characters

I HAVE SLAIN THE EVIL BEAST!

This Sunday, I slew the evil that is known as ‘editing’.

I actually didn’t change as much as I thought. When I was getting near the end of Black & Red and I was cutting and adding here and there, I didn’t add nearly as much as I expected. I had always thought the ending wasn’t that great, but as I read through it, I realized that for that particular story, that ending is what it needed.

Do I think Black & Red is my best work? No. It’s something I wrote almost five years ago and at the time, it was my best work. I’ve dressed it up and trimmed it down so it’s all ready to go to prom, but I don’t believe it’s my best.

I believe a lot of authors feel that way about their first pieces. It’s still, in my opinion, a very good story and I really liked the tale it told. I’m actually quite excited for it to be done because that means I can focus on the piece I was writing when I decided (purely on a whim, really) that I wanted to publish this year. That particular piece probably won’t be ready until sometime in 2014, which is just fine by me.

Now, I have to move on to the Terrible Beast: Formatting. This means I HAVE to do my work at home. It’s just too difficult to try and format without using Microsoft Word and using my tablet. This is definitely something I need my laptop for.

So please look forward to when I publish! I’ll still post on here, probably all the time, and maybe I’ll start talking about my new story. But we’ll see. 🙂

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 2 comments

The Reason for my Madness

I’m sure everyone has their own reasons for why they write and for why they write the things they do.

I’m going to share the reasons why I do what I do.

I’ve been writing since I was about thirteen. I started writing in a journal to help me cope with some emotional and psychological stress I was experiencing in my family life. Since I was thirteen and living in rural Ontario, there was only so much help and support I could get, or knew to try and access, so I dealt with things the best way I knew how: I escaped into reading and writing.

I devoured every sort of book I could find. Stephen King, John Saul, V.C. Andrews, R.L. Stein, Guy Gavriel Kay. It didn’t matter the genre although I had a penchant for horror or fantasy.

In my journal I would lament about my struggle with life, with my family, with myself. Looking back it was a torturous time and I only hope that my own children never feel that way. Or if they do, it doesn’t last long and they feel comfortable talking to myself or my husband about it.

I started writing short stories. Everything was horror. People died left, right, and centre. Usually I modeled characters after people who made me feel insignificant or worthless and unceremoniously knocked them off in my stories.

I can’t write ‘normal’ fiction. There has to be magic, there has to be fantasy, there has to be some sort of other-worldlyness or else I can’t connect or identify with the characters I’m creating.

As I’m editing more and more for Black & Red I ran across the first character I ever created to be mentally unbalanced. It was a huge thing for me as I drew upon a lot of what I had experienced to create this persona.

The story to follow Black & Red touches more on power-insanity than this one. In this story, the character has been belittled, under-valued, and basically shunned by society so it was something I could identify with a lot.

I can probably go more into this later, if I remember 🙂 Otherwise, happy writing and happy editing to all those out there!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in Rantings, 0 comments

Give Credit Where Due

The reason I’m writing this post today is because I wanted to speak a little bit more on some inspiration for Black & Red.

In the story, there are various characters who use weapons; mainly swords. Within these swords and these characters are the ability to “hear” the voice of the weapon.

Part of this was taken as inspiration from Tite Kubo’s Bleach, a long-running manga series in Japan.

Bleach tells the tale of Ichigo Kurosaki who is a teenager that can see ghosts. Through a series of events he becomes a ‘shinigami’ or ‘death-god’ and obtains a zanpakuto or ‘soul sword’ (as I’ve seen it translated). All Shinigami have these zanpakuto and each zanpakuto has a ‘soul’ which reveals itself to the user in various forms and ways in order to unlock various levels of power and attacks.

I won’t say anymore about the series in order to avoid spoilers, but I have adapted the concept of having a sword or weapon with a ‘voice’ or ‘soul’ into my work with Black & Red. It’s not exactly the same, of course, but when I actually publish if people who read my story are fans of this manga, I wanted to give a nod to the awesome mind of Tite Kubo as there is a brief similarity there.

Otherwise, I am getting back at the editing game today now that I have some more time since I’m recovering from being sick. New goal: May 2013. Hopefully nothing else goes wrong so I can keep this self-imposed deadline this time!

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

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.

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

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 😉

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

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 🙂

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

Revisting an Old Friend

During my editing of this story I wrote four years ago I’m getting more and more excited as I go through. Yes, there are quite a few flaws that are being ironed out, but it’s the story itself that’s getting me pumped.

Sure, I’m biased as hell because I’m the one who wrote it, but since I haven’t really done anything with it for so long I’m starting to remember why I liked it and why I wrote it. I’m getting all excited and nervous about certain characters and their fates because I’m slowly remembering everything that happened when I wrote it originally. I’m beefing up my fight scenes and delving more into the emotional turmoil that these characters are facing given their situation.

