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Archive for January, 2012

Hidden Agenda

January 11, 2012 2 comments

There’s no conspiracy theory or ulterior motives attached to this, I just wanted to put down a rough agenda of what I’ve got planned in the writing world for 2012. With any luck it will build up some excitement for people interested in some or all of my various story lines. If nothing else, it will help to hold me accountable to make sure I get some work done!

Here’s the writing schedule:

Current project: Voidhawk, book 4. Status: 50% ish. Rough draft ETA: February. Story: Logan, Bekka, and Bailynn go off in search of helping Bekka to find herself and to figure out why she’s kind of a lousy sorceress. What they find along the way ends up making Bekka’s quest seem almost insignificant in comparison. There are undead, witches, faeries, and a dangerous encounter with a tribe of half men / half lions. And what kind of a story would it be if there weren’t some romance tossed in along the way? Imagine how complicated a love triangle between a priest, a woman confused about her sexuality, and another woman destined to wear the body of a teenage girl the rest of her life? Now if only I could figure out a title…

Dark Earth, book 2. Rough Draft ETA: March / April. Story: A witch has been sent, complete with a personal guard, to slip through the new Lord Baxter’s portal and open up a passage between worlds of her own. Along the way she will suffer culture shock and question not only the life she lives, but also the mission she’s on and whether it’s worth the price of betrayal. This will be a direct sequel to my original Dark Earth title.

Vitalis, book 5. Rough draft ETA: April / May. Story: Exploring the dynamic of the “tribe” that lives in Treetown on Vitalis, as well as how they must come together to deal with threats. I’m still working out the details. 🙂

Wanted, book 3. Rough draft ETA: May / June. Story: I’m working on a couple of possibilities. The characters from the first two books (Wanted and Ice Princess) will probably be present, but only in cameo or support roles.

Dark Earth, Lost Treasures. Rough draft ETA: June / July. Story: Lost treasures is going to open up a new series in my Dark Earth setting. I haven’t figured out exactly which “treasure” will be sought out in this book yet, but I plan to go after the mythological stories lost to time. Except in this setting they weren’t lost to time, they just didn’t exist anywhere other than Dark Earth. (Atlantis, The Fountain of Youth, the City of Gold, The Golden Fleece, etc..)

Vitalis, book 6. Rough draft ETA: August. Story: Depends on how book 5 goes, but I’ve got ideas-a-plenty.

Dark Earth, Black Widow. Rough Draft ETA: Sept / Oct. Story: This will be back in my “Lost Girls” sub-series. Katalina’s on the case of a new serial killer, one that seems to have a fondness for torturing and killing men. She couldn’t care less normally except this time the killer used a man’s wife and young daughter as instruments of torture. The thing that keeps getting in her way is that the man survived the attack and he’s out for vengeance in the bloodiest way possible. Katy has to decide if she’s willing to work with him or against. Oh, and did I mention the pressure she’s getting to visit her father in prison and try to make amends with him?

Dark Earth, Lost Treasures book 2. Rough Draft ETA: Nov / Dec. Story: More of the same as the first book, except a new mythical treasure and some new supporting characters to keep things lively.

And here’s the publishing schedule:

January:

Traitor (already out!)

Vitalis – Parasites

February:

Vitalis – Screamer

March:

Wolfgirl (Dark earthThe Lost Girls, book 3)

April:

Voidhawk, book 4

May:

😦

June:

Dark Earth, book 2

July:

Vitalis, book 5

August:

😦

September:

Wanted, book 3

October:

Dark Earth, Lost Treasures

November:

Vitalis, book 6

December:

Dark Earth, Black Widow

It’s going to be a busy year but I’m excited by it and hopefully so is everybody else! And now you know what’s coming down the pipe. Some of these books and the order they’re in are the direct result of feedback I’ve received from readers. Let that be a lesson – don’t be shy about contacting writers! We want to hear what your thoughts are. It excites us and helps give us direction sometimes.

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

Headaches and Parasites

January 10, 2012 2 comments

I got a call yesterday from my wife stating that she was going blind in one eye and the other one was blurry. Soon it was followed by black spots, flashing colors, and erratic eye movement when she tried to close her eyelids.

My first reaction was to assume it was a migraine. I’d had a few of them back in my senior year of high school. It’s terrifying, the first time especially. I wondered if it really was true that masturbation could make me go blind! Fortunately I haven’t had any sense. There was incident a few years ago regarding some temporary partial blindness, but that was caused by some aggressive (and wasteful) creatine loading without proper hydration.

Back to my wife – what really freaked me out was when her speech became slightly slurred on the phone and she had trouble remembering some key words. It was at that point I pulled some strings to get somebody to cover for me at work so I could get her to the doctor to be checked out. Some basic tests and a CT scan later showed that she was in perfect health. It really was just a migraine. Hearing that lowered my blood pressure as well!

Half an hour later after a shot of migraine-killing-stuff she felt good enough to suggest going to the gym for our regular Monday night workout. I put up a little resistance but I was proud of her determination. I did take it easy on her at the gym, but she made up for the lower intensity with higher volume. Attagirl!

Are their parasites involved? Little creatures chewing away at blood vessels and synapses causing debilitating headaches and blindness? No, there are not. Or at least not in the this case. The parasites I’m referring to involve creatures that are eaten in egg form and hatch inside the digestive tract of a host. As they mature (rapidly), they eat first the nutrients in the host’s digestive tract then later, as they grow, they begin to eat the host. Eventually they need to exit the host. At full size these creatures are perhaps the size of a small passenger car.

