Archive for September, 2013

Shutting Down

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

That’s the big deal in the news right now. In America, arguably. The government shutdown due to the fiscal year ending today, September 30th, and the house and senate not agreeing on a budget.

I admit, I haven’t followed the news much until I decided to look into it today. Why wait? Simple – I’m a writer plagued with an overactive imagination. I have so many ideas for books I get frightened whenever I check out CNN or a reputable (read: non-Fox) news site. The raw material for so many stories is just sitting there like an untended gold mine.

But today I broke that habit and dug into figuring out what’s going on. It’s pretty stupid, if you ask me (and probably most of America). It all hinges around Obamacare, the infamous health plan everyone is afraid of. The House of Representatives is run by republicans and they don’t like it, so they’re trying to downplay it considerably. The Senate is run by democrats and they are poo-pooing anything that the House tries to slip through. Both have to agree to pass the bill and both have vowed to spill blood before agreeing on this issue.

Why the angst? I wish I knew. Oh sure, I read the bits about how the fear is the government is overstepping their bounds in requiring healthcare for everyone. I don’t disagree with that, but there’s a flip side to the coin that keeps me from tossing my hat into either ring. Obamacare would prevent denial of healthcare to people with pre-existing conditions. For many the elimination of that is a scary thing. For people I know, two personally, that is a very good thing.

Is Obamacare the best way to go about it? I doubt it. Do I have a better solution? Nope. What this has done is prompted several what-if scenarios in my head. And, as I predicted, those have themselves fleshing out into a story idea. It’s not about healthcare though, it’s about a future version of the United States of America that may or may not be an improved version.

I’m still working through the specifics, but it involves welfare / unemployment assistance that makes sense (meaning no alcohol, cigarettes, or luxury items with the government provided funding, as well as mandatory drug testing). That’s pretty minor though. The big changes involve no more federal income tax. Instead local (state) governments gain more autonomy and are required to pay taxes to the federal government. Obviously states need to come up with a way to boost their funding to support all the added expenses they’ll have.

What about the US military? Well, that’s complicated. Various agencies would still need to exist, obviously. The FBI, CIA, NSA, a vastly redesigned IRS, Sector 7, and SHIELD, for example. Okay, maybe not so much on the last two, but it would be kind of cool if they were needed. States would have to maintain their own militias and I’m thinking that a percentage of each is rotated through national bases to train or deploy as needed every so often. I certainly have no interest in weakening America’s military strength, but I would also like to lessen our role as the perceived global peacekeeper (aka bully).

In short, this setting will have a smaller government and less impact on day to day lives. Stupid things like the looming government shutdown would have a far less likely chance to proceed. People would have power and make decisions again, versus a handful of elected officials that may or may not be paying any attention to their constituents. We have the technology for that, let’s stop pretending we live in the 1800s and need other people to make decisions for us.

As for the reality of what’s happening right now, I hope it doesn’t come to pass. Too many people will go without a paycheck, and too many others will go without the funding or permits they need to live their lives. That, in turn, will have a trickle-down effect and the end result will be another recession just when things started to be slowly gaining. For being a nation filled with educated and intelligent people we certainly allow a lot of really stupid things to happen.

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


Looking for a Good Fluffer?

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Regular masochists readers of this blog know that I like to use outrageous titles and then talk about something unexpected but related. Since there’s no way I would risk talking about the most obvious urban definition of ‘fluffer’, I thought I’d discuss the unpaid and underappreciated men and (mostly) women whose job it is to keep adult actors and actress ready to go when the directors cries, “Action!”

Oh wait, that’s what most people think of when they hear the word “fluffer.” Well nuts, I guess I’ll talk about something else.

Ooh, what about when you’ve got a story that needs some more oomph? More content. More details and explanation. You’ve got a good idea and its framed out, but it needs something to fill it in. Fluff it up. Make it stand out and be noticed. Try dialogue.

What? But my main character is the strong silent type. Well duh, of course he is. What manly man isn’t? This post alone will contain more words than I’m likely to say over the course of this entire week. Good thing a decent dialogue requires at least two parties!

Or you could realize that communication and dialogue is so much more than he said, she said. Facial expressions, hand gestures (or finger gestures, in some cases), and body language can tell just as much as words do. Which do you prefer:

“I don’t think so,” she said icily.

