Jabari & Jaser

Premier Publisher of Action & Adventure

Join All of Us at Zharmae and Jabari & Jaser, and Take a Load off This Labor Day

The Zharmae Publishing Press and Jabari & Jaser will be closing our office doors on Friday, August 29th through Tuesday, September 2nd to celebrate the Labor Day holiday. While our offices are closed and we may not respond to inquiries, please don’t let that stop you from following us on Twitter and Facebook to receive any news and company updates.

Holidays are often excellent opportunities to kick back, flip a few pages, and drink in a good book or short story. Labor Day is one holiday in particular where it’s encouraged to take a break from the everyday hustle and appreciate the “on” days by taking a few “off” days for yourself. That’s what we here at The Zharmae Publishing Press and Jabari & Jaser will be doing. Join us in celebrating this year’s working man’s and woman’s holiday!

Labor Day is considered by many to be the end of summer and the beginning of another back-to-school and fall sports season. That means new books, bags, banners, jerseys, jackets, and Jordans for millions of people across the country! What better time to pick up that new novel on your must-read list while buying textbooks or to slide an old classic into a new backpack. What can we say, we’re suckers for sneaking reading and the power of good prose in wherever we can! Whether you’re on the beach, enjoying a backcountry retreat, sparking up the barbecue with friends and family, or simply kicking up the feet and enjoying a day away from work, there’s a good book waiting for you.

If we’re being completely honest, most of the statistics over at HYPERLINK “http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb14-ff18.html” U.S. Census regarding Labor Day are a bit dry. No impressive hotdog consumption numbers or the likes, which is what we know you’re looking for. That said, hop on over to read up on a few facts regarding the hard-working ethic and follow-through that continues year after year, but remember Labor Day is a day of celebration.

What will you be doing this year? Remember to play safe, no matter what you’re up to, and give us a shout out on our social media channels filling us in on your Labor Day plans. We’d love to hear from you!

Upcoming Publication of Promise of the Black Monks by Robert Hirsch

Jabari & Jaser is pleased to announce the upcoming publication of Promise of the Black Monks by Robert Hirsch. This majestic, sweeping historical thriller combines astute period observation with a flare for dramatic, pulse-pounding storytelling. Hirsch is a master, and Promise of the Black Monks is but the first in a multi-volume series.

A young boy, Tristan de Saint-Germain, is abandoned by his mother and must find his way in the world. Fortunately for him and for Tristan’s younger brother, Tristan is an academic and liguistic prodigy. Such talents soon attract the attention of the Benedictine monks, who take the boys in, raise, and educate them. Tristan, however, is destined to play no small role in the Medieval era in which the novel is set. Powerful religious and political figures vie for pre-eminence in this age, and Tristan is indispensable. Promise‘s hero may soon find himself becoming a mere pawn in a deadly game of chess. Hirsch’s erudition is masterful, but so also is his feel for a good story. In a sense both his skills are well-suited to this particular historical period, because the great and powerful did indeed compete for the services of talented individuals. Tristan de Saint-Germain’s story is not unlike the real-life circumstances of one Martin Luther.

Readers of Jabari & Jaser books face their own challenge. They must wait for the release of Promise of the Black Monks. We hope that they meet this challenge, as they have met others before it, with courage!

Upcoming Publication of Eulogy in Blue by Steven David Levine

Jabari and Jaser is pleased to announce the upcoming publication of Eulogy in Blue, by Steven David Levine. This is gripping, fast-paced thriller writing at its finest, and Levine can expect a host of devoted admirers to read his subsequent works. Part Replacement Killers, part Jack Reacher, Eulogy in Blue is all adrenaline! The action centers around a little girl, Emma, who is being targeted by high-profile hitmen. To survive, she will need the assistance of a hitman (or woman) on the side of good, Rachel Pan. Born and trained in Hong Kong, Rachel knows how to handle herself. Survival for the two, even so, must be given long odds. If they are to have any chance they will need the help of disgruntled but battle-tested cop, Ernie Stanski, and certain of Stanski’s allies. Pan and Stanski’s efforts are critical, not only for Emma’s sake, but for the cause of Justice in an increasingly violent world.

