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The Historical Line

When you plant a story in historical times, you must recognize that your audience might find the setting to be something of a barrier. This is not a criticism of either the setting or the readers, it’s just a fact: when so many good stories are already based in the present day, asking people to […]

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NaNoWriMo

Well, it’s November, which means some people are getting fired up to grow mustaches, and others are hitting the keyboard –– hard. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is entering its fifteenth edition, so once again my Facebook and Twitter feeds are alive with pledges from writers who are hell-bent on getting a book done […]

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Drinking With Mike Strong

The origin of the question “What would Mike Strong do?” is a story in itself, but as the release of Dragons approaches, it’s more important that we consider the question: “What does Mike Strong do?” Of course, the venerable Colour Sergeant has a reputation. For instance, his actual rank is just ‘Sergeant’ because he was […]

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A Worthy Role Model

Every writer probably has a favorite author, and though I’ve admired many –– favorites like H. G. Wells, C. S. Forester, Bernard Cornwell, and David Weber –– if I were asked to select just one to be my role model, it would have to be America’s storyteller, the incomparable Louis L’Amour. Some of you might […]

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Shooting To Live

This month we’ll be launching the fourth installment of the Champions of 1941, Mandarins. Teasers and excerpts for that novella are still to come, but for now I want to highlight one element vital to the story: we’re going to spend extra time with Stephanie Shylock, and learn more about her particular skills. By now […]

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Best Friends

When it comes to author notes, I’ve been silent for the past couple of weeks. I caught a cold coming back from the awards ceremony in New York, which took me off my feet for a while, and have since been focused on editing and drafting –– two duties which, this year, have been particularly […]

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Bader Rules

Some decades ago, I expect everyone knew who Douglas Bader was. The prickly RAF pilot made a name for himself during the Battle of Britain, and the broader Second World War, as an uncompromising squadron leader who set upon the Luftwaffe with ruthless efficiency. He helped pioneer new fighter tactics, was a skilled dogfighter, and […]

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Smith’s Rifle

It’s probably clear by now that I’m a big believer in trying to get the details right, particularly when it comes to alternate history. I don’t always succeed –– I lately confessed to making up Hood’s compartment layout –– but as someone who spent six years studying the past, I figure I’m duty-bound to try […]

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Event Tradecraft – Special Details

In previous Event Tradecraft posts, I’ve covered everything from duffle bags and buffer time, to dress code and dealing with the unexpected. I’ve also talked about location, and how the venue can help make an event particularly memorable. Today, I want to point out how other special details can further add to the distinctiveness of […]

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Weather Perspective

Like many of my fellow Newfoundlanders, I’m often fixated on the weather. I pay close attention to the long-range forecasts, even though I know they’re going to change. I consider conversations about the weather to be deeply interesting, not awkward small talk (sidebar: this might be why I’m single). To me, the forecasters at Canada’s […]

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New World, New Look

Readers who have joined His Majesty’s New World in the past few months might not realize, but the books they’re reading represent something of a visual departure from the original editions. Back in October, as part of the launch of Champions, we decided it was time for the series to get a makeover –– to […]

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Too Many Oil Changes

My Jeep needs an oil change… or so it keeps telling me, even though its last oil change was barely 1,000 km ago. See, someone forgot to reset the sensor, so every time I switch on, I hear a bing and get a reminder on my dash. This can be mildly annoying, but at the […]

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Royal Navy Preview

With Grand Banks launching next Tuesday, it’s time for another pre-launch historical preview (not quite as in-depth as the one about American hegemony –– or lack thereof). Our target on this occasion: the Royal Navy. As we’ve seen in the excerpt, Alex is slightly in awe of this fleet, and she’s not alone. I can’t […]

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Private Adventure To Mars

Interesting story this week: an eccentric Dutch millionaire has offered passage to Mars for anyone willing to commit to eight years of training for the mission… and to never coming back. This strikes me as a big ask –– I’m a Newfoundlander, and the prospect of not being able to hop a flight home would […]

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The Drifter

Last week, Jacqui and I were breaking down the problems with a speculative draft I’ve been working on –– not Black Sun, but something else entirely. Without getting into too much boring detail, we zeroed in on the characters, and how they weren’t strong enough to carry a book. Fortunately, the solution wasn’t difficult (it […]

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Through Whose Eyes?

Whether the cosmos is gripped by war, a new world is being settled, or Champions are shifting the balance of politics in 1940, the way a story is written depends entirely on the characters you choose to follow. I know that’s probably the most obvious observation I could make, but I think it’s important for […]

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The Accuracy Requirement

A very interesting story emerged last week, when a Democratic Congressman from the state of Connecticut took issue with the recent Spielberg film Lincoln (which I’ve yet to see). His problem: in the film, two Connecticut Congressmen apparently voted against ending slavery, whereas in reality, all of Connecticut’s representatives supported the Thirteenth Amendment to the […]

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Soldiers By Reputation

Now that Firebox has been out for a week, some additional historical notes seem in order. But be suitably warned: these notes may contain spoilers about the story, so I’d advise against reading them until you’ve finished the novella. We last spent time with Colonel Robert Adams, Sergeant Eric Turner, and the storied 25th United […]

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Cold Snap

This week in Waterloo, Ontario, we’re in the midst of a cold snap, with wind chills dropping to –26 degrees Celsius (that’s around –8 Fahrenheit to our non-metric friends). It’s pretty brisk, reminding me of the weather from my years in Lethbridge, Alberta… a very dry and sharp cold can cut through to your bones, […]

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Location Scout – Cape Spear

I’ve already explained that the opening scene from Whitecoat was inspired by a place called Green Gardens, in Gros Morne National Park. However, given Lady Alex’s penchant for taking long swims around the island of Newfoundland, it seems appropriate to highlight a stretch of coast with particular significance: Cape Spear is the eastern-most point in […]

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