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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Everybody’s Got a Favorite

I’ve lost track of the times somebody’s asked me to pick my favorite book. My books, for the record, not books in general. They want to know what to read first, next, or down the road. That’s when I struggle – do I give them my favorite or what I think they will like? I write so many different kinds of books it can get difficult, fast!

I had another conversation like this the other day and it got me thinking about how my personal favorites get a lot less attention than my other books do. That doesn’t mean I don’t really like the other ones, it’s just that I have a couple that seem extra fun to me. Like Human Nature, a stand-alone book that explores the survival of the human race after a near extinction level event.

Or my Dark Earth series. That one gets some interest, but not much. It starts out exploring a young girl with an amazing talent – so amazing people want to kill her rather than let her explore its potential. The two sequels, if possible, I enjoy even more (Devil’s Icebox and Soul Mates).

More recently I wrote a detective novel call When the Cookie Crumbles. I can count on one hand the number of sales I’ve had. It’s a great book with some awesome characters – but it gets no love, press, or notice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all my books and recommend all of them, it’s just funny how the ones that leave some of the strongest impressions for me don’t do as well in the marketplace. I just wrote another one that should be released very soon, it’s called Transcendent and ties together a lot of popular concepts, from a dystopian society to tragic young love and some very exciting action scenes. I’m expecting a series out of this one, and I have to say that it was another one that left a very strong impact on me.

And then there’s my current project, which is a paranormal romance. Definitely not something in my regular bag of tricks but you know what, I’m finding that I’m surprising myself with how much fun it is to write it. My intention is to turn this into a serial novel with 4 – 6 parts. I’m nearly finished with part 1, but I hope to have two completed before I release the first, then I’ll keep chugging away to keep the readers happy. Oh, and I’ll be releasing this one under a pen name.

Why a pen name? Well, my research (and word of mouth from other supports this), books in that style and genre are primarily read by women. Given that the last stats I had showed that 60% of ereaders were owned by women. There are exceptions, but women reading romance (paranormal or otherwise) seem to prefer it when the books are written by women as well. Even though I know of several successful writers in these genres that are men writing under a pen name. So I guess I’ll be borrowing one of my wife’s skirts on release day…

All gender bending aside, if you’re looking for something to read let me suggest again that you check out the books I mentioned above. They’re great lesser known and read books. They have a lot of soul and depth to them. And, darn it, I don’t want to think that what I like is so out of the ordinary nobody else can like it either!

 

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.

Apple Loves Me!

I’ve got an iPhone, an iPad, and an iPad2 (with Retina, which makes it an iPad3, I think?). I have an old iPod in my truck so I can avoid radio chatter and I’m getting my kids iPods so I can go somewhere with them without having to hand over my phone so they can play Baby Princess Stroller Racing or whatever one of the four screens worth of games they’ve begged me to download on it.

In spite of all that, I’ve never been an Apple fan. Steve Jobs, I think, was a touch between evil genius and mad scientist. I admired the heck out of him even if I didn’t care for the simplicity and limited functionality of his company’s products (not taking Pixar into account here). It is a testimony to him that I have so much Apple crap when I’m not an Apple supporter.

But then something happens out of the blue that threatens to shake me to the core. I got an email this morning letting me know that Apple has listed my book (Child of Fate) as one of 23 other sci-fi and fantasy titles that Apple is showcasing in a new promotion called their FIRST IN A SERIES promotion. All told, amongst all the books showcased (fantasy and beyond) there are 80 books listed. I’m mixed in with some impressive names, in my opinion.

So if you like using iBooks and iTunes to get your books, check it out! They awesome part is that Child of Fate (and the other books on this promo) are free! And, at least in my case, they launch an awesome series of great books just begging to be read. I can’t speak for the other books, but I’d be willing to bet that there are some pretty darn good ones there too.

As for me and Apple, well, I guess I’ll give them another chance. Besides, I think the iPhone 6 will be coming out around the time my contract is up and I can upgrade to the next model…

Child of Fate, by Jason Halstead

 

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 Price of Beauty

Our culture puts a premium on aesthetics. Sculpted figures, plucked eyebrows, laser depilliation, and cosmetic surgery. It’s a multi-billion dollar business and it makes a person wonder if it’s all worth it. The great news is, this post has NOTHING to do with any of that!

