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Escaping Las Vegas

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment

My wife and I came to Vegas with every intention of living the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” lifestyle. Our intent was to put some of the sin back in Sin City. And so far, we’ve done a fairly decent job of it – and yes, there are some stories that won’t be told. However, I came here with many goals and I’m happy to say that I’m seeing almost all of them realized.

Vegas was more about having a good time, it’s also going to set the stage for a near future science fiction book I’m writing called Bounty. It’s the third and final book in my Wanted trilogy. Wanted and Ice Princess, incidentally, have probably been my most successful books to date (although my fantasy series, Voidhawk, is serious contender). I’ve been to Vegas before but I was looking for some inspiration on things to put in the book as well as some insight into nightclub life.

I’ve never been much for dancing. Two left feet and being tone deaf are only the beginnings of my problems. Add in the fact that I’m a large mammal and I get irritated quickly by people who do stupid things and you can see it’s not my scene. Or at least I always thought it wasn’t my scene, so I avoided it. Last night my wife and some friends we met in Vegas took me to a club and I got to find out firsthand that I was right.

Call me old or boring, but I don’t want to have to shout into somebody’s ear just so they can hear me. And the music that’s playing was fast and constantly being screwed with, on top of only sixty second snippets of the songs being “blended” together by the DJ. I’m not really giving the music part a thumb’s down, other than the fact that it’s just too damn loud. Even if I was foolish enough to dance the wall to wall people on the dance floor made it impossible without some stranger being way too close and likely to pick my pocket as easily as give me a communicable disease normally only transmittable via sexual contact. Yeah, it was that tight. And worse was some of the people on the floor. We counted (and later confirmed) two extremely nasty looking prostitutes that were trying to drum up some clients and another woman who my wife said looked like two pigs wrestling in a blanket. It was a vision that is burned into my memory and something I fear I just can’t purge out. Perhaps that’s why they recommend drinking heavily when going to such places – not so I can’t remember what I did but so I can’t remember what I saw!

But this was for research, and it was successful. I learned a lot and came up with some great ideas. We also stopped by another smaller club that was tasteful and had some exceptional entertainment going on. I have so many ideas I can’t wait for my characters to get to Vegas so I can have some fun with it! And that includes probably doing considerable damage to the fictional club I’ll be creating. I might also include the pigs-wrestling-in-a-blanket chick for ambiance.

We visited Fremont street last night too. Unbeknownst to us it was some bike weekend down there and the place was almost as packed as the night club would be later on. I came out of there feeling a little dirty, but I enjoyed it very much only because I had the experience and lived to tell the tale. The impression I came away with was that I had just been on the set of either Escape from New York or Escape from L.A. The only thing missing was Snake Pliskin!

So all in all, we’ve been having a great time out here. My wife even beat the odds and hit a decent jackpot on a slot machine yesterday. Believe it or not, she’s actually going to come out ahead on gambling this time around. We’ve also eaten at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and I have to say the food was great. I’m not sure it was good enough to warrant the prices, but for a special occasion it was worth it. I will endorse a side dish they have there that consists of some sort of corn with a sauce. It’s incredible. I’m talking incredible like “I’m-having-a-no-strings-attached-affair-in-Vegas” incredible without the guilt. My wife and I shared a bowl of it, so I guess that makes it almost like a menage-a-troi…with corn. Okay, as weird as that just became trust me on it and give it a chance if you have the opportunity. You won’t regret it.

So between the days spent lounging at the pool, gambling, or just enjoying ourselves I’ve also managed to get some writing down on Bounty. Not a lot, unfortunately, but I’ve made it through one chapter so far and plan to keep on going. I read a book called Crystal Illusions, by J.E. Taylor, while lounging by the pool and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys mystery / crime thrillers with a little twist of the paranormal or supernatural.

All in all, a pretty successful vacation thus far! We’re headed to see a Cirque show tonight (Zumanity) and headed home tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be sure to ramble on about what that’s all about, as well as any more progress or dastardly plans I might have for Bounty! This just goes to prove how dangerous writers are – we’re like a mental pandemic, spreading things far and wide that should probably be confined to the borders of Vegas.

