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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

We Ride the (Release Day) Storm

Book! Look, it’s a book!

*ahem*

I should try for something more professional than the impulsive squeeing that is going on inside my head, so here we go. It is with great pride, excitement and trepidation that I announce the arrival of We Ride the Storm, the first instalment in my new series The Reborn Empire. For those who have visited The Imperial Expanse of Kisia before in The Vengeance Trilogy or In Shadows We Fall, there will be some familiar ground and characters, and for those who have not they will make you welcome with open, if blood-stained, arms.

I had wanted to tell this story ever since I finished working on The Vengeance Trilogy, because I knew, just KNEW, the direction the world was heading at the end of that series was going to get… interesting (read: bad). I wanted to see the fallout, to explore how small decisions could have big consequences, how kept secrets could fester, and how a world on the brink of social change could either bend or break when force was finally applied. And if it breaks, what will rise from its ashes?

 

 

I had no great plan going in, I never do. I knew who I wanted to write about and had a vague sense of their character arcs, and from this vague miasma came a story darker even than I had expected (with promise of still more pain to come) and yet owning more humour and humanity than I had thought possible. And there is still so much journey left to take you on. Rah, Miko, and Cassandra still have a long way to go.

It’s safe to say that I love this book. I laugh out loud at the dialogue even though I wrote it, I cry with the characters even though I know what is coming, and I marvel at the occasional line that even I don’t want to fix. (They are rare. I’m such a perfectionist I don’t know whether my books would ever go to print if my editor didn’t prise them from my hands.)

We Ride the Storm will be followed in March 2019 by We Lie with Death, which will feature the delightful (read: cold, snarky killer) Cassandra on the cover, a picture I just CANNOT WAIT to see. She is a fascinating character and I am sure John Anthony will do her justice with his fantastic work.

We Sing for Blood and We Dream of Gods will follow and conclude the series in March 2020 and March 2021 respectively, though there is always a chance the timing will be brought forward if everything goes well. And there is already a portion of my brain busily working away on what happens after the end of THIS story and how that moves even further into the rest of my world, so there’s plenty more to come.

We Ride the Storm is now available worldwide in ebook and paperback (it makes a very pretty paperback), from wherever you most like to get your books. While it’s easy to get on Amazon and Book Depository etc, if you prefer to shop at a local bookstore you can always ask for it to be ordered in. Prefer to get your books from the library? Why not request your local branch gets a copy? Then it will be available for lots of other people to read and enjoy.

And of course if you read and enjoy then please do consider leaving a review, either where you purchased it or on Goodreads, and just generally shouting at all your fantasy-reading friends about it. Indie books (all books really) live and die by reviews, so even if it’s just a single line and a rating it is much MUCH appreciated.

Ok, now the whole formal promotional thing is done, I can run around squeeing, yeah? And get back to working on the next one of course.

 

War built the Kisian Empire and war will tear it down. And as an empire falls, three warriors rise.

Caught in a foreign war, Captain Rah e’Torin and his exiled warriors will have to fight or die. Their honour code is all they have left until orders from within stress them to breaking point, and the very bonds that hold them together will be ripped apart.

Cassandra wants the voice in her head to go away. Willing to do anything for peace, the ageing whore takes an assassination contract that promises answers, only the true price may be everyone and everything she knows.

A prisoner in her own castle, Princess Miko doesn’t dream of freedom but of the power to fight for her empire. As the daughter of a traitor the path to redemption could as easily tear it, and her family, asunder.

As an empire dies they will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.

Well that’ll never get old…

It has been almost a week since they read out my name and In Shadows We Fall as the winner of the 2017 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novella and I probably ought to be used to the idea by now, but nope. For someone who can still occasionally be amazed at having kids eight years after the fact, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m still grinning to myself at random times. And I don’t think this is ever going to get old. I won a thing. And not just a competition, not just a popularity contest, a legit award judged by a panel of people who know what they are talking about. Someone other than me and my mum thinks my work is worth reading. WOW. Nope… not getting old. (I’m totally grinning right now, I bet you can feel the force of it through the screen. I’m grinning so much it’s bending REALITY).

