I finished working on the rough draft of Taken by the Beast with my wife the other day. It was hard work for me, I have to admit. Historical romance is hard to write if you intend to be historically accurate. My hat’s off to those that manage it. The story turned out great, but I had a lot of doubts along the way. Dawn’s determination and optimism helped me get through it, thankfully. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, it’s the single volume prequel to the Claimed by the Beast series.
So I finished that on a Friday night (no comments on how I spend my Friday nights, thankyouverymuch), and started my next project on Saturday. Vitalis: Communion. Or at least I’m calling it Communion for now. The important thing is that it’s another Vitalis book, which should excite all my loyal readers. Everybody loves Vitals, and deservedly so. Light sci-fi set a long time in the future, it’s got amazing characters, many of them in compromising clothing, and some freakish and often terrifying monsters trying to eat them. Guns, babes, herculean heroes (and heroines), and sharp-toothed slobbering aliens. Plenty of humor to be found too, all in all it’s a win.
I can say that because I forgot a lot of what was going on. Communion picks up about 6 weeks after Invasion left off. Invasion was a book that centered on the unthinkable happening – the onset of an alien invasion of planet Earth. So I had to reread a lot of the book for continuity’s sake. I knocked my own socks off, and I’m pretty hard to impress.
Page after page flew by. Both the reading and then the writing of the new book. I was amazed at how quickly and smoothly the new work flowed, especially after the occasional struggles I had with Taken by the Beast. It’s definitely my comfort zone and, I’m very happy to say, some really great stuff has already happened and I’m only four chapters into it.
But I learned something. No, not something, a lot of somethings. Not from the return to my comfort zone but from my departure into historical and paranormal romance while helping Dawn Michelle. I’ve definitely broadened my style and understanding. I think my characters are more robust and the stories deeper and richer. There are more subplots and more going on behind the scenes. I honestly don’t know where this book is going to end up, but I know it’s going to be awesome finding out!
My plan is to have it ready to release by mid-September, I’ve recovered from a computer crash (lost a hard drive – don’t worry, I back everything up religiously) over the weekend and should be able to get back to making steady progress. 2,000 – 3,000 words a day just doesn’t feel like I’m doing any real work when it comes to Vitalis, it’s too much fun!
It’s Monday morning. That and the fact that I woke up feeling like I hadn’t gone to bed yet are no coincidence. Monday mornings require an alarm clock set to go off before most clinically sane people wake up. So do the other weekdays, but there’s just a special kind of hell to a Monday morning.
So I staggered into the bathroom and did my usual morning routine. Mostly. This was a little different. Today’s routine involved not only shaving off a weekend’s worth of scruff but also a frank evaluation of the dude looking back at me. In the mirror- not some creepy neighbor watching me shower.
It’s been a heck of a year so far. By and large, 2013 has been a very positive year. Some ups and downs and a few troubles along the way, but by and large we’ve made good things happen. I’ve got a great day job, my writing is going very well, everyone’s healthy and happy, and aside from our ongoing housing issues with our landlord and landlady, life is good. But it’s been a busy year too, and that means there’s been a price I’ve had to pay. Other than sleep, that is.
The dude in the mirror directed his eyes downward and let me know, with a pointed glance, what the problem was. No, not THAT far down. No problems there, thankyouverymuch. I’ve had many weeks where I was lucky to make it to the basement to work out one time, let alone the 3 or 4 I used to enjoy. Between that and too much crappy food (junk food, eating out, etc.), I’m afraid I wouldn’t look presentable in a bikini. Then again, the leg hair and incongruous bulges might make the bikini an unpleasant viewing experience even if I was in the kind of shape I wanted to be.
So starting last night I’ve established a short term goal of two months to whip myself back into shape. Yes, I admit, this morning’s frank appraisal was planned. Normally I don’t like planning things because then the word “premeditated” gets thrown around, but this was an exception. I even took a pic in the mirror this morning to compare in a couple of months with the guy staring back at me. It should be a good time. The plan is simple, eat better and work out more. Nothing to it, right?
