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Vengeance, Vegas Style

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m cheating here – this article is one I posted on a fellow writer’s blog a week or two back. Leah Rhyne, writer and zombie afficionado, was the lovely young lady to host it for me. She’s a talented writer and a classy lady, I encourage anyone interested to head over and check out her blog at http://www.leahrhyne.com/. Last I checked she and her husband were working hard on raising money for a charity, St. Jude’s, I believe, and her hubby offered to shave his head if they reached their goal.

Now then, on to the blog post, it’s a blatant attempt on my part to promote my latest book, Bounty. But amidst all that promotion I think it’s got some interesting bits and a touch of humor. Definitely worth the sixty seconds it takes to read the blog, not to mention the minimal cost of buying the novel and enjoying Carl, Jessie, Tanya, Sarah, and Allison’s exploits!

 

Sin City has a history of organized crime and preying on the weak and innocent. Bounty, the third book in the Wanted trilogy, lives up to that legacy.

Writing Wanted was a strike of luck for me. It seemed like a great idea but I found myself hung up from time to time figuring out what came next. It deviated drastically from my original plans but thanks to a moment of inspiration I was able to turn that deviation into a great book. I didn’t realize how great a book it was until it became a bestseller and topped multiple Amazon charts.

My readers called for a sequel, they weren’t happy with the story of Carl, Jessie, and Tanya ending so soon. That allowed me to write Ice Princess, but it was even more of a trial than the first one was. I was very happy with the finished product, thanks to a few more random bubbles of creativity along the way. As a matter of fact, with the end of Ice Princess I felt myself getting choked up as I identified with a couple of the characters personally. In particular Jiri Kurkova, the father of Tanya, Miss Ice Princess herself.

After Ice Princess I was spent. There was nothing more I could do with these characters. They’d done it all. They’d been dragged through the mud. They’d been shot, beaten, stabbed and worse. What more pain could I inflict? Well that’s a stupid thing to ask a writer, especially one with an occasionally macabre sense of humor! The concept came to me out of nowhere  one day on my way into to work at 6:30 in the morning. What concept? I won’t spoil it, but I will say it involves an incredible fear of loss that all of us experience at one point or another. Here’s one of the tweets I’m using to promote it as well: “My new release, Bounty, focuses on family values and why you shouldn’t try to kidnap Carl Water’s family.”

Check out Wanted, it’s a free ebook, and then once you’re hooked look up Ice Princess and then Bounty, the incredible conclusion to the trilogy.

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 Get Around

December 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been a lot of places. I started out in Michigan and, aside from a few vacations, stayed there until I was old enough to know better. Michigan’s a beautiful state with four seasons and a lot of outdoor opportunities without any major risk of dangerous wildlife. Oh sure, you can be gored by a deer and there are wolves, black bear, coyotes, moose, and elk the further north you go, but not very many. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is filled with wonderful natural locations: mountains, rivers, waterfalls, shoreline of the great lakes, and (mostly) a lack of industrialization. My family owns some land up near Marquette, in fact, complete with a small river and a water fall on it (and no power!). It’s a breathtaking getaway in the summer or winter. The UP became part of the inspiration for my book, Dark Earth.

But I left Michigan at the tender age of 18. I joined the Air Force and went to Texas. I came back and ended up moving around lower Michigan, mostly near Lansing and Kalamazoo. I’m not sure which city I preferred more, but for nature and landscape my heart was still set on the UP. Then my wife and I visited my in-laws in Phoenix, Arizona and I was blown away.

It’s hard to compare temperate forests with a desert landscape. It felt like I was on another planet, although a very neat one. I never visited during the high heat of summer so I got to enjoy mild temperatures and an outside and diverse countryside. It was every bit as beautiful  as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but in a totally different way: tall and severe mountains, dry washes and gullies, sagebrush and cacti. Not to mention the ghost towns (real or fabricated for tourist traps). It fired up my imagination in ways I never expected and became the backdrop for several books, including Wanted, The Lost Girls, Bound, and Black Widow.

Next came a move to southeastern Utah. A little town called Moab which has the title of the mountain biking capital of the world. In the summer with tourism the population can swell to 5,000. Massive. But for the lack of size and numbers it more than makes up for it in high desert beauty. It’s similar to Phoenix but not as hot, a lot higher altitude (close to a mile up), and a little wetter. Moab is located in a canyon and it hosts countless natural wonders that steal your breath and bring a tear to your eye. Towering columns of rock, massive canyons bested only by the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, and the arches of rock made famous in post cards, portraits, and license plates. Heck, John Wayne called Moab “where God put the west.” Indeed, many of his films had scenes shot in or around Moab, as well as Thelma and Louise (the car driving over the edge of a cliff), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the tank chase), and several others I can’t remember. Moab also factored heavily into my books, Ice Princess. Just south a couple of hours is Monument Valley, which was an important location in my book, Traitor.