I’m a writer anxious to find any ethical means possible to sell my books. Part of that means having some outstanding cover art for them. By and large, I’ve surpassed that goal with everything I have. But sometimes there are exceptions to that rule. Exceptions that knock even my personal standards away… but more on that in a moment.

For my 50th title available for sale, I put together my fantasy series, Order of the Dragon. It consists of four books that continue the adventures of the characters in the Blades of Leander trilogy. This comes right after I put out a 4th book in my Wanted series, which meant my trilogy omnibus needed to be updated to a series. More cover art changes!

Willsin Rowe to the rescue! Not only did he make the minor changes to the text for Wanted, but he put into reality some work he’d been dabbling with for 3D style cover art. So now Wanted and the new Order of the Dragon boxed sets show some outstanding cover art! The only problem was the original Blades of Leander omnibus – how could we leave it plain and 2D? Willsin put his creative genius to work and a couple of days later he gave me my answer. A new 3D cover for all 3 of them!

But is a new cover art, no matter how amazing, reason enough to buy the book? Well, if you ask me and if it’s about my books – absolutely! But if not, then consider the great deal getting all of these top rated books at once is. How can you go wrong?

Wanted series boxed set, by Jason Halstead Blades of Leander trilogy, by Jason Halstead Order of the Dragon fantasy omnibus, by Jason Halstead

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’m Hungry

Near the end of January I decided to get back in shape. I never stopped lifting, but it had been a long time since I’d lifted with the kind of dedication to be serious about it. So I got back in and hit the weights religiously. That and some dietary changes (no more soda or junk food, limiting carbs) has me, after about 8 weeks, down from 241.5 to 225 pounds. Cool, right? Well there’s more to it – I’m stronger now than I was then too, including a recent 615lb rack pull and repping 300lbs 4 times while bench pressing.

But I’m not hungry for food. I’m hungry for success. I’m seriously considering competing in power lifting again (dead lift only, my bench is shot after tearing my pec off my arm in 2009 and requiring surgery to reattach it). I’m hungry for success in other venues too though. More on that in a bit.

And that brings me to a different kind of hunger. The Hunger Games (spoiler alert coming). I re-watched HG 1 this weekend and I admit, I enjoyed it more than the lukewarm reception I gave it the first time I saw it in the theater. Then I watched Catching Fire (or as I prefer to call it, the story about a girl with a magical quiver that regenerates arrows in every scene). It’s at this point I have to ask some questions from anyone who read the books: Is Catching Fire really the same story as book 1 like the movie portrays? And does it end without ending?

So I’m disgruntled about The Hunger Games, but it got me thinking about stories and success. I’ve flirted with success with a few of my books (Wanted and Vitalis, in particular), but they never fully took off. I’ve written a lot of books, but I keep finding fun things to write about that end up being niche markets versus mainstream. Granted, I had some great runs in the fantasy genre with some fairly mainstream fantasy books, but I can’t seem to find my way into the really big pond.

But I’m trying. I’ve got a new idea that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s coming together while I finish up Marshall, my 4th Wanted book. I’ve been analyzing what makes traditional stories successful and so far my new idea seems to be hitting all those points. It’s exciting and, I hope, will finally take me to a happy place. So far my books are teasing me with being on the edge of success.

Speaking of books, Devils Rising, book 2 of the Fallen Angels series co-written with J. Knight Bybee, will be out very soon! The other good news is that Marshall will be hot on the heels of it (I’ve got 2 – 3 chapters left to write, then editing and cover art). Then I’ll launch into my new dystopian story that I’m hoping will be a game changer. Wish me luck…or better yet, buy the books and rave about how awesome it is to everyone you know!

 

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.

Cyberpunk or Boy Meets Dragon for the Win

February 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Back in the early 90s I was a huge fan of the roleplaying game, Shadowrun. I dabbled once or twice in a similar game, Cyberpunk, as well. For those that don’t know (and don’t feel bad, I don’t expect many do), both games are near future science fiction that offers a dystopian society with the heroes being people that have learned to merge man and machine. Not quite Terminator-esque, more Robocop.

