October 31, 2016

Warrior of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series Episode 1 on Amazon

I just wish to let you know that Warriors of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series Episode 1 Text Edition is available on Amazon November 1, 2016. If you would like to help me spread the news, share the images above on social media.

The first 30 people to join the WofV Review Crew will get a FREE Kindle Book as a gift.

Artist's Edition will be available on November 15, 2016. It is slightly more expensive than the Text Edition, but you will be able to download signed original art cover poster 12 in x 17 in at 300 ppi.


Updated November 8, 2016

October 27, 2016

Where did I get the idea to write Warriors of Virtue fantasy series and what makes it an Epic?

The idea for Warriors of Virtue was born from: three famous pieces of fiction, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (books), Anne of Green Gables — The Sequel (TV series), and The Fifth Element; a shampoo commercial; and a story my sister came up with when we were little. The idea grew and changed as I grew and changed. The first time I created anything to do with Warriors of Virtue was a sketch when I was fourteen. It has been twenty years since then, and the story is still growing.

If I had to pick the very spark that inflamed my inspiration, that led me to write this epic fantasy series, I must say that the tinderbox was a book cover.

John Howe -- Smaug from Tolkien's "The Hobbit"

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

It is a famous adage that I never took to heart. If the book is bad, at least I can enjoy the beautiful art. It was because of the beautiful cover of Smaug sleeping that I labored through The Hobbit. I write “labored”, not to indicate that the book was not entertaining enough, but because I could barely speak English at the time. I loved The Hobbit enough that I decided to grapple with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for my Grade 9 English Book Report.

Prior to reading The Hobbit, I was obsessed with Sailor Moon, Greek Mythology, Classic Fairytales, and horses. (I don’t know what it is about horses, but I always wanted one — a flying one if possible — even if we never lived anywhere that a horse could be comfortable.) My friend, Tuyet, and I created our own comics based on Sailor Moon characters, and I continued to tell myself stories adding the characters to a Greek Myth all my own.

However, the beautiful cover with Smaug added dragons to my growing list of obsessions.

Around the same time I was reading The Lord of the Rings, I remember watching Anne of Green Gables — The Sequel with my mother. In this series, there is a moment when Gilbert tells Anne (the aspiring writer) that she should not write imaginary characters, but use people and places she knows and loves for inspiration.

There are moments in life that feel as if someone has turned on a light in one’s head, Gilbert’s words turned on that switch for me.

That night, as I was sketching before going to sleep, I decided to stop imagining stories with Dorina and Derek (my perfect, gorgeous characters set in a world of Greek Mythology)

Dorina and Derek in Swan Princess
and to add myself to Aragorn’s and Frodo’s adventure. At the time my sister, cousin, and I were inseparable, so they made it into my new drawing, too. Though the original drawing is lost, I still remember it: the three of us with Aragorn and Frodo (who looked a lot like one of the Chipmunks — Alvin with curly hair) moving left through the forest.

Used to unicorns, dragons, and lions decorating the tunics of Medieval Nights, I was drawn to the image of a white tree painted on a knight’s tunic in another cover illustration by John Howe.

John Howe -- The Return of the King Cover Art

Thus, I decided to adopt a tree for my cousin’s, sister’s, and my emblem. However, instead of the White Tree of Gondor, I decided we would have an apple tree (apples and cherries were my favorite fruit, until I discovered yellow mangos).

Soon, Middle Earth proved too small for my story and I created the Land of Ardan. I have no idea why I called my land Ardan. As I was writing this text, I Googled the name and found that it is Irish in origin and means “high aspiration”. This fits perfectly, but I’ll write more about the Land of Ardan in a future post.

As I got rid of Middle Earth in my story, I also put aside Tolkien’s characters, all except Gandalf and Galadriel.

My old drawing of Galadriel and Gandalf the Grey

Galadriel inspired Nepheline, the Elven Queen
Galadriel inspired my Elven Queen, Nepheline, and Gandalf my wizard, Cornelian. In fact, Cornelian was inspired by two famous wizards, Gandalf and Merlin from Disney’s The Sword In The Stone. In the beginning his personality was very much the same as theirs, but by now Cornelian is much more fastidious and orderly in character. He reminds me of Saruman in appearance and mannerisms (as he is portrayed in the movies), save that Cornelian is a hero and not a crazy power-hungry psychopath.