Eulogy in Blue will be released TBA.

On Writing Action-Adventure: An Explorable World

Good action-adventure is hard to forget. We have James Bond, Lara Croft, Sterling Archer, and Jason Bourne, characters that get under our skin and wreak havoc with our blood pressure as they race to survive. These are just a few of our favorite action-adventure heroes—and we love to spend time with them again and again. We watch movies and TV shows about them, read book after book and series after series, and occasionally hunt down those graphic novels to experience them in every way we can. What is it that draws us to some action-adventure and repels us from the rest?

The answer is fairly simple: those who have brought us the best in action-adventure have brought us the best worlds to sink into deeper and deeper as the seconds fly by. They give us worlds we can see as we read and replay the stories against our eyelids long after the book is closed.

The answer is simple, but the feat of accomplishing it is difficult. To help you give your best shot at creating a believable and unforgettable world, we have a few questions for you to mull over and integrate into your work.

Where does your story take place?

This seems simplistic, and it is. Are your characters in a buzzing metropolis? Are they in the recesses of an untamed rainforest? Is your hero trying to take down a mad science lab hidden in the belly of a rundown warehouse district somewhere in Europe? The sky is not the limit here; there is no limit. This question is temporal, or time-related, too— and the possibilities really are limitless. Does your story take place alongside the first practical application of electricity, or are your characters swept up in a world war? Deciding then when and where of your story is a crucial step in the process of writing action-adventure. Just remember: location, location, location!

What does your story’s world look like?

This is a more specific continuation of the previous question. It’s the setting of your story—beyond the where and when, and into the what. Here, you get to let flow your creativity. Can you see your world in your mind, like a virtual map? Take some time to get lost in your world so that you can come back and act as a tour guide for your readers. Show it to us in your work; don’t be afraid to describe the height of the gleaming architecture or the glowing animal eyes in the unforgiving darkness of the forest. Let us hear the incessant hum of life among the trees or the roar of battle as brother fights against brother. Let us breathe in the fresh, cool air of the desert or choke on the overpowering fumes of a devastating post-chase car wreck. The power of description can be an incredible asset in world building.

Does your world have a history?

Like with your characters, it can be helpful to develop a history for your world. For some, the world’s history can be the source of their novel’s plot. Does war wage among your people? Is your world’s history one of “peace” under the rule of an overbearing governing body? Is it decades old? Centuries old? Another option is creating a world to populate, one effectively without a history—one waiting for its history to be written. Whether your world is long established or beginning to bud, having an idea of the situation your world is in may serve as a great tool in your writing. It can add depth and purpose to your novel.

Where and whenever you set your story, try to remember this: your world is your playground. Enjoy it, and your enjoyment will be apparent in your writing. If you have fun writing your novel, your readers will have fun reading it.

Jabari & Jaser Easter Greeting

No Easter tradition is better loved than the egg hunt. Every year, children scurry through the house and yard, searching behind bushes and under chairs for eggs filled with goodies. After all, who doesn’t love a competitive adventure that has chocolate waiting at the end?

Grown-ups can find their own version of Easter egg hunts, although the treat at the end is (perhaps unfortunately) not candy. “Easter eggs” is the term used to refer to hidden content or messages. While Easter eggs originated in computer programs, they have since spread to other forms of media—video games, movies, artwork, and, of course, books.

So, what exactly is a literary Easter egg? Some common examples are inside jokes, secret codes, and subtle references. Any sort of unexpected, veiled surprise could be considered an Easter egg.

Many great stories throughout years have been dotted with Easter eggs, although you might not have noticed them if you didn’t realize you were on the hunt. Here are a few examples.

<em>Through the Looking Glass</em>: Lewis Carroll’s famed work features an acrostic poem that spells out “Alice Pleasance Liddell,” the name of the real girl who inspired the fictional Alice.

