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WorldCon 2019!

From the 15th to the 19th of August this year I am going to be in Dublin for WorldCon and I AM SO EXCITED THAT THERE WILL BE LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS IN THIS POST! (Sorry not sorry)

This will be the first WorldCon I have properly attended, though I managed a few hours at the last Australian one in 2010 when my oldest girl was teensy weensy. This will also be my first time travelling long distance on my own (IT’S 24 WHOLE DAMN HOURS FROM HERE!) as I’ve always had kids with me, so I am looking forward to that, too!

SO! Without further ado, places you can find me at WorldCon!

 

Introduction to grimdark

Format: Panel

16 Aug 2019, Friday 18:00 – 18:50, Wicklow Hall-1 (CCD)

Grimdark is a fantasy subgenre defined, amongst other things, by its cynical outlook and flawed protagonists. The term was originally pejorative, stemming from the Warhammer 40,000 description: ‘In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war’ – but many authors have turned the insult around and claimed it as their own. The panel will offer a brief introduction to the history and tropes of grimdark fantasy as well as reading recommendations.

Devin Madson (M), Elliot Craggs, Kim ten Tusscher, Cameron Johnston, Jenn Lyons

 

Send in the crones: older women in SFF

Format: Panel

17 Aug 2019, Saturday 21:00 – 21:50, Wicklow Hall-1 (CCD)

Very often SFF stories centre on young women, with older female characters being consigned to background dressing at best and cliched depictions of elders and antagonists at worst. Is anyone writing stories that focus on older women? Where are the middle-aged heroines?

Lauren Roy, Ali Baker (University of East London), Sam Hawke (M), Devin Madson, Julie C. Day

 

Kaffeeklatsch: Devin Madson

Format: Kaffeeklatsch

18 Aug 2019, Sunday 10:00 – 10:50, Level 3 Foyer (KK/LB) (CCD)

Devin Madson

 

Portrayals of mental health in genre

Format: Panel

18 Aug 2019, Sunday 12:00 – 12:50, Wicklow Hall 2A (Dances) (CCD)

Content warning: may include discussions of suicide and self-harm, mental illness and ableism, eating disorders.

Mental health used well can drive a story, create believable motives for characters and even greater awareness amongst the audience. However, these issues are not always treated sensitively or realistically. This panel will explore examples of mental health issues in genre fiction and consider their implications and accuracy.

Alasdair Stuart (Escape Artists) (M), Penny Jones, Dr Glyn Morgan (The Science Museum, London), Devin Madson

Other than at those events, I will be generally hanging around, chatting and checking out panels, so if you see be about, stop and say hi! I’ll be wearing a lot of black, and boofy floor-length geek skirts!

I am particularly excited for my kaffeeklatsch, so if you want to hear about my almost tragic and very irregular road to traditional publishing, talk self-publishing, head chopping, poisonous Australian things, or pretty much anything else, I’d love for you to join me for that! 

Meet you back here again in three weeks for a rundown on how it all went!

 

SPFBO 2018 Highlights

Carrying on from our open letter last week, we SPFBO finalists are taking a day each to talk about SPFBO and to highlight some of our favourite books amongst those that were cut in earlier stages. Cut they might have been, but there’s still a wealth of fantastic stories that might just not have been to their particular reviewer’s taste or were just squeezed out, so here we go!

(For those who don’t know, SPFBO is the Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off and is hosted by the wonderful Mark Lawrence. The official page is HERE if you would like to learn more.)

 

SPFBO is a rollercoaster of a journey, nail-biting when you know the expected date of your book’s first review, and tense every time you see a post if not, but it is a competition that not only brings great books to more readers, but brings together a community. It’s that part of it that I love the most, and so here we are with the three books that I want to highlight.

Revenant Winds by Mitchell Hogan

“As a secret cabal schemes to awaken an evil thought defeated millennia ago, the lives of three unlikely heroes are fated to converge:

Aldric, a veteran priest and sorcerer, who seeks acceptance from the church that shuns him. On the brink of their approval, he receives a mission that brings him face to face with a long-buried evil.

Niklaus, master swordsman, and slave to his goddess, who plots to split the veil between life and death and ascend to become her equal.

Kurio, the runaway daughter of a noble family, now turned to thievery, who stumbles across a disturbing secret that binds her future to infernal designs.

Drawn toward a horrifying endgame by an unknown force, Aldric, Niklaus, and Kurio find themselves in a battle not only for their lives, but for the beliefs that have come to define them. A wrong decision, an overreaching ambition, or the failure of an already tormented faith, is all it will take to plunge mankind into an eternal dark.”

Not only is Revenant Winds a joy to look at (how glorious is that cover?) it was also a joy to read. I beta read this book before it came out and even then in its not fully polished state it was a page turner. It follows the interconnected stories of Niklaus (jaded and snarky just the way I like them), Aldric (the nice one really trying to do his best) and Kurio (mysterious and awesome) and while it takes some time for them all to come together, that set up is well worth it when it does. My very favourite thing about this book however, is how skilfully magic is described. It reads a bit like a video game or movie where even I, non-visual that I am, could almost see and hear the crackling power of the raw magic. And there is a lot of magic and each time its used it feels fresh and different from the last time.

