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Archive for July, 2012

The Best of the Best

July 29, 2012 3 comments

The Olympics started and it’s been a distraction. I think it’s distracting for more people than just me – I’ve noticed a minor slump in sales, especially in the UK where they’re being hosted. It’ll even out over time, I’m sure. I’m not writing this to whine about sales though, I’m pondering the Olympics and what they’ve come to mean (to me, at least).

Just this morning I had to log on to www.nbcolympics.com in order to watch one of my favorite sports: weight lifting. They don’t seem interested in televising it, which I find very disappointing. Instead we get to watch dozens of people ride bicycles around in circles in the rain. No thanks. I’ve never been much for bicycling, sorry to say. Anyhow, the weightlifting from this morning was the B group of women’s snatch and clean and jerk events, in the 53kg weight class (117 pounds). It’s safe to classify these girls as petite or scrawny, depending on their height. In spite of that, there were some damned impressive lifts that took place. My personal favorite, Julia Rohdes from Germany, had an 85kg snatch and a 108kg clean and jerk (193kg total, 4th place overall so far). For my fellow Americans that means she lifted 187lbs and 238 pounds from the ground to above her head. That’s a clean and jerk over twice her body weight! As another point of reference I’ve done a far less skillful clean and jerk of up to 235 pounds once in my life. I don’t train the movement but nonetheless this tiny woman was able to lift more weight than I could AND she only took 4th place. And she’s cute – yet more proof that lifting weights does not make women bulky, fat, ugly, or otherwise scary.

There was another woman from Venezuela with a really long name that irritated me. She made a lot of noise and did a lot of shouting while she psyched herself up to lift. Nothing wrong with that, it just bugged me. In spite of that, when she got under the weight I found myself pulling for her, just like I did every other lifter that was competing. I can’t help it, I’ve competed in far smaller venues (powerlifting, not Olympic lifting) I know how hard it is and I know what it feels like to achieve a hard lift when it really matters.

I’m anxious to watch more of the weightlifting to see what happens. The super heavy weights are able to lift some amazing weights but to be honest most of those guys and gals don’t impress me as much. Oh they still impress me, but I admire the people in the lighter classes below SHW more because they have to balance maintaining their weight while optimizing their strength.

Are there drugs for these people doing practically super-human things? Hell yes there are. Sure, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) tests for drug use but the athletes have ways of getting around that. Also these drugs won’t make the average person able to achieve the same things. It takes a person with the right mix of genetics and dedication to make these feats of strength, skill, strategy, and balance possible. They deserve a lot more than just a footnote in the history of the Olympics, in my opinion.

And what commentary on the Olympics would be complete without discussing Michael Phelps. Personally, I was pleased to see him take 4th place in his first event. I’ll admit, I’ve been suckered by the media into being irritated with his attitude and lack of training discipline. Seeing Lochte take the gold made it that much better for me. That brings into question how I view the Olympics from a patriotic point of view.

Of course I want the USA to win every event, plain and simple. Then when I watch them and see how individuals are performing. In individual events, I tend to favor the competitor who’s got the best attitude and puts the most heart into it. A team event, like volleyball or basketball, I stick more by my country, but for the individual sports I’m much more inclined to rooting for the people that I feel deserve it.

Speaking of volleyball, that first round team USA win in the women’s volleyball was nerve wracking! Korea’s Kim something-something is lethal! Great game though, and how awesome is it that the US has a player named Destiny Hooker? There, I’ve mixed enough immaturity in now, I’m off for some family time and hopefully later on today working on chapter 7 of Vitalis – Resurrection!

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

Is that a Soapbox?

July 27, 2012 2 comments

As often as I’ve used and heard the expression regarding standing on a soapbox to rant, I have no idea where it came from or why. It turns out people with an urge to rant wanted to be elevated above their audience, so they grabbed a box to stand on. Allegedly the first of these wooden boxes had the word, “Soap” painted on it. I bet you didn’t expect to be educated while reading this, did you? :)

I mention the soapbox because I’ve got a bit of a rant coming on. Don’t worry, I’ll try to keep it light and humorous. A reviewer who’s been helping me catalog my books in Shelfari emailed me today to let me know that another author got pissy with her and complained to the admins. This author claims she screwed up some ISBNs on his or her books when putting them on Shelfari. She’s unaware of the discrepancy and requested details so she could fix it herself, but her status has been removed because of it.

