Archive

Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Racing Snails

September 6, 2016 Leave a comment

Nothing like a summer cold to bless the end of summer. And bring progress to a standstill on my projects. The three day weekend was nice – until it ended, of course. Sadly, that’s when I broke my cold over Friday and Saturday. Getting back to normal now, but I spent labor day laboring (had to frame out more walls in my basement).

The good news is, the worst is past and now I can get back to working on Voidhawk! I’ve got a sweet new idea to incorporate into a book that’s already got a lot of possibilities I really want to work into it. Voidhawk – Queen of Spiders is a little under halfway written, what with my current half baked plans. Love to say I can crank out the rest of it over the next couple of weeks, but we’ll see how that works out.

In other news – there really isn’t much for other news. I’ve been delighted to notice that my non-Amazon sales are higher than ever and even outpacing Amazon this month. Too many issues with Amazon lately has me happy to see another venue outpacing them. The downside of that is my Amazon sales have also been terrible so far this month. Labor day weekend has always tanked for me though, so hopefully they’ll pick up and run neck and neck (Amazon vs. non-Amazon).

If you’re a reader looking for one of my books, if at all possible pick it up from iTunes / iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble (Nook Press), or someplace else. Not that I’ll snub a sale on Amazon, I just like to see healthy competition.

Sailing the Stars in Exclusivity

Voidhawk, by Jason Halstead

Today’s blog title is a bit of a play on words. While sailing the stars is a bit of an allusion that could be used for any starship or space travel, I mean it literally. As in using a solar sail, of sorts, to ply the solar winds and travel from star to star and world to world. Using modern science (or even future science, perhaps), it’s a viable means of transportation, but slow. Using fantasy, it opens up all sorts of possibilities!

So, since I abhor reality and enjoy escaping into my imagination, I’m talking about Voidhawk. Voidhawk is the name of the series and of the wooden ship that sails through the void (space) under the command of Dexter Silvercloud. He’s part scoundrel and part knight, among many other things. The Voidhawk is a ship that has been through a lot since he found it and rebuilt it. They’ve faced off against Elven Armadas, chased demons, travelled outside the void to a place without time, and hunted dragons that could not be killed. And they’ve paid the price for their boldness many times over. But they keep doing it.

The exclusivity? Well, that’s because I just put my entire Voidhawk series into KDP Select, which means it’s available on Kindle Unlimited. It’s exclusive because that means, for the ebooks, at least, I cannot sell them anywhere other than Amazon for the next 3 months. Since they weren’t selling anywhere but Amazon for the past several months, I figure this isn’t much of a sacrifice.

Better yet though is the news that Voidhawk, the first book in the series, is free on Amazon today (8/3) and tomorrow (8/4)! Then it goes back to its regular price of $0.99. Or, if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can read all 8 books in the series without paying a dime.

As for 8 books in the series, I’m working on book number 9 right now, although I have to finish up another one first, I hope to have that out of the way very quickly.

Oh, and lest I forget, Voidhawk becomes intertwined with another fantasy setting I have, the World of Kroth. The Blades of Leander trilogy (Child of Fate, Victim of Fate, and Silver Dragon) is already part of Kindle Unlimited. The next series, Order of the Dragon (4 books in that one), is not in KU yet. Nor is The Serpent’s War trilogy a part of it (and for the record, I haven’t written the 3rd book in that trilogy yet either). Voidhawk and Kroth cross paths in Voidhawk #7 (Broken Shards), Voidhawk #8 (Fallen Goddess), and soon to be in Voidhawk #9 (untitled). As for the World of Kroth books, the action happens between the end of Order of the Dragon and the beginning of The Serpent’s War, although there should be some interaction in the upcoming 3rd book in the Serpent’s War trilogy.

Phew, if that was confusing to you as a reader, imagine how tricky it is for me, the author, to keep it all together! Don’t worry though, I’ll take on the burden of keeping it straight. All you have to do is enjoy the books – and don’t forget to snag Voidhawk while it’s free.

 

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.

 

Science Fiction and Space Fantasy Lovers Rejoice!

First the really good news: Cover art for Vitalis: Valkyries is almost done. Any day now and it’s going to be ready to go – maybe even today. My fingers are crossed and so far I’m loving the concept art and mock ups going into it.

Outside of Vitalis, I’ve been working on helping Dawn Michelle with her Continuum series. The last two novelettes we wrote featured a character I came up with so we flew through them. Her next novelette in the series is switching back to her character, Selena, so it’s a little bit more of her work and less of mine. That means it goes slower (she’s a super-busy lady), and I can turn some of my attention back to my books. Specifically, my next project which I’ll be starting today.

Let’s see, Vitalis is science fiction, so that leaves space fantasy… what books do I write that fall under that classification? Well, it all started with my first published book seven years ago, and now my next entry into the series will mark my 9th novel. Of course I’m talking about Voidhawk, my fantasy series that puts humans, elves, dwarves, and every other fantasy race harnessing solar winds to sail through space (the void) on magical ships.

