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…
Those who know me would be confused by that title. Or at least that title coming from my lips (or fingers). Why? Because I don’t believe in such things. I call it nonsense, in fact. Which part? Both.
Writer’s block, to me, is the same thing as a placebo effect. The mind is a powerful tool, but it’s a tool like a sword. It has edges on both sides and it can cut both ways. If you believe something will happen, the odds of it happen increase. This can be used positively in the case of such things as daily affirmations or just working hard towards goals you establish. Or it can work against you in the case of being too pessimistic and fearful of failure. Writer’s block would be one of those negative things.
Studies have shown how people can emulate symptoms in relation to conditions they think they have or as expected results from medications they are taking. The symptoms are real, to a certain extent, but that doesn’t mean they are suffering from the adverse condition. They just think they are. This also explains how the health and sports supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry – they tell people their products work and, to a limited degree, people believe them and experience partial results from them.
I write every day. Sometimes a chapter, sometimes several. Some days I don’t feel like writing, but I have the time and opportunity so I do it anyhow. Sometimes my characters aren’t talking to me, but that’s no reason not to write. I write because I’m a writer. That’s my goal. My ambition. My desire. It won’t happen if I don’t do it. So writer’s block, to me, doesn’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong, it used to, but then I realized one day I didn’t have to let it bother me. I could find ways around it. If I got stuck, it meant I needed to backtrack or start over or try rewriting the scene. Or maybe I should write the next chapter / scene instead and then come back. Or maybe I should write a blog post instead to get my creative juices primed. There are countless tools to get the job done.
So to all my writing friends now and in the future (meaning everyone struggling to get into writing), let me tell you to just keep working at it. Before you know it the struggles will be behind you. Or ahead of you, waiting on the next book. They can be trying, but I promise, there’s no greater feeling than knowing you triumphed over them.
Case in point, I’m hard at work on my current dystopian sci-fi masterpiece and I was really worried it was going to evolve into something massive and impossible. I kept working at it though, trying to blend in orphaned kids maturing into adults with giant robots and intrastellar space travel. Each step of the way paving the path I soon stumbled across inspiration to explain where that path was going. Now I’m nearing the end. Maybe another four or five chapters remain on this first book. Then I’ll look for my next challenge, which is probably going to take me back to the realms of fantasy. That’ll pose a lot of opportunities to trip myself up – I’m going to try to do a one book merge of my Voidhawk setting with my Blades of Leander / Order of the Dragon setting.
There’s epic levels of fun to be had! Especially once you realize, as a writer, that the only person stopping you from telling your story is yourself. Getting people to read it, on the other hand, is another battle worthy of the Norse Gods. But that’s another blog post that I’ll be happy to share once I figure it out.
Our culture puts a premium on aesthetics. Sculpted figures, plucked eyebrows, laser depilliation, and cosmetic surgery. It’s a multi-billion dollar business and it makes a person wonder if it’s all worth it. The great news is, this post has NOTHING to do with any of that!
I’m a writer anxious to find any ethical means possible to sell my books. Part of that means having some outstanding cover art for them. By and large, I’ve surpassed that goal with everything I have. But sometimes there are exceptions to that rule. Exceptions that knock even my personal standards away… but more on that in a moment.
For my 50th title available for sale, I put together my fantasy series, Order of the Dragon. It consists of four books that continue the adventures of the characters in the Blades of Leander trilogy. This comes right after I put out a 4th book in my Wanted series, which meant my trilogy omnibus needed to be updated to a series. More cover art changes!
Willsin Rowe to the rescue! Not only did he make the minor changes to the text for Wanted, but he put into reality some work he’d been dabbling with for 3D style cover art. So now Wanted and the new Order of the Dragon boxed sets show some outstanding cover art! The only problem was the original Blades of Leander omnibus – how could we leave it plain and 2D? Willsin put his creative genius to work and a couple of days later he gave me my answer. A new 3D cover for all 3 of them!
But is a new cover art, no matter how amazing, reason enough to buy the book? Well, if you ask me and if it’s about my books – absolutely! But if not, then consider the great deal getting all of these top rated books at once is. How can you go wrong?
Near the end of January I decided to get back in shape. I never stopped lifting, but it had been a long time since I’d lifted with the kind of dedication to be serious about it. So I got back in and hit the weights religiously. That and some dietary changes (no more soda or junk food, limiting carbs) has me, after about 8 weeks, down from 241.5 to 225 pounds. Cool, right? Well there’s more to it – I’m stronger now than I was then too, including a recent 615lb rack pull and repping 300lbs 4 times while bench pressing.
But I’m not hungry for food. I’m hungry for success. I’m seriously considering competing in power lifting again (dead lift only, my bench is shot after tearing my pec off my arm in 2009 and requiring surgery to reattach it). I’m hungry for success in other venues too though. More on that in a bit.