I highly recommend this book, especially to all those who like some sword and sorcery in their reading.

 

The Red Hourglass by Ashley Capes

Escape isn’t the hardest challenge for a slave – it’s staying free afterwards.

Siblings Thomas and Mia find themselves fleeing across a desolate land, hounded by the monstrous sand-hog, a steam-powered war machine bent on recapturing them at all costs. 

Thomas fears the worst. He knows the tyrannical King Williams seeks Mia and her mysterious powers of foresight, but it seems even her gift cannot save the day when the sand-hog corners them. It isn’t until they cross paths with a group of rebels and stumble across rumours of a lost airship that Thomas begins to wonder if there isn’t hope of escape after all…

A steampunk adventure set in a slowly dying land where magic clashes with steam and alchemy.

While I have not yet read THIS book, I have read a number of Ashley Capes’ other books (1-5 in the Books of Never, and The Fairy Wren) and so have no trouble at all suggesting people give this one a read.

Ashley Capes writes adventures with an Indiana Jones feel to them, and there is always something going on. They don’t drag, but move at an easy pace and with just the right amount of poetry in their soul to capture the imagination. The Books of Never are a rollicking series of adventures that follow the eponymous Never and his gaggle of friends on a journey to discover the truth of Never’s past, and having enjoyed it as much as I did, this one has landed squarely on the TBR pile. Ash is also one of the few other contestants I’ve actually met in person and he is right up there on my list of good people to be stuck sitting next to at an all day convention, too.

Dragonshade by Aderyn Wood

This game of thrones will be played by gods. And when the gods play, ancient cities burn…

Prince Sargan is the worst swordsman in all Zraemia. His clumsy performance draws scorn from his uncle, pity from his sister, disappointment from his father, and sniggers from everyone else. 

But soon, Sargan will enter the temple and begin his long-awaited path to the seat of high priest. His brother will one day inherit the throne. His sister will marry. The enemy king will leave them alone. And all will be right with the world.

Unless… the gods change the game. 

And when the gods play, the game turns to war – the Great War.

Ancient prophecies surface, dark enemies rise, new allies emerge, old ones can’t be trusted, magic scorches the earth, reluctant heroes are made, and nothing is ever the same again.

This book earned the place of the book SPFBO most made me want to read. I had heard of it before because my editor worked on this book as well, but it was this bit in the early review by Adam Weller over at Fantasy Book Review that made me want to read it.

I’m more than bit sad to eliminate Dragonshade. This book is exquisitely detailed, with rich characters and a fully-realized setting. Clocking in at 864 pages, Wood takes her time in describing family histories, cultural developments, warrior clans, enemy kingdoms, cutthroat politics, royal hierarchies, prophetic dreams… and even a full chapter dedicated to duck farming. (Full review HERE)

DUCK FARMING! To be able to build such a detailed world that duck farming can have a place alongside the action sounds absolutely delightful and I’m really really looking forward to reading this one.

And there we go! Three books I recommend from the SPFBO pool, though there are so many good books it is hardly enough to do justice to the talent on offer.

I am second last in our series of posts about our favourite SPFBO books, so stay tuned to read Mike Shel’s thoughts tomorrow (now HERE), or head back and check out Barbara Kloss’s post from yesterday, HERE!

SPFBO 2018 Open Letter

An open letter to fantasy fans everywhere

We are the finalists of the 2018 Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, also known as SPFBO 2018. The contest has brought us together from across the globe and the far-flung corners of our favorite genre to celebrate speculative fiction and the possibilities of self-publishing.

We believe that independent publishing is a force for good in our industry. The direct connection between authors and their fans yields greater choice for readers, drives new business models for writers, and helps create new audiences for books. That’s especially true in fantasy, where new subgenres and tropes are rising up thanks to self-published authors and their fans. Independent authors are working alongside traditional publishers and authors to create a bigger, better, and more inclusive fantasy community.

If you’re looking for evidence of the quality and creativity available from independent authors, look no further than our fellow contestants in SPFBO 2018. Many of the judges this year have remarked on the great quality of books they’ve encountered, and the challenge of whittling down their entries to one finalist. Whether you want something epic or intimate, funny or frightening, grim or uplifting, there’s a fantasy book for you among this year’s SPFBO. We encourage you to find it.

To that end, we will take this time to draw attention to some fantastic books cut from this year’s competition. Over the next week, many of us will highlight some of the deserving fantasy novels of SPFBO 2018. It’s a chance to salute other indie authors who could have easily been signing this letter had the die been cast differently. Please consider giving them a shot, or any other entry that caught your eye. When the genre grows, we all win.

In closing, we’d like to thank the indomitable Mark Lawrence for founding this amazing competition and for his continued efforts to highlight independent fantasy authors. We’d also like to thank the contest organizers and judges for their hard work, thoughtful reviews, and consummate professionalism. And finally, we’d like to thank fantasy readers everywhere, without whom we could not pursue our shared passion. This wonderful community makes it all possible, and for that we are forever grateful.

