Alternative Physics for the Toy Soldier Saga

Adapting the alternative physics of Spelljammer to something new was the sticking point for me in turning the Toy Soldier Saga into something publishable.  I have worked on this concept for a long time, and I think I’ve finally come up with something that works but is its own thing.  Right now it’s a very loose idea and I will be working out the bugs as I write, but here it is, in a nutshell.

Crystal Spheres

Spelljammer’s “bubbles in space with crystal shells” idea is unique.  However, it’s based in Ptolemic physics.  How that worked was that the Earth was the center of the universe (and then the sun later on,) and everything we see in the sky is on the inside of a “crystal sphere,” interlocking within one another like Russian dolls.  Later theories of universe construction discussed the idea of the “crystal” actually being something a bit more ephemeral, something that holds the stars and planets in place but can be passed through like a veil.

That’s sort of the idea I’m running with.  Each system exists within its own interlocking series of crystal spheres.  The beauty of this is that one could still see the stars of other systems through these permeable membranes, so it’s a bit more like the universe we know, and less lame excuses have to be created to explain why we can see stars.

Gravity Wells

Gravitational forces move in currents.  Now that in real-world physics we have confirmed the existence of gravitons, I’m sure that’s not as difficult to imagine as it might have been.  Instead of odd, semi-two-dimensional “gravity planes,” each body, when sufficiently separated from other bodies, has its own whirlpool of gravity that surrounds it.  Lining up these competing maelstrom currents so that they interact instead of compete dangerously with one another would require the same sideways approach as gravity planes would and would have very similar consequences of failure.  These currents draw smaller, less dense bodies in, but also might swing them right around in a circle and out again.  A ship might seem too small a body to create a gravity well of its own — but wait, I have an explanation, and I’ll get there.

Airts

Because gravity moves in currents between bodies, it creates slipstreams that travelers refer to as “Airts.”  Their existence would a) explain why ships can move at light speed or faster, and b) what sails on a ship are for!  The crew is needed to navigate the Airts.  In which case, the function of the Pilot (Spelljammer) becomes twofold.  The first is that a Pilot can actually sense the Airts, which most people cannot.  The second . . .

Starfaring Ships

Starfaring ships are constructed around special materials.  Those materials are the seed-pods of giant cosmic trees, something like a cross between the starfly plants you remember from Spelljammer, and Trees of Life out of myth.  These Trees of Life use Airts as a natural part of their life-cycle; their seeds are evolved to be carried along the Airts to find new systems to settle in.  They can influence and create their own Airts to a limited extent as well.  They bond in a symbiotic semi-telepathic link with Pilots because Pilots can help them to consciously navigate the Airts, and thus, they can travel through a much broader and larger area of the Universe than they would otherwise be able to, eventually picking a spot to plant and grow in.  Elves know the secret of this and have been using the Trees of Life for millennia, but the other races don’t, and so they have been building devices around seed-pods or their fragments, unwittingly creating plant cyborgs.  Also, it’s important to note that the elves have forgotten many of the things they used to know.

Trees of Life

Trees of Life have a special significance in my universe aside from this, but I’m not going to explain that, because that would be a major spoiler, as this is one of the mysteries that my characters must discover!

Phlogiston

Phlogiston doesn’t exist, per se, in my universe.  The areas between systems in my universe will be taken up with competing Airts, and will look no different from how things actually look in space in our world.  How do you know you’re entering a system?  The Oort Cloud will give you a clue, being the outer edges of a system’s gravity well.  Some theorize that Airts might be powered by Quintessence, which can be explained either as the fifth element Aether, or a kind of dark energy in modern cosmological physics.  I will still have it be a dangerous process to enter and leave a system, but that’s because of the Oort Cloud and the currents of Airts surrounding the outer edges of a system’s gravity well.

So, loosely, this is a rough look at my adapted physics.  I welcome your thoughts!

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It’s All in the Rigging: 9 of the Best Boats in Fantasy

Diane Morrison

By Fran Wilde

Once upon a time (cough, August 6, 2013, actually), Tor.com published “I Hate Boats,” by Carl Engle-Laird. Carl’s gone on to brilliant things, but I still want to argue with him about the post, and especially this sentence in particular: “Whenever my beloved protagonists get on a boat, I groan, put the book on the table, and pace around the room muttering angrily to myself, alarming friends and loved ones.”

Carl, now that you’re a big-deal editor at Tor.com, I’m finally ready to tell you that I feel exactly the opposite way. I love boats, and when I see one in a book, I feel a lot of hope. I grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, reading nautical histories, and what I want in my fiction is a boat that feels real and suits the plot. When a book takes me over water, I’m eagerly…

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Chasing Fireflies Available for Pre-Order!

Featuring “The Eye of the Storm,” a story about Shaundar and Y’Anid!

Chasing Fireflies is a collection of 9 summer romance stories from all genres including contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction.

From Janae Keyes: It was supposed to be an escape, falling in love was never part of the plan.

