Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Friday, February 6, 2015
Did you see my Facebook post yesterday about Paths of Destruction hitting #1 on Amazon in the Christian Fantasy category? I want to thank you all for supporting my writing and making such things possible. I'm also pleased to announce that you can now listen to Paths in audio format as well. It has been a fun process to work with my narrator, Jim Norwood, in bringing these characters to life. I'm really happy with this collaboration, and I hope you enjoy the result as much as I have.
If you know anyone who might enjoy The Awakened but doesn't have time to sit down and read, consider recommending the audio versions. The first two books of the series are available now from Audible, iTunes, and Amazon (with more coming soon).
Monday, December 1, 2014
It has been an amazing experience jumping back into the prehistoric world of the Wandering Stars. Though it involves the same underlying concepts as The Awakened, this series is closer in historical proximity to the events that launched this whole epic saga. So in that sense, it's a more direct application of the subject matter. If you can imagine The Awakened series as a tree, the Wandering Stars would be the soil beneath it.
As the author, I already had a firm grasp on this "back story" before I even wrote the first line of Awaken His Eyes. But knowing something at a conceptual level and fleshing it out on a computer screen are two very different experiences. The process of building cultures and tearing them down again, creating characters and pitting them against each other, adds a richness and depth to the story that I hadn't even felt before. It's been enlightening to get my hands dirty with the origins of my own characters and the larger plot.
My hope for you, the reader, is that you'll thoroughly enjoy submerging yourself in this fictional past while keeping one eye on the future. Like reading the scene in The Hobbit where Bilbo finds the Ring, I hope you'll enjoy this story not only for what it is but also for where it is going.
A few other things worth mentioning ...
If you've found yourself finishing my other novels too quickly, you'll be happy to learn that Manifestation is about 40% longer than my previous novels. But if I've done my job correctly, this one will still end sooner than you want it to.
Most of this book, like my other novels, would be rated PG-13 if it were a movie. However, there are a few scenes that are not suitable for younger readers and would be rated R. These scenes are critical to the overall story, so I had to include them. But I wanted to mention it so it doesn't come as a shock later on.
OK. Enough of that. Let's get on with the show! Scroll down to check out the cover art and read the description. Then visit the Amazon page and download your Kindle copy.
As I've said before, writing for a living is a dream come true. And I couldn't do it without your amazing support! Thanks for reading my stories. I hope you enjoy this one.
- Jason Tesar
P.S. If you don't own a Kindle, you can either download the Kindle reading app for your device or wait for the other versions coming soon.
Captivity has left its wounds, and the peace that Sariel fought to obtain is slipping from his grasp. To answer the questions plaguing his mind, he must seek out his former allies. But what he discovers is a task left undone, a coalition standing in his way, and revenge far beyond his new limitations.
The gods are dividing the earth into kingdoms. As they build an alliance upon a foundation of shared resources, a new evil is manifesting—rising from the aftermath of their rebellion. It has the power to upset this fragile equilibrium and cover the earth in darkness. With enemies on every side, Sariel must weigh the cost of a promise against the value of his own life, leading him to an unthinkable decision.
The battle for independence from the Eternal Realm may be over, but the war for the Temporal Realm has just begun.
In volume two of the Wandering Stars series, Jason Tesar’s fantasy epic spreads across a prehistoric landscape in a clash of civilizations that will alter the course of human history and give rise to mankind’s oldest legends.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The collaborative process of creating an audiobook was both fun and enlightening. While I knew there was more to it than just reading aloud, I learned that translating a written work into another medium requires a whole new approach … and a different skill set! Fortunately, I teamed up with a talented professional who is passionate about what he does. It has made all the difference. My first piece of fiction has been in good hands, and the result is something I'm now proud to offer to audio listeners.
So, to celebrate the release of my first audiobook, I did a short Q&A session with the narrator, James Norwood, so you could get to know a little bit about him. Enjoy!
How did you get into the profession of audiobook narration?
I have a background in theatre as a former drama major, high school drama director, and community theatre actor. As an English teacher I LOVED reading aloud to my students, and as a father I read every night to my children. I was an educational technology entrepreneur and started an internet-based training company that went on to be very successful. One of the things I did in my company was narrate several thousand video software training tutorials. So, I have a background and interest in recording technology as a communications teacher, entrepreneur, and as a would-be musician. Mix everything up for years and years … sell my company … and one day a light bulb turns on and I think, “I bet I could take a stab at narrating books.”
