Thursday, February 28, 2013

Author Interview - Jason Halstead

Let's welcome this month's Author Interview with Jason Halstead, author of the Dark Earth series, Wanted series, Voidhawk series, Vitalis series, The Lost Girl series, Bound, Sex Sells, Voices, Human Nature, and most recently, the Blades of Leander series.

1)      What were your favorite books growing up?
Terry Brook started it for me with The Sword of Shannara. Then some cheesy young adult book called The TV Kid. Lots of Hardy Boys mysteries and eventually I found Dragonlance (blah, but I didn't know any better at the time), The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, the Simarillion, R.A. Salvatore, and just about anything I could get my hands on that was fantasy related (even some Stephen King).
2)      Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self?
Stop being such a wuss! the world doesn't owe you a damn thing, if you want something, go out and find a way to earn it.
3)      Describe your typical day.
I wake up too early after having gone to bed too late. Obligatory morning rituals lead to whatever healthy breakfast option I feel like while I check email and book sales. Then I go to work where I rant and rave over the incredible inefficiencies I find working for the U.S. Army (as a civilian, I left my uniform days behind me years ago).
When the ranting is over and I come home I check on email and books again, then depending on the events of the evening and how everyone's feeling, I try to get some writing in. Usually I can weasel in an hour or maybe two a day, though I've sneaked in more in the past at times. This requires juggling dinner and homework for the kids as well, so it's not a constant write-on situation.
After the kids go to bed is when the real fun begins. Five out of Seven days my wife and I rush upstairs and change into our superhero costumes, then we go down to the basement and she mounts her treadmill while I pile up as many weights as I can on some bars and proceed to pick them up, then put them down. Then I pick them up again and put them back down. This continues ad nauseum until my wife is done treadmilling and ready to hit the weights. Then I train her until she's swearing at me. That's when we both know we've done a good job! It's off to the jacuzzi tub after that and then bed.
Anything else that happens between that tub and bed is, well, none of your business. ;-)

4)      Who is your favorite character in your books?
That's a terrible question to ask! But that's okay, I don't mind. The voices aren't real anyhow, right? Right? RIGHT?
I have a lot of books and every one of them has characters I love in them. My absolute favorite characters though...hmm, that's trickier. Carl Waters, from my Wanted series, is the kind of uncompromising son of a bitch we all wish we could be 24 / 7.
Katalina Wimple, from my Lost Girls series, is a wreck of a woman trying to put her life together but she just keep screwing it up over and over again. In spite of her suicidal tendencies she's the kind of character that gets under your skin because she is so irritable and unpleasant. Before I knew it I'd fallen in love with her and wanted to protect her. She had other ideas, unfortunately...
I've got a new fantasy series called the Blades of Leander with a new fun character. His name's Alto. He's a farm boy turned warrior that takes on a lot more than he ever realized when he left the farm. His path of self discovery and, (eventually) vengeance is three books of nonstop excitement and adventure. I can't wait to write the next book about him and his companions as they get themselves wrapped up in something else way over their heads!
My longest series yet, Voidhawk, has a lot of memorable characters in it too. I've gone through a lot with them over the past few years and I have to say that Dexter and Rosh are probably the two strongest in those books. That's no slight to the many others that are involved in the books though, it's just that those two always seem to be at the center of things when something goes wrong!
The final character shout out I have to give is for a woman that only shows up in two books, yet she's responsible in part for shaping a world. Cassiopeia Nelson, a witch from my Dark Earth series (Devil's Advocate and the soon to be released Soulmates). She's a living and breathing (okay, and fictional) example of how people can learn how growing up in a different culture can make the difference in life and death.
5)      What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable?
I don't let it. No, really, that's all there is to it. I write every day as long as circumstances grant me the time to do so. When I sit down to write, I write. That's all there is to it. There is no such thing as writer's block, it's all in your head.
6)      Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost?
There's no room in my life for reality!
7)      What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)?
I'm not sure. It was either a fantasy story loosely based on a gaming session (role playing - Dungeons and Dragons) dedicated to my best friend at the time of a car accident that left him critically injured and, 16 years later, dead. Or it might have been a bit of Battletech fan fiction that is long since gone and buried (for good reason). Those were stories written in my late teens, when I KNEW how to write a great story.
8)      Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing?
Yes I did. My first five or so books were traditionally published after a handful or so of rejections. I was disgruntled with the system so I started up my own pub company with a friend to help ourselves and other new writers out. That makes me technically self-published and I haven't looked back since.
9)      What Works In Progress are brewing?  Any target dates for publication?
Soulmates, book 3 in the Dark Earth series, is in the editing stages. I'm hoping to have it on the virtual shelves by mid March. A fun bit of trivia about Soulmates is that it is a full length novel and it only took me 8 days to write it.
My 6th Voidhawk novel, working title: Voidhawk - The Edge of Forever, is my current project. I'm about 21,000 words into it and I've got a long ways to go. I'm predicting this one will take me 3 - 4 weeks to write, but I still hope very much to hit a mid to late April launch date with it.
What's next? I don't know. I may revisit my Vitalis series with a third novel or I might answer the horns of war I hear blowing in Alto's world. Or I could branch out into a couple of other ideas I've had that have really piqued my interest. At this point it's anybody's game. I even found a manuscript I wrote a couple of years ago and forgot about that I may dust off and try to have some fun with.
10)   How can fans reach you?  Website – Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn – Email – Amazon Author Page
All of the above! My links are below but I love hearing back from people. I probably respond the best and quickest to email and Twitter, but it's awesome for many reasons to get great reviews and hear people on my Facebook page.
Twitter: @booksbyjason

