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Posts Tagged ‘urban fantasy’

Another Girl Lost

February 9, 2019 Leave a comment

I’ve lost track how long it’s been since I last heard from Katalina Wimple. For those who don’t know her, you should. She’s pretty darn amazing. She came to me one day out of nowhere because she had a story that needed to be told. For some reason she decided I was the one to tell her story and she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

 

Imagine, if you will, a petite woman that barely tops 5 feet tall with the training of a police officer giving you that look. The look that makes you suspect it’s a good thing you don’t know what she’s going to do you if you don’t do what she wants. I’m a reasonably big guy and Katalina is not, but there was never any question about what I was going to do.

 

In fact, she made me do something I’d never done before – I wrote back to back books about her without writing something else in between. She was demanding, to say the least, and is to this day my all time favorite character I’ve ever written. Oh sure, I’ve had some great ones, but Katalina was special. So special I started to hate it when she made me write a new story about her. I didn’t want to experience what happened to her, because it always hurt. After the fifth Lost Girls book, Guardian, I believed that we were finally done. She could retire and enjoy some long deserved peace and the embrace of those who loved her.

 

For a few years it worked. In fact, it sort of still is working. But she let me know there’s somebody else I need to write about. It’s not her, but it’s somebody she met through her adopted daughter. Another special girl by the name of Amelia Foster. Or, as her customers call her, Bling.

 

Devoted readers of my stories might remember a character named Bling from a novel I wrote and submitted to the Shadowrun role playing game people. They liked it, but it didn’t mesh enough to be included in their official canon. They encouraged me to publish it as fan fiction though, so I did. A version of Bling was in it, but that wasn’t enough for her. So she told me to put her in something else that would let her keep her unique flair. She was always a Lost Girl, and now she’s found her way home.

 

Bling is my newest release and is the 6th book in the Lost Girl series. Amelia is a child of two worlds with a tendency to make bad choices. Her intentions are golden, but she doesn’t always have the patience or wisdom for the long term. She was orphaned by the government as a child and tossed into the foster system with her younger brother. For people like them the foster system is an ugly place. Dark Earthers are considered second hand citizens, at best, and Amelia’s strangely pointed ears made her more of a target than most. As soon as possible, Amelia took her brother and they ran away. They’ve bounced from homeless shelter to abandoned homes to dark alleys ever since.

 

This book picks up after Amelia and her brother have found a somewhat stable life in downtown Phoenix. He’s in 5th grade and she goes to school when she’s not too tired because she works late nights as an Amateur Entertainment Contractor. Hey, it’s good money and legal work, aside from her having to get fake certifications because of the status of her birth. Most of the customers are pigs, but it’s easy work.

 

Easy until her bad choices team up and decide to teach her a lesson. The odds are against her and she’s got a lot of hard lessons to learn if she’s going to keep her brother safe and keep herself alive.

Amazon

Amazon UK

Everybody Else

Remember when I said Katy made me write back to back books about her? Well, I’m doing it again with Amelia. Bling 2.0 is halfway done, in fact. Yes, 2.0 is a weird name for a sequel, but in it Bling is definitely upgraded and reborn. A new version, if you will. Same girl with the same quirks and shortcomings, but she thinks she’s better outfitted to deal with them. Nothing could prepare her for what she’s going to face though.

 

 

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 Books Write Themselves…

October 17, 2014 1 comment

This is a guest blog written by a friend of mine, J.E. Taylor. Hell of a writer and a decent person. And no, she didn’t pay me to say that. She’s not even the kind of friend I’ve made over Twitter either, she’s a real world friend. Really, I promise!

All that aside, she’s here to talk about a new book she’s got coming out. I’m here to introduce her and recommend checking her stuff out, it’s creepy, sometimes gory, often sexy, and always a good time. Virtually every book of Jane’s that I’ve read has left me saying, at least once, “Holy crap!”

