Expanding on Weun Academy’s first book!

Progress continues on my latest novel, Weun Academy! As I’ve mentioned before, the new manuscript sits around the 160 page mark, which I predict is about one-third of the completed book. It’s been at that number of a while now. Around the 2016 winter holidays that started to worry me. I kept wondering why I couldn’t progress on the main story. After all, it’s not like I don’t know what the story is about. But the inspiration and drive to sit and write just wasn’t there.

I’m wondered, like I’m sure many other writers do at some point, if I had hit “that wall,” the one you’ll never get past. But here’s the thing, I honestly love looking into what’s happening in the D’mok Universe. When I sit to write, I get a streaming view directly into my mind about what’s going on there. I truly enjoy it, and wanted to experience that again.

Inspiration is a funny thing, it ebbs and flows as it wants to. I know I’m making it sound like it’s alive, as if it has a will of its own. But you know what? Sometimes it feels exactly like that. It tells me what it wants, when it wants, with however much detail, and for however long as it wants to. It also tells me when it’s not ready to show me something. I just “had that feeling” that it wasn’t time to write more.

So, I do what I always do when this happens, I sat back and enjoyed life. Creativity, for me, comes from living life. My friends, my triumphs, my failures, my fears, all somehow feed the well from which the D’mok Revival universe springs. A wonderful wedding happened, the election happened, the aftermath of the election happened, Thanksgiving, Christmas and a magical new year happened, and low-and-behold, so did inspiration!

Between the New Year and Donald Trumps innuguration I wrote 14 short segments about various aspects of Weun Academy. This is very similar to what happened when I began writing D’mok Revival so many years ago. I’d get snippets of information, background stories, glimpses into the lives of specific characters in situations that have nothing to do with the main story but help me understand who they are.

As a result the Weun Academy campus has transformed, new characters have emerged, I understand the meaning and relevance Weun Academy’s prologue and its implications (which impact D’mok Revival’s main story and Wayfinder’s, the second spin-off series)…

And NOW–now it’s time to integrate this into the existing manuscript. “It” tells me once that’s done I’ll get the next part of the story. So be it.

I’ve worked on integration all day. One of the things that jumped out was the need to more clearly describe the uniforms used at the academy. I took the time to sketch out designs and scour the internet for things that matched. I’m happy to report, I’ve pulled together exactly what I had in my head!

I found components of these drawings on the internet, created additional assets, then pulled them together to create what you’re seeing. Final versions will be developed. I’ve attached the images below.

The first is the ability category (“Discipline”) pin for “The World,” represented by a mountain.

the world emblem

The second is the student jumper.

lyons_emprada_uniform_1_by_kenu v6-postable

This is worn while on campus grounds and during all training sessions. The specialized shirt is really the most customized part of the outfit sporting black outer edges on the arms and shoulders, purple main section and lighter purple stripes, and raised collar. On the collar shows the ability category (“Discipline”) pin, and on the chest, Weun Academy’s emblem.

 

Third is the formal (or “Dress”) jacket.

formal jacket

A subtle pattern is printed on the jacket, that reflects in the light and becomes visible when you’re closer. You see a hint of that in the example image. On the neck, the wearer’s ability category (“Discipline”) pin is displayed. On the chest, the Weun Academy emblem is displayed. The golden braid is for an earned distinction (like becoming mentor of other students after mastering skills). The shoulder boards display the number of stripes equal to the level of mastery (could also be years at school), and sit on black panels. The silver “flower” buttons further accentuate the ornateness of the jacket. This is complimented by formal black trousers and with purple stripe down the side.  As a note, Matt helped me apply the pattern.  Thanks Matt!!  🙂

I’m especially proud of this jacket design. One of the things I try to keep in mind as I go along is whatever readers encounter I want them to be able to recreate in the “real world.” It could be food mentioned in the cafeteria, learning games from classrooms, or outfits characters wear. I believe the above designs are very accessible, where cosplayers could make them happen. A dear friend of mine, Kathleen Jenks-Grobben, mentioned how Victor Krum’s outfit in Harry Potter has a unique angled part to his jacket and people have been able to recreate it.

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, Stanislav Ianevski, 2005, (c) Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, Stanislav Ianevski, 2005, (c) Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

That actually made me feel much better.  I DO love the angled section and want to keep it.

Anyway, with these designs I can continue the integration of the other holiday items. Specifically, the introduction of a new character, Kira Madaki.

It might be fun to do future posts introducing some of the Weun Academy characters (non-main story items)… Hum. We shall see!

As a side note, for anything found on the Internet that wasn’t explicitly mine, I DO have contact information for the original creators and will reach out to them as appropriate. I believe in people getting credit for the things they create!

