Symbols – Another New Release!

August 19, 2016 2 comments

Symbols_Small

I mentioned it before, but it happened faster than I expected. Beautiful cover art, thanks to Willsin Rowe, and it’s ready to roll out. Due to my ongoing frustrations with Amazon, Symbols is available everywhere in e-book format.

So what is Symbols? It’s not like my other books, for starters. Symbols is the inspiration I received while camping with my family in Silver Lake, Michigan. The area is beautiful and a lot of fun, and it quickly brought to mind a new story idea thanks to the shifting sands of the sands dunes there. Symbols is a supernatural thriller / horror story with a few scenes intended for mature audiences only (so if you’re under 18 don’t read this book. Or don’t tell me or your parents you read it, if you just can’t stop yourself because it’s just too awesome to pass up).

At first glance it seems like a pretty typical story line – unsuspecting hero finds a cursed treasure. The thing is, I never considered that trope at all while writing it. Not only that, but I twist things around so much in this story that there’s a whole lot more depth to it than it has any right to contain. As a matter of fact, while I was rereading it and doing my final content edit I noticed two things – first: I was caught up in it again and not paying attention to what I should be focusing on (changes that needed to be made) and second: how deep and well done it was. Yes, that’s right, I patted myself on the back. Hey, I’m biased, what can I say?

I’ll include the blurb for a bit more of a teaser, and you’ve already seen the cover. Finally the links where it’s available at (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and the list goes on.).

 

Alan is a man in need. Forty years old with a wife and two kids, he’d resigned himself to a life of middle class mediocrity. His only escape was the adventures he’d take hoping to learn and experience something – anything – new.

The Silver Lake sand dunes gave him that opportunity. A twist of fate led him to a treasure buried for hundreds of years beneath the shifting sands. A treasure that he can’t turn away from. A treasure that is guarded by powers beyond his understanding.

Alan’s life isn’t the only one at risk. His family has already been changed and soon the rest of the world will suffer. Setting things right means more than embracing the darkness hunting him and fighting back, it means defeating a being as old as human civilization itself.

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Everyone Else

 

What’s next? Well, I’m back working on my 9th Voidhawk book. I’m either going to call it Voidhawk – Queen of Spiders, or Voidhawk – Spider Queen. I encourage feedback on either title – so don’t hesitate to reach out and tell me which one you like more!

 

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 Grab Bag – and Why Facebook Disappoints

First off, the clickbait explained – Facebook. For any content provider (or at least for us writers), Facebook has become less and less useful. Oh sure, some might argue Facebook ads bring in lots of sales for them. Good for you – I haven’t seen it. I’ve tried, believe me. I’ve spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars on Facebook ads, but the return wasn’t as much as I invested. That’s bad business (for me, not for Facebook).

But the ads are only one reason Facebook leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It’s all the content I’m missing from people I elected to be my friends. That’s what irks me. That, and the pages I’ve liked that I don’t see updates from because I didn’t drill down into the menus on their page and notify Facebook that yes, I really do want to see their content. Didn’t I already do that when I clicked “like?” Stupid Facebook.

So, that segues into the reason for this blog post. Not to bitch about Facebook, but as means of me (hopefully) blogging more. Instead of posting updates only on my Facebook page, I’ll post them here on my blog. The blog posts go to Facebook (for now – I’m sure they’ll try to limit or monetize that in the future too), my website, my Twitter feed, and my blog (who knew?). Hopefully this way I can reach the extra people who are missing out on Facebook, even if it ends up being only a handful.

This wouldn’t be much of an update if that’s all I shared though, now would it? How about I share the three books that were just released under Dawn Michelle’s name (I’m on the books as an author now too). Claimed by the Dragon King (rewritten from the original release in a winter anthology), Flight of the Dragon King, and Defending the Dragon King. My wife and I teamed up on those books (part of an ongoing series called The Continuum) creatively, so I earned partial credit. They were released last week and are available all over the place (see below for links).

I also JUST clicked the submit button on my latest project, a book called Symbols inspired by my recent vacation in Silver Lake. It’s a bit different from what I usually do – this is a supernatural thriller / horror story. I admit, I was worried I’d lost my way at one point, but then everything came in together for a beautiful ending that I’m still thrilled about. Then again, it’s not uncommon (for me, at least) to start to wonder if I can really pull together everything I’ve been working on in a book and bring it to a proper close. No links for that one yet, but hopefully tomorrow I can share them.

So, until I get around to that, go check out The Continuum books!

 

Claimed by the Dragon King Flight of the Dragon King Defending the Dragon King
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Amazon UK
Everyone Else
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Amazon UK
Everyone Else
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Everyone Else

 

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.

