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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Apologies and Adventure!

For steadfast readers who might have looked into my website, my Terminus books website, or my Conan Exiles server I host (server name is Phineas for anyone interested in checking it out – I’m always anxious to get more players on it) over the last couple of days I have to apologize. First off there was a power outage that killed my server. Then (today) I installed a new server and moved my databases over to it. There was downtime associated as I had to do some extra work to get the routings set up right. Everything should be up and running properly now though.

Now then, while power was out it was a great opportunity to get a little further into the adventure. The kids (Cody the paladin and Josephine the monk) were well rested and set out to talk with farmer Sherman. After interrupting him miking his cows they had a conversation that was only mildly confusing. They learned of two strange people – a man and a woman – that wandered off the road to the south and into the hills. They also learned that farmer Sherman knew of a Dahlia that was Baron von Griffinmount’s daughter, but had not heard of the Dahlia that they served for (she’s a merchant’s daughter).

Some fumbling around at the road’s edge (a 1 rolled on a perception check, for example) ensued and eventually they marched off into the south with no idea what to look for her or where to look for it. Instead they crested a hill and found a group of rocks complete with enough bush-cover to leave them clueless… save for the muttering in a language they weren’t familiar with (Dwarvish).

They crept closer but weren’t very stealthy about it. The voice spoke again (in Dwarvish) demanding to know who was out there and what they wanted. When they didn’t respond the dwarf barked thieves, a command word for his dog, and charged out of the weeds. They had to fight a large mastiff and the unusual dwarven prospector and, thanks to some convenient 20s, the fight ended with little more than a strike from the dwarf’s pickaxe hitting Cody. Both kids were upset at having to fight and kill a dog though, and now they both want to get a pet of their own (argh).

Amidsts some more fumbled rolling for tracking (1s are a DMs best friend) they eventually found the tracks of their suspected targets and continued their journey. An hour or two saw them to the edge of a shimmering forest. Upon closer examination they realized the shimmering was the sun reflecting off of the very fine spiderwebs that stretched from tree to tree and branch to branch. Numerous tiny spiders could be seen weaving their webs, which prompted the mighty paladin to cower in terror (he’s not big on spiders), even after it was explained to him that the spider silks are gathered by silk farmers (people) who have a way to weave them into some of the strongest and most beautiful silks in the world. The spiders themselves are harmless.

Since the tracks led into the forest, they had to follow them. After another hour or so of hiking Jo (Josephine) got distracted and walked into a tree (even monks have bad days). That noise prompted a wild boars to burst out of a nearby thicket and charge. Cody was ready this time and met it halfway. After their first exchange of blows the boar’s mate came crashing out of the same bushes and bore down on Cody (get it? the boar bore down on him).

Cody was gored a couple of times by the boars but managed to triumph. Josephine saw the boars as marvelous animals and refused to join the fight. Cody, to get her back for abandoning him, butchered one so he could have bacon when next they camped. I also explained to Jo (after the fact) that she could have attacked the boars (or the dwarf’s dog) with the intent to knock them unconscious and not kill them. It was my fault for not letting her know that earlier as it slipped my mind (and I was enjoying the turmoil in the party).

With that dispute resolved, they returned to trying to track Dahlia. The battle caused Cody to lose his bearings though. Fortunately Jo hadn’t moved so she picked up the trail and led them through the forest as they day grew long and the air thicker. The trees became darker and their leaves longer and broader. Even the ground began to grow moist as the forest turned to jungle.

It was there, on the edge of the jungle that they decided to camp. The sun had long since dropped below the mountains in the west and there was precious little light to see by. The gaming session ended for the night, short but fun for all. Stay tuned for part 3, whenever we can get to it. Hopefully that will be the end of their first official adventure, although their second one begins immediately – they just don’t know it yet!

 

Now some GM notes on fifth edition as I’m learning it. I have to admit, I like it so far. Players seem overpowered compared to monsters, but I think that’s my fault as much as anything. After all, I’m accustomed to old editions where these monsters would be more of a challenge to 1st level adventurers so I’m not throwing as much or as many against them. I did toughen them up a bit after the first session though, and I think I’ve found a better balance.

