Category Archives: The Saga of the Redeemed

NO GOOD DEED Excerpt – Read it now!

Hey, folks! Some publicity news, some No Good Deed stuff, etc, today. Check it out:

NoGoodDeed_cover artRead the Prologue to NO GOOD DEED!

It’s up on the Harper Voyager Facebook Page, so go there to read it RIGHT NOW! Yes, NOW! Put down the bagel sandwich, man, and read!

I’m going to be on Grim Tidings Podcast!

I’m recording a podcast with Grim Tidings this coming Saturday morning, so look for it soon! It’s a top-flight interview podcast with really, really awesome guests, hosted by the ever-personable Rob Matheny! I’ve very excited to have been invited and it ought to be just spectacular. If you haven’t listened to any of their other interviews, do so!

Reading/World-building Discussion on June 30th!

If you happen to live in or near the Boston area, I’ll be doing a reading of NO GOOD DEED and hosting a talk on world-building in science fiction and fantasy at the Hingham Public Library on Thursday, June 30th, from 7:oo-8:30pm. I’m going to read a brief excerpt from the book and talk about how worlds can be built, made real, and sustained throughout a novel or series of novels (or movie or television series, for that matter). It’s free, so come on down!

Pre-order the Book!

NO GOOD DEED is available for pre-order now! Also, if you’re new to the series, check out The Oldest Trick, which chronicles the beginnings of Tyvian Reldamar’s journey. It’s James Bond meets a high-magic Westeros in an adventure reviewers have called “a romp in the style of Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss.” For a mere four bucks, you can’t go wrong!

Talk to you all soon – I got a lot of blog-posts to write for my publicity tour. Thanks for all your support!

Free Story: “Tea With Silicate Gods” Now on Perihelion SF!

Greetings, friends! I’ve got a short story now up on Perihelion Science Fiction. Go and check it out! It’s a scifi tale about world-controlling AIs meddling in people’s love lives. A bit off-beat, yes, but fun! Many thanks to editors Sam Bellotto Jr. and Eric Jones for publishing it! Be sure to read the other stories in the anthology, too. I’m about half way through, and I’ve really liked all of them. Robin White’s story, in particular (“Suck the Oil Out With a Straw”) is very touching.

In other writing news, NO GOOD DEED is back in my editor’s hands after a furious week of crossing t’s, dotting i’s, and taking out the stupid bits. The backcover copy is almost up and the cover art will soon be revealed and everything is coming together nicely.

Seen in the wild at Pandemonium Books and Games, Cambridge MA

Seen in the wild at Pandemonium Books and Games, Cambridge MA

Which reminds me: if you haven’t read Book 1 yet, THERE’S STILL TIME! Go out and get THE OLDEST TRICK (which has both halves of the book) or, if you want to check it out on a trial basis, read THE IRON RING and IRON AND BLOOD in e-book form.

It is also available in dead tree format (i.e. “paperback”) in select bookstores (or online). If you need proof, I give you this overly large image to the right here. There it is! Just like a real author or something!

But Habershaw, what is the book about?

I’m glad you asked, disembodied voice! Here is the pitch:

Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world’s most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.

Go forth! Read! Enjoy! Review!

My thanks!

Writing Updates: My Continued March (Amble) to Victory (Modest Success)

So, time for a writing update!

Thing have been going very well, lately. Lots to update everybody with, so I’ll start with the short fiction news and move into the novels.

I'll be out there on the edge someday soon!

I’ll be out there on the edge someday soon!

Short Fiction News

Galaxy’s Edge Sale!

My short story “Lord of the Cul-de-sac” was just purchased by Mike Resnick over at Galaxy’s Edge. This is a great market with a typically stunning table of contents and edited by the man who has won the most Hugo awards in history, so that’s pretty damned sweet. No word yet on when my story will appear, but I’ll keep you all posted.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Sale!

I mentioned this a few weeks back, but I’m still pumped that I sold a story to CC Finlay over at F&SF.

My story “The Mithridatist” (set in Tyvian’s world, Saga of the Redeemed fans!) went on a heck of a journey through the pro-markets, garnering personal and, dare I say, glowing rejection letters from places like Tor.com before finally earning itself a home. Again, no word on release yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Escape Pod!

I also recently sold a story to Escape Pod podcast about a month ago. It’s free and in audio or text. “Adaptation and Predation” is a space opera-esque story set in my Union of Stars world and has received a very positive response. I’ve even gotten some fan mail! Yay!

Chappy Fiction!

Then there’s this as-yet-untitled Time-Travel anthology over on Chappy Fiction, which bought/will buy my story “The Day It All Went Sideways” dealing with two-bit gangsters and fifth-dimensional time. I’m being called an “anchor” for the antho, which is a great compliment and I’m excited to see what Zach Chapman puts together!

Beyond that, I’ve got another five stories or so on submission to various places on and in various stages of review and another two I need to spiff up and send out again. Pretty good haul for a guy who spends *most* of his time writing novels!

Novel News

The first book in the Saga of the Redeemed, The Oldest Trick, and its two halves (The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood) are currently selling very well – particularly the two halves – thanks to a price promotion and a BookBub at the end of last year. The Iron Ring peaked at #115 overall for Amazon (#2 for Fantasy) on the day of the BookBub “Book of the Day” promotion, which is mind-bogglingly awesome. It and Iron and Blood have been selling in the low 5-figures in rank ever since, which, in Amazon terms, is really goddamned good. So thank you, all of you, who have read!

