Posts Tagged ‘writing’

15 Novels a Year

A couple of months ago a man by the name of Filip Wiltgreen reached out to me and asked if he could interview me for his blog. It’s been a while since I’ve had that opportunity – I thought my 15 minutes were over. So of course I said yes, but I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. Filip hit me with a string of questions that kept me busy and stumbling for quite a while. By the time it was over I was relieved and exhausted, but I was also impressed. He had done a very thorough job of gathering data.

And now, today, the interview is live on his blog. I just finished reading the finished copy and I’m quite pleased with it. A little bit of advice for writers, a little bit of background on me, and some shout outs to the people that have helped me along the way. Good job, Filip!


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

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

Dark Universe

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Dark Energy? Dark Matter? No and no. It’s the name I’ve settled on for my new scifi blockbuster / bestseller / series. But what’s so dark about it? Are there evil alien necromancers trying to destroy the cosmos? No. That would be weird – even for me!

It’s called Dark because that’s what happens when ships use the mysterious devices sold by Kesari merchants to travel faster than light. These devices have universal hookups allowing a ship to power them and communicate with them, but they have limited ability outside of plugging in coordinates and filling them with the energy needed for the black box to create the FTL bubble around the ship.

Woah— what? Yeah, it’s like that.

Kesari, that’s a race I covered a few posts back. They’re called squids by the other races because it’s a name Terrans used for them and it stuck. It’s not complimentary, the Kesari are merchants and the most alien in their thoughts and emotions, aside from the insectoid Criknids.

Black box? FTL travel? So what does going faster than light mean? It means light can’t catch you. And that means you can’t see it, because it won’t reach you. So when a ship travels at superluminal velocities it’s considered to be traveling “in the dark” or “in the black.” Hence “black box”, even if the FTL engine isn’t technically black.

And thus the series title of “Dark Universe” is born. Without being able to travel in the dark, spaceships and races would be trapped in their own solar systems. Or perhaps between two or three, if they found a relativistic way to travel close to the speed of light. Unlikely, at best. But with the black boxes ships travel hundreds and thousands of light years in reasonable time frames. Right now, roughly halfway through the first book, the protagonist’s ship is looking at close to a week to travel almost a thousand light years. Pretty darn fast! As a point of reference, the Milky Way galaxy is around 100,000 light years across.

Why are they doing this? They’re chasing someone. Why? Well, to even up the score on someone that double-crossed them. Or at least that’s why they think they’re doing it. There are more powers at play than the unlikely heroes realize.

Curious? Excited? Anxious to read more? I sure hope so, because I’m loving the book as it comes out of me. If you’re not on the fence, let me share this little bit I just wrote:

Adan nodded and headed off the bridge. He hurried down the lift and down the hall to his interior cabin. His luck held out and no one else spotted him and wanted to talk to him. After the fight and the repairs, then having to match wits against Tosc and Janna, he’d run out of steam. He opened his door and turned on the light in his cabin, only to see a bumpy form under his blankets.

The voice that drifted out from under the blankets surprised him. It wasn’t Amber, it was Twyf! “Hope you don’t mind, my cabin hasn’t been repaired yet.”

Adan turned the light back off and smiled. Maybe he wasn’t so tired after all.

Yeah, there’s more action than just lasers an space battles and even trysts with buxom alien women. There’s probably going to be some love triangles and girl fights too!


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

Picking Up Heavy Things…Again

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve gone personal on here – hopefully that doesn’t drive anyone away! This has very little to do with books or writing and more about health and fitness. You see, almost entirely by chance this morning I stumbled across the reddit Arnold Schwarzenneggar did on a fitness channel. There wasn’t a heck of a lot there from him, but what there was hit home.

A couple of points – he indicated he doesn’t lift like he used to. Seems like a no brainer to me, I’m suffering the same sort of things and he’s got over two decades on me. Case in point, he can’t do as many barbell curls as he used to due to shoulder injuries and surgeries, so he’s worked in the preacher curl machine to help out. Well, for anyone that’s seen a recent movie of his, it’s working!

