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Writer’s Ink: Myke Cole

Myke Cole is the author of the Shadow Ops series, which he’s described not as military fantasy, but more as fantasy with the military experience. It’s experience that draws on his own life, including three tours in Iraq, and serving in the U. S. Coast Guard. His next book, Gemini Cell [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], comes out on January 27.

WI-Cole

Here’s Myke talking about his tattoo:

This is the progress of my quarter-sleeve thus far. I thought about tattoos for many years, making sure the idea is fixed firmly in my mind before finally getting it inked on. My second requirement for a tattoo is that it mark an event in my life I will want to remember forever, no matter how its character may change.

The Eagle & Anchor is the symbol of an officer in the United States Coast Guard. The device appears in a few places, on badges, on our hat-bands, and in many plaques and decorations. After six years in uniform, I finally decided that, even if I should be turned out of the guard tomorrow in disgrace (don’t worry, that isn’t happening), my attainment of an officer’s commission is one of the watershed events in my life. It is one of the things I am most proud of, a thing I will cherish forever.

The text across the top is from General Douglas MacArthur’s famous 1962 speech to the cadets of West Point as he accepted the Sylvanus Thayer award. The speech is incredibly stirring.

I was particularly struck by this passage: Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

There are many ways to interpret these words, but mine is this: That as a military officer, it is my duty to act on the will of the civilian government, to carry out and not set policy. In the end, professional violence must serve the will of civilian masters, else we have military dictatorships like the one presently governing Thailand. That must never be the case in the United States, and these words are my reminder that my first obligation is to the American people.

The tattoo isn’t done. Hopefully in the next year or two, I will be adding a life-ring on the opposite side of that arm. Behind the life-ring will be a crossed boathook and oar. Printed on the life-ring will be the words: SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN. Because being an officer is only one point of pride in my military service. Another is that I am a Search-and-Rescueman. Where members all military branches must put their lives on the line to slay others, I have the distinct honor of putting mine on the line to save them.”

ConFusion Wrap-Up

ConFusion in Dearborn is one of my favorite conventions. I’ve been attending for years, and it seems to just keep getting better. I missed it last year, because I was doing a Guest of Honor gig at MarsCon, which was also cool. But I was happy to get back to Fusion, too.

And not just because it meant I got to play D&D with a bunch of awesome authors … though that’s definitely a bonus. Here you see the party in miniature, setting out to explore a maze of twisty passageways, all alike. Three guesses as to which mini Sam Sykes was using:

Miniatures

Trouble was, I think we may have entered into an alternate universe where the laws of probability no longer applied. I mean, I can understand bad dice luck. I’ve rolled plenty of poorly timed 1s on the d20. But when our party rolled three 1s in a row during combat, it got weird. And then we rolled a fourth … a fifth … and finally six 1s in a row, which ended with Diana Rowland accidentally slaying the party magic user. Oops!

Diana Rowland

Saturday was pretty much a nonstop day, from Author D&D to panels to a book launch with ConFusion Guest of Honor Karen Lord, which was awesome. I read and loved her first book, Redemption in Indigo. Well, Karen is as smart and lovely a person as she is a writer, and I came away with autographed copies of The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game, both of which I’m looking forward to reading.

Oh, and I read from and moved some copies of Unbound, too.

The mass autographing went really well, but my favorite part was when Tegan showed up and gave me a beaded Smudge she had made. I love it!

Tegan gave me a Smudge!

ConFusion attracts a lot of awesome people, and I loved getting to just hang out and chat with people. I knew going in that there wouldn’t be enough time for me to catch up with everyone I wanted to, but I did the best I could, and I had a blast.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early on Sunday. My wife had texted me on Saturday to remind me that we had tickets to the Blue Man Group, which I had somehow managed to not add to my calendar. The show was fun, but I’m bummed to have lost the extra time to hang out.

There’s only one thing to do. I’ll just have to go back again next year to catch up with everyone I missed!

I’ve posted the rest of my photos on Flickr, in the ConFusion 2015 album. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. I’m still very much an amateur photographer, but I feel like I’m learning a bit more each time.

I hope the rest of you had as good a weekend as I did!

A Hugo for Korra

I’ve done my own award eligibility post, talking about Invisible. Now I want to push something else, because I believe this past season of Legend of Korra deserves to be on the Hugo ballot.

I wasn’t familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender when the first season of Legend of Korra came out, but I watched a few episodes of Korra, and I was hooked. Then I went back to watch Avatar. By the time I finished, I was a hardcore fanboy for life.

The Legend of Korra has had its ups and downs. I wasn’t as happy with season two, but season three started to turn things around.

And then the fourth and final season came out last year, despite some bumps and troubles from the network, and holy crap! This season was amazing. The artwork and animation was gorgeous, showing the blend of our world with the spirit world. The story took on PTSD and empire-building and compassion and redemption and family and war and so much more, and it avoided going for easy answers or resolutions. And then there was that final episode, where the writers finally Did the Thing!

