Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

RJ Blain says, "I’d like my stories to encourage others ..." @rj_blain #AmWriting #AmReading

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
I write my first drafts with a pen in Moleskine journals. (I’m picky like that.) My current pen of choice is a Swarovski crystalline pen – I have three of them, and one of them has a USB memory stick built into it. Once I finish the draft by hand, I transcribe it into the computer, doing a great deal of editing work at the same time. Then I work at my desk on my desktop computer, or I load the scrivener project into my USB memory stick (in my pen) and use my laptop somewhere in the house. A favored laptop spot is in front of the fireplace on the couch.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
As much as possible. I would sleep all day if I could. I can function (barely) on three or four hours of sleep, though. During crunch time, it isn’t uncommon for me to run as long as I can, snatch three or four hours of sleep, then rinse and repeat until I reach my deadline. It really does horrible things to my sleep schedule, though. And it annoys my husband just a little bit. By just a little bit, I actually mean that if he had the power to set me on fire with his eyes, he probably would have done so several times by now.
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
I want to make enough money at writing where I don’t have to work as an editor, although I probably will keep editing for clients because I really enjoy the work as a general rule. I love helping people improve their novels. (It’s also more stable income than royalties.) That said, success for me is two things: Connecting with readers who love the stories I want to tell and making enough money to pay my bills.
I just hope that these two things can coincide peacefully.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Storm Without End is the story of Kalen. Kalen is the short, crippled king of a place best known for its hostile terrain and equally harsh people. Someone out in the world wants to see the current peace between the kingdoms fail, and will do anything to make it happen, including using horrific beasts known as the skreed. It falls to Kalen, Breton, and the other Rifters to somehow put an end to a war that hasn’t officially started yet.
Whether or not they succeed will be seen…
I wrote this book because I was a little tired of the standard cultural fare in epic fantasies. I wanted to pursue how the relationships between a bunch of different cultures and people would work. Every culture I created for this series focuses on a different element of human nature, which resulted in some interesting cultural quirks and characteristics.
This fantasy let me pursue how people behave, and that’s one thing I really love writing about.
If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?
I’d have a dinner party for two, with my father and me. He died before I was published, and he always helped support my reading (and writing habits) when I was a teenager, not minding when I ‘forgot’ most of my clothes and had to buy me new stuff so I could fill my duffle bags with books and writing journals.
But mostly, I’d hope we could just talk. It’s been a while.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
I spend most of my ‘free’ time writing, but I do like to read books and try to learn how to crochet. I’m not very good at crocheting, but I have the reading books thing down to a science. Open book, read!
Real answer: I play Everquest, an old-school MMO. My character is a rogue. I run around all sneakysneaky, and then I get behind my target, and with a delighted squeal, stabbystabby my foes!
I also have a tendency to, in a sing-song voice, say, “Yay!!!” when we when events while raiding big bad ugly monsters. Occasionally, my husband will talk with people in a voice chat, and they will hear me go “Yay!!”
That’s about when 53 people start giggling at me. (My husband included.)
Do you have any tips on how writers can relax?
Find something you love doing almost as much as you love writing. That way, when you need a break from writing, you’re doing something you love. Just don’t love it more than you do writing, or you’ll never write…
How often do you write? And when do you write?
Almost every day. When I’m actively drafting a novel, I’m usually writing 2,000-5,000 words (by hand) per day. If I have an editorial job or deadlines for a client, I try to write a minimum of 228 words per day. That’s my average word count for a single moleskine page, after transcription.
I write whenever I have the time to write. It isn’t uncommon for my journals to walk around the house so I can get to the writing whenever I have a few free moments.
Have you met any people in the industry who have really helped you?
A few years ago, I went to a very small Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention in Montreal. Tad Williams and Deborah Beale were present. I was on two or three panels with Deborah, so we got to know each other a bit. On the last day of the convention, between panels Deborah and I were both on, we went to a bar across the street. Tad joined us.
I learned a lot, and we had a lot of fun just talking. That made me decide, one way or another, I was going to really go through with sharing my novels with the world. Deborah was a huge help in teaching me a bunch of my flaws. Most importantly, she gave me really good advice on how to correct those flaws and turn them into strengths.
I don’t think I could have gotten this far without their help.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?
I really hope people will just enjoy the story, and get swept up in a world outside of our own – and have fun with it. Mostly, I just want to entertain people in the only way I know how.
If I could, I’d like my stories to encourage others to try to tell stories of their own, and think of new places that only exist in the imagination.
Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.
When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.
But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.
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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG - 13
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