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Archive for April, 2016

Writing the Right Fiction

I’m working on a story I’m calling “The Vault.” It’s a post-apocalyptic story exploring what happens to a group of people that are the first to emerge from a government vault designed to help a tiny portion of humanity survive an asteroid striking the earth. Trust me, when big, fast rock hits the earth lots of bad things happen. It’s happened before and it will happen again, but hopefully not for hundreds of thousands of years (or millions).

Researching what would happen for an asteroid strike is some pretty freaky stuff. Impressive, to say the least. Or maybe terrifying, if you’re the type that lets you worry about things you have zero control over (um, sorry, if that’s the case). In my scenario I’ve got a rock roughly 8kilometers (5ish miles) in size, fairly dense, traveling around 30 meters a second striking just off the Bahamas. Secondary problems involve fault lines shifting and causing earthquakes around the world, including an early release of a lot of stored up magma and pressure in the Yellowstone Caldera. It is, for all intents and purposes, an extinction level event.

Yet, people are resilient. Worse (or better) than cockroaches even. Survivors are trying to find a way to bring life back to the planet and rebuild. And that’s the gist of the story without giving anything away. I’ve got a core group of characters I’m focusing on and making them deal with one natural disaster after another. Fun, in its own way, but I’m afraid I went and made a terrible mistake.

I accidentally saw a snippet of a series on Netflix called Orange is the New Black. That tiny snippet was enough to hook me. That lead to the necessity of binge watching the first three seasons whenever I could. And now I’m waiting for the fourth season to come out this summer. Wait – what the heck does that have to do with my writing?

Good question. The characters in Orange is the New Black are outstanding. Even the ones I don’t really care much for have such rich backstories and lives I’m left shocked and impressed. My only complaint is that the series has expanded so much on so many of the other characters that I feel like the original heroines of the story, Piper Chapmin and Alex Vause, aren’t getting as much focus as they should. Their story, after all, is the one that hooked me and made me want to know more. I’m not happy with how the 3rd season ended, regarding those two, but I have my own hidden theories about what might happen to / for them.

Now then, back to writing. As I said all of these characters are so rich and thought out that it’s really opened up an itch in my to write something new and different. I’m struggling to stay focused on The Vault, and I’m happy that I only planned this story to be a novella instead of a full length novel. I’m halfway done by my guess, and I’m anxious to get it done as soon as I can so I can explore my new ideas.

What does that mean, as far as what comes next? Well, there are many options. I was thinking my next book would be a Vitalis story, and I could see myself trying to incorporate some of these ideas into Vitalis. After all, Vitalis has a history of having many characters with their own backgrounds and stories, so it might be a natural fit. Conversely, I could very easily find a way to slide these new ideas into a new Lost Girls book, although Katalina and Skylar would not be the main characters anymore. Instead it would follow their daughters and their desire to grow up and make their mark on the world.

Or maybe something else completely new? Naw, probably not. I’m probably going to end up focusing on Vitalis, but the appeal of a Lost Girls spin off is growing. I still need to write more Dark Universe, Voidhawk, and The Serpent’s War too (and countless many others). Come to think of it, maybe some of these new ideas could end up working out in an extension of my Wanted series too…

The positive take-away from this is that inspiration can come from anywhere. On the flip side, it can be damn irritating too, because it’s messing with my current focus. That makes me mad though, and anger I can use to drive me forward. Scorched earth be damned, I will have these stories out as soon as I can!

 

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.

Lucky Star

LuckyStar_Small

Brindal and Ellena are Terrans lured to an alien world with the promise of a new way of life and equality among the races. Potential for all, regardless of race, gender, or belief. The reality was far from the truth, especially when Ellena showed her first signs of mutation.

Mutated beings- those whose latent powers are awakened with the resurgence of alien energy brought about by the return of the Ampythean race- are hunted and taken away. Their fate is unknown, but nobody has heard from them since.

As Ellena’s powers grow and she fails to control them, they are left with no choices but to throw away their lives and run. They have to find a way with no weapons and no friends to get off the planet before the Vagnosian army catches them. If they can manage that, then they can hope for a better future among the stars.

 

You just read the blurb for Lucky Star, book 6 in my Dark Universe setting. I’m sharing it because it’s out there now, waiting for eager readers to devour. Longtime fans of the series might not recognize the names in the blurb, which might be confusing. Well, there’s a reason for that. These are new characters.