 

When books write themselves…

by J.E. Taylor

ryanchronicles

Today, The Ryan Chronicles Trilogy is being released and even as I write this, the story is continuing in my head. The last effortless experience I had writing was when I wrote the books in The Games Trilogy, which was back in 2007 when I first sat down to write.

I’m pretty sure the timing is about the same as well. Three books in six months.

I love it when it flows like that, as a writer, it’s the most satisfying experience and typing The End can be bittersweet, especially since the characters become like your own children. I hope the passion that consumed me while scribing this story has done the pages justice.

Enjoy!


The Ryan Chronicles – Book One: Saving Grace

When CJ Ryan’s girlfriend decides life is less complicated without him, CJ travels a destructive path into despair, walking the line between what’s right and what feels good. But what feels good is a dangerous slope to travel, especially when Lucifer wages war for his soul.

One wrong step and CJ could fall into the devil’s trap, becoming no better than the demons he battles.

 

The Ryan Chronicles – Book Two: Raven Heart

CJ Ryan still can’t remember a thing about his past, but he is determined to have a future with Valerie. Despite his lack of memory, he finds himself ensnared in the cutthroat world of entertainment whether he wants it or not. The push into the spotlight shines a harsh glare on his family and brings with it a plague of horrors that drag him to the edge.

With the darkness of the past threatening, CJ turns to his brother looking for answers, but when an enemy with a psychotic history re-enters their lives, it will take more than just his memory to save them.

 

The Ryan Chronicles – Book Three: Trinity’s Wrath

CJ Ryan’s life seems to have fallen into place, and while the backdrop of his Hawaiian honeymoon provides the perfect healing elixir, the guilt of sentencing his father to an eternity of torture at Lucifer’s hands starts to intrude on his happily-ever-after.

When he and Valerie return from Hawaii, a note from the king of hell greets him, outlining in sickening detail his plans for CJ and those he holds dearest.

With everyone he loves on Lucifer’s hit list, CJ must start living up to the bargain he made in Heaven, but every one of Hell’s gates he closes is one less portal available for his father’s escape.

 

Available at Amazon

 

 

 

Excerpt from Saving Grace (book 1):

She smiled and I felt a need stir inside me, and it had nothing to do with my heart, or soul, for that matter.

“You really let a demon tie you up?” Dimples appeared in her cheeks and mine bloomed with heat.

I shifted, focusing back on the darkness beyond the glass, suddenly uncomfortable and unable to look at her. I swear my face must be the shade of a bright red kickball. “I wasn’t exactly myself,” I said without looking at her.

She chuckled.

The kind of chuckle that was meant as a turn on and I slid my gaze to her. “You like your men tied up?” I raised an eyebrow. It was her turn to blush and she grinned, shrugging and looking back outside. Before I could explore more of this conversation, she took a step back, dragging me with her.

There must have been a dozen pale creatures slinking across the back yard. I gave her hand that gripped my upper arm a gentle pat and she turned her frightened gaze to me.

“They won’t get through.” My voice held confidence, but deep inside, I was trembling just as much as she was. Damian, Steve, and I had wiped out more than this at the cove, but that was three of us and of course Paradise Cove probably had a lot to do with it.

We both focused on the approaching horde and without much thought, I slung my arm around Valerie’s shoulder and pulled her close. It was time to concentrate on the deadly quality of the wall I put up. I wasn’t sure of how much sizzle to put into it.

“I want to see them burn,” Valerie said, answering my silent contemplation and a chill ran up my spine.

She had every right to hate these creatures as much as demons and I concentrated, glaring at the approaching danger. Saliva ran from their lips and their teeth gleamed in the moonlight. My heart pounded in my chest, sending throbbing vibrations through my skin. The harder my heart beat, the hungrier the approaching vampires looked.