From Rebekah Dodson: A respectable woman left behind in war finds fulfillment in a forbidden man.

From Sarah Buhrman: Magic, mystery, and deceit surround a medieval woman’s search for her lost love.

From Diane Morrison: A deep cover Elven soldier discovers that when you learn to think like your enemy, you might also learn to love them.

From Deliaria Davis: In real life, love is complicated and messy, but sometimes you just know it’s meant to be, and this Alaskan teenager intends to prove it, despite the odds.

From A.C Jade: Two strangers discover that a one-night summer affair isn’t all they have in common.

From Jay Michael Wright II: Can a cursed doctor find love with a gorgeous Demon before those hunting her find them out?

From Kayla Kirby: Home before he deploys, David runs into an old friend from high school. David quickly learns that Riley is harboring a dark secret and, in order to attempt to help her, he presents to her a challenge.

From C.L. Cannon: It’s the eleventh hour, and he has to decide. Remain her friend, or take the chance at something more?

Get it here!  Releasing July 1, with print release to follow soon!

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 FanFiction.net 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. 😉

 

Pity You Can’t Publish It

I have finally figured it out! The Toy Soldier Saga will be a thing!

Diane Morrison

Some of you may know about my Spelljammer fanfiction the Toy Soldier Saga. For those who don’t, it has a special place in my heart for many reasons.  The first is that I love the Spelljammer D&D campaign setting.  I think it’s an amazing amount of fun!  A few characters that I played in that setting have stuck with me.  One of them gave me part of my Pagan craft (and pen) name.

Another reason is that I have what I think is a really good story that works well in the setting.  I’ve been trying to get someone’s attention at Wizards of the Coast for years, but no luck.  The closest I got is when some friends or fans of Troy Lockwood bitched me out in my comments section because I had inadvertently altered an already altered graphic for inspirational character art, that someone used as their profile…

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Posting to Patreon: The Eye of the Storm

This is my heads up that tomorrow I will be posting the completed and edited story, “The Eye of the Storm,” as a charged post for my Patrons at Patreon.  This is my Shaundar and Y’Anid elf-orc love story, for my Toy Soldier fans!  This is your one and only chance to get it if you want it without buying the Chasing Fireflies anthology!  Note that there may be some small changes in the story between now and the time it appears in the anthology.  Chasing Fireflies will be released July 1, 2017.  (Rated R for graphic sex.)

Update – Finished “The Eye of the Storm”!

Hey all!  Just an update that I’ve finished my Toy Soldier story for the Chasing Fireflies romance anthology yesterday and now it’s going to first edit.  Then it goes to beta read by two other authors in the anthology, then the official anthology edit.  When there’s $2 Patrons to send it to, I can send it, and that will probably be the post that I’ll charge Patrons for.  When it’s finished the final edit, I will make it available for $1 Patrons to read as well.

You can find my Patreon page here to keep up-to-date to get first access!

Toy Soldier, Spelljammer, and Chasing Fireflies

Hello, Toy Soldier fans!  Things are stirring in the ashes of the Toy Soldier Saga, which you may have noticed I have not done much with for the past couple of years.  This was due to frustration at constantly being derailed at every turn.  But I think I have a new approach that you all might appreciate.

First of all, I have revamped my Patreon account.  I explain all about it here.  Essentially, I’m now asking for funding by creation instead of per month.  This means you only fund the projects you want to fund.  Check out my rewards sidebar; I’m looking to focus primarily on the writing projects, and right now my fiction is in the forefront.

Second, A Few Good Elves is undergoing a major edit for publication on FanFiction.net, with possibly other platforms to follow.  Rumour says that the DMsGuild is opening up to Spelljammer products soon; if it does, I’ll try to work in the Toy Soldier Saga.  Patreon support would help me to pay my editor to make a better novel for you to read!  The beta version is available at the above link; help me make it better!

Third, when that’s done, I hope to, with your help, create a full audiobook!  I intend to have music, sound effects, and possibly even voice actors.  But this is all dependent on Patreon support!  I can’t do this without your backing.  If you want to see it happen, consider becoming a Patron and supporting me by project.  If you don’t want to be a Patron to my current fiction projects, you can still Follow my Patreon page to keep up-to-date!

Fourth, with your support, I’m going to finish and fully edit the Toy Soldier Saga over the next few years.  I need your backing to make it happen, since there will be FIVE (not four, five!) books to edit and I have to pay the editor.  That’s five books to make into audiobooks as well.  And I have also been looking at some of the alternate Spelljammer type products out there.  If I can’t get Wizards of the Coast to allow me a platform to produce a professional publication for the Toy Soldier Saga in the Spelljammer setting, I will adapt it to another one, possibly Starfinder.  I think it’s too good of a story to keep down.  I hope you do too.

