In the last few years, I've played a lot of handheld video games on my phone. They’re easy, free, and some are quite addictive. I’ve tried collecting baby dragons, meandering through a Chinese imperial court, and crushing 157 levels of heart-shaped candies. Right now I am designing outfits in an Asian fashion game called Love Nikki: Dress-Up Queen and playing a Star Wars game with some competitive gameplay and acquisition of an assortment of characters from this sci-fi franchise. Galaxy of Heroes began as a way to introduce characters from every era of the Star Wars franchise, including the non-canonical (but extremely popular) Old Republic, as well as the controversial Prequel Era, the acclaimed Original (Imperial) Era, the new Sequel Era, and several successful TV series set in various periods. I learned about some of the characters in the SW Universe from playing this game, long before I actually saw the source material.
One of these characters was a villain named Cad Bane. He appeared in a handful of episodes in the Clone Wars TV series, which I didn’t see when it first came out. I discovered this character had been an original concept from the first Star Wars movie in 1977, but never actually made it into the film. So he was recycled and popped up decades later on TV. He’s based on western outlaw types and is a killer-for-hire with a huge cowboy hat. Really belongs with the “space western” angle of this franchise. But when the game developers started to use a new upgrade chip—called a “zeta” chip—they didn’t apply one to Cad Bane. Zeta chips come with new abilities for the character and since zetas came years after the game started, a lot of the characters were reworked to include zetas. But not this guy, although he was very popular. When asked why this was, the developers just shrugged. They seemed lost for words. Why didn’t Cad Bane get a “zeta” ability? Well—he just didn’t. They simply couldn’t think of any new abilities to give him.
As I’ve worked through my books, 4 of them went through mild to substantial rewrites. Palladia grew and grew and now it seems there’s more to The Birthday Present as well. The long-forgotten MerrySummer stories suddenly popped back up too. And after linking Birthday Present into the Palladia timeline, the first place I looked, naturally, was Facets of Fantasy. Would it develop gaps in and connections in this way? And what about Ryan and Essie? But neither of them did. A long-running theme with both Facets and Ry/Es was that I always thought there was more to the story. For years I fiddled with little sequels to the Facets stories. Ry/Es ends on a note of possibility the children might return to Caricanus. But the only sequel that really went anywhere was the one for “The Trouble with Taranui,” which eventually became City of the Invaders. The only link I was able to make between Facets and my other books was to tie it into Ry/Es—a tenuous thread that never quite fleshed-out fully, but that also did feel real and sincere. There IS something in common between these two books.
They are both fantasy set in outer space. The world of "Halogen Crossing" is so high-tech it could easily be set on a distant planet and not a fantasy world. "Jurant" is already set in outer space. I tied Renari in by having Ryan’s long-lost twin—also an astronomy buff—tells the mythology of the planets she looks at, one of which is Renari. So Renari is a planet on which fantasy things happen, not a fantasy world. But after creating those linkages, the stories in Facets just closed over into their own dimension and Ryan and Essie drifted around them like a satellite. I couldn’t connect or expand them any further and I couldn’t write more stories to continue them.
I’ve felt this was problematic because I want to do an epic fantasy novel, preferably Christian speculative, and I would like it to sync into my already existing books rather than create an extraneous new world. But the worlds in Facets only seem to exist in these 3 stories. I can’t seem to write more about them, though the promise is always looming like a fruit just out of reach. Ryan and Essie was written with a blatant idea of sequels in mind and its ancient mythology would be suited to the story I want to write next. But again, Ry/Es is complete. It ends where it does. Just like Palladia and Birthday Present started to expand, Facets and Ry/Es have contracted and become stable. They belong together. So when I do write that epic fantasy book, I’ll have to find a way to develop the world that lines up with my other work, but doesn’t include these two books. I’m sure I will, though, when the time comes. Coming up with ways to get stories written is what authors DO.
And there will be more updates.
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Halfway through the 4th Palladia book, I took a break to go back into Celestine Princess and start some minimal editing--finding some overly long paragraphs to be trimmed and some dialogue to be clarified. All basic stuff for a second look at a book before getting it on to the next phase. The more I write Palladia books, the more of them keep coming. It seems there’s always more to the story when it comes to this projection of the future 300 years from now. And over time, the “always more we need to explore” aspect has spread beyond Palladia into my other sci-fi and fantasy work.
