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Ideas are a Dangerous Thing

November 9, 2017 Leave a comment

The concept of ideas being dangerous isn’t new. This post, however, has nothing to do with the concepts of educating people to stop doing stupid things in the name of extreme religions, political beliefs, or because the voices told them to. It’s not even a spin off from movies like Inception. I’m rambling on about the fact that I have too many ideas at any one given time and while creativity is awesome, the consequences can really suck.

For example, I’m around 60,000 words into Vitalis: Reloaded and I have no idea how far it will go until I finish it. I have the end in mind, plotting the course from now to then has a lot of curves and bumps in the road. That means I don’t know how long until I can finish it up and get it out there and it also means I don’t know how long until I can work on some other ideas I’ve had that are killing me.

Because I enjoy the ideas so much, I write them down. The most recent one I not only wrote down, but I had to crank out the first chapter in too, just to make sure I didn’t forget any key parts. I know, I know, I shouldn’t entertain these stray thoughts when I’m working on a project. It’s kind of like multi-tasking, but not. Truthfully, it feels more like being unfaithful and cheating on my current work in progress.

Oh sure, they’re just stories, but the problem is less about hurting their imaginary feelings than it is losing traction and forgetting important parts. Continuity suffers and the people anxiously waiting for me to finish book A get upset when book it takes too long to be released. Or worse yet, book B comes out first.

And this blog post? Possibly another tiny distraction where I should be spending time writing on the story in question instead of putting words here. I justify it by explaining delays to the faithful readers out there, as well hopefully generating some excitement on the new ideas yet to come.

My latest ideas? One’s a somewhat stereotypical scifi trope where humans are scattered across the galaxy after intergalactic wars and forced to live as savages. Except for one… I’d share more, but there’s always that off chance that someone might snag the idea and run with it.

Another idea involves timescaping. In fact, that’s my intended title at this point: Timescaping. That’s my newest / freshest idea and I’m still working it out in the back of my head. We’ll see what happens there.

There are some other ones too, but they’re on hold as well. And all the time Dawn Michelle gets frustrated because I work on my stuff and not with her on hers. So at some point, I’ve got to do that too. But first, back to Vitalis: Reloaded. I’m going to finish this book this year!

 

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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It’s Not That Easy

October 18, 2017 Leave a comment

To get rid of me. I’m still here and still writing. Haven’t published anything in a while because I’ve got a book in consideration for publication with an old fashioned publisher and I’m working on a new one. Most of you knew all this though, so enough with the recap – on to the update!

Vitalis: Reloaded is over 45,000 words in and, honestly, it’s turning into a much bigger story than I first expected! Colonists sent out from the Terran Coalition before the discovery of Vitalis have stumbled across a new world dozens of light years from human occupied space. It’s a world nobody expected, in a solar system hidden behind some space anomalies that befuddled and confused sensors. It’s a world with a spot of life on it, life that nobody expected or can explain.

But what would a harrowing space exploration story be without challenge and excitement? Inexplicable events have to happen. Surprises in the alien vegetation have to leave the colonists guessing. Murphy and his damn law have to strike at the most inopportune times. And the people? They have to suffer and prove they’re stronger than what the planet throws at them. That’s what being on the frontier is all about. Life as a colonist is a life of hardship and endurance. Sprinkle in a strange massive alien geode filled with glowing crystals that nobody has ever seen before, and the hardships increase exponentially.

The other priority for a colonization ship? Well, colonization – you know, establishing a home in a new savage place and making sure there are future generations to inherit it. So they’re headed out there with the reward in mind of some good old fashioned population growth. If they can survive long enough to make it to that point.

Now back at it! At the rate I’m going and the plans I have for this book, it could easily double in size. Bear with me, it’s underway and coming as soon as I can make it!

 

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.

Gas Powered Writing

September 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Yes, my wife did make a pot of chili the other day, but this has nothing to do with that. Or gasoline, for that matter, except in the most allegorical* of ways.

