to spend time with family, bicycle, hike, and take dance class. I also enjoy traveling, whenever I get the chance.

  8. Whats your favorite genre that you like to read yourself?

    1. I read across genres, but I am a big fan of history and historical fiction. Most of the books I've read probably fall into that category.