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Archive for July, 2011

Vacation Blogging

July 31, 2011 4 comments

Day 2 of vacation, and a rough one at that. I woke up, got out of the tent (yeah, a tent), got a campfire started and put the coffee pot on. Then the rain started. But it wasn’t beating me! I stood over the fire pit with an umbrella, blinded and hacking to protect my precious flames. Quarter hour later, when it really opened up, I surrendered and returned to the tent only to find a new battle needed to be fought against the leaks.

Now, some fourteen hours later, the skies are cloudless and beautiful. Weather.com still tells a tale of isolated thunderstorms but the skies above me sing a song of peace and tranquility. Or mother nature will be a bitch and wait until we fall asleep to unleash her wickedness.

In the meantime, things are going okay. If anyone was ever to ask me if they should take a two year old camping I’d laugh in their face and tell them they were crazy or possibly lacking some important grey matter. That’s in hindsight, mind you. Although, having said that, my two year old is finally calming down and getting over the excitement of everything to be more enjoyable. Patience, it seems, is winning out.

Oh, another couple of camping lessons – don’t split firewood in open toed sandals (near miss). Second lesson, don’t add wood to the fire in open toed sandals (not a miss).

The coffee? Yeah, 12 hours later I finally got it percolated and I must say it might very well be the finest cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Might be partially due to the taste of delayed victory.

In other news, I received a message from someone new on Twitter that is following me. His twitter name is @ashenclawrealm and he started following my blog out of either hopes I’d return the favor or because he enjoys my twisted sense of humor. In either case, I checked his out and found it equally interesting and thought provoking. If you’re into fantasy or useless trivia like I am, here’s the link to look into it: http://eyeonashenclaw.blogspot.com/

He’s also got a book out: “Covenant of the Faceless Knights” (by Gary F. Vanucci), available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. I don’t readily have those links available but they can be found at his blog. Oh, I haven’t read or reviewed it yet either, but his blogs are well written so that bodes well!

Categories: Writing

A pre-release review teaser for Ice Princess

One of my pre-release reviewers sent me in her review for Ice Princess last night. I thought I’d keep it until I was ready to put the book out there but then I realized, why wait? Ice Princess is ready to go with the exception of cover art… so this gives people a chance to rush out and pick up the prequel, Wanted, to get ready for it!

Cover Wanted - PubIt

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053KJ2QU

 

And here’s the review:

After reading the book “Wanted” by Jason Halstead, I was left wondering what was next for many of the characters. So I was excited to see that the author had written a sequel called “Ice Princess.” “Ice Princess” picks up about a year after “Wanted” ends, continuing the storyline with the original characters and adding some intriguing new ones to the mix. The author surprised me with a couple of twists and turns that I didn’t expect. The story moves quickly and kept me interested. Unlike some sci-fi authors who create settings that are so far-fetched they aren’t believable, Halstead writes about a future world that is very real and plausible. The author does an excellent job of exploring how far people will go to ensure their own survival. I thoroughly enjoyed “Ice Princess” and hope the author continues with a 3rd installment!

-K. Dawe

Categories: Writing

What to do when there is no box.

I was asked recently to write up a guest blog post for a place called Prinstsasia.com by Sherri Helms, the Senior Executive of Web Marketing over there. There was virtually no guidance given on what to blog about, so I was presented with a blank page. Ironically, that’s a lot harder than you might think it is! Typically we, as humans, like to have a frame of reference. We’re problem solvers, but without the problem we tend to wander. It’s not about thinking outside of the box, it’s about not having a box in the firstplace! I wonder what Shroedinger would have done with his cats in that environment…

So anyhow, I dug through some stuff I had and found something I’d written to myself a while ago where I answered some basic questions about why I wanted to write. I read through it and found the tiny spark of inspiration I needed. What followed was me writing about why writer’s write. Or at least why it is that I write. It’s not about the money – although I dearly hope someday the money angle begins to play a part in it. I am seeing better sales but it’s coming at a nearly glacial pace, rather than by leaps and bounds. I remain undaunted – success by hard work is all I know. I wouldn’t mind sampling a few other types of success, for the record, but until such time I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

So anyhow, to read the blog head on over to this link. It’s entitled “Have you ever inspired someone.”

http://blog.printsasia.com/2011/07/27/inspired-someone

Categories: Writing

Market Research

July 26, 2011 2 comments

This is a horrible attempt at trying to do some market research but what the heck, here goes!

