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Good News / Bad News

December 1, 2017 Leave a comment

So the bad news is, my Shadowrun novel was gently rejected. I was encouraged to try again because they liked it, but didn’t quite like it enough. He gave me some good feedback on what they like to see too, which I appreciated.

Would be writers take note: accept a critique from just about anyone, even if they are obviously off their rocker. We write, erego we have opinions we want to share on how things should be done or considered or handled. If we, as writers, want to be successful, we need to find a way to merge what we want to share with what people want to hear / read. Being outspoken (or out-typed, in our case), does not mean our opinion is right or popular (often the opposite), so the trick is to learn how to present it. PSA over now.

So the bad news becomes good news – I’m going to publish it for free! No cover art though, just a raw story that is self-edited. I’ll put it on as many locations as I can think of. Probably Wattpad, some fanfic sites, my blog and / or website, and a few others. And if you find errors in it (you will, I’m sure), I encourage and request that you let me know so I can fix them. Self-editing is hit and miss, at best. For a free title I’m afraid I can’t afford to get it professionally edited these days.

So stay tuned, I’ll have news of it being available soon! Hopefully a free book can tide you over until I finish up Vitalis: Reloaded. I’m getting close to the end, but I’ve been insanely busy lately between the day job requirements, holidays, and kids being tied up in a lot of afterschool activities. to be fair, my son has been recruited to take part on a football team charity league and my daughter is rocking in a lead role in a school play, so it’s worth the distraction to me. As for the day job, well, sometimes it’s nice to be “The Guy,” and other times, well, it’s not so nice.

how, Vitalis: Reloaded has a bit to go yet, probably at least another half dozen chapters if not more. It’s going to be a pretty large book, and it’s been a lot of fun to explore the opportunities a fresh and more or less original exposure to Vitalis have given me. I’d say more but, well, I’d be sharing too much! Hang in there and find out all about it yourself!

 

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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Too Long

It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged. Shame on me. You know what else has taken too long? A new book release! Fortunately, I’ve got one coming in the very near future (The Goblin Queen). Unfortunately, I haven’t jumped into something new after that quite yet.

But I’ve been thinking. If I go by the numbers I should write another Dark Universe or Vitalis book – those seem to be selling the best these days (or the least worst). I’ve had requests for Vitalis as well, and I just might do that. I’ve got ideas for Dark Universe too though, so it’s troubling. Even more troubling is a recent rediscovery and passion trend that I’m caught up in.

Wait – passion trend? What the heck is that? I just made it up. It means something that has me captivated and very interested, but might turn into a flavor of the moment like a fad diet does for so many people. In this case I’m referring to something called Shadowrun. Shadowrun is one of the classic role playing games, though not as widely received (or well known) as Dungeons and Dragons. Shadowrun is a near future blend of science fiction and magic, and it reintroduces metahumans into the world in the form of orks, dwarves, trolls, elves, and all sorts of magically active and awaked critters.  Including dragons – which are big, bad, and very scary.

People (of all races and types) often become cyborgs, installing cyberware of various sorts to help them with everything from day to day tasks to firefights to logging into the matrix. The matrix is the Internet in a VR environment, essentially, and is full of very real dangers that can knock a decker out cold, fry their cyberdeck, or outright kill them.

On the flip side of technology there’s magic. Mages and shamans, to be precise, although awakened magical critters exist too (spirits, elementals, and even beings like ghouls and vampires among many more). It’s a remarkably diverse game filled with possibilities, to say the least. The governments of the world and borders have been shaken up and broken down and corporations (especially mega-corporations) have as much power or more than governments do. In other words, if the real world had magic, we’d be on our way to making Shadowrun a reality, not a fantasy.

So with all of that said about Shadowrun does that mean I’m devoting my free time to playing the game? No such luck. I’ve had a very busy year what with a day job promotion and everything else going on (some good, some bad). No, with Shadowrun I’m aching to write a story that takes place in that setting. As it is I’ve written several stories that were inspired by bits and pieces of Shadowrun (The Lost Girls series and even bits and pieces of Vitalis and Dark Universe), but I’ve never jumped in all the way. The reason behind that is copyright. I can’t sell a book that uses Shadowrun in it.