It’s like reading a book I loved again for the first time in years. It’s been long enough that it’s not boring and you don’t remember everything that’s going to happen before it happens.

Hopefully there will be other people out there who will get just as excited when they read it for the first time 😀

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

What's in a Name?

People have asked me why I am deciding to publish under my full real name and not a pen name or something else.

Yes, my friends, in real life my name is Sarah Jayne Nantais. Nantais is my married last name and it’s pronounced “Nah-da”. Threw you for a loop with that one, didn’t I?

I thought about being S. Nantais or S.J.Nantais or Sarah Nantais or something else entirely but I just couldn’t do it.

Truth be told, I absolutely despise my middle name. “Jayne” has a lot of history and issues behind it. But it’s still my name and it’s the name I’ve had since I was born. So I decided that I would put my whole name out there to gain some sort of closure and acceptance with that name.

Is it working? Yeah kinda.

As for the names of the characters in my stories and the names of places, I used to have this really old dictionary I bought at a used book store that broke down the roots of words. I mean going back to the Latin, Greek etc of common English words we use everyday. I unfortunately no longer have that book in my possession for various reasons, but I had written down all the ones I had liked. I don’t remember the meanings for all of them any more, but I still use them.

For the characters, I do have a book of baby names that I had bought when I was 18. (Yeah, try not getting strange looks in the bookstore picking that up. It doesn’t help that when I was 18 I looked like I was 9). I try to find names that have interesting meanings and aren’t overly common (HA! As if you couldn’t tell from my last post) and sometimes I will use the internet if I’m looking for a name from a certain culture/country like Japanese, Greek, or Welsh etc. Sometimes I’ll borrow from a manga or anime if I feel the name fits. I just LOVE Japanese names!

After writing out all the names last post I realized a lot of them begin with “K” and I’m honestly not too sure what that’s about. They just worked I guess.

Half of the names I can’t pronounce properly because I’ve never heard them be spoken in real life so I have my own interpretation in my head. But that’s okay. I’m sure a lot of my readers will do the same thing. I remember doing that when I was younger and I would read a name I had never heard of before. It helps keep the personal interpretations of characters more unique, I think.

Tomorrow I have the day off from my day job! Yay! So I might not post because I’ll either be sleeping, chasing my 2.5 year old, or editing. I’ll try to put something up though. I just have to think about what I’d talk about 🙂

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

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!)

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 0 comments

My Tools of the Trade

Everyone uses different things when they write. Some people are strictly paper people, never touching a computer or typewriter unless it’s absolutely necessary. Some people can only use electronics and never write anything out on paper.

I do both.

When I was younger (and this was WAY before the days when computers were everywhere and in every home) I strictly used paper and pen. I used to ask for notebooks and pens for Christmas and my birthday because I was always filling them up. One story ‘series’ I wrote when I was 13 was a mish-mash of yellow legal pad paper, lined paper and graph paper because that was all I could get my hands on. It ended up being 120 pages written, double-sided but single spaced.

Unfortunately I have a lost all of my previous work due to unforeseen circumstances (*cough*assholeexboyfriends*cough*) so I’ve had to go off of memory when I try to rewrite them. I remember the core parts of the story, so I suppose that’s all that really matters if I want to write it again.

These days I use both.

I use my laptop:

The majority of my writing is done on this lovely piece of technology these days.

The majority of my writing is done on this lovely piece of technology these days.

And I also use this:

Given to me by my in-laws, it holds character descriptions, maps, story basics and outlines

Given to me by my in-laws, it holds character descriptions, maps, story basics and outlines

I have another coil notebook that I used for previous stories I have written. It holds the same information as well as a list of names for males, females and places so that I can make sure I’m not using the same name in every story I write. The other book doesn’t have quite the same inspirational message though 🙂

I find this useful because when I’m typing furiously away on my laptop if I suddenly forget the colour of one of my characters eyes I can flip to the character description page in this book without having to sift through god knows how much text to find the answer.

It also helps me keep personalities in check, relationships in line, and ages realistic.

Depending on the story, I’ll also draw a little (crude) map of the world my story takes place in. This helps me determine accurate time frames for traveling, weather, culture etc. I’m building worlds here, so I need to make sure I don’t screw up!

Since I write Fantasy-Adventure stories, I find this crucial. Sure, my readers may not be paying as much attention to these details as I am, but I want to make sure it’s believable. I’m sure there’s someone out there in this vast universe who just might pay that much attention to what they read.

What do you use? What do you find useful?

My husband also bought me a Samsung Galaxy Tab that I am looking for a bluetooth keyboard and case for so I can bring it to work in place of my laptop as it will be smaller and easier to tote around everywhere. I NEED a keyboard though. I will NEVER be able to type using the onscreen one. No way.

How about you?

Posted by Sarah Jayne in My Book Stuff, 5 comments