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Archive for December, 2013

Unmentioned Heroes

December 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sometimes “It” Happens

December 24, 2013 Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s the Science in Fiction

December 19, 2013 Leave a comment

A couple of months back I wrote a back called Vitalis: Genesis. It takes place few hundred years in the future (give or take), and presents readers with a thriller / horror / scifi glimpse into the life of researchers on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. About the same time a movie was released called The Europa Report.

First of all, I hate when that happens. I released my book, Wanted, years ago and it turns out a movie popped up around the same time with the same name. Grr. Even further back I wrote some fantasy novels that featured a dual-wielding dark elf and a big and burly barbarian that used a magical hammer. I was just a guy throwing words on paper with no clue what I was doing, but shortly after R.A. Salvatore released The Crystal Shard unto the world and people loved the crap out of it and propelled him into bestseller status. Seriously. WTF?

To be fair, I really enjoyed Mr. Salvatore’s books too. For a while. I got tired of them and really annoyed with the essay he began each chapter or section with in his Homeland series. But that’s just my opinion, it in no way means his writing is anything less than top shelf, nor does it mean anybody else should turn their nose up at his books.

The point is obvious: get to the dinner table early or you’re left with scraps.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the science in science fiction – or lack thereof. I did watch The Europa Report (after publishing my book) and I’ll be the first one to say it sucked me in and kept my attention. It was a little odd, but it worked, from a storytelling point of view. From a reality check perspective it was more or less about as wrong as wrong can get.

Europa, my friends, is frozen on the surface. Scientists theorize that there may be a liquid ocean beneath the surface, but that would be hundreds of kilometers down. In the movie the ice is only inches thick in some places. A minor flaw and it’s understandable how they might fudge things a bit since the characters were supposed to drill through the ice.

Atmosphere, gravity, and temperature. Europa has all of these. Not a lot (roughly 1/13th of Earth’s gravity and atmosphere, which mostly comprised of oxygen escaping the ice). Temperature is considerably warmer than absolute zero the movie mentions – although still cold enough to insure death by exposure would probably happen inside of ten minutes if not sooner.

So water, oxygen, and a temp above absolute zero thanks to tidal heating from friction and the gravity of Jupiter. What more do we need for life? Well, we just don’t know. That’s why they made the movie, to search for life and offer a possible explanation. My book, Vitalis: Genesis, starts on a similar premise but the life that they find comes from elsewhere. And when it arrives it changes things in a big and scary way.

So is Vitalis: Genesis any more likely than the Europa Report? Probably not even though I feel I did a better job of laying down the base layer of science to support it. But then I go all futuristic sci-fi on things and introduce concepts and technologies we haven’t discovered yet. As a writer of science fiction and fantasy that’s my job. To propose possibilities and to entertain. And you, my faithful readers? Your job is sit back and enjoy. Maybe even to wonder a little (or a lot). Entertainment mixed with something to make you think? That, to me, sounds like a damn good time.

 

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.

Storm of the Century

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunny beaches, tropical breezes, wild and colorful plants and animals, and beautiful people in swimsuits. The Florida Keys in all its splendor. A vacation destination for so many people, especially those of us stuck in the miserable cold winters of Michigan or other northern states.

But all the magic of the Florida Keys doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes a lot of hard work from a lot of people that live there. Not just the multi-million dollar beach houses either, but the people that make sure things get done.

Sam Mendez is one of those men. Sam also happens to have been disabled from a IED in Afghanistan and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But he’s also a survivor and a fighter. His problem is that he’s run out of enemies to fight and still the nightmares won’t leave him alone. So sometimes he has to find new enemies to fight. And that’s why after his wife and kids left, his only friend is found in the bottom of a bottle.

With all these things going for him the last thing Sam needs is more responsibility. Naturally that means it’s coming his way. This time in the form of a young woman washed up on the shore of the beach. His training kicks in and before he realizes it, Sam’s saved a life and made himself a lifelong friend.

But that’s only the beginning of the story. Sam knows things don’t work out well for him. Whether it’s his fault or not, bad things happen. That’s the secret of life as he knows it.. Tamara, the young woman that’s forced her way into his life, hasn’t figured that out yet.

It’s only a matter of time until the calm before the storm blows over. Sam knows it, but he has no idea what’s in store for him. How dangerous the storm is going to be, nor how many people it will hurt.

That’s a long version of the blurb for Devil’s Island, my newest release. But it’s not just my release this time, it’s also a very talented writer I stumbled across a few months back by the name of J. Knight Bybee. Mr. Bybee and I struck up a conversation over a piece of his writing and in no time we learned we had a lot of things in common. One thing led to another and soon enough we’d agreed to collaborate on a book. A book that, it seems, is going to turn into a series of books. Devil’s Island is the first installment in the Fallen Angels series.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of working with him on the project and we’re already several chapters into book 2. All in all, it’s been a very exciting and education experience. Now that book one is out, it’s time for the entertainment and excitement to reach the rest of the world. So reach out and grab your copy before the Internet runs out of 1s and 0s on the virtual book shelves!

Book 1 of the Fallen Angles series by Jason Halstead and J. Knight Bybee

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

 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.

Who Wants a Cookie?

December 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Up until now I’ve been happy to say that there are only two types of cookie I like: warm or cold. With the holiday season upon us that kind of puts me in my element. Unfortunately, it means extra time in the gym because those cookies come at a price!

As of today my answer to that question got a little more complicated. Today it turns out I really like blond Cookies. What? Yes, blond, smiling, fit, trim, and all those things that make people hate women who can pull off the bimbo look. Her parents named her Cookie, after all, what did they really expect?

Why we hate bimbos is subject for another therapy session involving a couch and expensive hourly rate. In this case my job was to present Cookie and make her more than that. She’s smart, if naive, and she’s open, caring, and honest. She’s not mean and she’s not out to steal anybody’s man. She just wants to find somebody who cares about her. Someone who cares as much as she does for the people in her life.

Take her sister, for example. Her sister, Devin, loves her and admires her, but she’s jealous as hell too. Why did Cookie get all the luck and the good looks in the family? And why does Cookie keep calling and checking up on her and always getting in her business wanting to know what’s going on? Then, when she can’t be bothered by Cookie anymore, when her choices and rebellious ways have landed her in serious trouble, why isn’t Cookie there to help her?

Cookie’s more than a lifeline for a troubled young lady. She’s gone out of her way to try and help her sister but no one will help her. No one wants anything to do with the kind of trouble she’s landed in. No one except someone so down on himself that he figures he’s got nothing to lose. Besides that, spending time around Cookie would be reason enough for Mark Cohen as long as he can make sure his ex-wife finds out.

Since Cookie’s willing to do anything she can to help her sister out the unlikely alliance of an uptown girl with a PI that gets most of his cases from the gutters just might work out. If they can figure out how to get Devin away from the dark side of Detroit’s underworld.

And who knows, maybe Cookie can help Mark learn a few things to make his life worth living again too.

That’s a mile high view of When the Cookie Crumbles, my newest book. It’s pure detective / mystery fiction. No fantasy, no sci-fi. Just modern everyday drama and intrigue. I’ve been told there’s just the right mix of mystery, sexy, and action to make it a really fun read. I know I had an absolute blast writing it (I did the rough draft in 10 days if that tells you anything). I had so much fun, in fact, that I’m planning a series based on what happens in book 1. The name of the series? Cookie Cutters.

Yes, I know, that’s cheesy, but it’s fun too. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed!

Cookie Crumbles Blue_200

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

iTunes (coming soon)

Sony (coming soon)

Kobo (coming soon)

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.