Tag Archives: Myke Cole

Treat Yoself to a Dragon*Con

First, if you haven’t seen Parks and Recreation, do that. Do it. All of it.

Next, go to Dragon*Con.

This year was my first Dragon*Con, and can I just say “wow”? Wow. While it has a reputation as being a party Con, I found Dragon*Con to be one of the best. There’s something about being in a place with thousands of other people, taking up a lot of space, and being there for the same reason: to geek out together! I especially loved that I could look at anyone and smile. I felt the excitement and camaraderie almost immediately.

Dragon*Con has a few unique aspects. The panels and events are held in six hotels and buildings in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Also, because it’s such a big Con, the organizers put the events and panels along a number of tracks. You can access the schedule and information about these panels via the Dragon*Con app. For example, if you are particularly interested in Anime/Manga, the organizers have a proposed schedule for you for each day. Some of the tracks include: Animation, BritTrack, Comics and Pop Art, Costuming, Fantasy Literature, High Fantasy, Horror, Military Sci-Fi Media, Paranormal, Podcasting, Sci-Fi Literature, Star Wars, Table Top Gaming, Urban Fantasy, Writer’s Track, Young Adult Literature, and many more.

But what’s in it for you as a writer? Lots.

I attended about 13 panels at Dragon*Con this year, most along the Writer’s Track. I loved the YA panels – it felt like we were all there together, laughing and geeking out over YA literature instead of an audience watching writers talk about writing.

I especially liked two panels over the weekend. The Magical Mavens of Fantasy/SF panel included Laurell K. Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Mercedes Lackey, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Jane Yolen (I’ll save you the play-by-play of my geek-out over Jane Yolen). Hearing these women talk about the industry, the people who told them they wouldn’t make it, and how they paved the way for the rest of us really made an impact on me. The sister (brother?) panel to Magical Mavens of Fantasy/SF I attended was Magnificent Men of Fantasy/SF with Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Peter David, and Larry Niven. I wasn’t expecting to laugh that hard, nor come near tears when they told touching stories.

Each night, the Westin hotel hosted a Writer’s Bar where professional writers could go to meet fans and fellow writers. I spotted and/or talked with Myke Cole, Sam Sykes, Jim Butcher, and Delilah Dawson. The cast of Wynonna Earp also showed up to hang out, which blew a lot of our minds. The accessibility of writing professionals at this convention seems abnormal, especially compared to other bigger Cons like San Diego. But nothing will light a fire under your ass to get published more than talking with professional writers and wanting to be on panels with them.

I’ve attended smaller conventions and a few huge conventions. Dragon*Con was my favorite. The Writer’s Track, High Fantasy Track, Sci-Fi Track, Urban Fantasy Track, and the Young Adult Literature Track provided multiple choices of panels each hour, and I didn’t attend one panel that I didn’t love. The access to professional writers was unlike any other convention I’ve been to. You’ll find that price of admission is well worth it to attend Dragon*Con. Oh yeah, and you’ll have a blast, too.

Myke Cole – The Gaming Influence

A guest post by Myke Cole

I’ve written a lot about the influence of gaming in my writing. I don’t have anything to say that you couldn’t guess (and that hasn’t already been said a hundred times at least): that gaming taught me to write a story on the fly with my audience trying to sabotage it. That it helped me to freely imagine, that it helped me understand a story inside the confines of a set of rules.

Not to mention connecting me to amazing people and equally amazing ideas, all of which are critical to the building the bedrock where a storyteller sets their roots.

But gaming had an unusually direct effect on my writing more recently. Back in February of this year, there was a minor blowup on the Internets when Games Workshop, the proprietors of the insanely popular Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes claimed copyright over the term “Space Marine.” When the smoke cleared from that particular dustup, they were determined to be no richer for their efforts, serious in their attempts and greatly diminished in the eyes of the fan community.

Let’s just say I wasn’t surprised.