“Just a few more feet,” I muttered, focusing on the entire perimeter of the house because I wasn’t as much of an idiot as they thought. This wasn’t the only line of assault. Still, when they advanced, I took a cautious step backwards, pulling Valerie with me. The power inside me grew and I couldn’t tell whether it was the adrenaline or the power raking across my skin like a hundred finely manicured nails. The sensation grew, moving from the land of pleasure into the world of discomfort and I gritted my teeth.

“Come on, you motherfuckers,” I growled, loud enough for their acute hearing to pick up. I moved Valerie behind me and positioned myself in a fighting stance, waving them in with my leading hand. The results were memorable.

They all launched towards the glass slider and the moment they hit my invisible barrier each vampire burst into a ball of flame. The roar of fire drowned out their screams, but I heard them and the dark part of my soul reveled in it.

Valerie let out a high pitched laugh and I glanced back at her, smiling.

She met my gaze with a measure of awe. “The only one I ever saw do something that impressive was Michael.”

Being compared to an archangel was humbling and I glanced outside at the black dust spinning on the wind. “I’m not an angel.”

“Oh, I gathered that,” she said and stepped away.

I turned towards her. “What do you mean by that?”

“You’re more recent activities?”

I shoved my hands into my pockets and stared at the floor, shamed by the fact she was privy to my more decadent actions. Instead of apologizing, I lifted my gaze to hers, studying the memories of her past, especially the times after the more traumatic events. Naomi was right about one thing. The girl never freaked out. Ever.

And therein lay the challenge.

I let a grin slowly surface and narrowed my eyes, stepping closer. “So, you want to try out some of those ‘activities’ with me?”

She laughed. The kind of laugh that bruised a man’s ego and when she went into the gale realm, I crossed my arms, my good humor turning sourer by the second.

 

 

You can visit J.E. Taylor at http://www.jetaylor75.com and sign up for her newsletter for early previews of her upcoming books, release announcements, and special opportunities for free swag!

 

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When the Devil is Due

October 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Today marks the completion of a special deal I made. The kind of pact written in blood and guaranteed to— oh wait, no, that’s a different deal. Today is all about the release of the 3rd book of the Fallen Angels series, Devil’s Dance.

Originally Mr. Bybee and I had planned to write a trilogy. Well, this is the completion of that trilogy. It is not, however, the end of the story. Without giving out any spoilers, I will say that the original storyline is wrapped up but there was so many wonderful threads and ideas that we generated, it’s definitely going to continue on down the road.

But that’s me getting ahead of myself. First go check out Devil’s Dance. Or if you’d prefer, start the series fresh with Devil’s Island. Here’s the blurb, cover, and links:

 

 Urban fantasy / horror by Jason Halstead and J. Knight Bybee

A year has passed since the last attempts to close the portal to Hell failed. In spite of no longer being at the top of the food chain humanity continues to struggle to survive.

Andy has come into his legacy, protecting those he loves with the very power that could destroy them all. His friends are struggling to find allies in the fight against the demon horde, but can they trust the remnants of the United States government? Alex struggles to accept her new life after being rescued from the demon queen’s grasp, but she knows it’s only a matter of time until her Mistress finds her again.

Tam’rah’s son, the prince of darkness, is coming into his own and threatening to destroy everything the world has left to offer. Humanities efforts have failed. Neither an attack led by an angel or a nuclear strike were capable of dislodging the demonic forces. With nothing left to fight back with, humanity has only one option remaining: they have to fight fire with fire.

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Everywhere else (iTunes, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, etc.) will be available in a couple of weeks.

 

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.

Happiness Is…

One of my wife’s friends posted a meme on Facebook and tagged us in it the other day. The meme stated that happiness was finding a new book and learning that it was the first in a series. Given my wife’s new paranormal serial romance (that this friend fell in love with), it seemed fitting.