That said, I could still use more reviews! I have ranked up a few over the past month or two (all very positive – thanks!), but you can never have too many reviews and, given how Amazon’s algorithm works and how important word-of-mouth is for book sales, more reviews is essential! If you’ve read any of my books, I would be ever so thankful if you left a review (even if you didn’t like it very much!).

Now for the kinda-sorta bad news. My editor at Harper Voyager has left for another publisher and, as a result, I have a new editor (hi, Rebecca!). Since she has just been saddled with a lot of my former editor’s old workload, she’s had to delay the publication of No Good Deed again. Bummer. It’s new release date is June 21st, 2016. This is disappointing, but at least now it seems like that date will be firm. I’ve also seen the cover art, which is really pretty awesome. Not time to reveal it just yet, but very pretty, trust me.

So, yet, Tyvian will be yet a few more months before he arrives in his second adventure. Of course, that’s typical Tyvian – never arrive on time when you can arrive late and make a splash. This also gives people world-wide more time to read the first book and be ready when the second comes out, so silver linings abound.

Overall, then, a great batch of news. I leave you, Tyvian fans, with the teaser text from No Good Deed, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. I hope it sounds as intriguing as I hope it is:

Cursed with a magic ring that forbids skullduggery, Tyvian Reldamar’s life of crime is sadly behind him. Now reduced to fencing moldy relics and wheedling favors from petty nobility, he’s pretty sure his life can’t get any worse.

That is until he hears that his old nemesis, Myreon Alafarr, has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit and turned to stone in a penitentiary garden. Somebody is trying to get his attention, and that somebody plays a very high-stakes game that will draw Tyvian and his friends back to the city of his birth and right under the noses of the Defenders he’s been dodging for so long. And that isn’t even the worst part.

The worst part is that somebody is his mother.

My Crazy Good Year

Yaaaay!

Yaaaay!

You know how your social media feed is starting to sprout all those posts about how hard this year was? This ain’t one of those, folks. Not because it wasn’t hard, but because it was totally awesome.

My (professional) year by the numbers:

Novels Published: Either 1, 2, or 3, depending on how you count. The Iron Ring was released in February, Iron and Blood in June, which are the two halves of The Oldest Trick, released in August. All parts/versions of the same book (my debut), mind you. Yes, it’s complicated. But also awesome.

Stories Published: 2 (“A Revolututionary’s Guide to Practical Conjuration” in The Writers of the Future Vol 31; “Adaptation and Predation” in Escape Pod)

Stories Sold: 3 (to WoTF, Escape Pod, and Fantasy and Science Fiction)

Awards Won: Writers of the Future Award, 2nd Place, 1st Quarter 2014 (award ceremony was in April)

Memberships Achieved: SFWA Active Membership

Conventions/Workshops Attended: 3 (WoTF Workshop, ITVFest, World Fantasy Convention)

Novels Written: 2 (3, if you count total rewrites)

Stories Written: 6 (only counting complete, saleable stories currently on submission/accepted)

Total Words Written: ~300,000 (an average of about 820 words per day)

Along the way of this bang-up year, I made a bunch of new friends, found new groups of support and keen eyes to read, made a bunch of fans (I think/hope), and even got some fanmail. Hard to beat that.

As for this blog, its followership continues to grow. I’m up over 1300 followers now, which is really cool (and thank you, all of you, for reading…assuming you do. But since you’re reading this that would seem to imply that you…you know what? Never mind.).

What About Next Year?

Well, I’ll still be posting here, of course. In terms of Writing, No Good Deed is slated to come out, though it’s been moved back AGAIN by my publisher to April (no idea why). I would expect to see a few more stories from me to come out, given the contracts I have in hand (or will have shortly). My personal goal is to write more short fiction and publish more of same, score another book deal (hopefully extending The Saga of the Redeemed by another two books, if possible), and maybe even nab myself one of those elusive literary agents.

Stay tuned, folks! I’ll see you on the other side of the New Year!

 

 

 

Proof I’m Not Crazy: Reviews!

I have a book signing tomorrow at Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, MA (7pm-9pm). Please come!

Hey! HEY YOU! I've got a book? You like books, doncha? How about you read MY BOOK! Hey! HEY!

Hey! HEY YOU! I’ve got a book? You like books, doncha? How about you read MY BOOK! Hey! HEY!

Associated with such an event, however, is the permanent and paralyzing fear that no one, in fact, will show up. It might seem like, outside of a few friends and family who might pop in, nobody much cares about my book or my career or the fact that the fantasy genre exists at all. All of it, ultimately, must be some kind of consensual delusion on the part of myself, my publisher, and the bookseller.

But I’m not crazy. For one thing, there’s Kameron Hurley’s lovely post on how our work matters. For another, there are reviews of my book, which, but for a singular exception, have all been simply lovely. Also, here’s the best part: I don’t even know all of those people.

So, as an effort to pump myself up AND as an effort to drum up attention for my novel, The Oldest Trick, just now released in paperback, let me collect for you a selection of review highlights.

Habershaw has a deft, sure touch and his characters are delicious. This is a well-crafted, gripping adventure.

~Samantha Murray, Amazon, 5 Stars

The Oldest Trick is a stand-out debut from talented new writer, Auston Habershaw. Intricate and deft world-building, strong characterization, a wry sense of humour and satisfying twists all infuse this novel. Well worth a look.

