Do your research when it comes to weaponry, both medieval and modern

Whether you’re writing science fiction or fantasy, the accuracy of the weapons being wielded is as crucial as the characters and the setting. You wouldn’t take a long sword on a dungeon crawl (for a visual, watch the first episode of the anime Goblin Slayer) nor would a U.S. Special Forces carry an AR-15 in combat. This is where your research as a writer is critical.

You can be flexible when you mix in science fiction, like steampunk or dystopian, when you mix and match weapons together. Even in some fantasy aspects, weapons have been creatively produced, like “Stormbringer” from the Elric saga or Xena’s chakram… Functional weapons but not easily wielded.

I can honestly say that my years of playing Dungeons and Dragons gave me an edge in fantasy writing. When you have calculate the length of your weapon to wield it in a dungeon, it makes you think. (Remember, in these instances, size does matter!) Add to that, my military career gave me some much needed knowledge in military weaponry, from automatic weapons to aircraft and missile technology. I know the difference between an F/A-18 Hornet and an E-2C Hawkeye, a Sea Sparrow and a CWIS.

This was my problem while I was writing my latest novel, The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series. The story begins in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of a naval exercise, when Avalon suddenly reappears, causing disruptions on both fronts. The U.S. Navy, now circling the mysterious island, wants answers. The tensions build as modern technology faces off against ancient magic, on an island where the laws of magic supersede the laws of science, as military forces continue to surround the mysterious island, bringing both sides to the brink of war.

I have already written two books with people using various medieval weapons, so that wasn’t the issue. Now, I had to incorporate the medieval fantasy world of Avalon with the U.S. and Russian Navy as well as special forces. This took a lot of research on my part. As a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, I served on three aircraft carriers so I was quite familiar with the aircraft, weaponry, and terminology. It was a little different in researching Russian ships, weapons, and aircraft, but necessary for my story.

Here’s an excerpt from The Outlander War demonstrating an exchange between modern military forces and medieval weaponry.

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His voice trailed off as his eye caught something different on the horizon. Hunter knew how keen the eyesight of an Elf was and tried to see as well. It was a clear night, the moon waning as a small sliver of a crescent high in the sky.

“What is it?” Hunter asked. “What do you see?”

“There’s a new ship out there, one I’ve never seen before.”

“Are you sure, Feredir?” Eadric asked. “Those metal contraptions look all the same to me.”

“I have observed all the same ships for the past few weeks, that one is new.”

Try as he might, Hunter could barely make out the ship in the darkness. “Can you describe it?” he asked. “Do you see any writing on it?”

“It looks like the other large warship… the aircraft carrier, I believe your father called it, but the front of the ship is curved upward like a ramp,” Feredir said. “There is some writing on the side of the main structure but I’m not familiar with the language.”

“Show me!” Hunter demanded. Feredir took a dagger and wrote a few letters in the dirt next to the fire. Hunter didn’t understand the words, but he recognized the language. “That’s Russian, I think,” he said. “It must be a helicopter carrier of some sort.”

“Are those the machines with the spinning blades on them?” Feredir asked.

“Yes, why?”

“Because there are four of them headed our way!”

Feredir drew his bow. Hunter turned to two of the younger knights standing with them. “Pass the word down along the coast that invaders are coming toward Avalon,” he commanded. The two men took off in opposite directions to warn the other outposts. “Henri, go tell my father what’s going on! We need him here immediately!” Henri dropped the teapot and he took off running toward the main encampment.

Hunter reloaded his Lancer with two new spellshots as he and Sir Eadric crouched low behind the protection of some rocks. Feredir acted as lookout.

“How far out are they?” Hunter asked.

“Three of them are holding their position about six furlongs off shore,” he said, scanning the horizon. “I’ve lost the fourth one.”

“What?” Hunter exclaimed and jumped up to look. Eadric followed suit.

“Where did it go?” Eadric asked. Before Feredir could answer, the three men heard a whirring sound from just off the cliff. From below the edge, a helicopter rose up in the air in front of them, threatening them with a rotary mini-gun.

The three took cover as the helicopter opened fire, pelleting the ground around them with rapid-fire spray. Feredir notched an arrow and readied himself. The firing stopped for a moment and the Elven warrior stood up and fired off an arrow. The aim was true, a perfect shot at the helicopter pilot, but it ricocheted off the front windshield. Feredir got a second arrow off, but it had the same result. He dove behind the rock just as the pilot began firing again.

Feredir cursed. “My arrows won’t penetrate that infernal machine!” Hunter weighed all the options and he came up with an idea.

“I think I can help you there,” he said. He pulled up his Lancer, ready to fire. “After I shoot, hit him again. Your arrows should penetrate this time.”

Hunter took a deep breath before he popped up and fired his Lancer at the helicopter. His spellshot—a combination of magic and alchemy loaded into a cartridge the size of a shotgun shell—fired a freezing spray at the helicopter, coating the front of the aircraft in a layer of frost. The windshield froze instantaneously, and the pilot stopped firing.

Feredir quickly popped up and fired another arrow at the windshield. This time, his arrow shattered the glass and pierced the pilot through the chest. The aircraft pitched to the side and the co-pilot tried to regain control. Feredir didn’t give him a chance and he fired another arrow, killing the co-pilot instantly with an arrow through the throat.