Actually no, it’s not difficult. So why haven’t I done it before now? First I needed to have a talk with my doctor. Not a “can I work out without dying” kind of talk, but rather the wtf is wrong with me kind of talk. He’d done some labs on me a month or so back and one of the many things he tracks has to do with iron. I give blood regularly and it turns out that can be a minor problem. Not life threatening by any means, but my body has a tendency to try and make a lot of blood. One of the reasons I give blood, outside of being a nice guy, is to keep my red blood cell count from getting too thick. Lots of those are a good thing, but too many can lead to complications including a stroke. And trust me, nobody wants to see me stroking out.
So I get bled out every now and then. Usually on purpose, although the occasional jack knife in the leg incident can lead to significant accidental blood loss too. My body goes crazy trying to replace that blood and it needs iron to do so. What it can’t get from normal sources it finds internally. It’s called ferritin, and that’s the iron stores in a person’s body. Mine, it turns out, was below the bottom end of the normal range.
Common symptoms of low ferritin include chronic fatigue / tiredness and headaches. Well I’ve had an increasing number of headaches lately and when I do workout I get exhausted damn quick. I was blaming it on only 6 hours or so of sleep a night, getting older, and the stress of a busy year. Mind you since I left the automotive industry my stress levels got a LOT better, but my crazy rental house situation is trying hard to fill the void.
I learned this stuff last Thursday (which was ironically two months ahead of schedule – turns out I drove from Novi to Lansing for my doc appt and I had the date wrong, by two months! My doc was due in for surgery but squeezed in time to meet me anyhow. Hell of a guy.). That night I picked up some iron supplements and also some other stuff he recommended to bring me back up to optimal levels. Now four days later, I’m already feeling back on top of the world. Last night’s workout only consisted of two exercises but I had the energy to take them all the way and would have done more if my kids hadn’t been wanting me to come and put up Halloween decorations with them.
So the new goal is this: 2 – 4 exercises per session with 4 – 5 workouts a week. I may even do a little cardio, although I can’t stand that stuff. I much prefer lifting hard and heavy. And no, that’s not a euphemism. As an example here was last night’s workout which felt great and left me wanting more:
135lb x 10 reps (warm up)
225 x 8 (this felt really good and easy)
275 x 3 (could have done more but I was warming up for the next one)
315 x 1 (haven’t done this much in a while so I didn’t want to push myself too much. It felt good though)
315 x 1 (decided to do it again and I bet I could have done two, but the last time I really pushed myself while benching I ripped my pec off my arm and had to have surgery. My powerlifting career was ended so I can afford to minimize risks now)
Supinated grip lat pulldowns:
180 x 8
200 x 8
230 x 8
250 x 8
250 x 8 (good lifts all with the last set being difficult to do)
Most doctors, by the way, don’t check or care about ferritin. Or so mine says. I don’t care what he thinks of other docs, he does a good job with me. He even came recommended to me as one of the leading experts on men’s health. I’ve been seeing him for around 8 years now and I keep going back for more. Must be he’s doing something right. My only suggestion to people interested in optimizing their own health is to ask for a copy of any bloodwork you get done and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Google the tests and numbers to see what’s what and then ask away. If your doc doesn’t give you a satisfactory answer, maybe there’s a reason for that. I know I have yet to meet a general practitioner that knows much of anything beyond chicken pox, flu / cold, how to set a broken arm or finger, other basic ailments. That’s not a criticism, there’s a lot to know and it’s virtually impossible to keep up with everything. My criticism comes in when doctors discard something that they’re unfamiliar with or were told didn’t matter. But that’s a rant for another day. For now I only recommend keeping an open mind and being willing to look for a second or third opinion if you feel something’s not right.
I’ll post infrequent updates on how things are going more as a guide than as a narcissistic look-at-how-buff-I-am sort of thing. Will there be pics? I don’t know. Maybe, but probably not. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone but myself. Sure I take the pics, but I reserve my vanity for myself. I’m the person I have to impress. Well that and my wife, but she’s looking better and better every day all on her own.