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Staff Member at The Atwater Group

It is with great pleasure that I announce a new staff member at The Atwater Group.  After thinking and searching, I think I have found the perfect match for the job description.

1) Must be willing to be available all hours of day and night.
2) Must be willing to support management.
3) Must be willing to take direction.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Dudley, the new assistant:

His main duties are to make sure I take breaks (keep eye strain to a minimum), get exercise (those frequent walks to check the mail or the scent of a squirrel or a quick potty break are good for me!), and snuggle up when I am done for the day!

Dudley's been with us for a week now and is settling in fine from the shelter.  He's still not too thrilled with the noise the printer makes, but he's got a comfy pillow upstairs in the office to keep me on my toes:

Now, back to work!  I have some great manuscripts to get back to!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Searching for Eggcorns

Today's Word.A.Day email explained what "Eggcorn" is.  (You do get Word.A.Day, right?  It's a great resource, if you haven't heard me say so here or here or here). 

noun: An erroneous alteration of a word or phrase, by replacing an original word with a similar sounding word, such that the new word or phrase also makes a kind of sense.
For example: "ex-patriot" instead of "expatriate" and "mating name" instead of "maiden name".

Coined by linguist Geoffrey Pullum (b. 1945) in 2003. From the substitution of the word acorn with eggcorn. Earliest documented use as a name for this phenomenon is from 2003, though the term eggcorn has been found going back as far as 1844, as "egg corn bread" for "acorn bread".

"Will eggcorns continue to hatch? This is a moot point (or is that mute?). Yet certainly anyone waiting with 'baited' (bated) breath for 'whole scale' (wholesale) changes may need to wait a while."
Bill & Rich Sones; If Elevator Falls, Don't Jump to Conclusions; Salt Lake Telegram (Utah); Jul 3, 2008.

I even found a list of Eggcorns here. Looking it over, I can identify several I have seen in some manuscripts:
  • Cadillac converter see catalytic » Cadillac
  • clique » click 
  • cue » queue
  • deep-seeded see seat » seed
  • do diligence see due » do
  • flout » flaunt
  • overdue » overdo 
  • sort after see sought » sort
  • take another tact see tack » tact
So, what can you do to be aware of eggcorns in your manuscript?  Take a look at the list, familiarize yourself with some of the common ones.  Or, hire me!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Who's That?

I've been seeing a trend lately.  And I can admit I have fallen prey to it as well.

When referring to people, use "who."
When referring to objects, things, or non-people, use "that."

The magician who started the show is known as an illusionist.
The illusion that made him famous was the apparent disappearance of the world's tallest hotel. 

When all else fails, remember - Who Are You?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Buried Deep

It feels like forever since my last post.  And, not counting this month's Author Interview (check it out here), it's been almost a month since my last post.   It's not just the blog that's suffered.  I haven't been posting much on Twitter (@FaithProofing, in case you aren't following me) or Facebook.

Where have I been, you may wonder (or maybe you didn't even notice).

I have been in Las Vegas for two weeks:

We drove from Las Vegas

to sneak in a quick weekend in Laguna Beach:

I came home to Connecticut and that's when the real trouble started.  I was a bit behind (living in a hotel for two weeks is NOT conducive to productivity; a hotel room for two weeks in Las Vegas is even worse!) but I had a handle on things.

Then I started hearing rumblings about some snow.  Then "some snow" turned into "a lot of snow."  Which turned into the "Blizzard of 2013."

Now, I live in an interior lot.  For those of you not familiar with the term, it means I have a LONG driveway and people live in front of me.  In my particular case, they live in the front and to the side of me, but I still have that long driveway. Which means that when thirty-six inches (that's three FEET of SNOW) falls OVERNIGHT, I have quite a bit of snow on my hands (as did everyone else in town - it's not like it just fell on my property!).

And of course, the Hubby was away.  Again.  (I'm not sure how it is that he plans to be away when natural disasters strike, but he's good at it!)

So, this is what I woke up to last Saturday.

I've been spending my time removing that snow and then recovering from removing that snow.  The Hubby did get home on Sunday, so we've been working together on that little project.  And thank goodness for our plow guy.  We just found him this year and if we hadn't, we would have been in serious trouble!

But I'm just about recovered from the first few months of the year and will be getting back to posting (everywhere!) in the next week or so.  I apologize if you've missed me...but never fear: I'll be back! (Just as soon as this dang snow melts!)