A Thermasilk commercial inspired an entire race of “villains” in Warriors of Virtue Fantasy Series.

If the video does not play: https://youtu.be/cOddrYh_TlM

I knew I wanted dragons in my story (remember that beautiful cover with Smaug), but it was after this commercial that I knew how they would be in my story: Wouldn’t it be cool if Warriors of Virtue had to face against a race of dragon-people?

If you read Episode 9, you will read a short story that has the scene from the commercial.

My original story inspired by the Thermasilk commercial.

Onothera from The Maiden and The Dragon

Couple of more scenes from The Maiden and The Dragon

The Fifth Element inspired Warriors of Virtue’s powers. After watching the movie, I decided they’ll have powers over the elements (as a huge Sailor Moon fan, this was not a far stretch of the imagination for me). I did not want a person to be an element, but I also did not like the idea of four elements, so I decided to stick to the number five. However, there are only three Warriors of Virtue, and if we are water, fire, and air, what happened to the other two warriors? If the fourth warrior wielded earth, what would the fifth warrior wield? My solution is that the other two warriors are trapped, and that they are twins — earth and metal.

For years, I tried to create a comic with Warriors of Virtue, but I failed due to my worst character flaw — perfectionism. Perfectionism tends to stand in my way whenever I want to get anything done. These days I tell myself “Strive for Excellence, not Perfection!” like a mantra to keep myself on track. Back then, I did a bunch of barely legible, sketchy Warriors of Virtue comics and had a marvelous time entertaining myself.

One of the earlier sketches showing Gandalf as the part of the story.

Part of the old comic. Some scenes still exists in the Warriors of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series.

I believe I sketched this scene while I was in college. This scene can be read in Warriors of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series Sample.

Then I decided to “clean-up” my work, and my work never ended. You see, every time I drew a few pages, I would look at the first page and decide that it was not good enough and redraw all the pages again. This became a never-ending cycle that resulted in the story staying in those scribbly sketches and within my head.

An unfinished cleaned-up drawing
Over those years, the story continued to grow and change, percolating mostly in my mind, until I was told to write down a short story for my Grade 11 English Class. I wrote the first draft of Warriors of Virtue then and there. It was the only time I can recall that I submitted any school assignment past its due date. After my teacher, Mr. David Charles, received it, he was not surprised by my tardiness. Instead of submitting five double-spaced pages (like the rest of my classmates), I wrote a story that was 28-pages long! I still remember the horror on Mr. Charles’ face (he had to mark my work after all) and his comment: “I guess I should have set a page limit.”

If you are an English teacher, maybe you can learn from his experience. Yes, most students tend to do the bare minimum of work, but there may be one that loves to write even if she does not write well. Among many mistakes, I remember the misspelled “sword” as “sward”. To my chagrin, the Spellchecker passed over every instance of the word since it means: “an expanse of short grass”.
I still have that original assignment, but I lack courage to read it again.

The first draft of Warriors of Virtue written as a short story for my Grade 11 English Class

Mr. David Charles' grading of my assignment.
Mr. David Charles gave me back my voice, and I will forever be grateful to him. If it was not for Mr. David Charles, I may never have had the courage to write a single word. As a new immigrant at the time, I did not understand English well, and the irrational English grammar and spelling baffled me to no end. All my other English teachers tortured me over spelling mistakes. I always loved writing, but when my family moved us to Canada, I did not speak English at all. In Serbia, I presented my work with confidence, but after receiving low grades and constant badgering about my spelling and grammar mistakes, I submitted any English written work with a look of apology on my face. One day, Mr. David Charles (who I should note was a substitute teacher) pulled me aside and asked me if I thought about becoming a writer. I told him I was a terrible speller and that I missed all the grammar lessons… He stopped my onrush of excuses by saying: “That’s what spellcheck and editors are for.” As I stared at him in stunned silence, he continued: “A writer is a person who has ideas. You have ideas.” Since that day, I never feared to write again. Thank you, Mr. Charles.