Which brings me to the fifth announcement; I have been invited to participate in an anthology!  It’s a summer romance anthology to be titled “Chasing Fireflies.”  At first I was hesitant because I’m not really a romance writer.  But then I had an idea about Shaundar and Y’Anid.  And I thought, “Why not?  Space opera and romance; it worked for Lois McMaster Bujold!”  So a Toy Soldier Saga story is going to be published in a romance anthology: release date July 1!  Here’s my blurb:

Interracial romances can be challenging.  So can love in wartime.  But what happens when the races in question are two different species who are ancient enemies?  And what happens when being true to love denies duty, and being true to duty denies love?  Which would you choose?

If you want to see the story without buying the anthology (which will be available in print and e-format,) you have to become a Patron at the $2 per creation level, which is my beta reader level.  And you’ll have to do it before the end of April. 😉

And last, Survivor, my short story in the Toy Soldier Saga that happens near the beginning of Brothers in Arms, is up for consideration in a reprint anthology.  I will keep you informed.

So, a lot of big things happening all at once!  If you want to make the Toy Soldier Saga happen, this is your time and your chance.  Will you lend me a hand?

Big Changes to My Patreon!

Diane Morrison

Hello all!  As you can see, it’s been a while since I posted anything here.  To be honest, it was because I was getting quite discouraged.  I wasn’t seeing a lot of Patron support, and I kept receiving criticisms that I should separate my geeky and fiction writerly stuff from my Pagan stuff, because people might want to support one thing but not the other thing.  This made me sad, since I was asking for monthly patronage in general, and seemed to me a general rejection of my person, no matter what side you wanted to butter that bread on.  Also, to do that and create individual Kickstarters for things kind of defeated my purpose.  So for a while I gave up.

But I think I have figured out a way to accommodate this desire from my would-be Patrons, and that is to charge by creation instead of by month.

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Updates: Support Me at Patreon!

At the suggestion of some friends, I have created a Patreon account!  Patreon is essentially like Kickstarter in that it is crowdfunding, but in this case it also hearkens back to the old patronage system.  I’m asking my supporters for a monthly contribution to help me create my creative works, in return for perks and bonuses.

Of particular interest to Toy Soldier Saga fans:

  1. Even a $1 pledge gives you exclusive access to my Patron feed.  You get first notice for everything I produce: writing, music, YouTube videos, columns, books; you name it.  You also get exclusive behind-the-scenes information and patron-only video content.
  2. $5 gives you one of two options: a) In addition to exclusive access to my Patron feed, I will send you a free song of your choice.  I will need to know how to contact you. b) In addition to exclusive access to my Patron feed, I will send you a free e-copy of my fan-fiction book “A Few Good Elves.”  You will also be eligible to receive my print fan-fiction books when that milestone is reached.  I will need to know how to contact you.
  3. At $25: In addition to exclusive access to my Patron feed, and eligibility to receive my print fan-fiction books when that milestone is reached, I will send you mp3s of all of my current Pagan or filk music (please specify). I will need to know how to contact you.  Anyone who pledges at this level for at least three months will also receive mp3s of either the Gallows Hill goth rock EP (for the “Pagans”) or the Avalon Burning gothic metal EP (for the “filkers”).

 

Milestones:
  1. $100 per month: I will do a small, private print run of my fan-fiction books as I complete them.  This will help to cover printing costs and the cost of hiring an editor.  These will only be available to current Patrons as a special gift.
  2. $500 per month: I will make a radio play of my fan-fiction series the Toy Soldier Saga, including hiring voice actors and technicians. (Yes Cliff, that means you!)

Yes, this is my way of getting those print books out to you without challenging Wizards’ copyright.  Technically the borrowing of fan material like this is still not allowed, but note I’m not making any money on the books, nor do I intend to: this will be my way of personally thanking my Patrons, and they are gifts or milestone goals for Patrons only.  I was inspired to this idea by the plethora of amazing, professionally-produced Star Trek movies available through Kickstarter programs.  They are all not-for-profit endeavours, supported by fans and even the original Star Trek actors.  I figured this wasn’t any different!

In other updates, “A Few Good Elves” is currently undergoing a professional edit, and will be made available in chapters on FanFiction.net, where many other fanfic writers have tracked the interest of the professionals.  If I do, and if Wizards does decide they want to publish the Toy Soldier Saga, I will take it down everywhere it has appeared, so this may be your only opportunity to pick up the original.  Note that because of FanFiction.net’s policies, my infamous Chapter 15 will *not* be available on that site, and there may be other “edited for content” cuts.  I will let you know as soon as it’s posted!

In further updates, I have indeed decided to go ahead with Book Five, “The Mandate of Arvandor,” and am actively working on a promo Machinima video for it (which also helps me to clarify my thoughts and visualizations.)

Now, how’s the writing going?  Slow.  Slow because I find myself faced with the David Weber dilemma.  I am in position where it’s important to explain the nuts and bolts of the goings on of the War, but I want to avoid the tedious infodumps that Weber is infamous for.  Finding that balance is delicate, but I am plugging away at it.

That’s all the news that’s news for now. 🙂