While we lived in Moab I had the opportunity to get away for a vacation to Las Vegas. My first trip there (I’ve been back once since and really enjoyed it the second time) was a little rocky due to lack of sleep and some major blisters from walking the strip excessively (had to make sure I saw it all!). I didn’t get away from Vegas at all to see the countryside (I still want to visit Hoover Dam someday), but I saw enough and experienced enough to factor it heavily into a couple more of my books: Wolfgirl and Bounty.

Then I came back from Utah to northeastern Ohio, near Youngstown (about an hour southeast of Cleveland and an hour northwest of Pittsburgh). Ohio is considered the midwest and by and large it was fairly flat land with lots of agriculture, industrialization, and forested land. A fair amount of lakes and even Lake Erie an hour to the north. We really enjoyed living here even if I missed the raw excitement of nature. Great schools, great people (mostly – I have a few exceptions to that generalization), and great opportunities. It wasn’t until we followed a suggestion by a friend and checked out a place called the Nelson Ledges that I really found something natural and awesome. It reminded me of a miniaturized and temperate version of Moab. Ledges, ravines, waterfalls, even some small caves. In the middle of nowhere, it was amazing. So amazing that the Nelson Ledges became a critical location in my book, Devil’s Icebox.

And now it looks like we’re heading back up to Michigan. This time on the eastern side, near Detroit. I sincerely hope this is the last major move, but by no means is it going to be the end of my travels. I’ve been on a cruise in the Caribbean and would love to do it again. I’ve got a passport and a strong urge to visit Europe and Australia, and perhaps other places as well. I may not want to move but I’ve got a lot of years and a lot of miles left in me. And as you can probably tell, I get a lot of inspiration from traveling so it’s definitely time to find some new backdrops for some exciting stories!

Hmm, I wonder if I could vacation in Hawaii and claim it as a business expense?

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.

Bounty Posted!

December 10, 2012 Leave a comment

There are so many cheesy ways I can have fun with the titles of my sci-fi trilogy, Wanted. So of course, I’ve been doing my best to maximize the corniness for my own amusement! Take the title of this blog article, I’m specifically talking about how I just released it this morning in a print version available on Amazon or Createspace. That makes the entire trilogy available. Hmm, makes me wonder if I should make an omnibus out of it? That’d be a doozy of a book though.

In the meantime, I’m working hard on Victim of Fate, book two in my Blades of Leander fantasy series. Simultaneously I’m hunting for a new day job. That’s tying up a lot of time, I have to admit. I’ve had a few interviews and I’ve got more coming. I wonder how many I have to go through until I get a free set of steak knives?

Worth mentioning for my fellow computer programming geeks out there – I spent some time this weekend and this morning teaching myself hyperthreading. It’s pretty cool and I really wish I’d learned it earlier. So many windows and web applications I’ve written in the past could have benefited from it! C’est la vie, at least I’ve got the basics down now and I can boost it for the future – and talk about it intelligently during an interview!

Now enough about me, time for you to get yours! Here’s the links to Bounty:

Bounty, book 3 in the Wanted series by Jason Halstead

Bounty on Amazon

Bounty on Amazon UK

Bounty on Barnes and Noble

Bounty on Kobo

Bounty on Smashwords

Bounty on iTunes (coming soon)

Bounty on Sony (coming soon)

Bounty in print

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 Soldier, a Porn Star, and a Coed Walk into a Bar…

December 5, 2012 1 comment

The subject might be a great lead in for a dirty joke or the next book in the 50 Shades series, but I just used it to pique your interest. Although to be fair, the book I finally released has all three of those characters in it. More importantly, it’s a book that people have been wanting me to write for over a year now. Bounty, book three in my Wanted series, has been released!

It was a close call, I admit. Writing the book, once the idea came to me, was the easiest part. It kept stretching out longer and longer as more great details and ideas emerged, but it never creeped so far out of scope that it became too long. Then I had problems with my content editor hitting my schedule, but those eventually sorted themselves out. Finally I ended up losing my job a couple of days before my copy editor finished with the book, preventing a timely payment – she was great and offered to give me a little leeway, due in part to her and her husband both enjoying my writing so much. Finally there was the issue with Amazon – they published it but the link wouldn’t open! I emailed them my concerns on December 2nd and they promised they’d look into it and have an answer by December 7th. 5 days?! Thankfully when I checked this morning it was finally cleared up and released. YAY!