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

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The Grass Really Is Greener Over Here

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The only problem – most of the grass in Las Vegas is artificial. Today’s the first full day of my vacation here in Vegas and I’m doing a great job of enjoying myself. I have every intention of keeping that up and forgetting all about my day job while I’m here, but the writing sticks with me.

To that point, I’ve got a promo campaign going right now centered around my Vitalis series. It just started on the 22nd of September and it’s ramping up slowly. One cool thing the marketing gurus I’m working with came up with was a very snazzy press release for the book. In the interest of ‘there’s no such thing as too much exposure’, I’m pasting it into this blog to share just how cool it is. And please note that I had several inappropriate jokes about being exposed in Sin City that I removed before finally posting this. 🙂

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Penny Sansevieri, CEO

penny@amarketingexpert.com

(858) 560-0121

 

     Popular Sci-Fi Series Now Available In One Collection

Christmas has come early for Sci-Fi fans with seven books packaged into a single edition.

 

(WARREN, OH) Due to popular demand, author Jason Halstead has released the Vitalis Omnibus edition to include the first seven Vitalis stories in one edition.

 

In Vitalis Omnibus, Part I of the Vitalis series, Mysterious blackouts left Kira with precious few memories of events in her life, never mind those worth sharing. Somewhere in those blank spots she acquired skills – skills she was hard pressed to explain. But those skills got her a job as the new navigator for the Rented Mule, a transport ship that plied the Rim Systems at the very edge of human civilization.

When their ship is set upon by pirates Kira’s skills allow her and the crew to escape, only to find themselves stranded in deep space with only one chance for survival, an undiscovered planet teeming with life that is light years beyond the borders of the Terran Coalition of Systems.

Forced to crash land, the crew of the Rented Mule learns immediately that the key to surviving on Vitalis is a closely guarded secret. Vitalis has a way of getting inside the mind, body, and soul of a person and once it’s got them, it doesn’t let them go.

 

“This book (series) keeps you riveted from the beginning to the end. What people really appreciate is a hero who takes what is given them and excels in spite of everything. Because of our present sedate society we need heroes today more than ever. This series takes you from your dull every day life and lets you experience something which keeps you blood flowing, at least for a little while. When finished I felt saddened that I needed to wait to experience more. This series takes you into a life that most of us would give anything to live.” – Amazon reviewer

 

And Halstead continues to deliver – when readers are done with Part I they can purchase newly released Part II, Vitalis: Resurrection via Amazon.

 

Learn more at www.booksbyjason.com.

 

Title: Vitalis Omnibus

Author: Jason Halstead

Published: 2012

ASIN: B0089MZ09M

Publisher: Novel Concept Publishing LLC

 

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.

You’re Invited!

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Between day job and writing things have been hectic lately – and that’s not including quality family time and my other obsessions. Nonetheless, it’s time for a break. I’ve got a great start on the third and final book in my Wanted trilogy, and I hope to squeeze in a little bit more over this weekend. I mention only a little because I’m planning on being otherwise occupied. This time though I’ll be trying hard to do as little as I can. That’s right, it’s time for a vacation. My wife and I are headed to Vegas for a few days.

It was while I was daydreaming about Vegas that I came up with some ideas for this third Wanted book. That, in turn, has me wanting to check out a few specific things while I’m on vacation so I can do some research for the book. Come to think of it, I wonder if I can use some of the research specific costs as write offs?

I finally came up with a working title for the book. I’m over 10,000 words into it, it’s about time! Unless something better pops into my head the third Wanted book shall be called: Bounty. That title ties things together rather nicely and it has a lot of additional deeper hidden meanings associated with it too. I’d considered a few vengeance – themed titles but I didn’t want to give too much of the book away.

Now then as to the invitation. Vegas is a big place with a lot of people. I’ve had occasional fan mail from readers in Las Vegas as well. My invitation is that if anyone should happen to find a needle in a haystack and recognize me, I encourage and invite you to come up and say hi. Hopefully you’ll catch me before I’ve reached the point where I’m drooling on myself and stumbling into the pools at Caesar’s Palace!