I also accepted that I can write a story much faster than I can draw it in pictures. Though I continued to create comics to entertain myself, I also continued to write Warriors of Virtue. Other than the popular fiction I’ve mentioned above that inspired my work, I remembered bits and piece of a story my sister came up with when we were children. All I recall is that the kids went atop a mountain to find a magical rose. Warriors of Virtue’s first task is to retrieve something from the Lonely Ice Mountain. The rose comes into the second task of the fantasy series.

I wrote the story involving the second task during my summer vacation when I was nineteen.

Some scenes from the second task Warriors of Virtue have to complete.
Though the story continued to grow within my mind, I never did sit down and write the stories that followed. Cursed Perfectionism still has me rewriting the story of the first task! However, I did note down the major plot points of the entire series, because by this point the world of the Land of Ardan is so massive, that I’m not sure I can keep everything straight without notes.

There is no longer a simple story in my head. If I wanted to, I could probably write stories from this world for the rest of my life; telling the life-story of each major character, the story that lead to the initial conflict, the war between the Forces of Creation that resulted in the creation of Ardan, etc.

At some point, I realized that the story was not a simple novel series, but an epic. What makes it an epic is the vastness of the world and the multitude of characters. This epic is massive; I think it would not end unless I force it to end. It has been twenty years since I drew that first sketch. There are times when Ardan feels more real to me than the world I’m currently living in; as if I was just clever enough I could move the vail and step into the world.

Some old high school drawings.
For those of you still wondering where ideas come from, the simple answer is: Life. Inspiration may come from outside sources, but also dreams, trying to answer the big questions in a creative way,… To create an epic, you do not tell the story of a single character, but the story of a world and many of its characters.

Join me next time when I answer the question: Why do I write YA fantasy? If you have other questions, feel free to jot them in the comments and I’ll get to them ASAP.

“Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever.”
— Walt Disney

Keep on laughing, imagining, and dreaming!

Mili Fay

© 2014 CDC Photography
Mili Fay, an award winning artist, trained as a classical animator at Sheridan College, but when computer animation took over the field, she decided that she loved drawing more than animating. In November of 2011 she created Mili Fay Art determined to support the world one artwork at a time. Today, she passionately creates imaginative artwork and stories, always graced with a humorous modern twist.

Currently, Mili is working on an epic YA fantasy series, Warriors of Virtue, about a reluctant princess, Lauraliee Lumijer, who grows into a queen as she defends Ardan from dragon people (people that change into dragons) and a hermit dragon prince, Diamond Pendragon, who is forced to rejoin Ardanian society and reevaluate his convictions.

Mili Fay Art Fan Club
"Together we support the world one artwork at a time."

October 24, 2016

Warriors of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series Episode 1 Sample

Just a quick announcement to let you know that you can download the Warriors of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series Episode 1 Sample, available as an ePub file here.

I'm currently marking up the last two chapters that go into Episode 1, and if all goes well the Kindle Edition will be available November 1, 2016.

So, who should read this fantasy series?

I believe this fantasy series will appeal to fantasy fans who like humour and adventure stories. It is filled with magic and extraordinary characters; however, the main characters are a reluctant sixteen-yearn-old princess and a hermit dragon-prince (He is about 200 years old, but dragon-people age 1 year every 10 human years, so he appears to be twenty years old.). Though there may be some scenes that could be disturbing to younger readers, I tried not to delve into gore and violence more than necessary. If this book was a movie, I would rate it PG13. If you are a fan of Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Sailor Moon, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, you will enjoy this book.

If you are looking for disturbing stories filled with explicit sexual content, this book is not for you.

Is it romantic?

There is a love story in the series, but this is not a romance novel. It is an adventure story about growing up.

Is it scary?

There are parts of it that I find quite scary and disturbing, but it is not a horror story.

Is it a mystery?

There are mysteries throughout the book, but it is not a mystery novel. There are puzzles to be solved, but it is not about the investigation.

Is it action-packed?

Yes. There are skirmishes and battles, and...

If you have any other questions, please write them down in the comments, or you can still email me, or contact me through social media. I hope I've answered the ones you had to your satisfaction. 

If you have a minute, I'd love to see what you think of the sample and the series, even if you did not like it.

Now, I have to go.  Will write again soon!