Sadly I wasn’t able to be there to accept my award in person, but a friend (another Devin, no less!) did an amazing job for me. I laughed all through his rendition of my acceptance speech and after that I might have missed the last few awards on the livestream because I was running around the house screaming. Then my editor called and we were both screaming. (Pretty sure I’ve written plenty about how awesome my editor is, but that might need reiterating again soon)…

So, what’s next? I’m publishing the first book of a new series this year (more on that soon) and will be taking my first steps to shopping yet another new series to agents and publishers. I’m super excited about all of it and look forward to sharing the continuation of this journey with all of you.

In the meantime if you’re interested in an e-copy of my Aurealis Award-winning (Sqqueeeee that will NEVER get old) novella, you can get one my signing up to my quarterly newsletter below. Unless there’s something very exciting going on you will only ever get four emails a year from me full of only the most awesome of awesomeness (still excited).

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal!

*cue cover drum roll*

It is that time! Time for a final, full wrap-around cover reveal for the upcoming prequel novella IN SHADOWS WE FALL. The wonderful original art was done by the seriously talented John Anthony Di Giovanni, and the design and layout by the equally seriously talented Shawn King at STK-Kreations.

IN SHADOWS WE FALL takes place sixteen years before the beginning of The Vengeance Trilogy and follows the events that led to the original downfall of the last Otako ruler, Emperor Lan.

From the back description:

 

 

You will die. Your children will die. The empire will burn.

Empress Li is out of favour at court. Foreign-born and past her prime, she is to be set aside. But she won’t go quietly. With nothing left to lose, Li will do anything to stop Emperor Lan signing a secret alliance that could tear the empire apart. Yet when her life is threatened, old mistakes come back to haunt her and only a three-year-old boy can change the course of history.

With everything at stake, could an innocent child be the best assassin?

 

 

So without further ado… here is the cover of the upcoming novella IN SHADOWS WE FALL!

*fans self*

I cannot describe how exciting it is to be getting this book out. I hope you all love the cover as much as I do!

 

IN SHADOWS WE FALL, available for general release on the 16th of November 2017, or RIGHT NOW! (like seriously right now) if you sign up to my quarterly newsletter below. Once confirmed, you’ll get an email with a link to download the ebook in whatever form you like to read.

Come for the book, stay for the newsletter! I mean it when I say quarterly, unless there is some EXTREMELY exciting news to share it will be no more than four emails a year (seriously, who has time for more? My job is writing books not emails!) Each email will contain updates and news as well as the occasional competition and piece of short fiction only for my subscribers.

Win!

On the table…

After this post, anyone who has been following me for awhile is going to think I’m all over the place. But bear with me…

The Blood of Whisperers is back on the table. Maybe… just maybe, I am looking for a traditional publisher.

I KNOW! I know what you’re thinking, the staunch self-publishing advocate is turning tail, so let me explain myself. My family and I have just moved to Canada. My husband is Canadian, so it’s not so way out there, but I have lived in Australia all my life. That being the case, let’s just say the move has been… a bit of a shock. We did it for numerous reasons, the only one that is any concern to this subject being that living in North America would be better for my career.

We arrived. I freaked out at the snow. We got over jet-lag… And then everything began to change. Suddenly our priorities were different, our plans flipped on their heads, and every decision we had already made needed to be reassessed.

I still believe in the strength of self-publishing. I believe that it is possible to create an amazing product that can rival anything produced by a traditional publisher as long as you never let go of your professionalism. And I believe in supporting self-published writers who are doing the right thing.

BUT…

Right now, at this moment, at this stage in my life, I cannot keep doing it. I haven’t got the funds or the drive for the business part of the job. I love the writing, love the social media and talking to fans and all that stuff, but I cannot find the energy in myself for the stress of the business when I make nothing out of it. So that is why, right now, I am putting The Blood of Whisperers back on the table. It’s up for grabs and today, I have queried my first agent ever.

