Turn Right, Now

GPS is a beautiful thing, aside from the fact the government now knows exactly where you are even when you’re not using the GPS app. The software maps your location and gives you directions. I love how the voice almost sounds snarky when you don’t follow the directions. I imagine in some future the AI that overthrows mankind will glare at me angrily and say “Turn right, now.”

That being said, sometimes you have to change directions. Sometimes the things you have planned don’t work out. Maybe there is road construction or heavy traffic. The GPS understands that, sometimes. It will RECALCULATE while you are avoiding traffic like a mad hatter avoids birthdays. Your new route is presented and you either turn right, now or you veer straight and cause the GPS to growl and recalculate again.

I imagine in some future the AI that overthrows mankind will glare at me angrily and say “Turn right, now.”

I have taken a directional change that the GPS of my writing career was unprepared for. I found the roots of my childhood and I found God again. This post isn’t about my faith, not entirely anyway. Anything I talk about these days will have some tie to my faith, it is a part of me. I’ll expound more on my faith and such topics on my other blog: 1 Samuel 17 – In the Giant’s Shadow.

God, church, and religion aside, I am taking a new direction with my writing. As such, I have unpublished most of my previous works. Namely the first two novels I published, and the short stories I published last year. I have left the Anthology up for now.

Why? One might ask. Well, for starters I felt a moral guiding to do so. Call it what you will, but my previous works did not live up to who I want to be remembered as. That isn’t to say I will deny writing them, or having profited from them, they are as much a part of my journey as anything else leading me to this point. However, I think – for me at least – it is a purposeful shift towards a new ideal.

That isn’t to say I will deny writing them, or having profited from them, they are as much a part of my journey as anything else leading me to this point.

So, what will I be writing then?

Well, I am still going to write science fiction and fantasy, what I have written on this blog has – for the most part – remained unchanged. I still find a particular joy in looking to the future and an outlet by writing fantasy. I still plan to update this blog and connect with other writers/readers here.

My major change in direction leads to the same destination, furthering a career in writing. However, I am on a different path to that destination. The path itself, is something of a niche market as there is not much Christian Science Fiction to be had. For one reason or another most people believe Christian and Science Fiction are opposing axioms.

Christian Fantasy is much more widespread. All this being established, my Science Fiction setting REACH is getting a bit of an overhaul. It will still be the vast cosmos and humanity playing a role in an overbearing corporatocracy, but I have added a few elements. Read below for the new premise of REACH:

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. […] At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. — Matthew 24:7 & 10 NASB.

The year is 2371. Humanity has expanded beyond our home in the Solar System, settling the galaxy. Following two devastating world wars on Earth, more than two-hundred-fifty years ago, the corporations banded together and formed a conglomerate. The Corporatocracy, an organization free from religion. The corporations remained independent factions, but as a part of the same whole.

The corporations enacted many harsh laws regarding the practice of religious beliefs – blaming the wars on zealots of all faiths. The nations were dissolved and religious persecution ran rampant that could only be compared to those days of the early church.

The Internal Corporate Authority, a governing agency enacted to keep the corporations in check, fashioned the laws deeming ALL religions illegal across the galaxy, not just within the corporate ranks.

Knowledge of all religious texts diminished and, over time, vanished. Believers hid or fled to exile. Those that did not, were put to the death by the ICA. Born out of a task-force to hunt religious sects, the Solar Governing Corps grew to become the militant arm of the ICA.

That is, until, the corporations banded together again to take the ICA and SGC under their umbrella, making them all a part of a true corporatocracy. The Corporatocracy offered corporate idealism in place of religious freedoms, creating a new kind of theology.

This is REACH. A universe ruled by a corrupt corporatocracy and one lacking true theological belief, until now.

I plan to write as directly as I always have, primarily shifting the focus from one of simple adventures to narratives with a meaning and purpose.

Feel free to share your thoughts regarding this change. I look forward to engaging in conversation. Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand

2017 Goals

So, I know other people talking about goals and such can sometimes be a drag, so I’ll try not to make this overly long. Setting goals helps me to plan to work on what I need to finish. More than that, sharing said goals ensures that I actually work on them. Why? Because now I have made myself accountable to you, dear reader. Sorry for the responsibility and stress, but you can handle it right?

Okay, so without further ado, here are my goals for 2017:

• Write the first Science Fiction novel in the REACH universe setting.
• Finish the first draft of the REACH setting and resource document (REACH SRD).
• Create new short stories based in the REACH universe.
• Create a REACH wiki-page.
• Read 50 books (3 finished already)
• Take more pictures with my mommy, because we took almost none last year!

