adventure

Character Conundrum

As I was editing into the late hours this weekend, I suddenly had this fear that the story I’m editing, that SHOULD be getting published at the end of this month, has flat characters.

*falls to knees, grabbing head in hands and wails*

Noooooooooo! They can’t be flat! Anything but flat! They have personality, I swear! They have interesting back stories and they have interesting problems that they need to overcome. And the story itself is interesting! I promise!

I’m hoping I only feel that way because I’m going through the edit right now and I’m not really paying ‘attention’ to the story. Right now it’s basic editing plus a bit of a continuity check. When I do my second edit (while I format) that will also be to ensure the story doesn’t suck and that it’s been formatted in a way that it should be readable on all e-reading devices.

Unfortunately, I have to face the reality that I might not be able to be finished by my April 30th deadline.

I want to be able to put out a great story. Not amazing, I’m not overreaching here, but great. If I need to push back my publishing date to do that, I think the public will be happier because they’ll be reading something that’s been worked on until it’s reached my standards.

Hopefully it won’t take that long though! I’m still gunning like I’m publishing on the 30th, so that should help. It’s just that somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve accepted that if I go passed that date, it’s not a bad thing.

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Tavern Music

If you live in Canada, you need to know this song. This a song I listen to when I’m writing tavern scenes. In Black & Red there is only really one scene in a tavern, but in the piece I was working on before I decided to publish, let’s call it Untitled 1, there are quite a few scenes.

To me, this is the kind of music you hear in a tavern in a fantasy world: you’ve got the thumping, the fiddle/violin, and just a bunch of fun.

Maybe it’s the part of me that’s from WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY out East in Canada where the room of congregation is the kitchen and everyone has a rip-roarin’ good time, but it’s songs like this that help me create that world all over again 🙂

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Beyond the Page

Sometimes I need to remember that when people are reading my work they don’t necessarily know all the back-stories for every character like I do.

I’ve taken to writing little shorts about the main characters in my stories and there’s not always room or they’re not always relevant to the story I’m writing so they’re not always included.

As I’m editing Black & Red there are some things that I know that the readers don’t. I avoid putting in too much that isn’t relevant or else the story I’m writing will lose it’s focus.

But now that I’m at the part that I didn’t really like when I wrote it the first time, I realize I can put a little bit of those back-stories in. The main characters are gearing up for the final showdown against the bad guys so it’s a time of reflection. It’s a good place for them to reminisce on their pasts (maybe not too much, of course) and it’s a good place to have parts where I focus on the mindset of one character at a time. Everyone handles conflict differently and if these guys are about to obliterate the bad guys then they’re all going to have different feelings about it. It’s the final boss of this ‘game’ and there will be no going back from here!!

Hopefully I don’t put anything unnecessary in there. I’ll find it when I go through and do the formatting though, because I’ll be reading it again at that time.

It’s their final battle and my final battle. Let’s see who wins 😉

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Murderers

In the story I was working on before I decided to take the plunge and publish myself this year, I had created a character that I absolutely loved.

It was my first story with two male protagonists. There will be a female protagonist but she doesn’t make an appearance until much later in the story.

These two male characters were wonderful to create. Their relationship and back-story was even more compelling (to me, anyway) and I absolutely loved the dynamic between the two of them.

It was by about page 50 when I was writing that it hit me.

“Ah….” I thought, “He’s going to die.”

I knew almost right away that one of the main characters was going to die. I even had his death pictured vaguely in my mind.

It’s a very sad thing, when an author is going to kill off a character that they truly like and enjoy. It reminded me of another story I had written years ago that I had shared with a friend.

In that story I had killed off a semi-main character. After she read the chapter she called me in tears, blasting me for taking away this character’s life.

I felt bad, but it wasn’t my fault. That’s how the story needed to go. The first time I ever killed a character I felt slightly depressed. I mean, come on! Writers spend so much time with their works and the little lives and worlds they create it’s hard not to get attached. But sometimes the story calls for it and unfortunately, people need to die.

In the story I’m going to publish at the end of this month, there is the death of a main character, but it brings closure to the world that I had created.

I hope, that if you decide to read it when it’s out, that you enjoy it and won’t be too upset with me 🙂

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NAKED LADIES!!! NAKED MEN!!!!

Are not in this post.

But, I probably got your attention. Maybe just to see WHY the hell I’m writing about naked ladies and men, maybe to see WHERE the naked people are.

I’m learning that catching and holding attention is very important when you are writing a book. I’ve known that for a long time, and usually (as I have been told) my work is very grabbing and attention holding.

