Archive

Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Who Wants a Guardian Angel?

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

No, I’m not handing any out. I’m afraid I don’t have any to spare. Or any at all, for that matter. Which is ironic, considering the book I just finished the rough draft of. I’m calling it Guardian and the title is applicable for so many different reasons. For example, the main character is a foster parent aka legal guardian of some troubled teens.

There’s also a spirit out of southwestern Native American folklore that serves as a bit of a guardian angel. With a twist. Then there’s a few other spirits that get involved and a few people doing their best to protect others. It’s a mess and before Katalina (the main character) figures out what’s going a lot of people have been hurt and she’s too late to stop what she set out to do.

Guardian is book 5 in The Lost Girls series and it’s in the hands of my editor now. The cover artist is feverishly at work (or he should be when he wakes up). All that means a potential release before the end of the month. And the inevitable…what’s next?

Building on a blog post I released last week, courtesy of feedback from a reader, I have a couple of options. So I tossed the question out on my Facebook fan page to help me decide which direction to go. I won’t say the response was overwhelming but it was probably the biggest feedback I’ve had on a post so far. The result? Carl Waters, reluctant hero of the Wanted series, is strapping his boots back on and taking a stroll in the near future mildly scorched earth setting.

Carl is a US Marshall these days thanks to some contacts he acquired both in the private sector and their affiliations with the government. His wife, Jessie, has revitalized her acting career. Allison, their adopted daughter, may or may not play a role in the story. She’s turned to technology ever since Carl rescued her from the streets of Houston and demanded she learn to read.

What about the rest of the cast? Tanya, Sarah, and any past players? All to be determined. I’ve got a lot of scattered thoughts that I need to pull together on this one. It’s going to touch on Carl’s new career as well as bring in enough from the prior storylines to continue the series.

What was the other option? A new Voidhawk book that brings some or all of the crew to the world of Kroth. Kroth, for those unfamiliar with the name, is the world that my Blades of Leander and Order of the Dragon series take place on. If I remember correctly the Voidhawk’s crew slipped away from the City at the Edge of Forever with a certain something that belonged to someone very powerful. The very same being that played a part in the formation of Kroth. The really cool part – my subconscious planned all that out without even letting me know! I’m devious and I don’t even know it.

 

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.

Unmentioned Heroes

December 26, 2013 Leave a comment

The world is full of people who do their job with little or no thanks. At one time or another, we probably all fall into this category. From the guy driving the snowplow on Christmas morning to the gal stuck behind the convenience store counter on New Year’s Eve. Soldiers, deployed or at home, parents, teachers, nurses, and thousands of other professions and people.

I realized that very early this morning as I was making some changes to Devil’s Island due to some formatting issues that prevented it from being accepted by their system. I was muttering unkind things under my breath and considering cursing out Mark Coker, the creator of Smashwords.

Then I realized how helpful Mr. Coker has been to me over the years. Unwittingly, as I’m sure he’s never heard of me. Still, his absolutely free style guide he put out years ago has been my bible for formatting my books. How platform, Smashwords.com, has provided me with multiple avenues to distribute my books. Sure, I receive less than 5% of my annual book royalty income through Smashwords, but it’s extra reach and extra people. And, at times like this, his system and people help me find annoying little quirks in my books that escaped me and the team that helps me put these things together.

This isn’t a thinly veiled plea for publicity by invoking his name (most people, especially readers, probably have no idea who he is). It’s my hopes that in some way, shape, or form, he gets wind of somebody out there saying thank you for all the work he’s done over the years. He may have some thoughts and opinions on the industry that I disagree with or think are downright crazy, but that’s okay. He’s entitled to them and I’ll support his right to disagree with me with my last breath. More importantly, he’s helped me and other writers out along the way and he’s been a catalyst for change in this volatile writing industry.

And so, Mr. Coker, thank you for doing all you’ve done. Keep up the good work, it is appreciated in thought if not in word or deed!

 

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.