So what the heck does that have to do with anything? Well, I’ve been hankering lately to dig into something like that. I’ve dabbled in my Lost Girls series and in my Wanted series (which I’m currently writing book 4 on). But I think my next one is going to be something brand new. As in, a brand new series in a setting that has some similarities to it.

I haven’t worked out any details yet, but I’ve been debating if I want to go into a new fantasy series or something new and science fiction. I’m thinking I really want to go for the sci-fi cybernetically enhanced stuff. One or two books there and then perhaps onto the fantasy stuff. I still owe my readers a new Voidhawk book too. Hmm… the ideas are a popping now!

What’s brought this about? Well, as I’ve been talking, I’ve been studying books and sales and all the data I’ve gathered so far (over 10k records now). I’m seeing some impressive numbers in the sci-fi and fantasy lists. Numbers that, dang it, I’d like to hit. I don’t have the marketing or promo savvy to get my name out there worth a darn, nor the money to pay for getting it done. The alternative then is to just write my butt off and get more books out there. Of course a little word of mouth wouldn’t hurt either (wink, wink).

And reviews. How the heck do people have so many !@%^ing reviews on their books? I’ve got a few acquaintances / friends in the fantasy genre that have dozens or reviews or more on their books and they’re doing far better than I am. I know they aren’t buying reviews either, so I have to ask what the heck? Granted, they sell 10 – 20 copies / day than I do of most of their books.

Ah well, I’m grateful for what I get and I’ll keep pushing for more. Couple more days, hopefully by the end of this week, and Guardian (book 5 in the Lost Girls series) will be out. Then before the end of next month I hope to book 4 in the Wanted series out (no title yet).

And I still have a lot of data that’s crunching. Over 10,000 books on file so far. One of these days soon I should be able to make some sort of sense out of it. Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing it (or something else terribly interesting) 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.

 

Who Wants a Guardian Angel?

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

No, I’m not handing any out. I’m afraid I don’t have any to spare. Or any at all, for that matter. Which is ironic, considering the book I just finished the rough draft of. I’m calling it Guardian and the title is applicable for so many different reasons. For example, the main character is a foster parent aka legal guardian of some troubled teens.

There’s also a spirit out of southwestern Native American folklore that serves as a bit of a guardian angel. With a twist. Then there’s a few other spirits that get involved and a few people doing their best to protect others. It’s a mess and before Katalina (the main character) figures out what’s going a lot of people have been hurt and she’s too late to stop what she set out to do.

Guardian is book 5 in The Lost Girls series and it’s in the hands of my editor now. The cover artist is feverishly at work (or he should be when he wakes up). All that means a potential release before the end of the month. And the inevitable…what’s next?

Building on a blog post I released last week, courtesy of feedback from a reader, I have a couple of options. So I tossed the question out on my Facebook fan page to help me decide which direction to go. I won’t say the response was overwhelming but it was probably the biggest feedback I’ve had on a post so far. The result? Carl Waters, reluctant hero of the Wanted series, is strapping his boots back on and taking a stroll in the near future mildly scorched earth setting.

Carl is a US Marshall these days thanks to some contacts he acquired both in the private sector and their affiliations with the government. His wife, Jessie, has revitalized her acting career. Allison, their adopted daughter, may or may not play a role in the story. She’s turned to technology ever since Carl rescued her from the streets of Houston and demanded she learn to read.

What about the rest of the cast? Tanya, Sarah, and any past players? All to be determined. I’ve got a lot of scattered thoughts that I need to pull together on this one. It’s going to touch on Carl’s new career as well as bring in enough from the prior storylines to continue the series.

What was the other option? A new Voidhawk book that brings some or all of the crew to the world of Kroth. Kroth, for those unfamiliar with the name, is the world that my Blades of Leander and Order of the Dragon series take place on. If I remember correctly the Voidhawk’s crew slipped away from the City at the Edge of Forever with a certain something that belonged to someone very powerful. The very same being that played a part in the formation of Kroth. The really cool part – my subconscious planned all that out without even letting me know! I’m devious and I don’t even know 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.