So, without delaying any further, here’s the blurb, cover, and links so you can get your Bounty!

The U.S. government has reclaimed the abandoned western states but the law remains the province of whoever has the biggest gun. Life was good, if boring, for retired special forces operator Carl Waters and his wife Jessie until she received an offer to reprise her acting career and star in a new role. When a hired gun tries to kill Jessie on the set of her new movie they discover that their new found fame is not the blessing they’d hoped for.

Carl has to defend his family from the loose ends of their old lives. That, or avenge them.

Bounty, book 3 in the Wanted series by Jason Halstead

Bounty on Amazon

Bounty on Amazon UK

Bounty on Barnes and Noble

Bounty on Kobo

Bounty on Smashwords

Bounty on iTunes (coming soon)

Bounty on Sony (coming soon)

Bounty in print (coming soon)

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 Most Rewarding Bounty

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Long term readers of my blog will know by now that I take great delight in twisting my words into multiple meanings. In this case, I’m taking about the book I’m writing, Bounty. It’s book three in the Wanted trilogy. I’m nearing the end but in spite of the layout of chapters and tasks I’ve assigned to myself, I keep finding extra chapters slipping in. This shouldn’t be upsetting to anyone – the extra content isn’t merely added quantity, it’s added quality as well.

I’m talking about it now because I’m having such a fun time writing it! Sure, I love all my books but this one really had me scared. I’ve gotten a ton of reviews (overwhelmingly good) on Wanted, and almost as many on book 2, Ice Princess. That present a problem to me – it meant if I wrote a third book like I’d originally planned, it needed to be of equal or better quality. How’s that for being scary?

I don’t question my ability as a writer anymore. Some people don’t like me, some people do. Fortunately it seems to be more are pro-Jason Halstead than against. But there’s a different between knowing how to tell a story and living up to an expectation. I’ve seen this plenty of times in the powerlifting venue and even experienced it myself a couple of times. I expect so much even though I know how hard it’s going to be and subconsciously come up with ways to defeat myself. I justify the failure and before you know it instead of picking up 565lbs I only got it halfway before I twisted it around and damn near broke my shin in half.

And knowing the root of the problem does not mean it’s any easier to beat it. Our brain is designed to protect us, whether it’s from ripping muscles off of bones or public failure and embarrassment. Our subconscious is call ‘sub’ because it’s also subversive. It whispers in our ear and tells us it’s okay to give up, it won’t think less of us. We can say we had a busy day and needed the quick calories a cupcake provides. One little drink won’t hurt. I can lift heavy weights next week after my back stops hurting. All excuses that sound great at the time. Justifications for allowing ourselves to not try as hard as we could. As hard as we should.

So out of the blue an idea for Bounty came to me. It felt good but I wanted to be sure, so I let it rattle around in my head a few days while I finished writing Child of Fate. It was harder and harder, I’ll admit, but once I finished Child of Fate I knew what I had to do. Fear of failure be damned, this book needed to be written! And so I’ve been writing – not as breakneck as usual because life’s been a lot busier lately, but I’m still averaging at least 2000 words a day on it.

Bounty takes place six years after Ice Princess ends. Everybody’s living their own happy lives (more or less), and getting by. Allison’s gone off to college after being legally adopted by Carl and Jessie and without Allison around to keep her busy, Jessie’s itching to get back into the movie industry.

The United States government had moved back in to officially reclaim the western states. The special hardware Carl has is still state of the art, but it’s not the razor’s edge of biotech development anymore. It should be safe to reenter the public eye. It’s been six years, everything that happened before is ancient history, right?

For most people in most situations, yes. It’s time to live and let live. Two things can change that. Two very powerful things, such as beauty and hate. Either independently or together they can turn a rationale human being into something entirely different. Something obsessive and vicious. Something that will stop at nothing to get what they want.

And that, my friends, is what Bounty is all about.

A few more days and the rough draft will be complete. After a few weeks of editing I’m hoping for a early to mid December release date. I promise it will be a fun ride and it lives up to its predecessors in every way, shape, and form.

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 http://www.booksbyjason.com.

I Need a 12 Step Program

Not because I drink, gamble, or do drugs. No, I need help recovering from my trip to Vegas! My first night back I got almost 3 hours of sleep. Last night I more than doubled that amount but I think I’m more tired now than I was yesterday. Not sure if that’s due to the time zone difference or if it’s returning to the stresses of home life. I’m not complaining about being stressed out, I’m just pointing out that we all have stressors during our day to day lives that we don’t even think about – worrying about getting enough sleep, a deadline at work, a boss or employee that isn’t performing in a way that makes us happy, flagging book sales, a puppy that won’t stop peeing on the carpet, pending monthly hormonal concerns, financial worries, the list goes on and on. And no, those are random thoughts I brought up, not necessarily anything that applies to me. Especially the hormonal item.