It has taken me a really long time to get back to Voidhawk after my last entry into that series (Fallen Goddess). If the reason why isn’t evident, it’s because of what happened in that book. The loss of a major character and the impact that had on the crew. And, to be honest, the impact it had on me. I don’t want to give out any spoilers for those who haven’t read it though.

Suffice to say, I’ve had a really hard time figuring out where to go next. Oh, I knew a general plot line and story idea, the problem was that it was too soon. I wasn’t sure how to deal with the characters and what they’ll be feeling and facing. There’s a hole on the deck of the Voidhawk and a hole in the hearts of the crew, it’s a spot that nobody wants to fill, and I’m not sure how to handle it either. Life must go on, and I’m finally prepared to find a way to make that happen.

I know, they’re fictional characters – they aren’t real – so wtf is wrong with me, right? Well, I’m talking to readers and book lovers, so you probably know where I’m coming from. There are characters that get inside of you. People you identify with because they feel real, even if you now they aren’t. Outside of a couple of books I’ve written (Voidhawk – Fallen Goddess in particular), I can think of one book that really hit me hard in the feels. Odd Thomas, by Dean Koontz. Phew, that book was… intense. Regular readers of my blog will note I’ve talked about Dean Koontz in the past though. I consider him to be the best I’ve ever read when it comes to telling a story. His plots and ideas aren’t always absolute top shelf, but I’d read anything he wrote regardless of whether it was original or not.

Anyhow, the point is, the characters might be made up, but their just names and faces for concepts and emotions that are real. Maybe part of them is part of me, or maybe it’s someone else I can associate with in real life. That’s the beauty and the magic of writing. Experiencing something new, or not new, in a way that makes me feel it.

I have no title yet for the new Voidhawk book, but it will definitely revolve around the recovery from what happened, as well as the need to fix what went wrong in the universe in Fallen Goddess. That means a lot of time exploring the new incarnation of Volera and understanding what, and who, exactly she is.

 

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.

Authoring Like a Boss

I just finished The Vault, a book I wrote that takes place in a post-apocalyptic North America (New York, to be precise). I intended it to be a novella but it got away from me and turned into something bigger, longer, and better. It was a book full of lessons for me too, as it detoured away from areas I am more comfortable with (science fiction / fantasy), and yet I could not use a lot of modern conveniences in it (no running water, electricity, etc.).

In fact, The Vault is set a year after a very impressive asteroid falls out of the sky and lands in the Atlantic Ocean, just west of the Bahamas. People around the world are wiped out, either right away or over the next several months as the sun is blotted out by debris, acid rain scours the planet, and the food chain is wiped out. All in all, it’s a pretty grim time, but there are survivors – otherwise how boring would it be to write about a barren rock we used to call home?

But that’s another story that’s already been told. It’s in my editor’s hands and when she’s finished with it, I’ll make it available. A week or two is my guess. I was inspired to write it by the success of my second book I ever released, Wanted. That book (and the series it spawned) has arguably been my most successful book. My hope is that I can recapture some of the magic in Wanted in the post-apocalyptic setting, although this one is very different both in setting and in the amount of people remaining. If it does well, who knows where it might lead later on?

That’s for later, this is now. And now it is time for me to once again take up the glowing crystal spear and knife and revisit the universe of Vitalis. When I last left Vitalis there was a group of bad-asses on Vitalis that were training and developing themselves. They have their orders now, and they are ready to return to Earth. Their mission: become the enemy so they can defeat the enemy. Pity the name “Suicide Squad” has already been taken, it might have made a great title.

At this point, after I finish up Vitalis #9 I’ll finally move back to Voidhawk and finish the rather epic storyline that was unearthed in Fallen Goddess. Not to mention addressing the hole that I left in the hearts of both the Voidhawk’s crew and myself when Jenna was lost. Finishing that story is going to require the third and final book in the Serpent’s War trilogy to be written as well.

Somewhere in there I need another Dark Universe book and another Terminus book. Good thing it’s only May – I have a lot planned for this year still!

As a special note, I’ve been doing a lot of research on character development and interaction recently and I really hope it begins to show in Vitalis and beyond (not that the characters haven’t developed and grown already, it’s just some new things I want to introduce).

 

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.

Writing the Right Fiction

I’m working on a story I’m calling “The Vault.” It’s a post-apocalyptic story exploring what happens to a group of people that are the first to emerge from a government vault designed to help a tiny portion of humanity survive an asteroid striking the earth. Trust me, when big, fast rock hits the earth lots of bad things happen. It’s happened before and it will happen again, but hopefully not for hundreds of thousands of years (or millions).