In what ways does your previous experience affect how you approach fiction?
As a former English teacher and a frustrated novelist, I’ve spent a lot of time studying and teaching character development. I think I have a pretty good understanding of the roles that various characters are playing in a story. I look for “archetypes.” The actor and director in me wants to take a stab at bringing characters to “life.” I have a shelf of books about how to write books, so I’m very envious of people who can actually put it all together. In that light, I just have to speak the words “trippingly on the tongue.” To interpret. I already know what I’m supposed to say.
Do you use professional recording equipment (hardware and software)?
It is hard to say anymore what “professional” recording equipment is, since the level of what would have once been “amateur” equipment has been elevated quite a bit. I use a combination of commercial and open-source software for recording, editing, and mastering. I try to find tools that are intuitive and comfortable to work with. I use a MacBook Pro as a recording station, a decent USB microphone (shock mounted), and recently purchased a portable sound booth, so that I can pretty much set up anywhere. Software tools like “Audacity” are invaluable for mastering, but it really takes a chain of several programs to record, edit, master, and prepare the final files.
How extensive is the process of getting to know the story? Did you read the whole book first, or take it one scene at a time?
I don’t necessarily read the entire book before I begin narrating. I’m not sure if that will change over time … there is something to be said for knowing everything. From a practical standpoint, I like to read far enough ahead to have a good sense of where the story is in its development, but I like the “freshness” of not really knowing everything that is going to happen. It keeps me on my toes. As a reader, I love falling in love with certain characters, learning to hate others, and honestly being curious about how it is all going to turn out. So … at any given point I’m well ahead of where the listener is, but I may be as mystified as anyone about how it is all going to end. When it all balances out, it is a delicious experience.
What is your method for creating a unique sound for each character? And how do you keep track of them all?
I’m still working on figuring that all out! Actually, from a creation standpoint I spend a lot of time driving around in my truck talking to myself. I have a habit of trying to duplicate whomever is speaking on the public radio station. Sometimes I try to think of a famous actor or character, and use their performance as a mental shorthand to bring a voice to mind. I keep track of characters by cutting and pasting snippets of speech into individual character files on my computer. If I haven’t voiced a character for a while, I pull up the sound file for him or her and give it a listen to put myself back in that mind space. I get to know primary characters fairly quickly, but I admit I have to watch for “character creep,” where a character’s voice begins to migrate over time and becomes something different.
Were you nervous about giving a “voice” to characters that fans had already come to know?
To this point, I’ve been a little ignorant of what people already expect a character to sound like, other than to say that the author is the best guide. If the author hears a character as “kind of like so-and-so in that movie,” then I’d probably better capture some of that essence. I’m here to serve the author, and the author is there to serve the fans. So, “nervous” wouldn’t really capture the feeling. It is more a sense of respecting and honoring the author’s intent. I haven’t had to voice a character that has already been voiced in audio or video. THAT would be intimidating!
You’ve only read the first book of The Awakened series at this point. Do you have any favorite characters already? If so, which ones … and why do they appeal to you?
I love Saba. I’m not sure I’ve really captured him to my satisfaction, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the wise old sage! I like when I get to hear him speak with others. Gursha was fun. At the other end of the spectrum, I like voicing Ukiru, even though I don’t actually “like” him. But there are times where his voice comes very easily and I can actually see him.
In reality, you’ve translated a novel into a different medium. What unique contributions have you brought to this fictional universe?
I like the idea of making movies for the mind. I guess I bring an honest love of stories. I’ve devoured quite a bit of science fiction and fantasy in my life, and studied Joseph Campbell’s works about character archetypes. I have a fair bit of experience as an actor and narrator. I have a knowledge of the technical side of things. I think that “teacher-actor-technician-fan” is a pretty strong combination for this kind of work, and fairly unique.