Brindal and Ellena are the kind of heroes that are made, not born. Except there’s nothing heroic about them. Brin is an eighteen year old young man trying to figure out what to do with his life and his growing skills in robotics. Ellena is fifteen and has nothing going for her except her talent as a track star and the fact that she’s a female on a Vagnosian world. Oh, and then there’s Ellena’s strange new powers that has her afraid of her own shadow.

But rest assured, there’s no way I’d completely abandon the old crew! I love those guys and gals. The problem is, they live a hard and dangerous life. Some of them aren’t what they used to be— or even at all. Brindal and Ellena need to get off of Marloon, the world they live on, but they can’t do it alone. They need help. And that’s where some old friends come in.

Into the Dark (book 1) Out of the Dark (book 2) Chasing the Dark (book 3)
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Page Foundry / Inktera
Oyster
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Page Foundry / Inktera
Oyster
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Page Foundry / Inktera
Oyster
Dark Star (book 4) Shades of Dark (book 5) Lucky Star (book 6)
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Page Foundry / Inktera
Oyster
Amazon
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Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera

Amazon
Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera

 

Next up is something completely different. No, not a Monty Python skit (hopefully that jokes not lost on most of you), but a new book I’m trying out. It’s unrelated to anything / everything else I’ve done so far. The Vault, a story in a post-apocalyptic America that takes place after a disaster destroys almost everything on the planet. I’m talking about an extinction level event, except humanity has the technology, resources, and blind luck to insure a tiny percentage survives. Or, as Michael Crichton put it in Jurassic Park: Life finds a way.

As always (and forever), thank you for keeping up to date on my ramblings and for enjoying my books. Spread the word, the world could use more readers!

 

-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 http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Now What?

Last night I finished Lucky Star, the 6th book in my Dark Universe setting. That book had a lot of surprises in it, especially for me. The end, for example, was something I was stressing over. And then suddenly it happened and I realized I’d missed it. I had to backtrack a little bit and rephrase a few things. Once that was done it was a magical moment that wrapped things up and set the stage for the next adventure of Brindal and Ellena, siblings that are trying to find their way in the awakened universe with the help of the crew of the Uma. It will be a few weeks until it’s available, what with editing and cover art.

After that I moved on to a book I wrote for a secret project due out later this year. Shh, I can’t speak of it. But I am, just not anything useful. I’d already written the book but I hadn’t gone back over it since I sent it out to my team. Last night I did that, and I was happy to see far fewer screw-ups than I’d realized. I had to make some other continuity changes to make it work with the rest of the project, but once again, that was easily handled. I may touch a few more things up with it yet, but I’ve got plenty of time.

So now I’m back to needing something to keep my fingers busy. I know I need to continue several of my series (Vitalis, Serpent’s War, Voidhawk, Terminus, and Homeland), but I really want to branch out and try something new. A post-apocalyptic story, except I haven’t figured out what the deal is with it. I also don’t intend to turn that one into a series, although I might enjoy doing several one off post-apoc stories that are unrelated (different disaster situations, for example).

What’s driving this? My need to explore. And my need to sell books. My second series I ever released, Wanted,  was post-apocalyptic and is arguably my strongest one to date, and it only has 4 books in it. Yet over 6 or 7 years it has sold more copies, per book, than anything else I’ve written. But I don’t have any more for those characters that would do them justice. So why not try to recreate the magic with someone else?

So the questions I have to answer is what caused the breakdown of society? Disease? War? Aliens? Economic collapse? Terrorism? Climate change? Massive power Outages? Rise of Artificial Intelligence? A global shortage of coffee?

Next is the characters. Who are they and why are they? Are they young, middle aged, old, or something else? I’m planning on a romance element, but how is that going to play out? Then there’s the heat level, which is writer-speak for how hot and heavy do things get in the story (aka if the book were a show, would it be rated G, PG, PG13, R, NC17, or higher)?

And after I figure all that out, then I have to come up with a plot. What drives the characters and what do they need to try and accomplish? This is often called the trope, and to be honest I mostly let this question resolve itself as I write the story, but I usually have an idea what’s supposed to happen too. So far I’m fumbling with a blank slate. I’ve got a concept that I explained, but no idea how to fill in the blanks yet. Hopefully organizing my thoughts in this post will pour enough gas on the fire to help me figure it out and get started.

Feel free to toss some ideas at the wall too. I’m happy to take any feedback I can get and see if I can work with it. As I said, I might like to do several of these stories so the more raw material I’ve got to fit in, the better!

Oh, and if you just want more Dark Universe, Vitalis, Voidhawk, etc. hang in there, it’s still coming – I promise!

 

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.