In fact, by the time you’ve started reading this I should be on the plane headed west. I try my best to not get excited about things prematurely, but now that it’s all but here I can’t help but admit I’m really looking forward to checking out for a few days and meeting up with some great people (hopefully that includes a few people I’ve never met before!). Keep an eye out for this guy:

author Jason Halstead

 

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.

Trapped on a Desert Island With Only Twenty of Us

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Up to the point of acquiring a medical condition, I’m a huge proponent of spending time with yourself and by yourself. It may seem anti-social, but there’s so much focus on socialization and communication in the world that spending some “me” time can be a powerful sedative.

As a writer I can improve this “me” time by spending it in a setting of my own choosing. I’d get in trouble for it when I was younger – it was called daydreaming then. But now it’s the fuel source for my next potential bestselling book. And all I have to do is let my mind go and wonder, “What if…”.

The unfortunate part to all of this is that the social skills don’t decay. That’s because of the other people. Yes, spending time with myself involves other people. Not the people in the background wherever I’m at, but the people in the foreground. The characters. Maybe it’s Carl putting somebody in their place for doing stupid or maybe it’s Katy trying to figure out who’s been trying to kidnap a little girl in her neighborhood. It might be Elsa and Tarn fighting off some enormous jungle predators or Dexter wondering how he let his daughter convince him that he should let her learn how to sail the Voidhawk at the tender age of six. Whether it’s those characters or others (Alto, Patrina, Dawn, Robbie, Cassiopeia just to name a few), I’m haunted by voices that demand I tell their story. They live out the scenes almost like I’m watching a movie in my head. Sometimes they pause and re-enact the scene, changing details because something else might work better. That’s proof, to me, that these characters are just like a lot of us real people are – they like to embellish on what happened to make it sound better.

And sometimes that makes me wonder. Are writers really coming up with all the stories we come up with, or are we just mediums capable to conversing with beings in other worlds and dimensions? That crazy lady who claims to be the Long Island Medium – I’ve long considered her and the show a joke, but now I wonder if maybe she and I aren’t so different. Granted, I don’t walk up to alleged strangers who I’ve never met, read, or seen before and act like I have intimate knowledge of them, but I do readily share such knowledge about people that don’t exist. Or at least they don’t exist in our world. Who’s to say they aren’t real in another world? Perhaps every new idea spawns off an entire new universe in which something is possible. Does that mean that our universe might be nothing more than a story told by someone in another reality?

Deep and perplexing thoughts, and most likely random musing caused by too much or not enough caffeine. Whatever the case, it’s a glimpse into the deviant mind of a fantasy and science fiction writer. As much as that may have troubled or scared you, ask yourself how you’d like to live with these sorts of things in your head all the time? Me, I love it, but that’s because the alternative is foaming at the mouth and wearing a straight jacket.

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 Ultimate Zero Calorie Desert

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

This article has nothing to do with food. I apologize to all the sweet-craving and fad-diet mongers out there, but read on anyhow, you might like this. This is about persistence and setting (and achieving) goals. And it’s about picking up heavy things. What about writing? Well it applies there too, just read on to see why.

I used to be a competitive powerlifter. Back in 2009 I suffered a catastrophic injury that made my world come crashing down around me. I ripped my left pectoral muscle off of my left arm during one of my final training sessions for a powerlifting meet. A month later I had surgery and was told I would never bench heavy again. Even worse was that I was moving in another month after surgery, so I wouldn’t be able to go through insurance-based therapy. That meant I had to put my own therapy program together at my new home in Utah. I couldn’t just give up lifting – part of who I am is centered around being a big and strong guy. I had to find another way.

I can’t say whether my version of therapy was better than a licensed physical therapist’s or not, but I do know that I started lifting seriously six months after surgery. I’d been doing all sorts of other exercises up until that point to try and teach my body how to use the reattached muscles and build up supportive strength as well as shore up the reattached tendons and connective tissue. Within eight or nine months of my surgery I was back up to 90% of my previous strength as far as my upper body was concerned. I’d also gotten my lower body strength back up to my previous competition best.