My enjoyment of narrating has exceeded my expectations. I worried that it might become rote or boring to get through an entire book, but in truth every day is different, and that is interesting. There are elements that are just plain work: remastering or quality checking an 8 hour book is going to take … guess what … more than 8 hours. The complexity of what you have built up over time sneaks up on you. But, overall, it is very satisfying and enjoyable. It’s also great for starting conversations in social situations. “So, what have you been up to lately?” “Me? I tell stories.” “Really? Tell me about that …”
I’ve been lucky enough to create relationships with two authors who both have a fan base, and a series of books to narrate! So, I’m starting on Book 2 of the Awakened series (Paths of Destruction), and I’m well into the first book of the “Abercrombie Trail” series (four books so far) by Minnesota author Candace Simar. It is a series of historical fiction works that involve Norwegian immigrants to Minnesota at the time the Civil War breaks out, and the “Sioux uprising” that occurred in and around Minnesota. I live and work from Minnesota, so I have a natural interest in those stories. Jason and Candace are very different in age, subject matter, and approach to writing, but both with stories that are fun to read and a challenge to bring to life as a narrator! (Just try voicing half a dozen male Norwegian immigrants speaking together in a single chapter!) How lucky am I that I get to live in both of these fictional worlds for a while longer … I’m far enough into Paths of Destruction that I REALLY want to know where it goes: I’d better do some recording so I can read the rest! Delicious.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
This is an excerpt from The Making of Incarnation: A Reader's Companion, available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords.
In the years before I started writing the first book of The Awakened series, I spent many hours imagining the backstory. Inspired by the methodology of J.R.R. Tolkien, who created entire cultures starting with their languages, I imagined the angelic realms and what the lives of these mysterious creatures might be like. I thought about sound waves being transmitted through different environments and whether language meant the same to them as it does to us. By the time I started planning Incarnation these imaginings had grown into a full-blown desire to create my own languages for all of the angelic and human races. Here is something I wrote in a notebook during that time:
Spoken Language: The language of the angels is a complex arrangement of sounds emitted both in series (melody) and in parallel (harmony). Different orders of angels are given different physical and mental capacity to perceive and create sound, such that lower orders can only understand and speak a fraction of the language. Because the language requires the simultaneous creation of more than one sound/note, it is physically impossible for humans to speak it. Thus, the angelic language became known as the unspeakable language.
Just as our ears can only hear a range of frequencies, and our vocal chords can only create a range of frequencies, so also it is among the orders of angels. The fallen angels turned from their original purpose. As such, they adopted dissonance as their language.
Written Language: The language of the angels can be expressed through written form due to the absence of physical restrictions (many characters making up one word). Therefore, the written language of the fallen angels is based on eastern musical scales (having a dissonant sound), while the original language is based on western scales (having a harmonic sound).
I even began scribbling the origins of what I hoped would become the written angelic language. Here are a few of those doodles:
Even though these ideas captured my imagination, the practical side of me argued that I could spend years learning how to create a language, and still many more years implementing it. This wouldn’t have left much time for writing. And very few people would have appreciated that level of world-building anyway. This led me to the decision of basing my languages on those already present in this world, which freed me up to concentrate on the story itself.
As an American, the Scandinavian languages have always seemed otherworldly to me. So I based the written angelic language on a mixture of Old Norse, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Finnish (with a little Hebrew thrown in for good measure).
For the human languages, I still wanted something quite far from my own English language. These were prehistoric cultures after all. With two primary lines of descent, I also wanted two languages that came from the same part of the world but were distinct from each other. For the Shayetham and the Chatsiyram, I chose Hebrew. For the Kahyin, I chose Arabic. I maintained an English sentence structure, and then chose each word based on how well it seemed to fit into the culture I had created. Where certain words seemed an awkward fit, I broke down the pieces and reassembled my own. In the end, I was able to present something that most readers wouldn’t recognize—though one or two people have—and didn’t take half my lifetime to create from scratch.
Sign up for my email list to be notified when I release the next volume of the Wandering Stars series.
Read another excerpt - Deleted Scene from Incarnation
Read another excerpt - The History of the Realms
Thursday, August 7, 2014
As a reader of fiction, I enjoy being immersed in imaginary environments—going places and doing things that would be impossible in real life. But as counter-intuitive as it may sound, the ability of a story to carry me away depends heavily on how realistic it is. The best stories are the ones that build their imaginary structures upon foundations of realism.