I’m bringing it up now because the long awaited part four in her Claimed by the Beast series is now available. And it’s every bit as exciting and fun as the others were. The main character is learning a lot about herself and really coming into her own. She’s also learning there’s more to her new life than she once realized. More dangers, for one…

Rather than hand out spoilers, I’ll hand out links to check it out yourself! Pretty shady, I know…

 Claimed by the Beast, Part 4, by Dawn Michelle

 Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

(iTunes, Kobo, Barnes and Noble yet to show up)

Now then, since we’re down talking about my wife’s series and how successful it’s been, let’s move back onto another series that’s even more overdue for some fresh material. Voidhawk! And yes, I’ve been slapping keys fast and furious. So much that I’m probably a third of the way through the next book! My plans had been to write a single book that covered the next story arc but I’m beginning to wonder if there is just too much story to tell? Do I need to break it out into two or three books?

I’m not sure at this point, but I’m almost 30,000 words into it and the crew of the Voidhawk hasn’t even gotten close to where they need to go yet. And getting there is only going to be half the battle. They’ll have to meet up with veteran dragonslayers, Alto, Garrick, Patrina, and the others from the Blades of Leander / Order of the Dragon series before they can figure out a plan to move ahead. That’s when things really start getting fun.

The next book will be titled Broken Shards. And hopefully it’ll be a single book! I guess time will tell though, or maybe I’ve roped myself into another mini-series within a series. Whatever the case, I promise a fun read.

 

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.

Hot and Steamy

I’m talking about Florida! Come on, what did you expect me to say after a title like that? Of course that’s really just a segue into mentioning a new book that I’m looking for some beta readers / reviewers for.

Why bother? Well, this book is called Devil’s Rising and it’s a collaboration between myself and J. Knight Bybee (the same guy who worked with me to create Devil’s Island). Not only that, but Devil’s Rising is the sequel to Devil’s Island – hard to believe, I know!

The premise of the story is the people leftover from book 1 are hell bent on stopping what happened in book 1. So they travel cross country to get help and the help they find is not what they expected. Then they have to go back into that hot and steamy place (Florida – get your minds outta the gutter) and try to right the things that went wrong the last time around.

It’s got action, romance, young love, epic character development, and a pace that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. By the time the book ended even I was shocked at what we’d created. I found a new favorite character in the series and can’t stop thinking about them!

So here’s the deal – if you’re itching to get your hands on it, let me know. Give me a comment, an email (Jason@booksbyjason.com), a facebook mention, a tweet, knock on my door, whatever it takes. The book is yours for the asking. What I ask for is your thoughts on the book and any glaring errors that may have jumped out at you (missing words, misspelled words, etc.). There shouldn’t be many but Mr. Bybee and I really got swept up near the end of the book and the writing was fast and furious between us. The only other thing I ask is that if you liked it even half as much as we did, you leave a review on Amazon when we launch it.

Oh, and I’m not looking for beta readers anymore for Devil’s Rising (book 1 in the Fallen Angels series), but if you’d like to get a free copy of the book in exchange for a review, let me know about that too. I’ll make it happen.

 

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.

Good Intentions Gone Wrong

February 27, 2014 Leave a comment

After I wrote Black Widow, the fourth book in The Lost Girls series, I did everything short of promise that I wouldn’t write another. That bothered a lot of people – they wanted more. The main character had been a part of my life (fictitiously speaking) for several years now and I couldn’t subject her to the kind of hurt that a main character goes through.

Then I came up with another idea. I’d closed a few chapters in Katalina’s life and didn’t want to make it any worse for her. But damn it, this new idea…it needed her to make it work. So Katalina came out of retirement for Guardian, book 5 in The Lost Girls series.

Having confessed all of that, I’m not the one with the good intentions gone bad. It’s actually the premise behind the book. There’s somebody who means the best and wants to help out, but they don’t realize the consequences of their actions until it’s too late. Forty years too late.