<em>A Series of Unfortunate Events</em>: This children’s series by Daniel Handler, pen name Lemony Snicket, is full of twists and intrigue, creating the perfect atmosphere for hidden Easter eggs. For example, in A Hostile Hospital, a list of names features anagrams of both Daniel Handler and Brett Helquist, the book’s illustrator. Another anagram is made from the pen name Lemony Snicket for the name of one of the characters, Monty Kensicle.

<em>Star Wars</em>: In some of the Star Wars books, Han Solo mentions that he uses the name Jenos Idanian as an alias. This is an anagram of Indiana Jones, who is played by Harrison Ford—the same actor who plays Han Solo in the <em>Star Wars</em> movies.

Sarah Dessen’s novels: Popular YA author Sarah Dessen is known for setting her stories in recurring locations, and many of her characters run into each other across their books. Just to name a couple of examples, the protagonists of <em>The Truth About Forever </em>make a cameo appearance in Just Listen, and a character from <em>This Lullaby</em> is seen briefly in <em>Lock and Key</em>.

<em>The Great Gatsby</em>: This literary classic opens with a poetic epigraph that begins, “Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her…” and is attributed to Thomas Parke D’Invilliers. While, generally, readers expect epigraphs to be quotes from other published authors, only true Fitzgerald fans would know that Thomas Parke D’Invilliers is actually a fictional character in Fitzgerald’s third novel, <em>This Side of Paradise</em>!

<em>Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire</em>: When J.K. Rowling received a letter from a young fan named Natalie who had a terminal illness, Rowling wrote the girl a letter detailing the rest of Harry Potter’s storyline. Unfortunately, Natalie died before receiving the letter. Rowling named a minor character in her honor; Natalie is a young student who is sorted into Gryffindor at the beginning of the book.
These are only a few examples of the various forms that Easter eggs may take in writing. Hopefully they provide inspiration for the kind of “treats” you can hide in your writing.

Easter eggs are beloved by readers because of the sense of fun and discovery they deliver. Entertain and challenge yourself by weaving hidden surprises through your writing as you create a literary Easter egg hunt of your own.

Happy hunting, and happy Easter!

Jabari & Jaser will be closed from Friday, April 17 through Monday, April 20. While our offices are closed, we may not respond to inquiries, but please follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive any news or updates.

On Writing Action-Adventure: A Plot To Remember

Writing encompasses a multitude of elements, each of them necessary to create a completed project. You have characters, a world, and maybe even a theme ready and waiting to be transformed into a story. You’re still missing a key ingredient: the plot. But what is plot? Let’s take a closer look.

The plot is the backbone of the living, breathing creature that is your book. It’s the blueprint for your story, the map your journey will follow until it reaches the very last page and closes the covers. Many of us learned in English class that the plot follows a certain formula: introduction + character activity leading up to a climax + actual climax + some sort of resolution = all books ever written.

This isn’t necessarily true. While it is important to introduce your characters and imperative to have some sort of peak in the story line, how each element happens and where in your book it takes place is entirely up to you.

How are you going to start your story?

Some authors choose to dive straight into the action, opening with a battle or a chase scene or having their readers open the cover to a grisly murder. Other authors start out slowly, introducing the characters with a thought or with dialogue as to preface the action with an anticipatory breath. Another option is to start the book after something major has happened; your character could be reeling from the death of a loved one or gearing up for a war that has just been declared. Maybe your character is arriving on a new planet and the action starts as soon as he steps foot on previously unclaimed territory.

How you start is incredibly important – this is what hooks your readers and keeps them interested. Many readers may stop reading if nothing holds onto their attention within the first few pages. But it’s only the beginning of your plot.

How will you lead up to your story’s climax?