She crossed her arms and looked down her nose at him as she said, “I don’t think so.”

The first one is sterile. It tells us what she said and how she said it. It doesn’t show us. It doesn’t help paint the picture in our head. It gives us just enough to make us finish out the details. Is she wearing a sweater or a tank top? Is the sunlight glinting off her diamond ring? Is the blood on her neck dried or still fresh? And is it her blood?

A good scene of dialogue does a lot more than just paint pictures though. It gives the writer a chance to share things he can’t easily share otherwise. Sure, there’s the infodump method of explaining why the moon split in half after the Chinese lunar mining mission suffered a catastrophic accident, but you lose a reader’s interest quickly with the dry material. It’s much better to not only share the information in a fun and intriguing dialogue between characters, but it also lets you introduce more about your characters to the reader and establish their personalities. And it takes up words. Words, ultimately, are what make up a novel.

Pick a scene and write it. Maybe it’s about your children playing on a tire swing. Maybe it’s a man fishing on the shore of a river with his trust dog. Maybe a starfighter pilot survived a crash into an enemy hanger. What’s the goal of the scene: Survival? Fun? Running away from a creepy guy with an axe? Alerting a nearby village about a tribe of raiding orcs? Whatever, write it down. Then when you’ve got the basic idea figured out flesh it out. Add the interactions between characters. Put in dialogue and make it come to life.  Good fluff like that will double the size of a scene and take it from something that sounds good on paper to something that looks good in your mind.


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

Pixie Sex

September 26, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve read that Hemingway was a drunk. I wasn’t there so I don’t know. I’ve heard that many great novelists helped themselves to various chemicals, substances, and elixirs that had mood or mind altering affects. I think I understand why.

I’ve got a cold. It’s not a particularly vicious one I don’t think, but it’s enough to make me miserable. My process for dealing with colds is aggressive. I go on the attack with every weapon I have at my disposal. For example, I found some Tylenol cold pills with antihistamine, I found some generic Mucinex (or however it’s spelled, check out the graphic of me discussing it via text message with my wife below), I stocked up on cough drops, popped a generic caffeine pill, and I even have a tiny little 8mg super-secret weapon.

Last night my wife had a board meeting to attend and my kids were begging and pleading to go to a skate party put on their elementary school at a nearby roller rink. That meant I had to put on my big boy panties and deal with it. I picked up more cough drops on the way there and dutifully strapped my hockey skates on (roller blades, not ice skates – although I have those too). I then spent the next two hours feeling almost human while skating around in circles and alternately terrorizing and embarrassing my children in front of their peers. If only I could have brought my hockey stick too…

I doped up on fresh pills when I got home and passed out around 11. When I woke up I realized that not only was I still sick and congested (seems to be moving down in my chest now), but I also felt dehydrated. Oh yeah, all that skating and sweating – I probably should have drank some water. Oops.

Pounded about twenty ounces of water this morning with a fresh batch of pills and then I was off to work and, surprisingly, I was very productive both yesterday and today in spite of being sick. What gives? It’s that super-secret thing I mentioned.

When I get a cold the cocktail of anti-cold meds I abuse my liver and kidneys with probably adds some short term stress. It puts me in a fog though. A zone where I can work on a task and pound it out. Of course when I add in my special miracle pill my output nearly doubles.

Years ago before the FDA decided to bow to pressure from lobbyists there was a a substance commonly available called Ephedrine. I still have a tiny, and dwindling, stockpile. Not really a stockpile anymore, more like dust shavings in the bottom of a lonely bottle. Still, that tiny little 8mg pill does wonderful things, especially when I catch a cold. Why do you think so many anti-cold / sinus meds have pseudoephedrine or some derivative in them? Because that stuff rocks!

A pox on the idiots that misused and abused the substance for dieting purposes. Even most of those people were fine, but the few that had pre-existing heart conditions combined with pre-existing ignorance and / or stupidity got themselves in trouble with it. That and, for the conspiracy theorists out there, the fact that a generic and cheap drug was an effective weight loss solution wasn’t doing pharmaceutical companies any good, caused the FDA to ban it.

The fact that I think it may be a crucial ingredient in making crystal meth may have played a factor too, but I’m honestly not sure if it’s in meth or not since I’ve never tried to make any.