My book, Wanted, is a near future sci-fi action / adventure about some rich kids that are stranded in the southwestern United States after their plane crashes. They hook up with a strung out actress who’s running from damn near everything, including herself. In the process they run into a crotchety hermit who’d like to put a bullet in the actress’s head and send the kids packing. In spite of his better judgement, he ends up actually being a good guy and helping them out. Damn good thing too, the alternative was leaving them to the mercenaries hunting them down for their own nefarious reasons.

Cover Wanted - PubIt

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053KJ2QU

 

Anyhow, this book is doing well for me. Okay, not great by any stretch, but it’s my best seller (not to be confused with a real best seller that would give me F-U money… yeah, you know what I mean). Anyhow, what I want to know is why? What is it about this book that makes people pick it up over the other stuff? Is it pure cover art? Did I do a better job writing up the blurb on it? A better excerpt? The fact that it has a couple of 4 star reviews (out of 5)? Or is it genre – do people like the thought of blowing up a large city and trying to survive the aftermath (as the cover portrays)? The truth is the nukes take place before the story starts. Sure, I’ve got some explosions and impressive gunfire taking place, but that’s it for violence.

Hmm, come to think of it, I’ve got another near future sci-fi story with recent history of nuclear explosions. Maybe I should speak to a therapist about this… That story is Human Nature and it involves aliens and a woman trying to find a meaning to her life after her life is devastated. Ironically, sales have been picking up for that title as well lately. Cover art, in my opinion, is nowhere near as good though. Only one review that I can think of (editorial review too, so the 4 out of 5 doesn’t count on most sites).

Cover HumanNature - PubIt

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053K3WXO

My question stands – for anyone who’s bought one of these, what made you do so? For those that have not, here’s your chance! In fact, how about you head out and buy them then comment here or email me (jason@booksbyjason.com) to let me know what tipped the decision in my favor? Heck, you want to earn extra points? Write a review after you buy it. I’ll even sweeten the deal – you buy and write a review, then let me know about it and I’ll let you pick two other books I’ve written and I’ll generate coupons so you can have them free!

Hmm, does offering bribery count as skewing the results of the study? If this were science, sure, but it’s not. Instead it’s called marketing!

You see I think I’m being devious here but the real truth is that if I were as smart as I think I am, I might be dangerous…

Categories: Writing

Current Events Suck

The current events in the world more or less suck. Who wants to write about eight year olds being hung in Afghanistan or terrorists blowing up helpless innocents in Europe? Casey Anthony’s free and Lindsey Lohan’s out of money (and class). No, I’m not dropping names in hopes of boosting my blog visibility, I’m just not interested in blogging about any of the natural or unnatural (see Lindsey Lohan above) disasters going on in the world currently.

So what else is there to write about? Loads! And this is where I spin this into something that A> I’m very serious and sincere about and B> something that is self-serving. Devious bastard, aren’t I? Or maybe just deviant…anyhow.

I’m here to talk about the short run and sorely missed science fiction television series known as Firefly! What? Why? Well many reasons. The first is my admiration of how Joss Whedon put it all together with the incredible characters and quirky but great storyline. It had a rich and believable background and physics that didn’t suck. Surprising, considering I don’t believe it had a Hollywood style budget behind it. Now his other shows, Buffy and Angel, never jumped out at me as being all that enjoyable. Not Mr. Whedon’s fault, I’m sure, just a difference of opinion.

But Joss Whedon was behind the camera. The people on the screen were actors and actresses that became a household nme for me. Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, and Summer Glau to name my absolute favorites. As a matter of fact I’ve managed to find and follow Nathan Fillion’s twitter account and I have to say I still find him entertaining. Adam Baldwin played Jayne, the muscle of the crew who was occasionally a little thick-skulled. Hands down he was my favorite character. I have a thing for the strong and silent type – and no, it’s not THAT kind of thing. I’m a big and (often) silent guy myself so I identify with them.

