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Dark Universe

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Dark Energy? Dark Matter? No and no. It’s the name I’ve settled on for my new scifi blockbuster / bestseller / series. But what’s so dark about it? Are there evil alien necromancers trying to destroy the cosmos? No. That would be weird – even for me!

It’s called Dark because that’s what happens when ships use the mysterious devices sold by Kesari merchants to travel faster than light. These devices have universal hookups allowing a ship to power them and communicate with them, but they have limited ability outside of plugging in coordinates and filling them with the energy needed for the black box to create the FTL bubble around the ship.

Woah— what? Yeah, it’s like that.

Kesari, that’s a race I covered a few posts back. They’re called squids by the other races because it’s a name Terrans used for them and it stuck. It’s not complimentary, the Kesari are merchants and the most alien in their thoughts and emotions, aside from the insectoid Criknids.

Black box? FTL travel? So what does going faster than light mean? It means light can’t catch you. And that means you can’t see it, because it won’t reach you. So when a ship travels at superluminal velocities it’s considered to be traveling “in the dark” or “in the black.” Hence “black box”, even if the FTL engine isn’t technically black.

And thus the series title of “Dark Universe” is born. Without being able to travel in the dark, spaceships and races would be trapped in their own solar systems. Or perhaps between two or three, if they found a relativistic way to travel close to the speed of light. Unlikely, at best. But with the black boxes ships travel hundreds and thousands of light years in reasonable time frames. Right now, roughly halfway through the first book, the protagonist’s ship is looking at close to a week to travel almost a thousand light years. Pretty darn fast! As a point of reference, the Milky Way galaxy is around 100,000 light years across.

Why are they doing this? They’re chasing someone. Why? Well, to even up the score on someone that double-crossed them. Or at least that’s why they think they’re doing it. There are more powers at play than the unlikely heroes realize.

Curious? Excited? Anxious to read more? I sure hope so, because I’m loving the book as it comes out of me. If you’re not on the fence, let me share this little bit I just wrote:

Adan nodded and headed off the bridge. He hurried down the lift and down the hall to his interior cabin. His luck held out and no one else spotted him and wanted to talk to him. After the fight and the repairs, then having to match wits against Tosc and Janna, he’d run out of steam. He opened his door and turned on the light in his cabin, only to see a bumpy form under his blankets.

The voice that drifted out from under the blankets surprised him. It wasn’t Amber, it was Twyf! “Hope you don’t mind, my cabin hasn’t been repaired yet.”

Adan turned the light back off and smiled. Maybe he wasn’t so tired after all.

Yeah, there’s more action than just lasers an space battles and even trysts with buxom alien women. There’s probably going to be some love triangles and girl fights too!

 

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.

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Five Years Later

December 3, 2014 1 comment

I’ve been writing professionally for 5 years now, more or less. A little more, truth be told, but I’ll round down. The point is, that feels like a long time. Not including the current book I’m writing, it’s 4,184,000 published words worth of time. That’s a lot of keys being slapped around.

What have I learned? A lot. Unfortunately, a lot of the lessons require unlearning something I learned the month before. For example, just this morning my wife got an email from an ARC reader stating she loved her book, but she was worried at first because of the details and backstory. She wanted to skip past the potato salad and get to the meat right away.

When I saw that I stiffened in my chair and stared at the screen in a serious WTF moment. I’d been criticized by readers in the past for not providing enough potato salad! My only consolation is the disparity in genres. I was chastised for short sci-fi novellas at the time. My wife’s market of choice is paranormal romance. A different breed of reader to be found there. Not better or worse, in my opinion, just readers expecting different things.

So I’ll step back from the tactical and strategic help and focus instead on helping with the writing. As for my work, I’m doing my best to keep it light and fun. Entertainment that turns the pages and makes my readers want to see what crazy stuff I can come up with next. Or at least that’s my current book.

What is my current book? It’s the sci-fi book I’ve been talking about on and off. I still don’t have a name, but I have a lot of ideas and plans. I’ll tease more alien races soon too. Maybe some technology and other random bits of interest about the universe too. It’s the beginning of a setting that, like Vitalis or Voidhawk, could span into an amazing number of stories that just keep building and building.

But I digress. Five years and over 4 million words is a lot of entertainment. I have 11 series of stories out there (most of them ongoing), and over 65 books. I write in multiple genres and have been included in group projects by writers far more financially successful than I am. I’ve even hit the USA Today and NY Times bestseller list this year with an inclusion under a pen name in a group project. By myself? Not a chance! But with others that can afford the promotion necessary to get us there – easy as cake.

The two things writing has boiled down to, for me, are financial success and the ability to be a writer. I am a writer. A prolific and well regarded one, to hear people talk about my work. Financially, however, it’s a rough road to follow. I have a day job and it looks like I won’t be leaving my day job for a very long time. Amazon’s ever changing marketplace keeps knocking me around and, especially lately, dropping me into pretty shaky sales territory. All those titles and it’s still a struggle for me day to day. Not to write, but to see the lackluster copies sold. It’s demoralizing, to say the least.

But that’s what makes a writer a writer. The stubborn mulishness necessary to push ahead and write another chapter. To put ourselves out there when the whims of the market and perhaps even common sense would dictate otherwise. It’s a gamble, you see, but a gamble with nothing but positive side effects. So my book doesn’t sell – I still wrote it. I still lived the adventure. I still explored characters, concepts, and topics I hadn’t thought of before. I may be out the cost of editing and cover art and perhaps a few other things (including time spent), but I learned something, damn it. I made myself a more educated and well-rounded person. I’ve learned more from writing all those books than I learned obtaining three degrees.

That’s the sum total of five years. I’d hoped to have a sports car, a nice house, and time to spend with my writing and my family by now. Well, there’s no car and no house, but I still get my family and the voices in my head to keep me company. It doesn’t matter if the sports car rolls in or not, I’m happy to work on hitting the 5 million word mark and enjoying what I’ve got. There’s a lot of things in my life I can’t control, such as whether or not people buy my books. I can control my happiness though, and I choose to find a way to be happy even when the royalties dip and bills begin to loom. Why would anyone want to live any other way?

 

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.