I find myself somewhat driven right now due to a few factors. The first is the delay of my Shadowrun novel for release. I hate letting so much time pass between releases, you see. The second is part of my email dilemma I recovered from – I have an opportunity to work with a roleplaying game company to write a story or stories for them. We’re in licensing talks to decide if the books would become canon or not. Exciting stuff, and the more questions I ask and the more involved I get with it, the more cool the world is becoming.

In fact, I have 3 character concepts already worked out in my head. I have to flesh them out as characters using the game system yet so I can create something that meshes with their mechanics, but I don’t foresee any problems at all with this.

A bit of a teaser on this new stuff. It’s a new world in a fantasy settings. New races unlike anything traditional fantasy has to offer. There are humans and fae, but the humans are a definite minority. Other races abound, both good, bad, and indifferent. Each fleshed out with their own unique histories and lore. All in all, it’s growing on me and offering some really fun new opportunities to torture perfectly helpless characters!

But there’s a problem… that problem is Vitalis. I’m still very much in love with the book I’m writing for it. So I’m attacking it feverishly to try and finish it the way it deserves to be finished without cutting the story short. That means it’s back to late, late night writing! In fact, I broke the 10,000 word mark last night and I’m not yet finished with the first act of the story. Good times to be had, I assure you!

Oh, and I haven’t shamelessly reminded you to pick up The Goblin Queen lately, here it is.

 

* – I expect bonus points (maybe even a triple word score) for using the word allegorical.

 

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.

If You Never Try, You Never Fail…

September 7, 2017 Leave a comment

…and you never succeed. Today’s blog happened earlier this week. As my readers might now, I finished a novel recently written in the Shadowrun setting. “Oh no, not this again,” you’re thinking. To which I respond, “Oh yes, this!”

You see, I was planning on releasing it as fanfiction simply because I really love the game / setting / story. I’ll admit, it’s taken some twists and turns over the years that didn’t necessarily sit well with me, but I can overlook some quirks based on the joy it’s brought me. Writing this book only compounded that joy.

So anyhow, here I am looking for where and how to publish it as fanfiction. In my travails I happened across the actual official forum for the Shadowrun setting / role playing game. And lo and behold, there’s a thread on fanfiction! Who knew?!

I began to read and much of it was facts I already knew regarding IP and copyright handling. So far I was feeling fine and dandy, and then I happened across a post that recommended for anyone trying to publish something official for Shadowrun, to contact a gentleman by the name of Jason Hardy and request a packet and details.

I stared at that message for a few moments, wondering… was this legit? Who was this guy? A quick Google search confirmed that Mr. Hardy was indeed a legitimate person. Moreso, he’d published a few novels himself for Shadowrun and Mechwarrior, as well as some other material. He even provided his email address for public consumption! Well now, I couldn’t let that pass, now could I?

So off I went to whip up a charming email sure to enthrall him and leave him on the edge of his seat. I had little to work off of, aside from having the same first name and last initial in common. I learned long ago in an unpleasant place to use whatever you’ve got at hand, no matter how seemingly insignificant it might be. I requested some details on how I could go about submitting my book for consideration and hit send. Then I waited.

And, to be honest, I forgot about it. The Labor Day weekend was sufficiently distracting with uncovering 2 years of missing emails and working on my new book on top of that. Imagine my surprise when early this week he responded quite good naturedly and invited me to send him a sample of the book! No packet, no instructions on what hoops to jump through or who to bother, but rather me sending him some of what I’d written. Pretty cool. Or whiz, to use the Shadowrun parlance.

So the very next morning I sat down and went over my story with an exceptionally critical eye. I tweaked some phrasing and corrected some errors, then I went over it again. By the time I was down I felt pretty good about the first paragraph. It grabbed my attention, at least, and made me want to know what happens next. So that was it – I sent it his way.

And he responded again! Almost immediately. No verdict, of course, but rather a promise to check it out and for me to reach out to him again and give him a poke if I haven’t heard back in a respectable amount of time. Pretty cool, I have to say. There’s no telling whether the story will fly or not, but I’m still grinning at having the opportunity.