Here’s the blurb, cover, and all that jazz but before I get to it the obvious question is: what’s next? Will there be a Lost Girls 6? I can’t say. About the same time I thought of the idea for this story I was trying to come up with an idea for some detective agency based fiction. I thought of a bunch of young people trying to both atone for their own screw-ups as well as learning how to get by and do a little good in the process. Katalina would make an excellent mentor, if not a main character. Guardian sets the stage for that with Katalina and Skyler’s second chance home for troubled foster kids.

 

Guardian, by Jason Halstead

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Kobo / Sony (coming soon)

Smashwords

iTunes (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.

Another Notch in the Headboard

With a title like that, you’re probably thinking, “What is that freak up to now?” Well, not to disappoint you, but it’s just an indicator another year come and gone. I’m excited to have made it to the other side (2014), and I think I’ve learned a lot in 2013 that I can reflect on and share. So, without wasting any more time, I’ll jump into sharing the wisdom I gained in 2013 (read: what stupid things I did), and the data behind it.

#1: Never blindly trust an absentee landlord with a gambling addiction that lives in Las Vegas.

#2: Publishing smut (or romance) with a masculine name is an uphill battle. In a blizzard. With enemy machine gunners hiding in fortified pillboxes above you.

#3: Publishing mystery / detective novels is also a hard genre to get into (no machine guns though).

#4: Trying to break into any new genre is difficult because the readers that know and like you probably aren’t interested in trying out the new genre.

#5: Science Fiction and Fantasy are my sweet spots, so I should focus more on those. Except I can’t stop myself from writing other stories because, damn it, they need to be told!

#6 The last quarter of the year kind of sucks for book sales, whereas the first two are the best.

#7 Collaborating with another writer can be a frustrating process or it can be a wonderful experience. For me in 2013 it was a great opportunity. I expect that to continue in 2014 and (perhaps) beyond.

#8 The writing and publishing industry is in a state of constant upheaval and reinvention. That does not mean we should throw our hands up in the air and just have faith that it will all work out. That would be like a book-worshipping religion. Writing is both art and science and to succeed we have to focus on the stats and numbers as well as proper timing of when to sacrifice small woodland creatures to the writing gods.

#9 I can write fast if I have the availability to do so. In the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge I unofficially decided to destroy I wrote two novels instead of just one. While working full time, having a family, and sleeping an average of 6 hours a night. Since I can write fast, I should write fast – that’s what professional editing is for.

#10 Audiobooks are a lot of work! And that’s with me not reading them! The market is there and it’s growing though, so I recommend people hop on the wagon. I have 5 books in audio at present with 1 more about to be released and three more in the process.

 

Now the numbers behind it.

My Total Books Published: 44

My books published in 2013: 16 (2 of which are omnibuses)

My books written in 2013: 14 (not counting the omnibuses twice, nor a book published in early January of 2013, but I did count the book I finished near the end of December but won’t publish for a week or two into 2014.)

Total Books sold (Amazon US and UK only): 27,636

Books by Genre

-Science Fiction:           12,035

-Fantasy:                       13,598

-Urban Fantasy:             1,265

-The Rest:                          738

My thoughts and notes on the above numbers: Pretty darn cool. In 2012 I sold over 35,000 books, but a lot of those were $.99 novellas that I rolled into my Vitalis Omnibus book in late 2012. And yes, I mean a lot (I had a few months with 5,000+ of the $.99 novellas sold). What’s a potentially more impressive number is that in 2012 I saw almost $50k in royalties from Amazon US & UK. In 2013 my Amazon US and UK royalties were over $72,000.

Why do I keep mentioning the US and UK? Those are my biggest markets. With that said, in 2013 I began to regularly see sales each month in Canada, Germany, and Australia. Tangible sales that beat the minimums necessary to send out royalty checks each month. Tangible or not, they typically double digits only, not triple.

Audiobooks? Thanks for asking. I’d wager I made around $500 in audiobooks last year. Not much, but hey, my first book wasn’t available until late June and I didn’t hit 5 available for sale until December 24th. I may never get all my books on audio, but I’ll keep pushing to get them transitioned, especially when I review the work done by my amazing narrators. My two most recent ones sent chills down my spine and made me literally laugh, gasp, and otherwise react out loud when listening to them. In a good way! One of them is Child of Fate, which should be available any day now. The other is Wolfgirl, which is in progress and hopefully will be available by the end of February.