My fear is that any synopsis I could write that would go on the back of a book cover, traditionally, might not be attention grabbing enough. When I write and I tell people about my story, I have a tendency to go over and above when I’m describing it and explaining it. I feel there is SO MUCH people need to know to fully understand the awesomeness of what I have written.

As I’m working on editing, I’m thinking about what sort of information I should put in my synopsis which will get people to want to download any sample chapters, let alone buy and read the whole thing.

This is my dilemma. I hope it’s resolved soon. Maybe once I work on the formatting/second edit I’ll figure some way to describe the plight of Kalan in her world of Black & Red.

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And the winner is…!!!!

Smashwords!!!

The reason I decided to go with Smashwords over Kindle Direct Publishing is because of how easy they make it.

Sure, I have to set up a PayPal account and yeah the tax thing seems complicated and frustrating, but I would have had to do the tax thing with KDP anyway.

Plus, with Smashwords I can reach more users as they make the ebooks available on multiple platforms.

Now I just need to finish editing so that I can begin formatting so that I meet my goal of April.

I never did say WHEN in April, just April 😉

GET READY!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 1 comment

Interests of days gone by

When I was younger, probably before my mid-twenties, I used to read novels all the time. I always had the most library cards filled up for school and I devoured everything I could find.

I used reading at that time as an escape from my every day life. When I hit my later teens and early twenties I found a few authors that I just couldn’t put down.

I had started reading John Saul when I was in my mid-teens as my mother had a few novels of his. I fell in love with it. I’m not even sure what it was that drew me to Mr. Saul’s work so intensely. I scoured every used bookstore and ordered through Chapters until I had every single novel he had ever published lined up on my bookshelf in chronological order.

Unfortunately, in my late twenties, I lost all of my books. All of my novels, my manga, my textbooks I had kept from University, other educational literature I had enjoyed. I’ve never been able to get back into novels since then.

Two authors I really enjoyed in the Fantasy genre and who have inspired me a lot in my writing, even just the desire to BE a writer, are Guy Gavriel Kay and Neil Gaiman. For Mr. Kay, I first found the Fionavar Tapestry. The fact that it began in a place I was familiar with, CANADA, made it that much more appealing. And he is a Canadian author! YAY! Nothing like supporting my own country’s talent! My ultimate favourite novel by him was Tigana. I LOVED THE HELL OUT OF THAT BOOK. The cover was so beat up and the pages were worn. I never dog-ear them though. But you could tell they had been loved. Unfortunately, those books are gone as well and my mind doesn’t remember all of the story any more. I just know that I loved it. For Mr. Gaiman, my boyfriend at the time read American Gods. I picked it up when he was done with it and was consumed. What an amazing take!

I followed that up with Neverwhere and then Stardust. I have the Coraline movie and I used to own a collection of his short stories.

These two, are also gone into the great black void.

While it pains me to think of these lost pieces of literature I know I can always replace them. It won’t be the same, worn out, over-loved copy that I had read multiple times, but I can just as easily turn them back into that.

I can only hope that I can be considered even 1/16th as great as any of these men. The wonders of twitter have allowed me to follow both Mr Gaiman and Mr Kay so I’m feeling that much more honoured to be in cyberspace contact with them.

Well, back to editing. I can’t even dream of being in the same genre as either of them if I don’t publish my work!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, Rantings, 0 comments

Editing HELL

So I took a bit of a break from editing this weekend and spent my time playing video games until I was blue in the face. Video game of choice right now: Tales of Vesperia. The English dub is killing me in certain spots, but that’s alright. Since I can’t get it in the original Japanese with English sub I’ll suffer away until I learn the language properly and THEN I’ll just import the games directly from Japan.

While I was playing my game and I was in the middle of a battle I heard a character yell: “Cover me while I’m casting!” which surprised me. I don’t think I’ve ever paid that much attention before and it made me wonder, if it were real life and magic existed, would people really yell this?

And the answer I came to is: probably.

I mean, why not? How many times do you read in stories or see on television or in movies characters who yell to their comrades in battle to cover them while they do ‘x’ and to cover them while they do ‘y’.

I think I may implement this in my current story. There is a fight scene coming up that I am wholly unhappy with. I wrote it four years ago and didn’t touch it because I just didn’t know what to do to make it better, to make it more realistic.

Depending on what happens, because I can’t remember exactly anymore, I may throw some verbal give and take in there. Might make it more realistic.

But we’ll see. I need to make my way there first!

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Inspiration

So a song just came on my iPod that made me think of this topic. It’s called “Spirit Inspiration” by Nothing’s Carved in Stone. The song is the opening theme from the anime Blast of Tempest and I’m not sure if the band that sings it is J-Rock or not as the entire song is in English and I haven’t had time to look them up.