I’ve been a big opponent of machine for a long time, but I’ve been discovering recently that my go big or go home mentality towards lifting isn’t working like it used to. I wipe myself out and suffer minor injuries that end up being more of a setback than they are a gain. Coupled with being so darn busy between work and writing and family, I haven’t even been able to find as much time as I should to lift. Factor in an injury and you can see where things are headed.

To counter that line of thinking, I grinned like a fool when I read his method of gaining strength. He’d warm up for several sets (10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps, 4 reps – I might be missing a few in there) and then do sets of 2 at the heavy weights before backing down to 4 and 6 rep sets. That’s virtually the same thing I used to do when I was getting stronger for powerlifting! Some tweaks here and there, but there’s a lot of similarities. It would probably still work too, especially given multiple warm ups to really make sure the battered and abused body I’ve given myself is ready for it.

And speaking of injuries and taking time off – Arnold had another great point about making time to work out. Every minute spent on improving your health is not a minute lost from a day, it’s minutes gained on your life. So what if 30 minute are gone some evening, if that helps me live a week longer, that’s 10,080 minutes extra. And without health there’s no way to pursue other goals (work, family, money, building a replica of the empire state building out of toothpicks, etc.).

A final note on cardio. That’s how he said he’d cut weight / fat when he needed to, he’d add in extra cardio and cut out bread, pasta, and desserts. I’m notorious for hating cardio, but I have to admit it is damn effective. There’s nothing like jogging to burn calories. I also discovered something a year or two back when I got in a minor cardio frenzy that didn’t last long – I got stronger too. I was lifting as well as running and somehow my gains were improved when I did both over the span of a week. There was a study that Will Brink posted / commented on that supports it. I can’t say anyone else will have similar results, but what’s trying going to hurt?

On the subject of goals after fitness there’s writing. I’m on the verge of finishing my latest Vitalis book, but I’ve been on that same verge for over a week now. I keep adding more and more to it, improving the story and details. I’ve been on the last two chapters for at least ten chapters now, believe it or not, but I think I’m finally almost there. Looks like I get my cardio through my fingertips when it comes to writing!


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

Tools for the Neurotic Writer

Not so long ago Amazon came out with a new tool for writers. A reporting dashboard that shows close to real time sales of their books on KDP. It’s cool, I have to admit, and really helps see how things are unfolding in a meaningful way. Things like promotions, new releases, price changes, etc.. And it helps the neurotic writer that can’t help but check their sales constantly have the data at hand almost immediately.

Me, I got over the addiction to staring at numbers a long time ago. Now I still check regularly, but not for a narcotic buzz. I do it to track progress and have reliable data on what works and what doesn’t. It’s a constant ever-learning process too, so it’s important to know what’s going on. And, I’ll admit, there are times when a big surge will still make me giddy as a school girl. Although I can’t ever remember seeing a giddy school girl, you get the idea.

Last night we (myself and Dawn Michelle, my ravishing wife) released the fifth part of her Claimed by the Beast paranormal serial romance. This morning when I checked a few minutes ago to see if it had gained much traction I saw an amazing thing. Not only is it doing quite well so far, but for the first time in, like, ever we’ve sold more books today than we’ve given away as freebies. The difference is pretty minimal (9 books more sold), but I’ve never seen anything like that before. I don’t expect to see it again, honestly, but it’s pretty cool.

Why not? Well, I have multiple books that are free and the first one in Dawn’s Claimed by the Beast series is free also. Want to know more about them? Here’s the links:



Child of Fate

Isle of the Ape


Dark Earth

The Lost Girls


And here’s the cover and blurb from Dawn’s latest serial:

Claimed by the Beast - Part Five, by Dawn Michelle

The life of a teenage girl is never a simple thing. From drama to decisions made without considering the repercussions, Crystal has to live with the consequences. Her mistakes have cost her more than just a normal life, they’re threatening her friends and family as a savage monster stalks the people she loves.

Even her whirlwind romance is starting to fall apart around her, making her second guess herself. Is living the life she dreamed about worth the people that get hurt along the way? It’s a price that her enemies are only too happy to help her pay.