On the writing front I’m about 25% of the way through my next Vitalis book (and I just finished Vitalis: Invasion, which should be released in a week or two). Why write back to back Vitalis books? Two reasons: the first is that the story is burning in my head and wants to be told. The second reason is because I’ve seen a strong surge in my Vitalis series in December. With book sales being the strongest in the 1st and 2nd quarter of the year, it makes sense to capitalize on that by giving my readers what they are showing me they want. This will be the 5th Vitalis novel, but remember the first one (Vitalis Omnibus) contains 7 novellas within it.

What does 2014 hold for me on the writing front? More writing! I’m working on my 46th book right now and I have every intention of hitting the 50 book mark and beyond this year. I’m considering a sequel to Human Nature and I’ve already written a short story to kick it off (unreleased so far). There will be more Voidhawk, more Dark Earth, more Fallen Angels (co-written with J. Knight Bybee) and possibly more Lost Girls, as well as a continuation of both my Homeland and my Cookie Cutters series. Oh, and Vitalis – it’s an amazing setting with so much opportunity it would take a team of writers to even begin to tap into its potential.

A lot of writers are scared or overwhelmed by the chaos in the publishing / writing industry these days. Don’t be! Embrace it. Make it your own and carve out a piece. Readers have more available to them now than ever. I’m looking forward to what 2014 brings, so let’s get started on it!

 

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.

The Brakes Don’t Work!

I’m nearly 30,000 words into The Sands of Betrayal, the third book in my Order of the Dragon fantasy series. I hope to have it finished by the end of August, which gives me just shy of two weeks to write a lot of words. Yikes. Okay, moving on…

That’s neat in and of itself, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing going on. When I’m not writing and I have a chance to do so, I’m thinking about writing. I can’t stop doing it either, it just happens whether I expect it or not. On the ride home last night from Michigan’s Renaissance Festival I dreamed up some really disturbing / upsetting ideas for the book I’m writing right now. Stuff I hadn’t considered before, but it was so powerful I’ve already started writing it in. It’s my way of telling my characters to stop thinking they write the stories.

But there’s other ideas out there too. For example I have one idea I’ve blogged about a little bit before. It involves a young women with a terminal disease that’s lost at sea. A few years later she’s found on the shore of a tropical island by some spring breakers. The bad part: she has no memory of who she is or where she’s been aside from her name, Tam’rah. The good part: she’s completely healed. And as the story unfolds she learns she’s more than just healed, she’s special. Special in a bad-things-are-coming-for-you kind of way. But she’s got some amazing tricks of her own that she’s discovering too. And of course, there will be bumps and twists along the way.

I’ve got a concept for a fifth Lost Girls book, which will pit the semi-retired Captain Katalina Wimple  against a man who’s not only evil, but he’s caught her taste through one of his victims and he won’t stop until he finds her and kills her. And everyone she’s ever cared about.

And now onto another idea that just rolled into my head. I’ve been challenged many times to write young adult or new adult fiction but I just don’t have it in me. My writing is too visceral. Too real. Too grisly. And, occasionally, too naughty. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do a hybrid. I’ve got the perfect character and setting for it, in fact: Jessica Baxter, daughter of Eric Baxter, the star of Dark Earth. Jessica is just about college age and even though they’ve moved from Michigan to Dark Earth to try and civilize the cruel people of that world, there’s no reason she shouldn’t be allowed to come back for college. Fortunately Northern Michigan University doesn’t have any rules or stipulations about allowing witches on their roster.