My Baby Grew Up

January 10, 2014 Leave a comment

In later 2012 Jason Halstead (that’s me) wrote and published a fantasy book called Child of Fate. Since I am Jason Halstead, I’ll stop talking about myself in third person – it’s creepy. Child of Fate came out of nowhere for me and was honestly little more than an experiment at first. An experiment I hoped would do well because I had a lot of ideas of where to go with it.

By March I was selling hundreds of copies in a month. Yes, hundreds. It was amazing. I quickly wrote book 2, Victim of Fate, and then followed it up with Silver Dragon to cap off the Blades of Leander trilogy. People wanted more though, so I began a second series called the Order of the Dragon and it grew to four books (all available now).

What’s it about? A group of young adults, kids still by modern standards, that are forced to grow up fast by their environments. Marauding monsters, international plots and intrigue, and behind it all a menacing threat with an agenda that goes far beyond the dreams of farm boys and princesses.

Child of Fate is still flying off the virtual shelves these days, but what has me really excited is that after almost a year of working on it, the audiobook version is complete and available!

Now I’ve done audiobooks before. In fact I think I have five others out and more that are being worked on presently. Child of Fate isn’t like any of those. It’s not that it has some special sentimental place in my heart or anything, it’s just a game changing book. I have to credit the narrator for that, Sean Wybrant. Sean did things with his voice for each character that made me laugh or gasp in amazement. Then when that wasn’t enough (there are some talking fantasy monsters involved), he turned on the special effects and made them even more amazing. He blew me away, and his performance forced me to offer him the second book in the series.

So if you’re in the mood to listen to an epic fantasy story told with such variety and skill that you can close your eyes and feel like you’re there, please check it out. Just don’t try that if you’re listening to it while driving (the closing your eyes bit). I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

Child of Fate, by Jason Halstead

Amazon

Audible

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.

 

Weak, Boring, Spineless Women

January 7, 2014 2 comments

I watched a movie recently called Prisoners. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in it, as well as a handful of other people who are largely forgettable. In spite of that, it was a really good movie and I thought Jackman did a great job in it. I was hoping a few times that he’d pop the Wolverine claws and tear some people up… but such was not to be.

The problem with the movie was Jackman’s wife. Mrs. Dover (I don’t remember the actress or the character’s name). She was forgettable because she was a nobody. A pretty lump of flesh that existed solely for the sake of the story and to round out Mr. Dover (Jackman).

The premise of the movie is that his kid gets kidnapped. He goes crazy and does some things to try and get her back that seem extreme to our refined sensibilities – but at the same time they strike me as the kind of thing any man would, or should, do in the same situation. What does the mother do during all this? She pops a lot of pills and remains largely catatonic. In one of her only memorable scenes she pushes everybody away and says, “I just want to sleep.”

Really? You’re kid has been kidnapped and you have no idea if she’s being molested, tortured, or already lying dead somewhere while the wild animals tear at her lifeless body. So all you want to do is sleep? If there are any people out there like that, man or woman, I don’t want to know them.

I’m a fighter and so are the people I like to surround myself with. Those are the interesting people. The people that make things happen. And those are the people I write about. I think Prisoners was a good movie, but I attributed a lot of weak characters and loose ends to an adaptation from a book that they just didn’t have time for (it was already over 2:30 hours!). I was wrong, it was just a movie with no book.

What would I change? I’d get Mrs. Dover out of bed! I’d get her doing something with herself. Drive around. Hell, even the cowardly neighbors (husband and wife) that lose their kid contribute to a certain degree. But the woman that should be up in arms and walking through the streets and forests – she’s sleeping it off.

Watch the movie, I highly recommend it. And when you’re done and your aching for some women with a spine and the ability to think and feel, go check out one of my books. You’re guaranteed to find some feisty ladies in any of them, but the latest books climbing up the hcarts at Amazon are my Vitalis series! Or if you’re more about listening I’ve got a brand new audiobook out that knocked my socks off when I heard it. The narrator is well and truly outstanding with all the voices he does and how well he reads it. Child of Fate, a fantasy novel where the men are manly, the women are strong, and the monsters sound and act like real monsters.

 

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.

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