So to elaborate on some of these:

• I have already started the first REACH novel, which is tentatively called REACH. Synopsis below:

The year is 2371, humanity has become a space-faring species reaching out into over sixty different star systems. Ruled by a conglomerate of mega-corporations, humanity has become an invaluable resource. Few are willing to challenge the so-called corporatocracy, even fewer survive crossing the corporations.

Captain Raels Ballard commands the star-ship RL Teneo. As a privateer for Rasa Laboratories, Raels has a storied past and a penchant for getting the job done. He, and his crew, are tasked with the extraction of a prisoner from Pelion Penal Station in the Olympus system. When the extraction goes wrong and the prisoner dies, the captain finds himself in a precarious position. Torn between choosing to do what he knows is right and being a good corporate man, Raels must make a decision that could alter the fate of the only government he has ever known and put himself in grave danger.

• So, I am sure I have talked at least briefly about the Science Fiction setting I’ve been putting together, I think I even mentioned REACH. Originally, it was an Alien meets Star Trek/Battlestar Galatica mashup, but it has evolved into a more Space Opera setting with a Corporatocracy control, meaning that the government is the Corporations without any kind of regulating authority.

I thought this would make for a really interesting Table-top Role-playing game, so I am creating a set of rules for how to play in this universe. This rule-set will be the REACH SRD once I finish. However, I do not think it will be published this year as much as possibly having the first draft done.

• I wrote 10 short stories last year in my Legends of Vandor setting, as I have mentioned that setting is a vent for my frustrations so I may not write as many this year. However, to supplement that, I plan to write some stand-alone short stories for the REACH setting.

• In conjuncture with the REACH SRD, I am looking at creating a Wiki-page to navigate and understand the SRD as well as expand on the setting even more.

• Obviously, this one is less related to writing. This is my annual Goodreads challenge. I set the goal of 50 books, because I smashed my 25 book challenge last year in the span of 3 months. So, if I smash it again this year I might just increase the challenge a bit. So far, this year, I have read the Necrospace series of books by Sean-Michael Argo.

• This one is more personal than reading or writing, but My Mommy and I both agreed that we needed to take more pictures this year, so on New Years Day at 12:01 am, we took a whole slew of new selfies. When I see her again in February I am sure we’ll take some more.

So those are my goals this year. I realize there aren’t many, but I think that’s the point. Attainable goals is the idea. Setting the bar too high causes stress and that’s not the point of goals. Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand

New Beginnings

2016 has been a year of reflection for me, as I mentioned in my last post to finish out my series, but I wanted to talk more about that reflection and what it means for me and readers going forward.

This year I’ve had a good deal of ups and downs. I had some success with my short stories, and a good deal of praise for them. However, as I mentioned in my series, those stories come from a dark flame that is not always active. This led me to question what role in writing I should focus on.

I enjoy Fantasy, but it is not the genre I am in love with. When I examine my interests outside of writing I find that they almost always coincide with Science, Science Fiction, Futuristic Ideas, and (of course) time travel. So, why then would I become a purely Fantasy writer?

I wondered the same thing, even though that is what I was claiming to do. I think it is because I spent a great majority of my teenage and young adult years playing Dungeons and Dragons, reading the associated novels, and living for Fantasy movies and games. Somewhere along the way I matured. I was no longer fleeing from what was in front of me, which meant (inevitably) that the past was not as appealing.

I wrote Kodiak and Atlas as a means to emulate my favorite science fiction shows, but in neither of those novels did I quite capture the essence. There were tributes and certainly some themes, but the setting was not robust.

I am a creator. I want to create worlds that carry fantastic elements far and wide. Sinister bad guys and anti-heroes. My favorite Science Fiction games are the Mass Effect series by Bioware. In thinking about that, I began to realize what was missing from my Infinity Verge series. It wasn’t plot, or story. It was setting.

The Mass Effect universe is built on the predication that humanity is one of many alien species fighting for survival. It’s an excellent premise, and the game tells a story worthy of a novel (however horrible the series ending was).

I remember my previous attempts to emulate a story though. I don’t want to repeat mistakes that I know I have learned from. So, long story short (hey, I’m a novelist okay?), I am going to keep writing Fantasy short stories, because they help me to release darkness and they provide a steady stream of writing.

