No, I’m not handing any out. I’m afraid I don’t have any to spare. Or any at all, for that matter. Which is ironic, considering the book I just finished the rough draft of. I’m calling it Guardian and the title is applicable for so many different reasons. For example, the main character is a foster parent aka legal guardian of some troubled teens.
There’s also a spirit out of southwestern Native American folklore that serves as a bit of a guardian angel. With a twist. Then there’s a few other spirits that get involved and a few people doing their best to protect others. It’s a mess and before Katalina (the main character) figures out what’s going a lot of people have been hurt and she’s too late to stop what she set out to do.
Guardian is book 5 in The Lost Girls series and it’s in the hands of my editor now. The cover artist is feverishly at work (or he should be when he wakes up). All that means a potential release before the end of the month. And the inevitable…what’s next?
Building on a blog post I released last week, courtesy of feedback from a reader, I have a couple of options. So I tossed the question out on my Facebook fan page to help me decide which direction to go. I won’t say the response was overwhelming but it was probably the biggest feedback I’ve had on a post so far. The result? Carl Waters, reluctant hero of the Wanted series, is strapping his boots back on and taking a stroll in the near future mildly scorched earth setting.
Carl is a US Marshall these days thanks to some contacts he acquired both in the private sector and their affiliations with the government. His wife, Jessie, has revitalized her acting career. Allison, their adopted daughter, may or may not play a role in the story. She’s turned to technology ever since Carl rescued her from the streets of Houston and demanded she learn to read.
What about the rest of the cast? Tanya, Sarah, and any past players? All to be determined. I’ve got a lot of scattered thoughts that I need to pull together on this one. It’s going to touch on Carl’s new career as well as bring in enough from the prior storylines to continue the series.
What was the other option? A new Voidhawk book that brings some or all of the crew to the world of Kroth. Kroth, for those unfamiliar with the name, is the world that my Blades of Leander and Order of the Dragon series take place on. If I remember correctly the Voidhawk’s crew slipped away from the City at the Edge of Forever with a certain something that belonged to someone very powerful. The very same being that played a part in the formation of Kroth. The really cool part – my subconscious planned all that out without even letting me know! I’m devious and I don’t even know it.
I signed up a few years ago on Kindle Boards – a message board for kindle book owners, readers, and writers. To be fair, I tried it out a little and didn’t see much use for it. So I went away and didn’t come back. Recently I ran across some information about some successful authors not so different from me (save that they’ve gotten much more success) and they mentioned the KBoards Writer’s Cafe as they place to be. I figured I’d log back in and try it out.
My first surprise was that I remembered my user name and password! I mean come on, we’ve all done that where we forgot one or the other (or both). That was an unexpected bonus, but it was only the beginning of my foray. I dove deeper and found the Writer’s Cafe and then started reading up on stuff.
There’s whining – any message board will have its share, I managed to skim over that without slowing down though. I read some good tips and suggestions and a lot of things I’ve already figured out or are doing. I even tried offering some insight to other writers and would-be writers trying to get things rolling.
Then I found some threads talking about income. Apparently it’s not just a superstition to talk about what you make there (unless it’s nothing), but it can spawn such animosity that other writers will find your books and intentionally leave bad reviews and down rate them to spite you. Seriously? WTF! I shouldn’t be surprised considering what I endured in 2012 that snuffed my rise to the top with my science fiction series, Vitalis, but I had hoped it had been largely dealt with my Amazon and by people growing up. Silly me.
It really bothers me that people would do that. Competition I understand. I didn’t invent the word but I have certainly added value to it over the years. I compete with others and with myself. In business, in lifting weights, in writing code, in playing games, and in damn near everything I do. But it’s not spiteful do or die competition. It’s friendly and it’s designed to bring out the best in myself, not the worst. That’s what happens when you can’t beat somebody by providing a better product or effort – you resort to undermining their attempts to succeed. That demon inside of us whispers things when we get frustrated and angry. It suggests ways to win that we shouldn’t consider. Yet some of us still do, it seems. Shame on these people for trying to ruin somebody else’s hard work because they couldn’t produce something better. If this sounds like something you’ve done or will do, then you are a dick.
In spite of that, there is a utility that a few brave souls (including myself, since I feel I have nothing to hide) have used to chart book sales and annual revenue. I’m nowhere near the top. I am, however, surprisingly higher than most. It’s a matter of hard work. H.M. Ward, Joe Konrath, and Hugh Howey have me beat (and so do a lot of other people), but I’m still over halfway to a hundred thousand books sold. Not too shabby by my approximation.
In closing I offer these simple words: work harder and smarter. Improve yourself and learn to be better and do better. All of us, even the best, can always stand to be better. I set records in 2009 for powerlifting but that didn’t mean I should stop trying to improve my technique and my strength. I had sci-fi stories (yes, plural) in the top 10 of the sci-fi Amazon charts in 2012, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a better writer. Oh, and then there’s the easy one: Don’t be a dick.
I haven’t blogged much as I should have recently. I’ll make no promises that I’ll step it up to a few posts a week in the immediate future either. My dayjob has been kicking me between the legs so much lately it’s becoming repetitive. I hope I get used to it and build up a tolerance. Although I hate to imagine having callouses “down there!”
Anyhow, in spite of the day to day burdens of life at a tier 1 auto supplier, the write must go on. I try to squeeze some writing in on lunch since I never leave the day job except to go home at the end of the day, but even that’s been denied to me this week. The answer? headphones.
One of my wife’s favorite shows (perhaps her current favorite altogether) just started back up, “The Voice.” I admit, it’s kind of catchy at times and I do enjoy the train wreck that is Christina Aguilara’s outfits. The problem is it comes on when the kids go to bed and that’s prime writing time. Enter the headphones. I fire up a selection of music I’ve loaded for inspiring creative genius and go to town. Sure, there are still some distractions with the Voice in the background and my wife occasionally laughing or talking to me (I keep the volume low enough to hear what’s going on around me).
In spite of the distractions the music helps keep me more focused, even if it only serves as white noise. Monday night, for example, I cranked out 2000 words on my current work in progress (Child of Fate, a fantasy novel beginning a new series). Last night I shocked myself by managing over 3000 words in an even shorter time frame. With Child of Fate I’m shooting for an average of 3000 words per chapter and I’m some in the early to mid 20’s for chapter count. Two more to go and I expect the book will be finished.
So what’s next after Child of Fate? I’m tempted to launch into book two right away, but I’m considering my options. I may branch out and try something completely different from my usual fair, but I remain undecided. Whatever it is I’ll keep plugging away like the writing machine that I am. That much is certain.
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.