As an author of fiction, I strive to provide that immersive experience for my readers by balancing the fantastic with the realistic. These two seemingly-opposite elements feed off of one another. The realism is kept from becoming boring by the fantasy, and the fantasy becomes real when it’s based in reality. That’s why research is such an important starting point for my imagination.
Many readers have asked about how I come up with my stories. My imagination is a difficult thing to explain. The research, on the other hand, is much easier. If you haven’t visited my Pinterest page yet, I wanted to direct your attention to one of my boards, entitled The Awakened Research. As you can see, I didn't put my creative energy into coming up with a snappy title, but it’s a great place to get some behind-the-scenes knowledge about the cultures and technology of The Awakened series. Have a look, and feel free to send me your questions if your curiosity isn't satisfied. I'll continue to pin interesting stuff to this board as I write new novels and publish reader's guides for the novels already written. So check back periodically to see the progress.
And make sure to sign up for my email list so you don’t miss out on promotions, book releases, free stuff, and more.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Today's guest post is from S.J. Abraham, a fellow fantasy writer and self-proclaimed geek. It's a short concept piece that he's currently expanding into a full-length novel. Hope you enjoy it!
The flat, cracked table of the desert stretched endlessly out before him. On the horizon a massive sprawling anvil of red clouds spread impossibly tall and wide. Lightning flickered.
“One heck of a storm coming,” the boy said to no one in particular. He was alone. The Cowboy was dead. The Gambler was dead. The Ranger lost. The Witch… he shuddered. No one should ever die the way the Witch had. Even the Ranger’s wolf was dead, which just left him and the ghost girl who'd haunted him. They were the side characters, the people who were supposed to have helped the Cowboy when a particular difficulty arose but who died in the end to show how serious things were. Everything had gone wrong.
“What am I gunna do?”
“’bout what?” the ghost girl asked as she drifted insubstantially next to him, in her tattered Sunday dress and bonnet. “The storm or the quest?”
He looked around. For miles there was nothing but the baked salt flats. Not a tree, not a rock, not a stick of shelter. In minutes when the storm hit, he’d be knee deep in alkali rich mud that would turn his already plodding progress to a crawl. He hefted the Cowboy’s gun belt. He’d managed to save that. The heavy enchanted Colt 45 and its rune encrusted cartridges seemed to weigh a ton resting on the boy’s narrow shoulder.
“Don’t see as there’s much you c’n do one way t’or the other,” the ghost said. White dust bloomed around the boy’s boots with each of his slow steps. A hot dry smell rose up as the storm rushed towards him. The wind sighed. Thunder grumbled. “You’re gunna git wet, and the quest has failed. That’s the long ‘n short of it.”
“Quest ain’t failed yet,” he said even though he knew it was. The hero was dead and not one of those maybe-he-was-maybe-he-wasn’t deads like in books. Have a big enough chunk shot out of your head and you’ll die, hero or not. It had been a mighty big chunk blasted from the Cowboy’s skull.
“Oh, and who’s gunna complete it? You?”
The ghost girl laughed. “You ain’t in the prophecy, remember? It says in the end there’ll be either the Dark Rider or the Cowboy. Cowboy’s dead. Didn’t even hang around as a ghost. I checked. That’s how finished his business is. So that leaves the Rider. The end.”
The wind gusted, throwing grit into the air. The boy could hear the distant thrum of falling rain.
“Maybe I’ll take his place.”
“Was you born under a sickle moon on St. Alnoth’s day? Was your family killed by the Rider? Was you raised by the Sky People and taught to shoot afore you could stand?”
“You know I weren’t.” The rain came in a curtain of pummeling drops, big as silver dollars, warm as sweat. The desert seemed to seethe and jitter under their fall. The boy kept walking, instantly soaked. The ghost girl floated un-phased beside him.
“So how are you gunna stop the Rider then?”
“Don’t know,” the boy shouted. The mud was already sucking at his boots. “But I aim to try.”
S.J. Abraham is a writer working towards publication. He's a geek to the core and seeks to write stories that will inspire younger geeks to embrace their nerdy side and never look back. In addition to his novels, he writes fiction for his blog GeekyWriting.