A Different Sort of Communion

I finished working on the rough draft of Taken by the Beast with my wife the other day. It was hard work for me, I have to admit. Historical romance is hard to write if you intend to be historically accurate. My hat’s off to those that manage it. The story turned out great, but I had a lot of doubts along the way. Dawn’s determination and optimism helped me get through it, thankfully. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, it’s the single volume prequel to the Claimed by the Beast series.

So I finished that on a Friday night (no comments on how I spend my Friday nights, thankyouverymuch), and started my next project on Saturday. Vitalis: Communion. Or at least I’m calling it Communion for now. The important thing is that it’s another Vitalis book, which should excite all my loyal readers. Everybody loves Vitals, and deservedly so. Light sci-fi set a long time in the future, it’s got amazing characters, many of them in compromising clothing, and some freakish and often terrifying monsters trying to eat them. Guns, babes, herculean heroes (and heroines), and sharp-toothed slobbering aliens. Plenty of humor to be found too, all in all it’s a win.

I can say that because I forgot a lot of what was going on. Communion picks up about 6 weeks after Invasion left off. Invasion was a book that centered on the unthinkable happening – the onset of an alien invasion of planet Earth. So I had to reread a lot of the book for continuity’s sake. I knocked my own socks off, and I’m pretty hard to impress.

Page after page flew by. Both the reading and then the writing of the new book. I was amazed at how quickly and smoothly the new work flowed, especially after the occasional struggles I had with Taken by the Beast. It’s definitely my comfort zone and, I’m very happy to say, some really great stuff has already happened and I’m only four chapters into it.

But I learned something. No, not something, a lot of somethings. Not from the return to my comfort zone but from my departure into historical and paranormal romance while helping Dawn Michelle. I’ve definitely broadened my style and understanding. I think my characters are more robust and the stories deeper and richer. There are more subplots and more going on behind the scenes. I honestly don’t know where this book is going to end up, but I know it’s going to be awesome finding out!

My plan is to have it ready to release by mid-September, I’ve recovered from a computer crash (lost a hard drive – don’t worry, I back everything up religiously) over the weekend and should be able to get back to making steady progress. 2,000 – 3,000 words a day just doesn’t feel like I’m doing any real work when it comes to Vitalis, it’s too much fun!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Dark Side of Creativity

August 13, 2014 2 comments

Nothing shiny and fun here. No name dropping of new books or anything of the sort. The point about this post is it’s my way of trying to process a lot of recent events. You know the events, you were probably as shocked as I was when you heard about Robin Williams.

After the initial, “It’s got to be a hoax!” I got to thinking that maybe it wasn’t. Sure, for some celebs I might have that animalistic glee that I want to see them fall from grace. This wasn’t a reality star though, this was somebody who has touched generations of people in a positive way. The kind of guy that makes you feel you’re a better person just because you knew who he was, even if you never had the chance to meet him.

I could see the possibility. The act of using humor to mask pain. We all do it in some fashion. It gets us through and is more than just a coping mechanism, it helps us find something positive to redirect our attention on. I had no idea that Robin suffered from depression or was battling addictions – I’m blissfully ignorant of most celebrity gossip and news stories. That made sense too when I heard about it, and for the same reasons.

Now, in the aftermath, I’m seeing more and more postings on social media about depression and studies citing links to creativity. I’m a creative guy, should I be worried? Is the shadow of doubt and depression going to come knocking some day? My wife tells me I can be moody at times, is it a precursor?

Knowing I have family and friends that read this – don’t worry. I’m not. Sure, I have my moments but don’t we all? I’m not bipolar or even given to fits of dark despair. Lagging book sales can ruin my day, as do surprise bills while I’m trying to save up to buy a house. I’m as susceptible to bad news as anyone is. I tend to think long term a lot and that may have me act like I’m brooding, but that’s about the worst of it.

The point is I can understand all of that. I’m creative, but there are people a lot more creative than me out there. As a creative person I understand the thirst for adventure and thrill. We like excitement and maybe even danger. Risk and reward. For me every book is a gamble. Every crazy stunt I’ve tried to pull over the years as business ventures is a risk (so far none have paid off either). Without that thrill of trying something new I’d have to find something else to keep me from getting bored.

