Posts Tagged ‘brainstorming’

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

The Mighty 42

I had a busy weekend that started on Friday morning with a trip to the court house to get a restraining order against my landlord. That was followed by working the day job in the afternoon and then house hunting followed after work. Then I finished Vitalis: Genesis and sent it to my copy editor. That was Friday.

Saturday started with a masochistic morning workout while my daughter was in dance class and my son in gymnastics (next year he’s switching to karate – yikes). Then a trip across the state to go deer hunting, complete with a lot of correspondence with our realtor while sitting in a tree stand. We stayed the night at my parent’s house and came back home on Sunday to attend to the usual weekend chores and continue to deal with the housing situation.

The good news is it looks like we’ve got a new place lined up – or at least lining up. The bad news? The rent is higher even though we talked them down a couple hundred bucks a month. More bad news – didn’t see a single deer.

I could go on about the distressing events coming up in life, but you don’t want to hear that and I only focus on making progress and solutions, not problems. So that brings me to what’s next on my plate – figuring out what the heck I’m going to write for Dragonlady, the much anticipated end of the Order of the Dragon series! When the dust settles this will be my 42nd book.

So what is the story going to be about? Well, Alto’s returning north to take care of some business. He’s not sure what business, exactly, but from what he’s heard from Garrick and the others there are disturbing things happening in The Northern Divide (mountain range).

Meanwhile Aleena and Celos plan to confront Rosalyn about her armies and her apparent lack of control of them. This opens up more opportunities, both for Aleena and for Graak, the current ogre warleader. Meanwhile the feisty wood elves in the forest are being slaughtered by the marauding ogres. I’ll confess, I’m not a big fan of elves. They’re too high and mighty in too many fantasy settings. And the elf-on-a-shelf my kids have? How creepy! This guy’s a stalker watching my children just waiting for them to step out of line. Yeah, sorry wood elven people, harsh times are-a-coming!

What else is there? Why there’s Jethallin – thanks for reminding me! She’s stuck captive of a madman in the desert right now on her way to fight an impossible fight to save the man who holds her captive in her dreams. And through it all she’s taking Jennaca, her infant, along with her because her hope is to provide a better life for her daughter. Talk about picking the short straw! If she survives all that she hopes to find Alto again – she’s still convinced he’s the secret to her success. And not in a creepy I’m-going-to-kill-your-fiance-and-trick-you-into-loving-me-instead kind of way. Heh, like Patrina wouldn’t kick her butt if she tried.

Ideas galore, plus a couple I haven’t mentioned, such as a stopover at one of the free cities (Peltarch) where Alto might have a chance to run afoul of the King of Peltarch who happens to be one of Shazamir’s special offspring. Minor spoiler there, but don’t worry, I still plan to make it plenty of fun. There’s more to come too, lots of ideas.

I’d really planned to have this be the final story for Alto but a new idea has been tickling the back of my head to. Another trilogy, perhaps? After all, the path to the throne is seldom an easy one to walk.

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

Inside the Mind of a Writer

January 22, 2012 2 comments

I’m working on Devil’s Icebox, the sequel to my paranormal fantasy, Dark Earth. I know what I want to happen in the book, more or less, and already inside of the first 1400 words my main character surprised me and showed me she wasn’t who she thought she was. I was expecting a cruel and heartless witch (literally – she’s a witch), but come to find out she’s got a soft spot inside of her. The cruel and heartless part is still coming though…

So I’ve got my characters and I’ve got the story goal in mind, but it’s the little things in between I still need to figure out. I was wondering what various plot devices and complication I’d toss along the way. Rather than let those things develop at their own pace in the back of my head, I decided I wanted to speed things up a bit. I’ve got a serious schedule laid out for myself this year when it comes to writing. I’m over a month ahead at present with the early completion of the rough draft of Voidhawk – The White Lady (for those following me, yes, I finally settled on a name). I won’t be letting any moss grow on me though!

So, this post, where I brainstorm up some various ideas to complicate the story and my characters lives! I may use some or all of them, or perhaps I’ll use none of them. The general gist of the story is that a witch from Dark Earth has to come to our Earth through the portal in Lord Baxter’s realm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After that said witch needs to establish a new portal back to her homeland. Then help Lord Nelson (her ruler), launch an assault on our Earth. And don’t worry, I haven’t given the story away with that high level summary – I’ve got plenty of surprises cooked up and that’s without the possibilities below!


Lord Gareth Nelson – ruler of a large realm between Lake Erie and most of eastern Ohio / some of Western Pennsylvania

Cassiopia – A witch and the main character from whom the story is told.

Gabriel – Lord Nelson’s right hand man, confidant, enforcer, and protector. He travels with Cassiopia as a bodyguard and to insure she doesn’t do anything inappropriate.

Gwendolyn – A very important person to Cassiopia and someone Lord Nelson has under lock and key to further insure his witch’s good behavior.

Possible scenes:

-An interlude with bandits along the road.

-Running into a camp of third party soldiers / mercs from another realm that seek to cause the new Lord Baxter problems.

-Possible interaction with Lord Baxter, his daughter (who is also coming into her power as a witch), and Lord Baxter’s romantic interest

-Culture shock on our Earth (what, you mean women don’t have to be abused and treated like second class citizens?!)

-Romantic interest / complication on Earth

-Criminal / violent incident on Earth (mugging, attempted murder or worse, bar fight, gang violence, etc.)

-Encounter with someone on Earth who has a touch of the gift (magic).

-Innocent campers / kids / hikers / whatever in the wrong place at the wrong time when attempting to establish the portal.

-Police interference on our Earth.

And the list goes on and on… but those are the ones I had time to think up and jot down. For those interested in the book this does not include the major scenes I’ve got already included in my head. I’m saving those for a surprise – these little snippets are just ideas that could very well influence the course of events through the book. My characters have a way of developing outside of my control. Especially this one, since Cassie already pulled a surprise move on me! I also encourage fans of the series (or people who’ve never heard of it) to respond to this post with any thoughts of their own. It wouldn’t be the first (nor the last) time I’ve included something in a book from a reader who contacted me.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at