~Charcoal Chicken, Amazon, 5 Stars

Auston Habershaw’s attention to detail in creating his world of Alandar is nothing short of stunning (care to take a ride on spirit train anyone?).

~Steve Pantazis, Amazon, 5 Stars

Alandar is, quite simply, unlike any other place I’ve visited in fantasy. Habershaw tears down well-worn tropes and builds them into something new and unexpected.

~Daniel J Davis, Amazon, 5 Stars

An epic fantasy rollick in the style of Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch...Richly envisioned without getting bogged down in exposition, and bursting with action.

~John Perich, Amazon, 4 Stars

Alandar, the world of The Oldest Trick, is awesome. It’s dark and fantastical, full of magic and assassins and pickpockets. To me, it’s an amalgamation of anime, grimdark and the top tier of contemporary epic fantasy. The characters are slick, and not without motivations.

~ChappyZach, Amazon, 5 Stars

Auston Habershaw’s The Iron Ring is an explosive debut by a talented new voice in fantasy. It is remarkably well-written, fast-paced, and highly entertaining. The main character evokes images of Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora, quick-witted, charming, and rogue-like, while the worldbuilding is as deep and complex – yet logical – as any Brandon Sanderson book.

~Nathan Garrison, Goodreads, 4 Stars

I freaking love this series. This is how high-fantasy should be done. Can’t wait for the next one.

~Brooke Johnson, Goodreads, 4 Stars

Compared with The Lies of Locke Lamora or The Name of the Wind, this book should only get 4.35 stars, compared with pretty much every other fantasy novel it’s 4.68 stars, rounded up to a well-deserved five. It’s been some time since I have read a fantasy-trilogy/series? that had me this excited. Most highly recommended.

~Tom Loock, Goodreads, 5 Stars

So there, see? I’m not a lunatic. This book is worth your time. Either the world is crazy, or I’m pretty good at this. So get out there and meet Tyvian Reldamar, scoundrel extraordinaire, as he struggles with his cursed ring and tries to get revenge without being bad.

And if you do, leave a review when you’re finished, okay?

Book Signings for THE OLDEST TRICK!

Ooooo! Made with read dead trees!

Ooooo! Made with read dead trees!

Release day of the paperback version of The Oldest Trick is fast approaching! On September 29th, my debut novel (err…novels) will be available in physical form for you to annotate, smell, and hurl against the wall in a fit of anger at Tyvian’s latest act of douchebaggery.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’ve got a pair of book signings planned that you are all cordially invited to attend.

Signing the First:

Where: Pandemonium Books and Games, 4 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 

When: Thursday, October 1st, 7pm-9pm

Pandemonium is one of my favorite book stores/gaming spots in the Greater Boston area – I’ve been going there for years. Nestled in the heart of Central Square, it’s easily accessible from the T. It should be a really fun time. What’s more, people will be playing my favorite game, Warhammer 40,000, in the basement while the signing is going on! (I realize this might not be a draw for everyone, but, well, that’s too damned bad.)

Signing the Second:

Where: On the Dot Books, 1739 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester MA

When: Saturday, October 3rd, 5pm-8pm

On the Dot is a little independent bookstore in Dorchester that takes a special interest in local authors and, as luck would have it, is attached to a café (which I am renting out). There will be some food (though what and how much is still being hashed out) and probably a cash bar. This is more of a signing/release party kind of thing, and should also be a giant blast. Please come if you can!

About Those Giveaway Winners

So, some months ago now, I had a little signed copy giveaway of my book, as I was under the impression it would be released in paperback in July. Well, then it turned out to be August. Then they pushed it back to September. I’m just here to tell you guys: I haven’t forgotten and, yes, you will get a book. There is a crate of them being shipped to my house as we speak (well…hopefully). I should have them by the 29th at the latest and I’ll be putting them in the mail just about as soon as I have them in hand. Thank you all for your patience.

There you have it! Book signings and events! (Also, don’t forget I’ll be at the ITVFest in Vermont next week! Come on up and have fun in the beautiful Vermont countryside!) Come and meet me! Have me scribble on your book! I’m looking forward to it!

THE OLDEST TRICK: Soon Available in Dead-tree Format

I was just cruising by Amazon, like you do, and look what I found:

This is more exciting than it looks

This is more exciting than it looks

Yes, I know it’s a blank cover. That’s not important right now. What is important is that this blank cover represents the impending release of a Mass Market Paperback edition of The Oldest Trick!

kermit-freaking-out

According to Amazon, which has been my most reliable source of publication news thus far, the book (actual, physical book) will be released on September 29th, 2015. So, a month away. Then, all you luddites out there who refuse to read e-books will, at long last, have access to my work. I’ll be able to plan book signings, even! I will have a book I can give my mom to stick on her bookshelf! I will (finally) be able to send out those signed manuscripts I gave away in a contest about six weeks ago!

I will hold in my hands a real, actual bound novel written by me and published by not-me. That should be cathartic, folks.


Some Design Changes

You might have noticed that the heading image changed and the tagline and the font and some other stuff. It occurs to me that, while I still do write science fiction and am very interested in that genre, I am currently more of a fantasy author by trade. I’ve published 2 scifi short stories compared to 6 fantasy stories and 2 (or 1, depending on how you count) fantasy novels, so the writing is on the wall at the moment. If I’m going to have an image on my blog, it should probably have castles and dragons and stuff. I found the image here, for those of you who are interested. I’m not really sure of the artist’s name – there wasn’t very much information available about him or her.