One other thing I really like is the dismissal of a lot of bonuses and penalties that really bogged the game down. Situational modifiers and circumstantial adjustments adding or subtracting from the die roll complicated things for DMs and players alike – or at least slowed the game down. In 5e they have a simple way of handling things – a roll is normal, advantage, or disadvantaged. A normal roll is a single 20 sided die like normal for attacks, saving throws, skill checks, or whatever. In the case of an advantaged roll two 20 sided dice (2d20) are rolled. The better roll is taken and then normal modifiers used. In a disadvantaged roll, 2d20 are rolled and the lower roll is taken. Roll 20s on both or 1s on both and it goes from critical (success / failure) to epic – I’m not sure if that’s in the rule books or not but it’s one I’m implementing.

So what can make a roll advantaged? Lots of things. One player declaring that he wants to use his combat action to help another, for example (e.g. distracting an opponent giving the other player an advantaged attack), fighting against an impaired target, having some magical boon or luck, etc.. A disadvantage can be had if you’re on the receiving end of such tactics. It’s early and my brain isn’t kicking in yet, but there are a lot of different reasons for advantage or disadvantage, including many pack hunting monsters that are next to the same target automatically gaining advantage because of their combat styles.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ve got some work to outside in between rain storms. That and probably more adjustments and enhancements to my new server to make. Somewhere along the way I have to fit in more writing too. The Goblin Queen has reached volume length already and there is a lot of story left to tell before it’s over!

 

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.

Did I Forget Something?

My last blog post was about my current work in progress, The Goblin Queen. It was a good update and the book has advanced considerably since then. In fact, it’s nearing the novel length and I’m perhaps halfway through it. But that’s not what I forgot.

It occurred to me the very next day after posting it that I mentioned a bunch of characters by name. Most of them are reasonably well known by my readers (I hope), based on sales of the original Blades of Leander series. I sold tens of thousands of those books (if not more), allowing readers to partake in the adventures of Alto, Patrina, Garrick, and so many others. But what about readers that are new to my book or blog? Or readers that stuck with my science fiction and haven’t tried my fantasy books. No doubt the character names were confusing. Well, here’s my attempt to fix that!

Kroth – First off we have Kroth. Kroth is not a character, it is a world. The world of Kroth, wherein Alto and his friends live. By and large it contains all of the Kroth adventures, but that’s not the extent of it. Kroth is also a world in my Voidhawk setting, which readers of Voidhawk: Broken Shards and a few others will no doubt remember. The most exciting part about this Voidhawk tie-in is that if one world in the void can host so many stories and adventures, then how many others could I one day write given the void touches countless inhabited worlds?

Alto – Alto was born the son of a mercenary turned farmer. He never knew of his father’s violent past until after tragedy struck. Alto’s own foray into the life of warrior and adventurer began after a surprise attack by a tribe of goblins injured his father. He tracked them down and fought them alongside a group of mercenary’s known as the Blades of Leander. In short order he joined them and began his training as a warrior. From there Alto went on to rise to become their leader and make a name for himself until, one day, he seized the opportunity to establish a kingdom of his own bordering on the western reaches of the Northern Divide mountain range.

Patrina – Patrina was a runaway princess of the seafaring kingdom of Kelgryn. She was rescued by Alto in his earliest days of adventuring in a cave filled with goblins. Shortly after, she turned around and rescued him right back. They fought both together and against one another until their love for another became too great to fight.

Karthor – Karthor began as a young priest serving in the Blades of Leander. He is also one of Alto’s earliest and closest friends. His steadfast friendship and calming influence has helped countless people over the years. His chief source of strife are his father, a well-known and powerful wizard named Kar. His mother is a witch named Arcturia that lives in Mira, the desert empire that borders the Sea of Broken Shards. As of The Goblin Queen, Karthor has been named high priest of a temple to Leander he commissioned in the Kingdom of Altonia.