Sometimes “It” Happens

December 24, 2013 Leave a comment

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. “It” means something bad. Something smelly. Something you stepped in and tracked across the floor. Yeah, you know what “it” is. And sometimes it’s even my fault.

This, then, is my humble apology to the people who were early purchasers of Devil’s Island. When I put the final version together and went through the multiple quality checks of it that I did, I somehow missed one important part. Chapter 23. Yes, the entire chapter. I forgot to include it.

So I fixed it, I re-uploaded it everywhere, and even notified Amazon to let purchaser know (Amazon is reviewing it to do whatever is they do). That’s not good enough for me, so I’m posting as publicly as I can so that if you bought it, you know to go and re-download the amended copy.

I updated it last week, so if you bought it from this past weekend on you should have the correct version. Anything prior to that, I suggest looking for chapter 23 to see if it’s there or not and acting accordingly. Once again, my extreme apologies for this oversight! Or, if you’re interested in checking it out for the first time you can be assured that it’s in good shape now and ready for consumption.

In happier news, I’ve nearly finished the invasion of Earth in Vitalis: Invasion. Is Earth winning or losing? Well, that would be a spoiler and I can’t offer that! I will say I’ve got some great characters (on all sides of the conflict) that are keeping things lively.

And I’m editing the audiobook for Child of Fate as time permits. Nearly halfway through but it’s no simple process to do. So far, it sounds incredible and the narrator, Sean Wybrant, has proven that waiting for this finished product was worth every delay along the way.

So some embarrassing news and some good news. I’ll leave you with that and my sincerest wish for everyone to experience happy holidays with friends and family. Or, for those not inclined to appreciate the holidays – have a bitchin last week and a half of December!

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.

Help Me Help You

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

“You” refers to all of my readers out there. Me is, well, it’s me. I know, you’re reading “me” and thinking it’s me, but it’s not, it’s me. I’m glad we straightened that out.

While you’re confused and spinning around wondering if you’re talking to yourself, here’s the gist of what today’s blog is about. Pre-emptive reading. I finished up book 3 in my Order of the Dragon fantasy series (Sands of Betrayal) a few days ago and it’s in my editors hands. That’s not good enough for me. I want to deliver the best experience possible. That means I need a little help. That’s where you come in.

I’m looking for a handful of beta readers that don’t mind having a crack at a raw manuscript in rough draft form. Here’s the kicker though, I’m not looking for much in return other than your thoughts on it and what did / didn’t work. Suggestions for ways to make it better are welcome and encouraged also!

I’m not asking you to buy the book when it comes out. I’m not asking you to write a review. I’m not asking you to do any editing at all. I’m just asking for people willing to read it and share their thoughts on the book (grammatical and typographical issues aside). The one and only stipulation is that anybody interested needs to be able to get it done inside of 5 – 10 days.

Now then, if you’d like to buy a copy when it’s finished and / or leave a glowing review I’d be nothing short of giddy as a school girl. In a manly beer chest thumping sort of way, that is. But if that isn’t your thing that’s cool too. All you have to do is leave a comment with your email or email me directly at jason@booksbyjason.com. Nothing to it! I’ll email out the pdf of the completed rough draft asap and you can enjoy it to your heart’s content. Or if you’d like it in another format I’m sure I can arrange that too.

Stay tuned to the blog too, I’ve have a hectic week but things are settling down a little (I hope!), so I can get some of the blog posts that have been piling up in my head out on this thing soon. I plan to share some characters and snippets from Vitalis: Genesis, my current project, a bit of a teaser on a joint project I’ve undertaken, and some random thoughts designed to amuse, upset, and possibly irritate a few people.

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.

An Unexpected Interview on Writing

November 13, 2012 1 comment

I was contacted out of the blue recently by a young lady we’ll call Becky (mostly because that’s her name). She was in university (she’s English) working on a report and wondered if she could ask me a few questions since I was a writer. Maybe I’ve been swayed by my recent fantasy series I’ve been writing but I felt the urge to help a damsel in distress. Okay, flowery language aside I always respond to readers, fans, and random strangers that aren’t trying to sell me something. It’s not nearly as exciting to hear that I’m usually a nice guy though.