Anyway, let me know what you think of the new look. I think it has some bugs to work out, but it’ll do for now.

As of about now, I’ve been writing this blog for four years. I’ve posted about 450 times, averaging about twice a week, and have had over ten-thousand visits and currently have 1100 followers or so, which seems unbelievable huge to me. I have no idea if this little platform for my “social media presence” is paying off in terms of book sales, but it certainly is a fun time and I’m glad I started doing it. Since that time, I’ve had seven story sales, published 2 (or 1 or 3, depending on how you count) novels, and won one international writing contest. Life is good.

Thank you, all of you, for your support and interest in my work and this blog!

RELEASE DAY: The Oldest Trick!

Greetings intrepid Cybernauts and Internetians!

Today is the day! THE DAY! The day that you may own the first installment of my epic fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed, as it was intended to be read and enjoyed! Behold, The Oldest Trick!

Compiled for the first time, The Oldest Trick comprises The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood in the Saga of the Redeemed

Tyvian Reldamar gets betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless wizard Banric Sahand. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he learns to work with—and rely on—his motley crew of accomplices, including an adolescent pickpocket, an obese secret-monger, and a fearsome gnoll.

Before we go any further, some buy links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

GooglePlay

iTunes

Harper Collins

There! Go forth and contribute to e-commerce, my minions! Okay, so not ‘minions,’ exactly. Pals? Associates? Mildly benevolent strangers?

Oh, and for those of you awaiting a physical copy, that is coming soon – a few weeks, I’m told.

Anyway, here’s the story of why my first two books are in one volume with a different title. This is the definitive version, so in the future I’ll just link back to here. Here we go:

Many moons ago, when Habershaw was even more enthusiastic and naive than he is currently, he was offered a 3-book deal from Harper Voyager – the culmination of a life-long dream. The catch? The first two books would in actuality, be the first book of the series split into two – The Oldest Trick, parts 1 and 2. Me, having no agent (and not for lack of trying) and having no guarantee such an opportunity would come around again, took the deal. Thus, The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood were born, to the confusion of people everywhere. I began to run into people who would ask:

What the hell, Habershaw? This book ends in the middle! Don’t you know how to tell a story?

and reviews that said:

I like this book, but then it stopped in the middle, so I’m knocking off a bunch of stars because screw this guy for leaving me hanging.

In the House of Habershaw, truly there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But lo! My editor, in her wisdom, convinced the Powers That Be to release an omnibus edition of the two half-books, also known as a single book, and give it the original title. This, dear friends, is that book – a labor of love some five years in the making and the waiting, at last in one single volume.

I am stoked.

Now, if you’ve already read the first two books (and bless you, by the way. Were you here right now, I’d give you a big slobbery wet kiss. Unless that would be weird, in which case I would shake your hand heartily and slap your back in true man-fashion), then you’ve already read this book. No need to buy it again, really – book 3 is on the way, I promise. HOWEVER, now is an ideal time to recommend this book to others. I cannot get the word out alone, my friends! Go forth! Recommend my work to those who like swords, sorcery, derring-do, and snarky anti-heroes. And giant man-eating gnolls.

If you haven’t read it yet, then buy this one. Save the dollar, read the whole thing, love it, leave a review. Let’s get the word out, folks! I think my book is awesome, and I want other people to know it is awesome, too. Let’s do this. Later, when it’s a hit, there’ll be a big party at my house. Big slobbery kisses for everyone.

Unless that’s weird.

Dreaming Up Fabulous Places: My Writing Journey

Picture me: I’m nine years old, lying on my back beneath the skylight in my bedroom, rough carpet biting into my shoulders. I’m reading The Hobbit, enthralled. It’s summer. My mom is somewhere downstairs, yelling for me to get outside and play. I pretend I don’t hear her. I’m not there, you see. I’m in Mirkwood, starving with the dwarves and stumbling after elfish feasts in the dark. The last thing I want to do is go outside and play.

When I was a kid, I started making up imaginary places. Even before I read Tolkien, I was constructing cosmologies for my He-Man figures and establishing a chain of command among my stuffed animals. At the beach, the sand castles I built each had a story to them. They got names: Rampartiste, Gondria, Trudéal. I was the kid who wondered at the economic structure of Candy Land—did they eat it? Was the candy in the landscape distinct from the candy that made up their bodies? Did anybody ever get eaten and, if so, what was the punishment?

I was a weird kid. I know.

Fast-forward to 1991. A friend of mine is telling me about this game called Dungeons and Dragons. “Is it like a video game?” I asked, trying to wrap my head around it.

“No! You just write up your character on a sheet of paper and then somebody is the Dungeon Master.”

That piqued my interest. “What’s the Dungeon Master do?”

“He makes up the world and the monsters and stuff. Then you go and fight them.”

Makes up the world, you say? At that point, I had notebooks full of video games I wanted to create, primarily because those were the only things I knew how to script (level-boss-level-boss—a pretty simple plot). I tossed them away and started writing my own Dungeons and Dragons world. My parents gave me a copy of the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook for my 13th birthday. That book changed my life.

Me in my office. Note that the Writers of the Future Anthology is #7 on the Publisher's Weekly Bestseller's list for SF/F.

Me in my office. Note that the Writers of the Future Anthology is #7 on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller’s list for SF/F.

