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Archive for June, 2017

…And Then it Got Worse

The Goblin Queen has taken me longer to write than any book in the past five years. Truthfully, I’m not sure how long I’ve been working on it, but I would wager it’s been 2 months now. Two months for a novel is a far cry from a slow haul for most people, but I’m not most people. I write fast, it’s one of my trademarks. Well, this time around it seems I’m writing normal (or maybe less fast).

Is there a problem with the book? Heck, no! It’s just as amazing and fun to write as it ever has been. The problem has nothing to do with the characters, plot, or writing itself. The problem is a host of issues that have popped up recently. It’s been a rough couple of months for a variety of unrelated factors that all came to a head one after another. That adage that bad things come in three might have been an underestimation. And then, just when things seemed to be evening out and returning to normal my mother-in-law came down with a sudden and surprising illness that finally bested her.

Let me take a moment to let that sink in. Read it again, perhaps, to realize that my wife lost her mother and best friend. We’ve spent the last couple of weeks either at her bedside or, more recently, attending to funeral arrangements and getting her affairs in order. It was unpleasant, to say the least, but not the kind of unpleasant like cleaning up a plugged toilet without a plunger.

This grim reminder that nobody has yet found a way to get out of life alive has provided a bit of a creative setback as well. I like to write in science fiction and fantasy genres – two realms were the concept of immortality and life beyond death is a sparkling possibility. Yet the cruel reality of life has had a humbling effect.

And yet life goes on. I know I channeled a lot of my emotion into working out and just yesterday I sat down and forced myself to write again. I’m nearing the end of The Goblin Queen but still have a few chapters to go. The words come faster and easier now. I have my path to the end charted out, I need only finish the journey. Cover art is progressing as well and hopefully this book will be released in July sometime.

After The Goblin Queen I have no idea what I’ll work on. I should return to Dark Universe, but I’m not sure what might come next for that series (not to imply I don’t have a future in it, only that I’d need to review where I left off to pick it up anew). Vitalis is possible as well, or even something else. Perhaps I’ll try to work with my wife (Dawn Michelle) to continue her Continuum series in hopes of it helping her find her new sense of normal.

So, to my loyal readers, I apologize for the delay. It should be over soon though, and I promise this book is going to be a great read.

 

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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The Family That Stays Together Slays Together

This is an update on The Goblin Queen. From the story perspective, it’s getting there. I’m over 60,000 words into it and (I think) only have a few chapters left. Getting to those chapters is proving troublesome though.

I’ve been ridiculously busy as summer is upon me. Work is increasingly hectic of late and there’s talk of saddling me with more responsibilities (which may or may not be welcome, depending on how it plays out). I also spent the last couple of months cutting (dieting / exercising to focus on losing fat but keeping muscle) and did a good job of it, now I’m trying to build more strength and put muscle back on which means eating more and working out 5x a week, with at least 3 days having both an am and a pm workout in them. It takes a lot of time, effort, and discipline to do it right and not lose everything I gained when I cut the weight in the first place.

Oh, and we’ve got a new camper we bought this spring so we’re trying to get that out at least once a month and last weekend was one of those weekends. My son has baseball games and practices after school, and there’s been lots of house / yard work that has to be done.

All in all, everyday problems everyone has to deal with. For the most part, it’s simple enough to knock those things out. We haven’t had a chance to crack open any more D&D sessions since my last write up, but I’m happy to say that my wife is going to join us. After all, the family that slays together, stays together! Hopefully soon we can get her a character put together and continue the adventures. They’ve got much to do to finish off their introductory session, and then after that I have some really fun ideas to keep them invested and furthering their careers as fantasy heroes.

This is supposed to be about The Goblin Queen, but I can’t stop myself from sharing the idea I stole from some random reddit posts – I’m going to set up alternate versions of the Disney Princesses as a coven of witches spread throughout Kroth for the players to try to take out. They’ll meet a witch hunter when they finish their current story arc and he’ll enlist their aid (hopefully). If not, I’ll find another way to encourage them to do that. Then again, it is D&D and the possibilities are endless – maybe they’ll end up heading off in another direction entirely if they choose. Not a problem if they do, I’ll have the evil Princesses on standby.

Now back to The Goblin Queen. The good guys just triumphed over evil in the book! Yay! Except the victory didn’t turn out to be a battle like they expected, nor were they prepared for what happened when they struck down the enemy that had consigned their souls to the dark magic of the Order. Even worse was learning what comes after – they’d fallen into a trap that they might have survived, but at a cost that could be the lives of thousands of innocent people that they know and care for. The Goblin Queen has played her part, but the final victory they need rests in the outnumbered hands of a desperate paladin willing to risk everything for their faith.