Jewel Staite’s character, Kaylee, was colorful and vibrant. I keep checking but I haven’t found her in much of anything since that put her in a role I feel she deserves. Summer Glau, on the other hand, was the driving force behind me tuning out the world so I could watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, during it’s short career. She continued to impress me with her acting and screen presence just as she did when she played River on Firefly.

All right, but who cares what I think of these characters and people? Well this is where I try to twist the blog into something that is informative and infomercialish. Yes, I made that word up.

When I wrote Voidhawk, my first published book, I had watched Firefly (most of the episodes) and I was stricken with just how fun it was. I wanted to do something similar to it, but I didn’t want to rip it off entirely. After all, I wanted to create something, not just write some fan-fiction with no real originality to it. So I decided to see if I could switch genres and take it someplace entirely different. With Firefly Joss Whedon had already showed me that genre was merely a bit of putty that could be used and shaped however I saw fit. I picked the fantasy genre, because going anywhere else would just be science fiction and I felt I wouldn’t be able to do what I truly wanted to.

Next came the cast of characters. I needed a captain, but rather than the experienced and sometimes surly Malcolm Reynolds (played by Nathan Fillion), I wanted somebody younger, fresher, and even more prone to screwing things up. Thus Dexter Silvercloud was born. Dexter was all kinds of screwed up but he had a vision and a lack of impediments stopping him from achieving it. But youth and a lack of ethics alone wouldn’t get him far, he needed help…

Enter Kragor, Dexter’s dwarven friend and eventual first mate. Kragor was stubborn and loyal to a fault, not unlike Zoe on Firefly, but he had plenty of his own personality quirks and wasn’t nearly the awestruck follower that she was. Kragor was married though, and a jaunt through medieval outer space made for an extremely long distance relationship. The solution? The ship needed a cook! Not only that, but Jodyne was also wicked dangerous with a frying pan (either in melee or when thrown). Unlike Wash, Zoe’s husband, Jodyne adored Dexter as the son she never had (or wanted).

The next character to enter the Voidhawk’s future was Jenna. In Jenna I needed someone who would spark controversy. Not with the reader, but amongst the crew and, in particular, the captain. Jenna was an elf wanted for espionage, a trumped up charge against her but against any of her kin perhaps not so manufactured. Jenna was, I suppose, my equivalent to Inara – only without the “whoring.” Jenna was elven, and elves had evolved into a more or less calculating and narcissistic people. Rather than being at odds with dwarves, whom they considered insignificant and beneath them, the elves were often at conflict with humans. It didn’t help that Jenna had picked up the fashion sense of her kin and used it, often, to make Dexter uncomfortable with her extreme lack of modesty.

With Jenna came another character, a girl born of elven captor and human victim. Bekka was her name, and she was special not only by her half-breed nature but also because she was a sorceress. Bekka was also shy and in search of people like her or at least a place where she felt she belonged. She wore baggy robes and shaved her head to disguise not only her race but also her gender. She took the greatest personal risk of all in approaching Dexter simply because in him she glimpsed someone she felt she could believe in. It nearly earned her a knife in the belly too. Bekka has no Firefly alter-ego.

So I mentioned my favorite character was Jayne. Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t introduce my own ox into the mix. Enter Roshelle Evensun, but just call him Rosh or he’ll gut you and leave you for the scavengers. He’s crude and irascible, not unlike Adam Baldwin’s character, but Rosh has a lot of potential it takes him several books to discover. In the meantime he’s got the strength and lack of scruples needed to intimidate anything short of a minotaur.

Simon Tam, the doctor on Firefly, rambled and was typically at odds with one or more of the crew of the Serenity. So, too, was the next character I introduced, an estranged wizard by the name of Xander. Xander served as crew both because he had no place else to go and out of a misguided sense of obligation to Dexter for saving his life. Seldom does a day go past when he doesn’t regret his decision to stay with the ship, especially when his lips have been freshly split by either Dexter of Rosh.