Dungeons and Dragons carried me along my obsession with building worlds until I got old enough to realize I couldn’t make a living playing D&D (at least, I don’t think so. If anybody has any hot leads, let me know). So, how did a fellow make a living creating stories and worlds? After some trial and error (tried acting, directing, and a bunch of theater stuff), I settled on writing science fiction and fantasy. Mostly fantasy.

I have always thought of myself as more of a novelist. Novels were what I grew up reading, and novels were what I wanted to write. When I got out of college, I rejected the prospect of a stable career teaching high school English and, instead, flung myself into writing novels, figuring I could make a living at it after a few years.

Okay, you can stop laughing now. No, seriously. Cut it out.

Anyway, after getting my MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, I started to figure out that short fiction could give me the ability to hone my craft more effectively. It also could give me the opportunity to submit more work and possibly get some publishing credits that might help me towards my eventual goal of being a novelist. I put the novels on hold for a bit and threw myself into short fiction. After a few years, I got a few sales, but nothing big.    

20150804_100534_001

This is an (older) map of Alandar. I’m pointing at Illin, the location for my award-winning story. If I move my finger three inches up, I’ll be in the general vicinity of where Tyvian is causing trouble in THE OLDEST TRICK.

“A Revolutionary’s Guide to Practical Conjuration” was probably my tenth entry into the Writers of the Future Contest (before my win, I got one Honorable Mention, two Semifinalists, and a Finalist finish). The story is set in a world I’ve been creating for years and is far, far bigger than just the city of Illin. The challenge for me was getting the giant, sweeping landscapes of my imagination to fit into a short story. Abe’s story is part of a larger tapestry, but the story also needs to stand on its own. That took some doing. When I sent it into the contest, I was on the verge of trunking it—I didn’t think it worked. Shows what I know.

Meanwhile, the week before I found out I won the Contest, I was offered a three-book deal through Harper Voyager. The last year has been a whirlwind of writing, deadlines, and learning the publishing industry in a very hands-on, no-holds-barred kind of way. The contest win has been a vital part of what success I have had thus far, and will continue to guide me in the future.

An omnibus of my first two novels, called The Oldest Trick, releases this Tuesday, August 11th  (in e-book form). I am currently working on the fourth book in the series and, in the photo, you can see the wall of index cards in my office I used in the final stages of editing the third book. I’m off and rolling and I don’t intend to stop, and the Writers of the Future Contest has given me an edge in the business that is frankly irreplaceable. For that, I am eternally grateful.


Publicity News

In that vein, let me entreat you all to pre-order The Oldest Trick! Below is the description and links to where you might buy it, currently only in e-book form. The print version, I have been told, will be coming “a few weeks later.”

Compiled for the first time, The Oldest Trick comprises The Iron Ring and Iron and Blood in the Saga of the Redeemed

Tyvian Reldamar gets betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless wizard Banric Sahand. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he learns to work with—and rely on—his motley crew of accomplices, including an adolescent pickpocket, an obese secret-monger, and a fearsome gnoll.

Help a budding author out! My publicity footprint is fairly small, so if you like the book, tell your friends! Leave a review! Thanks so much for all your support so far!

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Google Play

Harper Collins

iTunes

Alandar: The Barony of Veris

There is not a single nation in the West despised and mistrusted as much as the troublesome Barony of Veris (though Ihyn comes close). Home to some of the world’s finest sailors, Verisi ships can be found in almost every port in the West (and even a few in the South and East) engaged in their share of legal trade and more than their fair share of smuggling, theft, piracy, and general mischief. Veris itself denies responsibility for a ‘few criminals’ within their borders, though all it requires is a closer look at their society to realize that these criminals aren’t exactly hunted within the borders of their own country, but lauded as heroes of the people. If you like breaking the rules, if you like all the booze and loose women you can handle, if you like to steal for a living rather than earn it, then, my friend, Veris is the country for you.

Political Structure

 

According to legend, Veris had a political structure very much like Akral’s — the nation from which Veris seceded rather peaceably some fifteen-hundred years ago. In those days, Veris was ruled by its own King and attended by his own set of Lords, and so on. Those days, however, ended with the beginning of the Hannite Wars, four centuries after the nation’s founding. At the height of the war against Kalsaar, King Hymrek V, forever afterwards known as Hymrek the Betrayer, turned against his allies, Akral and Eddon, for a wealth of riches given by the Kalsaari Emperor. Enraged at the change of allegiance, Akral crushed Veris and put its nobility to the sword, assuming harsh authority over the land. This colonization lasted almost a century before Veris, with silent help from the Count of Ihyn, rose up against the Akrallian chavalier and regained control of their homeland.

Unfortunately for the Verisi, the time of the mighty Verisi noble class was long gone — executed decades ago. Those who were now in charge were rebels, criminals, slaves, and pirates, and the government they set up reflects that. When the first Baron ascended the throne in the 45th year of Keeper Issiril, it was immediately clear to all that Veris was a changed place forever.

The modern day structure of Verisi political life is little more than an absolute dictatorship headed by the Baron of Veris and enforced by the Red Hand—the Baron’s personal army. Essentially a thieves’ guild writ large, the Baron and his men have very little concern for the Verisi people, so long as they pay their taxes and obey their orders. Authority on a local level is handled by village elders, local mayors, or whatever other person or persons the locals choose to recognize, but none of it is considered ‘official’ by the Baron or his men, and, should the Red Hand wish it, such local leaders could be executed on a whim. Such an occurrence is rare, and only happens when the village or region is resisting the wishes of the Baron. In general, each area pays its taxes and whatever else the Red Hand chooses to extort from them every year, and in turn the Red Hand leaves them in peace.