The helicopter spun out of control as it flew over the three warriors and careened toward the ground. The engines shut down just before impact, then it crashed, exploding in a giant ball of fire. Sir Eadric and Hunter roared loudly at their victory. Feredir just stood there silently, there was a hint of a grin on his face.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Happy 4th of July! Celebrate America with a bang, not a whimper!

JohnWayneAmerica

“America is the land of freedom and that’s the way I enjoy living.” — John Wayne

I’m going to preface this with my usual I don’t get into politics in my blog, but I’m not here to talk about politics. I’m here to talk about America. I am the son of a United States Marine and a U.S. Navy Sailor. I also served for 23 years in the U.S. Navy. I have two uncles, my brother and sister-in-law who served in the Marines, my grandfather, another uncle, and a cousin who served in the Navy. Add to that my family history with the military from the Revolutionary War through World War II, and you can understand where my love of country comes from. It was taught into me since I was a kid, and it’s something I passed onto my own children as well.

It saddens me to see my country degrade into the state we’re in right now. I’m not going to talk about being liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, but rather about being an American. People in politics, the media, and all across this country talk about it as if it’s a bad word. Why? Why is being an American so bad?

People say we live in a “fascist state” because of our president. Really? I always ask this question of those who call our country terrible and evil: If America is such a bad place, then why is everyone trying to get here and become a U.S. citizen. One word… Freedom.

How would you like the government telling you how to dress, style your hair, or what music you can listen to? In Iran, men cannot sport certain hair styles other than what is prescribed in Islam. Women are not allowed to go out in public unless they adhere to certain dress codes, such as covering their head in hijab and avoiding skinny jeans. Western music such as jazz, rock, and rap are strictly prohibited.

How would you like the government controlling your phone and internet access or telling journalists what to say? In Syria, communications through mobile and landline phones and internet access are significantly limited. Syrian journalists who act against the government are tortured or, worse, end up dead.

Better yet, how would you like the government to tell you how to worship in whatever religion you practice? Situated above the Horn of Africa is the small country of Eritrea. There, no one is allowed to perform public worship and one has to apply as a member to a certain sect before they can be allowed to practice their faith.

Do you see my point? We have a Bill of Rights which guarantees all of these rights to the people. That’s what makes America great. Sure, it’s not perfect… What country is? We have to make it the best we can, but we can only do that together. Remember, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall!”

That’s what makes America worth celebrating on the 4th of July. It’s not because we’re fascists or racists. It’s because we’re Americans and proud of it. So have a party, dance the night away, watch some fireworks, and thank a veteran while you’re at it. Have a Happy 4th of July!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Read about the inspirational men and women of the 2016 Warrior Games

I’ve been at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., for over a week now and to see these remarkable athletes train and compete in the 2016 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games is nothing short of inspirational. Here are some of the stories I have written on these games:

West Point Band composes inspiring theme music for 2016 DoD Warrior Games

Warrior Games brings Olympic-caliber talent to the swimming competition

His last Warrior Games promises to be his best

Paralympians help to coach, mentor the athletes at the 2016 DoD Warrior Games

Visually impaired athletes push themselves for gold at 2016 DoD Warrior Games

I’ll be adding more links to my stories as they are published. For more information on the 2016 Warrior Games, CLICK HERE.

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Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon andBarnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt and cast your vote to help me get it published.

Remembering our fallen heroes on Memorial Day

Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_DayToday is Memorial Day, a day when we honor the sacrifice of military service members who died in defense of our great nation. According to Wikipedia, the holiday originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions were celebrated on different days until they merged together and Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

This day holds special meaning to me as a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, but also because of the service of other members of my family. My family has served in the armed forces dating back to the Revolutionary War. My 5th Great Grandfather, Phillip Bailey, served in the Virginia Militia. Then there’s my 3rd Great Grandfather, John P. Bailey, who served in the Confederate Army in the 22nd Virginia Infantry, 1st Kanawha Regiment, under the command of George S. Patton, the grandfather of World War II General George S. Patton. My grandfather, William E. Davis, was a Parachute Rigger on the USS Bataan (CVL 29) during World War II. My father, MSGT William R. Piggott, USMC (Ret.) did two tours in Vietnam during his 22-year career. I can also include my mother, two uncles, a cousin, my brother, sister-in-law and a nephew who served in the Navy and Marine Corps. We are a military family.

Most of the people of our great nation strive to honor the heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, but there are some who seem to resent the military. They burn or step on the flag as a form of protest to our government, forgetting the fact that it was our veterans who put their lives on the line to ensure they have the freedom to do that. People want to tear down war memorials because the represent the racial strife of the past, ignoring the men and women who died on both sides of war.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Those words were spoken by George Santayana, a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. It’s not surprising that writers are the ones who not only record such historical events, we also provide analysis, observations, and insight. As writers, we are the caretakers of our heroes, villains, and the history they create through their actions.

Our veterans sacrificed so much, in war, in peace and in defense of freedom around the world. They deserve our respect and our undying gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made. Just to put it in perspective, since 2001, there have been 2,229 deaths and 20,904 casualties in Afghanistan and 4,488 deaths and 36,710 casualties in Iraq. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a conflict that cost us more than 58,209 deaths and 211,454 casualties. These numbers just keep rising the further we go back in our history.

So please, as you’re barbecuing or enjoying the sun and fun this Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember our veterans whose sacrifice gave us our freedoms in the U.S.A.