I am considering writing something up and releasing it as fan fiction, but I’m not sure how much trouble that could land me in either. The good news is any Shadowrun stuff I write would be free! Maybe better news would be attracting the attention of the copyright holders and being invited to write something for them (super unlikely, damn it). The most likely outcome will be me continuing to be inspired by my Shadowrun ideas and fill them into other books. Or I could create a new series altogether – but I’ve got enough as it is. I can’t imagine adding one more and trying to keep up with it. I struggle with the ones I have now, as I’m sure my readers are painfully aware.

Well, my cards on the table. Now I just need to see what I’m going to do with them. Keep checking to see what my decision will be. Whatever it is, it will come soon and I’ll be sharing it to get you ready for the next adventure!

 

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.

Chicks that Rock

I’m in a few Facebook groups (among other places) where the question about inspiration comes up. It’s always a vibration on the same question I get in email, on Twitter, in person, and a bunch of other places: What inspires me to do what I do?

I’m always thinking and dreaming, for one. 30 – 60 minutes stuck in traffic twice a day gives me plenty of time for that. Stringing random images from signs, passing traffic, vanity license plates, and other things helps. Images I see in movies or people I meet can provide the same sort of burst of creativity. Songs are a big one too, even if I only feel moved by one and like the concept behind it, I can use that energy to do something else with it (it puts me in the mood, so to speak).

Case in point, it’s music that prompted this post and this line of thought. I realized something this weekend when I fired up Pandora and had a song by Halestorm come on. I happen to enjoy their music quite a bit, it’s a refreshing take on rock and roll and, in my opinion, they are too damn few female vocalists in rock / hard rock / metal these days. Anyhow, I wanted to know more about them and experience more of their music in a different venue, so I fired up Youtube to check out their videos. Enjoyable stuff, to be sure, but then I stumbled across a collaboration between Lzzy Hale (yes, I spelled that right) and Lindsey Stirling, an artist discovered on America’s Got Talent several years ago (I’d never heard of her until now, but I’m not much for television).

Let me take a moment to go out of my way and insist that you check Lindsey out. Whether you like her style or not, you will be amazed at the talent in this tiny little thing. She can do things with a violin that might indicate she’s not entirely human…and she does it while dancing and spinning around the stage like a professional ballerina. She blew my mind, to put it mildly.

I also happened across a duet between Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee (vocalist for Evanescence). That wasn’t nearly as impressive, for me, but I blame it on the performance being live and the capture quality lacking on the videos.

To tie this back into being inspired, I realized that women inspire me. Strong, capable women that make things happen — heck, I married one! Now I’m not saying they inspire me to wear something soft and silky or to paint my nails, mind you. I find it motivational to see anyone beating the odds and succeeding – I’m American, I love an underdog story. But more than that, I recently saw some science fiction artwork where the artist drew a woman with prosthetic limbs. I don’t remember if she was fighting or just in some sort of action pose, but the point was she was overcoming a weakness and proving to the universe that she wasn’t going to accept defeat.

That’s what inspires me. Human spirit. Rising up and shouting to the stars that we won’t accept indifference and oblivion. We won’t accept injustice and ambiguity. In the end we’re all just sparks that die out and fade away to nothing, but while we’re here what matters is how bright those sparks burn.

My characters embody these traits. Their people that have endured the same horrors and miseries that we face in real life, yet they rise above them. They use their fear and their pain to transform them into something more. They find the steel core deep inside of them that I believe we all have and use that strength to fight back. Granted, for some of them that’s not enough (clenched teeth and a can-do attitude won’t stop a 105mm tank shell coming at you, for example).