*freaks out*

And so the next step in my journey begins…

 

 

Screw the Stigma – Part 2

Writing Motivation

 
Two weeks ago I came THIS close (yes, I’m holding my fingers VERY close together) THIS close, to submitting The Blood of Whisperers to a big US agent. I consider it to be the low point of my year. Lower than every gaff on social media that has made me cringe and vow to do better. Lower than the pain of crowdfunding. Lower than the day I screamed at my girls and threatened to throw their toys in the bin.

I started this journey at the beginning of 2013, making the final decision that I would publish my own books. Before then I was much like every other aspiring author, writing synopsisisisis (never could finish typing that word) and query letters and making lists of who to send work to and when. But the lack of control kept leading me back to considering the self-publisher route. I knew that as a traditional author I would have no say whatsoever over my cover, my blurb, my title, and would be expected to fix and change anything inside the book my appointed editor told me to.

That sucked. Yes there are awful covers, terrible blurbs and shudder-worthy books out there that have been produced by authors. Not many authors are also designers or artists and sometimes you have to wonder where their discerning genes have gone begging. I like to think I’m not like that. I like to think I have made it through this process with my objectivity intact. I like to think that I can see what will best suit and sell my book better than someone who has never read it.

And yet despite all this, despite the fact that I produced The Blood of Whisperers with every level of professionalism I possibly could. Despite having reviewers and readers alike inform me that there was no difference between the quality of my book and that of a major publisher, I still had doubts. I watched other debut authors rise to stratospheric heights of popularity because their traditional publishers had the engines with which to launch them, and I knew the bitter gnawing of jealousy. That could have been me. Instead here I am struggling against the damn stigma, knowing it will be a long and slow journey when all I want is for people to read what I write. Money has never factored into it for me. I would write obsessively for the rest of my life even if I never got paid for it, although obviously getting paid for it would mean I could spend MORE time writing.

But I digress.

There I was, sitting at my computer with my newly completed and edited synopsis and a fancy-ass query letter and … I think I made it pretty clear last post how I feel about my editor… well I have one more thing to thank her for. “Are you sure you need an agent?” she asks me via chat. “Give it to any publisher and they will pick it up in a heartbeat” She’d had little enthusiasm for my decision to go traditional, but we have become good friends and she would support any decision I made… but this last question made me start thinking again. Before we met, her opinion of self-publisher had been much like that of the general population, but she had read and loved my work, she had watched me fight for the right to be recognised for doing the damn thing right, for publishing professionally, and now I was giving up.

Shit.

(More bad language coming up)

And so now I have dug myself out of the depressing hole I had sunk into, so pained by the stigma that I came THIS DAMN CLOSE to giving up my dream, I can say fuck it. THIS is what I want to do. I want to write what I want to write, not what will make a big company the most money. I want to be able to choose my covers, my artists, my TEAM. I have one and I love them all and their enthusiasm for my dream is almost as great as my own. I don’t want to sell my work or my rights or my control, and I damn well don’t want anyone to stand between me and my readers. There is just me, sitting here writing, and you sitting there reading (or standing, or lying down as the case may be. Hell, maybe you read while hopping, but that’s your choice!)

I am, in the words of the great and powerful Chuck Wendig, an AUTHOR-PUBLISHER and I am proud of it. YES, that means I fall into a category with a lot of SHIT. YES, that means the power of the marketing engine will never be behind me. YES, that means I will never be able to be a member of the SFWA and therefore will never have a chance at the popularity contest fantasy awards that I would LOVE to win (so I’m flawed! Who isn’t :D) But this is the path I have chosen and if I have to fight this battle through a sea of stigma I will do it, and be happy to do it so long as there are people who want to read my books.

There will be tears. There will be other authors who will look down on me like I am the shit on their shoes. There will be days when I will wish I had given in and stopped fighting for recognition without the stamp of Big Five approval. But on those days I will grit my teeth and keep fighting because I’m worth it. I’m worth an uphill battle along shit creek.

One day my girls will be proud of me.