Signed,
Megan Crewe (www.megancrewe.com)
Angie Grigaliunas (https://www.angiesquill.com/)
Barbara Kloss (www.barbarakloss.com )
Patrick LeClerc (www.inkandbourbon.com)
Devin Madson (www.devinmadson.com)
Steven McKinnon ( www.stevenmckinnon.net )
J. Zachary Pike ( www.jzacharypike.com )
Craig Schaefer (http://craig-schaefer-v2.squarespace.com/)
Mike Shel (https://www.mikeshel.com/ )
Keith Ward (keithwardfiction.com)

Rebranding!

I have super duper exciting news! As you can surely tell from the headline of my cleverly-titled post, I am rebranding my first three books to bring them into line with the print quality of the recent series. HURRAH! Now the art on The Vengeance Trilogy covers won’t be changing, they will still feature the beautiful original artwork of Viktor Fetsch representing three characters from the books (Katashi Otako, Malice and Emperor Kin) but Shawn King from STK Kreations has given them fresh life.

Originals

This is a project we’ve been working on slowly for quite some time now, since it became apparent that the original versions just wouldn’t hold up against the new ones. As you can see from the images above, the colour at the bottom of each covered too much of the art, especially on The Gods of Vice where the addition of the blue stole much of the detail from Malice. The spines, too, were very flat and overall lacking the punch Shawn has brought to The Reborn Empire and In Shadows We Fall. So it was time for a makeover!

Aaaand the NEW ONES!

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Aren’t they beautiful? I am super pleased with how these turned out and owe huge thanks to Shawn for taking the time with them that he did.

 

So what now?

The ebooks will be switching over in the next couple of days, but there is no difference to the interior so that’s all good.

The original covers will be available in print through all the usual online retailers for about another two weeks or so for anyone who is still desirous of completing a set they might only be halfway through reading/purchasing, but after that we will be making the full switch over and they won’t be available anymore. That will leave the 150 or so sets of original print run books I have (with spot gloss and everything!) the last of their kind and once they are gone I will be shifting over completely to selling only the new ones at conventions as well as online.

So that’s that! NEW COVERS! EXCITEMENT! There will of course be more cover excitement soon with Book 2 of The Reborn Empire, but until then this is here to tide you all over.

There’s so much going on – A News Bulletin!

THERE ARE SO MANY UPDATES that having not posted about them as they turned up, I am now swamped with news. Soooo here it goes! It’s news bulletin time!

Exciting thing number ONE

My first short story will be published in the 17th edition of Grimdark Magazine later this year! This is super exciting for me as I’ve never been a short story writer, the story arcs in my mind tending to be on the… long side. For many years I just assumed my brain was wired for novels and trilogies and epic series, but when I saw the open call for stories at a magazine I respected and enjoyed reading, well… it was time to give it a try.

So look out for my story, A Risk of Malice, in the upcoming edition, which you can be sure I will shout about a lot more closer to the date.

Exciting thing number TWO

We Ride the Storm is the Resident Author Bookclub (RRAWR) book of the month over on r/fantasy this month (July). The link to the announcement page is HERE and the first discussion thread will go up on the 14th/15th July, with a final one at the end of the month. So if you’ve read the book, are reading the book or would like to read the book, now is a great time to share your thoughts with a group of other readers and pepper me with questions. (Not scary at all, I swear…)

Exciting thing number THREE

Speaking of We Ride the Storm, it has been entered in the vaguely annual SPFBO competition (Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off) run by the all sorts of awesome Mark Lawrence. For those who don’t know what that is, you can check out the introduction post HERE, and for those who want the TL;DR version – 300 self published fantasy books, split between 10 bloggers, each choosing a finalist to be scored by all of them to pick an ultimate winner. It’s in its fourth year and has been a roaring success so far, and this year is looking no different.

The cover of We Ride the Storm has also been selected as a finalist in the SPFBO cover competition, YAY! You can check out the other beautiful finalists … HERE 😀

Exciting thing number FOUR

I ran a competition for the super duper subscribers to the Madson Quarterly (otherwise known, quite boringly, as my newsletter). The prize was a signed copy of We Ride the Storm sent anywhere in the world, and all they had to do was email me a suggested name for Dishiva e’Jaroven’s horse. She is a Levanti warrior and to them their horses are everything, so it is as much like asking you to name her best friend. The winner was Matt McAbee with the wonderful name, Itaghai. I really had fun with this competition and look forward to doing more like it as we go along, so keep a look out for that too. And if you’re not a subscriber to the Quarterly, then now is a good time to change that. You can check out all the details HERE.

EXCITING THING NUMBER… wait, no, that’s it for the big announcements for now. I’ve probably missed something, but I’m working so hard on line edits at the moment that my brain is as a perforated-metal-kitchen-implement-that-is-required-to-cook-spaghetti for anything else. Ah well, time is a wasting. I must get back to laughing at my own jokes.

 

– Devin