And that brings me to a different kind of hunger. The Hunger Games (spoiler alert coming). I re-watched HG 1 this weekend and I admit, I enjoyed it more than the lukewarm reception I gave it the first time I saw it in the theater. Then I watched Catching Fire (or as I prefer to call it, the story about a girl with a magical quiver that regenerates arrows in every scene). It’s at this point I have to ask some questions from anyone who read the books: Is Catching Fire really the same story as book 1 like the movie portrays? And does it end without ending?
So I’m disgruntled about The Hunger Games, but it got me thinking about stories and success. I’ve flirted with success with a few of my books (Wanted and Vitalis, in particular), but they never fully took off. I’ve written a lot of books, but I keep finding fun things to write about that end up being niche markets versus mainstream. Granted, I had some great runs in the fantasy genre with some fairly mainstream fantasy books, but I can’t seem to find my way into the really big pond.
But I’m trying. I’ve got a new idea that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s coming together while I finish up Marshall, my 4th Wanted book. I’ve been analyzing what makes traditional stories successful and so far my new idea seems to be hitting all those points. It’s exciting and, I hope, will finally take me to a happy place. So far my books are teasing me with being on the edge of success.
Speaking of books, Devils Rising, book 2 of the Fallen Angels series co-written with J. Knight Bybee, will be out very soon! The other good news is that Marshall will be hot on the heels of it (I’ve got 2 – 3 chapters left to write, then editing and cover art). Then I’ll launch into my new dystopian story that I’m hoping will be a game changer. Wish me luck…or better yet, buy the books and rave about how awesome it is to everyone you know!
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.
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.
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.
It’s Monday morning and I’m driving into work through some mild freezing rain. What does my mind turn to? Genetics and evolution. Naturally, right? Doesn’t everybody think about that kind of stuff while weaving in and out of the slow drivers? Yeah, I’m that guy…
So anyhow, I just finished my latest book, Vitalis: Chrysalis. I won’t go into great details about it other than to say it brings out some seriously scary critters that are sent to test the colonists on the planet. There’s a new girl in town, a young lady by the name of Jasmine. She’s got a terminal genetic condition that almost nobody survives past the age of 11. Jasmine’s 14 and her parents are desperate for a cure. So desperate they’ll send her to Vitalis.
That’s a teaser for the book but it’s a couple of weeks out still. I’m trying to figure out what to write next now, hence the thinking about stuff like genetics and evolution. It fits in well with the Vitalis theme and it also brought me back to a heated conversation that took place this weekend involving possible genetic damage.
Conspiracy theorists, wackos, and perfectly sane and sober people have made claims and done research on chemicals in our environment. Phytoestrogens, PCBs, solar radiation due to diminishing ozone, and the list goes on. There has been a shift in the ratio of male : female births worldwide over the last twenty or thirty years. Not practically significant, but it is a statistically significant number (I forget and I’m too lazy to try and find it right now, but I believe it was half a percent or less in the favor of more girls than boys being born).
The aforementioned people want to blame it on the way we’re surrounding ourselves with man-made pollutants of whatever flavor or type. That may be the case, but is it a bad thing for our species? What if more girls are being born than boys? It threatens our culture and society from a monogamous relationship based point of view, but does it threaten our species?
Look to many species of wildlife where there are more females than males. There are even pseudo conservation efforts in place to protect the males in some types of critters (e.g. white tail deer – there’s a limit on how many hunters can take but with the does the limit is much higher).
I’m not advocating any hunting changes nor any sort of violence against women. I’m saying that as we evolve and grow, perhaps men aren’t needed as much anymore? We’re large, loud, and given to primitive outbursts at times that can escalate into full fledged wars. Not to imply that women aren’t fully capable of the same thing, but femme fatales make the headlines a lot less often. So it makes me wonder, is nature slowly cutting back on the testosterone in our society?
With the increased metrosexuality and cultural impact of train wrecks like the Kardashians, Real Housewives, and Miley Cyrus how can we deny it? Incidentally, for a hilarious (and disturbing) alternative to Miley’s hit, “Wrecking Ball,” google Ron Jeremy Wrecking Ball. Arguably not safe for work. Or while eating.
Does that mean I’m hanging up my boxers for a pair of silk bikini panties? Hell no! I plan on celebrating my masculinity right up until the very end. Heck, speaking of traditionally manly things, I set a new personal record just this weekend by picking up 600 pounds. On a related note, I’m not allowed to even walk through the parking lot of a Planet Fitness “gym”.
But it does make me a little less concerned about the future of our species. It may not be a future present day me would like to live in, but at least it means my children and their will continue to adapt, evolve, and excel.
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.
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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.