As for me, I’m nearly finished with Voidhawk – Broken Shards. After that I’ll help my wife with her next project, something that is related to the Claimed by the Beast series but is a historical paranormal serial romance (we’re trying to see how many genres we can hit at one time). Then I’ll be back writing more about Vitalis. Or at least that’s my plan so far…


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

Decisions, Decisions

“Holy crap, you’ve written a lot of books! Where should I start?”

I get asked something like this a lot, but I never have a good answer. I mentioned a week or two back I’d put a post out like this to help people – but I’m not sure how much help it will provide! Hopefully you’ll want to grab them all. :-)

Anyhow, to answer the question: It depends on a lot of things. For example, do you like sci-fi or fantasy more? Do your tastes range towards action and adventure or crime and mystery? Fast paced or slower, more thoughtful?

Let me throw out a few first and let you decide…

Voidhawk – my first published novel way back in 2009. It also just became an audiobook, but I digress. Voidhawk is fantasy, but it’s fantasy with a twist. It’s kind of like dungeons and dragons in space. Complete with wooden ships sailing through the void (space). So it’s part high fantasy, part space opera, and part wtf. I consider it a niche market and I never expected it to take off. Yet quite a few times over the past few years my Voidhawk series (6 books in it so far) has done quite well. I regularly get people asking for more, which is going to happen someday soon.

Wanted – This is my second published novel. It’s near future science fiction that I dreamt up during the threat of a world-wide recession back in 2007 – 2009. The book takes place in a mildly scorched earth environment. Global terrorism has torn America up and left the southwestern US to fend for itself. Enter the main characters – a former Spec Ops guy who wants to be left alone, a porn star turned actress whose career was peeking after all the real Hollywood stars died when dirty bombs took out LA, and a couple of rich kids who had the misfortune of being on a plane that crashed in the Sonoran desert. There’s 4 books here and this has arguably has been the most successful series I’ve written.

Blades of Leander / Order of the Dragon – More high fantasy here. A new world with new troubles and a peasant farmer boy who’s thrust into being the man of the farm. Then somehow things get twisted up with young love and the chance to make a difference and be a hero. It escalates from Child of Fate (book 1) into a trilogy (Blades of Leander) and then a follow-up saga (Order of the Dragon, 4 more books).

Vitalis – Futuristic science fiction centered around humanity’s discovery of life on another planet. Real, advanced life – in the form of dinosaur-like critters and a downright nasty ecosystem that is very xenophobic. It’s risqué at times, earning at least an R rating and not just for harsh language. Book 2, Resurrection, even starts out with a couple of characters that make some readers uncomfortable – although I never get very descriptive and tragedy interrupts the moment before it can get started. Vitalis is six books at present and one I’m anxious to continue very soon. The first book is called the Vitalis Omnibus because it contains 7 novellettes I put together and tried to sell individually.

Dark Earth – Urban fantasy here. It involves the discovery of a parallel world to Earth that followed a different evolution. We have technology, they have magic. Sort of. They also have a lot of very mean and nasty people in charge. It’s a harsh world where bigots and chauvinists seem to be rewarded. Until the portals start opening and they begin to find out just how dangerous a pissed off woman can be! Dark Earth sets the stage for a 3 book series, which then has two additional books set in the same setting. Another series also uses the Dark Earth setting, but it’s 40 years in the future…

The Lost Girls – This is the series I just mentioned. These books came about when a character popped into my head and demanded attention. She called me dirty names and abused me every possible way until I wrote her story. Then she demanded I write another one, which is rare (usually I break away between books in a series but for her I did back to back). Eventually she demanded a third and later a fourth book. At that point I’d had enough. She’d mellowed out a little over the years and I couldn’t bring myself to do anymore to her. Until another idea hit me. This time it was an idea about a bad guy. We had a long talk (yes, me and the fictional heroine of the series), and she agreed she’d do one more for me. So that series hit five books. There may be more down the road, but she won’t be the starring character anymore. These books are urban fantasy / paranormal / science fiction (yes, I really did wrap all that together) AND they are detective / crime novels to boot. I will not be shoe-horned into a genre, damn it!

