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.

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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.

Editing Update and Holocaust Remembrance

So I’ve finished my major first edits of “Mr. Midshipman Sunfall” and “A Few Good Elves,” and they’re off to my editor.  I’m now making my way through what I’ve done so far on “Brothers in Arms.”  I haven’t said much in a while, but those who are following will know that I’m not finished my first draft on that one yet, so what I’m doing at the moment is catching it up to speed with the changes that have been made in the first two books.

I have to admit I’m having a lot of fun with it!  I missed these characters and their stories.  I’m enjoying reacquainting myself with them.

———

In related news, today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  It’s the anniversary of the day that Auschwitz was liberated. I mention this here because in A Few Good Elves, the characters are incarcerated in a concentration camp.

I did extensive research, and everything that happens to the characters comes from the real stories of real survivors (minus the magic stuff, of course.)  It was hard to write.  It was harder to edit.

Sometimes it’s easier to confront difficult issues in fiction, and that’s part of the reason I’ve written these novels.  But we must never forget that this is was NOT fiction, no matter how hard it is to comprehend and accept.  The path of “othering” people eventually, inevitably leads there.

I’m here to remind everyone of that.  I’m here to try to help make sure that as less and less survivors are left, their stories, and the sheer horror of their experience, is not forgotten.

Never forget, okay?

Professional Disobedience: Loyalty and the Military

“The King gave you a commission because he thought you knew when to disobey an order.”[1]

“On rare occasions in our history, the leader on the ground, at the crux of a fleeting moment on the battlefield, has decided to disobey his instructions for what he judges as the greater good of the unit and the larger task at hand.”[2]

THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE
Read the full article at Real Clear Defense.

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. 😉

 

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!

Back at the Keyboard

Hey there, Toy Soldier fans!  After a long absence due to NaNoWriMo followed by a new job at Patheos.com as a professional blogger, then a new job working behind the counter at the bookstore where I read Tarot, and a heaping huge case of writer’s block, I am pleased to announce that I am back at the keyboard!

I will be carrying on with Brothers in Arms but I will not release anything at this point until the whole novel is finished, since there’s been so many re-formats and changes.  It’s not fair to you as the readers.

In other news, I’m going to be submitting A Few Good Elves to a friend who is an editor, so be prepared for a cleaned-up version in the near future.

Also, I am in the process of creating a Patreon account.  This is big news for those of you who want to support my work but know that as fan-fic I am limited as to what I can do with it.  You can offer to pledge monthly to help me create my projects.  I am thinking that I might make the Toy Soldier Saga (possibly even a print version) available as perks for supporting my Patreon campaign.  They would therefore be free gifts that I would providing to my supporters and not a commercial venture.  I do have other things that will be commercial ventures that the Patreon campaign would be supporting, such as Etsy creations, a steampunk serial series I am working on, and a new album with professional-quality recording.

But I’m still working out the details of that, so stay tuned!  And thanks for bearing with me all this time.

Gallery

Gallery: Scro of Dukagsh

This gallery contains 40 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