Kar – A wizard that fits many stereotypes. He loves his pipe, his food, and to talk about magic and theory. He also loves to experiment and borders on hazardous displays of magic while counseling others to do no such thing. He’s lived a long and colorful life and shows no sign of slowing down. His son is his greatest enigma- for all the magical phenomena he can understand and explore, he cannot fathom how a boy born of two great magic wielders could turn from wizardry to the priesthood.

Garrick – Garrick was born on the frozen tundra north of the Northern Divide. From his earliest days he hunted rabbit, caribou, and reindeer while being hunted in turn by hungry packs of wolves. When Alto and Patrina were forced into this harsh wintry land they met Garrick and his clan. It was a difficult time, given the barbarians interest in Patrina and the rivalry that grew between Garrick and Alto. With time and understanding, Alto and Garrick overcame their differences and became fast friends. Garrick still fancies Patrina, but his love for her is that of an adopted sister while he still searches for a woman that could be his equal rather than a mere night’s pleasure.

Namitus – Namitus is a half-elven minstrel and rogue. He always has a tale to tell or a tune on his pipes to play, and that is how he found himself a “guest” of the Kelgryn and an indentured friend and tutor for Patrina. With her rescue from the goblins came his, and Namitus quickly formed a bond with Alto just as strong as what he shared with Patrina. Now he works with and for them, traveling the lands and searching out trouble before it can rear its head.

Gildor – Gildor is a relative newcomer to the books of Kroth. He is a guide and archer whose skill is often sought out in the southern lands. One day he rescued a babe from a village that had been raided and destroyed, only to keep her and raise her as his own daughter. He has since suffered greatly at the hands of the Order of the Dragon, but since being rescued by Namitus, he’s thrown his lot in with Alto to do what they can to foil the Order and defeat them.

Grishna – Grishna is the latest introduction to the world of Kroth, though she was not born on Kroth. The Goblin Queen introduces Grishna as the last remaining survivor of a voidship that crashed many years ago on Kroth in the Sarana river far from its steamy headwaters. Grishna’s mother was a human slave that was owned by Zorrik the Merciful, an orc chieftain that sailed the void as a merchant. Unlike her mother, Grishna is a free woman, even before her father and all of her clan perished in the crash thanks to the claws of a massive dragon.

Celos – Sir Celos Lyonsbane is holy knight of Leander. A paladin whose mission in life is to defend his church and strike down darkness and evil. He is an esteemed member and considered by many to be the sword-arm of the church, or at least the leader of it. His life is spent in quest, seeking to banish one evil after another. His wife, Dame Aleena Lyonsbane, often tempers his zealous faith with wisdom, compassion, and mercy. Together the two are a sight to behold.

Aleena – Dame Aleena Lyonsbane is another holy knight of Leander, although she was once smitten with Alto and fancied a means of trapping him to be her husband while she was a serving maid at her father’s inn. When Alto chose Patrina instead she ran away to the church of Saint Leander and, in doing so, discovered her true calling. She trained under Celos and served as his squire until she was deemed worthy of being knighted and proclaimed a paladin. Along the way her purity and goodness earned her the friendship and service of Moonshine, a unicorn.

 

I think that’s the majority of the characters. Quite the crew! Just writing this snippet about each of them makes me remember the great many trials they’ve been through and the many sacrifices they’ve made. With each hardship overcome they’ve grown into someone stronger and better, for the most part. They’re more than just the voices in my head, they’re the kind of characters that feel like friends. The type that you love to read about, and hate to finish a book for fear you won’t hear from them for a while.

 

So I’m almost 50,000 words into this book and writing hard, but in no rush to finish and lose touch with them again! Rest assured though, I will finish it and worry not, I have other plans to keep them close by… but that’s another blog post.

 

 

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.

Overdue Update on My Fantasies

Either this blog title is clickbait or it’s sending people screaming and hiding. I’m okay with both.

The intent behind it is to share the latest book status. Fantasy is especially fitting since I’m writing a book titled, “The Goblin Queen.” It’s the next book in The Serpent’s War series, but I have to say this one is nothing like the two that came before. As I’ve said before, I enjoyed writing those books, but it was more work and less fun. This one has been nothing but fun, both when I write and when I’m not writing but thinking about it. It takes me back to the first series, Blades of Leander, and I can’t wait for people to read it! In fact, thinking about this book has gotten me through a lot of treadmill time while warming up or cooling down on my workout days (I run a mile before and after lifting).