I’ve got other books for my existing series planned too – a fourth book (Dragonlady) to end the Order of the Dragon series, for example. And then there’s my next Vitalis book which will explore the infection spreading on Earth as well as the effect the Vitalian crystals that were dropped in Europa’s atmosphere have on the basic life and the researchers living on that planet. And there’s more Voidhawk to come down the road too, although I’m not sure what, exactly, will happen there yet.

So many words, so few hours. But I’m trying to crank them out as fast as I can. One of these days I hope to be able to focus on writing full time, instead of just part time. That requires a lot more word of mouth and book sales though, but I’m not the pandering type so I’ll just keep writing and doing my best to give my readers (past, present, and future) the types of books they tell me they want to read.

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.

Winning

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Charlie Sheen made the word, “Winning” famous, but I’m not sure he actually won anything when he did so. Controversy and outrage, sure, but though his victory may have been a personal success I think it fell short of the financial and moral mark. Fortunately, I’m not here to write about Charlie Sheen! Instead let’s talk about success in general. Not necessarily in a self help kind of way, but littered with examples. I don’t think of it as success or winning, but rather hard work.

I’ve mentioned in recent articles how I was reading the book, Total Recall, by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s not the movie, it’s a book about his life and his successes (and opportunities for improvement). I finished it and was moved and amused by the ending, where he gives 10 tips for success in life. I found that I already use all of them and figured them out on my own, so yay me!

The moving part, to me, was a picture where he and his son, Patrick, visit Graz, Germany for the unveiling of a bronze statue of him in his glory days of bodybuilding. The look captured on his face as he reached out to touch it is what got me. Can you imagine having a statue built to commemorate you for the positive things you’ve done? You can see that he’s deeply affected by it in the picture and I can’t say I blame him. How awesome would that be?

His other secrets to success? Reaching for the stars, applying humor to everything possible, and understanding that nothing just happens for the sake of happening (or as he puts it, reps, reps, reps). Those of us in the weight lifting field understand reps to mean you have to do something over and over to improve. Want a heavier bench? Do lots of reps bench pressing. Want better shoulders? Lots of reps at shoulder pressing. Better legs or butt? Reps at squatting. By now you see the pattern. Each rep brings you closer to the goals you set for yourself, but reps applies in other ways as well.

In Arnold’s book he talks about acting and preparing for scenes, especially scenes with stunts. They practice the stunts over and over to make sure they get them right and nobody gets hurt. More reps. His speeches he gave during his term as Governor of California and for other press conferences he practices over and over. Reps. Learning to be a good skier (even though he once broke his leg while skiing) requires practice and reps. Everything you want to be good at, whether you enjoy it or not, requires reps.

I can appreciate that. Not just because I lift weights myself, but because that’s what I do. I’ve published 30+ books, that’s a lot of reps of writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing, and so on and so forth. I’m getting pretty good at it, so good that my most recent finished rough draft of a full novel (Soulmates, book 3 in my Dark Earth series) took me 8 days to write, start to finish. It was a fun story but I don’t expect them all to be that quick. I also recently obtained my Security+ computer certification. In order to prepare for that test I did some studying and then lots of reps taking practice tests. My daughter has to read books every night for school and do other homework with math problems. Reps for her.

So clearly practice is what makes perfect, although perfection in anything is a goal we can never reach.

The other thing I took away from the book, aside from being educated, entertained, and impressed was that it’s only his side of the story. There are a lot of other stories that are untold. How did the Governator’s close friend, Franco Columbo, feel being in Arnold’s shadow his entire life (both because he almost always placed behind Arnold and because Arnold is so much taller than him)? What about the people he villainized in his pursuit of climbing to the top? The women he admits he treated unfairly in his earlier days of acting when he didn’t know any better? What about Maria Shriver, and the pain and humiliation she must live with every day for his admittedly foolish betrayal of her and their marriage vows? In his climb to the top he stepped on a lot of people.