So that mix of random cold medicine may or may not make the cold go away quicker, but it does allow me to perform in spite of the illness. And, in the case of the fun and downright creepy chapter I wrote for Vitalis: Genesis last night, it makes me downright productive.

Sadly, writing after a half dozen beers doesn’t do the same thing. I guess I’ll just have to keep experimenting!


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

Breathing Room

September 25, 2013 Leave a comment

I just took a lot of pills. Not the scary pills that put you to sleep for a long time, I’m talking about cold medicine. Came down with a head cold today (thanks, kids) and while it’s no more brutal than any previous head colds, the current one always feel the worst.

So anyhow, whether induced by a cocktail of anti-sinus, anti-congestion, and anti-feellikepoo medicine or because I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, I decided to toss out some random writing tips.

I’m working with a promising young man that I believe has a lot of unpolished talent. We’re writing a novel together, the first of – I hope – many. In the process of doing so I’m helping him fine tune his craft and finding myself reminded of many things I learned along the way. It also helps me make sure I stay sharp on my own prose!

To that end the first item I think is worth mentioning is character detail. It is essential to flesh out a character for a reader. Flaws and quirks need to exist and be described, otherwise how will a reader become intrigued, enamored, or annoyed by them? This emotional connection is necessary – yes, even the annoyed one – because it means the reader is invested. He or she has acknowledged your story at that point and it has meaning to them. It’s worth something. They will read more because they want to know more. And beyond that, the odds are better that they will share their thoughts with others, who will in turn become intrigued and want to find out for themselves.

But showing how Adrian gets red faced and goofy every time a girl smiles at him is one thing. Telling ad nauseum how each smiling girl has blond / brown / red hair to their shoulder blades and C / D cup breasts in 34 / 36 / 38 inch bras above there 22/24/26 inch waists and—oh, you’re eyes are glazing over and you don’t care? Exactly. If she’s got a noteworthy rack then have the character notice it (trust me, if it’s a male character, gay or straight, he’ll notice it). Don’t go into great lengths about crap that won’t stick and don’t matter. It slows the story down and does not improve the experience.

A further reason for showing how a character is without listing their resume is to allow some ambiguity. How many times has a book been made into a movie and the readers find out that the actor playing their favorite character is NOT right. The character is supposed to look like x, not y. The list goes on. Well, we can’t increase the available talent at Hollywood to fit every possible character, but we can open it up to allow the readers to connect with the characters in their own special way.

For example, if I tell you that Carl is a weathered looking man that stands stiffly against the wind in his army jacket, you probably paint a picture in your head of him being older (weathered), and either active or, more likely, retired military. The picture in your head might even have him holding a rifle of some sort (for the record it’s probably an M4). If it’s relevant to the story I might add a line where someone notices his green eyes stripping away their smile to dig out the real person they are. Now you know he’s got green eyes and a gaze that can make a person uncomfortable. The rest of it you’ve made up.

Does he have combat boots on? Are his hands chapped and his finger nails broken and rough? Does he have any scars or maybe a chipped tooth? If it’s not important in the story I don’t know. But you do. You’ve drawn the picture in your head by assigning bits of pieces of people you’ve seen that fit the description with what you’ve been told or imagined. You know what Carl looks like, and your Carl may not look like my Carl. That’s okay. That’s better than okay because that means you became invested in Carl, and by proxy, the story itself. A reader has to have room to breathe with a character so they can interact with them in their own way.

Writing is a lot of work, but it’s work that’s shared with the reader. We, as humans, have the greatest appreciation for the achieving and accomplishing things that are challenging to us. Writing a book is a challenge. Reading a book is too. Don’t scoff, think back to that first big novel you read and how you felt when you closed the last page. You were emotionally moved, not only by the words in the book, but by the fact that you had just managed to read all of a big ass book! And you liked it!

Reading is more than just interpreting words. It’s more than comprehending them. It’s also about tying in what you know with what you’re being shown. You create the picture and the story, the book is just the script for the movie in your head. The more work you do without realizing it, the more it means to you as a reader. That’s the job of a writer, to give you all the tools you need to create an epic story that thrills, excites, titillates, upsets, scares, and fulfills you. The more easily our words are crafted to make it possible for you, the reader, to do that, the more successful we are.

