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The Vengeance Trilogy Cover Reveal!

So, while WE RIDE THE STORM is getting all the attention in the lead up to its release in June, it’s time to make everyone aware that in addition to the four books of THE REBORN EMPIRE series, Orbit also bought the rights to my earlier books, THE VENGEANCE TRILOGY. These books are set in the same world about seventeen years earlier, with some characters appearing in both. If you read WE RIDE THE STORM and think you’d like to know more about Emperor Kin, Empress Hana and Katashi Otako then I HAVE THE BOOKS FOR YOU!

I originally self-published the first book, THE BLOOD OF WHISPERERS, in 2013, finishing the series in 2016, so it was both a great challenge and a great joy to be able to go back and edit, re-write and polish them with a number of extra years experience under my belt. I’m very proud of the outcome and look forward to lovers of Storm getting to read the updated editions of the storm that came before the Storm. (Or you can read them the other way around, they can be done both ways.)

Look at me yabbering away when you came for a cover reveal! Well here we go, the description of the first book, THE BLOOD OF WHISPERERS, and all three covers of the trilogy that will release together on August 4th!

They call him the Usurper.


Once the Kisian empire was ruled by gods. Now Kin Ts’ai, a man of common blood, sits on the Crimson Throne. At his command, the last Otako emperor was executed and a new era began. But claiming an empire is easier than holding it.

In the north where loyalty to the Otako name runs deep, a rebellion grows. And Emperor Kin will learn that killing one Otako, doesn’t mean you’ve killed them all.

Vengeance is coming.

Phew! There we go! Three books all at once. Four books this year! It has been a wild time, that’s for sure (especially having to edit them all at the same time…) But look at these beauties! Super huge thanks to Gregory Titus for the art and Lisa Marie Pompilio for the stand out design as always.

As we get closer to the release date, I’ll be talking about these books a lot more, but for now that’s it. Go forth! Note the date, pre-order (HERE), ogle the covers, squee with me about how exciting this is! 

EXCIIIIIIITE!!!

BOOK DEEEAAALL!

I have been slack updating this space with my news, but now I’m through the worst of the EDITING LANDSLIDE, I hope to be more on top of it.

SO, better late than never. A bit over a year ago, I was preparing for the release of the second book in my Reborn Empire series when my career took a sudden turn. A WHOLE DAMN YEAR followed in which I had to be totally silent and keep all my excitement to myself as I worked busily away at my projects, not telling anyone. Did I mention I couldn’t tell anyone? I couldn’t tell anyone and it was really hard. What I wanted to shout about, was that in January 2019, the lovely Nivia Evans at Orbit US emailed me out of the blue expressing interest in my book, We Ride the Storm. At first I didn’t believe it was real. Then I had a mini panic attack. Then I wrote back. The rest is history (at times stressful, amusing, exciting and also dull history). 

Orbit ended up acquiring SEVEN of my books. The four books of THE REBORN EMPIRE series, and three from the prequel trilogy that starts with THE BLOOD OF WHISPERERS.

So what has changed? The cover, most obviously. That was a given from the beginning of the process and I have to say that as much as I loved my original cover (on the left), the new one(on the right) is just as glorious and wonderful and lives up to its predecessor in every way. The internal character symbols have also changed, as has the map. As for the story, well it now has three new chapters as well as extra scenes and characters. There is deeper world-building especially for the Levanti society, and plenty of tidying up has been done. I love it even more than I did before and cannot wait to share it with you all.

WE RIDE THE STORM is out now in ebook, or can be preordered for the June 23rd release date!

The second book in THE REBORN EMPIRE series, (the one I was just about to release when all of this started and I had to pull it) is called WE LIE WITH DEATH and it is slated for release in January 2021, with books 3 and 4 following in the same year. EXCIIIIIITE!

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)