Is that what happened to Robin Williams? Did he become successful enough that he ran out of thrills? I can imagine him being disgusted with himself for falling back on addictions, and if that happens it can lead to depression. Of course what I can imagine and what he went through probably have nothing in common. We’ve all got our personal demons. Calling him cowardly for his chosen exit strategy would only show a gross lack of understanding. It’s easy to argue that he fell on an emotional grenade just as destructive as one filled with ball bearings thrown by terrorists into a crowd.

I’m thankful that we have so many movies and shows to remember him by. Media that I can show my children as they grow up and enrich their lives with, much as he enriched mine. I’m about as far from a religious person as can be found but I had an odd thought earlier today— Some very impressive rain storms covered most of the United States the other day. For example, Detroit (where I live) suffered record flooding. That was the same day that Robin Williams died. Was it, perhaps, tears from the heavens at his passing?

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Dragons… In Space?

Crazy concept but let’s face it, you’re already reading about it so you must be curious. Dragons are already magical creatures, but this is space we’re talking about. No air to breathe or beat their wings against. No scantily clad maidens to feast on. No knights riding around on horses trying to turn them into a giant dragon-ka-bob.

I bring it up because it factors heavily into my recent release, Voidhawk – Broken Shards. But fans of the Voidhawk series will gobble it up readily enough. It’s fans of my Blades of Leander and Order of the Dragon series books that I want to be aware of it. So what better way than to talk about dragons, since the characters in those books spend a lot of time hunting and dealing with dragons that are trying to make their lives difficult (or just eat them).

To be fair, Alto, Garrick, Patrina, Kar, and all the rest have only a little bit more than a cameo role in the book. Important, but they only show up in the final quarter of the book. It’s a very eventful part of the story – then again, the entire book is filled with action and fun. But for people who really love what’s happening in the world of Kroth, it drops some serious hints about things to come. The big one worth mentioning is The Order of the Dragon is still around. They’ve had to change and reinvent themselves, and acquire some surprising new allies and assets. So surprising long time readers won’t believe it until they see it (and then they still might not!).

Spacegoing dragons brings another thought to mind too. A race of people that travel from world to world on the backs of dragons. Definitely a part of the Voidhawk setting and maybe even part of the next book. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Forever is a Long Time to Regret

Voidhawk – Broken Shards marks a return to the Voidhawk space fantasy series. More than that, this book also reveals my other fantasy setting, the world of Kroth (Blades of Leander, Order of the Dragon) is set in the same multiverse. And yes, that means Dexter and Jenna get to meet Alto and Patrina. Garrick and Rosh, Haley and Jethallin, Logan and Karthor, and worst of all, Xander and Kar. Imagine two long winded wizards having the chance to share their experiences with each other… On the plus side, Alto learns from Dexter how the threat of a knuckle sandwich can stop a wizard in mid-sentence!

I’ll share the blurb and links in a moment, but first I want to share that I’m sorry I waited so long to write this! I was helping my wife with her paranormal series and that was a great story to write, but wow, this was great. When I finished the book it wrapped up in such a fashion that it even surprised me and left me with that tingly feeling you get when you know you’ve written or read something special. I can’t recommend it enough if you enjoy fantasy. And I can’t wait for my chance to write the next Voidhawk book – there are so many possibilities after this one!

Okay, now the blurb, in case I haven’t tempted you enough yet:

Smuggling weapons and stealing religious artifacts feels like business as usual to Dexter and his crew. Just another day in the void sailing between worlds. Until they meet a peculiar troll with a message of doom. There’s a new threat on the horizon, and not just to them and the void, but to their entire realm of existence. And, in an accidental sort of way, it looks like it’s their fault.

Stopping the unstoppable will require a trap that has long been forgotten and the help of friends that they’ve yet to meet. Beyond that, stopping this beast that lives beyond the limits of known time and space will require a special magic that to equal that of the monster’s. Such power does not come without price.

Known for cheating death, Dexter and his friends face an enemy and a fate that they cannot escape.