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

Welcoming Change

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

The title of this might imply that I’m offering some sagely advice on how to adapt and evolve. One might believe I’m offering up a secret to surviving the pitfalls of life, be they romantic, financial, dietary, or otherwise. A person could even go so far as to hope I’m going to reveal the secrets to success beyond their wildest dreams…

Well I’m here to say, “Not a chance!” I’m not peddling smoke and mirrors, my friends. What I’ve got is an update on the latest volume in my Vitalis science fiction series. And yes, it’s all about change.

I’m around halfway through it so far but I spent last night, after writing two chapters, outlining how the rest of the story is going to progress. I was very happy with how it turned out, at least in theory. Being roughly halfway through means I’ve written 25 chapters so far. My outline calls for 17 more. Knowing me the way I know me, that 17 could easily turn into 25 or more. Sounds like a pretty freaking big book, doesn’t it?

It’ll have substance to it, but I’m anticipating a word count in the 60k – 75k range. Nothing too excessively meaty. The chapters typically range from 1100 – 1800 words. A few pages of fast paced fun to keep the story moving, although there are a couple of outliers on both ends of the spectrum.

I will admit this one has given me a little bit of a test. I’m hoping to keep it geared more towards sci-fi thriller and horror and combining the typical fast pacing of my Vitalis series with the need to build up some suspense and mystery (and carnage) has been an exciting challenge for me.

So what’s this one about? Well for those fresh to the setting Vitalis is an amazing world over ten light years from Earth. A thick asteroid cloud has hidden the solar system from Earth until it was accidentally discovered a few years back (think Vitalis time, which is set a few hundred years in the future). Humanity has mastered interstellar travel via technology that allows them to travel through man-made wormholes from one system to the next. These are called jump gates. The problem is that someone has to travel to a new system at relativistic speeds to build one of these jumpgates before they can travel that way.

Blah blah blah, okay, enough backstory. In Provenance, the third Vitalis novel, there was an outbreak of sorts that allowed some native material from Vitalis to escape the planet and solar system. It traveled to the Terran homeland (we know it as Earth) with the intent of bringing Vitalian, ahem, enhancements to the root of the Terran Coalition of Systems. That attempt was met with heavy resistance. Along the way a little something special happened though. Vitalian material was dropped off at Europa, a small moon orbiting Jupiter. Why? Just in case the Earth mission failed.

Genesis follows the lives of the small crew living in a research station on the hostile icy moon of Europa. Deep beneath the surface of the frozen crust a liquid ocean surges with the tides caused by Jupiter. The crust is so thick that the scientists are only now beginning to get close to breaching it for the first time and sampling the salty ocean beneath. Until they lose contact with their mining rigs and sensor arrays.

It quickly becomes obvious this is no mere equipment malfunction. The ice is breaking apart and the temperature’s rising at impossible rates. Water and oxygen are spraying into the thin atmosphere and building pressure – an impossible task given the small size of the moon. Yet the burgeoning atmosphere is saturated with oxygen, not nitrogen, making it hostile to human life.

Life on Vitalis, however, thrives because of its ability to adapt and evolve. As one survivor of an early space ship crash onto Vitalis once said, “If Vitalis can’t kill you it will get inside you and change you. You can’t beat it, you can only join it. If you’re lucky.”

The inhabitants of Research Station Europa are finding that out firsthand.

My plan is to finish Vitalis: Genesis on or around the end of September. Then editing and cover art and all that jazz for a hopeful release near the end of October. A sci-fi thriller just in time for Halloween? I wish I’d planned it that way, but I’ll take luck and circumstance any day!

Stay tuned and if you haven’t had a chance to pick up the other Vitalis books in preparation, what’s stopping you? The first one (Vitalis Omnibus) is only $.99 at Amazon. Then follow it up with Vitalis: Resurrection and Vitalis: Provenance.

Vitalis, parts 1 - 7, by Jason Halstead

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


Wake Up Dead

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s Monday morning. That and the fact that I woke up feeling like I hadn’t gone to bed yet are no coincidence. Monday mornings require an alarm clock set to go off before most clinically sane people wake up. So do the other weekdays, but there’s just a special kind of hell to a Monday morning.

So I staggered into the bathroom and did my usual morning routine. Mostly. This was a little different. Today’s routine involved not only shaving off a weekend’s worth of scruff but also a frank evaluation of the dude looking back at me. In the mirror- not some creepy neighbor watching me shower.

