By reality I don’t mean reality TV. That’s in a dimension all by itself. I’m talking about the wild and crazy world we live in. We’ve all heard a variant on the line, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Well, I read something yesterday that left me excited, grossed out, and disappointed.
One of my mainstays is science fiction. Reading it, writing it, watching it, and hopefully living it. I’m always thinking and daydreaming about the possibilities the future holds (hopefully with me owning a nice winter home in the Caribbean). One of those daydreams turned into my sci-fi series, Vitalis. It takes place in the future and so far has managed to span multiple solar systems and worlds. I’ve explored new possibilities, new creatures, new ecosystems, and what happens when those are mixed together. And the age old maxim that in primitive cultures and the animal kingdom, violence really does solve things.
Let’s take an example of an alien creature I created that sort of resembles a massively overgrown cockroach. It can spit out a neurotoxin that leaves its victim in a paralyzed state. In some cases (e.g. low doses) the victim is still somewhat aware of what’s going on, although delusion and hallucinogenic. The creature then takes the victim back to the hive where the queen injects multiple eggs into the victims belly, turning them in a host. As the initial neurotoxin wears off the victims find themselves returned to wherever they were before. The eggs release their own similar neurotoxin, but the host quickly acclimates and builds up a tolerance. Instead of being paralyzed and wiped out it just makes them unaware of what’s going on inside them and kind of loopy.
The hatchlings then begin to feed, and they do so voraciously. The innards of a person are devoured and the chemicals these little buggers release keep the host alive as long as possible, although in a messed up state. Then they eat their way out, usually about the time the host finally dies.
Creepy stuff, right? Only possible in fiction? Well this is where I mention something I read yesterday about a bug here on earth. The cockroach family, ironically enough, has some particularly vicious members.
There’s this little emerald green wasp cockroach that is around the size of a carpenter ant. Big, but not massive. These wasps prey on their bigger cousins, the regular cockroach. The size difference is truly David and Goliath, but the wasps roaches have a secret weapon. A neurotoxin that they deliver to the belly of the bigger roaches. That paralyzes the roach’s legs and lets them plant their eggs on the big roach’s legs. The wasp roach then delivers a second poisonous blow to the brain of the big roach. This doesn’t kill the roach, but it turns it into a zombie by making it not care about much of anything.
Wasp roach then grabs the zombie roach’s antenna and leads it back to its nest. Time passes, the eggs hatch, and the big roach just chills while the babies eat it from the inside out. Creepy stuff, and something that happens right under our noses. Or wherever these buggers live.
The point is I was disappointed to learn that my idea for something outlandish, gross, and terrifying is already happening. And it happens here, on Earth, in present time. The only thing left is for me to figure out something even more bizarre and horrifying… and I love a challenge!
But hey, if you’d like to read more on Vitalis and the various futuristic terrors that humanity encounters, be my guest to check out:
There are a couple of reasons I’ve never gotten into paranormal romance. Mostly it involves the tried and true mainstays of paranormal being either werewolves or vampires. Except the vampires are sensitive, effeminate, sparkly, or some other preposterous mutation on a classic monster.
Werewolves? Okay, those are usually less sparkly and more animalistic. I can appreciate them more, even if they do tend to smell like wet dog. My problem here is tying the paranormal into the romance. Typically werewolves are portrayed as turning to their wild side when they suffer intense moments. Well, the culmination of a good romantic moment involves a lot of, uh, intensity. So if the hero happens to suddenly need a trip to the pet groomer while he’s getting his groove on, that could be very awkward. And bestial. Not something that makes me want to have my belly rubbed, to say the least.
In spite of all that, I’m going to attempt to venture into a new foray in the near future. I think I’m going to do a serial novel, which means a novel cut into a few parts that area each stories in and of themselves. I did this in the past with my Vitalis series and it met with great success at first. Then it got chopped apart by some bogus reviews and lost its momentum as it dropped off the ratings charts. I’m hoping the PNR category is not as critical or filled with vindictive writers.
Why me and why this? A couple of reasons and none of them involve me being jealous of dogs because they can lick themselves. I enjoy trying different things, and PNR is new enough for me to give it a shot. I’ll put my own flair on it though and make sure I keep things fun, exciting, racy, and dangerous. No sparkles here – although I am considering a little something special along those lines.
Why else? It’s huge and popular right now and I’ll admit, most of my success with writing has been me getting lucky as I randomly wrote things that seemed fun to me. This time I’m trying to take something that is lined up in the right areas and to make it fun. A different approach, but hopefully the same end result.