Local commanders of Red Hand garrisons, known as ‘Marshals’ are the closest thing that Veris has to a noble class, and the word ‘noble’ is used here loosely. Unlike most nobility throughout the West, Marshals are not required to perform any sort of service for the people he or she rules. The people under their jurisdiction are permitted to live there in exchange for a sizeable quantity of their crops, goods, and monies—that’s all. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all Marshals simply ignore their people and are blind to their suffering. Some of these rulers are wise, kind, and beloved of their people, providing money to help the poor, protecting them from raiders and thieves, and doing all the things that a good ruler should. These kind of rulers are in the minority, but they form a powerful minority in that their people are more willing to help them out in times of trouble, making conscription that much easier. The politics of Veris only becomes complicated insofar as its marshals are forced to balance mercy with ruthlessness enough to maintain their own power base and seem dangerous enough to discourage revolt or a hostile takeover by a rival marshal.

Thanks to the almost complete lack of any organizing political structure outside of the Baron’s own personal guard, Veris is a very chaotic place. Every individual settlement is almost like a city-state unto itself, clustered together for defense, complete with its own history, unique customs, and mistrustful of outsiders. Bands of robbers, cutthroats, and raiders are common here, not to mention the ‘Volunteer Navy,’ which is little more than a bunch of legalized pirates that are granted Baronial protection in ports. Between all of these ne’er-do-wells and the Red Hand itself, the Verisi people are constantly watching out for attack, and trained militias can be found in almost every town, village, or city.

This concentration of armed people makes Veris a surprisingly effective military power. While not as organized or well-equipped as the armies of Eddon, Akral, or Galaspin, Veris has enormous numbers of trained personnel and a network of fortified settlements and castles that is unparalleled in the West. When Veris is attacked, the Red Hand has the authority to conscript as many of the local militias as possible to stave off the assault. Furthermore, should a war of aggression be underway, the conscripts are regularly supplemented by sellswords and mercenaries of every conceivable size and description. Such rabble flocks to the banner of Veris in droves thanks to its reputation of for treating mercenaries very well (just look at the Volunteer Navy!) and for the near complete and total lack of law and order maintained over the land. Many mercs travel here to attack Akrallian caravans and then stay to loot the countryside, resulting in a win-win situation for the morally challenged.

Though the Baron makes a point of creating very few laws designed to protect his citizens, knowing full well that his power base is near wholly comprised of thieves and murderers, the Baron does, nevertheless, come down harshly on those who go too far. Should a marshal start a murderous rampage that begins to send Verisi citizens fleeing into neighboring Rhond or Eddon, the Baron’ personal detachment of the Red Hand — the Knights of the Blood Gauntlet — ride out to destroy the offender and all of his progeny. Marshals know the price of stepping over the line, and only the brave and foolish few take that step. The Baron is not known for his mercy, particularly when your actions are putting a dent in his purse.

Lands and Points of Interest

 

Veris is a rough and rugged land, largely uncultivated and inhabited in great concentrations only along the nation’s coastline, which is extensive. Fully half of all the land area in Veris is comprised of a great peninsula that bears the name of the nation that rules it. Fishing villages, seaports, and naval fortresses line the coast from the Rhondian border, along the Syrin, and into the Dagger — a 350-mile inlet that separates Eddon from Veris.

The waters surrounding Veris are especially rocky and perilous, and only the shinn’har themselves know them better than the Verisi fishermen that sail them. These shoals and reefs form an imposing natural barrier that has kept Veris largely immune to Akrallian naval invasion throughout history, but also inhibit all but the boldest of foreign ships from entering Verisi ports, hurting the nation’s ability to trade, but making the area a prime spot for pirates to set up safe havens for themselves.

Inland, virtually the whole of Veris is covered with the thick woodlands of the Ahrn forest. Fur-trapping, hunting, and lumbering are primary occupations of most honest people who live here, as well as a fair number of fruit-tree and vegetable growers that are responsible for much of the nation’s food supply. Roads are infrequent and poorly maintained, as are bridges, but the Verisi forests supply amble hiding places for bandits, robbers, and fugitives to hide and survive for years if need be. It is a saying among the Defenders of the Balance (who are less than welcome in Verisi territory) that if a man has escaped you, sooner or later he’ll be living in a Verisi tree. Also indigenous to the forests are a fair number of monsters including dragonspawn such as gargoyles, firedrakes, and wyverns.

As stated earlier, virtually all settlements in Veris are designed to repel attack. From the smallest village to the biggest port, walls, stockades, towers, magical alarms, guard posts, or moats are all standard civil engineering projects. Rather than a wholly civilized country like Rhond or Eretheria, Veris is a wide wilderness punctuated by pockets of humanity from which the inhabitants never stray far. It is both the ideal place to hide and the ideal place to disappear against your will — be wary.

The City of Veris: From its perch atop the two-hundred foot tall Betrayer’s Cliffs, the city of Veris commands an incredible view of the surrounding oceans and coastline. Home to 43,000 criminals, pirates, thugs, thieves, and troublemakers, Veris is widely considered among the safest places in the world for an enterprising young outlaw to live, and among the most dangerous places for just about everybody else. The city of Veris is, in actuality, two cities — Veris itself, which rests atop the cliffs, and the Warrens, which is a network of caves and tunnels that snake through the cliffs themselves and acts as Veris’ seaport. Though connected by a number of hoists, wells, passages, and magical lifts, the Warrens and Veris hardly seem like the same place at all.