It’s been a heck of a year so far. By and large, 2013 has been a very positive year. Some ups and downs and a few troubles along the way, but by and large we’ve made good things happen. I’ve got a great day job, my writing is going very well, everyone’s healthy and happy, and aside from our ongoing housing issues with our landlord and landlady, life is good. But it’s been a busy year too, and that means there’s been a price I’ve had to pay. Other than sleep, that is.

The dude in the mirror directed his eyes downward and let me know, with a pointed glance, what the problem was. No, not THAT far down. No problems there, thankyouverymuch. I’ve had many weeks where I was lucky to make it to the basement to work out one time, let alone the 3 or 4 I used to enjoy. Between that and too much crappy food (junk food, eating out, etc.), I’m afraid I wouldn’t look presentable in a bikini. Then again, the leg hair and incongruous bulges might make the bikini an unpleasant viewing experience even if I was in the kind of shape I wanted to be.

So starting last night I’ve established a short term goal of two months to whip myself back into shape. Yes, I admit, this morning’s frank appraisal was planned. Normally I don’t like planning things because then the word “premeditated” gets thrown around, but this was an exception. I even took a pic in the mirror this morning to compare in a couple of months with the guy staring back at me. It should be a good time. The plan is simple, eat better and work out more. Nothing to it, right?

Actually no, it’s not difficult. So why haven’t I done it before now? First I needed to have a talk with my doctor. Not a “can I work out without dying” kind of talk, but rather the wtf is wrong with me kind of talk. He’d done some labs on me a month or so back and one of the many things he tracks has to do with iron. I give blood regularly and it turns out that can be a minor problem. Not life threatening by any means, but my body has a tendency to try and make a lot of blood. One of the reasons I give blood, outside of being a nice guy, is to keep my red blood cell count from getting too thick. Lots of those are a good thing, but too many can lead to complications including a stroke. And trust me, nobody wants to see me stroking out.

So I get bled out every now and then. Usually on purpose, although the occasional jack knife in the leg incident can lead to significant accidental blood loss too. My body goes crazy trying to replace that blood and it needs iron to do so. What it can’t get from normal sources it finds internally. It’s called ferritin, and that’s the iron stores in a person’s body. Mine, it turns out, was below the bottom end of the normal range.

Common symptoms of low ferritin include chronic fatigue / tiredness and headaches. Well I’ve had an increasing number of headaches lately and when I do workout I get exhausted damn quick. I was blaming it on only 6 hours or so of sleep a night, getting older, and the stress of a busy year. Mind you since I left the automotive industry my stress levels got a LOT better, but my crazy rental house situation is trying hard to fill the void.

I learned this stuff last Thursday (which was ironically two months ahead of schedule – turns out I drove from Novi to Lansing for my doc appt and I had the date wrong, by two months! My doc was due in for surgery but squeezed in time to meet me anyhow. Hell of a guy.). That night I picked up some iron supplements and also some other stuff he recommended to bring me back up to optimal levels. Now four days later, I’m already feeling back on top of the world. Last night’s workout only consisted of two exercises but I had the energy to take them all the way and would have done more if my kids hadn’t been wanting me to come and put up Halloween decorations with them.

So the new goal is this: 2 – 4 exercises per session with 4 – 5 workouts a week. I may even do a little cardio, although I can’t stand that stuff. I much prefer lifting hard and heavy. And no, that’s not a euphemism. As an example here was last night’s workout which felt great and left me wanting more:

Bench Press:

135lb x 10 reps (warm up)

225 x 8 (this felt really good and easy)

275 x 3 (could have done more but I was warming up for the next one)

315 x 1 (haven’t done this much in a while so I didn’t want to push myself too much. It felt good though)

315 x 1 (decided to do it again and I bet I could have done two, but the last time I really pushed myself while benching I ripped my pec off my arm and had to have surgery. My powerlifting career was ended so I can afford to minimize risks now)

Supinated grip lat pulldowns:

180 x 8

200 x 8

230 x 8

250 x 8

250 x 8 (good lifts all with the last set being difficult to do)