If you’re a proper red-blooded American, and by red-blooded I mean you understand the Internet may have been built for the exchange of technology and data but it wouldn’t exist without the need for hot and steamy content, then maybe my Homeland series is up your alley. Only two books in it so far (Forbidden Love and Broken Slipper), but they involve undercover homeland security agents and the lengths, depths, girths, and other extremes they will go to for their country.

I’ve got a few stand-alone books too, or books that are related to a series but aren’t officially a part of it. Those don’t get much traction even though everyone that reads them that tells me about it says they enjoy them.

Oh! Silly me, I almost forgot my latest. I released one a few months ago called Transcendent. Future sci-fi with humanity controlling all of our solar system (but not doing anything beyond it). It’s my attempt at capturing the dystopian young adult interest so popular with Divergent and The Hunger Games. Except I went a little more high tech by introducing biomechs (basically humanoid tanks of the future with a human pilot plugged in the cockpit and organic muscle systems stretched over their metal frames).

And, on the not-so-sly, I’ve been working with my wife to capture a spot in the paranormal romance genre by releasing a serial novel called Claimed by the Beast. We’re using her name, Dawn Michelle, for that series. I refer to it as furry porn, but only tongue in cheek. There’s no actual, um, porn going on. (although there are a few very steamy scenes in upcoming releases).

Phew – I think that about covers it. Don’t ask me which one is m favorite – I love them all. I’ve been very disappointed by the lack of response a few have gotten (Homeland and Transcendent, for example). I’ve been surprised by others because I didn’t think people would be as twisted as I am. I’ll vouch for any and all of them, but they’re my children so I kind of have to. :-)

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

Celebrity Moment

May 18, 2014 1 comment

I was taking a break from reality the other day and playing an online computer game (Mechwarrior Online, if you must know). In the process I was talking to a couple of people that I’d never met before. The topic quickly came up asking me if I was a writer (my handle in the game is ‘BooksbyJason’). That led to: what do you write. The next question was what name I wrote under. So I shared my name. And that’s when it happened.

This complete stranger from parts unknown (he was somewhere in the continental US, I think) said, “Hey, I’ve heard of you. One of my friends recommended your books to me.”

I sat there on the couch with my laptop in my lap and stared at the screen. I looked up at my wife but she was engrossed in a television show and missed it. I went back to the conversation and continued to briefly talk books before the lasers and autocannons started flying and our robots were getting shot out from under us. All in all, it was a good game. And yes, I regularly get my butt kicked in that game. Or any online game these days – I don’t have time to practice and get good. That and I don’t have the reflexes of a thirteen year old anymore. Or an eighteen year old. Or twenty five. Or thirty. Or… well, you get the point.

I even had a decent sales day that day, selling over sixty books. The next day that same guy emailed me asking what book I’d recommend as a starter. That’s a tough question and it required a very long email in response. I saved it though, because I get asked that fairly often. In fact, I’m going to post it as a blog sometime soon. Ironically enough, another person on a message board from the same game ran into me in the game the next day and said he’d read my profile and checked me out. He was impressed with all the books and good reviews / comments on them. Back to back confirmation, how cool is that?

But a clap on the back doesn’t pay the bills, and that became apparent when yesterday turned out to be my worst sales day since early 2012. Not sure what the deal is with that, but I really hope it doesn’t happen again! My response is to keep writing like crazy and get as much going as I can. My books are languishing a bit at the moment while I’m helping my wife with her new paranormal romance serial novel (Claimed by the Beast). We’re on part four of many (5, 6, or 7) right now, but I may take a break from helping and work on a new Voidhawk or Vitalis book next.

But back to the original point – my minor celebrity moment tickled my all night and into the next day. Very cool stuff, I have to say, but like I mentioned above, praise and recognition doesn’t pay the bills. Remember that, my writing friends. Hard work and dedication is what it takes to succeed and make a change.


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


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