On the flip side there are things that happen at home that make me happy. Spending time with my family is a great example. So is making progress on a project at work or finishing off another chapter on my latest writing project. I wrapped up chapter 7 of Bounty last night and it’s turning into another great book following in the tradition of Wanted and Ice Princess. It feels more like Wanted than Ice Princess, to me, although Carl has definitely changed thanks to Jessie and Allison forcing themselves into his life. Now his problem is that he has to keep them alive long enough to figure out who wants to kill them this time. In typical Carl Waters fashion the question of why he and his family seem to have a price on their heads isn’t nearly as important as who’s behind it. Just like Carl doesn’t care what kind of venom a snake has as long as he can kill the snake before it has a chance to bite him.

I figure I’m 25% – 30% of the way through the book so far. My hope is for an early December release date. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted!

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 http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Picking Up The Pieces

Five days and four nights in Las Vegas can be a traumatic experience. Like the infamous film “The Hangover,” I stayed at Caesar’s Palace while I was in Vegas. There was also some alcohol involved and someone in my small group of people had a partial blackout… but the similarities end there.

Instead I had a great time and came back spending less than I expected. I know, that shouldn’t be possible, but my wife hit a nice jackpot on a slot machine our second day in at New York New York and we lived off those winnings the rest of the trip. Along the way we had a great time with friends we haven’t seen in a couple of years and stayed very busy.

I’d hoped to see some of the Mr. Olympia show or expo while we were there – I know I was asked countless times how the show was going and if I was competing (yes, I was really asked that on numerous occasions, as well as an invitation to join an arm wrestling contest and another guy advising me not to get mad and hit anybody). Instead we saw the sights and took in some great food. Mesa Grill and Hiyakumi were the two best dinner experiences, with the sushi and sashimi at Hyakumi taking our top spot. The new Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s was impressive too, but overpriced considering there’s no way we could eat the amount of food offered. Especially when the chefs took a look at me at the meat station and said I needed one of everything. Eating all that meat damn near killed me (prime rib, spare ribs, lamb, turkey, chicken, a couple of sausages, brisket, and a few others I can’t remember).

The pools at Caesar’s Palace were great too. Nine pools, including the European Style Venus pool. And by European I mean tops optional. We wanted to check it out and almost went over to it…until we found out there was an additional $20 cover for men to go there. Disappointing, we really wanted to experience everything Caesar’s Palace had to offer but we weren’t going to spend the money for that purely on principle.

Our last night there my wife and I went to see Zumanity, a Cirque Du Soleil show at New York New York. It’s claimed to be a very sensual show that will leave you wanting to tear your significant others clothes off by the time it’s over. It doesn’t do that. I’d also heard that it hits every fetish imaginable in its exploration and exhibition of human sexuality. It doesn’t do that either. Now granted, my experiences as a writer have left me a bit jaded in the realm of human depravity.

What Zumanity does do is entertain. It was a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the different acts and feats of strength, skill, and poise. And yes, there were some rather sensual acts in it, as well as a lot of humor. The only thing that left me wishing I could un-see what I’d seen was one member of the troop who was faintly reminiscent of a raging homosexual version of Prince. This character stayed in the background mostly, other than when he was supposed to sweep across the stage with a Batman like cape that covered everything. Even with that particular character creeping me out I highly recommend the show to anyone who’s not afraid of a little adult humor. Just be warned, if you sit in the front row or two you might find yourself becoming a participant.

But what about the research? I did a lot of that, and I’m very happy with what I saw and experienced. Loads of material for Bounty, and maybe someday I’ll write something else that takes place in or near Vegas. I do wish I’d had the time to see a couple more sights and to corner one waitress at the pool so I could ask her more questions. I don’t know what her name is but she had an awesome tattoo on her side that read, “I’m a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World.” So yes, I instantly took to calling her Barbie. Barbie was a waitress five days a week and then her second job was that of a go-go dancer. I wanted to get the behind the scenes on that second career.

On the off chance anybody reading this has experience at that sort of thing, shoot me an email – I’d love to pick your brain! Until then, I’ll just have to make things up and fill in the blanks with glamorous fun. Bounty won’t stand for anything less than being an over the top sensation!

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 http://www.booksbyjason.com.