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Posts Tagged ‘#amwriting’

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.

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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.

…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.

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.

When Writing Sucks

That’s a strong title. Perhaps too strong. Nonetheless, I’ve noticed something as I near my 100th published story. A pattern or a trend, if you will. Almost every book suffers from parts where it becomes almost a chore (or in some cases it is a chore) to continue on. And that, my friends, sucks.

When I start a new story, no matter the premise, setting, or characters, I’m excited. It’s a blank book full of possibilities and potential. Anything can happen. And, invariably, it soon does. Beginnings are a mystery waiting to be explored. Action and adventure and excitement and even romance. Yes, I can appreciate romance even considering I may not be plumbed for it.

The end of the book is another fast paced and very exciting time. The characters and sub plots are coming together. Questions are being answered and good things (usually) are happening. It’s fun and vindicating. All that time spent crafting the story and exploring the ups and downs of the characters is about to be rewarded.

The part that can suck? That’s in the middle. That’s when I’ve got different characters doing different things and I start to doubt what’s going on. The end seems so far away and I often wonder if the people I’m writing about will ever make it there. It’s not writer’s block – I don’t believe that exists – it’s a matter of complexities and low points in the story that are necessary. Truth be told, they aren’t even that low, they just aren’t the emotional build up and pending release that other points in the story hold.

Several months ago I read something that I believe R.A. Salvatore posted on Facebook where felt a very similar thing. I shared my empathy with him, but my comment was no doubt lost among the masses. After all, Mr. Salvatore is a NY Times Bestseller and has achieved exceptional success with his writing and sales. I may have the NY Times bestseller title under my belt, but sales these days are in the gutter, so I remain a little fish in an ever expanding pond.

The point is, for budding writers out there or those that feel they get stuck mid way through their book: take heart, it happens to most (if not all) of us. The fear that we’ve overstepped our bounds and that the end we envisioned can’t possibly happen because of what we just did. Well, the good news is, you’re in charge (or the characters are). Either way, the book can and will go on. If the ending changes, then change it. Just keep writing and finding the words to reach that point. It’s like putting one foot in front of the other until you reach your destination. It may seem like a long walk, but no matter how long it is, you can only get there one step at a time.

My current project, Lucky Star, is the 6th book in my Dark Universe series and I’m suffering a minor spell of this sort. I love the new and old characters and I love the story, I’m just troubled about how I’m going to connect where I’m at with where I want it to go. The characters will show me the way, they always do, but that doesn’t stop the frustration of wondering just how, exactly, that’s going to happen.

The answer, as always, is to write on.

 

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.