However, I am refocusing my Science Fiction efforts. I have begun creating a setting that is massive. I am calling it REACH. Why REACH? Well, because I am reaching for the stars with this one. I am building an entire campaign setting (so that when and if I decide, I can run a Dungeons and Dragons type game with it). I am also writing two different stories in the REACH universe right now. Finally, I am also going to begin working on a Wiki which I will host on my djmorandauthor.com site.

This next year, I wouldn’t expect too much in the way of Science Fiction from me, other than updates regarding the setting and where I am at. I will still publish short stories in my Legends of Vandor setting (Fantasy) every month from February to November, with an e-book and print Anthology in December. For now, let me leave you with the latest images I have created for REACH.

reach-logo


brotherhood_logo

 

mis_logonesc_logobb_logorr_logo

These are the newest images, below you will find the other images I have created for this setting. Each image represents an organization or corporation in REACH, which is a Science Fiction future space faring setting. The Corporations control our solar system, but an alien race looms at the edge of the galaxy that threatens to thrust humanity into a new era.

uec_logotatsumoyocorp_logoperp_logoalphabetaco_logoemrise_logosgc_logorasalabs_logoavs_logoica_logo

I’m pretty excited about this setting as you might be able to tell. I’m working on a history document of all the corporations and organizations, which I’ll incorporate into the game setting as well. I’m looking forward to 2017 and to my continued growth as a writer. Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand

Corporations

So, I am working on a Science Fiction setting. A setting in which corporations are the law, versus any centralized government. The year is 2381 and in the wake of two world wars, the corporations rise up to take care of business (pun intended). This is just backstory for the actual novel, but there is something that every good corporation needs … a logo.

I put my photoshop skills to the test and below are the corporations I have created logos for, I created the corporations too, but they’re still fictional.

Tatsumoyo Corporation – the leader in technology and interplanetary travel:

tatsumoyocorp_logo

Rasa Laboratories – the leader in genetic evolution and bio-engineering:

rasalabs_logo

AlphaBeta Corporation – weapons manufacturing and defense:

alphabetaco_logo

United Earth Conglomeration – leader in all things consumer, mercantile, and transportation:

uec_logo

Emrise Ltd. – the leader in virtual reality, training simulations, and entertainment:

emrise_logo

Arcological Venture Systems – a division of Tatsumoyo Corp. Industry leader in exoplanetary exploration and creator of the Prisoner Exoplanetary Reformation Project:

avs_logo          perp_logo

This was a fun little project that I think creates some realism for my setting. I hope to expand each of these with Mission Statements, History (Rise, Fall, or Prosperity) as well as their intricate politics. I also have a couple of organizations I’d like to create some logos for, specifically the Internal Corporate Authority (ICA) which is tasked with judge, jury, and sentence execution. Also, I have the Solar Governing Corps (SGC) which is tasked with the policing of the corporations.

Let me know what you think. Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand

Writing to an Audience

I’ve read numerous books on writing, characters, characterization, novelization, and the list goes on. The goal? Isn’t it obvious? I want to be a better writer. There is a common theme to all these books on writing.

Know your audience.

Certainly, you should. However, I think many of us take this to mean, write what’s popular, if you want your work to get noticed. Maybe, we think it means write what’s not popular so we stand out. I don’t think this is the message that needs to be conveyed. I think, and bear with me here, that we should not just know our audience, but we must become the audience.

As a reader, I certainly don’t want to read something written for Science Fiction fans, or Fantasy fans, or fans of gritty-dark realistic horror. Life is not that generic. Do I write these kinds of stories? Do I read them? Yes. I read the stories in these genres. However, I can tell when the author is not being sincere. When the author is writing to the audience, instead of experiencing the story with them. Instead of saying Know your Audience. I think the message should be:

Write a story worth reading.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Write a story worth reading, then worry if it is something you can profit from. Never the other way around. Fall in love with your art, before you expect anyone else to fall in love with your art.

Do you think that Picaso created a piece while thinking of who would buy it? Do you think that JRR Tolkien wrote his books in hopes of becoming rich beyond measure? CS Lewis? Shakespeare? You might argue that they had. You might be right. I don’t think so, though.

I think that each of the artists of the past wrote or painted, what was in their hearts and minds. They told the story they wanted to read. Did others want to read those stories too? You bet. However, that is the perk of being a good writer, other people will want to read your stories because of genre, because of the writing, or because Amazon told them it was something they may like.

Let go of yourself.

I cannot stress this enough. As a writer, I get so caught up in my identity as a writer. Who am I? is the question I ask all the time. After watching a TED Talk with my wife last night, I realized that seeking my passion has been blinding me from seeing it.