There’s been a character inspired by that aforementioned artwork. She’ll be showing up soon, in fact. As for Lzzy Hale, Lindsey Sterling, Amy Lee, and the many other talented women struggling to be discovered – you’ve got my support and I can’t wait to see / hear / learn more about you.

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.

Some Races Just Can’t Get Along

November 28, 2014 2 comments

It’s a bold statement that flies in the face of the equality, legislation, and simple human decency we’ve been trying to establish. Unfortunately, in some situations, it just can’t be denied. No matter what happens, Tassarians are going to shoot first when they see a Criknid. And who’s to say they’re wrong, the insectoid Criknids have a history of raiding and capturing the soft skinned Tassarians. They are considered a delicacy on the worlds colonized by the Criknid hives.

Oh, wait— you want to know what the hell I’m talking about? Sorry. I forgot to mention, this is a quick intro into some of the alien races to be found in my new, and as yet unnamed, project. It’s futuristic science fiction with a whole lot of adventure, excitement, and fun! So without wasting any more time, here’s some of the known races in the universe and a note or two about them.

Humans / Terrans: Relative newcomers to the space race, thanks to first contact from aliens that didn’t try to overrun our world and instead shared some of their technology with us.

Kesari: Little is known about those strange looking aliens. They are secretive and somewhat disturbing to look at. They resemble an octopus, only with more tentacles. No suckers though, and they body / head is bulbous and green or grey. They are merchants that will sell anything, but are best known for being the only race able to produce the black box-like devices that allow faster than light travel between systems.

Tassarians: A race that favors humid and moist climates. They resemble amphibians from Earth in their genetic makeup, but they are humanoid given to varying levels of vanity. They can be asexual as well, of gender neutral in that they can change genders once or twice in their lives as needed. Their skin ranges in nearly all colors, including shades of blue, red, green, yellow, and brown. They are hairless and have webbed fingers and toes, making them excellent swimmers that are capable of holding their breath many times longer than a human could. Their perceived softness, natural beauty, and preference for negotiations over warfare makes some other races see them as weak. And, in the case of the Criknids, tasty.

Criknids: The Tassarian’s greatest threat. These six limbed chitin covered people have a hive structure of society, but they are highly evolved and are not the termites found on Earth. Far from it, even the lowest ranks of Criknid has a mind of their own and the free will to do as they wish. Their upbringing and instincts, however, lead them to be very martial and matter of fact in nature. Their sense of humor is underdeveloped, by human standards. Having two legs and four arms, as well as a natural exoskeleton and the ability to seal off a severed limb, make them very formidable opponents.

This is just a taste, I have many more sketched out that I’ll be sharing. The Tassarians, for example, have more to fear than just the Criknids. Even if the majority of the known universe is living in a relative sort of piece at the moment, tensions are high from one system to the next and almost everyone has something to gain from another race’s loss.

And that’s only the beginning of the setting. The story I’m working on will blend bits of it all together and span both races, worlds, and the universe as we know it. To over-simplify things, it’s gonna be cool!

 

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.

Snuggling Up With a Naughty Nook to Read

November 11, 2014 Leave a comment

I was stricken by some inspiration last night to do some data mining. It happens every now and then, I’m a numbers and stats junkie. Hey, admitting I have a problem is the first step to overcoming it, right?

So anyhow, I focused on my 3rd quarter Smashwords results. I’ve been experimenting with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and trying to figure out the best way to reach the most people. Sales have taken an epic leap into a giant brown and smelly sinkhole, so every person reached is bigger than ever.

What I found was very interesting, to say the least. Over the July – September period, I made roughly $800 on iTunes. Whether that’s good or bad is irrelevant for this discussion. Why? Because Dawn Michelle, my wife, made $80 on iTunes in the same period. My theory behind that is iTunes customers prefer science fiction and fantasy over paranormal romance.

The next significant sales figures came from Barnes and Noble. For Jason Halstead (that’s me, in case you’re just joining), I had $0 sales at B&N via Smashwords. Not surprising, almost all of my B&N titles go directly through B&N. They work out to approximately $10 – $30 a month in royalties. Nothing to get excited about. Dawn Michelle, on the other hand, rocked well over $400 on B&N sales for that 3 month period!