Is winning worth the price? Can it be washed away by looking back and saying, “I’m sorry?” I certainly don’t want to cast a negative light on the guy. Heck, I’ve looked up to him since I was a little kid that stumbled across a TV version of Conan the Barbarian. I’d argue that his transgressions and offenses over the years aren’t that bad. He’s made mistakes, we all have. The only really big one, in my opinion, is the infidelity. Everything else comes with being human.

Or, as Nathan Fillion once said as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in an episode of Firefly (Jaynestown), “It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of a son of a bitch or another.”

I’m happy to be a writer. People buy books based on what they like. If they like my books more than somebody else’s then they’ll buy mine first. If they don’t then they’ll buy the other book first, but when they finish it they’ll come back and look at mine. Either way it’s a winning situation and nobody gets hurt, stepped on, or screwed over. I love helping other writers with whatever suggestions or tips I can too. It’s my way of trying to give back or give forward, depending on the situation.

Writing reminds me of lifting weights in many ways. It’s not a competition against other people. It’s a competition against myself. I want to write better every time, just like I want each workout to be better than the last. The difference is that with writing I can keep improving year after year. With lifting there will come a time when the gains will become less about putting more weight on and more about taking less weight off. The goal is to be healthy and as strong as I can be though, and the competition is against myself not against anyone else.

I don’t care if I’m the best. My records aren’t about beating anyone other than myself. As long as I can hold my head high and support myself and my family I’m winning. That’s good enough for me.

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.

Burning Books The Right Way

February 15, 2013 1 comment

Wait a minute, I’m a writer. What the heck am I talking about burning books for? Especially given the positive context? Have I written one too many twisted scenes and pushed myself off the cliffs of insanity?

To the latter question: well maybe, but I leave that for those who know me best to decide. I don’t encourage or suggest burning books at any time though. Well, unless you’re trapped in an arctic wilderness and you need a source of heat to keep you warm and keep the hungry wolves at bay.

I’m talking about what I just managed over 8 completely normal days. 8 days where I spent time with my family, working out, and having a day job. 8 days where I wrote a book. A novel. 62,000 words. In 8 days. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty darn pleased with myself. I do not, however, expect to be able to maintain a pace like that. It did require some sacrifice on the part of my family and for that I’m grateful beyond words. Still, the book burning referenced in the title applies to the speed of the digital pen on the digital paper. You know, digital friction and stuff. Right, moving on.

It’s a good book too, I’m going through a self edit before I send it off to my editor this weekend. So far I’m adding some content here and there and straightening confusing bits out. Really enjoying the story though, it’ told from the perspective of Stephanie Martin, a young lady whose life was just turned upside down.

You see, she was skipping school one day and stopped to grab some caffeine and a pack of smokes when she ran into this amazing woman and made the mistake of looking into her eyes. That’s all it took. Her soda hit the ground and she realized everything had changed. She had no idea why until the woman took her and led her away.

Weird turned to crazy when the woman explained that she was a witch. In spite of how impossible it was, Stephanie believed her. Then her new mistress showed her the magic that she could one day possess.

It’s not all broomsticks and cauldrons for a witch though. Stephanie’s new life exposed her to cruelty and injustices beyond anything she’d imagined. The savagery of the Dark Earth her mistress took her required her to embrace the savage within her if she wanted to survive.

Soulmates is a story of human spirit and the things that can happen to it. The book explores how much pain and evil we can endure. At what point does the human spirit give up or become too stained with sin to recover? How hard must a person fall before they understand that life isn’t about hitting others, but learning how to survive being hit themselves?

Soulmates is the third book in my Dark Earth series. It follows Devil’s Icebox and continues to touch on the lives of Eric and Jessica Baxter, Lady Cassiopeia Nelson, and the rotten men and women that seek to ruin them all. It is a testimony to the sadistic nature of the culture of the earth’s parallel world that a juvenile delinquent with a manipulative and troubled past can hope to bring light to the darkness.

It’s being edited now, I hope to have it available in early March, following the pending release of Silver Dragon.

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.