An explosion of activity

September and October has been crazy with activity! Here’s what’s happened:

  • Released my first “omnibus” which contained the first three novels, two novelettes, and two prologues from the next two novels
  • Won one a Readers’ Favorite award in the youth: science fiction category for D’mok Revival: New Eden
  • Incorporated the award emblems into the D’mok Revival: New Eden cover
  • Released the ebook edition of D’mok Revival: New Eden on Amazon
  • Finalized printing details of D’mok Revival: New Eden with lightningpress.com
  • Planning out the D’mok Revival: New Eden launch party details (tentative: Nov 2016)

But as they say, “That’s not all!

An oldie but goodie has come back on the radar. My board game concept, HoverDome, which simulated the hover bike racing action mentioned in D’mok Revival: Descension, and experienced by readers in D’mok Revival: New Eden, is back on the table (literally).

This weekend I’m attending a board game designer’s workshop at Game Universe, a local game store. I’m going to present the concept, do some playtesting, and hopefully evolve a few elements.

THEN, in two weeks, I’m attending a three day board game designer workshop in Madison. I’ll get to review it with fellow designers, playtest with folks off the street, and present it to board game publishers!

I’m so excited! In fact, since D’mok Revival: New Eden is out there, I can reference it directly as a cross-promotional opportunity, and provide more context about how this game came about.

So, tonight I’m going to do some quick enhancements to the paper prototype. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

But wait!

Progress on Weun Academy is still moving forward. The slow progress is due to focusing a lot of time on the omnibus, and New Eden… But I’m always looking into the WA universe and seeing what’s going on. This continues to build pieces for me to stitch together and understand, in preparation for my next “sit down” writing session.  It seems like every few hours I’m experiencing things that make me think, “That should really make it in WA.”  Actually, there’s been plenty of things that have made me think, “This would be great for WA2!”

Right now, the plan is to target next summer to release Weun Academy. That’s actually a lot closer than you may think.

That’s all for now!

Life’s inspiration feeding Weun Academy’s story

Writing Weun Academy is so much fun!  Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about Rhysus and the original crew from the original D’mok Revival books.  There’s certainly a LOT of story to tell there.  But it’s refreshing to break into such new territory with a very different crew, just in the same literary universe.

Events from my life have always found their way into the core themes and threads of the D’mok literary universe. That tradition is alive and well with my latest work.

I’ve found my own experiences as a freshman at Carroll College influenced Eisah’s experience at Weun Academy. I remember a distinct awkwardness when I first arrived on campus.  I didn’t know people, or my way around. I recall just trying to figure things out and make sure I was as ready as I could for classes. I also remember the first few people I met, and how our common struggle bonded us together. I’ve translated this into Eisah’s first few days.

In addition, my son’s experience of starting at a new elementary school in third grade (all students transfer into this school as new students at grade 3) has inspired some of the initial emersion events for Eisah as he arrives at Weun Academy. I won’t give too many specifics as I don’t want to ruin specifically what happens.

To my great amusement, I’ve found the amusing and delightful banter of my coworkers has inspiring some of the dynamics between Eisah’s new friends. I believe writing in my coworkers near sibling rivalry-like interactions made my Weun Academy characters more entertaining, likeable, and more relatable.

During a recent family vacation to New York city, a walk through Central Park inspired a new area at Weun Academy. This new location provides students a place of recreation, relaxation, and practicing their abilities.

During the same trip, a visit to the Statue of Liberty left me in awe. I’d never seen it with my own eyes. While it wasn’t as tall as the Empire State building (as illusioned by pictures and portrayals of the status in various media outlets), she is stunning!  She is such an icon for our country, and the symbol of life, liberty, and justice for all. It made me proud to be a United States Citizen. She also reminded me of something else–Siegie from my books.

In D’mok Revival: New Eden (book #4, which most of you have not been able to read yet–sorry), Weun Academy is created. It mentions a great monument of a ring sliced through by a large green shard of crystal positioned at the grand entrance of the campus. When Rhysus and the others first saw it, they were moved because of their personal connection to what it represented. After seeing the Statue of Liberty, I am going to GO BACK AND CHANGE BOOK 4 (it’s not published yet, I can do this). Rather than a symbol, it’s going to become a statue of Segie Weun herself, holding up a radiant crystal. Much like the Statue of Liberty, people of the D’mok literary universe will have a visceral reaction to her statue. People will remember what she stood for, what she wanted for the universe, and the long term impact of her actions. I want it to inspire the students (and the readers).

