I wasn't sure what was happening there for a little while, but Portal's assures me that we will see The Dance of All Beings Part 2: The White War Bear this year! So, yea! I will be diligently working on the text in preparation for the publication of the second part. It is ever changing and this extra time I've had to work on it has dramatically changed the text for the better. Parts of what I sent originally for the editors to go over may no longer be in the text itself, but that's ok. I think the text is improved and it has benefited from deciding where I really want the story to go.
Having to break the book up to make it more immediate and more effective for the reader means having to figure out what to add in to make the necessary story points and what to take out that while a good read - at least to me - is not necessary for the story to move forward. It's heartbreaking in some cases to take the words out, but when you're no longer building that same story, you have to serve the story you are telling. It will also mean turning what was a side character into a hero character, and it will allow there to be any number of side stories to be built and many of them could be stand alone. That's not really a standard idea in big story arc series, but it does have an appeal to be able to explore that corner of the world if I wanted to and not have to connect it to something bigger.
I've also had people question the male-centric cast. To me, this is the story that I wanted to write with no other inspiration other than that. There was no agenda politically or otherwise in the characters that came to mind and then to paper. The cast is also quite limited at least in the beginning. I think, for Bully's condition, with his families devoutness, the limited circle of people he interacts with is appropriate. It's about his insulated relationship with his family - particularly his father. That focus, at least initially, is very narrow.
As the story progresses, aside from his mother, there is a female doctor who is the lead on his case, and in the next book, he gains a female confidant that he does physical training with. He gains a new male friend that is bi-sexual but more so A-sexual if I had to quantify him, and I'm not sure that I had to, but once making it clearer how he and Bully bond together, it seemed to draw this side character out more strongly than just using him as a convenient prop. Bully will also gain companions that are of other human and non-human races, some of which don't have a label at all for sexuality aside from, 'yes please', with no real distinction in gender desire. So as I look at who interacts with Bully, to me, I see it as more logical progression for him as a character rather than a purposeful side-show of diversity. As I move forward in the series, I can certainly expand the palette of types that Bully interacts with. He is introverted, physically challenged, gay adolescent. He's not going out of his way to find party crowds to hang out with. Eventually, the party crowds will come to him.