I’m finishing up my latest attempt at a blockbuster, a futuristic amalgamation of The Hunger Games and Mechwarrior / Battletech. I loved writing it and I can’t wait to write more of it, but I’ll be taking a break long enough to try at least one, possibly two other books first. The first will probably be this PNR and the second will hopefully be a continuation of both my Voidhawk series and my Blades of Leander / Order of the Dragon series. What, that’s three books…unless I bring Voidhawk and the adventures of Alto and friends together for a single crossover bit of fun! Then back to my world of biomechs and, optionally, more Vitalis.
So many awesome ideas and not enough time! But not to worry, as long as the ideas keep coming I’ll keep writing. So stay tuned while I transition from giant robots to heavily muscled bikers rescuing teenage girls and trying not to give them fleas…
For years now I’ve agonized over a cover for a book of mine that I just didn’t like. The characters looked like zombies. Dirty, blood stained, mindless, flesh eating, you know the type. But that was what my original publisher thought was a great cover and my objections were promptly ignored.
Well it’s my book now (has been for a while, I’ve just been focused on new stuff). So now I’m unveiling a new and polished look by a great cover artist I found in Italy. I didn’t have to go to Italy, unfortunately (hmm, tax write off?). Her name is Cora and she can be found at http://www.coragraphics.it/.
But enough about that, first marvel at the polished beauty of the new and improved cover for my alternative romance / scorched earth / alien survival thriller, Human Nature!
And I’ve got something in the works for a possible sequel for it too. Second Nature…I know, cheesy, but it”ll be worth it, I promise!
Mathew McConaughey won an Oscar the other night for his work in the movie, Dallas Buyers Club. This isn’t news at this point, so let’s move on to speech he gave. It was a speech that I found to be rather peculiar.
Mr. McConaughey rattled off three things that he needed every day. And then he ended the speech with a quote from Dazed and Confused, which I personally considered one of his finer roles. All in all though, the speech left me a little confused and wondering if he and Gary Busey have been spending a lot of time together.
I’m not here to discuss or judge the merits of that speech other than to draw attention to one of his three needs. He mentioned he needs someone to aspire to be. The target of that need is himself, 10 years in the future. It sounded a little cheesy to me in the speech, but the important part is the recognition of what potential the future holds and the fact that with hard work and hope can make for a great tomorrow.
For example, two days ago I would never have guess that my futuristic sci-fi book, Vitalis, would shoot from being in Amazon’s 18,000 – 19,000 ranking to being 2,412 this morning when I woke up. A book about the future with a bright future. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now my book and Mathew McConaughey have nothing in common beyond that tenuous line of logic, but if he wanted to pick a character to portray in a movie of the book, well, I would be open to talk about it. We could even call it the Vitalis Buyers Club…
Jokes aside, I’m very excited to see Vitalis doing so well. So I’m writing this, to try and convince other people to go and check it out and share my excitement with me. Readers write me about the Vitalis books and I love discussing the story with them. In fact, there’s been a few times where I’ve had new ideas, twists, and even characters arise from those discussions. And for only $.99 for a novel that’s well beyond 100,000 words, how can you go wrong?
So please, give it a look and some honest consideration. Vitalis has metric tons of fast paced excitement involving pirates, aliens, a new world, insufficient resources (including clothing, in some cases), politics, intrigue, and even a few crazy people. And unlike a lot of sci-fi the science isn’t there to be the story, it’s there to sit in the background, be cool, and allow the story to take place. As a few readers have said, Vitalis is a great intro into a genre (sci-fi) that they never had any interest in before.
Now that I’ve got your attention, consider the realities of a situation like that. Cold, wet, and potentially slimy rocks and mud. Several kinds of bacteria, mold, and fungus. All in all, probably a very unpleasant experience!
Unless you happen to live on the planet Vitalis. That changes things. Tropical weather, no diseases or sickness, abundant food in the form of wildlife and fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and an amazing environment that seems to restore youth and vitality.
On Vitalis the caves aren’t so cold. The slime isn’t so slimy. The mud? Well it’s still mud, but the colonists that live there and do the hunting and scouting for their village use it as camouflage. The real threat comes from hunting animals big enough and dangerous enough to be hunting them right back!
Oh, and then there’s the problem of never being able to leave the planet because you’ll die once you’ve been changed by Vitalis’s natural ecosystem. But is it a price worth paying?
Ask Jasmine Sinclair, a 14 year old little girl with a genetic disease that rarely allows anyone to live past the age of 11. Her time is up and no amount of money or medicine can keep her alive. All that remains is the wild hope of an impossible cure on a world known throughout the Terran Coalition only through rumor and superstition. A world where Jasmine’s father wants her to come and join him.