Think back to the scariest movie you’ve ever seen. How did they build up the suspense until that ultimate scene which made you jump and even scream? Many books give you a trail of breadcrumbs to follow; every few steps, you witness an event like an argument or a challenge that the characters have to get through to get to the next one. You can build up the suspense slowly and surely, or keep the pace fast from page one. Either way, you want to make sure to leave room for the climax to be more exciting than any other scene in the book. Otherwise, it’s not a peak in the action, as a climax should be.

How do you plan to resolve your story?

This is the final moment you’ll have with your readers. How do you want them to remember your story? Many choose to leave their stories with a happy ending, a sense that all will be well with the world. Readers also enjoy a surprise twist at the end, something that will keep them guessing. You may also choose to end on a complete cliffhanger—which frustrates readers in all the right ways if you do it well and keeps them wanting more. It opens you up to a sequel, if you so choose. However you end your book is up to you, but keep in mind that your ending will be the last thing your readers experience from you; and it may be what causes them to keep reading your books in the future or to avoid anything else you write.

The plot is a powerful tool at your disposal. When done right, it can elicit incredible emotional responses from your readers from fear to sorrow to complete joy and satisfaction, while producing a story they’ll want to read over and over again. So put that thinking cap on and outline a plot to remember!


On Writing Action-Adventure: Creating Tangible Supporting Characters

Characters are paramount to any story. They’re family members, loved ones, friends, coworkers, strangers, and enemies. Every one of them has a unique smattering of attributes, from physical appearance to personal history to purpose within the story itself. To get you started, we’re going to ask you a few questions pertaining to your characters and their qualities. Answering these questions will help you create supporting characters real enough to make your readers want to reach through the pages and touch them.

What is the character’s purpose?

Only a handful of an author’s characters can be considered part of the main cast. As a supporting character, what is his or her purpose in the story? Is he helping to save the world? Is she part of a task force vanquishing evil forces or out to colonize a new planet? Main characters need supporting characters. They help the main character by giving him advice, joining in on his journey, or providing him with food and rest when he needs it most. They can be mentors or relatives, spouses or romantic interests, friends or foes. Each serves a purpose to the story, and it’s up to you to figure out exactly what that purpose is.

What is your character’s story?

You now know who your character is; let’s dive in deeper. Regardless of the size of your character’s role in your story, any well-rounded character has some sort of history—something that made that character who he or she is at the point he or she features in your book. Many authors opt not to spend much time thinking about this. Their characters are all action and words, no deeper than the pages on which they live. This route works for some, but having a background for your character can keep things consistent and believable, all the while serving to flesh out your characters. On the other hand, having a history for your character does not mean you have to include it in your writing—your readers may not need to know the name of a passerby’s childhood pet—but knowing every character’s background yourself will absolutely help you keep that character’s actions real and consistent. Also, having an idea about your characters’ lives may provide you with more material as you write.

What are his or her personality traits?

Other important aspects of your characters are emotion and imperfection. Is he easily angered? Is she prone to be emotional, or does she steel herself against any inclination to express herself? How does his or her back story play into how the situation at hand is handled, and how the protagonist or antagonist responds to him or her? These dynamics will help you as you write the interactions between all the personalities in your book. Furthermore, characters who express emotion and have flaws provide an avenue for your readers to relate to your book. Nobody is perfect, and it’s important that your characters follow suit. Readers relate to characters with emotions and flaws, characters who are vulnerable—as is the human condition.

Now that your character has a purpose and a personality, we can work on the fun part:

What does your character look like?

Is your character male or female? Brawny and strong, or petite and elusive? Dark skin, albino skin, brown eyes, green eyes—the choices go on and on. Knowing what your character looks like will help you write your scenes. Is your character’s hair swaying in the wind as she overlooks a village burned by an evil battalion? Does the dark color of the best friend’s skin cause dissension when he and the hero try to help a racist settlement? Just as the character’s history can provide material for your story, his or her physical appearance can help the reader visualize what you’ve worked so hard to create.

All of these choices are up to you—and this is just the beginning.

