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Posts Tagged ‘detective’

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

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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 You Least Expect It

February 7, 2014 Leave a comment

When something comes out of nowhere and hits hard enough to cause a grunt it’s usually a bad thing. A car running a red light or a bad visit to a doctor, for example. But sometimes it’s not so bad. That happened to me last night when I received some feedback from a reader who asked a couple of harmless questions.

I’m not going to share what those questions are. Not out of wanting to protect the reader, but because it might lead to a spoiler I don’t want to divulge yet. The questions were harmless but they provoked what has been said to be the most powerful weapon in the history of mankind: ideas.

So I’ve pulled together some thoughts that have been percolating and I’ve got two new ideas after  I finish my current project (Guardian, book 5 in the Lost Girls series). The first involves touching two series together, briefly, for some previously unimagined fun. I’ll be building off a few things in previous books in both series to bring them together for some epic excitement.

The other idea more or less morphed out nowhere because I was in the right creative mindset. I’ve been contemplating breaking Carl Waters, from my Wanted series, out into a new book or two that explored his adventures as a US Marshal. For those unfamiliar, Wanted takes place in the very near future after global economic meltdowns help to incite terrorism to nuclear levels both at home and abroad. Los Angeles and Las Vegas, among other major cities, have been targets of dirty bombs (low grade nuclear explosions that cause less kinetic damage but leave longer lasting radiation behind to poison the ground and water for years).

So I’m thinking of how to turn some of Carl’s exploits into a book and I keep coming up with ideas that involve previous characters from the Wanted books. Then it occurred to me: hey, what you’ve got yourself is another Wanted book in the making!

So here I am, excited about two potential new books and not sure which way to lean when I finish my current one. Not to worry though, I’ll figure it out and be slapping the keyboard in no time. First I have to finish Guardian though, but I’m only a week or so away from the end and it’s really shaping into another excellent installment in the life of detective turned captain Katalina Wimple. And the amazing part is that so far she’s escaped being hospitalized or even injured. Her friends and family, on the other hand, are not faring nearly so well. The villain’s closing in on her and he’s got a hunger for pain and violence that he thinks only killing her will sate.

 

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.

Who Wants a Cookie?

December 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Up until now I’ve been happy to say that there are only two types of cookie I like: warm or cold. With the holiday season upon us that kind of puts me in my element. Unfortunately, it means extra time in the gym because those cookies come at a price!

As of today my answer to that question got a little more complicated. Today it turns out I really like blond Cookies. What? Yes, blond, smiling, fit, trim, and all those things that make people hate women who can pull off the bimbo look. Her parents named her Cookie, after all, what did they really expect?

Why we hate bimbos is subject for another therapy session involving a couch and expensive hourly rate. In this case my job was to present Cookie and make her more than that. She’s smart, if naive, and she’s open, caring, and honest. She’s not mean and she’s not out to steal anybody’s man. She just wants to find somebody who cares about her. Someone who cares as much as she does for the people in her life.

Take her sister, for example. Her sister, Devin, loves her and admires her, but she’s jealous as hell too. Why did Cookie get all the luck and the good looks in the family? And why does Cookie keep calling and checking up on her and always getting in her business wanting to know what’s going on? Then, when she can’t be bothered by Cookie anymore, when her choices and rebellious ways have landed her in serious trouble, why isn’t Cookie there to help her?

Cookie’s more than a lifeline for a troubled young lady. She’s gone out of her way to try and help her sister but no one will help her. No one wants anything to do with the kind of trouble she’s landed in. No one except someone so down on himself that he figures he’s got nothing to lose. Besides that, spending time around Cookie would be reason enough for Mark Cohen as long as he can make sure his ex-wife finds out.

Since Cookie’s willing to do anything she can to help her sister out the unlikely alliance of an uptown girl with a PI that gets most of his cases from the gutters just might work out. If they can figure out how to get Devin away from the dark side of Detroit’s underworld.

And who knows, maybe Cookie can help Mark learn a few things to make his life worth living again too.

That’s a mile high view of When the Cookie Crumbles, my newest book. It’s pure detective / mystery fiction. No fantasy, no sci-fi. Just modern everyday drama and intrigue. I’ve been told there’s just the right mix of mystery, sexy, and action to make it a really fun read. I know I had an absolute blast writing it (I did the rough draft in 10 days if that tells you anything). I had so much fun, in fact, that I’m planning a series based on what happens in book 1. The name of the series? Cookie Cutters.

Yes, I know, that’s cheesy, but it’s fun too. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed!

Cookie Crumbles Blue_200

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iTunes (coming soon)

Sony (coming soon)

Kobo (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.

Winning Doesn’t Matter

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment

My old contract at my day job ended on November 13th. Amidst a crazy amount of interviews, squeezing in time to set in the woods and shoot at deer, and attend some family activities I also managed to start, write, and finish a new book. Yesterday I even set a personal record by writing 12,500 words. All told the new book took me about 10 days to write. Not my best but still impressive (I wrote Bound in 8 days earlier this year). The new book, by the way, is called When the Cookie Crumbles and it’s a modern detective / mystery bit of fiction. Depending on whether it’s received as well as I hope it is, it may be the first book in a series entitled Cookie Cutters. No, the book doesn’t go on at length about baking but it does possess a very unique and fun character as a co-star named Cookie.

I consider When the Cookie Crumbles a win for many reasons – it kept me busy in the week and a half before my new day job starts. It helped me get another book out. It allowed me expand into pure modern detective / mystery fiction. I got to dive into some new and very cool characters with some quirks unlike any I’ve every explored or written about before. Oh, and it allowed me unofficially give NaNoWriMo the finger.