Becky had some questions for me. Questions that Twitter just couldn’t handle. I invited her to email me and sure enough, the next morning an email was waiting in my inbox. As questions go, they were really pretty easy. Thoughtful though, and possibly helpful to other writers. Heck, for that matter, they might be of use to just about anyone. So in proving the answer to one of her questions about seeking inspiration, I used her conversation with me as inspiration to write this blog post! Read on for the Q&A session.

Becky: How long does it take me to write a book?
Jason: These days I usually take about 3 to 4 weeks to write a book. I can manage anywhere from 2000 to 5000 words a day on most days and that allows for a novel in the time span of a month. That’s just the rough draft though, from there I have to self edit it (another couple of days), then send it off to e content editor (approximately 3 – 4 weeks time), and then to a copyeditor / proofreader (another 2 – 3 weeks). While that’s going on I arrange to have cover art created for it so that when it comes back from the editors and I go over it a final time, it’s ready for publication. All told it takes approximately 2 months from word 1 to publication.

Becky: How do I get my inspirations?
Jason: Ooh, that’s a surprisingly tough question. The simple answer is everywhere. The not so simple answer is that it varies. Sometimes an idea just pops in my head while I’m driving in to my day job in the morning. At other times it happens while I’m writing a different book. Maybe I’ll be watching a movie and see something that I think deserves to be spun in a different way. I’ve been inspired by songs (Megadeth and Evanescence in particular, believe it or not), and I’ve been inspired by pictures. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve been inspired by my kids and my wife a few times as well. Inspiration is all around us, the tricky part is recognizing it!

Becky: What genre do you prefer to write in?
Jason: For perhaps the first time in my writing career I just released a book (Child of Fate) that is strictly high fantasy. We’re talking sword and sorcery, dragons and maidens kind of fantasy. Last night I started book 2 in that series (Victims of Fate). These are wonderful books, but a slight deviation from the norm for me because I’m a cross-genre kind of guy. By that I mean I write stories about characters. The backdrop and the setting flexes and changes to meet the needs of the story. From a higher level view my stories usually fall into science fiction or fantasy genres, but that’s not important to me. I don’t write about specific places or events, I write about people and how the feel, grow, and overcome the challenges presented to them by their environments.

Having said that, I’ve also written a couple of books that fit inside the romance genre more than anything else. I do not consider myself a romance writer, but when the characters speak to me and tell me they’ve got a story for me to tell, I listen.

 

And that, my friends, is it. Nothing too long or drawn out, just three simple questions that provide some great answers or data for other writers getting into the craft. She didn’t ask anything about what happens after a book is written and published, but to her credit I never thought about that until I had to either. That’s when the promoting and market awareness takes place, and it can be a daunting and exhausting task that is every bit as much work as writing and editing the books is. Definitely fodder for another post at another time though!

 

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 Majesty of the Printed Word

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve raved about Child of Fate being released a couple of times (and I’ll probably do it a couple more), but why stop there? Not only is it available at your favorite websites for your ereading pleasure, now it’s available for those of you that prefer the feel of a printed book. That’s right, Child of Fate has gone physical! Click on the pic below (or the link below it) to have a chance to snatch it up.

Child of Fate, by Jason Halstead

Child of Fate on Createspace (Amazon)

But why stop with just one? In true made-for-TV marketing, I have not one but two books that just crossed the threshold into the real world. Not only is Child of Fate available to read and then use as a paperweight, but so is Vitalis: Resurrection. Check it out!

Vitalis: Resurrection, a book by Jason Halstead

Vitalis: Resurrection on Createspace / Amazon

Unfortunately that’s all I’ve got to offer today. Aside from news that I have finished my self-edit of Bounty and I was very pleased with how it turned out. Now it’s off to Lisa Shalek, my content editor. I hope she’s as happy with it as I am!