Enough babbling! There’s work that needs to be done and a group of unfortunate people stranded on Europa that have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into. And that’s without considering the guy who appears to be a mad scientist that’s locked himself up in the laboratory…
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.
By that definition every book is a genesis. Every work of art, every idea, every conversation, every relationship, and every new life. Damn near everything we do as people. Well I’m taking it to the extreme with my newest book, Vitalis: Genesis.
Genesis picks up as Vitalis: Provenance is ending. Technically before it even ends, since there is a run in with the Independence as the doomed ship rockets toward Earth on a crash course. No words, waves, social indiscretions, or bodily fluids are exchanged in this encounter, however.
What that leaves is a transport ship bound for the research station on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. They’ve got supplies, equipment and a new rotation of employees for a couple of positions (maintenance / janitorial staff and the station’s resident mechanic).
Why Europa? Well it’s a frozen ball smaller than Earth’s moon but it’s got a few things going for it. The surface is mostly smooth ice theorized to be a hundred or more kilometers thick. In the Vitalis setting (as in a popular current theory), the tidal forces caused by Europa’s orbit around Jupiter keep the water between the solid metal core and the icy crust warm enough to remain in a liquid state. Here on Earth deep in a few ocean trenches I can’t remember the name of life in pure darkness has been discovered with a food chain independent of solar activity (it feeds of thermal vents from the ocean floor). So if you combine what we’ve witnessed here, what we’ve theorized about as possible, my imagination, and the amazing abilities found in the Vitalis setting…well, there’s going to be a whole lot of cool stuff happening!
And that, my friends, is what science fiction is all about. Exploring the depths of imagination to determine what is possible. In this case what is possible is also extremely dangerous and out to protect its own interests using whatever means available.
I’ve even considered trying to find a way to turn Jupiter into a secondary star, but it’s just not big enough to support such an action. Unless I cheat and use some Vitalian technology / physics… hmm. But not to worry, even in our universe if Jupiter were to become a star it wouldn’t have any appreciable impact on Earth. Other than being roughly 80 times brighter than the moon, that is.
The cast of characters for Gensis at present consists of:
Sgt. Jacob Conners
Dr. George Winters
Dr. Kathleen Hale
As for what they’re roles are and if there’s anyone else? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m only 5 chapters in so far, but that’s not bad for 5 days of work. Hope to get a lot more done this weekend, amongst many other things.
The world works in mysterious ways. Coincidences abound and are just frequent enough to make naturally suspicious people like me wonder about the nature of free will and conspiracy theories about supreme overloads controlling out actions. Or maybe that’s just the science fiction writer in me.
Whatever the case, I disassembled my large saltwater aquarium last weekend after running it for a year and a half. The reasons behind this move were many, but no fish, coral, or invertebrates were harmed by this action. One of my chief complaints of my setup was the nature of the sump tank plumbing I built. During power outages, in particular, bad things can happen very quickly that would cause the system to overflow and flood my living room.
Sunday I took the tank down. Monday night we had a power outage that lasted roughly an hour. Now is that simply good luck and timing, or evidence of some nefarious mastermind pushing buttons on a computer simulation that we’re all unwittingly part of?
To continue to power outage story, I saved my work on my laptop and shut it down. It’s a laptop with a battery, what’s the big deal, right? Well I went all American and supersized this laptop – as a result I get around 45 minutes out of a full battery charge. And yes, the battery is operating just fine. Then I rushed to shut down my desktop before the UPS it ran off of died, and finally I had to shut my server down in the basement for the same reason.
So there I am, sitting in the living room with my kids freaking out because they’re bored without TV, computers, or other electronic excitement to keep them busy. My wife remains glued to her Kindle reading my book, Vitalis, and using the light attached to her Kindle case. I had to check on her, I wasn’t sure she realized we’d even lost power!