With the colonists fighting for her survival will Jasmine find a cure, or become the latest casualty of the growing war against humanity?
Sony, Kobo, iTunes, and others will be available somewhere in the next few days to few weeks.
The topic of today’s post is backwards. However, “living the dream” sounded a lot better than “dreaming the life.” People would read that and maybe wonder what the heck was wrong with me. Maybe. More likely they’d not even bother.
The question of what the heck is wrong with me still applies though. I’ve been writing hard and fast, like always, but my last two books were both Vitalis books. That means futuristic science fiction, complete with animals, plants, and people from another world. And trust me, alien plants can be some pretty scary things.
I’m near to finishing up Vitalis: Chryslis, it’s the 6th book in the popular series and it brings the reader back to the plight of the colonists stuck on the planet of Vitalis. In this book more is learned about how Vitalis works beneath the surface while most of the characters are trying to find a way to help a very sick young woman that comes to planet with no other options left to save her.
Now I explain the dreaming part. I had a dream last night that some people might consider terrifying or at least disturbing. I’m not most people. In fact after my alarm went off and I finished stretching and bemoaning the fact that I didn’t want to get up yet, I remembered the dream and began to pick out bits and pieces and tie them in to things that made sense. I was left with a sense of satisfaction and warm fuzziness.
In my dream it was obvious that a few people trying to fight or escape something monstrous. That’s easy – I’ve got a small security team amongst the survivors busy fighting the biggest and nastiest threat they’ve faced yet. Then they’re running from this monster down a dark tunnel – easy again, the people my characters are trying to protect are holed up in a cave.
Next comes a light that seems like a possible escape, only find out it’s some sort of fire or explosion racing down the tunnel. The people in the dream duck into a side passage and find a place to take cover while the flames race past them. They do not escape unscathed. The dream people lose track of the dream monster, but it tries to escape too. It doesn’t find a place to hide and it’s too big to try and duck behind a rock.
So what does the light and fire mean? Well I can come up with a couple of theories but they would release spoilers in the book. The fire, I believe, represents something more intangible, and yet more threatening long term.
A few days before that I had a dream about a haunted house where everybody’s insisting I not go in because the ghostly / evil presence up on the second floor would do bad things to me. Mortal danger / scary kind of bad things. So of course, I thought I’d do it and show them what a bunch of wussies they were. I went up and sure enough, evil powerful badness awaits. I thought it was cool and somehow came out it changed. Not like puppy-kicking innocents-slaughtering evil change, just some occult weirdness with Hollywood style superpowers. That one, near as I can figure, isn’t related to any books (yet!).
So ultimately I’m still left with one question that you might share – what the heck is wrong with me?
With movies like Outbreak, World War Z, Resident Evil, and shows like Walking Dead it’s easy to imagine a worldwide epidemic. Granted, most of those movies involve zombies and far-fetched possibilities, but Outbreak glamorized a real world example of just how dangerous these things can be. And how self-limiting. Infecting and killing a host within a matter of hours limits the ability to spread.
Now imagine that when you get infected you feel better. Your body gets stronger, your hair grows thicker and longer, your nails strengthen, maybe you even grow a little and put on some healthy weight while shedding fat. You feel younger, like you’re in your early twenties and the world is yours to take. That means you’re not dying in a few hours, instead you’re staying healthy and spreading the infection.
Sounds awesome, right? Infect me, please! Okay, now what if that meant you were trapped. You can live young and healthy and be at the top of your game, but you have to be confined to an island with only other infected people. Is it still worth it?
This is where I shift things to my new release, Vitalis: Invasion. It is the 5th novel in my Vitalis series and it’s all about spreading infection. In Vitalis: Provenance a ship carrying samples and people from Vitalis crash landed on Earth. A very dystopian Earth of the future. The privileged fraction of human society that still live there risk exposure and infection, and they’ve got to figure out what’s going on and how to get away from it if they want to remain members of the human society. The alternative? Quarantine. Being an outcast on the homeworld of humanity. Or, depending upon just what survived the crash, perhaps much, much worse.
Was it just bacteria that made it or was there something else? What if something was in hiding? Something with its own simple agenda. Something that lives only to feed and reproduce, in a place where the only living things remaining on ninety percent of the planet are humans.
That, my friends, is a hint of what Vitalis: Invasion is all about. For the sake of sating your curiosity I’ll post the blurb and cover. It’s available now, and hot on its heels will be the next Vitalis book, which I’m roughly 2/3 of the way through. Book 6 takes us back to the world of Vitalis and explores not only the troubles of a very sick young girls struggling to survive but also exposes more of the inner workings of what’s behind Vitalis. Why is this planet there and just how, and why, do these amazing things happen to people who live there?