For those of you wondering what NaNoWriMo is, it’s not just a word created to challenge conventional rules of capitalization. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, or something like that. It’s a contest created a few years back by somebody who felt they needed to motivate themselves to dedicate a month that’s already chocked full of stuff with writing a complete book, start to finish. The book has to be 50,000 words or more to satisfy the challenge requirements.

Whoever this writer was, it spread like wildfire through the writing community and now tons of writers are doing it. I remember thinking a few years ago, “Holy crap, write a book in a month?! No way!” At that time I’d written Dark Earth in 8 – 10 weeks and that seemed like a Herculean effort on my part.

But then sometime around the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012 I realized I could stop holding myself back. I started writing faster and faster. Not the kind of writing that gets cut and tossed on the editing room floor. Real words that stuck with the story. I refined and improved and began cranking out a book a month and I stuck with it. I’m still sticking with it – or in the case of this last week, I’m doing it a lot faster.

So, to all the people who are stressing about writing a 50,000 word novel in a month let me say this: I just wrote a 60,000 word novel in 10 days and before that I wrote Dragonlady, a 67,000 word book that required about 90% of the content being written in November. Oh yeah! I also worked with my co-writer on another novel called Devil’s Island to finish that up this month. We churned out at least 25,000 words this month too between the two of us. That’s two and a half books and well over 100,000 words in the first three weeks of November. It can be done and you can do it. Now stop making excuses and write your ass off.

What’s next? Well I start the new day job on Monday but that doesn’t mean I’m taking a break from writing. Even if I think I’ve pretty well won the NaNoWriMo challenge (even though I didn’t officially sign up to participate), I plan to get started on my next Vitalis book right away. Maybe even later today. There are characters with stories to tell and nightmares to fight – how dare I consider not pushing ahead to help them (or put them out of their misery) as soon as I can?

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.

Sometimes Things Go Right

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Regular blog readers will know that my day job ended last Wednesday. It’s was an amiable ending – my contract was up and in spite of it being a contract to hire position, the corporate budget shifted and they decided to turn away all their existing contractors instead of hiring / renewing / extending them. Bummer, it was a great place to be.

So I spent that last three or four weeks job hunting and wow was it crazy. There were days where I had to work in up to four interviews a day, especially last week. I’d narrowed it down to a couple of places that really had me interested and I’d also turned down a couple of offers from places that didn’t appeal to me. Finally on Friday one of my top 3 came to the table with an offer that I took.

Not only is it a cool place to work, the products they make are industry leading and I get to play a part in that as a senior developer / agile team leader. What’s more, this job finally helps me attain a goal I’ve had salary-wise for as long as I can remember. As is often the case with hitting goals, it seems a lot less exciting to be here than it was on the other side. Doesn’t mean I’m unappreciative of it though!

On top of that I released Dragonlady, book four in my Order of the Dragon fantasy series on Friday. That capped the series and tied up most of the loose ends. Most… there are still so many adventures and development left in those characters I’m sure I’ll write another series about them down the road a bit.

So that was Friday, two job offers (one I took, the other I turned down and then turned down again when they tried again). Saturday I went to my brother’s to go deer hunting. Turns out that was a pretty good day too – I got two deer that morning. The day job paychecks will keep coming and there’s venison bound for the table (trying out some venison brats too, plus you can’t go wrong with venison summer sausage). Now the only problem is the new job doesn’t start until the 25th of November… what’s a writer with all that free time to do?

This is where I thumb my nose at NaNoWriMo. I vowed I wouldn’t take part in it because writing a book in a month is status quo for me. There’s no challenge there. Well, I decided to up the ante now that I’ve got a week without a day job to keep me preoccupied. I already wrote the majority of a book this month and released it (Dragonlady), so now I’m going to try and finish the new detective / mystery novel I started this week. I’m about 10k into it and the NaNo folks are calling for 50k words in a month. Puh-lease.

This blog post was intended to get me warmed up and my fingers are tingling (might be carpal tunnel / lack of circulation though). Time for PI Mark Cohen dive into the seedy underworld of Detroit and figure out what happened to Cookie’s sister after her boyfriend turned up in a dumpster just off 8 Mile with a bullet in his head.

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.

I Was Worried

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

I started a new story the other day and it’s a bit out of the ordinary for me. It’s fiction and it’s a detective style novel. I’ve dabbled in both I guess, but this time there’s no science fiction, no fantasy, and no paranormal. No anything out of the ordinary. Its…mainstream!

I know, weird. But that’s the funny part, I’m two solid chapters into it so far and I’m really liking the characters and where / how it’s going. Regular readers of this blog might remember me mentioning a character concept I had for a woman named Cookie. Well, Cookie’s one of the two main characters in this book. And so far she’s proving to be a lot of fun! Yes, she’s coming across a bimbo, but the other main character, Mark Cohen, is learning there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.

So what’s the story? Well, Detective Cohen (private investigator style), is dealing with the mistakes of his past, including an ex wife and a daughter that wants nothing to do with him when Cookie walks in and needs help. Her sister is in trouble, she says. Trouble that came about from spending too much time with her boyfriend who got into trouble with drugs and who knows what else. Now Devin, Cookie’s sister, is missing too. Mark’s got to figure out what happened to her and if he can help her out – and if he can, if he’s willing to risk what it’s going to take to do him.

Still working on a title for the book and the series. I was considering “Cookie Cutter” for one or the other… cheesy in the extreme but then again, so am I!

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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