Recently the story has expanded quite a bit. I originally intended only to follow Grishna (new main character), Garrick, Carson, Namitus, Aleena, Celos, and Gildor in their quest to investigate and attempt to foil the plans of the Order of the Dragon as they build their army. Inspiration and far reaching plans have launched a few more subplots though, enough to draw Alto, Patrina, Jethallin, Mordrim, Karthor, and Kar into the mix.

And wow have the characters grown and changed. Here’s just a sample of what’s come to pass:

  • Jethallin went from her role as a homeless young mother in Shazamir to the High Warden of the forests of the Kingdom of Altonia. Jennaca, her daughter, is doing well and getting into all sorts of trouble, by the way.
  • Kar has apprentices that are contributing to his mad scheme of mastering the air by piloting the experimental airships he’s creating. So far the injuries have been minor…
  • Karthor has been granted the title of High Priest of the Altonia branch of the church of Leander. His liberal beliefs have caused disturbances amongst those entrenched in the church’s ranks, but the number of faithful in Altonia is growing faster than any temple or missionary in the history of Saint Leander’s worship.
  • Aleena and Celos have been wed! Ahem, excuse me, that’s Dame Aleena Lyonsbane and Sir Celos Lyonsbane. Even though Celos can’t let a chance slip by to try and one up Moonshine, Aleena’s unicorn companion.
  • Patrina and Alto are soon to welcome an heir to the throne, and Patrina can’t wait to be able to fit into her armor again.
  • Mordrim has been named dwarven ambassador to Altonia, though his duties often keep him traveling and unable to enjoy the rewards of the work he has done.

 

The bad guys have changed too. The Order of the Dragon has learned from their setbacks and explore new ways to exert their will on the peoples of the world of Kroth. The first key to their success was in obtaining the help of a half-breed, which they’ve done in enlisting Lariki the half-dragon to be the general of their armies. Next they must eliminate their biggest threat if they hope to succeed – the Kingdom of Altonia and its champions must be destroyed.

 

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.

Need Some Help

I finished the rough draft of Medic – it took way too long to write, but I had a ridiculous end of the year. Over two weeks off but every single “vacation” day I took I spent working several hours for the day job. On top of that, I had a ton of basement work planned to finish off my basement. Most of that happened, except early on I ended up with a vicious infection in my chest from inhaling too much drywall dust. I’m still not sure what happened for several days while I worked through some epic amounts of hacking and wheezing. But, the end result is a semi-finished basement (waiting on having carpet installed a few weeks out and then I’ve got to find some bargain basement furniture). Oh, and like I said, I wrote the last word on Medic’s rough draft today.

So now I need some help! What do I write next? I’ve got an awesome fantasy character idea that I could turn into a Voidhawk book that also helps finish up my Serptent’s War trilogy, or I could write something in my Dark Universe or Vitalis series. I’m torn, to be honest. I could do any of them – but times are lean so I’d love to hear what my readers are most interested in.

So let me know what piques your interest! More tales of the Uma and her new captain and crew (Dark Universe), the Voidhawk trying to return a natural order to the void, or humanity struggling to adapt, survive, and prepare for the invasion coming from the Ultriarch flying through space to consume them?

 

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.

Categories: Writing Tags: , ,

The Path of Least Resistance

December 19, 2016 Leave a comment

I was studying my sales over the past year this weekend and trying to do it as analytically as possible (to fight off depression). That coincided with some formerly very successful writers that have experienced similar spirals. In fact, the more authors I speak with, the more it seems this is happening to everyone. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable or a good thing.

Anyhow, I also happened to notice my whiteboard with my 2016 goals on it. I’m on par for nearly everything I wrote down except for 4 Terminus books. I wrote 2 when I launched with John, but then the apathetic reaction the marketplace gave us told us both it was time to move on. Damn shame too, I absolutely loved the setting and wanted to do so much with it.