The next character is truly original, or at least I think she is. Her name is Keshira and she might have once been a girl, but that was long ago and long forgotten. Keshira is now a magically created body housing the captured soul of that one-time girl. Specifically, Keshira is a pleasure golem. Yeah, that means what you think it does. Bo Derek would only rate a six or seven compared to this girl! She was built to serve her master, the problem was that Dexter opened up her crate prematurely without realizing who – or what – she was. That bound her to him, and much to Rosh’s dismay, having a personal servant devoted to his every pleasure was the last thing he wanted. Thus Dexter desires nothing so much as a means of breaking the bond he shares with her and granting her the freedom to be her own person.

After Keshira came Bailynn. Bailynn, I only now realized, is my version of River. Amazing that it took this long to realize it (Voidhawk’s been available since late 2009). Bailynn was a human girl stolen by elven raiders and corrupted with their magic. Yeah, most elves are dicks. Anyhow, they turned her into a nasty little creation called a slayer – someone able to be magically compelled to be the ultimate assassin with her own built in weapons. Not detachable lasers or adamantine claws, mind you, just the strength and ferocity needed to bite and claw the pieces out of just about anything. Capturing Bailynn, who was sent to kill Princess Jenna (oops – did I forget to mention that princess bit?), and then managing to free her from the elves is quite the adventure.

The final member of the original cast and crew of the Voidhawk is Logan. Logan is a priest with a secret. Not the kind of secret likely to result in being banned from instructing alter boys, but rather something far worse. Logan’s curse is exactly that, a curse that comes upon him during fits of rage or times when the moon is full. This Logan is no Wolverine, but he definitely fits the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing job description.

That’s the original crew of the Voidhawk. Strange and usually terrible events befall them as they sail through the Void on a wooden ship named the Voidhawk. It harness the magical solar winds to go from one world to the next, seeking adventure, riches, and occasionally something almost noble – if the price is right. And that’s just the first book! My Voidhawk series has three books in it presently, with many more planned. If this interests you at all feel free to glimpse below to see the links to my samples and where it can be found on the web for purchase – either as an ebook or a grossly overpriced printed book. Yeah, don’t blame me, I had to set the price above the minimum needed to keep it at a profit on all of Createspace’s partners.

Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053KJCSI
Barnes and Noble (Nook): http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Voidhawk/Jason-Halstead/e/2940012787736
Createspace (Print): https://www.createspace.com/3407909
Novel Concept Publishing: http://www.novelconceptpublishing.com
Smashwords (sample and full version): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61285
Sony: http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/jason-halstead/voidhawk/_/R-400000000000000254132
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Voidhawk/book-ncg1_P49u0GTTUnhwInJoQ/page1.html
Wattpad (sample): http://www.wattpad.com/1636103-voidhawk

firefly Cover Voidhawk - PubIt

Categories: Writing

Fed Up WIth Weight Loss Gimmicks!

July 23, 2011 2 comments

I made a terrible mistake this morning – I let myself get critically annoyed with the people blasting out tweets advertising the latest gimmicks and producs for weight loss. One guy broadcast about how he lost 60 pounds in 6 weeks with such and such a product (even if I remembered the name I wouldn’t repost it out of a sense of civic duty). I tweeted right back that I lost 60 pounds over 6 months by eating less crap and exercising (push ups, sit ups, and walking / jogging). I couldn’t stop myself, but it opened up a proverbial can of worms.

Next time I glanced at my computer (thirty minutes, maybe?), I saw two people were congratulating me and two other people were offering more supplements and diet aids for me. I sent the first two some appreciative responses and let them know I was just replying, in a pissy way, to the boneheads trying to screw people over. To said boneheads I responded in a less than appreciative manner.

Now then, with all that said and done I felt obligated to take it a step further. I’m going to tell you the long lost secret to weight loss. It’s not a new product, nor is it some secret genetic code scientists have finally cracked. The long last secret of the ancients is this: STOP PUTTING SHIT IN YOUR MOUTH! Yes, that’s it. Stop eating crap. Donuts, deep fried garbage, burgers dripping fat, deserts drizzled in chocolate, the list goes on and on.

