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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!

Battle of the Bards!

While there are a lot of good things about living in Australia, one that sucks is that everything happens while you’re sleeping. We snore our way through Brexit, sleep peacefully while Trump fires his latest member of staff and wake up just in time to check the world hasn’t ended yet.

This morning I woke to discover I had won Mark Lawrence’s Battle of the Bards flash fiction competition! In my sleep no less!

My story? Between Lanterns and Corpses, about two generals on a battlefield. I’ve had quite a few people ask about the outcome, and the answer is actually in The Grave at Storm’s End, the third book in The Vengeance Trilogy. So without further ado, here it is!

 

 

I watched from the window as Shimai burned. The day I was elevated to Minister of the Left, Kin had invited me to stand here beside him, not an equal, but not a servant, the space in-between the treacherous ground we would tread in the years to come.

But I had knelt at his feet and kissed the hand of a liar.

Beside me now Malice stood with his hands clasped behind his back, reading the scrolls that lined the walls. ‘“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it”,’ he said. ‘That isn’t particularly apt for the situation, yes?’

‘Shut up, Spider,’ Katashi snapped, the tap of his sandals across the floor like a chorus of snapping beetles. ‘This is insane. I am winning, Laroth. I could have taken the bridge by now.’

‘You will take the bridge soon enough,’ I said, not turning my gaze from the window. It was starting to drizzle.

‘What general in history ever called a truce to play a game of Errant with his enemy?’

‘General Mikuzo, in the ninth century. He lost the game but went on to win the battle, I believe.’

He stopped pacing, and reflected in the glass I saw fire flare on his fingers. ‘Just give me Hana and be done with this stupidity. She is mine.’

I turned. ‘Stupidity?’

‘Stupidity!’

‘Your opinion of my skill at Errant is not high, it would seem,’ I said. ‘Tell me, what would hurt Kin more? Losing Hana to you without having the chance to save her, or having the chance to fight for her and failing?’

‘“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others”,’ Malice said. ‘Now that one seems much more appropriate, yes?’

Ignoring Malice, Katashi said: ‘I don’t care what hurts him more I just want him dead. I want my throne and I want Hana.’

‘You will get her when I say you can have her.’

So there you go! There’s a whole story in there as yet untold, but the outcome is an easily missed detail in another story because that’s how my brain works.

Many thanks again to the judges and to Mark Lawrence for hosting the competition and best of all, I get signed books from two of the judges – Sebastien de Castell and Nicholas Eames  *squeeeeee*

Continuum Con – See You Next Year

Con wrap-up blogs can be vapid diary vomit, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Continuum Con 13 in Melbourne over the long weekend was awesomesauce. I’m always ridiculously nervous even if I’ve been to the con before and on the Friday night I was wondering why the fuck I had even come since I’m no one important and all that malarky. But of course I proved myself wrong. I went out to dinner with complete strangers, made great new friends and all in all had an amazing time. (Although perhaps that was as much to do with not having to deal with my kids for THREE WHOLE DAYS!)

I attended the Ditmar Award Ceremony.

Sold books

And attended the launch of Seanan McGuire’s ‘Down Among the Sticks and Bones’ … WITH BRAIN CAKE AND BLOOD TEA!

I have to say that apart from making new friends, which is always the best part of any event, the highlight of this con was getting to hear Seanan McGuire speak on panels (of which she did many). She was the star and dominant force of every one of them, not seeking attention but gaining it anyway because everything she had to say was worth hearing. Well-read and vastly intelligent, she was confident, interesting and brightly coloured, and I can think of no one else that could make so many people laugh until they cried time and time again. And even more importantly, because, as Tim Minchin says: “I don’t care if youre the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful” – she wasn’t above introducing herself to nobodies (like me) and standing chatting to complete strangers (like me) as though they were long time friends.

While it’s not the Natcon next year it is still going to be all sorts of awesome fun and I can’t wait for it to roll around again and bring joy to the chill of an Australian winter.