I digress….

When I heard the song it made me think of where I get the inspiration for my stories from. I have touched on this before, but now I want to go more in-depth.

My inspiration definitely comes partially from video games. I learned this as I was playing Tales of Vesperia this weekend. Man, I love RPG’s. I love games where you can swing a sword around and learn special attacks and use magic and you’ve got this quest to go out there in that ‘world’ and find something or someone. These quest-type games were a lot of the drive behind Black and Red. There’s a world, something happens in said world, and now a group of unlucky acquaintances are off to travel this world and discover the reasoning behind what happened. There is magic. There are swords. It’s awesome. Well, to ME it is.

I also get a lot of inspiration from manga, as I’ve said before. I was never that into Western comics when I was younger. That could be because I grew up relatively poor and didn’t have the money to buy comics. It could also be that since I was poor, I didn’t watch a lot of tv so I didn’t watch a lot of the cartoons that were based on the comics like Batman and Superman and the Justice League etc. I discovered these shows and comics when I was much older and my love for manga had already exploded. I read a lot of novels like those by R.L. Stine (for my age group anyway, and some Goosebumps) and I loved the horror aspect of things. That was the driving force behind a lot of my earlier stories, which I no longer have. I have the basics of them locked up in my mind, but that’s it.

Some inspiration comes from music. The beat of it, sometimes the lyrics. An amazing cross between music and anime is the movie Interstella 555 which is a full length anime movie to the music of Daft Punk’s Discovery album. No words. Just the music. It’s frigging epic and I highly recommend it if either one of those things is your cup of tea.

And then, the inspiration for the characters. A lot of that is again built upon the characters of anime and manga, but also built on the people I know. Not so much the physical features, but the attitudes and personalities. Usually the people I dislike get…done away with in my stories 🙂

I’ve always used my writing as a sort of self-therapy and it helped a lot when I was younger. My darkest stories were always written during my darkest times which would be between 13 and 23. Now that things are much better in my life, I have to find a new muse.

Hopefully it’s not hiding somewhere I can’t find 🙂

 

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Black & Red

Alright! So today I finally get to talk about my story! In this post I’m just going to give a general overview to what the setting is, introduce the main characters and give you a teeny bit of background. This story is one of many, but since it is the one I am aiming to publish in April 2013, I wanted to talk about it first 🙂

Title: Black & Red A Tale of Revenge (not really. It’s really just called Black & Red but that last part sounded cool so I wanted to throw it in :P)

Setting: It’s sort of in medieval times kind of? Think Lord of the Rings and those sort of settings that are common in Fantasy stories, but no elves, dwarves, evil overlord wizards with magic rings etc. It’s that time period when the common clothing is tights and tunics and there are swords everywhere. It’s got a little bit of a cyberpunk taste in that there is basic technology like electricity, radios, running water etc but nothing over the top like computers and cell phones. That’s in a different story. Magic is a strong presence in this world and the principles of magic are built on a system of 5 to represent the 5 elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Metal. Most magic is made up by combining two or more elements. It is also built upon the Law of Exchange (those who have read Fullmetal Alchemist will know what I mean :P) People who are able to use magic are called “gifted” but there’s no huge discrimination between those who can and those who can’t. The only discrimination is against those born with deep crimson hair. Those born with this hair colour are usually children whose mother’s have died in childbirth. It is rare, as there are advancements in medicine and healing magic, but it does still happen from time to time. These children rarely live to their full potential and when they do, they are either seen as a novelty, or are feared.

It takes place in a single kingdom called “Eikon” which is actually massive in size. Eikon is home to The Institute of Magic which is the only place that one can go to train their magical skills. It’s most often referred to as “The Institute”. The Capital is where the King of Eikon resides and he has The Guild: a grouping of the 5 most powerful sorcerers and sorceresses in all of Eikon. Guild members are identified by a silver talisman they wear that is a sort of optical illusion. It either looks like an abstract linear design, or a chinese-esque dragon.There’s no war and there’s no talk of outside kingdoms and realms. In this story, everything focuses on Eikon alone.

There are some influences of other cultures, mainly Japanese. You will see this in how the characters react by bowing, kneeling in certain occasions, and being overly modest. Other elements of Japan are in the shrines in homes for the dead family members, cremation as opposed to burials, temples and those who run them, how the dead are treated, katana’s being a regular sword-type, some food, words and there are some influences from manga I have read. I don’t want to give too much away 😛

Characters: There are two groups of main characters in this story as it takes place in two separate time frames which then collide. The first group is:

Kalan – She is tall, proud and extremely powerful. She is the daughter of Javier, the most powerful sorcerer in all of Eikon. Javier used to teach at the Institute until Kalan was born. Kalan has red hair as her mother died during childbirth which causes Javier to retire early and raise her. In the first chapter of the book we discover Kalan and her past.