Sure, I’ve been published by several different publishers over the years. Why does this thrill me so much? I don’t know, honestly, other than to say it might have something to do with the subject content. Shadowrun, to me and a considerable amount of role players, is a very cool thing. It’s been around 30 years, if not more, and is arguably the most well known sci-fi and fantasy role playing game around (sci-fi & fantasy, not just pure fantasy where Dungeons and Dragons holds the crown, scepter, throne, and the usurped king’s daughter’s discarded chastity belt). So, to a veteran geek like me, this is pretty cool.

Or am I nerd? I get the two confused. I think I’m both, what with my interest (and career) in computer programming and design as well as love of fantasy and role playing. Did I mention I wore a suit of plate mail to the Michigan Renaissance festival in Holly, MI a few weeks ago? Yeah, I’m one of those guys, and proud of it!

Ahem, so anyhow, for those of you anxious to read my Shadowrun book, you’re going to have to wait I’m sorry to say. It may end up as nothing more than another piece of fanfiction, but it might end up as an official Shadowrun novel too – at this point it’s anybody’s guess.

Until then, I’m back to working on Vitalis: Reloaded. One chapter in and I’m using the character’s I’ve got and making more up as I need them. I’m still encouraging people to send me ideas – or at least names of fictional characters that in no way resemble the cheating jerk that was your ex or the miserable boss who deserves a terrible fate only an author could deliver. Of course I’ve never included any characters based in any part to individuals that I’ve had problems with…

Ahem, right, so where was I? Oh yeah, I’m still in single digit sales of The Goblin Queen and I just don’t think that’s fair to you, my readers. You’re missing out on a hell of a great story, if I do say so myself (and I do). For what it’s worth, I’ve gotten nothing but great feedback from some of the readers too – and no, these people were not friends or family, nor did they owe me money. Give it a shot, you’ll love it!

 

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.

I’ve Been a Jerk

September 4, 2017 1 comment

It’s true. I’ve been a jerk. For almost two years now I’ve been asking questions and writing blogs and newsletters to people in a purely one-sided manner. I once promised I would respond to every single reader that reached out to me, and it was a promise I meant to keep. Yet for the last two years I haven’t done that.

Turns out sometime in 2016 something went wrong with my email accounts. My jason@booksbyjason.com account has been set up since I created it to forward to my main account. Early 2016 it stopped doing that and I didn’t figure it out until yesterday. No idea why either. I checked the settings and even logged into the account. It looked like I wasn’t receiving any email there. So on my main account I set it up to not only receive forwards from, er, me, but to also actively reach out and receive mail sent to that account. I was satisfied that, moving forward, I’d be all set.

I glanced at my email a few minutes later and holy crap! I had over a thousand emails all of a sudden. I would love to say that they were all from readers trying to discuss my books with me, but they weren’t. Probably 50% – 60% were junk trying to get me to advertise with them, pay the money to boost my book or guarantee I’d get reviews, or some other scheme to provide a service for a fee that probably wouldn’t do crap for me except lower my bank account. Those got deleted.

What remained was several hours of reading and responding to readers. Real people with real questions, thoughts, and kind things to say. Those are the people I do this for – when I’m not doing this for me. I have to admit, for the past two years of receiving next to no kind of reader feedback on top of the greatly diminishing sales, I’d begun to feel kind of burned out. Sort of a, “what’s the point?” feeling. Now that I’ve caught up I feel a lot better, to say the least! Recharged even.

The Lost Girls continues to be a series that pulls in admiration and emphatic responses from readers. Those books are near and dear to my heart, and it seems to be they pull at the heart strings of many readers as well. Most of the feedback I get praises me for “getting it” and being able to write a lesbian character so well. I have to break the news to each and every reader that I really didn’t “get” anything. I wrote about a main character that had a lot of demons in her past and present (and future, depending on which book they’d read). She was as real as person as a character can be to me, and what she endured was terrible and heart wrenching – and something I’m saddened to say can and does happen in the real world too.