Also, one of the more frightening things in my work travels has also inspired me. I learned on a recent job trip that the Canadian government in Quebec raided our branch. It wasn’t from financial fraud or other questionable business practices.  Instead, there’s a French Culture enforcement group that came in. They took down English signs and demanded they be remade in French. In addition, any French branding had to be displayed first (in a primary display location) and be TWICE the size of any English branding words on printed materials. They checked installed software on people’s laptops and demanded they have only French versions installed. They reviewed correspondence sent do customers and imposed fines for anything not sent out with French first (and then English optionally included). This group has the right to impose fines. On one of the customer projects, they could receive fines of up to 25,000 Canadian EVERY 2 HOURS per month, indefinitely with a limit of 875,000 Canadian per month. Oh, and if you immigrate into Quebec, you allegedly (I have not gone back to verify this) have no other option than to learn French and send your children to a FRENCH-based school. Only if you were a native are you given the choice between the two languages. How crazy is all that?  Yes, in 2016, in Quebec CANADA, this happens. Why is this happening? Because the government there believes French culture is dying in Quebec. Their solution, pound it down everyone’s throat to make it survive. This will not work long term.  This isn’t how human beings work. Like dripping water, we find a way to go and do as we please. This may slow the breakdown of French only culture, but it will not stop it.  This is GREAT inspiration for later books where “thing begin to change” in the D’mok Universe under D’abar…  That’s all I’ll say for now.  But, no need to create something insidious.  I’ll use this contemporary model.

Anyway, the examples above show how life can inspire small nuance, or large sweeping dynamics in my stories. I don’t want to give away too much at this point so I’ll hold back on the rest.

Until later!

 

Living in Weun Academy

While waiting for more responses from agents concerning book 4, I continue my work on my latest project. Weun Academy: The Boy with the Green Eyes, is the first spin-off from the main D’mok Revival universe. From a timeline perspective, this story takes place just after book 4 (D’mok Revival: New Eden) ends.

Anyone that has read the series knows about the infamous “boy with the green eyes” from Rhysus Mencari’s dreams (and thoughts). This side series follows this boy’s story.

I like to describe the overall concept as: Harry Potter meets Starship Troopers, meets X-men. It takes the best of the Young Adult (YA) space and combines it with the hero focus and space opera themes that are a part of nearly all contemporary entertainment these days (Avengers, Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Divergent, Hunger Games, etc.).

I’m making sure I write a little each day. Not only does it keep things moving, I love doing it. It’s been amazing “watching” (because again, I just “watch the movie in my head and type what I see”) this story develop before my eyes. It’s so incredibly rich.

People do NOT have to read any of the original D’mok Revival series (of which there are now 6 works: 4 novels, 2 novelettes) to understand things. It’s completely self-contained and gets people up to speed as they need to know and understand specific concepts and backgrounds.

Among my own points of interest is how what happens in Weun Academy directly impacts D’abar’s leadership and ability to lead D’mok Warriors.  Weun Academy events will have a profound impact on the next D’mok Revival book. It will also have a major impact on the second spin off Wayfinder (working title), that focuses on Rhysus Mencari specifically.

I really love every minute I get to spend there.  I find the place fascinating, in addition to the characters and deep action happening there.

All-in-all, I have a great feeling about this title. I’ve already had Kathleen and Susie read through the first 110 pages, along with some additional beta readers. I’m going to be incorporating their feedback to make the title stronger.  I’ll keep you posted as to progress, and even post out (eventually) a small excerpt for you to review and provide more direct comments.

In the meantime, I’m going to head back to writing…  Going to back to living in Weun Academy!

 

The best laid plans of mice and men…

There’s so many things going on right now.  It’s an exciting time!  The official D’mok Revival board game is moving forward.  The second novelette is being edited by Arlene and Glenn Clovis is working on yet another amazing cover.

I’ve been making slow progress on restructuring the fourth manuscript. It’s always an interesting challenge to update an existing work based on all the edits and changes that happened to the manuscripts before it.

I wasn’t going to announce this just yet, but I alluded to how the series is going to continue to go strong well after the first trilogy.

The fact is, while trying (note: TRYING) to stay focused on book #4 in D’mok Revival’s main lineage, the first book in the first spin-off has been talking to me.  By talking to me I mean daily, thoughts, little movie sequences playing in my head.  It’s great stuff, and very existing.  I continue to write notes and file it away for later.  Yet something keeps drawing me back that book instead of #4…

I’m a firm believer in listening to your creativity. It ebbs and flows as it wants to–never as you want or when you want.  So if it’s doing its thing–LET IT–GO WITH IT!

So, I sat down and wrote 14 pages this morning… the entire first chapter.  This builds on the prolog I wrote earlier in the week.

The series is called Weun Academy. The working subtitle, for the moment is: Boy with the green eyes.  For those that have followed the series, you know exactly who this is…  😉

If there’s a clear high-concept model I’d say it’s a hybrid of Starship Troopers, X-Men, and Harry Potter.  Clearly there’s still Japanese Anime inspirations, and it’s within the D’mok Revival literary universe.

This side trilogy isn’t just a “nice to know” aspect, it actually reveals a very important dimension about how the abilities are impacting the alien community…  And sets the stage for D’abar…

Okay, that’s all I’m saying for now…  Teaser?  Yes.  It’s fun to share.  I get excited about these things…  And inspired!!!