Sailing the Stars in Exclusivity

Voidhawk, by Jason Halstead

Today’s blog title is a bit of a play on words. While sailing the stars is a bit of an allusion that could be used for any starship or space travel, I mean it literally. As in using a solar sail, of sorts, to ply the solar winds and travel from star to star and world to world. Using modern science (or even future science, perhaps), it’s a viable means of transportation, but slow. Using fantasy, it opens up all sorts of possibilities!

So, since I abhor reality and enjoy escaping into my imagination, I’m talking about Voidhawk. Voidhawk is the name of the series and of the wooden ship that sails through the void (space) under the command of Dexter Silvercloud. He’s part scoundrel and part knight, among many other things. The Voidhawk is a ship that has been through a lot since he found it and rebuilt it. They’ve faced off against Elven Armadas, chased demons, travelled outside the void to a place without time, and hunted dragons that could not be killed. And they’ve paid the price for their boldness many times over. But they keep doing it.

The exclusivity? Well, that’s because I just put my entire Voidhawk series into KDP Select, which means it’s available on Kindle Unlimited. It’s exclusive because that means, for the ebooks, at least, I cannot sell them anywhere other than Amazon for the next 3 months. Since they weren’t selling anywhere but Amazon for the past several months, I figure this isn’t much of a sacrifice.

Better yet though is the news that Voidhawk, the first book in the series, is free on Amazon today (8/3) and tomorrow (8/4)! Then it goes back to its regular price of $0.99. Or, if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can read all 8 books in the series without paying a dime.

As for 8 books in the series, I’m working on book number 9 right now, although I have to finish up another one first, I hope to have that out of the way very quickly.

Oh, and lest I forget, Voidhawk becomes intertwined with another fantasy setting I have, the World of Kroth. The Blades of Leander trilogy (Child of Fate, Victim of Fate, and Silver Dragon) is already part of Kindle Unlimited. The next series, Order of the Dragon (4 books in that one), is not in KU yet. Nor is The Serpent’s War trilogy a part of it (and for the record, I haven’t written the 3rd book in that trilogy yet either). Voidhawk and Kroth cross paths in Voidhawk #7 (Broken Shards), Voidhawk #8 (Fallen Goddess), and soon to be in Voidhawk #9 (untitled). As for the World of Kroth books, the action happens between the end of Order of the Dragon and the beginning of The Serpent’s War, although there should be some interaction in the upcoming 3rd book in the Serpent’s War trilogy.

Phew, if that was confusing to you as a reader, imagine how tricky it is for me, the author, to keep it all together! Don’t worry though, I’ll take on the burden of keeping it straight. All you have to do is enjoy the books – and don’t forget to snag Voidhawk while it’s free.

 

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.

 

Back to Books

Back to writing about books! Any fellow writers out there know that book sales have crapped the bed across the board. Anybody who says they aren’t is lying – or they’d better have evidence to back it up they’re willing to present. In spite of that, a fellow fantasy author and a hell of a guy named Michael Mathias just recently sold his one millionth book. That, I think is one hell of a milestone. A milestone I hope one day to reach, although at the rate things are going that might take a lot longer than I expected.

Amidst congratulating him on his success he admitted that book sales were down for him too, but KU was keeping him going. KU (Kindle Unlimited), which I’ve blogged about in the past, is a system where people pay $9.95 a month and get access to pretty much any book in the KU catalog at no additional cost. I think there’s a tie in to Amazon Prime Members too, but I forget exactly what it is.

My past blogs have discussed how I’ve been shying away from KU after trying it out here and there. The price per word paid to authors keeps going down and I felt I made more by going abroad with my books. You see, to be in KU a book has to be exclusive to Amazon (in digital format). I ran my tests and did my research and it seemed to me I could make 30% – 50% of my net royalties off of non-Amazon retailers if I could get my books out to said retailers, whereas leaving them exclusive to Amazon did not earn me enough extra money to offset the loss on other sales channels.

After talking to Mike, it occurred to me that I might need to look at things again.

About the same time I got an email from Smashwords. Smashwords distributes books enrolled to them to other sales outlets (iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.). I used to put all my books through them as well as Amazon direct. Then Draft2Digital came along and I tried them out – much easier, faster, and a far better system. I highly recommend and praise D2D. Smashwords… not so much. Especially after I received an email from them letting me know that several of my books that had been in their premium catalog and doing just fine for years were suddenly no longer eligible because the covers weren’t sized properly.

What. The. ****.

Those two unrelated events came together and made me decide to try another experiment. My fantasy trilogy, Blades of Leander, had once been incredible popular. They were stories in a knights, wizards, and dragons kind of setting. Typical fantasy fare with my spin on things that put the characters first. Anyhow, they did awesome a couple of years ago but then they dropped off the charts. Dropped off as in now they are practically non-existent on said charts. When it comes to non-Amazon outlets, they were completely non-existent.