Okay, so let’s put this in another context. Say a doctor accidentally removed a kidney instead of an inflamed appendix, then said appendix went septic and killed somebody. Wow, yeah, that doctor should probably have their license yanked. I mean, that’s the kind of threat we’re talking about here, right?

Or maybe the reviewer in question isn’t getting paid to do this. Maybe she’s just trying to help people out because she likes to help. Maybe she wasn’t drinking heavily while operating on the books in question and she was doing exactly what her records indicated she should be doing. And did I mention no body parts, internal or otherwise, were missing because of this incident?

In an unrelated bit of nonsense, I looked up fellow writer with whom I’ve secretly been competing against for some time now. This author doesn’t know it, and due to the genre differences and extra writing availability on their part I may never catch up, but that’s not going to stop me! Anyhow, I checked out some of this person’s books and found very positive reviews on the erotica stories she’d written AND higher prices. Case in point, multiple books are priced at $2.99 but are only approximately 50 pages long. Now flash back to my Vitalis books, some of which are only 50 pages long and they’re priced at $.99 – yet the reviews state they are great stories but so short they only merited a crappy rating. WTF?! I repeat, WTF?

Between the two incidents I’m reminded of a George Carlin quote, “Think about how stupid the average person is. Now realize that half of the people out there are even dumber!” I firmly believe that all of my readers are in the upper 50%, so I’m catering to a tougher crowd. I’m okay with that too because I love a challenge, it’s inspiring and it drives me to perform better. Case in point, I’m planning on my current Vitalis book to be well beyond that length.

And now the soapbox is empty – who wants it?

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

A Different Kind of Resurrection

The worst part about the title of this blog post is that I’m not going to go into details. Those would be spoilers, you see, and I just can’t have that! I will share that Resurrection is the title of part 8 in my Vitalis series. I will also say that Vitalis – Resurrection is slated at being longer than the previous seven parts. I might even opt to go for a full novel length story, rather than a novella.

Another reason I won’t go into details is because I’m not quite sure how it’s all going to play out. I’m two chapters into it and they’re practically writing themselves, but that doesn’t mean I know what’s going to happen in chapter 3 yet. So far I’ve got a full loaded troop transport hurtling towards Vitalis at speeds greater than anything seen previously in the Terran Coalition of Systems. Unfortunately for the Marines thawing out from their hibernation sleep, there’s a really big rogue asteroid floating in their flight path…

And in chapter two Elsa, the second in command of Treetown, runs across a new kind of hybrid. A hybrid, for those unfamiliar with the Vitalian take on the term, is the result of the queen of a species of Vitalian creatures dubbed spitters that inserts her eggs into the abdomen of a human host. The chemicals released leave the hosts lethargic and extraordinarily stoned while the eggs acquire DNA from the hosts to allow them to fertilize and mature. Then they hatch and begin to eat the hosts from the inside out. It ain’t pretty. And what’s different about the new type of hybrid that they haven’t seen before? Well all of the former hybrids had male hosts, thus the hybrids were male. The new one Elsa encounters just so happens to have breasts – and we’re not talking man-boobs.

So what’s the big deal? As anyone who’s read the series knows, the hybrids are close enough to humans that they’re able to breed with them. If it sounds gross that’s because it is. Scary too. The offspring are more intelligent and in a poorly lit alley very hard to tell from a pure blooded human, whereas the hybrids can only pass as human from a distance. From the perspective of physical menace the hybrids are more dangerous – no one’s sure just how dangerous their offspring are (yet). Now imagine a female hybrid that’s able to mate with her own sub-species. A rapid gestation period and high probability of multiple births makes for a race of dangerous and amoral creatures. Hmm, maybe it’s a good thing there’s a company of Marines about to crash into the planet?

Of course Resurrection can’t be just about that – there are too many characters and too many subplots to wrap it up that neatly! What about the Terran Coalition Systems ships orbiting Vitalis that are building the jump station to allow FTL travel between systems? Or Fiona, the newly crowned Matriarch of a tribe of hybrids that has to find ways to thwart every attempt Klous makes to steal the hybrids allegiance? Tarn, Captain Sharp, Jeremy, and the rest of the residents of Treetown have their own stories and lives to unfold. Not to mention poor Eric. What will he do now that Kira’s been gone for over six months and everyone has written the former huntress off?