Bring it on Continuum Con 14!

The Heavy Sadness

I have this sadness. I’m not going to call it depression because I feel that would belittle the experience of those who are diagnosed with depression and suffer under its weight every day. But this sadness of mine is heavy and when it comes it presses me down into the ground like the worm I realise I am. I question everything I have said. Everything I have done. Every moment when I considered, for just a heartbeat, that I was worth paying attention to. Under the weight of the sadness I am invisible, and in seeking reassurance this is not so I look in all the wrong places. I refresh Facebook hoping for some perfectly timed assurance of my existence and my worth. I refresh Goodreads or my email or trawl through twitter, and in the vast sea of humanity I confirm my own invisibility and complete lack of importance.

Perhaps the problem is social media, but social media is part of my job and it is also how I connect with some of the most important people in my life. It allows me to broaden my horizons and meet new people, but it also crushes my self-esteem – not because anyone ever criticises me or is unpleasant, but because I second guess everything I do and say, and I know, with iron-clad assurance, that it is a drag having me around, that I’m an embarrassment, that I am saying the wrong thing and that in this space that ought to be safe for my introvert self, I am a failure who ought to give up.

There is no uplifting message here, just a moment of honesty, of vulnerability, that the author in me needed to set to words. And perhaps there is someone else out there who feels as I do and might find in my honesty, a lessening of their own heavy sadness.

 

But wait, there’s more!

No, not a complete set of steak knives. Although daggers and other blades to feature in abundance they aren’t cutting steak. Not unless steak is a euphemism for a living person who is about to be a dead person. Or a dead metaphor. Moving on! It’s been a little while since I updated with a bit more detail on what I’ve been working on since The Vengeance Trilogy, so here it is. (And for those interested in keeping up with it more regularly, I do update the info on my homepage at least once a week).

1

My new series of chunky, multiple-POV novels is well underway with the first instalment currently off hitting beta readers in the feels. These are set a few centuries after the events of The Vengeance Trilogy, but in the same world with plenty of wonderful little hark backs for long time fans. I will continue working on this and start the second book next year, but unfortunately you’re not likely to see this one until 2019. I want to get deeper into the story before putting any of it out as it’s a big ‘un.

2

Prequel novella to The Vengeance Trilogy – In Shadows We Fall (so called unless I change my mind in the next few weeks). This is a few days from heading to the editor and July should see some lovely art showing up from my wonderful new cover artist. I’m pretty excited about this. The story follows Empress Li in the few days leading up to the outbreak of the civil war that predates the beginning of the Vengeance Trilogy by sixteen years. A place either to begin your journey in my world, or to go back and new characters and old friends.

3

I have finished the planning stages and about to embark on the first draft of a new trilogy that comes about seventeen years after the end of The Vengeance Trilogy, following three new POV characters into an expanded world. You won’t need to have read the previous trilogy, but it’s always good to have the full story and all the nuances. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this as it is going to be one hell of a ride.

 

At the rate my brain is throwing out story ideas the completed set of books in this world is going to end up looking like this…

In terms of release dates, nothing solid yet, but the novella is looking to be late August/early September. And the first of the new trilogy maybe March-ish next year with its second instalment coming near the end of 2018.

YAY FOR BOOKS!

When impatience gets ugly

Is it all right to be angry that the release date for the new Song of Ice and Fire book has been pushed back? Again.

I get it, I do. People have been reading and following and adoring this series for longer than some young adults have even been ALIVE. Then the TV series came along and it got even more popular and the knowledge that the TV show will end before the book series is like a slap in the face to some long time fans. But does that make it ok to rant and storm about the man being lazy or wasting too much time blogging?