Wanted continues to be a fan favorite as well, and that makes me happy because Carl’s just such a fun character. He’s prick, but the kind of prick you can’t help but admire and respect – not to mention want on your side!

Voidhawk draws in a lot of readers as well. It’s out there and crazy, but readers get sucked in to the crazy and love it in spite of the heavy suspension of disbelief needed. After all, it’s a story that takes place on wooden ships using magic to sail through space! Physics majors need not apply.

Not surprisingly, my Kroth books (Blades of Leander trilogy, Order of the Dragon saga, and Serpent’s War series) came in hand in hand with Voidhawk support. The two series do intertwine from time to time these days, so I’m very happy to see readers are crossing over as well.

Vitalis and Dark Universe had a lot of love too, which tickles me because I feel the same love for them. So many opportunities and so much potential with those books, they’re like gifts to me that keep on giving!

Even Terminus had some fan mail. Terminus was a short lived series that was a cooperative effort between myself and John Davis. We both wrote books in the setting and had plans for many more… but alas, the sales didn’t materialize to justify it. Damn shame too, there was so many great things that could come of it. We sort of pulled on Star Wars for inspiration with those books.

The shocker for me came in the support mail for my Homeland series. Those books are a harder read, and by harder I mean they lean more towards adult natured stories. Almost, but not quite, erotica. Or at least I don’t think they are (some may disagree). There was a cliffhanger ending with the third book in the series and the readers want a fourth. I do too, but once again sales sucked, so I never got around to it. Knowing that people really do want more, even if it’s only a handful of people, inspires me to continue that series again, even if I take a loss on it financially.

That, my friends, is the lesson here. If you enjoy something spread the word. Share it with the person who created it! The appreciation is going to mean a lot to them. Beyond that, it might even bring them to do more with it. Or, in my case, I reached out to some of these readers with some thoughts and ideas on things I’d like to do with stories and I asked for their feedback. And I meant it – those who are getting back to me are inspiring me to include some of their ideas and concepts into future stories. That, I think, is cool. I know if I could talk to some of my favorite authors and get them to include some ideas I have into their stuff, I’d be over the moon. Unfortunately, R.A. Heinlein and R.E. Howard aren’t taking requests anymore.

Some random trivia that has shocked a few readers: I have never watched any of the Game of Thrones episodes, nor have I read the books they are based on. I’d like to, but I’m afraid of being influenced or “corrupted” by them. By abstaining I maintain that my fantasy books are original. Pretty stupid and ridiculous, really, since I’ve read tons of other fantasy books over the years.

One last thing – I put out a call to people to send me their character ideas for the next Vitalis book. It was because of that and one man in particular, Kelly David Screen, that I discovered my email woes. I’m still eagerly taking any character ideas you’ve got and, I’m happy to say, I know I’m getting them now!

And finally, my most sincere apologies to anyone over the last couple of years that I missed or accidentally deleted in my junk mail purge. I hope I can honestly say it won’t happen again.

P.S. The Goblin Queen is still anxious to make her way into your heart. It’s available as an ebook an in print, if you prefer.

 

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.

 

Help!

September 1, 2017 1 comment

I’m on Vitalis book number… I’m not even sure. 11, maybe? Just getting started I’ve outlined what I want to happen (and that always changes), and come up with some key / core characters that I’m really excited about. There will be many more that play an important role too – maybe bigger than I expect, in fact. The problem is, I’m not sure who they are… and that’s where (I hope) you come in.

So here’s what I’m after / offering. I need some character names and maybe even concepts. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I’m looking for several people that will be part of multiple shifts of a flight crew for a space ship and multiple colonists. Some of the colonists will need real skills since they’re supposed to establish a new colony and an unexplored world. Other colonists might not have any aptitude other than the credits they used to get them a spot on the colony ship.

So, if you’ve got an idea for a name send it my way. Email me at jason@booksbyjason.com or reply in a comment here. Bonus points if you add in any demographics such as height / weight / hair / eyes / vague background or skill ideas. None of which are necessary, of course, but I’d like to include any details my readers can contribute (as well as a special thank you note in the book).