Kind of like my next ideas after I finish Medic. I have an awesome character concept and some story ideas that fit so perfectly into a fantasy book – but nobody who’s reading my books seems interested in another book set in Alto’s world. That ties me into my sales trends I’ve studied. People want to read science fiction, not fantasy – with the notable pseudo-exception of Voidhawk. Voidhawk is space fantasy, so it’s got the appeal of science fiction even though there’s not much in the way of science behind the magic that allows renaissance era vessels to sale between worlds.

Fortunately for me, my next Voidhawk book will return to the world of Kroth. My new character idea might very well have it’s time in the sun after all. I’ve got to narrow it done some more first, but I’m pleased with what I’ve come up with so far. That’s going to have to slip into the back of my mind for now though, I have to finish off Medic first, and I’m getting pretty close to doing that.

How close? Well, a few more chapters and I’ll be done. And as of Thursday of this week I’m on vacation until January 3rd. Plenty of time to write! When I’m not working on remodeling my basement, that is. Or doing Christmasy things.

The real question is, will Voidhawk be my next project, or will I return to Dark Universe or Vitalis instead? In case I haven’t made it obvious, Dark Universe, Vitalis, and Voidhawk have been my bestselling series this year, and in order to keep the cash flowing I have to write what people want to read. Since feedback and reviews are rare, I have to rely on how readers vote with their dollars, and that’s what the votes are telling me.

As a side note, Arrested in Peace, my recent release in the shared sci-fi universe of The Complex, has been doing fairly well also though. I highly encourage you to check it out and the other works in the same setting.

The only other thing I want to mention is that I’ve finally gotten around to converting Victim of Fate and Silver Dragon (books 2 and 3 in the Child of Fate series) to print books available on Amazon. Those are ready to go, although I am in the middle of updating Victim of Fate to deal with a formatting issue – that should be done in a matter of hours. Just in case you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned paperback.

 

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.

Arrested!

December 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Arrested in Peace, that is. The title of my latest release! It’s available now, on Amazon and all the other big ebook retailers. Grab your copy now, it’s something new, different, and totally fun. Sure, my concept of fun might be a little twisted, but if you’re reading this, I bet yours is too.

So what is Arrested in Peace? It’s a blending of science fiction and fantasy on a new scale I’d never aspired to before. Valerie Washburn was a naïve young woman at school. She had her boyfriend and friends, as well as her meager talents at detecting and understanding magic. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, was the real deal when it came to magical potential. Top of his class and he had the future ahead of him. They had plans, he and Val. Big plans.

A summoning accident involving metahumans changed all of that. Valerie’s world fell apart around her. Nothing mattered anymore… nothing until she was approached and given an opportunity to get her revenge on the the dirty metahumans that were responsible for ruining her life.

Death and taxes are constants on one end of the spectrum. Politics is on the other end. With peace brewing between the humans and metahumans throughout the Seldova solar system, hunting metas is no longer sanctioned. Valerie has nothing left to do, until she found a call to Lorn, the experimental planet where co-habitation between human and metahuman is underway. It’s a job she can appreciate – she gets to hunt down lawbreakers that the security forces can’t handle on their own. And that means metas.

The story starts with Valerie refueled with her hate and anxious to continue her vengeance. It’s not about making things better, it’s about making them hurt. Nothing else matters, not even her own well-being.

Okay, so vengeful character with a serious chip on her shoulder. What’s so much fun about that? First is a mistake she makes that saves a metahuman’s life. The unexpected consequences of that threaten to follow her the rest of her life. Adding even more complexity is her next case – an old friend has come back from the shadows and she’s anxious to make contact again…and so much more beyond that.

Nano-technology, magical spells, demons & angels, necromancy, zombies, and a seriously pissed off woman that doesn’t know how to slow down. It turns everything upside down and does it in a way that makes it easy for anyone to get into, regardless of whether you like scifi or not.

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Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and the rest!

 

Next up is Medic, the fifth book in my Wanted series. Carl, Jessie, Ally, and even Tanya are back and playing an important role in putting an end to whatever is taking out veterans. When it gets personal for him there’s no strings he won’t pull to put an end to it, whether the laws on his side or not.

