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Good News for Everyone But Me (Sort Of)

I settled on a new story and I’m 20k words into it already. I’m writing as fast and furious as the actors in the aptly named franchise  pretend to drive. However, there’s a problem with it (my writing— there are many problems with the Fast and Furious franchise even though they are entertaining and fun to watch). Copyright concerns.

But, I’ve done plenty of research and it seems, as long as I don’t attempt to change any existing cannon or charge money for what I’m writing, I’m in the clear. So that means I get to write the book I’ve been aching to write and you, my not-so-gentle readers, get to enjoy it at no cost! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to publish through my regular channels, however (Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo, etc.). I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Now then, what exactly am I writing? I don’t have a title yet, but it takes place in that game setting I mentioned before: Shadowrun. The year is 2077 and the world (and many people) are full of enhanced technology. And there’s magic. Loads of it, from shamans, magicians, and spirits to critters such as hellhounds, barghests, yetis, and dragons. Orks, trolls, dwarves, and elves live alongside humans and have given the human species a brand new opportunity to be racist. Except most people aren’t dumb enough to insult a troll to their face because, well, compared to a troll everyone else is kind of squishy.

What’s the story about? Glad you asked! It follows a small group of people that are drawn together to do a job (aka a run or shadowrun). They need to acquire some fancy new equipment from one corporation and deliver it to another. The prototypes aren’t anything world changing or able to pave a path for humanity to follow, they’re just some advanced gadgets another corporation wants to learn the secrets of. And, in typical Shadowrun fashion, there will be some twists, turns, and betrayals along the way.

You see that’s the beauty of Shadowrun – runners might care about ethics and each other, but the people that hire them, the Mr. Johnson’s of the world, consider them expendable assets at best. At worst, they’re parasites and necessary evils. Oh, and by the way, runners (or  shadowrunners) aka the mercenaries that risk life and limb for the all-mighty nuyen (new – yen, or the global currency that has replaced the dollar). So if one Mr. Johnson hires a team to do something illicit and doesn’t want to risk any implication falling back on them, they might do their best to see to it the team doesn’t survive the run (after they accomplish the goal, that is). It’s an accepted occupation hazard.

In my case, I’ve got a team of 3 (soon to be 4) in play. Pepper is a middle aged man that works for a mega-corp during the days, but he’s sick and tired of not being good enough to advance up the ranks. His requests for transfer to field assignments and promotions are regularly ignored so he decided to do something about it – much to the irritation (and worry) of his wife. Pepper’s living through his mid-life crisis by the skin of his teeth.

Tank is what they call a rigger. Riggers are the ultimate wrench monkeys. They love vehicles, driving them and upgrading them and using them to blow stuff up. Tank is no exception to that, and he makes up for his skill behind the wheel with extreme social awkwardness and a tendency to forget to prioritize personal hygiene.

Bling is a stripper. Or was. And an elf, so even though she’s in her mid 20s she looks like she more not be legal. Except there’s her curves in all the right places. Elves are tall and lean, perhaps even lanky, although individuals may vary. Bling did not, naturally, but she was abandoned at birth and grew up on the streets. She learned how to survive and how to thrive, and that involved using her body and talents to get by. She even landed a headlining gig at one of the Greater Detroit Metroplex’s premiere night club for a few years – and that gave her the money she needed to augment herself in all the right ways, both aesthetically and for personal protection. Her handicap is a whole lot of passion and excitement, but not much in the way of practical experience or education. In fact, her education came from the street. Everything she knows is second hand knowledge — she’s probably spent less than a full week in her entire life inside a school.

Healz. Like Bling, Healz is a metahuman. An ork. He’s real tall (6’8″ or a little bit over 2 meters) and big. Tusks, greenish – brown skin, and an often surly manner. He had a life, a good one, as a high threat response doctor working for a mega-corp that replaced privatized ambulance services. Nice clothes, great car, even his choice of ladies until he screwed up and lost an important patient. The screw-up was his fault too — he was addicted to a narcotic called Cram that left him with some bigtime flawed decision making. His company found out and terminated him, but he threatened a law suit to expose them for making the narcotic (and others) available to their employees to enhance their performance while working. He walked away with a large payout and had to spend a portion of it creating alternate identities for himself so he could hide from any reprisal they might launch at him.

What’s up with all the goofy names? They’re called street names (or in Bling’s case, a stage name). It’s one more way shadowrunners protect their true identities. After all, the goal of most runners is to score big so they can take up their given names again and retire to a life of comfort. Very few ever make it, but the appeal remains. So, with that in mind, here’s the reason behind the names:

Pepper – middle aged man in great shape, but every year brings more grey to his hair, hence the salt and pepper look.

Tank – Ever call a big guy Tiny? Well, Tank is pretty scrawny. A little above average height, but he’s skin on bones since he often forgets to eat while he’s tinkering with his toys. That and he’d love to own a tank some day (either traditional or the infamous hover tanks, aka panzers).

Healz – Easy one here, this guy was a doctor. Still is, although he lost his license when he lost his corporate sponsorship. He goes by the name Healz now and acts as a street doc capable of installing cyberware for those that can pay. He’s got a soft spot for charity cases too, although he’d never go pro-bono on a cyberware install he will help someone who’s sick or injured that can’t afford it.

Bling – Another easy one, especially if you saw her. Bling loves to sparkle. Her fingernails have been replaced with carbon fiber extendable hand razors (they don’t extend very far), and the carbon fiber has a bedazzled look to it. She’s got piercings in all the right places (none on her face though, so you do the math) and those sparkle too. And jewelry – whatever she can find that accessorize, as long as it gleams.

So, with all those glimpsed backstories and the world at large, there’s a ton of possibilities to write about. Adventures a-plenty to be had! Life to be lived, from action packed gunfights and car chases to steamy seduction and broken hearts. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe next time I’ll get into some of the lingo used in the Shadowrun setting!

But for now, I’ve got more of this story to work 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.

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Waking the Siren

What?! Two blog posts in two days! What gives?

Believe it or not, I planned to follow up on yesterdays with another anyhow. However, I realized I’d forgotten to do something (namely this), so that comes in first. Who knows, maybe I’ll hit 3 posts in three days. Ahem, now then, on to the heart of the matter…

First off, this is not my book. It is, however, a good book. A really good book, in fact, and the second one in a series of great reads from J.E. Taylor, a personal friend of mine. I’m sharing it with you because I want more people to read her work and get hooked on her. And why not, my next release, The Goblin Queen, is probably a good month away still given more writing, editing, and cover art. You need something to do until then – why not try Jane out?

Kylee is at it again in the second installment of The Paradox Files. This time her nemesis is a bicorn who feeds on virtue and devotion, however Kylee isn’t sure which is more dangerous, the Nevada desert or the beast.

Pre-Order Waking the Siren now and this kick-ass urban fantasy novel will be delivered to your device on May 15th!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2oUrtED
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1125813636
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1207607207
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/waking-the-siren

J.E. Taylor is also hosting a Facebook release party on May 15th from 5pm EST to 10pm EST and she is having some cool giveaways.
The giveaway is already up on the event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/282885308789043/permalink/283037568773817/
So swing in, enter the giveaway for $25 Amazon gift card and other cool things and say hello. You never know who might swing in to say hi.

If you’re looking for the first book in The Paradox Files series, currently it can only be found in the Legends of the Damned collection which you can read for free if you’re in Kindle Unlimited. If not, $2.99 is a steal for a collection of 20 books!
You can buy or borrow it here: http://amzn.to/2pkyTDR

And last, but not least, J.E. Taylor has her shifter romance novel, Blood Moon, in an upcoming summer collection with 22 other authors. This limited edition collection of 23 paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels – Venom & Vampires – is on sale for $0.99 through the preorder period. Grab it now on any of these sites:
Amazon (US): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZXWB1G/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/venom-vampires-casey-lane/1126256052?ean=9781537899671

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1228321239

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/venom-vampires

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Casey_Lane_Venom_Vampires?id=7cuyDgAAQBAJ

Please Hold…

September 28, 2016 Leave a comment

For fans of the Voidhawk series, I imagine you’re getting plenty frustrated. First I started #9 and then I took a break to work on something else (Symbols). Now I’m back on it, but it’s taking forever to write. Entirely my fault, but not due to lack of interest or desire. Just increasing demands and, arguably, less than optimal time management. But damn it, I am working on it! Just last night I finished off another 4000 words in fact. The end is near, my friends, but still a week or so out.

And that brings me to my next discussion point. I’m 99% sure I know what my next project is. This wasn’t what I had planned, but for these characters and this series, it’s usually how it works. I’m returning to my Wanted series for another installment. No idea about the title, but I’ve got some wicked-cool ideas on plot and an even more amazing idea for a new character to introduce.

This character has been rattling around in the back of my head for a while, but they never real took on a lot of substance. Some reading I’ve been doing has reestablished the need for this character though, and that in turn helped me flesh them out. Originally I was thinking it would be a woman because that’s a little less common / mainstream, but then I realized poor Carl is surrounded by women and he could really use another guy on his side. Once that decision was made, the character more or less popped into life.

I’d spend time writing more about it, but I need to get back to working on Voidhawk (amongst other things). So consider this a teaser!

Oh, and not to worry, Vitalis and Dark Universe are not abandoned, and neither is my wife’s latest series, Continuum.

 

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.

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.

Look Ma, New Ads!

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Continuing the website rebuild project I’ve added a section on the bottom left. I forget what I called it, but it’s under my newsletter signup form. The content of this section is a single ad chosen randomly among the ads I have on file. So far I’ve got four, one for my wife, a couple of other authors, and another to a new website put up to showcase free reads on the Kindle.

My plan? Millions of dollars in advertising revenue, of course! Okay, maybe not. In fact, I’m not charging a damn thing for this. Stupid? Maybe, but I don’t figure I can justify charging until I know if it does any good. So far the results are disappointing, but I am tracking the number of displays and number of clicks. Then, if things do eventually start working out, I may dig deeper into monetizing it.

But how? Am I going to be one of THOSE guys that charges for ad space? Maybe…but probably not. I’d rather go with an affiliate account and spare my fellow starving writers. That and I have this annoying habit of trying to help people. Sure, my ulterior motive is that if they succeed I can ride their coat tails into greatness, but so far I remain firmly entrenched in the helping others mode.

This experiment did get me thinking though. What other web pages can I build up to help myself and others? The http://www.readfantasy.org ad I added last night really got me thinking. Except that’s already been done now, so what else can I do? Happily taking ideas if anybody has them.

And yes, I need to build up a website for Dawn Michelle too, but that’s going to take a little more time and effort. Meanwhile I’ve still got to write. Rise of the Serpent is coming very soon and I’m on chapter four of Out of the Dark, book two in the Dark Universe series. At this rate I should have Out of the Dark ready to go by mid to late March, as long as I can do my part and my editor and cover artist are available.

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.

Dark Universe

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Dark Energy? Dark Matter? No and no. It’s the name I’ve settled on for my new scifi blockbuster / bestseller / series. But what’s so dark about it? Are there evil alien necromancers trying to destroy the cosmos? No. That would be weird – even for me!

It’s called Dark because that’s what happens when ships use the mysterious devices sold by Kesari merchants to travel faster than light. These devices have universal hookups allowing a ship to power them and communicate with them, but they have limited ability outside of plugging in coordinates and filling them with the energy needed for the black box to create the FTL bubble around the ship.

Woah— what? Yeah, it’s like that.

Kesari, that’s a race I covered a few posts back. They’re called squids by the other races because it’s a name Terrans used for them and it stuck. It’s not complimentary, the Kesari are merchants and the most alien in their thoughts and emotions, aside from the insectoid Criknids.

Black box? FTL travel? So what does going faster than light mean? It means light can’t catch you. And that means you can’t see it, because it won’t reach you. So when a ship travels at superluminal velocities it’s considered to be traveling “in the dark” or “in the black.” Hence “black box”, even if the FTL engine isn’t technically black.

And thus the series title of “Dark Universe” is born. Without being able to travel in the dark, spaceships and races would be trapped in their own solar systems. Or perhaps between two or three, if they found a relativistic way to travel close to the speed of light. Unlikely, at best. But with the black boxes ships travel hundreds and thousands of light years in reasonable time frames. Right now, roughly halfway through the first book, the protagonist’s ship is looking at close to a week to travel almost a thousand light years. Pretty darn fast! As a point of reference, the Milky Way galaxy is around 100,000 light years across.

Why are they doing this? They’re chasing someone. Why? Well, to even up the score on someone that double-crossed them. Or at least that’s why they think they’re doing it. There are more powers at play than the unlikely heroes realize.

Curious? Excited? Anxious to read more? I sure hope so, because I’m loving the book as it comes out of me. If you’re not on the fence, let me share this little bit I just wrote:

Adan nodded and headed off the bridge. He hurried down the lift and down the hall to his interior cabin. His luck held out and no one else spotted him and wanted to talk to him. After the fight and the repairs, then having to match wits against Tosc and Janna, he’d run out of steam. He opened his door and turned on the light in his cabin, only to see a bumpy form under his blankets.

The voice that drifted out from under the blankets surprised him. It wasn’t Amber, it was Twyf! “Hope you don’t mind, my cabin hasn’t been repaired yet.”

Adan turned the light back off and smiled. Maybe he wasn’t so tired after all.

Yeah, there’s more action than just lasers an space battles and even trysts with buxom alien women. There’s probably going to be some love triangles and girl fights too!

 

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.