Crazy concept but let’s face it, you’re already reading about it so you must be curious. Dragons are already magical creatures, but this is space we’re talking about. No air to breathe or beat their wings against. No scantily clad maidens to feast on. No knights riding around on horses trying to turn them into a giant dragon-ka-bob.
I bring it up because it factors heavily into my recent release, Voidhawk – Broken Shards. But fans of the Voidhawk series will gobble it up readily enough. It’s fans of my Blades of Leander and Order of the Dragon series books that I want to be aware of it. So what better way than to talk about dragons, since the characters in those books spend a lot of time hunting and dealing with dragons that are trying to make their lives difficult (or just eat them).
To be fair, Alto, Garrick, Patrina, Kar, and all the rest have only a little bit more than a cameo role in the book. Important, but they only show up in the final quarter of the book. It’s a very eventful part of the story – then again, the entire book is filled with action and fun. But for people who really love what’s happening in the world of Kroth, it drops some serious hints about things to come. The big one worth mentioning is The Order of the Dragon is still around. They’ve had to change and reinvent themselves, and acquire some surprising new allies and assets. So surprising long time readers won’t believe it until they see it (and then they still might not!).
Spacegoing dragons brings another thought to mind too. A race of people that travel from world to world on the backs of dragons. Definitely a part of the Voidhawk setting and maybe even part of the next book. We’ll have to wait and see.
Voidhawk – Broken Shards marks a return to the Voidhawk space fantasy series. More than that, this book also reveals my other fantasy setting, the world of Kroth (Blades of Leander, Order of the Dragon) is set in the same multiverse. And yes, that means Dexter and Jenna get to meet Alto and Patrina. Garrick and Rosh, Haley and Jethallin, Logan and Karthor, and worst of all, Xander and Kar. Imagine two long winded wizards having the chance to share their experiences with each other… On the plus side, Alto learns from Dexter how the threat of a knuckle sandwich can stop a wizard in mid-sentence!
I’ll share the blurb and links in a moment, but first I want to share that I’m sorry I waited so long to write this! I was helping my wife with her paranormal series and that was a great story to write, but wow, this was great. When I finished the book it wrapped up in such a fashion that it even surprised me and left me with that tingly feeling you get when you know you’ve written or read something special. I can’t recommend it enough if you enjoy fantasy. And I can’t wait for my chance to write the next Voidhawk book – there are so many possibilities after this one!
Okay, now the blurb, in case I haven’t tempted you enough yet:
Smuggling weapons and stealing religious artifacts feels like business as usual to Dexter and his crew. Just another day in the void sailing between worlds. Until they meet a peculiar troll with a message of doom. There’s a new threat on the horizon, and not just to them and the void, but to their entire realm of existence. And, in an accidental sort of way, it looks like it’s their fault.
Stopping the unstoppable will require a trap that has long been forgotten and the help of friends that they’ve yet to meet. Beyond that, stopping this beast that lives beyond the limits of known time and space will require a special magic that to equal that of the monster’s. Such power does not come without price.
Known for cheating death, Dexter and his friends face an enemy and a fate that they cannot escape.
And here it is:
What’s next? Back to Dawn Michelle for a month working on a prequel with her for her Claimed series (Taken by the Beast is the name – keep an eye out!). For me I think I’ll write another Vitalis novel next (October-ish release time frame), and after that who knows. There will be more Voidhawk, that much I can promise, but I’ll keep the other lines going too.
It took us a lot longer than we first expected. Oh sure, we realized it was possible, but there couldn’t really be that much of a story to tell about Crystal and her troubled life when she stumbled onto the affairs of a pack of werewolves. Turns out there was a lot of story – and even more that has yet to be told. But we (Dawn Michelle and I, acting as her ever faithful advisor and scribe) wrapped it up in six parts of a paranormal serial romance. And the sixth part of the Claimed by the Beast is finally out!
The story doesn’t really end there though. Or maybe it does… the problem is, I started asking her about some of the other characters and, combined with our vacation Mackinaw City in Michigan, a new story began to take form. It was something different for both us, a historical paranormal romance. It was rough at first, trying to slip fantasy into the history of the world as it really happened, but we think we’ve found a way.
So after a late night brain storming session I’ve mapped out how to break out the ideas and breathe life into them. What remains will be a single prequel book called Taken by the Beast. The elders of the pack Crystal encountered have their own tragic stories that deserve to be told, and readers deserve to know them.