Well, Child of Fate, Victim of Fate, and Silver Dragon are now exclusive to Amazon and available to KU members at no cost! Not only that, but Child of Fate is free as of this morning and tomorrow to anyone on Amazon that wants to grab it.

I’m switching more things over too in the near future, so keep checking to see what comes up on special next!

 

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 Not-So-Good Kind of Hurt

First a warning, this post is about something I like and most people don’t – exercise. Lifting weights, in particular. If fitness isn’t your thing, no harm done. You may move along with no guilt on your conscience. For the two people still reading, let’s talk about squats.

I’ve been seriously lifting weights for thirteen or fourteen years now. Sure, I worked out before that, but not with any clear understanding of how best to do it. I dabbled and saw some results, but then would get pulled away by life and lose them. These days it’s a part of my life and not something I’m capable of abandoning.

In all that time I’ve worked up to some impressive weights and accomplishments, including a peak in my home gym of 475lbs while squatting. That was years ago, probably between 2009 and 2012. I’ve squatted up to and over 400 since then, but squats and I never really got along. I suspect it has to do with my body mechanics. Leg to torso ratio and whatnot. I’m a lot better at other lower body exercises than any sort of squats – deadlifts in particular. And don’t get my started on front squats!

Last night I stretched and warmed up, then went for a light squat workout with 225lbs. Like always, I felt the pain instantly in my quads. It’s a jabbing and stabbing kind of pain, or maybe there’s a pinch or two in there too. Whatever the case, every rep at the bottom of my range of motion (I go as far below parallel as possible without falling over or sitting on the ground) my quadriceps yelp and squeal like baby pigs about to be turned into bacon. It’s not just unpleasant, it hurts.

So last night I went for a wider stance after my first set. A wider stance calls in more hamstring activation. I’ve got great hammies, strength-wise, so it should be a no brainer. Except my intent is to work my quads. In any event, the experiment was a minor success – my thighs didn’t hurt as much. They still hurt, but not as badly. It’s a problem and one I haven’t been able to solve in more than a decade – I just sucked it up and dealt with it. Power through, that’s always been my mantra. Even the times when I ended up injuring myself – but I’m getting wise enough to learn that maybe pain is a warning and powering through isn’t the best option every time. Maybe.

I’ll keep squatting for a few more weeks. Typically I go through a circuit of squats until they hurt so damn much I can’t do them anymore, than I switch to deadlifts or something else for my lower body. That will probably be the case this time too, but I’m not sure how invested I’ll be down the road to doing this kind of exercise again. Focusing on a wider stance the entire circuit might make a difference too, only time and hard work will tell.

After the squats I did a few sets of clean and presses. Only 135lbs, but I really enjoy doing power cleans and clean and presses. I can’t lift as much, but the explosive movement is fun. Not to mention the whole body exercise does great things for, you guessed it, my whole body. The only downside is the day after a lower body day has me wiped out and ready to take a nap at a moment’s notice.

Is there a message to be shared and learned here? Nothing obvious, only me willing to share some data for other exercise junkies out there. I like to think that somebody, somewhere, can learn from my trials and mistakes without feeling to consequences of poor decisions. I like to learn my lessons the hard way, it seems, but somebody out there has to be smarter than me!

 

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.

They Sent Their Worst and Expected the Best

VitalisValkyries_Small

“They” is the Terran Coalition military command. Not men in black suits and sunglasses, but close to it. The Terran Coalition of Systems is the government in the Vitalis universe, my series of books that now officially numbers 9 full novels (with the first being a collection of 7 novellas). Yes, that’s right, my latest books, Vitalis: Valkyries, is now available.

Valkyries picks up where Commandos left off, although there have been a few weeks of time spent for the Commandos both on Vitalis and on their transport ship flying through space on their new mission. What new mission? Why, return to Earth. People are in trouble there, after all. The Biological contagion that is Vitalis has spread throughout the planet. The entire world has been quarantined and nobody is allowed off of it.

The survivors band together in small groups, some of them clinging to civilization and doing their best to help each other out. Others form groups as well, but their purpose is not to protect each other so much as to protect themselves. Strength can be found in numbers, after all, and they use that strength to prey on the weak.

Amidst the chaos the Commandos have been sent to restore a semblance of peace and order. Doing so means they need to enlist the aid of locals and find out where the true enemies lie. Corporal Carmen Mendez and her fire team are more than up for the task. They call themselves the Valkyries. Like the warrior women of legend, they are fierce and merciless. Once on the verge of being discharged or imprisoned for their behavior, they’ve found a second chance at life. Vitalis threw its best against them and came up short.

