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 As such, I have unpublished most of my previous works.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

New Blog

I have a new personal, less author-y blog now. This blog is sort of a blend of my faith journey as well as its continued understanding. I haven’t decided how often I am going to post on the new blog yet, but I’ll make sure to put a note on that particular site.

You, my dear readers, are under no obligation whatsoever to subscribe or follow this other blog, I just thought I would put it out there in case anyone was interested. You can find the home page here, I have one post up there already and I’ll have a new page going up sometime in the next day or so. 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

Not Enough Space

So recently I’ve been playing through the Mass Effect series by BioWare and EA. More for BioWare’s excellent story-telling than EA’s management. Don’t get me started on EA. Where was I? Oh yes, Mass Effect. So I have a particular fondness for space, space travel, science fiction, etc. Which, as should come as no surprise, means I thoroughly enjoy the Mass Effect series of games. Blending Military Science Fiction with Alien relations, Space Exploration, and a sentient machine race bent on eradicating organics in the known universe, what’s not to love about Mass Effect?

For those of you that do not know the game, Mass Effect takes place in the 22nd century. Humanity has discovered ruins on Mars that point to an ancient civilization and then to Mass Relays, which are essentially giant way stations that alter the mass of a ship to enact faster than light travel. Anywho, humanity learns they are not alone in the universe and subsequently learns that there is a race of sentient machines trying to wipe out all the advanced races. Enter Commander Shepard, a human military/space navy man/woman (you can play as either gender) who has a penchant for getting the impossible done.

So, that’s Mass Effect in a nutshell, the game is more than that as it includes alien diplomacy, exploration, resource gathering, yada yada yada. The point I want to make though is that even though the series was three games that were all released more than 5 years ago, it is still a series that draws me back in to play again and again. What I’ve learned from playing the Mass Effect games over the past couple of weeks is that there is not enough space in my life. By space, I – of course – mean science fiction space travel.

I have been reading science fiction, writing it, building a role-playing table-top game around science fiction, but I still want more. I think back to my childhood. There were time travel shows, space adventure shows, Star Trek, Thundercats, Voltron, Quantum Leap, and the list goes on. What happened to our fascination with science fiction? Did too much of it become science fact? Did we just lose touch with our imaginations? I turn on the television and I see about 100 different crime dramas, or situational dramas like Scorpion (which is not bad, but it’s not scifi).

Sure I can get a bit of the science fiction from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Flash, but those are more comic book fantasy than they are science fiction, and there is very little futuristic space travel. I remember Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe alongside shows like Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine.

There were shows that showcased real science theory and space travel as well as shows that held little regard for the science fact and just went for the biggest baddest alien montage they could find (Starship Troopers anyone?).

The SyFy channel got dumb. I’m not really upset that I can’t get the majority of their programming because they have one really great show that I think is worth watching, The Expanse (based on a book series of the same name by James S.A. Corey).

When did shows like the WWE (or whatever incarnation it is now) and Z Nation become popular options over a good science fiction space opera? Seriously, how did Sharknado even get a sequel? I worry about the level of intelligence of our society if these types of shows are popular.

I know, I know, you may ask “What about Doctor Who? Isn’t that show pretty cheesy?” yes, it is. However, it has a whimsy to it that is more than just its silliness or cheesiness, there is an emotional element that is not just OOOOOH Sharks in a Tornado killing people! How do we stop it!? I don’t know, maybe I’m getting old and grumpy and, somehow, that’s making me nostalgic for my youth.

What do you think? Are you tired of Zombies, Comic Book rehashes, and science fiction that isn’t really science at all? Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand

Who Needs Validation Anyway?

Denzel Washington said, “I work hard for the audience. It’s entertainment. I don’t need validation.” I don’t know what context he was saying this in, but the words themselves are gripping. What if we could absolve our need for validation? What if we could simply write, compose, or perform without worry about what someone else was thinking? I think it would be a different world and one far more colorful. Artistry is often criticized as being well done or poorly done, but few look at the presentations as simply entertainment.

I work hard for the audience. It’s entertainment. I don’t need validation. – Denzel Washington

I propose that if any one part of a novel, song, or film touches your heartstrings, there is some worth to that presentation. However, even if they never tug at your heartstrings or dazzle your imagination, was it at least entertaining? If you garnered entertainment from whatever it was that you experienced, was it worth the time? I recently had a talk with my boss (yes I still have a day job, have to pay the bills ya know?). He and I were discussing Star Wars and how he absolutely hates the franchise. Now in the world of Geek and Nerd-dom this is akin to sacrilege, but then he said something that piqued my interest. He said, “I don’t like the ideas or the concepts, but I’ll be damned if they weren’t entertaining.”

I don’t like the ideas or the concepts, but I’ll be damned if they weren’t entertaining.