Most doctors, by the way, don’t check or care about ferritin. Or so mine says. I don’t care what he thinks of other docs, he does a good job with me. He even came recommended to me as one of the leading experts on men’s health. I’ve been seeing him for around 8 years now and I keep going back for more. Must be he’s doing something right. My only suggestion to people interested in optimizing their own health is to ask for a copy of any bloodwork you get done and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Google the tests and numbers to see what’s what and then ask away. If your doc doesn’t give you a satisfactory answer, maybe there’s a reason for that. I know I have yet to meet a general practitioner that knows much of anything beyond chicken pox, flu / cold, how to set a broken arm or finger, other basic ailments. That’s not a criticism, there’s a lot to know and it’s virtually impossible to keep up with everything. My criticism comes in when doctors discard something that they’re unfamiliar with or were told didn’t matter. But that’s a rant for another day. For now I only recommend keeping an open mind and being willing to look for a second or third opinion if you feel something’s not right.

I’ll post infrequent updates on how things are going more as a guide than as a narcissistic look-at-how-buff-I-am sort of thing. Will there be pics? I don’t know. Maybe, but probably not. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone but myself. Sure I take the pics, but I reserve my vanity for myself. I’m the person I have to impress. Well that and my wife, but she’s looking better and better every day all on her own.

Enough babbling! There’s work that needs to be done and a group of unfortunate people stranded on Europa that have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into. And that’s without considering the guy who appears to be a mad scientist that’s locked himself up in the laboratory…

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

The Big 4 – 0

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

On September 17th, 2013, it finally happened. I hit a very significant number. 40. That’s right, I’ve got 40 books published!

Number 40 is none other than Sands of Betrayal, the third book in my fantasy series Order of the Dragon. Order of the Dragon, for those sleeping under a rock, picks up a year after my trilogy, Blades of Leander, ends.

Sands of Betrayal continues to follow the adventures of Alto and his companions as they search for his sister in the desert nation of Shazamir. The end of Chasing the Dragon have forced events to escalate quickly and if Caitlyn is to have any chance of survival, Alto has to move fast. It’s a gut wrenching book and survival requires sacrifices. In some cases, sacrifices in blood. Sands of betrayal digs deeper into the characters backgrounds as well as introducing some new blood (which may or may not be spilled).

And for those interested in the unlikely heroine Aleena, the young paladin of Leander, she’s making a name for herself in the northlands alongside her mentor and friend Celos. Together they’re forced into trying to calm the growing tensions with the savage elves that refuse to show mercy or kindness.

Here’s the blurb and cover for Sands of Betrayal. Dragonlady, the fourth (and final – I hope) book of Order of the Dragon should be out around the holidays. Until then, enjoy Sands of Betrayal and don’t be shy about letting me know who you’re favorites are (or which character’s you’d like to see tossed in a deep, dark pit).

Alto’s choices have led him through ruin and victory. His friends and his enemies are among the most dedicated the world has ever seen. From farm boy to champion, Alto has excelled where no one else has dared to venture.

Now the young Thane must fight through the broken remnants of the Order of the Dragon and the city of Mira to rescue his imprisoned sister. She’s being held for the death of her husband, a minor royal who married her under false pretenses. Alto must save her and find a way to abort the massing armies that threaten to overwhelm the northern nations.

But first his enemies give him a choice, save the woman he loves or save his sister. Only he can decide who must die so that the other may live.

Sands of Betrayal, book 3 in the fantasy series Order of the Dragon, by Jason Halstead


 Amazon – England

Amazon – Germany

Amazon – Canada

 Barnes and Noble



 iTunes (coming in a couple of weeks)

Sony (coming in a couple of weeks)

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

Where’s the Line?

September 11, 2013 2 comments

In every of just about every other person on the Internet who’s posting something about September 11th, 2001, I’ll do the same. It’s not about fear of forgetting – who could forget such a thing? It’s about honoring those who are gone and those who remain. And in respect of those who remain who were touched by what happened, it’s also about being ever vigilant.

Here’s another question that some may not know. Why should December 7th be an important date? The answer – Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy as they entered into World War II. Unfortunately, not many of us today realize that date or the significance.

Am I here to bitch or complain? No! I don’t intend to make anybody feel bad either, especially on a day that is already so filled with emotion and memories. I was in between jobs (read: being a bum playing computer games after a morning search of job message boards and websites) when I heard about it. I can’t remember if I contacted my girlfriend or if she contacted me, but it was within moments of the first tower strike. Then I witnessed the second one on the news happen live.