So, Dawn Michelle fans, don’t worry that this is the end of Claimed by the Beast, there will be more to come, hopefully as soon as September.
Until then, here’s the cover and links to part 6 of Claimed by the Beast. Or if you want to start at the beginning, you can find it here: (Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smaswhords – all of them free!).
(part 6 is not available anywhere else yet)
And as for Jason Halstead… in a day or two I’ll be posting about my latest release, Voidhawk – Broken Shards. It’s fantasy like you can’t begin to imagine and brings back all your favorite characters and then some!
This year started out pretty good for me. December of 2013 and January and February of 2014 were very solid. Comfortable sales numbers that made me feel great about how 2014 was going to go. Then March started to slack off and it didn’t get any better in April or May. I became almost desperate and tried some new books that broke away from my usual routine to try some new stuff. New stuff that I really enjoyed writing, even though it didn’t take off.
Then my wife stepped up and said why don’t you do something different? That’s what people are reading, and that’s the kind of books I like to read. Why not…
And so I did. With her ideas, support, and feedback along the way, we put together a paranormal serial romance called Claimed by the Beast. It’s done great so far and, honestly, saved us from some rather embarrassing financial shortcomings. It could do a lot better still, but neither of us is complaining in the least about what success we’ve had.
But I missed my books. I missed pure fantasy and science fiction. I missed my characters. So after we finished the last bit of Claimed by the Beast, I went straight into my next project, my seventh Voidhawk book (Voidhawk – Broken Shards). I’d been talking about what I wanted to do for a while and finally I had the chance. But I had to be quick. I was out of circulation for a couple of months now and my wonderful readers were probably beginning to wonder. I went from publishing at least one novel a month to nothing for over 2 months? Had I died?
So Broken Shards had to be written fast. I started it on June 19th and finished the rough draft on July 19th. Not my best, but it’s also 95,000 words (give or take a handful). It’s in my editors hands and cover art has been moving along nicely. But that’s just numbers and stats, it doesn’t share why it’s such a great idea.
Broken Shards returned the crew of the Voidhawk (a fantasy vessel that sails through the void between worlds using the solar wind to power it). I’d forgotten how much fun they are. Diverse, exciting, flawed, and mighty. The thing is, there’s always something bigger and badder, and they have a talent at finding it. This time around their only hope to stop what’s happening takes them to a very special place. A world called Kroth.
Kroth not only has the means of helping them put an end to their troubles, but it has some special people that can help along the way. People my long time fantasy readers will know and love. Alto, Patrina, Garrick, Karthor, Mordrim, Kar, and Namitus. It’s a little rocky, putting two very strong and opinionated groups together, but when the fate of their very realm is at stake they either have to get along or find a new reality to live in.
As much fun as all of that was, I shocked myself with the ending. I know, the thought of me leaving myself shaking with excitement is kind of weird, but the end wrote itself and just turned out to be absolutely amazing. Granted, I may biased and kind of close to the topic, but even so the way it worked out felt like poetry. The good kind, where the words makes sense and you’re not wondering if you’re supposed to like it because people who think they are sophisticated tell you to.
And what’s next? Well my month off writing Broken Shards saw Dawn Michelle dreaming up all sorts of thing for us to collaborate on next. So we’re working on a prequel to Claimed by the Beast. Taken by the Beast is the name and it’s going to be a historical paranormal romance. It will also flesh out a couple of the characters in Claimed by the Beast that deserve to have their backstory told and understood. And yes, it will contain a lot of what made Claimed by the Beast so fun, meaning some flaring passions and a lot of action and excitement.
Fans of Dawn Michelle, be on the lookout for Claimed by the Beast – Part Six coming out around August 1st. Fans of Jason Halstead and the Voidhawk series (and Blades of Leander) watch for Voidhawk – Broken Shards a week or so after. Then Taken by the Beast will be next and when that’s done, we’ll have to see what’s next. So far we like the concept of me writing a novel and giving my wife chance to come up with what’s next and then working on it together, so alternating books might be the way things go for a while. Whatever the case, I know I’ve got another Vitalis book burning in the back of my head and with the way Broken Shards ended, I’m dying to write the next book in that series too! I guess the one thing I can guarantee is that there won’t be a shortage of great books to read.