Oh, the cover is coming along nicely too. We’re still trying to figure out the art work portion of it, but I’m in love with the design we’ve got so far. I’m trying for more of a cover reminiscent of Child of Fate instead of the recent covers in The Serpent’s War series that some people found harsh or disturbing (I loved those too, but generally what I like and what most people like are not the same).

Now then, back to work! This book isn’t going to finish itself.

 

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.

We’re at it Again!

A few nights ago we managed to squeak in a little over an hour to play again. The players picked up after resting over night with no disturbances and pushed off in the morning. Not that they could tell much difference between the night and the morning – it was still pretty dark in the jungle!

After a couple of hours of walking Cody began to smell the smoke from a campfire. He told Jo, then took off at a run towards it. Jo stood still, shocked by his actions, and finally managed a face-palm. She hurried forward (at a walk) to assist.

He rounded a large tree and came to a stop when he saw the campfire and three men. Two were on their feet and facing him, while a third was sitting on the other side and looking up with a startled expression. Cody launched right in with, “Hi there, what are you doing out here?”

Queue another face-palm from Josephina.

An awkward conversation ensued, given that they were in middle of a dangerous jungle far from civilization. The three men admitted to having seen Dahlia recently, and even offered to show them where they went. The man on the far side of the fire said, “Erik, go ahead and show them.”

Queue the intelligence checks. Josephina failed but Cody did not. He remembered Erik was the same name as the guy that Dahlia ran off with. This prompted some more discussion then ended up with both characters being escorted (and surrounded) by the other three to where Dahlia went. And, as they neared the entrance to a cave, the bad guys attacked.

It was a heck of a battle. Cody drew two of them to himself and switched between them, alternating his attacks and getting pounded on in return as he was flanked. Josephina made fairly quick work of her opponent, and then moved to try and help Cody. That freed Cody up to focus on the leader of the kidnappers and he finally struck him down with a sword in the belly.

Erik surrendered and begged for mercy. He spilled his guts, more or less, and shared that they’d been paid to kidnap the baroness and deliver her here, where she’d be taken by someone else. He didn’t know who, only his boss knew that and he was in no condition to carry on a conversation anymore. All this happened after Josephina made an intimidation check that resulted in a 1. So instead of getting answers right away when she demanded he tell her everything, he proceeded to recite the alphabet and counted up to 20 before they stopped laughing and managed to stop him.

Erik led them into the cave, not warning them at just how truly vile it felt in there. Even with a burning log retrieved from the campfire the cave was dark and oppressive. Cody, a paladin, was beside himself with how wrong the place felt. They persevered and in the first alcove to the right, found Dahlia bound and gagged.

After they cut her free she proceeded to punch Erik square in the nose for his betrayal. They got a little more information out of him with her helping to slap him around a bit, such as learning that the people coming to claim her were to come from the back of the cave, not the front. A quick search led them to the rest of the shallow cave, where they saw an alter set up on a dais, complete with a statue of a dragon and carvings in the wall in the draconic language. They’d discovered a shrine dedicated to dragons.

They turned to leave just as they heard the sound of stone grinding against stone. Erik started cackling and said they were doomed now, they’d waited too long. If they let him live, he’d argue on their behalf to spare their lives. Josephina tried to get more information out of him but Cody, angered at being blackmailed by the thief, ran him through.

They searched his corpse for anything that would tell them more but found nothing, nor did they have time to waste. They searched the others and the campsite, finding Erik’s long sword he’d dropped when he’d surrendered as well as a modest sum of coins. The long sword was unlike any they’d seen, and when Cody picked it up to admire the midnight blue steel of the blade he noticed the sparkle of what almost looked like stars in the metal. The sparkle grew, captivating Josephina as the sword began to glow.

Cody turned, grinning at his find, and noticed figures emerging from the mouth of the cave. Figures wearing harnesses over their brown and green scaled hide and holding clubs and spears. Splisskin, and more kept pouring out.

It was time to run.

And so ended the first part of their adventure – finally! Both kids made it to second level, although they don’t know what that means yet since it was bedtime for them and we couldn’t go over it. Sometime soon, perhaps this weekend, we’ll dive back in and try to explain more to them. The biggest problem we’re having is getting my son separated from his electronics long enough to play, let along keeping him interested for more than an hour or so. He enjoys it and wants to do it, he’s just hard to keep focused on something for more than an hour. Or at least this.

In writing news, the end is in sight for The Goblin Queen. Not a matter of a few days time, but I’ve got a roadmap to the finish line, it’s going to take some work though. More of a marathon than a sprint, for sure!

 

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.