What is my passion? What do I want to write about? Who am I? Who should I be? What am I passionate about? Are all questions that need to be tossed aside once you start writing. Letting go of yourself and pouring out on the page is all that matters.

With NaNoWriMo being here, I find that this sort of letting go is easier. I have a daily word count I want to reach, so I stop worrying about how much I am writing, or how much description I am putting in. I’ve stopped worrying about who am I writing this story to? Instead, I am sitting down in front of the computer, living the story as it flows from my fingertips into the keys and on to my screen.

Write something worth reading, then decide if it is something you want to share. Will I have to edit this novel? Yeah, I will. I’ll have to go back and make sure I’ve properly set up the foreshadowing and backstory, I’ll have to check my grammar and sentence structure. I’ll have to check my characters and characterization.

This is a first draft, but it will be a story worth reading, even if it were never revised. Because the story itself is what matters, not the package, not the audience I should be writing to, and not the genre — the story.

Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand

Cover Reveal

This collection of short stories has been 10 months in the making. I have been working with an artist to get my logo redesigned for my fantasy works as well as artwork for the cover. The Legends of Vandor Anthology Volume 1 is set to be released on December 15th, 2016. Today, I am bringing you the print cover as well as the e-book cover. Enjoy!

lovss_anthology_v2_pro

The e-Book cover. The art is hand drawn and painted by Kate Evans of Red Maiden Art.

lova_print-cover

The print cover. The art is still hand-drawn (hehe). The shield logo, was also done by Kate Evans of Red Maiden Art. The Cover design, text, and texture was done by me. I matched the color to create a cohesive image. The little bit of overlap will be cut off in the printing process.

Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand

To write or not to write …

Wow, I’ve been a terrible blogger. Well lately, I’ve been a terrible writer too. Do you know those days when you have no motivation? Those days when sitting on the couch, binge watching the latest Marvel/Netflix mashup, seems like the best plan in the world? Those days when a half-gallon of ice-cream and a spoon are your best friend? Well, I had one of those months. Some part of it, I am sure, has to do with feeling like writing had become a chore instead of a joy. Yes, I’ve heard the adages about writing being hard work, and real writers just write, but seriously when it all becomes tedium it is hard to motivate oneself to start, let alone finish.

Despite my words above, I certainly have not given up on writing, on the contrary, I have been preparing. However, I have also been examining. I have talked a great deal about The Last Bladesinger and the Legends of Vandor series. I thought I wanted to be the next Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, but I am coming to realize. I really like the short fiction model. I love writing short stories and novellas. With Amazon’s platform I have a unique opportunity to publish short fiction that I can make available to the public. So, from this day forward, DJ Morand will only publish short fiction.

What about novels though? NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo, Camp NanNo? Yeah, what about those? I still have the spark in me to write full length novels, and I love the challenge of writing a full novel in a month, then taking months to edit and perfect it. So, I will continue to write full length novels, but I don’t think any of them will be fantasy. I have a plan for what I am writing this November a Science Fiction/Horror/Thriller along the lines of Alien, Prometheus, and some Man vs Nature, I am calling this book Pursuance.

Pursuance: The act of pursuing; the carrying out of duty

The idea behind the book is one I am excited about, you can read the book description below:

The year is 2681. Earth’s atmosphere is becoming too toxic. The Arcological Venture Society is formed. The AVS enacts a program that sees convicted felons sent to the far reaches of space in search of a new home for humanity. Bennett Knowles has been convicted of murder. Already in the eye of the public from a separate trial, Bennett is one of the first convicts sent into space.

Arriving on a planet, alone save for his AI handler, Bennett must learn to survive and find a way out of his predicament. However, what he finds on this planet chills him to the bone. In a battle against nature and against his own desperation, Bennett discovers that not all planets are welcoming to visitors.

The description is a work in progress, but I’m still pretty excited about the book as a whole. So, here comes my second predicament. I am torn as to what name I should publish this under. I’ve spent a great deal of time advertising DJ Morand as a Fantasy author, and I feel like introducing Science Fiction is a bad idea. On the same note, I started this author journey with a Science Fiction/Space Opera novel. If I do decide to go with a penname, I’ll publish under James David Howlett. If I decide to go with my name it’ll be David James Morand or I might keep it under DJ Morand.

So, I am asking for your help here folks. I put a poll below and I’d like your feedback on what you think is the best idea going forward.

edit: I will continue to use DJ Morand for all my Fantasy short fiction regardless, this is only for the new Science Fiction novels.

Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand