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New Book, New Setting, New Universe

February 13, 2016 Leave a comment

I just fired off my newsletter and I still have post pics to my Facebook page and update my personal website. I’ll get to that in a minute though, first I want to write this and get it out there because I can hardly contain my excitement. I teased a new series and concept in a recent blog post. This is the culmination of all that work: Terminus.

The first book in the series has been available for more than a week already but it wasn’t free yet. Now it is. And not only that, but my second book in that setting is also available now. Between that, John M. Davis’s book (Ghost Planet), and the website being published and available – it’s time for the reveal!

Terminus is the name of the setting. It seemed fitting, given how a terminus is an end or a final destination. So it is for the characters in the first few stories in this new setting, but as with any ending, it is also a beginning. A beginning of new lives, new adventures, and new stories we get to tell.

The backdrop is four hundred years into the future, give or take. Humanity has spread to the stars. Even more than that, we’ve been met by aliens and they aren’t so different from us in many ways. Then again, some are – there are a lot of different races out there. So many that we’re not even sure who they all are yet.

We’ve got faster than light travel, we’ve got blaster rifles and pistols (pulsed laser weapons), conventional weapons, massive navies in space, an overreaching central government (called the Continuum) trying to control everything, and hundreds of smaller governments ranging from controlling systems to individual planets that are at odds with one another. Oh, and did I mention the Gifted? They’re a new order of psychics with some wicked and truly unpleasant powers.

Now here’s where John comes in (other than helping to brainstorm and create what we’ve come up with). I whipped up a novella for an introduction to the setting. It’s called Terminus (shocker), and it’s free! It’s actually been out for a little over a week now, but I didn’t want to advertise it until it was available for free. Now it is! But wait, that’s not all! (did you read that in a Billy Mays voice?)

John’s book, Ghost Planet, is also available. And so is my full length novel, Frozen Dreams (book 3 in the series). The way it works is Terminus sets the stage and gets you interested, then Ghost Planet introduces John’s cast of characters that are intertwined with mine. Frozen Dreams happens at the same time as the other two books and ties everything together with my cast of characters. Ghost Planet and Frozen Dreams are not free, sorry, but on the plus side John’s already working on his next book in the series, Fear the Gifted.

There’s a little bit more to Terminus that I haven’t mentioned yet. We love this setting so much, and we know readers will too, so we’re opening it up for contributions. No, we’re not asking you to do our work for us, we’re offering a spot on the Terminus website (http://www.booksofterminus.com) for people to contribute things they’d like to see in it. New planets, new alien races, new technologies or weapons, new characters (good or bad), or just about anything! We can’t promise everything will make it in, but we’ll do our best to work things in and be sure to let you know privately and publicly about the effort.

 

Terminus

Terminus

ghostplanet

Ghost Planet

FrozenDreams_Small

Frozen Dreams

Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble (coming soon)
iTunes (coming soon)
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera

That’s it for now, but there’s lots more to come! As I said, John’s hard at work on the next book and both of us have promised 4+ Terminus stories this year. Knowing me, that will probably grow as long as the readers are there. The first two I already wrote were so much fun I tore through them in no time, so I can’t wait to immerse myself in this new setting again and explore it some more.

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.

Terminus: An Introduction

I apologize for the less than infrequent blogs. 2015 was a rough year, what with moving and some pretty significant shifts for the worse in the book market. I tried to write my tail off, but around the holidays even that suffered. The good news is, 2015 is behind me, I have moved, and I just sent of Shades of Dark, the 5th Vitalis book, to my editor.

But that’s hardly worthy of blogging about. What is exciting and worth reading up on is what’s coming early in 2016. It’s a project we’ve labeled Terminus, and by “we” I mean myself and John M. Davis, the author of the Gunship series and a highly ranked freebie called Colony, among other things. Check them out, they’re both free on Amazon!

So what is Terminus? Well, it’s something entirely new. We decided to pool our collective thoughts and come up with a shared universe. The thing is, we want to share it with more than just the two of us. And by sharing, we don’t just mean we write and you read. We want to make it as interactive as possible at this point. I’m working on putting together a website for it that will explain more, but for now let me toss out the ideas we’ve got.

By now you’re surely heard of crowd-funding, right? Well don’t worry, we’re not doing that. We do, however, want to do some crowd-sourcing. The idea is (once the website is up) for us to make it available for readers to submit things they’d like to see. New aliens, new weapons, new characters (good or bad), plot ideas, technologies, names, etc.. There’s no limit!

Now that doesn’t mean we’ll accept everything submitted. There’s bound to be some crazy stuff in there, after all. People screwing around or just having fun. I encourage that, in fact – it’ll be entertaining at worst and at best, it might spawn some other ideas. We can get inspiration from just about anywhere, after all.

On the flip side, things that are included will merit special mentions on the website and in the books. As a reader I think that would be pretty damn cool to have something of mine included, with credit given. There’s no compensation to be had here, unfortunately (we’re not THAT successful), but we will have some legalise releasing all IP and rights to submitted material. And who knows, maybe somebody’s going to have ideas so kickass that we want them to take up the battle with us and become a third other in the setting.

Speaking of that, here’s how these books are going to work. John and I are not co-authoring the books. What we are doing is writing our own stories and sharing them back and forth with each other to keep everything cohesive. Our characters will run across each other, from time to time, and there may be dialogue between them or snide comments tossed behind their backs. It’ll be great fun!

As much as I’d love to talk more about it, we’re very much in the beginning stages. I’m whipping up an introductory story to introduce the setting and John’s hard at work on his first book. Hopefully we’ll something to share soon! Either way, I’ll be posting more blogs soon that give away some details. Characters, background details, planets, technologies and ships, and who knows what else. I can’t give too much away – we want you to discover them in the books as they unfold, after all.

Stay tuned for a great new adventure into the stars – it’s going to be one hell of a ride!

 

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.

Hoping for a Better Tomorrow

Mathew McConaughey won an Oscar the other night for his work in the movie, Dallas Buyers Club. This isn’t news at this point, so let’s move on to speech he gave. It was a speech that I found to be rather peculiar.

Mr. McConaughey rattled off three things that he needed every day. And then he ended the speech with a quote from Dazed and Confused, which I personally considered one of his finer roles. All in all though, the speech left me a little confused and wondering if he and Gary Busey have been spending a lot of time together.

I’m not here to discuss or judge the merits of that speech other than to draw attention to one of his three needs. He mentioned he needs someone to aspire to be. The target of that need is himself, 10 years in the future. It sounded a little cheesy to me in the speech, but the important part is the recognition of what potential the future holds and the fact that with hard work and hope can make for a great tomorrow.

For example, two days ago I would never have guess that my futuristic sci-fi book, Vitalis, would shoot from being in Amazon’s 18,000 – 19,000 ranking to being 2,412 this morning when I woke up. A book about the future with a bright future. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now my book and Mathew McConaughey have nothing in common beyond that tenuous line of logic, but if he wanted to pick a character to portray in a movie of the book, well, I would be open to talk about it. We could even call it the Vitalis Buyers Club…

Jokes aside, I’m very excited to see Vitalis doing so well. So I’m writing this, to try and convince other people to go and check it out and  share my excitement with me. Readers write me about the Vitalis books and I love discussing the story with them. In fact, there’s been a few times where I’ve had new ideas, twists, and even characters arise from those discussions. And for only $.99 for a novel that’s well beyond 100,000 words, how can you go wrong?

So please, give it a look and some honest consideration. Vitalis has metric tons of fast paced excitement involving pirates, aliens, a new world, insufficient resources (including clothing, in some cases), politics, intrigue, and even a few crazy people. And unlike a lot of sci-fi the science isn’t there to be the story, it’s there to sit in the background, be cool, and allow the story to take place. As a few readers have said, Vitalis is a great intro into a genre (sci-fi) that they never had any interest in before.

 

Bestselling sci-fi anthology, Vitalis, by Jason Halstead

Vitalis on Amazon

Vitalis on Amazon UK

 

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.

New Book Released – Vitalis book 1: New Beginnings

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been babbling about it for a while now and here it is, finally hot off the virtual presses!

Book 1 of the Vitalis series, by Jason Halstead

Book 1 of the Vitalis series, by Jason Halstead

Here’s the blurb:
Humans have advanced to span multiple solar systems, diminish the effects of aging, and conquer the human genome, yet their cruelty towards their own kind binds them to the stone age. The rim worlds are the outer solar systems for human civilization. Men and women earn their living with their wits and talents, although treachery often nets a bonus.

The Rented Mule is a ship with a crew seeking to earn an honest living in a realm of dishonesty. No stranger to trouble, they know the unwritten rules of the trade and have avoided being claimed as “salvage” for many years.

On a routine transport mission the Mule has to struggle with not only the usual dangers of traveling through rim systems, but also a new navigator with a troubled past and a romantic interest in the ship’s engineer.

Plagued by threats from without and within, the crew’s only hope when the Mule suffers catastrophic damage may be an uncharted planet. The fate of the Rented Mule and crew is in the hands of the neophyte navigator.

And here’s an Excerpt:
“Kira!” The navigator groaned as the words filtered through the disturbing images of her dream. She’d been reliving some very pleasant aerobic activity with Eric one moment, then felt as though she’d been sucked through the wall of the ship to be immersed in the absolute zero temperatures of deep space the next. She coughed, feeling like her lungs were coated in ice water. Somebody grabbed her, helping her up and over a metal ridge that pressed painfully into her ribs. She gagged some more, dry heaving until she could hear straight. Spittle hung from her lips and chills racked her body.

“Kira, we’ve been dumped out of cold sleep, your prox warning is going off, what’s going on?” Captain Sharp demanded.

Kira looked up slowly, wincing at the pain in her chest, throat, and head as she did so. He looked pale and miserable, but his actions spoke otherwise. She nodded and forced herself up, fighting back a wave of nausea. “C..c…cold, Sir!”

“Walk it off, damn it!” He snapped, perhaps a concession to his own condition.

Kira nodded and pulled herself out of the pod she’d been in. The others were either doing likewise or were standing around in robes. She felt a tug and looked down, her head clearing as she realized she was still fully integrated with the hibernation chamber. The light blanket that had covered her nude body was still on her, but she’d given the Captain quite a show in spite of it. She glanced up when she heard a scuffling sound and saw Eric was struggling into a robe and trying to join them. He brought a spare robe for her. That’s nice, she thought, then her view of her recent lover was blocked by the Captain. “Kira, snap to!”

“Sorry, Captain,” she mumbled. “Never been dumped before.”

She reached down and removed the catheter, grimacing as she did so, then slipped the sensors that were adhered to her body and head off. She held the blanket tight and forced herself to climb up and out of the cocoon like bed, taking the robe from Eric with a grateful smile and slipping it on. Her feet were cold on the steel floor but she could tell from the Captain’s tone she had no time to worry about that. “Prox alert, gotcha Sir!”

Sharp and Eric followed her as she walked stiffly out of the hibernation room. Her body warmed and began to obey her as she walked, allowing her to pick up the pace. By the time they reached the bridge, only a few short minutes later, only a faint headache persisted. She touched the data port on her palm to the matching port of her station, then proceeded to mentally send the navigation system commands. The large display at the front of the bridge responded almost immediately, allowing them all to see what had transpired.

“That’s not an asteroid!” Sharp growled. He turned to Eric. “Get Tarn up here now!”

Eric took off with barely an, “Aye, Captain!” tossed over his shoulder.

“That’s why the dump from cold sleep, Sir,” Kira said. “The autopilot adjusted course but so did the other ship. It’s closing with us fast. ETA is less than ten minutes. It must be accelerating,” Kira muttered to herself as she fed more commands via the cybernetic link into the computer. “I don’t understand, even a cold dump takes hours – this hit my outer threat range seventeen minutes ago.”

“Had some modifications done to our chambers,” Sharp explained. “You’re going to feel like hell for a week or so because of it, but most of the time it’s only temporary.”

“Most of them time, Sir?” Kira turned to look at him.

Sharp shrugged. “Guy who done it said he only had one case of somebody suffering permanent brain damage.”

Kira swore. “Hey, you prefer to let them board while we’re still snuggled up in dreamland? What happens then? Pretty thing like you might get raped a few dozen times before they sold you as a slave. The rest of us most like get our throats cut – if we’re lucky.”

She nodded at the Captain’s logic. He said no more until Eric returned with a grumbling Tarn behind him. “Tarn, where’s your threat sensors? And the plasma defenders? Why aren’t they online and tracking?”

Tarn ignored him, staring at the screen and deciphering it. “Fuck, must be bugged up,” he muttered, then turned away to head over to the security station.

“Don’t give me that, you said everything was fixed!” Sharp roared. “Get them up and running now or I’ll shoot you at them!”

“Sir, we don’t know who it is,” Kira pointed out. “It could be another transport or even a naval vessel.”

“Uh-uh,” Eric said, slipping up quietly beside her chair and pressing his hand against her shoulder. Kira glanced up at him and smiled. This proved he wasn’t the kiss and tell type and that he would still respect her in the morning. Then again, after the things she’d made him do in the heat of the moment she wasn’t sure she could respect herself.

“Free agent would be steering clear of us,” Sharp confirmed. “Naval vessel would be broadcasting to us. This ship’s silent. You tried hailing?”

Kira nodded. It was standard procedure on seeing another ship, especially one with an intercept vector. “No response, Sir.”

“Tarn?”

“Hang on,” He grunted. “Must be a bug in the activation code, the program’s in there but it never executed properly.”

“What about our guns?”

“Enemy ship is out of range. They’ll be ready when it gets closer though!”

“What’ve they got to use on us?” Sharp asked.

Tarn laughed bitterly. “This is a transport! No sensors worth a damn on here. Mining rig’s got better eyesight than this thing does.”

Kira looked at the Captain and saw the muscles in his jaw flexing. She felt Eric squeeze her shoulder again. Her own free hand went up to rest on top of his. “Are these Pirates?”

“They’re not a welcoming committee,” Tarn muttered.

Kira stared at him, eyes narrowed. Eric gave her shoulder another squeeze forcing her to relax. She looked at the display again. Even though they could all see it she felt the need to announce, “Seven and a half minutes, Sir.”

“Tarn, how long until they’re in range?”

“Four minutes.”

Sharp swore. “Glad I spent so much on the weapons you recommended!” The ex-Marine wisely chose to stay quiet. “Kira, what’s our position? How long were we under?”

“A little over a month, Sir,” Kira had already figured that much out from the data on the display. She input several more commands to analyze the stars and compare their position. “Otherwise we’re on course for the mining region, roughly two months out. The rotation of this system’s planets and stations are further from us than a return to the jump station would be.”

Sharp swore again. “No outrunning them either I bet.”

The display popped up a new frame with calculations and text within it. The answer was clear seconds later. “No Sir,” Kira parroted the system’s visual display.

“You better hit those sons of bitches so hard they get turned into a wormhole.” Tarn grunted as he sat sweating over his chair.

Kira stared. She could see the sweat running down the side of Tarn’s face. She was still chilled to the bone and only the adrenaline of the moment was keeping her from falling to the deck. She glanced up at Eric again and saw the misery in his own eyes. He smiled in spite of it when she caught his eyes, which prompted a strange flutter in her own stomach. Her first real relationship and he was an engine jockey on a dead end tanker in the middle of nowhere. She bit her lip to fight back the tear, then smiled back at him. It wasn’t his fault that she’d fucked her own life up so badly that a desperate shot at running away on the Rented Mule was her only way out.

“Five minutes, Sir,” She croaked loudly.

Sharp’s hand rested on her other shoulder, squeezing so firmly it hurt. Then it was gone. Kira felt her heart thundering in her chest, something she had read was next to impossible after being dumped out of cold sleep.

“Where are Jeff and Kevin?” The Captain asked.

“I told them get suited up and stand by for emergency repairs,” Eric said. “They can handle pressure leaks and basic electronics, I’ve been showing them a few things.”

“Might need you in the engine room.”

Kira felt Eric’s hand stiffen on her shoulder. It might have been because she was suddenly squeezing his so much harder. “Aye Sir, I’ll keep an eye on things. Call me if I’m needed.”

He pulled his hand away but the warmth of it lingered on her shoulders. Kira set her jaw and blinked away the tears. After everything she’d done and all the sacrifices she’d made this did not seem like a fitting way to die.

“Sir!” She screamed, looking a fresh readout on the display. “We’re being—“

Lights flashed and an alarm went off, even though nothing seemed amiss. “We’re under attack Sir!”

“Damage?”

“It was a relativistic projectile, no breech but it definitely hit us on the port side.” The inertial suppressors eliminated the shock from spreading throughout the two thousand ton ship. It was neither graceful nor pretty, but the Rented Mule could certainly take a beating.

A few second later another alert sounded, followed by fresh damage indicators. This continued for several more rounds, each spaced a few seconds apart. “Sir, they’re firing something large enough to clear our avoidance field but not big enough to do any serious damage.”

“Tarn!”

“Just a damned minute!” He growled. Then he slammed his finger on the panel, triggering the plasma defenders.

Sharp stared at display that showed the star field in front of them, watching a green mist streak out so quickly it was barely identifiable. It disappeared into the blackness, giving no indication of what had transpired. “Well?” He asked, his voice overpowering the steady chirps that indicated fresh hits form the enemy vessel.

“Limited sensors, Sir,” Kira said.

Tarn let out a whoop. “I got the bastards!”

The ongoing alerts continued. “Why are we still being fired upon?”

“Didn’t say I killed ‘em,” Tarn snapped. He went back to his display and began hammering in fresh commands. He snarled as two more plasma shots went out, both missing.

“Sir, less than two minutes until they’re on us!”

“Roll us twenty degrees so I can bring both plasma guns on line!”

“Do it!” Sharp snapped.

Kira rolled the ship, firing the thrusters manually to save time. She arrested the roll too late, but Tarn had already triggered his attack. The star field display went blank. One of the frames on the main display stopped scrolling updated data.

“What happened?”

“Something else hit us,” Kira stammered. She was desperately trying to make sense of the data, inputting fresh queries to the system. “An energy weapon I think, looks like they found our primary sensor modules.”
“So we’re blind?”

Kira fought with her system several seconds before she slumped in her chair. “Looks like it…Sir.”

“Shut those damn alarms off, internal sensors will still tell us if there’s a problem.”

Kira silenced the alarms and stood by, expecting to have to cancel a new one in a few seconds. She realized she’d have to do it constantly and wondered if there was a way to issue a command so that only a different type of alarm would sound.

“Did you cancel everything?” Sharp asked her as the seconds ticked past silently.

“No Sir,” she said. “Trying to figure out how to differentiate between the existing attacks and more serious ones.”

“You may not need to. They’ve stopped shooting at us.” Sharp stared at the unmoving displays then turned to the ex-Marine. “Tarn, did your last shots hit?”

“Of course! Both barrels down the throat!”

“Your sensors show the damage before we lost them?”

Tarn grunted as he tapped clumsily away at the display. “Feedback from the sensor loss must have wiped out the logging.”

“So you don’t know for sure.”

“That range there ain’t no way I could miss!”

Kira glanced up and saw the stare down between the Captain and the security officer. She looked away, hoping she could ignore the growing tension in the room. “All right no, I got no way of knowing what shape they’re in now.”

Sharp stabbed the intercom button. “Everyone suit up now! Our attackers have destroyed our sensors but we believe they’ve also been damaged. If they board us they won’t give us the time to arrange a welcoming party — they’ll just blow the hull. Suit up and stand ready to repel boarders.”

“Sir, should I—“

“Go get your suit, I’ll mind your station until you get back.”

“Yes Sir,” Kira hopped up and hurried to the air lock. She met Eric on the way and they grabbed each other’s hands briefly, then let go and hurried on when Tarn came huffing along behind them. The suits were unisex and universally uncomfortable. Kira grabbed the tallest one and turned to glace at Tarn. Eric looked up, catching her gaze, then slipped between them while the ex-Marine busied himself with displaying a very hairy back and butt so he could slip into the suit.

With him distracted, Kira shucked her robe and jumped into her suit, zipping it up quickly before fixing the helmet on. The onboard system powered up and did a system check. With a few adjustments it read off a list of green statuses. Kira turned to see Eric helping Tarn into a different suit, then waited patiently for the porcine man to be ready.

“Get back to the bridge,” Eric told her. “I’ll help Tarn finish up, you’re needed up there.”

“Be careful!” She whispered.

“Careful’s my middle name, Legs!” Kira squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her fist at Tarn’s voice over the suit-to-suit radio. He chuckled even as she turned and stormed off.

Her station at the bridge was far from comfortable in a bulky space suit. They had evolved and improved over the years but still weighed twenty five pounds and remained bulky enough to make even a runway model feel like they were wearing a fat suit. She settled in as best she could and then had to break the seal on her suit so she could route the suit’s internal data cable to her palm. After she resealed it, and noticed the Captain trying to look everywhere but at her, she applied the external cable to her station to allow her direct input to the system.

“Sorry, Sir,” she said, somewhat out of breath. “I’m ready now.”

“Kira, the bridge is yours. Do what you think is best should the situation require it.” Sharp gave her tap on the shoulder that she barely felt through the suit then he turned and left the bridge.

She stared after him for a long moment, then turned back to look at the partially functioning screens. She swallowed loudly, aware that the only thing she could hear was inside her own helmet. “Okay, let’s see what we’ve got left,” she muttered, feeding fresh commands into the computer as quickly as she could think them up.

But wait, there’s more! How about a link to a downloadable PDF for a sample of it too?

Book 2 has been written (rough draft), what remains is cover art and editing. October – November launch date planned. So snatch this one up quick so you can be ready for the next one!