I’m asked all the time where I come up with all my ideas for stories. Partly because I’ve got a ton of them – after all, that’s why I haven’t been blogging as much lately, I’ve been writing hard on new books (Voidhawk – Broken Shards, the 7th book in the series and a tie in to the Blades of Leander / Order of the Dragon series) and helping my wife out with her Claimed by the Beast books. I tell people I’ve always been writing and always been coming up with ideas. People, places, things – all the essentials for writing.
Then this weekend happened. My wife had a bachelor party to throw this weekend and I stayed home with the kids. Ages almost 8 and 5.5. They both love telling stories and making things up (more than just the ones where they try to get out of trouble), so I figured – what the heck, let’s try something different. I did some research since I lost all my original books years and years ago and found out that a brand spanking new fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons was being released. Better yet, the 110 page core intro book was available as a free download!
Well, I downloaded and read through it to see what the changes were since the editions I enjoyed playing (first and second, 3, 3.5, and 4 were all too complicated and took away from the spirit of the game, in my opinion). 5th Edition seems geared to go back a little and make it more fun and less complicated. I hope. Then I reached the end of the book and realized there was no monsters, no DM guidelines, and nothing else of much help.
So another Internet search led me to packing the kids up and heading to a hobby / comics store a few miles away to pick up the starter kit and sets of dice for each kid. That included an adventure, some pre-rolled characters, and some generic monsters. It’s a long cry from something a real campaign can be developed out of, but it’s a start.
That day we began the adventure. We didn’t get far beyond an initial encounter. It got my daughter (the almost 8 year old) excited and my son uncertain and possibly freaked out. It also helped him focus on his basic math skills. The next day after my wife got home she joined the adventure and we finished the first milestone. Woohoo!
And somewhere along the way I realized something. This wasn’t what started my love of creating and writing, but it helped a lot. More than a lot, it was essential to helping me figure out a lot of how to come up with ideas and make them complete and well rounded. After all, since my first time playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was 11 years old I quickly became the dungeon master. No, there’s no whips and leather outfits involved, it means the guy (or girl) that runs the game. In my case, I usually created my own worlds and adventures to put my victims— er, friends— through.
So, genre and characters aside, I learned how to tell a story because I used to fantasize about using swords and sorcery to battle dragons and rescue maidens. My kids are enjoying the game so far (the girl loves it and the boy is coming around, especially when he was responsible for putting some serious hurt down on the leader of the bad guys). I suspect the colorful descriptions I’m giving, especially when battling feral wolves, goblins, and bloodthirsty bugbears, helps make it more fun for them too. Oh, and the family that slays together, stays together. ;-)
I’m slapping keys working hard to bring another Voidhawk book into the world. It’s long overdue, I know, and my readers are already miffed enough I took a couple months off to help my wife (Dawn Michelle) get her stories out there (Claimed by the Beast). So I’m working hard and about 10k into Voidhawk : Broken Shards (book 7 in the series).
In fact, Dexter, Captain of the Voidhawk, just found out he needs to visit a new world. A world by the name of Kroth. Kroth, as some of my diehard fantasy readers may remember, is the place where Alto and his companions have toiled and triumphed over the years in the Blades of Leander trilogy and Order of the Dragon saga. Will they meet? Probably. I won’t deny it’s almost guaranteed to happen. I don’t know the details yet though, nor am I even sure if they’re going to get along.
At what point do things become messed up? Just a few minutes ago, actually, as I was thinking about one of the scene stealers from the Blades / Order books. Thork,, an unusual troll shaman. He plays a key role in every book and yes, he’s going to be in this one too. What just occurred to me and, honestly, astonished me, is that Kroth (the name of the world) and Thork (the troll) are anagrams. Not only that, but they’re practically spelled backwards of each other (except the darn ‘h’ screws things up).
Totally unexpected and unplanned. But I don’t think for one minute that my brain didn’t do it on purpose. It just didn’t tell me what it was doing. My brain let me figure it out on my own, trusting that I’d be a good student and realize it sooner or later. It only took me over a year and a half to do it…
Amazing the little tricks we play on ourselves. How many other hidden gems like this are out there in my books? Some I’ve done on purpose, I admit, but maybe there are others I don’t know about. If you find something and aren’t sure, drop me a line and ask— maybe we’ll both learn something!