In the meantime how about some reviews – I love writing and want to keep doing it but without reviews my books don’t make their way up on the Amazon lists for people to see and buy. For my books Amazon requires 20 words, a title / subject, and a 5 star rating. Okay, 4 star will do too. :)

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

I Survived the Black Widow

I spent a year living in southern Utah in a beautiful location called Moab. I highly recommend visiting if you like hiking and climbing. Incredible scenery and, as John Wayne once put it, “It’s where God put the West.” Activities include four wheeling, mountain biking, hiking, climbing (free and with ropes and spikes and stuff), white water rafting in the Colorado River, hunting elk / beer / deer / bighorn sheep / mountain lion / etc., or visiting multiple nearby national parks including the Grand Canyon and Dead Horse Point, where scenes from Thelma and Louise and The Last Crusade among other movies) were filmed. That was a helluva sentence, so go ahead and take a breath.

I bring up living in Moab because I came home from work for lunch one day and walked into my front door. I opened it first, not to worry. I ate my lunch with my family and then headed back to the same door to head back to work. I stopped abruptly though – there was a very large female black widow spider hanging right in the middle of the doorway at my waist height. I grabbed a shovel, relocated it to a safe place, then smashed the juices out of it.
There’s my creepy spider black widow story. My other Black Widow story is in the hands of my content editor (Lisa Shalek) as of this morning. I’m expecting great things from her, even though I was mighty impressed with it when I reread it and smoothed out a few issues. I’ll admit that I’m biased, so that’s where the third party editor comes in.
I’m leaning towards starting my eighth Vitalis book, Resurrection, but I’m not 100% on it. I’ve been working on brainstorming ideas for it. So far I’ve got quite a few, but I’m still looking for the threat to keep it exciting. Oh sure, there’s the constant danger of dinosaur like predators, hives filled with aggressive and poisonous creatures, and even dissension amongst the survivors. Not to mention the new species that’s living with a human who’s sanity is questionable. I’d really like those to be background threats though, not the main villain. I guess we’ll see what happens – just writing this has given me some possible ideas.

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

I’m the King of the…Road?

This post isn’t about writing. It isn’t about editing. It isn’t about my books in any fashion. No, it’s about another one of my passions. Not my family or lifting weights either. No, this is about my motorcycle. For those of you playing along at home that guessed my bike as a Harley Davidson Road King (thus the title), you earned a point!

Speaking of said bike, I’ve made two payments on it now. I’ve had some issues and I’ve spotted some design changes I think should have been made to it. More so, I’ve got a list of customizations I hope to make to it as time (and funds) come my way. This is my first Harley and there are two reason for that. The first is due to their high cost and the second is because of the many quality issues Harley’s have had. Speaking of the first issue, the cost is still up there but to add to it if you want to get work done at a Harley Davidson shop, the rates are outrageous. Incentive to do the work on my own!

To elaborate on the second issue, Harleys have gotten a lot better over the years. The oil leaks are gone and the sticky cables seem to be stick free. They even have fuel injected engines these days and finding a hardtail is virtually impossible. So yeah, they’ve done a lot with their quality and selection. These days there’s a flavor of Harley for every style. Mine happens to be the Road King.

But some bugs and quirks persist. Take the keyless remote security system. It’s a device that allows the bike to start and work when it’s within 3′ – 6′ of the bike. That means you never put the key in the bike. That also means if you use the handlebar kill switch to kill the engine, you damn well better remember to flip the ignition switch on the gas tank to off or you’ll leave your lights on. Not that I’ve done that a few times, it’s just a flaw I noticed. Compounded by the difficult of having to remove one of the saddlebags, then the seat, then the battery cover in order to jump start the battery. And charging the battery back will take approximately a half hour ride – doing it for less than that might leave it unwilling or unable to turn over and start again. That’s what this friend of mine who’s got one just like mine told me…

Having successfully changed my shutdown procedure – in light of the report from my “friend” – I was disturbed to see my check engine light come on during a ride in to work one morning. The ambient temperature was in the mid 60s and everything else was perfectly normal. My cruise control also refused to work – all the more odd since it worked fine the night before. Two days later on my way home from work (outside temp in the upper 90s) the check engine and low battery lights came on. Then they went off. Then they came on. I was looking for a pattern but couldn’t find one. Rather than going to the gym I took it to the dealership to get it resolved.
Their resolution was that it had a bad regulator. Fifteen minutes later and at no charge to me (warranties rock), it was running smooth again.