On Writing Action-Adventure: The Antagonist

Light and dark, hot and cold, full and empty, good and bad—the world is full of opposites. Without one, the other cannot truly be appreciated. The same is true in literature. We have the Action Hero, a character whose mission is to save the day (and perhaps the world), but the hero would be obsolete without some sort of foe to fight. The antagonist is another character for you to flesh out, and here are some questions to consider:

Who is the enemy?

Determining who will challenge your hero is an important step. Is the foe a corrupted corporation or government? Is he a man who has chosen a darker life? Is he a mob boss or maybe a criminal in a family business? Or, is it the hero himself, struggling against his own dark nature? The antagonist does not have to be a stereotypical villain. Whomever or whatever you choose to challenge your hero provides an opportunity for a unique story.

What’s his deal?

Like the hero, the villain needs to have a backstory. Why is he the way he is? Was he raised into a life of crime? Was he a normal man who was wronged in some way, forcing him onto his darkened pathway? Does he know the hero personally, or is the hero just a gnat in the way of his master plans? Is there room for reform, or is he set in his ways? The antagonist’s personality is not one that many authors flesh out. In giving yours a personality and a history, you have the chance to round out your character in a way that allows readers to relate more to your story. It adds to the reader’s emotional experience as they unravel the mysteries of your characters.

What is his endgame?

This is important to your plot. What does he want? Is it simply the demise of the hero? Does he want to steal the hero’s girl? Or, are his plans on a slightly larger scale? He could have his eyes set on a company, a city, or even the whole world. He may be out for revenge. Some people seem to think the villain is just a guy with a grudge—and sometimes they’re right. But, having an endgame may strengthen his resolve to see his plans through and heighten tension at all the right places in your plot.

The antagonist is second only to the protagonist, the hero. While the hero may be the reason for the book, the villain is the reason to have a hero. And, much like your hero, your antagonist serves as an opportunity for creativity and individuality. Seize the opportunity; write a foe worth fighting.

Coming soon: More helpful hints from “On Writing Action-Adventure”!

On Writing Action-Adventure: The Heroine

Roughly half of the Earth’s human population is female.  With this in mind, it is a bit surprising that the majority of the heroes in the Action-Adventure genre, as a whole, are male.  We have a few exceptions in fierce (and slightly intimidating) Sydney Bristow from TV’s Alias, Ellen Ripley from the Alien series, Sterling Archer’s partner Lana Kane, and more—but their numbers pale in comparison to that of their male counterparts.  The beauty in this is simple:  there exists a world of strong, heroic women waiting to be written.  We’re here to help those of you who are brave enough to embark on the journey with your heroine by asking a few questions about her.

What is her personality?

What is she like?  This can determine a general direction for your entire plot.  Is she tough and nearly untouchable?  Is she kind and sweet, with just the right amount of spunk to make her an unlikely heroine?  Maybe her history has taught her to be careful in choosing whom she trusts, or maybe it’s a lesson she must learn along the way.  A flat character is not always easier to read; adding personality quirks and unique characteristics to your heroine can pull your readers in deeper with every word.

What does she look like?

Is she a tall, Amazon-type woman?  Is she small and unassuming?  Many writers create characters with incredible strength and beauty, but there can be value in a plain face, one who is able to hide herself easily in a crowd when needed.  Does she dress to impress or look like a vagabond?  While appearance may seem like a trivial aspect of your heroine, her appearance affects how other characters, and your readers, interact with her.  Plan accordingly.

Why is she here?

What’s her motivation?  Few people, characters or otherwise, will embark on a perilous journey without a driving force or significant reason.  Is it love?  Has the antagonist put her family in peril?  Has her past come back to haunt her, blackmailing her into action?  Knowing your heroine’s motivation, more than just her purpose (which is still important), creates a deeper connection between her and your readers.  A reader feels more for the main character if her reasons for doing what she must are evident.

What is her task?

