From @MykeCole’s Blog: On Killing

By Myke Cole

An excellent examination of the cost of killing on killer, victim, and everyone around them.

There’ve been some recent forays into writing combat scenes on some blogs lately. A few fans reached out to me and asked why I didn’t join the conversation. That got me thinking, and not in the way you’d expect.

I’ve said in many interviews that nobody owns the military experience. My being in the military doesn’t make give me any more authority over a military story than anyone else. The same is true for writing combat. One doesn’t have to be a veteran brawler to write a great fight scene.

But I do feel like the end result of fighting, namely, killing, isn’t often treated in a way that resonates with me. I can count on one hand the number of writers who get it right. Joe Abercrombie springs to mind as one of them, a tiny band of authors, and I do not count myself among them, who evoke the consequences of killing in a way that feels authentic.

Read the full article on Myke Cole’s website.


From @MykeCole’s Blog: What PTSD Is

If you’ve been playing along at home, you know that much of my protagonist Shaundar’s character arc is centered around his war experience and PTSD. If you’ve been reading between the lines, you know that I’m examining my own PTSD (though I’m not a war veteran, I’m the daughter of a bipolar mother who was untreated during most of my childhood) through the writing of this story.

Myke Cole is a military fantasy writer and an Iraq War veteran. He’s written a couple of particularly good pieces on the subject that I’ll be sharing over the next couple of days. The thing that struck me the most about this one was his observations about Condition Yellow.

Living under Condition Yellow for extensive periods of time is the big factor that drives PTSD. I spent my whole childhood under Condition Yellow, and school just made it worse because I was bullied extensively. So Condition Yellow was my LIFE. I didn’t know there was any other way to live, and only now am I beginning to unpack that this is not normal, and has affected every relationship I’ve ever had.

Anyway, check it out.

I’ve talked before about genre writers who have been very open about personal trials, particularly the kind of depression/anxiety conditions that I feel are a natural part of the uneven terrain all authors have to walk. I’ve always appreciated their willingness to go public with these issues, as the first (and false) thing that most people suffering from these sorts of things think is a.) that they’re alone and b.) the problem is unique to them. When your literary heroes step into the spotlight and say, “hey, this is more normal than you think and you can figure out how to live with it,” well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more than a few folks still pushing air past their teeth because of a blog post they read.

The thought of talking about what goes on in my head in anything but the most general terms in the public square takes me way out of my comfort zone. But I reread the first paragraph of this post, especially that last line. Sometimes, you need to go outside your comfort zone, talk about a thing not because you need to get it off your chest, but because it might help others to hear it.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in August of ’09, just after my third tour in Iraq. Of course my first concern (like everyone in my line of work) was losing my security clearance, and that kept me from going for help for a long time. But DoD did right by me, and I kept working for another 2 years before the book deal got me out of the business.

Read the full article at Myke Cole’s website.

Virtual Fantasy Con 2017: Fantasy Mashups Panel

Diane Morrison

The last of the three panels I had the honour of hosting for the Virtual Fantasy Con this year! In this one we discuss fantasy mashups. What happens when you blend fantasy with another genre? What are the benefits and the drawbacks? And at what point does a blend become a genre of its own? We have a panel full of fantasy mashup authors, and this was a lot of fun!

You can watch the entire playlist of the Virtual Fantasy Con panels HERE.

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Rebranding the Toy Soldier Saga

You may have noticed that I’m making some changes around here.

In light of long years of trying to get the attention of Wizards of the Coast, to no avail, I have decided to revamp and rebrand the Toy Soldier Saga to scrape out all the Wizards related copyrighted material.  I may seek a publisher, or I may publish it on my own.

Fans of the existing Toy Soldier Saga will need to know that the second and third novels will remain unfinished in the Spelljammer version.  They will be finished, but only in my new universe, and only after the reformatting is completed.  You can still get the first novel in its fan-fiction format here and I’ll be posting it on as I promised as well.

Here’s a few of the changes that you’re going to see:

  • I took all the Spelljammer naming stuff out of the title of my site and my Facebook group (obvious, I should think).
  • Over time I will be replacing the art, currently only included as inspiration, with stuff that I have either commissioned or done myself.
  • I am renaming most of the elven characters, since their names are largely drawn from elven aristocratic houses in the Forgotten Realms setting.  Their names will be things that relate to nature (Vesper, Goldenbough, etc.)
  • I am renaming most of the places mentioned, and changing some significant details, for the same reason.
  • I am changing the names of the deities mentioned back to the real-world deities they were drawn from.  For instance: Corellon Larethian becomes Lugh, Angharradh become Brighid, Hanali Celanil becomes Freya, etc.  These deities will be used in ways that differ slightly from their real-world mythology and will be explained as human-elven cultural differences.
  • I am renaming or changing major monsters (beholders, illithid).  These changes will be the same sorts of minor changes that other RPG settings have used to get around this issue, and likely they will remain somewhat recognizable to the dedicated RPG fan.
  • I am changing the way the arcanology of travel through the stars works.  This is probably the most significant change and it will have some effect on plot elements.  I’ll reveal the details of my changes in a forthcoming blog post.  I’m excited because this change allows me to connect this world to the world of The Forever Throne as well!  Stay tuned for more details.
  • I am changing the racial divides among elves.  They will remain known for forces of nature (sun elves, moon elves, wood elves, etc.) and will remain similar in appearance (sun elves will be mostly warm and golden-shaded, moon elves will be pale and cool-coloured, etc.)  However, they will be known as the Alfar and the Sidhe (real-world mythological elves from the Norse and Celtic cultures respectively).  Drow will be known as Svartalfar or night elves and I’m sure you’ll see some cultural differences there too, but I’ll worry about that when they become more relevant to the story.  I’m not sure yet whether sun, moon and star elves (the “aristocracy”) or the moon, wood and earth elves (the “commoners”) will be Alfar or Sidhe.  I’m still deciding that.
  • I am changing and removing much of my use of the Elven language, since it is Forgotten Realms Espruar.  I’ll likely make more up as I go, but I’m sure my use of it will be less liberally sprinkled throughout the book.
  • “Scro” will be called “high orcs,” and the cultural elements I borrowed from Spelljammer (such as the name Dukagsh for the homeworld and their racial hero) will be changed.
  • I am changing the names and essential natures of Forgotten Realms characters or Spelljammer characters that appeared in the books.  They might still be recognizable to some but there will be significant differences.  I’m also eliminating or combining contradictory characters (such as — who is really the Grand Admiral of the Elven Navy?)
  • I’m making some minor changes to the way magic works, because D&D magic sometimes doesn’t make a lot of sense, and so since I’m changing stuff anyway, why not?
  • I am changing the name of the Elven Imperial Navy to the Imperial Avalonian Navy or the Imperial Fae Navy.  Bite me.
  • The titles of the fourth and fifth books will change.  The fourth book uses a catchphrase from the elven culture of the Forgotten Realms, and the the fifth book uses the word “Arvandor.”

Things that will stay the same:

  • Since I made up every word of the orc language used in the story, I’m keeping all of it.
  • Since I invented the system of steering and navigation used in Spelljammer vessels, aside from the helm itself, I’m keeping that too.  There WILL still be a symbiotic telepathic/empathic link with the helm, because that is by no means unique to Spelljammer (it’s a staple of sci-fi and has been since at least the 1950s) so they can’t copyright that.
  • NONE OF THE ESSENTIAL STORY WILL CHANGE.  I just adapted a major battle scene to a novella which I’ve submitted to a magazine; it worked just fine, so don’t worry, the essential story will not change at all.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Changing the Toy Soldier Saga is one of my featured projects at my Patreon this month!  If you want to see this thing come to life, you should support my Patreon. 😉


Last Descent

Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

Because David Shepheard has been so patient in asking and waiting for this piece to be posted … here is Last Descent, a cover that painted for a Dungeon cover back in the early 90s. It’s acrylic on illustration board mounted to light plywood. The space scape was created using a wet in wet technique shown me by artist Randy Asplund. I used this in several paintings. The space ship, a nautiloid comes from TSR’s Spelljammer campaign setting. It’s damaged and going down to a planet surface for the last time. I actually built a rough model out of Sculpey for the ship to get an idea of how to draw the forms in perspective.

This was obviously one of my own favorites and hung on my walls at home and the office for years. Now in the hands of a private collector.

 ~ Jennell Jacquays, Artist

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Gallery: Elves of the Elven Imperial Navy

This gallery contains 24 photos.

These pictures have all served as sources of inspiration for my image of the characters.  Source: Google, DeviantArt, Elfwood, Tumblr, Wizards Forums.  If you know who the artist is who created any of these images, please let me know so … Continue reading

What Lies Beneath (Book Excerpt)

Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

Darmynes, the sun elf who owned the Gilded Leaf tavern, strategically located in an ash tree on the edge of Bral’s landmark Elven Forest, would have been appalled to learn that his back room, kept for “exclusive” clientele such as Admirals and distinguished Captains in the IEN, concealed an opening to Bral’s labyrinthine Underdark caverns, but he was far too thoroughly charmed to notice.  To be fair, he would not have tried very hard to pursue the accusation with or without the magic that afflicted him, because those distinguished clients were very good to him.  Take Captain Lotharvalis, for instance.  Hard luck, those burns, but he didn’t seem bitter and he always tipped well, and he never seemed to lack for female company either.  Darmynes approved of how he never seemed to let his unfortunate injury deter him.

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