Step number 2: MOVE YOUR ASS! There’s no need to go crazy in the gym like I do. Hell, you don’t even need to go to a gym. I lost 60 pounds in 6 months by doing push ups and sit ups every morning, as well as walking and eventually jogging. No gym, just me and the floor. I couldn’t do 1 set of 10 push ups when I started too! Six months later I was at sets of 50. Nine months in I was at 5 sets of 50. Yeah, I was beyond weight loss at that point and working on getting bigger and stronger, but if I can do it, so can just about anybody else.

That’s it. Two steps. Eat less and move. Think it’s hard to do? You’re right, it is. Think you can handle it? Then you’re right, it is. For anybody who can figure that out the world is in your hands. The only suggestion I might offer is that when you do get hungry either A> drink a glass of water or B> get up and move. Replace the hunger to eat with a hunger to move.

Of course this is very high level but it will work. To streamline weight loss and get more out of it, check past blog posts I’ve made under the category of “weightlifting”. Yeah, most of them involve picking things up but there are a few scattered abou that explain the benefits of eating the right kind of food and at what times. It’s very important to understand one thing though – none of this should cost you a damn thing. To make one thing into two – I don’t want anything from you for it. Everybody has the right to have the body that they want to have, but the problem is all the media hoopla, supplement industry spam, and people trying to make a buck with bullshit gimmicks like the HCG diet and others that make us forget how simple it really is.

And regarding a magic pill to make the fat melt away? Not happening. Or at least it’s not happening without a prescription or the right contacts to get you into some black market chemical supplements. And no, I’m NOT going to write up a future blog post telling you how to do that or what specific stuff to take. If you want to go there I say good luck. In my opinion it’s your body and you’re right to put whatever into it you want to, so long as you’re not hurting anyone else by doing so. I’m just not going to empower anyone to do anything that they might not do responsibly or safely.

 

anti-fast-food-hamburger

Categories: Weight Lifting

Book Review: Divine Wine

When I was a kid I loved the classic vampire stories. As I grew up the stories changed until these days, they’re all about eternal love and how best to woo the heart of a teenage goth chick. Or, as Diana Trees puts it, they’re sparkly. In short, I have come to hate the vampire novel with a passion that rivals the depths of the emo self-pity felt by the average character in said books.

With that said, I happened across Diana Trees on Twitter and was immediately taken by the blurb on her account: “Vampires do not sparkle. They eat people.” How could I not dig deeper after reading that?! And so I did – for $.99 it was worth taking the risk.

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure right off the bat. The story felt a little odd at first, but not in a bad way. It had a nice flow to it and other than 1 or 2 exceptionally minor typos near the end of it, I was very satisfied with the mechanics of it. Sadly that is a rare thing in most interdependently published books, I’m sure even a few syntactical errors exist in some of my own books and those went through a publishing company.

The only problem I had with the book, if you can call it a problem, is how difficult it was for me to establish a rapport with the main character. After all, the main character is a vampire in a more traditional sense. She thinks and feels but she doesn’t pine away for some long lost love who has just been reborn into his or her great great great grandson’s body. The main character feels alien and vicious – and rightly so. Near the end I saw a bigger glimpse into her personal life that opened her up some. It was a good thing that showed character development. It made her feel a little more human without reducing her to glitter and sparkles.

Loved the introduction of some other supernatural beings without reducing it to the same old vampire vs. werewolf crap too. A fine job, Ms. Trees!

But there will be blood – and lots of it. Divine Wine does not lack in the blood and gore fest. I even contacted the author to mention I enjoyed her extremely gory book and she told me she appreciated the feedback and assured me I wasn’t to worry, the next one she’s working on has even more violence. Tuck the kids to bed and read it with the lights on and the doors locked!

It’s a novella and something I finished in a few minutes while waiting for the babysitter to arrive. Get it on Kindle or Nook – I recommend it for anyone who wants to spit in the face of the current trend in undead romanticism!

divinewine

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0050YUZTM/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

Categories: Writing
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