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 Hardest Part of Writing

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

To a non-writer the act of sitting down and writing thousands of words seems more than a little daunting. I can remember the groaning of fellow students even in my MBA classes at the thought of having to write 500+ word essays. Heck, I’ve got a co-worker who once offered to pay me to write his quarterly company newsletter articles and those are only a couple of paragraphs! And no, I didn’t take him up on the offer, but not because I’m afraid of writing.

As any writer knows, writing the book is actually the easy part. What comes after, the publishing and marketing, is a far more grueling and difficult task. It’s not a matter of “if you write it, they will read.” Sure, we’d love for that to be the case, but if nobody knows it’s out there how could anyone possibly read it? That’s the tricky part. Tricky and, depending on how you go about it, expensive.

But all of those things still may not be the hardest part of writing. I’m sitting on a very complicated dilemma at this very moment while I’m finishing up a self-edit of my most recent fantasy novel, Child of Fate. I hope to finish the self-edit today then send it off to Lisa Shalek for content editing, then my proof reader, Faith Williams. And of course my favorite cover artist, Willsin Rowe. As excited as I am to get that book going I’m having a bit of a rough time. You see, in the back of my head I have two books fighting each other for the right to be heard, or at least read. Do I jump into the sequel for Child of Fate right away while it’s still fresh or do I step away and undertake another long overdue project?

What long overdue project? Well I’m glad you asked! It started out with some plans my wife and I have to go to Vegas without the kids in a couple of weeks. We’re meeting some friends out there and the plan is, for a night or two, to go clubbing. Now when I think of the word clubbing I flash back to either romance in the caveman era or being mugged in a dark alley. My wife corrected me and pointed out that I needed to be on my best behavior because if I let my irritation show on my face while waiting in line or in the club, I could very easily be asked to leave. I was thinking about this Friday night while my wife and I were out with a different couple (yes, we’ve got at least four friends). My wife and her friend were out dancing while the other guy and I were sitting there watching them. It was entertaining. Her words flashed into my head though, and that started an unexpected moment of inspiration.

I have a character in the books I’ve written that shares some traits with me. In him they are amplified to levels that are admirable. Sort of like the movie Braveheart where William Wallace is considered an uncompromising man and it’s a good thing. Well Carl, of Wanted / Ice Princess fame, would be just as annoyed or more so than I would be in such a situation, and he wouldn’t be upset to show it. Add in somebody putting their hands on him to escort him out and, well, it would get messy.

So with that scene in mind I chuckled, then I realized I might be on to something. Was this, at last, the segue into the third and final book in the Wanted series? I dug deeper and soon it just started pouting into my brain. I had a plot and a premise. I had scenes. I had ideas. Now all I need to do is write it out!

But I’m indecisive. When I wrote Wanted I got hung up for a long time on it. I ended up cutting back and dropping around 15,000 words at the end and rewriting the ending. My original plans lay shattered for the trilogy and I considered leaving it at just one book. Eventually I found inspiration to do Ice Princess, but I had a rough time with that one too throughout it. So now I’m nervous that the third one would be equally troubling. I’ve come a long ways as a writer since those books, but that doesn’t stop the fear of failure from creeping in.

Nonetheless, I think I’m going to proceed with the third Wanted book. Like I said, I’ll be in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks so what better time to write it then when I can do live research on the place where I plan for most of the book to happen in? Granted, it’s a very different Las Vegas. The third book will take place several years after Ice Princess has ended. The United States government has moved back in and reclaimed the western states from the neo-anarchy that plagued the world for several years, but their presence is limited and quite often quite martial. With all the sparks from that kind of environment going on what could be more fun than adding in a little gasoline?

Stay tuned, I’ll be sure to post progress as I get started on it. I’m not sure if I want to title the book “Sin City”, “Vegas”, or something else altogether. Not to worry, I’ll figure it out!

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 Writing Machine

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I haven’t blogged much as I should have recently. I’ll make no promises that I’ll step it up to a few posts a week in the immediate future either. My dayjob has been kicking me between the legs so much lately it’s becoming repetitive. I hope I get used to it and build up a tolerance. Although I hate to imagine having callouses “down there!”