Is she part of a group out to save the country from a ruthless corporation?  Has she been enslaved and forced to fight her way out of captivity and vie for her freedom at the expense of that of others?  Her true love may have been abducted, circumstances forcing her to travel to the end of the world to rescue him.  Her challenge is vital, breathing life and purpose into the pages of your book and captivating your audience enough to keep them coming back for more.

Many different components come together to flesh out a character, especially one as intriguing as a female action heroine.  Your answers can bring her to life, a real and nearly-tangible character for readers to relate to and appreciate.  Remember that any character can be male or female.  There is an almost untapped power in writing female heroines, an entire world to be explored by those willing.  Are you willing?  Now’s the time to write the next great Action Heroine!

More help from “On Writing Action-Adventure” coming soon, so check back with us here at Jabari & Jaser.

On Writing Action-Adventure: The Action Hero

Fleshing out characters can be something of a challenge. That’s why we’re going to ask you a few questions to get you thinking about the ins and outs of your characters. To start, we’re going to talk about your protagonist, the Action Hero. Like James Bond, he’s the main star of the adventure, the one your readers will follow cover-to-cover as he (or she) fights to survive the journey. He needs depth and personality, and it’s up to you to give them to him.

What is his back story?

Everyone has a history. It’s where we come from, how we grew up, and why we are the way we are. Did he have a difficult childhood? Was he wealthy, poor, or somewhere in the middle? Did he have friends or mentors? Consider how his back story plays into your plot and how he handles what he’s dealt. Think about what specific events, if any, shaped him into who he is today, and then really think about how you’re going to introduce those events into the story. Will you use flashback? Will he tell his story to another character? Will something from his past be revealed through documents or people? Perhaps his history will be a mystery—and part of the puzzle the reader is responsible for deciphering.

What kind of person is he now?

Personality is a huge key to characters; otherwise, they would all seem bland and identical. Is he kind and loving? Is he bookish and nerdy or outdoorsy and adventurous? What does he do for a living? What are his hobbies? Is he constantly surrounded by people, or is he a social hermit? Often, writers of action-adventure forego answering these types of questions in favor of instant action and constant movement, but doing so does the character a disservice and makes him flat—and harder for the reader to relate to. Every reader loves to see a little bit of him- or herself in a protagonist; it makes the character more human.

Does he have a tragic flaw?

Nobody is perfect, and sometimes it can get in our way as we try to succeed in life. Does he have a temper? Is he arrogant? Does his jealousy get the best of him? Can he compensate for his flaws enough to save the day?  While they’re still imperfect and human, not every hero needs to have a tragic flaw.  On the other hand, giving your hero a trait like this to fight or overcome on his journey can give you more material to work with when it comes to your plot.  Take, for instance, the hero Hercules in Greek mythology.  His massive strength led to the demise of his family.  His guilt led him on the quest of the 12 Labors.  His flaw caused his journey, and he worked to overcome it.  Adding a trait like a tragic flaw can add color and depth to your character and material to your storyline.

Is there a love interest?

Not every hero has to save a damsel in distress. That being said, love and romance can serve as great inspiration for a hero. Is he haunted by a romance in his past? Is he fighting to save the one he loves? Maybe he meets a woman in his quest and falls for her gemstone eyes. Is she a distraction or an asset?  Diving straight into the action, adventure, and glory is great, but adding a romantic interest can provide texture to your novel, while offering another avenue for readers to connect with it.  Some authors choose to forgo romance altogether; they write characters who prefer the solitary life in which they can focus on the task at hand.  To write love, or not to write love?  The choice, among many others, is yours.

While all of this may seem formulaic, your answers will individualize your hero. Remember that how you answer these questions and create your character should not be arbitrary; your responses should build layers and complexity—even if they don’t end up in the story, they’ll give you a better grasp of your hero, which will allow you to handle him more deftly as you write in actions, decisions, and emotions.  Now is your chance to create a character worth remembering: your Action Hero awaits.

Stay tuned for more from “On Writing Action-Adventure” help:  tips and tricks for tackling your heroine, coming soon!

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