And it’s Vitalis, so remember that bad things often can and do happen. The little bit I will let slip is that this ship launched before the planet Vitalis was discovered by the crew of The Rented Mule, so they will have no idea what is happening to the Terran Coalition of Systems even though it takes place near the same time as Vitalis: Miss Fortune. They’ll end up deeper in space than any human has traveled before.

Oh, and don’t forget to snag your copy of The Goblin Queen!

 

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.

The Wait is Over

I once took pride in releasing a dozen or more books a year. I’d like to take pride in that again. Unfortunately, life has gotten busy and shows no signs of letting up. Nonetheless, I’m working as hard as I can to keep pumping out new books and, today, I’ve got another one ready to enjoy: The Goblin Queen is available everywhere now (see below for links).

So what is it? Well, it’s officially a continuation of my Serpent’s War series. However, nobody seemed to care that much about those books. I’ve heard disappointment in the covers mostly, which I don’t understand because I love them. The story itself readers enjoyed, but there hasn’t been nearly enough readers to confirm or deny it. With the Goblin Queen I tried a different take on the cover and the story is a bit different too. It continues the series, but the main characters in books 1 and 2 don’t play as much of a role. In fact, the original Blades of Leander factor heavily in this one, although they are a force divided and each have stories to tell.

Oh, and lest I forget there’s a new character in the series that is a force unto herself. Grishna, a woman from the void with a serious grudge and the will to see her vengeance carried out – if she can survive long enough.

Other than Grishna there are some other great sub-plots unfolding too. Caitlin continues her struggle for and against the Order of the Dragon. Alto continues to rush into dangerous situations that tempt not only fate, but his ability to survive almost anything through force of will and sheer luck. Garrick is meeting new people and challenging his narrow view of the world. Patrina is… well, Patrina has a pretty major ordeal to bear and it’s seriously getting in the way of what she wants to do. Last but most certainly not least is Sir Celos Lyonsbane and his newly made wife, Dame Aleena Lyonsbane. They’ve been acting like a couple for a few books now, it’s about time they did something about it!

Namitus, Gildor, and Amra are here too, playing important parts in the story and trying to do their best to thwart the long and serpentine tendrils of the Order of the Dragon. Yet no matter how hard they try, the Order seems one step ahead of them thanks in no small part to their newest general, the half-dragon Lariki.

Phew, with all that going on is there much left to tell in the book? Heck yes there is! I barely scratched the surface of it here. The Goblin Queen is a deep book filled with twisting plots and subplots. Story arcs that sometimes work out and sometimes do not. Poison, magic, intrigue, treachery, and the darkest magic the world of Kroth has yet faced fill the pages… so grab your copy now and enjoy! Then go back and give Servant of the Serpent and Rise of the Serpent a fair shake since you’ll want to know how things got to the point they’re at now.

 

TheGoblinQueen_Small

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon Print

Everyone Else (ebook)

 

What’s next, you ask? Well, that’s a little complicated. I’m finishing up a story that is fan-fiction for the Shadowrun setting. Shadowrun was originally (and remains) an outstanding tabletop role playing game (TRPG). I’ve babbled about it in the past so I’ll refrain from doing so again. When I finish it, I’ll make it available for free and put it on some free story sights for people to enjoy. I can’t charge a thing for it, what with the IP being owned by others. I had to write it though, and with any luck maybe it will draw more people into my other works (or entice the copyright owners of Shadowrun to invite me to write something for them officially).

After that it’s a return to Vitalis I think. Like Miss Fortune, this next one will be a stand-alone novel that is tied in to the others through backstory and universe links. It is also taking sci-fi to a new place that has me really excited. It starts out, in fact, in hibernation units while a colonization ship launched before Vitalis was even found heads toward a distant star in hopes of finding a planet for humanity to settle and thrive on. So what could be exciting or interesting about a bunch of people sleeping in suspended animation? Cue maniacal laughter – the science and intelligence divisions of the Terran Coalition of Systems are running some experiments…

 

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.