This is how I imagine portions of the Warren to look like.  (click to find source)

This is how I imagine portions of the Warren to look like. (click to find source)

The Warrens are the poorer of the two, its inhabitants being forced to pay exorbitant takes to keep the wealthy topside well fed and furnished. Down here, people live in ramshackle homes built of as much driftwood as anything else, and are tucked into the hundreds of side tunnels that branch off of Underharbor — the massive ocean inlet that fills the largest cavern in the Warrens. The Underharbor is lined with docks and is constantly echoing with the sound of ships’ bells, sailors songs, and similar noise of the great ocean going vessels that are guided in here by keen-eyed old Verisi navigators to unload their goods, get restocked, and set back out to sea. As the commercial port of the nation’s capital, it is also through here that most foreign visitors get their first encounter with the Verisi, and the significance of this is not lost on the locals. The Warrens is home to some of the most debauched and morally bankrupt individuals in Alandar, and the sheer number of pubs, whorehouses, and black market shops that line the docks and fill the tunnels is a good indication of that fact. The Saldorian Ambassador here has oft commented in his reports to the Arcanostrum that he finds it ‘highly unusual’ when he doesn’t see someone killed in the streets of the Warren at least once a day. The Red Hand is largely absent here, and the various Volunteer Navy vessels docked along the wharves are the closest thing to government ‘officials’ to be found. A number of thieves’ guilds are in constant competition to control the Underharbor and, therefore, be able to skim as much off the top of the incoming commodities as possible. Given the proximity of the Baron and his Knights of the Blood Gauntlet, such turf wars have proven alarmingly fatal and largely unsuccessful in achieving their collective goal, but the various guilds are able to supply a modicum of security for the everyday workers and citizens forced to live here.

Two-hundred feet above the Underharbor and the Warrens that surround it is the city of Veris proper. Enclosed by a fifty-foot wall and built almost entirely out of heavy stone quarried from the very cliffs upon which it sits, Veris is an imposing place. Compared to the Warrens, Veris is civilized and almost clean, but when compared with anywhere else the comparison falls short. Those with the money can afford to maintain their neighborhoods and homes with fair success, but the poorer districts (i.e. those areas closest to the walls) are dirty, decaying, and fetid. Social order is rigidly maintained here, as there are a pair of Red Hand guards on almost every corner, ready to dispense ‘justice’ on anyone who looks at them the wrong way. Though willing to turn a blind eye to the behavior of the Warrens for the most part, the Baron will not tolerate rioting or mob violence in his own backyard. Those dissidents, criminals, and troublemakers who are not killed on the spot and cannot bribe their way out of their punishment are locked in a cage and dangled over the cliffs beneath the Lonely Keep itself. If they are lucky, they are fed occasionally. Most people are simply left to rot.

The Lonely Keep is the Baron’s own residence, and is a citadel as ancient as Veris itself. Built upon a promontory of rock stretching out from the cliffs, the black-walled castle stands forty feet away from the main bulk of Veris along its northwestern edge. Not particularly large, the keep’s highest tower is 100 feet high and all its the flat, round turrets are capped with iron spikes that give the whole thing a sinister look. Worn smooth by centuries of wind and rain, there are very few military commanders who would even consider laying siege to this unapproachable fortress — better to starve them out. Acting as the Baron’s personal home as well as the barracks for the Knights of the Blood Gauntlet, the Keep commands a wide view across the Sea of Syrin and can effectively attack any naval vessel that dares to negotiate the rocky waters in hopes of entering the Underharbor.

Far more important to the city’s defenses than even the Keep, however, is the Great Aqueduct. Carrying fresh water from miles inland, the huge aqueduct enters the city next to its great southern gatehouse and is among the most guarded structures in all of Veris. Patrols of thirty Red Hand soldiers ride its length every few hours, and anyone caught tampering with its waters in the least is immediately put to death. The Aqueduct represents the city’s only supply of fresh drinking water, and even the Warrens use it as the water tumbles down into the lower city’s public wells and basins. As defensible as Veris is, any hostile army that gets control of the aqueduct can capture the city inside of a month for certain.

Culture and People

 

Veris is a treacherous place, with all the facets and intricacies of human cruelty and greed laid bare for all to witness and suffer from. Given that, one might expect the people to be likewise treacherous, or at least grim. But this is not Ihyn, nor is it even Illin — this is Veris, and the people here are unlike any other. Known for their sense of humor, their hatred of authority, and their adaptable natures, the Verisi have a bad reputation among the rich and respectable of the world, and enjoy almost the opposite from all those who are poor, downtrodden, and without hope. To a Verisi, the key to life is to take what you can and enjoy it while you have it, and if you can make your enemies look foolish at the same time, all the better.

It is the assumption of most of the world and, indeed, it has been the implication of this description so far that all of Veris is inhabited by criminals and outlaws. This is not technically true, since one cannot be an outlaw if there aren’t any laws in the first place. Every Verisi, from the top on down, knows the system — if they’re stronger than you, they take what they like, and vice versa. The trick is, from a Verisi standpoint, to find ways to avoid the inevitable as long as possible. Towards this end, the Verisi people put almost no stock in personal honor, honesty, or loyalty, preferring instead to live long, carefree lives away from the harsh grip of the Red Hand. Almost all young people in Veris go through a period referred to as ‘the Kicks,’ where the recently grown man or woman goes out into the world for a lifetime of raising hell, having fun, and (as often as not) stealing things. This adventuring life lasts until the person is caught and killed, they leave Veris for good, or, having had their fill of adventure, journey back to their little hometown to settle down and raise a family.