There’s really only one conclusion I can draw from this data – Nook readers like smut! Okay, maybe that’s too rough. They like romance. Paranormal romance. With some spice. In other words…furry porn. (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

So what does this mean for me? Well, I’ve moved some of my titles over to strictly being on Amazon and taking part in KDP Select / KU to allow borrowing. It’s saved my bacon so far this month too. I haven’t seen sales this low in 3 years and I don’t know what the hell is going on, but KU borrows are making up for the lackluster sales by averaging 5 – 10 borrows a day. My wife’s books, on the other hand, have done better by being available on multiple venues (especially those naughty nook owners – god bless you folks!), so we’re going to make sure her new series stays as available as possible.

Her new series? It’s paranormal romance again – and the beta readers are saying it’s even better than the Claimed by the Beast series. It picks up after her story in A Kiss of Christmas Magic ($.99 bundle of over 1200 pages written by 20 different authors – it’s available as of today). And it continues the original Claimed by the Beast series by telling Beth’s story after the fur settles. Oh, and this time, instead of shifters, the focus is vampires.

I know, I know, a vampire romance…sigh. But she’s made good on her promise that there will be no sparkling.

Crap, the new series is called Blood Kissed, and the first book (First Kiss) is available for pre-order. Book 2 is called Forever Kiss and is in the editing stages now.

As for me? Book 2 in my Serpent’s War series, I’m shooting to have it out sometime in the Christmas – early January time frame. Even though sales have been abysmal for book 1, it’s a great story and I have to write it. And, hopefully, more people will get into it as time passes.

 

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.

Reviewing Reviews

November 5, 2014 Leave a comment

For those in the reviewing, blogging, or writing business the name Kathleen Hale has achieved a special kind of infamy lately. This is not where I weigh in on her, her actions, or her antagonist. Yes, I read about the antics and I can say that, as a writer, there’s nothing more infuriating than a bad review without substance or justification. Some people are dicks, plain and simple, and get off on making other people miserable. Yet if nobody ever posted their thoughts when something failed to blow their skirt up, how would I find opinions on products I’m interested in buying?

Set the buying aside, how about producing? I write books, and without feedback I have only my editor and my personal opinion on how my finished product turns out. Every book is a learning experience in how to get better at what I do, from grammar to content to writing style. My editors, beta readers, and fans are invaluable to me. I love hearing what worked and what didn’t. And if that means reading about it in a review, then that’s what I’ll do. Even a bad review. As Rocky Balboa said, “It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can be hit and keep going.”

That’s life, my friends. And a minor jab I took yesterday was from a great blogger / reviewer by the name of Angus Day. He read Voidhawk, my first published novel. I cringe whenever somebody tells me they read it – that was written five or six years ago and I’ve improved so much since then! But people continue to love it. In fact, I had another email a few days ago from a man who read Voidhawk and stated that based on that book alone he would buy and read anything with my name on it. How cool is that?

But back to Angus. His review was positive. 3 out of 5 stars, and I believe he stated the middle of the road rating came from typos and grammatical problems in the book. Since he reached out to me directly in a message I was happy to talk to him about it and learn more about his concerns. That’s the kind of feedback that I strive for. Something to make me better. I address many of the issues raised and re-submitted Voidhawk to Amazon last night with the corrections. That’s the awesome thing about the age of the ebook – I can turn things around that fast.

So thank you, Angus, both for your kind words and for your critique. It was well deserved. As for my readers or potential readers, go try out Voidhawk, it’s free on Amazon and in spite of my cringing I will say that every time I revisit that first novel I’m caught up in just how entertaining it is. And it’s got six sequels, with a seventh burning away in the back of my head and waiting in line to be turned into a living thing.

Voidhawk, by Jason Halstead

Voidhawk, by Jason Halstead

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.