 

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.

 

Check Please

November 11, 2016 Leave a comment

I’m done. At least for a while. I’ve been avoiding Facebook for weeks, if not months, due to all the crap I’ve been seeing. Fear, hate, and outright bullying in the form of political bullshit. Sadly, it was mirrored on the television. Fortunately for me, I don’t watch much television and what I do watch is either a hockey game or something I can block the commercials out with.

And now it’s over. Sweet, blessed relief. Normalcy can return. Except it hasn’t. If anything, the fear and hate mongering on Facebook has escalated. Most Trump supporters are getting sick and tired of it, even though the vast majority seem to have stayed quiet about it up until now. Hillary supporters are angry and bitter because she gave them a holy crusade to believe in and convinced them to take up the pitchfork and torch for her cause – only to find out her plan didn’t work out the way they thought it would.

Personally, I’m glad. I hate to admit it, but I’m glad on as spiritual a level as I’ll ever get that the American people did not condone her past and present actions by electing her into office. The evidence is irrefutable and, had it been anyone else who would have broken the agreements and laws that she did, a harsh sentence would be quick in coming. For her it did not, much as her husband was acquitted during his tenure as president when he was investigated. This, if nothing else, has served as an example of how corrupted and broken our system has become. To perpetuate that would be a crime. The government has too much influence and power.

Look at almost every science fiction story or movie out there. Utopian societies exist because of some hidden evil beneath. Some great corruption that allows the socialist regime to flourish and remain in power. Civilizations are disarmed and kept powerless. They are subjugated, perhaps even drugged, to perpetuate the illusion of a perfect world. Until some rebel with a bow and arrow or a bizarre way of thinking rises up and makes people realize that roses aren’t supposed to stink like decay.

More government is not the answer. More government means more rules and more restriction. Less freedom. Less ability to choose. Less human rights. In my stories I strive to keep government at reasonable levels and let the characters flourish and achieve what they are meant to achieve. Out here in the real world I struggle to do the same thing, because I believe it’s people that can, and do, make a difference. Not institutions or organizations. People.

America made me proud on November 8th when they said we want a real change. We don’t like what’s happening to us – what we’ve allowed to happen to us. We want something different. Is President Trump going to bring it? I’ll be damned if I know. I am convinced that he is extremely intelligent and very persuasive. His skills at business are exceptional. He’s not going to be the despot so many people believe in, but only time will tell that. Whether he can chart a new, and better, course for America will be a subject for historians. All we can do is work together and try to help each other through the bumps along the way.

Will there one day be a woman president? Absolutely. Will she be as enslaved by her ambitions and willing to broker any deal or tell any lie necessary to achieve that title? I sure as hell hope not. In my mind I argue that electing Hillary wouldn’t have been a proper way to shatter the glass ceiling – it would have been a lesson to our youth that it’s okay to do whatever is necessary to win, regardless of the consequences. That, to me, is just bad parenting on a national scale.

And I’ve gone on far longer than I intended to. My intent was just to say that I can’t stomach Facebook right now, so I’m taking a break from. Any abusive or defamatory comments on this will be removed. I’m not inciting a discussion, I’m stating my mind and moving on after months of doing my best to remain neutral only become involved when something amused me.

I’m not taking a break from writing though. Medic has broken the 20k word barrier and is coming fast and furious. Not as fast as I’d like, but I’m still slapping the keys as much as I can. It will definitely be done this year, and as long as editing and cover art are available in time, it will be published this year as well.

After that? Maybe a political thriller? That’s a joke. I hate politics and what they do to people. Next up could be a lot of things, but to be honest I have no idea which one it will be. I’ve had character ideas and story ideas – we’ll just have to wait and see which one makes the most sense.

Oh! There will be a release in early December. It’s called Arrested in Peace, and it’s my secret project I’ve been working on all year. This book is part of a multi-book project releasing at the same time. It’s science fiction and fantasy mixed in a cool new concept. I can’t say much more about it yet, but I do plan on getting up for pre-order soon so it can launch the same time the others do. Stay tuned for more info on that.

 

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.