Tenzin - Woohoo

I want Korra to win a rocket. I suspect the odds are against it, but I firmly believe this show and its creators have earned a spot on that ballot.

The Hugo Award Categories address serialized TV works:

Works such as TV series, comics and sometimes even whole novels are sometimes published in multiple parts making up a complete story arc. The individual elements of such a story arc are always eligible for their year of publication. However, voters may want to nominate a complete story arc. In such cases it is the publication date of the final installment of the series that counts for eligibility purposes.

Season four aired between October and December of 2014, so both the full season and all individual season four episodes are eligible for the Hugo.

I believe the entire season deserves to be nominated:

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Legend of Korra, Season Four. Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko

I would also encourage people to nominate individual episodes for the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category, if you have a favorite. To be honest, I’m still struggling to try to pick one. I’m leaning toward the final two episodes. And since you can nominate up to five things in each category, why not both?

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “Day of the Colossus.” Written by Tim Hedrick.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “The Last Stand.” Written by Michael Dante DiMartino.

ETA: A number of people are also recommending the second episode, which directly addresses Korra’s trauma and PTSD. I agree that this was one of the strongest episodes of a very strong season.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “Korra Alone.” Written by Michael Dante DiMartino.

I think Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the best shows to ever go on television, and in it’s final season, I think Korra finally matched the quality, the artistry, the thoughtfulness, the storytelling, and the power of its predecessor.

If you’re eligible to nominate, I’d encourage you to check the show out (if you haven’t already), and to add it to your ballot.

Please feel free to link and share this post.

ConFusion Schedule

ConFusion is one of my favorite conventions. I missed it last year, since I was busy being Guest of Honor at Marscon. (Which is, you know, pretty darn cool too.) But I’m very excited about getting back to ‘Fusion this weekend.

Friday, 1/16

  • 5 pm: Dumb Questions 2015. Michigan – Big Top. A panel where the sillier the question, the better. Please show up ready to try to stump the panel with goofball queries, or just set up a good joke to see what is done with – or to – it.
  • 6 pm: Whose Cartoon Is It Anyways? Allen Park. I’m MCing a cartoonist face-off — the audience gives the panel of cartoonists a situation to draw. Cartoonist #1 draws half of it – Cartoonist #2 finishes it and adds a punchline!

Saturday, 1/17

  • 9 am – Noon: Author D&D. Great Room. Come watch as some of your favorite authors join together in a rousing game of Dungeons & Dragons. During the game we ask that you refrain from interjecting or disrupting the players.
  • Noon: I Suck. Erie. A panel of authors play “dueling suck” with their own works, trying to see who can best generate a vacuum.
  • 1 – 3 pm: Galaxy Game/Unbound Book Launch. Michigan – Big Top. A shared book launch with me and author guest of honor Karen Lord.
  • 3 pm: Mass Autographing Session. Huron—Ontario—Erie.
  • 7 pm: Writers as Fans, Fans as Critics, Critics as Writers and Fans. Southfield. Reviews are not for authors, they’re for fans. But many authors are engaged, critical fans. How can authors engage with fans without creating a chilling effect on criticism?

Sunday, 1/18

  • Sleeping in, hanging out, and whatever else I feel like doing.

ConFusion has turned into a very author-friendly convention, with a lot of author guests. I’m already bummed because I know I won’t have enough time to see and talk to and hang out with everyone, but I’m really looking forward to the chance to catch up with so many amazing people.

Hoping to see some of you there!

Unbound, Week One

UnboundUnbound [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound] has been out for one week now, and I’m starting to finally come down from the adrenaline rush.

My thanks, as always, to everyone who bought, borrowed, read, reviewed, and/or signal-boosted. It’s very much appreciated.

Reaction so far seems to be positive, including some great reviews:

  • “The joys of the first two volumes of the possibilities of Libriomancy are transformed and changed here into something very different, and in many ways, greater.”-Paul Weimer, SF Signal
  • “This is a great series with a lot of great components, but more than anything else it’s a love-letter to imagination.”-Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
  • “I had tears in my eyes when I recognized so much of what was going on with Isaac and saw how well it was woven into the story. I have to draw a distinction here: Isaac was depressed, and the depiction is necessarily a bit dark, but it never crosses over the line into the sort of darkness that makes reading it depressing … The fact that Hines could ride that line so beautifully without ever stepping over it in the wrong direction is really kick-ass!”-Errant Dreams

I have no idea what the sales look like, and probably won’t know a lot for a while yet. To be honest, I’m nervous. Book #4, Revisionary, is already under contract and being written. But how well Unbound does is going to be a significant factor in whether or not Revisionary is the last book. On the other hand, Four books will allow me to tell the story I wanted to tell, and to end the series in a good place if necessary. Given how many series get cut short after only one or two books, I’m very happy with how Magic ex Libris has done.

Other nifty stuff:

I’ll be doing a booksigning tonight at Schuler Books in Okemos at 7 p.m. I’ve also got a joint book launch at ConFusion with author guest of honor Karen Lord. That’s on Saturday from 1-3.

We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.