Aside from Ryan and Essie, my other SFF books are unrelated novella and novelette collections, since I got a lot of short fiction ideas early in my writing journey. That was all well and good until a small glitch between The Birthday Present and Palladia set up a domino effect. TBP had always been this individual futuristic story spinning on its own orbit. It had more links to the seemingly unrelated Millhaven Castle than to anything else and since it was out of print for years, there was even less reason to worry about it. But as Palladia grew and grew, I realized it was important that the timelines between these two visions of the future not clash.
It’s fine for different authors to describe wildly different concepts of a future that’s been invented for their fiction—one, for instance, shows the world as collapsing into dust-piles and nonstop thievery as a result of an ecological disaster, while another author instead shows the exact distance in the future (say, 100 years) as so high-tech that robots have replaced people and everyone is extraordinarily wealthy except for some unfortunate rebels that the robots don’t like. But works by the SAME author should not contradict each other. Whatever history of a fantasy world or of the future you are constructing, it still has to be logical even if it’s imaginary.
I’d already set The Birthday Present 1000 years in the future, long after Palladia. But if it was set 1000 years after our time, Aure would be ruling at the time of the Palladia stories and I’ve yet to write one where he’s anywhere in sight. So instead, a marginal tweak of just a few numbers set The Birthday Present 1000 years after the time of Palladia—1300 after our time. Why does this matter? Well, once I made the change for the sake of consistency, I realized I needed to write more about this dimly seen farther future. Palladia has four books now to detail its era, but the TBP era has scant coverage. And, of course, I noticed another thing right away.
What happened in those 1000 years between Palladia and The Birthday Present/MC? So not only do we really need another book about the characters who appear in The Birthday Present so we can see more of the “Aure’s Dominion” era, there are all sorts of gaps between the two eras. And yes, there now are two “eras” for a lengthy future scenario instead of a couple of unrelated sci-fi books because lining up them up also linked them by default. I will say I am very much looking forward to finding out if all of my sci-fi and fantasy books are going to reveal hidden cracks and gullies like this. 😊
And there will be more updates.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been given quite a few clothes that I’ve never or rarely worn. So last month I looked at them and thought, “you know, you never wear these because you’re not sure if they coordinate together and what goes with what. That means you most likely WILL never wear them unless you start trying them on and putting them into outfits.” I started putting stray pieces into sets. I assigned a dedicated blouse/poncho/something to wear on top for each skirt or pair of pants. And I went on until, eventually, I turned a pile of random things into something less random, something with a purpose. For clothes, since being worn is their purpose, I guess they now have one.
Millhaven Castle and The Birthday Present used to be random little strays too. While people liked Millhaven Castle, it didn’t belong with the semi-epic fantasy mood of Facets of Fantasy, so to improve Facets of Fantasy I took MC out. It was too short to stand alone, so it went to The Birthday Present. These two stories didn't fit with anything else I'd written, but they didn’t seem to go together either. Presenting them as a contrast was my initial idea, but that’s like wearing bright green with bright red. It only works sometimes, like at Christmas, and other times it’s just silly.
A sci-fi story about how mutants almost wiped out humans just had nothing to do with Millhaven’s little spinoff of period drama. Until I noticed (and my readers probably saw it before I did!) that Millhaven's setting needn’t actually be viewed as historical. In fact, while castles are from an older culture they still exist and can even be inhabited. Farming, socializing through dancing, and people holding a position of wealth or importance over others happen today and could certainly exist in the future. So gradually the visualization of Millhaven Castle moved from a separate world into another story about the Birthday Present world. The Birthday Present is about the old conflict between humans and mutants being ended. Millhaven Castle is a little episode that takes place within the society of the mutants themselves. Typical, middle-class people who aren’t connected to the royalty or the military that appear in TBP. The different regions of the country have a lot of autonomy and their regional leaders almost have a position of minor kings, like Lord Timson.
So the people in these two stories are in such different spheres that they have never interacted with each other, keeping their episodes distinct. I have already added a new introduction to the book, called "The World of Aure's Dominion," in which the connection between the two stories is clarified, plus I have assigned regional tags to the story locations. The Birthday Present mostly occurs in the Kaline district, of which Arnea is the capital, and Millhaven Castle takes place in the Milland district, of which Flangost is the capital. And the book's description now elaborates that GMFs are like superheroes gone bad and they tried to crush normal humans instead of saving them. Although that's not the end of the story, of course.
And there will be more updates.
Author of Science Fiction, General Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Anthology Fiction
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