Blogging? Seriously? Even a non-reader can surely appreciate that blogging and writing deep, complex fiction from multiple points of view are two very different things. A lot of authors use their blog like angsty teenagers use their diaries, it’s a relatively safe space in which they can talk about what interests them and just generally let off steam like a REAL PERSON. If you’re not an author you might not appreciate that we spend an awful lot of time ALONE, struggling with the angst of self-doubt (doesn’t matter how popular you are, it doesn’t go away) ALONE, grinding away at our stories like they are sculptures in marble. ALONE. Did I mention we do it alone? Anyone who has met me will attest that I talk A LOT once you get me going and that’s because I don’t get to do it very much. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, chat apps – these are our social outlet. You may as well complain about the words he wastes on his damn shopping list. I bet he writes plenty of emails, perhaps even personal letters, birthday cards, he probably fills in forms too because life isn’t getting lighter on red tape.

Another thing is that you need to stop thinking about writing as a jigsaw puzzle. A series, especially one this long, doesn’t get easier to write as things move toward the eventual climax. It gets harder. MUCH harder. When you’re writing a first book everything is possible, no characters or events are locked into place yet, you don’t even have to have a complete idea of where the story is going or what each of the character’s fate will be. Then the second book is a bit harder because now some things are locked into place, you’ve introduced characters and now have to ensure they remain interesting and make steps toward achieving, or not achieving, their goals, and you have to consider the ramifications of any new direction on the books coming later. In a lot of ways the second last book is the hardest of all because you have to build to a point just below the full climax, holding it all together and be sure, VERY SURE, that everything is laid and in place for the ending to come after else we’re shifting into pulling-it-out-of-your-arse territory.

And as Neil Gaiman said very eloquently over here many years ago, (and John Anealio put brilliantly to music), George RR Martin is not your bitch. Buying the first book of a series is NOT a contract. In paying your money (or paying nothing and borrowing it from the library) you are getting nothing more and nothing less than the joy of reading THAT BOOK. It is natural to expect there will be more books in a series, that it will one day be complete and you will get your closure, but that first book is no guarantee, no contract, just a book.

No matter how much you want to see A Song of Ice and Fire finished, you do not want it finished more than George RR Martin wants it finished. He is not wasting time. He is not being lazy. He is diligently working away at what is surely an excruciatingly difficult project.

 

 

2017 and Beyond!

There was a time I could not see beyond the end of The Grave at Storm’s End, the book that haunted me through the shittiest portion of my life to date (no, 2017, do not take that as a challenge, you have enough crap going on already. Focus.) But that time is no longer now and it is with much SQUEE that I have planned novels for the year ahead.

Two novels will be going through construction in the Madson cave this year.

  1. Soul War #1 (Working Title) – This is the first novel in what could very easily turn out to be quite the epic series. Work on this started about twelve years ago, and while I’ve completely reworked it there are a number of characters and moments that have been with me for a long time. Call it a magnum opus of sorts. The first book is set about 300 years after the end of The Vengeance Trilogy and encompasses not only Kisia but much of the world around it.
  2. The Fate of Kisia #1 (Working Title) – First novel in what I expect to be a trilogy in the same vein as The Vengeance Trilogy, picking up about 15 years later. This is still in the planning stage at this point, but the intention is to return to the 3x first person perspectives that worked so well in the first trilogy, but I’ll wait and see how it writes before committing to that.

 

 

There are also going to be four short stories in production this year, although only one is currently in the planning stage at this point, which is the origin story of Hope, from Vengeance Trilogy. I’m interested in looking at Shin’s backstory sometime too, but I’m not sure if that will be this year yet, or in what format.

Another short story, The Girl Who Carried Silence, which follows on from The Vengeance Trilogy, is all done and dusted and waiting for a decision on what to do with it! So look out for that one when it comes.

To keep up with all this I’ve added a Progress Report bar to the homepage where you can check out how things are coming along and prod me to make sure I’m working so you guys get more awesome stories.

And if you’d like special sneak peaks and updates sent to your inbox monthly, go ahead and subscribe to my newsletter. It’s going to be an awesome year! 😀