Friday, January 24, 2014

#Author R.J. Blain On Her Writing Habits @rj_blain #amwriting #amreading

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.)
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.
What’s your favorite meal?
Turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and stuffing and gravy. With a side dish of gravy. I really love gravy. We celebrate turkey dinner in our household several times a year legitimately (Christmas, American Thanksgiving, and Canadian Thanksgiving) and whenever turkeys are on sale.
We really like turkey. I like it more than others, though…
What color represents your personality the most?
Red and yellow. Yes, two colors. They both are warm, energetic colors, and that’s how I am. We may as well throw orange in there for the same reasons. The entire warm-color spectrum suits me.
What movie do you love to watch?
Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, Star Wars (a New Hope), Lord of the Rings, and the Hobbit.
No, I will not pick just one! I love them all equally! I can’t do it, I just can’t pick one of them! (Though if I had to pick a fandom, I’d go with Indiana Jones. He represents all of the things I wish I could be some days, and inspires some of the things I actually write about.)
How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?
Like a lot of other things, I think social media sites can be good and bad. It all depends on how they are used and how much time is wasted on them. I use google+ as a way to spend a few minutes here and there when I need a break from other things, and it’s a great way to connect with fans and other like-minded individuals. The games on facebook are just a major time sink, and I think they should be avoided if you want to seriously get anything done. However, these platforms do provide an interesting way to reach out to fans, and I think every writer should at least have some sort of presence on them.
How do you think people perceive writers?
That’s an interesting question. Some people perceive writers as lazy. I’ve met others who perceive me as someone who works way too hard and needs to lay back and do more fun things in my life. I’ve met those who are somewhere in the middle.
Most, however, think I’m a little crazy, because I live in my made up world. Then they realize I make money doing this. I think those folks don’t know what to make of it, really. I’m okay with that, though.
What’s your next project?
I have several projects in the works right now. First, I have Storm Without End’s sequel partially written. I’m about a fifth of the way through it. I also have the second novel of my other series in the works. On the side, I’m working on two fantasy standalone stories. One is a little steampunkish in nature. The other is a thriller Urban / Paranormal fantasy. 2014 is going to be a really busy year for me!
How do you feel about self-publishing?
As someone who is working with self-publishers every day, and have done both venues, I’m a fan of it. It isn’t the style of publication that is important: It is the amount of work, dedication, and attention to quality that really matters.
More self-publishers are getting really serious about writing, editing, and making their novels stand out. It’s a multi-player game now, and at the end of the day, there is very little separating a traditionally-published author and a self-published author if they are both professionals.
Self-publishing, I fear, will forever be plagued with those who aren’t ready to be professionals yet. But at the same time, I do feel that there is a lot of room on the market for everyone. I let the covers and blurbs determine which authors I’ll check the samples of nowadays, and then I let the samples decide for me. Self-publishing has a lot of potential, so long as authors try to write like they’re traditional professionals.
Do you know your neighbors?
I know one of them. They’re really interesting. For context, I live in Montreal, Quebec. It’s a very multi-cultural region. It’s a flip of a coin if I speak the language of my neighbors. I’m pretty certain the people on one side of me speak French and English. We have a big hedge separating our driveways, so we don’t have a lot in the way of random encounters. On the other side, however, the neighbors are tri-lingual: Greek, French, and English. We both have pools, so we have powwows to talk about how much we hate the cotton fluff trees.
It’s hard understanding them, but I learn a lot about different cultures every time we run into each other and have a chat.
I’d like to get to know the other neighbors, but I’m a bit shy like that.
When you get free time on the internet or you go to the library – what do you want to read about?
There are three things I’m likely to do at a library. Option one: Write. It’s quiet, and no one is going to bother me, and there is something wonderful about writing when surrounded by books. Option Two: I will randomly go into the reference section and pick a random book and start to randomly read a section of it. I’ll do this for 20-30 minutes, go put the book back, and get another one.
Option Three: I’ll go find some fantasy or science fiction novel I haven’t read before, read it and put it back.
Or check it out if I haven’t finished it before I leave the library.
On the internet, well, that’s a different story. I’ll go to Wikipedia and explore things, do research, or be very, very bored. When I get bored, I grab a journal and start writing, or I’ll socialize on google+, twitter, or facebook.
It’s gotten easier and easier to get away from the internet, ironically.
Do you find the time to read?
I try to make at least 15-30 minutes a day to read a fiction book. I read quite fast, so this 15-30 minutes often means I can finish a book in a week, sometimes two weeks. Once I’m done reading my fiction, I’ll write a review on it. Sometimes I post them to my blog and amazon/goodreads, sometimes I don’t. Next year, I want to review two books a month. It should be a fun challenge!
On the research front, I probably spend an hour a day just reading non-fiction. I really think non-fiction is important for every writer to spend time reading about daily, in order to build a good knowledge base. This knowledge base helps prevent plot holes, and gives a novel a more realistic feel.
Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
The Dresden Files. Almost the entire series. Missing one or two books, I think. I’m not going to get started on it. It’d be bad. I’ll just say, “Me love you long time, Harry Dresden.”
Though, I got a copy of We Will Destroy Your Planet by David McIntee – it’s hilarious, and I really recommend it for anyone who has the urge to conquer a planet.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
“`Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw one alive before!'
`Well, now that we have seen each other,' said the Unicorn, `if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?'”
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
This really has always struck a chord with me. It speaks a lot about the manner of friendships in general. I think that if everyone took a few moments and looked at the person they’re talking to, believe in their existence, and get the same back in return, the world would be a far better place.
Everyone, I think, wants someone to believe in them.


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.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG - 13
More details about the author
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