That opened my eyes to this other realm of possibility where validation is not necessary. What if we created our arts to entertain without the need for validation? I think that sometimes we get so caught up in trying to please everyone, that we miss the mark and do not even please ourselves. To quote J.C. Watts, “I’m secure in who I am. I don’t need the validation of those that would say, you have to be a certain thing in order to be accepted. I’m comfortable going against the grain if I need to.”

I’m secure in who I am. I don’t need the validation of those that would say, you have to be a certain thing in order to be accepted. I’m comfortable going against the grain if I need to. – J.C. Watts

So, 2017 is going to be different for me. I spent too much time over the past couple of years worrying about doing things the right way and too much time trying to publish quickly instead of creating binge worthy material. I love to read and I love to write, I don’t need validation to do either of those things. I am going to write the stories I want to write and write them in a such a way that I am not unhappy to have my name associated with them. Here’s to a new year and a new start, 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

Why I Never Grew Up – Part 2 of 3

Growing up in the ’90s was tough for me. I know I’ve mentioned before that I am an odd duck, if not in such words. I don’t remember my childhood very clearly, at least those years before the sixth grade. I can remember impressions or moments that were particularly powerful, such as when I received my first Nintendo. However, even then my particular remembrance is more one of of joy and elation than it is a clear memory of events. The most keen memory of years I have are my pre-teen and teen years. This was the time when make-believe died for me.

The most keen memory of years I have are my pre-teen and teen years.

I was eleven years old and getting into my Mom’s car. It was my sixth grade year, but I don’t remember at what point in the year. I have always loved the realm of imagination, the world just seemed more magical when you have the naivety of youth. As I got into the car and closed the door. I asked my mommy a question. I asked her if Santa Claus was real. I saw that look on her face. That look my mommy has when she doesn’t want to tell you something, but knows she needs to tell you. I am sure I’ve had this look on my face a couple of times with my daughter. My mommy answered me truthfully. Then proceeded to tell me about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as well. To that last I reacted with child-like innocence, “THE TOOTH FAIRY TOO!?”

“THE TOOTH FAIRY TOO!?”

It was a moment of incredulity. For some reason my mind could not fathom that all the magic in the world could suddenly vanish with such a simple explanation. It was not my mommy’s fault. She answered the question I asked, because when you are old enough to ask, you are old enough to know. My Mommy has never denied me an answer to a question I’ve asked. It is her openness and honesty that I admire about her.

It is her openness and honesty that I admire about her.

Through no fault of my mommy’s, her answers broke something in me. The belief that magic was real and alive had been crushed. In my family we often refer to the years between child and teenager, specifically 11-16 or so, as the Dark Years. I think the reason for these years is simply that wonder and magic are placed on a sacrificial altar to make way for wisdom and responsibility.

The belief that magic was real and alive had been crushed.

That moment is a harsh transition. It was especially so for me. I am a dreamer, I love the world of make-believe, fantasy, what if?, and all that comes with them. In the dark years I found a love of the horror genre. I think this is because I needed to fill the void that the loss of wonder left. I searched for the darkness that I felt inside.

In the dark years I found a love of the horror genre.

I read Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Dean Koontz. I tore through RL Stine in my Elementary years so I was not a stranger to scary stories, but the novels from the adult authors were darker and more mature. I gave up a love of Oldies and Classic Rock for Death Metal and Hard Rock. I seeped myself in darkness so much so that I couldn’t find myself. I grew bitter and angry.

All of this I am sure had more to do with puberty than it did with the loss of belief in magic. I wasn’t sad or depressed all of the time, I had long periods of wonder and child-likeness. However, the darkness was there and it was consuming me.

I am a dreamer, I love the world of make-believe, fantasy, what if?, and all that comes with them.

I grew to love Science Fiction in these years, I had always watched Star Trek TNG with my dad, but new shows were emerging. Shows like Earth 2, Space Above and Beyond, Starship Troopers, and Stargate SG-1 became weekly doses of the make-believe that rejuvenated me. Movies like Total Recall and Robocop renewed my thoughts of What If? I can safely say that the support of my family helped me out of the Dark Years, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the love of Science Fiction that came out of that time.

Shows like Earth 2, Space Above and Beyond, Starship Troopers, and Stargate SG-1 became weekly doses of the make-believe that rejuvenated me.

It was around my Sophomore year in High School that I met a good friend. Jeff and I attended church together and he introduced me to several other odd ducks, as they were. One Saturday in November, I don’t recall the exact year, Jeff invited me over to play some table-top role-playing games. It was Jeff’s altered system from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons that he’d rewritten, but it was essentially D&D. I formed some seriously strong friendships with these guys over several years of weekend gaming.

Jeff introduced me to authors like David Eddings, RA Salvatore, and Terry Brooks. I came to love Fantasy through these stories, ironically I did not read the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings until I was in my 20’s, shortly after the first LOTR movie debuted.

Science Fiction and Fantasy became a gateway for me, setting me on a path to writing which I’ll talk more about next week. Until next time folks.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,

DJ Morand