Assassin Queen update

OK, I have not been as good as I hoped in keeping up with my blog, but I did keep busy writing, and editing. At the request of my new editor at Angry Robot, the amazing Phil Jourdan, I have completed the rewrites for Assassin Queen, book 3 of the Majat Code. His comments were right on, and after this round everything just clicked into place.

I continue feeling surreal about how everything with this book is just working out the way I wanted. The edits have brought out the additional depths I always intended to be there but did not convey enough in the first draft. And now, the book just feels finished, even if not completely polished yet.

The manuscript is now at the copyediting stage, one step closer to its release this summer. Yay!

And, I have officially started my new project, which will remain veiled for the time being.


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On January 12-18, “Blades of the Old Empire” e-book will be discounted to $2.99. This is a part of the “first in the series” promotion by Barnes and Noble, but it is also price-matched by Amazon and possibly other retailers. What a great way to get introduced to the series :-)

Here are the links to the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites:


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Assassin Queen, book 3 of the Majat Code: upcoming in summer 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! Following my new year resolution, I am starting to make more regular updates on my writing projects. Starting with the current one, book 3 of the Majat Code.

Yes, it is official now, in the wake of the contract we signed with Angry Robot this fall. Just before the holidays I had a delightful Skype call with my new editor, Phil Jourdan, who took the time to read all the Majat Code books before approaching me with the editorial comments. I was relieved and overjoyed to find out that Phil considers Assassin Queen to be my best book so far, with action and character development worthy of concluding the series.

Assassin Queen was written on a very tight deadline following a brief hiatus in the wake of Angry Robot’s changing ownership in 2014 and my original editor leaving the company. Those of you who write and publish can probably guess the amount of uncertainty that came with all these changes. For a while, I was not sure if book 3 was even going to happen (even though I was determined to write it anyway), and I had no idea whether I can fit within the expected time frame to produce a perfect conclusion for the story. My prior experience did not help much. I had several years to write and edit book 1, and book 2 came nearly effortlessly in its wake, emerging from the notes and side scenes already written. My experience with book 3 was very different. I actually had to sit down in front of a blank screen and force myself to write a certain number of pages per day, whether I felt like it or not. It seemed like a lot of work, even if most of this work was done by my characters, with me sitting back and writing down the action. And, it is so nice to know that this work paid off.

I am working on some edits now–not nearly as many as I feared, and ones that will definitely make the book better. Our target date for producing the finished manuscript is in March. I feel so excited!

On Christmas Eve, a post about the Assassin Queen went out to Speculative Herald:

The post contains the blurb for the new book, as well as some of Phil’s quick notes. And yes, there is a giveaway going on at this site for the first two books in the series. Only 3 days left to enter!

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My program at Philcon 2015

I will be at Philcon 2015, happening this weekend (November 21-23) at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ.

I am signed up for the following panels:

    • Sat 3:00 PM in Autograph Table—Autographs: Richard Hescox and Anna Kashina (2364)
    • Sat 4:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—Kidneys Don’t Grow on Trees…Yet (2217)

      The Future of Medicine. Surgery without scalpels, genetically individualized drugs, biomechanical enhancements, modifying your body to order – it’s only the beginning. What wonders – and potential problems – will medicine bring us in the 21st Century? And if nobody has insurance anymore, will any of it matter?

  • Sat 7:00 PM in Executive Suite 623—Readings: Anna Kashina at 7:00, and D.H. Aire at 7:30 (2357)
    • Sat 9:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—The Narrative Animal: How Reading and Storytelling Impact the Human Brain (2209)

      According to the show Doctor Who, “We’re all stories in the end.” How does the brain understand stories? Why do small children like to hear the same stories over and over again? And how do our brains cope with stories told out of linear order? (Slaughterhouse-Five, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.)

    • Sat 11:00 PM in Plaza IV (Four)—GNU Terry Pratchett (2104)

      Best known for his long-running Discworld series, Sir Terry Pratchett’s works are loved by children for his sense of whimsy and by adults for his sharp satire*. Initially started to dually critique and parody tropes and cliches of the fantasy genre, Discworld quickly became a universe that stood on its own sixteen legs, home to both a large number of highly memorable individuals and highly unusual geographies. Join your fellow fans for a roundtable on his life and works, for “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.” *And by nearly everyone for his use of footnotes to expound upon the only vaguely relevant.

    • Sun 11:00 AM in Plaza IV (Four)—Gender in SF Then vs Now (2154)

      “Venus Plus X” and “The Left Hand of Darkness” stunned readers with their thoughtful and ground-breaking portrayal of shifting gender and sexuality. How far have we come since then? How are contemporary writers exploring these concepts? And how well do “forward-thinking” works written fifty years ago hold up in the context of today’s society?

    • Sun 12:00 PM in Plaza IV (Four)—Romance Novels with SF vs SF Novels with Romance (2155)

      When is a romance a plot element and when is is genre-defining?

    • Sun 1:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—Biologists Rule! (2211)

      Indisputably, the 20th century was the golden age of physics. Now, advances in genetics, molecular biology, medicine, evolutionary biology, and biochemistry seem to indicate that the 21st century will be the age of biology. What breakthroughs might we expect in the coming decades?

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The Majat Code, Book 3!

Yes, it’s happening!!! We have the contract, and, the tentative publication date: summer 2016. For those who have been waiting for the conclusion of the Majat Code trilogy, I can promise that this one will be action packed, with cliffhangers and romantic subplots that, as I hope, will appeal to the fans of the series. I have been having so much fun  writing this book, tentatively titled “Assassin Queen”.

For now, I have a complete first draft, and I am putting in the final touches to send it off to the editor. More details upcoming soon.

Working on the series has been a roller coaster. I have to come to crave spending more time with my favorite characters, and discovering more and more about my world, which has, by now, taken on quite a life of its own. Finishing up the story that started in book 1, Blades of the Old Empire, is a bittersweet feeling. It is sad to say good bye to the people I created, who have stayed with me for over ten years and whom I’ve grown to love. At the same time, it is also extremely satisfying to see them find their endings and resolve so many things that have been going on in the series. Writing this book made me realize, among other things, that I am not really done with some of them. I can see more books and stories set in this world, some happening to the same characters before and after the series. If anyone wants to see something (or someone) in particular, now is the time to let me know, by leaving a comment to this post or contacting me through my blog or social media.

And then, of course, there are the thanks. It is well known that each new publication from an author is only possible if the previous ones have shown enough potential in sales. In turn, these sales are driven by readers and fans, who buy the books and spread the word to others. Book 3 in the Majat Code series would never have been possible if not for my readers and fans, who helped so much by buying my books and spreading the word.

Thank you all!!! I hope you will enjoy book 3!

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Baltimore Book Festival Recap

First of all, an announcement: BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE is tomorrow’s Kindle Daily Deal and will be discounted to $1.99 in US and Canada. Don’t miss it!



And now, on to Baltimore Book Fest, which took place this weekend at the beautiful Baltimore Inner Harbor. It was a blast.

I’d like to start  with a toast to the amazing Sarah Pinsker, who made it work so seamlessly and made the SFWA tent such a well-attended place, so welcoming for both authors and fans.

It would be impossible to recap all the panels, so I will only mention the most memorable ones to me (with the caveat that I have not been able to attend all of them, due to my schedule).

The one I would never forget, even if I tried, was the “Food in Science Fiction and Fantasy” panel, moderated by Fran Wilde, the author of the recently released “Updraft” as well as the “cooking the books” blog where authors talk about their favorite recipes. The panel was scheduled right before the Saturday night social, under the assumption that talking about food in speculative fiction could be a great prelude to the actual eating.

Well, that didn’t quite work as expected.


Trust a bunch of science fiction and fantasy authors to turn such a seemingly innocent topic into an experience out of this world.

Fran did her best to keep the panelists under control when she announced at the start that she would not allow any talk about cannibalism until the 15 minute mark. The panelists, Bud Sparhawk, K. Ceres Wright, and Lawrence M. Schoen took it in stride, starting off the discussion about their favorite foods with the famous Klingon’s Gagh (Yes, it’s worms. Live ones. According to Lawrence M. Schoen, they also have to be dying of poison as you eat them, a detail my mind refused to hold in after watching Star Trek.). Bud Sparhawk followed up seamlessly, talking about food recycling in space, which essentially means that you end up eating whatever comes out of you, re-purified and re-processed, every few days. Ceres Wright tried to save the day by talking about music and how it can change the food’s taste, but–you get the picture. I will not talk about Lawrence’s favorite skin rolls, which became a recurring theme during the panel, even before the cannibalism ban was released.

Let’s just say no one was exactly hungry when the panel was over. But the party afterwards was still a lot of fun–and yes, the food was great.

A close second to me was my own panel on Worldbuilding, held the next morning, together with authors Carolyn Ives Gilman, Don Sakers, Alan Smale, and the guest of honor, the amazing Tobias Buckell.


Well, somehow we ended up talking about swear words. It is, actually, an important part of world building, since choosing the right swear words for your world does wonders to the authenticity and flavor. It is also a fun topic to discuss. Especially when you are on stage, in front of a captivated audience. And then I felt even better when I started seeing tweets like this:

world building panel at tent is talking swearing as worldbuilding. advocates for power of Russian curses.


No better way to make the panel memorable, is it? :-)

We did talk about other things too, all the more fun because of the range of panelists, from traditional fantasy, to alternate history, to near-future sci-fi and outer space. None of these topics ended up on Twitter, though. At least not so explicitly.

Before I left on Saturday afternoon, I had a very nice book signing session at the side of the tent.


I shared the table with Alan Smale, author of the recently released “Clash of Eagles”, and we had a wonderful discussion about alternate history, Native Americans, the Roman empire, and the use of British English. And yes, fantasy recipes from my Majat Code series, which really should have been a part of the food panel, but ended up as part of the worldbuilding, along with the ever-powerful swear words.

I had a wonderful time and met so many nice people I look forward to seeing again at future conventions.

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My schedule at the Baltimore Book Festival

I will be attending Baltimore Book Festival this weekend, along with a number of amazing authors and SFWA members, including Tobias Buckell, Sarah Pinsker, Fran Wilde, Lawrence Schoen, Michael Underwood, Tom Doyle, and many others! Full schedule of events can be found at:

I will be appearing on the following panels:

Making Magic: Magic Systems and Fantasy (Friday, 6-7 pm, SFWA)

To the Moon! (Saturday, 11 am-noon, SFWA)

Meet the Authors Social (Saturday night)

Design Your Own World (Sunday 11 am-noon, SFWA)

Science in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Sunday noon-1 pm, SFWA)

Short Stories: Why they Rock Science Fiction and Fantasy (Sunday, 2-3 pm, SFWA)


Looking forward to it!

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