So disaster averted, right? I hope so. I’ve put a few miles on it since then without any more hiccups. My only remaining complaint is the heat. This is my fourth cruiser I’ve owned but the first one that was strictly air cooled. My next bike, I have to say, is definitely going to be liquid + air cooled. I’ve never been on a bike before that was downright miserable to ride at times because of the heat coming off the engine. Now this is only when stuck in traffic or riding slowly in 80+ degree weather, but there’s enough of that to go around to make it a serious factor for consideration.

Bikes I’ve owned and my thoughts on them:

Honda Shadow 1200cc (nice looking cruiser, okay power, didn’t like the stock seats or handlebars)

Kawasaki Nomad 1500cc (great looking cruiser / tourer, not so great seats, decent power with proper aftermarket parts, rode like a tank (aka didn’t turn all that well))

Honda VTX 1800cc (really great looking cruiser, needs aftermarket seats, great power before and after aftermarket pipes / fuel chip, a great ride)

Harley Davidson Road King Classic (really great looking cruiser, decent seat, good power with stock parts, too damn hot)

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

 

The Life of Writing

I received an email yesterday from Kobo, the ebook distribution company, letting me know that their Writing Life author website was open for business. I was happy to see this! Now I have another venue for getting my books directly to the public! If you’d like to browse through what I’ve got on there (same as everywhere else), here’s the link: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=jason+halstead

And because I can’t allow a post to be this short, I cranked out another chapter and a half yesterday on Black Widow! No progress today yet, but there’s plenty of daylight left.

Here’s my question to you guys – what would you like to see next? I’m tentatively planning on working on Vitalis next, but that’s not etched in stone. I’ve got some other ideas, including a third Dark Earth series book, starting a brand new Dark Earth series called Lost Treasures, an independent book that’s a romance / action / adventure novel, or even starting up a brand new fantasy series. I’d love to have my readers give me some feedback and let me know what they’d like to see. You guys and gals are important, you should be a part of the process!

Oh, and as always don’t forget to visit my Facebook page and throw a like on it, I’ll like you right back! ;-)

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

I Hope You Like This

It’s been a busy time for me lately. I’m two weekends overdue on posting a chapter in Betrayal’s Hands and I’m still not sure when I’ll get to it. For that I apologize. Also for not posting much on here recently I apologize – my focus has been pulled in another area. Well, a couple of areas really…

The first is an attempt on my part to generate some love for my Facebook page. I’ve been reading up on some articles written by people who are far better at marketing than I am and they seem to think that having a well liked Facebook page can make a difference. Well, mine’s only moderately liked, if that. If anybody reading this wants to take a few seconds and a couple of clicks to help a brother out, I’d be mighty appreciative! Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Books-by-Jason/161622180537541. And now you see how the title of the post ties in to the body (“I hope you like this”…as in I really hope people will click on that link and then “like” my Facebook page. Come on, you can’t find stuff that cheesy just anywhere – I have to work for it!).

The other thing tying me up is the feverish desire I have to crank out Black Widow. I’ve been churning out 2500+ words a day on it for a while now, though most days I hit 3000 or more words. It’s a bold statement, but I’m really hoping I can finish the rough draft this week. That’s bold because I’ve got around 20,000 words still to go on it. Fortunately for me, I love a challenge!

As for Black Widow, I’m really enjoying where this story is taking Katalina Wimple (the main character). Kat, or Katie, is being forced by circumstances to overcome some handicaps she’s acquired over the years and her personal evolution is amazing. She’s even stopped threatening me as much as she used to – and trust me, that’s a milestone in itself! Also, readers of my recent release, Bound, will be happy to see the main characters from that book reappearing in Black Widow, although their roles are secondary to Kat and Skylar.

What sort of trouble has Kat gotten herself into this time? Well this time it found her, rather than the other way around. I won’t be too specific but I will share that she’s facing a mix of problems, both mundane and spiritual. It’s a continuation of the same type of spirit-based shamanism found in prior Lost Girls books with a hint of Poltergeist thrown in for a little violence and terror.

I’ll be happy to share more as I get it written. My targeted release date is mid – late August. Here’s to hoping fate conspires with me to get it down in short order!

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

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