About a year earlier, I had finally developed contacts inside Black Library, the fiction wing of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and was in the middle of what turned out to be a year long process of hammering out ideas to start writing fiction for the franchise.

I was over the moon. I LOVE the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It is one of the most brilliantly conceived and executed speculative fiction concepts I’ve ever come across, and richly deserves the success it has earned. I loved it so much that I wrote an essay about why I felt it was an important addition to the pantheon (you can read it here – Myke Cole on Warhammer 40K and Apocalypse Literature).

We were talking about giving me my own Space Marine chapter, with a supporting Imperial Guard unit, that hadn’t been written about before. I could develop them as my own, crafting their stories and heroes, fixing them firmly in the universe I loved so much. This is why I was willing to put my nose to the grindstone, working through idea after idea and draft after draft to get to something, anything, that would be acceptable to the editors.

And, after roughly a year, I finally got one across the plate. The editor I was working with made an offer on a short piece of fiction for their inventory, something to maybe be put in as supporting text for a forthcoming manual. It was just a finger in the crack of the closet door, but it was a start. I eagerly awaited the contract.

And then it came.

It was . . . well, it was a lot like the Space Marine thing. The demands were . . . not what my agent and I considered reasonable.

I wrote my editor with a long list of requested changes, begging him to budge on this. I loved the Warhammer 40,000 universe, was desperate to work in it, had already put in many, many hours toward that end.

The answer came back as expected. The contract was the contract. Sign it or walk.

So, I walked.

I spent a lot a downtime after that, bummed to have come so close to achieving a dream, only to miss it on a technicality. That feeling was quickly replaced by frustration over all the time I’d wasted. I had pages and pages of notes of what I thought were really good story ideas, all written to the Warhammer 40,000 standard. All useless now.

I bitched and moaned to my friend and fellow author Peter V. Brett about it and he shrugged. “They’re good stories, aren’t they? And they’re yours. Strip out the IP and look at the bones. Might be something you can use.”

Seems simple, eh? Intuitive? I was in such a bad spot over the experience that I hadn’t thought of it.

So, I sat down and took a hard look at my work. I took the story carcasses and boiled them until anything remotely resembling the Warhammer 40,000 universe came off the bones, until I was left with only the shining white armature of plot and character.

And I was right. Good stories.

Stories I am even now reshaping into work I can sell.

So, gaming influence my writing? Damn straight it does. Thematically, indirectly, and even specifically. There may be disappointments in my life, but the discipline has never let me down, so long as I kept faith with it.

Excited to see where it takes me next.

Guest Writer Bio: As a secu­rity con­tractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and mil­i­tary officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber War­fare to Fed­eral Law Enforce­ment. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill. All that con­flict can wear a guy out. Thank good­ness for fan­tasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dun­geons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing. Myke is the author of the Shadow Ops Series: Shadow Ops #1: Control Point, Shadow Ops #2: Fortress Fron­tier, and Shadow Ops #3: Breach Zone. (Author gets credit for all referral links.)

You can find Myke online at www.mykecole.com, or on Facebook, or Twitter.

Myke Cole: Capturing that Military Feeling

Matthew Jones: At the last World Fantasy Conference, I had the privilege to meet a new author named Myke Cole. Just out of the blue, he showed up and asked if I wanted to play some first-person shooter (FPS) game with him and some friends. I’m pretty crappy at console FPS games, but I decided, sure, why not. Later, I saw him in his full Coast Guard uniform, and we started talking about our time in the military. I spent six years in the Air Force, one of those in Iraq. Thus, when I found out he had written a military fantasy novel, I was pretty excited to read the novel.

Since the convention, I’ve both read the novel and quite enjoyed it. His writing expertly blended the military life and culture I remembered with the fantasy I’ve enjoyed for so long. The foreign settings, combined with the quickness of the battle and the uncertainty that was always riding on your shoulders definitely reminded me of my time overseas. Add to that the emotions of a man who just had everything he has ever known taken away from him, surrounded by people who had the ability, and often the duty, to kill, adds to the tension.