Earth, on the other hand, is a different planet. A different world, with new challenges they have to adapt to understand if they hope to complete their mission.

Vitalis Vitalis: Resurrection Vitalis: Provenance
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Page Foundry / Inktera
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Page Foundry / Inktera
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Page Foundry / Inktera
Vitalis: Genesis Vitalis: Invasion Vitalis: Chrysalis
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Page Foundry / Inktera
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Page Foundry / Inktera

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Page Foundry / Inktera

Vitalis: Communion Vitalis: Commandos Vitalis: Valkyries
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Page Foundry / Inktera

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Page Foundry / Inktera

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Barnes and Noble
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Page Foundry / Inktera

 

Now, in other news, I’ve been helping Dawn Michelle with some of her books this summer. Her Continuum series is 3 books in now, although none have yet been released. Well, book 1 was part of a USA Today bestselling anthology at the end of 2015, but she’s gone through and made several revisions to it already in preparation for re-releasing it late this summer / fall with the rest of that series.

That’s not all I’ve been up to though – Just yesterday I started the 9th book in my Voidhawk series. Although by starting it I mean I got the rough draft ready to begin and though about it, as well as re-reading Voidhawk – Fallen Goddess. Every damn time I get to the end of that book something gets in my eye. Dust or dirt or something. Whatever the case, I decided the end wasn’t as polished as it should be, so I revised it. What happened still happened, I just improved the writing. I will update the book at its various retail locations in the very near future for anything wishing to re-download it (it doesn’t cost anything if you’ve already bought it). I’m also strongly considering posting the last chapter on my blog as well. The last chapter?! Yeah, I know… it’s weird. Weird is good though, it’s how I roll.

Keep an eye out on my Facebook page and my blog (more likely my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/booksbyjason) for updates on Voidhawk and everything else!

 

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.

 

Science Fiction and Space Fantasy Lovers Rejoice!

First the really good news: Cover art for Vitalis: Valkyries is almost done. Any day now and it’s going to be ready to go – maybe even today. My fingers are crossed and so far I’m loving the concept art and mock ups going into it.

Outside of Vitalis, I’ve been working on helping Dawn Michelle with her Continuum series. The last two novelettes we wrote featured a character I came up with so we flew through them. Her next novelette in the series is switching back to her character, Selena, so it’s a little bit more of her work and less of mine. That means it goes slower (she’s a super-busy lady), and I can turn some of my attention back to my books. Specifically, my next project which I’ll be starting today.

Let’s see, Vitalis is science fiction, so that leaves space fantasy… what books do I write that fall under that classification? Well, it all started with my first published book seven years ago, and now my next entry into the series will mark my 9th novel. Of course I’m talking about Voidhawk, my fantasy series that puts humans, elves, dwarves, and every other fantasy race harnessing solar winds to sail through space (the void) on magical ships.

It has taken me a really long time to get back to Voidhawk after my last entry into that series (Fallen Goddess). If the reason why isn’t evident, it’s because of what happened in that book. The loss of a major character and the impact that had on the crew. And, to be honest, the impact it had on me. I don’t want to give out any spoilers for those who haven’t read it though.

Suffice to say, I’ve had a really hard time figuring out where to go next. Oh, I knew a general plot line and story idea, the problem was that it was too soon. I wasn’t sure how to deal with the characters and what they’ll be feeling and facing. There’s a hole on the deck of the Voidhawk and a hole in the hearts of the crew, it’s a spot that nobody wants to fill, and I’m not sure how to handle it either. Life must go on, and I’m finally prepared to find a way to make that happen.

I know, they’re fictional characters – they aren’t real – so wtf is wrong with me, right? Well, I’m talking to readers and book lovers, so you probably know where I’m coming from. There are characters that get inside of you. People you identify with because they feel real, even if you now they aren’t. Outside of a couple of books I’ve written (Voidhawk – Fallen Goddess in particular), I can think of one book that really hit me hard in the feels. Odd Thomas, by Dean Koontz. Phew, that book was… intense. Regular readers of my blog will note I’ve talked about Dean Koontz in the past though. I consider him to be the best I’ve ever read when it comes to telling a story. His plots and ideas aren’t always absolute top shelf, but I’d read anything he wrote regardless of whether it was original or not.

Anyhow, the point is, the characters might be made up, but their just names and faces for concepts and emotions that are real. Maybe part of them is part of me, or maybe it’s someone else I can associate with in real life. That’s the beauty and the magic of writing. Experiencing something new, or not new, in a way that makes me feel it.

I have no title yet for the new Voidhawk book, but it will definitely revolve around the recovery from what happened, as well as the need to fix what went wrong in the universe in Fallen Goddess. That means a lot of time exploring the new incarnation of Volera and understanding what, and who, exactly she is.

 

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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