Leona Montessori left a life of violence for one promising happiness, stability, and a family. A life to be envied, working security for the executives of a major corporation with headquarters in the Pacific Northwest still on the surface of Earth.
All that changed when the unknown ship crashed and the Army garrison was activated. Using her forgotten training she teams up with an unlikely partner in Astra Redmond, an inter-stellar superstar. Astra’s got her own hidden agenda though, a reunion with her lost twin-sister that was a passenger on the spaceship.
Meanwhile Klous, the human leader of the Vitalians that escaped the wreckage and butchered the Army platoon, gets ready to wage a war for the fate of Earth.
Barnes and Noble (coming soon)
Coming soon – Kobo, iTunes, Sony, and others
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 title of this might imply that I’m offering some sagely advice on how to adapt and evolve. One might believe I’m offering up a secret to surviving the pitfalls of life, be they romantic, financial, dietary, or otherwise. A person could even go so far as to hope I’m going to reveal the secrets to success beyond their wildest dreams…
Well I’m here to say, “Not a chance!” I’m not peddling smoke and mirrors, my friends. What I’ve got is an update on the latest volume in my Vitalis science fiction series. And yes, it’s all about change.
I’m around halfway through it so far but I spent last night, after writing two chapters, outlining how the rest of the story is going to progress. I was very happy with how it turned out, at least in theory. Being roughly halfway through means I’ve written 25 chapters so far. My outline calls for 17 more. Knowing me the way I know me, that 17 could easily turn into 25 or more. Sounds like a pretty freaking big book, doesn’t it?
It’ll have substance to it, but I’m anticipating a word count in the 60k – 75k range. Nothing too excessively meaty. The chapters typically range from 1100 – 1800 words. A few pages of fast paced fun to keep the story moving, although there are a couple of outliers on both ends of the spectrum.
I will admit this one has given me a little bit of a test. I’m hoping to keep it geared more towards sci-fi thriller and horror and combining the typical fast pacing of my Vitalis series with the need to build up some suspense and mystery (and carnage) has been an exciting challenge for me.
So what’s this one about? Well for those fresh to the setting Vitalis is an amazing world over ten light years from Earth. A thick asteroid cloud has hidden the solar system from Earth until it was accidentally discovered a few years back (think Vitalis time, which is set a few hundred years in the future). Humanity has mastered interstellar travel via technology that allows them to travel through man-made wormholes from one system to the next. These are called jump gates. The problem is that someone has to travel to a new system at relativistic speeds to build one of these jumpgates before they can travel that way.
Blah blah blah, okay, enough backstory. In Provenance, the third Vitalis novel, there was an outbreak of sorts that allowed some native material from Vitalis to escape the planet and solar system. It traveled to the Terran homeland (we know it as Earth) with the intent of bringing Vitalian, ahem, enhancements to the root of the Terran Coalition of Systems. That attempt was met with heavy resistance. Along the way a little something special happened though. Vitalian material was dropped off at Europa, a small moon orbiting Jupiter. Why? Just in case the Earth mission failed.
Genesis follows the lives of the small crew living in a research station on the hostile icy moon of Europa. Deep beneath the surface of the frozen crust a liquid ocean surges with the tides caused by Jupiter. The crust is so thick that the scientists are only now beginning to get close to breaching it for the first time and sampling the salty ocean beneath. Until they lose contact with their mining rigs and sensor arrays.
It quickly becomes obvious this is no mere equipment malfunction. The ice is breaking apart and the temperature’s rising at impossible rates. Water and oxygen are spraying into the thin atmosphere and building pressure – an impossible task given the small size of the moon. Yet the burgeoning atmosphere is saturated with oxygen, not nitrogen, making it hostile to human life.
Life on Vitalis, however, thrives because of its ability to adapt and evolve. As one survivor of an early space ship crash onto Vitalis once said, “If Vitalis can’t kill you it will get inside you and change you. You can’t beat it, you can only join it. If you’re lucky.”
The inhabitants of Research Station Europa are finding that out firsthand.
My plan is to finish Vitalis: Genesis on or around the end of September. Then editing and cover art and all that jazz for a hopeful release near the end of October. A sci-fi thriller just in time for Halloween? I wish I’d planned it that way, but I’ll take luck and circumstance any day!
Stay tuned and if you haven’t had a chance to pick up the other Vitalis books in preparation, what’s stopping you? The first one (Vitalis Omnibus) is only $.99 at Amazon. Then follow it up with Vitalis: Resurrection and Vitalis: Provenance.
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 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.