And here it is:

Voidhawk - Broken Shards, book 7 in the Voidhawk series by Jason Halstead

Amazon
Amazon UK
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes will be released in a few weeks.

What’s next? Back to Dawn Michelle for a month working on a prequel with her for her Claimed series (Taken by the Beast is the name – keep an eye out!). For me I think I’ll write another Vitalis novel next (October-ish release time frame), and after that who knows. There will be more Voidhawk, that much I can promise, but I’ll keep the other lines going too.

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Beast has Finally Been Claimed

It took us a lot longer than we first expected. Oh sure, we realized it was possible, but there couldn’t really be that much of a story to tell about Crystal and her troubled life when she stumbled onto the affairs of a pack of werewolves. Turns out there was a lot of story – and even more that has yet to be told. But we (Dawn Michelle and I, acting as her ever faithful advisor and scribe) wrapped it up in six parts of a paranormal serial romance. And the sixth part of the Claimed by the Beast is finally out!

The story doesn’t really end there though. Or maybe it does… the problem is, I started asking her about some of the other characters and, combined with our vacation Mackinaw City in Michigan, a new story began to take form. It was something different for both us, a historical paranormal romance. It was rough at first, trying to slip fantasy into the history of the world as it really happened, but we think we’ve found a way.

So after a late night brain storming session I’ve mapped out how to break out the ideas and breathe life into them. What remains will be a single prequel book called Taken by the Beast. The elders of the pack Crystal encountered have their own tragic stories that deserve to be told, and readers deserve to know them.

So, Dawn Michelle fans, don’t worry that this is the end of Claimed by the Beast, there will be more to come, hopefully as soon as September.

Until then, here’s the cover and links to part 6 of Claimed by the Beast. Or if you want to start at the beginning, you can find it here: (Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smaswhords – all of them free!).

 

Part 6 of the paranormal serial romance, Claimed by the Beast, by Dawn Michelle

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

(part 6 is not available anywhere else yet)

 

And as for Jason Halstead… in a day or two I’ll be posting about my latest release, Voidhawk – Broken Shards. It’s fantasy like you can’t begin to imagine and brings back all your favorite characters and then some!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Writing for Survival

This year started out pretty good for me. December of 2013 and January and February of 2014 were very solid. Comfortable sales numbers that made me feel great about how 2014 was going to go. Then March started to slack off and it didn’t get any better in April or May. I became almost desperate and tried some new books that broke away from my usual routine to try some new stuff. New stuff that I really enjoyed writing, even though it didn’t take off.

Then my wife stepped up and said why don’t you do something different? That’s what people are reading, and that’s the kind of books I like to read. Why not…

And so I did. With her ideas, support, and feedback along the way, we put together a paranormal serial romance called Claimed by the Beast. It’s done great so far and, honestly, saved us from some rather embarrassing financial shortcomings. It could do a lot better still, but neither of us is complaining in the least about what success we’ve had.

But I missed my books. I missed pure fantasy and science fiction. I missed my characters. So after we finished the last bit of Claimed by the Beast, I went straight into my next project, my seventh Voidhawk book (Voidhawk – Broken Shards). I’d been talking about what I wanted to do for a while and finally I had the chance. But I had to be quick. I was out of circulation for a couple of months now and my wonderful readers were probably beginning to wonder. I went from publishing at least one novel a month to nothing for over 2 months? Had I died?

So Broken Shards had to be written fast. I started it on June 19th and finished the rough draft on July 19th. Not my best, but it’s also 95,000 words (give or take a handful). It’s in my editors hands and cover art has been moving along nicely. But that’s just numbers and stats, it doesn’t share why it’s such a great idea.

Broken Shards returned the crew of the Voidhawk (a fantasy vessel that sails through the void between worlds using the solar wind to power it). I’d forgotten how much fun they are. Diverse, exciting, flawed, and mighty. The thing is, there’s always something bigger and badder, and they have a talent at finding it. This time around their only hope to stop what’s happening takes them to a very special place. A world called Kroth.