This abandonment of home and hearth is not representative of a disrespect for one’s own family. The Verisi, as much as any other human beings, love their family and care what happens to them. It is, however, a taboo among those you care for to lay down discipline and order. “Life,” they say, “will tell you what to do better than anyone else.” Verisi families are convivial and jovial bunches, with parents being more like friends to their children than authority figures. Children grow up hearing their own parents’ stories of adventure and mischief, and aspire to emulate (or even top!) their ancestors. The Verisi are known for being brutal practical jokers, with some pranks even resulting in real physical harm. However, jokers should be cautious, for among the Verisi the phrase ‘what goes around, comes around’ has real philosophical weight. A man who only plays mild jokes on his neighbors will, in turn, have the same played on him. A violent prankster, however, will end up a victim of one of his own dangerous plots or, worse, he will end up dead at the end of what the Verisi term ‘the Final Joke’ — murder.

For all the trouble that afflicts the average Verisi throughout their lives, they are a people with a remarkable ability to find humor and happiness in even the darkest of events. To a Verisi, there is nothing that is sacred and no joke, no matter how inappropriate, that cannot be told. No people in the world have a larger collection of ribald stories and filthy limericks, and it is a common pastime for adults and children to try to come up with bigger, better, and even more offensive tales. Listeners who get offended at this peculiarly Verisi merriment are in for a rough time, as that only encourages the jokers to get even more extreme and disgusting.

It is not the practice of the Verisi to shelter people from what they see as the harsh realities of real life. Children are well aware of death, sex, and violence from a young age, and learn to cope just as their parents do. In Verisi society, denying the truth for the sake of ‘propriety’ is not only idiotic, but harmful to those who need to hear what you have to say. Verisi, when not lying to further their own aims, are straightforward and blunt with news, and especially so with bad news. There is no attempt to soften the blow of a family member’s death or similar tragedy—the afflicted will deal with it just as they all do or wither away and die, in which case they weren’t worth keeping around, anyway.

Veris is a land of rebels and devil-may-care rabble-rousers who live as best they can in an unfair world. They are not bitter towards the Red Hand or the Baron in particular — they’re just doing what they can get away with, after all — and would actually prefer a cruel ruler who leaves them alone most of the time rather than a just one that is always in their face. Personal freedom and responsibility for the consequences of one’s own actions are important cultural mores, and therefore they tend to despise any kind of central authority that tells them what to do or how to act or (worse yet) provides ways for someone in trouble to find an easy way out. Veris is a land completely devoid of charities, hostile towards the Hannite Church, and has nothing but contempt for the Arcanostrum (though they realize the magi are far too powerful to meddle with). They do, however, enjoy a relationship with the shinn’har that is nothing short of brotherly, and selkies can be found aboard almost every Verisi ship in large groups.

The ocean is of paramount importance to the Verisi people, and the majority of the nation’s indigenous population are sailors or fishermen. Veris’s extensive coastline and ample harbors makes this nation home to more ocean-going vessels than any other nation in the Alliance. Though typically small and lightly armed, Verisi merchant ships and smuggling sloops are found all over the world, and the Verisi have made a name for themselves as the finest sailors short of the shinn’har themselves. Verisi Navigators – Arcanostrum trained sorcerers with their trademark all-seeing crystal eyes and golden chains of sworn service to the Baron – are the undisputed masters of navigation and weather prediction, and if there is anyone in the world who might be able to get a ship through the Needle in one piece, it is an officer born and raised in Veris.

Current Events

It is often surprises people when they learn just how quickly Veris came to the aid of Rhond and Illin during the Illini Wars. One would not expect a nation of mercenaries and rebels to take up arms and go to war on behalf of their grim and theocratic neighbors, but they did, and in droves. Verisi mercenaries were involved in every front of the war and many such companies swore service to Mudboots Varner himself and were involved in everything from the Charge of Atrisia to the Sack of Tasis to the Battle of Calassa. Indeed, even regiments of the Red Hand were dispatched to assist the Duke of Galaspin in his struggles in the Illini peninsula and acquitted themselves well in the battles there.

Despite this record of service, however, Veris has not gained at all from the magical-industrial boom that has elevated so much of the West in terms of quality of life and material wealth. Veris is the disrespected stepchild of Western Politics, too remote to be a major trading player (despite its fleets), too poor to be a financial player, and too disorganized to throw its political weight around. The old Baron’s solution to this problem has been simple: he has signed charters (in secret) giving Verisi ships and the Volunteer Navy carte blanche to raid Akrallian, Ihynish, and even Saldorian shipping unless those captains of seized vessels can provide documentation of doing business with Veris. This outrageous practice has caused a lot of saber rattling on the part of the Akrallians, but they have done nothing about it yet. This may be because Veris’s practice of nautical blackmail is having the opposite of the desired effect – instead of encouraging ships to trade with Veris, it has shunted more and more traffic between the northern nations of the West to the spirit engine lines. This increase in traffic is leading to plans for more and more spirit engine tracks and more and more rapid trade among Akral, Eretheria, Saldor, and Galaspin. Veris grows more isolated every year, and joins its southern neighbors – Rhond, Illin, and Eddon – in bitterness towards the wealthier neighbors to the north.