It’s been a couple of years since then now and life complicated things by getting really busy. Recently I’ve redoubled my efforts in the gym and I’m happy to say I’m back up to where I peaked post-incident. As a matter of fact I’m even reaching new personal bests when it comes to my lower body strength. I’ve accepted I’ll never bench press what I once did, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not hoping to trick my body into working its way up there again!

The moral of story is one of persistence and setting realistic goals. Sure, maybe one day I’d like an impossible dream, but that’s not a realistic goal. It doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t happen, it just means I have to break down the path and create smaller goals along the way that are achievable. Like the tortoise and the hare, success for 99% of us is achieved through hard work and determination. Whether it’s benching over 400 pounds of learning to surf with one arm, there are examples all around us of people that have done what somebody said was impossible. And if one person can do it, than so can I and so can you.

What does all that have to do with desert? Simple, after each achievement I’ll look back and have a warm and fuzzy feeling not so different from a great piece of cheesecake (or whatever favorite desert). I’ll know I accomplished what I went after and I never failed something because I didn’t try or work hard enough for it. And when I’ve done all I can do and the end is near I won’t have any regrets for things I didn’t try. I think that’s more fulfilling than any combination of sugar and flavors. And who knows, if the goal is lose a little weight than maybe basking in that triumph helps keep the calories off too.

How would this apply to writing? That’s easy too. Setting goals applies to everything in life. My goal is to be a successful writer. I’m doing okay right now, but nowhere near good enough to hit the numbers I need. I’m trying different things to make that happen, from some marketing and promotion – including a three month promo campaign I just started on Monday (which I’ll share the results of as I get them. Ultimately my path to writing success involves writing though. I just keep on writing more books. Life has slowed me down a bit over the last few weeks but I’m still hard at work on my next book. Since your curious, my current project is the third book in the Wanted trilogy.

And after I finish that one I’ll start in on the next – I don’t believe in wasting time between novels. I’m not sure what the next one will be, unfortunately, but I’ve got several options. Presently I’m leaning towards a sequel to Child of Fate, which is a fantasy novel that should be released late October or early November. My third Wanted book will hopefully make it out shortly after that, mid to late November.

And now back to your regularly scheduled day. Just remember as you go about it to give yourself a goal to accomplish with some challenge to it. Enough to make you feel good about accomplishing it and once you’ve done that, do it again (new goal, not the same one). There’s power in victory, and once you become addicted to it the sky’s the limit!

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 Mob Mentality

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

I watched a special on the Discovery channel a few months ago about how people can easily be swayed by the beliefs of others. I watched alleged scenes where people were tricked into believing a snake was in a tree because a couple of people were staring up into the tree and pointing out where it was at. The power of belief and faith is impressive. A few people, even when they were let in on the experiment, still believed they’d seen a snake in the tree.

Other things the show explained the contagious effect of a yawn on others. I had the extreme misfortune last night of experiencing something along those lines. My son and daughter came down with whatever crap happens every year when school starts. It turned into into an ear ache and by the time we had her at the urgent care it was a full blown ear infection that had her as miserable as I’d ever seen her. Last night we decided to let her sleep on her mattress on the floor of our bedroom so we could keep an eye on her. She ended up vomiting in the middle of the night, although thanks to my wife’s foresight to have her in our room it was a controlled event with minimal mess.

The group mentality effect came into play when we had to clean it up. A fan was blowing and the way I was holding up the soiled blankets to protect the mattress while my wife started to clean up the nasty part. So I couldn’t see or smell anything, but simply knowing it was there had the group mentality effect. My wife was under the same effects I was, but we both held it under control.

So it works for snakes in trees, lines on floors (another scene from the special), yawning, and being sick. Let’s see if it works for books too. Spread the word about your favorite books. Do it with conviction and belief. Faith even, but not like an L. Ron Hubbard convert into Scientology faith. Do you think Twilight and 50 Shades of Whatever sold millions of copies just because they found it on a list at Amazon (or wherever)? No, they sold because of word of mouth and intriguing others to make them curious. So my friends, tell people about the books you like. I suggest starting with mine, purely for the sake of scientific experimentation, of course! Check out the graphics of my books on the right to be taken to one or view the link to my website below.

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.