Kroth not only has the means of helping them put an end to their troubles, but it has some special people that can help along the way. People my long time fantasy readers will know and love. Alto, Patrina, Garrick, Karthor, Mordrim, Kar, and Namitus. It’s a little rocky, putting two very strong and opinionated groups together, but when the fate of their very realm is at stake they either have to get along or find a new reality to live in.

As much fun as all of that was, I shocked myself with the ending. I know, the thought of me leaving myself shaking with excitement is kind of weird, but the end wrote itself and just turned out to be absolutely amazing. Granted, I may biased and kind of close to the topic, but even so the way it worked out felt like poetry. The good kind, where the words makes sense and you’re not wondering if you’re supposed to like it because people who think they are sophisticated tell you to.

And what’s next? Well my month off writing Broken Shards saw Dawn Michelle dreaming up all sorts of thing for us to collaborate on next. So we’re working on a prequel to Claimed by the Beast. Taken by the Beast is the name and it’s going to be a historical paranormal romance. It will also flesh out a couple of the characters in Claimed by the Beast that deserve to have their backstory told and understood. And yes, it will contain a lot of what made Claimed by the Beast so fun, meaning some flaring passions and a lot of action and excitement.

Fans of Dawn Michelle, be on the lookout for Claimed by the Beast – Part Six coming out around August 1st. Fans of Jason Halstead and the Voidhawk series (and Blades of Leander) watch for Voidhawk – Broken Shards a week or so after. Then Taken by the Beast will be next and when that’s done, we’ll have to see what’s next. So far we like the concept of me writing a novel and giving my wife chance to come up with what’s next and then working on it together, so alternating books might be the way things go for a while. Whatever the case, I know I’ve got another Vitalis book burning in the back of my head and with the way Broken Shards ended, I’m dying to write the next book in that series too! I guess the one thing I can guarantee is that there won’t be a shortage of great books to read.

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Tools for the Neurotic Writer

Not so long ago Amazon came out with a new tool for writers. A reporting dashboard that shows close to real time sales of their books on KDP. It’s cool, I have to admit, and really helps see how things are unfolding in a meaningful way. Things like promotions, new releases, price changes, etc.. And it helps the neurotic writer that can’t help but check their sales constantly have the data at hand almost immediately.

Me, I got over the addiction to staring at numbers a long time ago. Now I still check regularly, but not for a narcotic buzz. I do it to track progress and have reliable data on what works and what doesn’t. It’s a constant ever-learning process too, so it’s important to know what’s going on. And, I’ll admit, there are times when a big surge will still make me giddy as a school girl. Although I can’t ever remember seeing a giddy school girl, you get the idea.

Last night we (myself and Dawn Michelle, my ravishing wife) released the fifth part of her Claimed by the Beast paranormal serial romance. This morning when I checked a few minutes ago to see if it had gained much traction I saw an amazing thing. Not only is it doing quite well so far, but for the first time in, like, ever we’ve sold more books today than we’ve given away as freebies. The difference is pretty minimal (9 books more sold), but I’ve never seen anything like that before. I don’t expect to see it again, honestly, but it’s pretty cool.

Why not? Well, I have multiple books that are free and the first one in Dawn’s Claimed by the Beast series is free also. Want to know more about them? Here’s the links:

Voidhawk

Wanted

Child of Fate

Isle of the Ape

Vitalis

Dark Earth

The Lost Girls

 

And here’s the cover and blurb from Dawn’s latest serial:

Claimed by the Beast - Part Five, by Dawn Michelle

The life of a teenage girl is never a simple thing. From drama to decisions made without considering the repercussions, Crystal has to live with the consequences. Her mistakes have cost her more than just a normal life, they’re threatening her friends and family as a savage monster stalks the people she loves.

Even her whirlwind romance is starting to fall apart around her, making her second guess herself. Is living the life she dreamed about worth the people that get hurt along the way? It’s a price that her enemies are only too happy to help her pay.

As for me, I’m nearly finished with Voidhawk – Broken Shards. After that I’ll help my wife with her next project, something that is related to the Claimed by the Beast series but is a historical paranormal serial romance (we’re trying to see how many genres we can hit at one time). Then I’ll be back writing more about Vitalis. Or at least that’s my plan so far…

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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