Koen – A tall man with dark features. Quiet, not gifted in the slightest but his senses are sensitive. He is introduced in the first chapter and he lives/serves Kalan.

Alastair – Another tall man (jeez. Everyone is tall!) with long, stringy dark hair. He is very thin, very powerful, and very crazy. He is extremely emotionally unbalanced and will often switch attitudes from that of a child, to that of a blood-thirsty and power-hungry individual. We meet him in about chapter 3 or 4.

The next set of characters are:

Piers – He is descended from Julian. Julian was a powerful sorcerer who grew up with Kalan and was privately tutored by Javier. He graduated from The Institute and served on the Guild. Piers also serves on the Guild and in the beginning of the story he is on a quest to find those descended from the Guild members of Kalan’s time. (ooooo! I just dropped a secret! Did you see it?!)

Aidan – Descendant of Landon. Landon was an arrogant bastard, if I do say so myself. Landon served on the Guild in Kalan’s time. His chief rival was Javier and he held extreme disdain for any one related to him. Aidan and Piers have had a rivalry that extends back to childhood due to their bloodlines. Aidan comes across as self-absorbed and arrogant. He currently serves on the Guild with Piers and is joining him on the search for the descendants.

Vega – Descended from Brann. Brann was a physically overwhelming man who wasn’t extremely gifted like the others on the Guild, but his physical prowess made up for that. Vega has an athletic body and is fairly gifted. She is the second to be found by Piers and Aidan while working in a roadside tea house.

Acacia – Descended from Keion. Keion served on the Guild with Javier, Brann, and Julian. Keion is older than the rest and had been serving on the Guild from the time of the Queen who is in power shortly before Julian joins when it is run by her son. Keion is a grey little man with no self-confidence or self-worth. He is extremely gifted in the healing arts and has made huge advancements in the field and with traditional medicine. He has even written textbooks. But as a man, he was belittled for his talents. Acacia spent one year at the Institute before dropping out from the bullying of her background. She comes across at first as curt, slightly cold, and closed off. She is discovered by Piers and Aidan while traveling as a healer.

Terentya – She is descended from Devin, Javier’s closest friend who also served on the Guild. Terentya was found as an infant and is raised by a mercenary band called The Falcons. She is extremely gifted with the sword and when her adoptive parents are killed on the job she receives her father’s sword. She is able to ‘bond’ with her sword and hear it’s ‘voice’. She is the last to be discovered in a small town where her adoptive parents are buried. She is slightly gifted, but as she cannot read she is unable to study spells and the few she knows she has learned by word-of-mouth.

And those are the main characters in this tale.

“That’s all well and good, Sarah,” you say, “but what is the story actually ABOUT?”

Well, I will tell you.

The story is about a sorcerer, Kalan to be precise, who has had everything taken from her. Her mother dies in childbirth, her father is murdered due to jealousy. When she tries to exact revenge on those who murdered her father, she is trapped in an alternate dimension where she is cursed with immortality and a mirror that only shows her home world. She lives there, for two hundred and fifty years, unable to die, not needing to eat or drink to survive in a grand house in a misty wasteland. By accident she casts a spell which pulls Koen from her native world and pulls him to her hell where he is also cursed with immortality. While she is mourning her life in this hell, she is suddenly summoned back to her home world by Alastair, discovered to be descended through a bastard lineage from Landon.

Sensing the shift in her prison, those serving on the Guild in the ‘present’ are concerned. They dispatch Piers and Aidan to find the descendants of the original five who sealed Kalan in her hell: Julian, Devin, Landon, Brann, and Keion. Only one with that bloodline would be able to bring her back; or return her to her hell.

And thus, the adventure begins. After all five are collected it is discovered that none of them returned Kalan to their world. The rest of the book talks about the journey back to the Capital, dealing with the fury of Kalan’s return and dealing with the inner secrets everyone holds.

I plan to put a few chapters up once I’m finished editing them. I’m currently on page 87/375 so it might be soon! This book is planned to be published in April 2013.

I hope you like what you’ve read so far!

(oh yeah, all this information is (c) Sarah Jayne Nantais, 2013. If you try to steal it, I’ll sue your ass 🙂 I’ve got my copyright all done up 😛 So be good!)

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