I remember being speechless and stunned. Seeing the smoke and flames was one thing, but seeing it actually happen? That took my breath away. It left me angry and upset. With my rekindled patriotism and the memory of an oath I’d taken when I entered the military, I tried to reenlist. I say tried because they turned me away, citing a bunch of reason that boiled down to the recruiter being too busy and having enough easy pickings amongst all the other people lining up that he didn’t want to do the extra paperwork necessary to get me back in.

But that was me and that was then. If I asked my kids, ages 7 and 4, what was special about today they’d look at me funny and maybe remember something I said or something said at school. They don’t know what happened over a decade ago, just like most of us today don’t really know what happened 72 years ago.

Aside from the media coverage what is the difference between the two events? Both were orchestrated by a group of people willing to sacrifice their own lives for their mission. Both were radically different cultures from our own. Both believed they were doing the right thing. History is written by the victors and on those two days America was not victorious. We rallied in both cases and after considerable time and expense we have been, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. It was a pyrrhic victory at best, because there is no undoing the hurt that was caused.

Our only recourse, as a nation, is to remain ever vigilant. We piss and moan about the infringements on our freedom caused by such vigilance, but how many similar incidents have been thwarted since then by copycat groups or other people with different agendas? We give the president grief over his involvement in the affairs of other nations, but what if a controlled strike against Syria prevented a future attack that caught the US unaware?

Syria has chemical weapons capable of considerable damage. There are other weapons far more devastating out there. Biological agents, for example. It’s scary and it makes me question where the line is drawn. At what point is it okay to interfere with another nation or culture? Does it depend on how big and / or dangerous they are? If Russia or China were to use such things would we do more than talk sternly to them or invoke trade embargoes? I doubt it. We lose our playground bully status when dealing with nations of comparable strength.

I don’t have an answer, just an appreciation for the fact that I’m not in charge for trying to figure out where that line is at. And a never ending desire to remain vigilant and to do what we must to protect ourselves from all threats, domestic and foreign.

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


Genesis: The Formation of Something New

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

By that definition every book is a genesis. Every work of art, every idea, every conversation, every relationship, and every new life. Damn near everything we do as people. Well I’m taking it to the extreme with my newest book, Vitalis: Genesis.

Genesis picks up as Vitalis: Provenance is ending. Technically before it even ends, since there is a run in with the Independence as the doomed ship rockets toward Earth on a crash course. No words, waves, social indiscretions, or bodily fluids are exchanged in this encounter, however.

What that leaves is a transport ship bound for the research station on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. They’ve got supplies, equipment and a new rotation of employees for a couple of positions (maintenance / janitorial staff and the station’s resident mechanic).

Why Europa? Well it’s a frozen ball smaller than Earth’s moon but it’s got a few things going for it. The surface is mostly smooth ice theorized to be a hundred or more kilometers thick. In the Vitalis setting  (as in a popular current theory), the tidal forces caused by Europa’s orbit around Jupiter keep the water between the solid metal core and the icy crust warm enough to remain in a liquid state. Here on Earth deep in a few ocean trenches I can’t remember the name of life in pure darkness has been discovered with a food chain independent of solar activity (it feeds of thermal vents from the ocean floor). So if you combine what we’ve witnessed here, what we’ve theorized about as possible, my imagination, and the amazing abilities found in the Vitalis setting…well, there’s going to be a whole lot of cool stuff happening!

And that, my friends, is what science fiction is all about. Exploring the depths of imagination to determine what is possible. In this case what is possible is also extremely dangerous and out to protect its own interests using whatever means available.

I’ve even considered trying to find a way to turn Jupiter into a secondary star, but it’s just not big enough to support such an action. Unless I cheat and use some Vitalian technology / physics… hmm. But not to worry, even in our universe if Jupiter were to become a star it wouldn’t have any appreciable impact on Earth. Other than being roughly 80 times brighter than the moon, that is.

The cast of characters for Gensis at present consists of:

Lita Osgood

Vernon Phearson,

Sgt. Jacob Conners

Dr. George Winters

Ron Snyder

Dr. Kathleen Hale

Lydia Husaim

Matt Dota

Kelly Walliczek

As for what they’re roles are and if there’s anyone else? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m only 5 chapters in so far, but that’s not bad for 5 days of work. Hope to get a lot more done this weekend, amongst many other things.

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

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 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