Anyhow, in spite of the day to day burdens of life at a tier 1 auto supplier, the write must go on. I try to squeeze some writing in on lunch since I never leave the day job except to go home at the end of the day, but even that’s been denied to me this week. The answer? headphones.

One of my wife’s favorite shows (perhaps her current favorite altogether) just started back up, “The Voice.” I admit, it’s kind of catchy at times and I do enjoy the train wreck that is Christina Aguilara’s outfits. The problem is it comes on when the kids go to bed and that’s prime writing time. Enter the headphones. I fire up a selection of music I’ve loaded for inspiring creative genius and go to town. Sure, there are still some distractions with the Voice in the background and my wife occasionally laughing or talking to me (I keep the volume low enough to hear what’s going on around me).

In spite of the distractions the music helps keep me more focused, even if it only serves as white noise. Monday night, for example, I cranked out 2000 words on my current work in progress (Child of Fate, a fantasy novel beginning a new series). Last night I shocked myself by managing over 3000 words in an even shorter time frame.  With Child of Fate I’m shooting for an average of 3000 words per chapter and I’m some in the early to mid 20’s for chapter count. Two more to go and I expect the book will be finished.

So what’s next after Child of Fate? I’m tempted to launch into book two right away, but I’m considering my options. I may branch out and try something completely different from my usual fair, but I remain undecided. Whatever it is I’ll keep plugging away like the writing machine that I am. That much is certain.

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.

The Woes of the Written Word

July 9, 2012 1 comment

This post is dedicated to editing. Not how to edit, nor what a wonderful thing a good editor is. Rather it’s about the different styles of editing and how very misunderstood the concept of editing is. I’m far from above making the mistake of misunderstanding it as well, it took several books and years for me to be able to wrap my brain around it. Truth be told, I’m sure I’m still missing out on a lot.

You see I hate typos and grammatical mistakes. They infuriate me because they’re so easy to miss. I assumed, years ago, that by sending out my work to an editor they would magically be corrected. Then I’d get reviews or comments complaining about how my book needed editing. I keep my hair short for many reasons, not the least of which is so that it’s too hard for me to pull it out when stuff like that happens.

The misconception is that all editing is the same. It’s not. All of my books are edited, and nearly 95% of those are done by a third party person as well as myself (and sometime by other parties as well). The third party is the content editor. A content editor is reading the story and looking for it to make sense and to make it flow better. They help revise poorly worded areas and also catch other things that drag a story down or make it difficult to read / understand. These people can truly make a story shine, yet to the average reader they have no idea these people exist or that they aided in the publication of a given story.

Then there’s the copyeditors, or proofreaders. They look for the formatting and typographical errors. Copyeditors are the parade soldiers in dress uniforms that people see. They make a writer and a reader feel like they’re being protected from the barbarian hordes wielding fragmented sentences. In reality, the copy editor has less of an impact on the story than anyone else does, yet their work is the most visible. For me, most of my stories have not been reviewed by a proper third party copyeditor. I admit this and regret it, but when it comes down to managing costs it’s a difficult burden to bear. Instead I try to do my own proofreading (shame on me, I know), and try to sucker anyone else I know to do the same. As time and money becomes available I send stories off to be copyedited, but I write faster than I can afford to edit so it’s a growing backlist.

So my friends, when I say I’m a stickler for editing, I mean it. That doesn’t mean you won’t find superfluous errors with no impact on the story though, it only means the story itself has been polished and shined to be something fun and provoking. I’d love to be able afford to provide both, but that requires more sales. How can you help? Tell your friends what you’re reading and how much you like it – it helps even more if the book your reading is one of mine! Tweet about it, post it on Facebook, blog about it, or write a glowing review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, Sony, Kobo, or wherever you go it. And keep checking back, I’m always writing the next book – my current project is Black Widow, book four in the Lost Girls series, which I’m hoping to release in August.

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,795 other followers