Researching what would happen for an asteroid strike is some pretty freaky stuff. Impressive, to say the least. Or maybe terrifying, if you’re the type that lets you worry about things you have zero control over (um, sorry, if that’s the case). In my scenario I’ve got a rock roughly 8kilometers (5ish miles) in size, fairly dense, traveling around 30 meters a second striking just off the Bahamas. Secondary problems involve fault lines shifting and causing earthquakes around the world, including an early release of a lot of stored up magma and pressure in the Yellowstone Caldera. It is, for all intents and purposes, an extinction level event.

Yet, people are resilient. Worse (or better) than cockroaches even. Survivors are trying to find a way to bring life back to the planet and rebuild. And that’s the gist of the story without giving anything away. I’ve got a core group of characters I’m focusing on and making them deal with one natural disaster after another. Fun, in its own way, but I’m afraid I went and made a terrible mistake.

I accidentally saw a snippet of a series on Netflix called Orange is the New Black. That tiny snippet was enough to hook me. That lead to the necessity of binge watching the first three seasons whenever I could. And now I’m waiting for the fourth season to come out this summer. Wait – what the heck does that have to do with my writing?

Good question. The characters in Orange is the New Black are outstanding. Even the ones I don’t really care much for have such rich backstories and lives I’m left shocked and impressed. My only complaint is that the series has expanded so much on so many of the other characters that I feel like the original heroines of the story, Piper Chapmin and Alex Vause, aren’t getting as much focus as they should. Their story, after all, is the one that hooked me and made me want to know more. I’m not happy with how the 3rd season ended, regarding those two, but I have my own hidden theories about what might happen to / for them.

Now then, back to writing. As I said all of these characters are so rich and thought out that it’s really opened up an itch in my to write something new and different. I’m struggling to stay focused on The Vault, and I’m happy that I only planned this story to be a novella instead of a full length novel. I’m halfway done by my guess, and I’m anxious to get it done as soon as I can so I can explore my new ideas.

What does that mean, as far as what comes next? Well, there are many options. I was thinking my next book would be a Vitalis story, and I could see myself trying to incorporate some of these ideas into Vitalis. After all, Vitalis has a history of having many characters with their own backgrounds and stories, so it might be a natural fit. Conversely, I could very easily find a way to slide these new ideas into a new Lost Girls book, although Katalina and Skylar would not be the main characters anymore. Instead it would follow their daughters and their desire to grow up and make their mark on the world.

Or maybe something else completely new? Naw, probably not. I’m probably going to end up focusing on Vitalis, but the appeal of a Lost Girls spin off is growing. I still need to write more Dark Universe, Voidhawk, and The Serpent’s War too (and countless many others). Come to think of it, maybe some of these new ideas could end up working out in an extension of my Wanted series too…

The positive take-away from this is that inspiration can come from anywhere. On the flip side, it can be damn irritating too, because it’s messing with my current focus. That makes me mad though, and anger I can use to drive me forward. Scorched earth be damned, I will have these stories out as soon as I can!

 

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.

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 http://www.booksbyjason.com.

A Dark Star is Born

Voidhawk – Fallen Goddess went to my editor on Friday. That, by itself, is a great thing. What happened in that book is even greater. I won’t go into details, but I will say that I’m still feeling it after taking an entire weekend off from writing and I want to jump straight into the next Voidhawk book because of it. But… I can’t.

In a couple of weeks I have a special project coming up with someone, so I have to plan accordingly. I’ve decided to work on Dark Star in the interim, the next book in the Dark Universe setting. A quick turn-around for that series, I know, but I’ve got a couple of driving factors: 1) Dark Universe is selling great and nothing else is for me – the family’s gotta eat. 2) I’m just as amped up about that series and the characters as I am about Voidhawk, so it’s an easy thing to do and it gives me the space I need to come into the next Voidhawk book objectively.

Two weeks isn’t enough to finish it though, not while I’m doing the day job too. So I finished putting my thoughts together today and now I can start working on the story properly. It’s not an outline, per se, but a general flow of what’s going to happen. The ‘how’ part of it remains to unfold as I write it. I’m expecting another kick ass story in that series though!

As for Voidhawk and the next book, that will come soon. It’s going to tie into my World of Kroth books again (Blades of Leander, Order of the Dragon, The Serpent’s War). In fact, the third book in the Serpent’s War trilogy will have a lot to do with it – but I promise they’ll also be entirely separate from each other. Some crossover, maybe, but you won’t need to read one to read the other. You will, however, get exposure to some kick-ass fantasy that fills in a lot of extra details and backstory for anyone that wants to try them both out.

And the side project? Well, I’ll talk more about that when and if it works out. It’s got a lot of potential, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself in case anything comes up to cause problems.

In the meantime, stay tuned for Voidhawk – Fallen Goddess in the next week or two! And after that another Dark Universe book is on the horizon.

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.