As I read, I wondered about the Military feel and how he was able to achieve that forward operating base (FOB) feel. He agreed to do a guest post for us and answer this question. He does use a lot of military lingo in his response, so I tried to go through and add definitions to many of the terms. You can hover over the abbreviations for the full term, and I added a quick glossary after his post. Feel free to comment if you have any other questions.

Myke Cole: I think it’s true that there’s a certain “FOB Feel” that exists in military culture these days. There are jokes and catch words (remember calling someone who’d never been outside the wire a “Fobbit?” Heck, “outside the wire” is a term that evolved from our use of FOBs and COPs, right?). Inside jokes are always the first signs of an emerging culture, and there’s definitely a shift from cold war garrison life to the new reality of COIN ops on a FOB or COP where you have a PX that’s as big and well-stocked as any Walmart, but you’re also at risk of getting killed by indirect or a rogue contractor who was hired to take out the trash or serve your chow.

That FOB Feel was something I definitely tried hard to evoke in CONTROL POINT. I did this for a few reasons, the first was that it is the most authentic indicator of modern combat experience I can think of these days, and one that sets our generation of war-fighters apart from our fathers. Our dads (if they served) could probably draw parallels to Vietnam, but it lacks certain reference points. For me, many of these were visual. The concrete T-Wall and the enduring mud were two important ones. The T-Walls were always in my peripheral vision, providing eerie analogies to my current life in New York City (that same feeling of the sky being cut off, of walking the rainforest floor), and serving as a constant reminder that indirect was coming, and with it, the shrapnel those T-Walls had been built to stave off.

I also wanted to evoke the FOB Feel because, when I sat down and thought about it, it made the most sense for a US military presence in a magical universe. The US military does many things well, but self-sustaining logistics in a forward AOR is perhaps what we do best, and one of the reasons we’ve been so successful in our military history. The FOB/COP model was the logical one for an American unit unsure of resupply and confronted by an uncertain landscape populated by hostile unknowns. Like the Romans, we turtle up, trying to buy ourselves the time for intel to catch up to the environment and give us a good look at what we’re dealing with. There really wasn’t a lot of difference between goblin clans and the Jaysh al-Mehdi in this case. Both were totally alien to us. Both were potentially deadly.

I was also really impressed by the tight integration between uniformed personnel and military contractors (Mercenaries. My first two tours were as an employee of these firms). This is, of course, nothing new (The East India Company, the Hessians, heck, Balearic slingers), but the resurgence of the mercenary and the public’s willingness to accept them in the cloud of fear immediately post 9/11 was a phenomenon I wanted to capture. The resurgence of magic in the SHADOW OPS universe is every bit as frightening to the public as the towers coming down, and their reaction had to extrapolate realistically. Mercenaries were a logical piece of that, and so, Britton’s ultimate fate (and Marty’s as well) resulted.

It’s funny. I never really thought of writing CONTROL POINT as all that . . . cathartic, but I am realizing in writing this guest post that it was a way to at least consider what I had experienced, if not to reconcile it in some way. If vets like you see their own experience reflected in the story, then I am enormously gratified.


Forward Operating Base. A secure military base that is within a hostile territory.
Combat Outpost. A well prepared, armored outpost designed to confront enemy forces.
Post Exchange. Think of this as the Walmart of military bases.
Area of Responsibility. The area that a command has authority to operate in.
Guest Writer Bio:As a secu­rity con­tractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and mil­i­tary officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber War­fare to Fed­eral Law Enforce­ment. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill.All that con­flict can wear a guy out. Thank good­ness for fan­tasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dun­geons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing.Myke is the author of Shadow Ops #1: Control Point.

You can find Myke online at www.mykecole.com, or on Facebook, or Twitter.