Seeing my wife on her Kindle provoked an idea. The kids were terrorizing the dog and, given the gloomy lighting caused by a serious rainstorm, risking life and limb with their antics. I pointed out that the iPad and the Kindle Fire were fully charged. Zoom! Off they went, craving their electronic fix. For the record they’re six and three, but the devices are loaded with games to keep them happy whenever we need a digital babysitter (long car rides, appointments at doctor’s offices, etc.).
But these portable godsends aren’t just for kids! As evidence I point to my wife reading her ebook. Heck, if I’d have had another device I might have done the same. Instead it gave me yet one more reason why ebooks are great and on any e-reader with a backlight (or a battery operated front light) they are every bit as useful as a vintage print book.
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 Olympics started and it’s been a distraction. I think it’s distracting for more people than just me – I’ve noticed a minor slump in sales, especially in the UK where they’re being hosted. It’ll even out over time, I’m sure. I’m not writing this to whine about sales though, I’m pondering the Olympics and what they’ve come to mean (to me, at least).
Just this morning I had to log on to www.nbcolympics.com in order to watch one of my favorite sports: weight lifting. They don’t seem interested in televising it, which I find very disappointing. Instead we get to watch dozens of people ride bicycles around in circles in the rain. No thanks. I’ve never been much for bicycling, sorry to say. Anyhow, the weightlifting from this morning was the B group of women’s snatch and clean and jerk events, in the 53kg weight class (117 pounds). It’s safe to classify these girls as petite or scrawny, depending on their height. In spite of that, there were some damned impressive lifts that took place. My personal favorite, Julia Rohdes from Germany, had an 85kg snatch and a 108kg clean and jerk (193kg total, 4th place overall so far). For my fellow Americans that means she lifted 187lbs and 238 pounds from the ground to above her head. That’s a clean and jerk over twice her body weight! As another point of reference I’ve done a far less skillful clean and jerk of up to 235 pounds once in my life. I don’t train the movement but nonetheless this tiny woman was able to lift more weight than I could AND she only took 4th place. And she’s cute – yet more proof that lifting weights does not make women bulky, fat, ugly, or otherwise scary.
There was another woman from Venezuela with a really long name that irritated me. She made a lot of noise and did a lot of shouting while she psyched herself up to lift. Nothing wrong with that, it just bugged me. In spite of that, when she got under the weight I found myself pulling for her, just like I did every other lifter that was competing. I can’t help it, I’ve competed in far smaller venues (powerlifting, not Olympic lifting) I know how hard it is and I know what it feels like to achieve a hard lift when it really matters.
I’m anxious to watch more of the weightlifting to see what happens. The super heavy weights are able to lift some amazing weights but to be honest most of those guys and gals don’t impress me as much. Oh they still impress me, but I admire the people in the lighter classes below SHW more because they have to balance maintaining their weight while optimizing their strength.
Are there drugs for these people doing practically super-human things? Hell yes there are. Sure, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) tests for drug use but the athletes have ways of getting around that. Also these drugs won’t make the average person able to achieve the same things. It takes a person with the right mix of genetics and dedication to make these feats of strength, skill, strategy, and balance possible. They deserve a lot more than just a footnote in the history of the Olympics, in my opinion.
And what commentary on the Olympics would be complete without discussing Michael Phelps. Personally, I was pleased to see him take 4th place in his first event. I’ll admit, I’ve been suckered by the media into being irritated with his attitude and lack of training discipline. Seeing Lochte take the gold made it that much better for me. That brings into question how I view the Olympics from a patriotic point of view.
Of course I want the USA to win every event, plain and simple. Then when I watch them and see how individuals are performing. In individual events, I tend to favor the competitor who’s got the best attitude and puts the most heart into it. A team event, like volleyball or basketball, I stick more by my country, but for the individual sports I’m much more inclined to rooting for the people that I feel deserve it.
Speaking of volleyball, that first round team USA win in the women’s volleyball was nerve wracking! Korea’s Kim something-something is lethal! Great game though, and how awesome is it that the US has a player named Destiny Hooker? There, I’ve mixed enough immaturity in now, I’m off for some family time and hopefully later on today working on chapter 7 of Vitalis – Resurrection!
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.