WTF am I talking about? Why it’s my new book I’m hoping to release in the very near future! Editing is done on Vitalis – Parasites. It’s the third book in the sci-fi series about the accidental discovery of a life-supporting hostile new planet outside of human controlled space. Editing is completed, now I’m onto the cover art stage. Vitalis – Parasites will also be available to Amazon Prime Members for free via the KDP Select program!

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

 

Traitor Released!

Dark Earth is selling like crazy right now – it’s almost a shame it’s free! Go ahead and click on the link if you want to check it out. I mention Dark Earth because it established my Dark Earth setting. From there the next book I’ve released in that setting is The Lost Girls, and that upset people. The Lost Girls isn’t an immediate sequel, so while almost  everyone really likes the book, it’s caught some flack for not continuing the original story right after Dark Earth ended.

I’m hoping that the release of my latest book, Traitor, puts some of those grumblings aside. Traitor is an immediate sequel to The Lost Girls. It also takes the action back into Dark Earth, though this time it’s out west in a place we call northern Arizona. That means the Dark Earth equivalent to our Earth’s history – including folklore and mythology. Katalina Wimple’s up against more than just earthly opponents this time. With the help of new and old friends she has to fight the spirit world itself to have a chance of surviving the abuse I heap on her in this one!

And for the purists who still want an immediate sequel to Dark Earth – stay tuned! It’s my next project to write (which should put that out sometime in the 3rd quarter of 2012 if all goes according to plan). Until then, give this a try, I think you’ll like it!

Traitor, a Dark Earth novel, by Jason Halstead

Traitor, a Dark Earth novel, by Jason Halstead

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

 Katalina Wimple ran out of bad guys to chase. She found love and peace hand in hand and nothing seems impossible… until the one-that-got-away shows up in need of help.

Her new case takes her through the portal to Dark Earth where she’s expected to save a man with a shady past. She’ll face not only mythology and folklore in the flesh, but a relationship strained to the point of no return by an old flame.

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

 

The End of an Era: 2011 Results!

January 5, 2012 5 comments

I went on and on last year about how I was conducting all this research and trying different things as an indie writer: marketing tactics, cover art, blurbs, multi-genre, pricing, and even blogging. Well 2011 is over and my research and while my attempts to find new ways to reach my audience and interest them are far from over, I figure I could start off the new year with a summary of what worked for me and what didn’t.

First cover art. Cover art is something I consider extremely important. A snappy image that shows well even in the thumbnail size view on the Kindle draws attention, plain and simple. Bright colors are nice but there are more black and white Kindles out there than anything else so good contrast is equally important.

Title and Blurb are next up. After the cover art having a great title that draws people in and interests them is important. And very, very difficult. How do you predict the success of a couple of words? Follow it up with a short but intriguing blurb and you’re well on your way.

On reviews I remain mixed. I’ve got some books with several reviews and some with less. I’m unconvinced as to how useful reviews really are. The problem is there are some people who write reviews that have no idea what they’re writing – I’m amazed they even know how to read and write, in fact. Meanwhile other people write some well thought out reviews that go unnoticed or are nullified by the bad ones. After all, as a society we focus more on negative news than good news. Why else would Fox News be so successful?

Pricing is a constant struggle. Not just for me but for everybody. I’ve written about it in the past at great length, so this time I’ll keep it concise. I found that pricing my books to sell rather than what I think they’re worth is the key to getting sales. And in some cases I give books away for free (Voidhawk, Wanted, and Dark Earth are free on Amazon). These loss leaders are my gifts to the Kindleverse to let people sample my writing and – hopefully – want to come back for more. In November and December these loss leaders were very successful at pulling people in to read the sequels and check out my other books. I hope they continue to do so!

Facebook and Twitter. Social networking has been useful. It helps me get the word out and let’s people know what’s going on in the world of my books. It’s far from the alpha and the omega of book sales though. Twitter, in particular, has definitely helped me get the word out and let people know of the existence of my books, my blog, and my website. Having over 10,000 followers on Twitter certainly helps! I have automatic tweets set up that I change twice a month or so (or whenever something exciting happens), but more than that I use Twitter to talk to people. All of my followers as a group with random updates of whatever silly thing I’m doing or for specific conversations I talk to others about. That keeps Twitter genuine to me, and not just another automated and soulless channel. I can’t hope to name all the great people I’ve met on there and I don’t want anybody I might miss feel left out or bothered, so I won’t attempt a list of twitter people.

Amazon’s built in lists. These lists are one of the keys to getting decent sales on Amazon. Without being on a list people have a hard time finding your books without a direct link (unless they’re searching for it specifically). Being on the various lists, both best selling and the “people who bought this also bought…” kind of lists improve visibility. Being seen is the first step to being purchased. What comes next is the cover art / title / blurb angle to secure the sale.

Getting a sale is only the first step. Ultimately it’s going to come down to writing something good. If it’s good then people will come back for more and they’ll write you letters telling you how much they enjoyed your book. They might even tell their friends and drive sales up a little more. Writing is the ultimate tool in a writer’s tool box. Everything else just helps to move the process along.

Blogging and website. Having either is another great tool. Having both is a great tool x 2. It’s a venue that allows me to interface with my readers and give them information about new books and other communications so they can get to know me better. I don’t just want readers, I want friends. The more I can share with them the more invested they become to me and the more invested I become to them. And who likes to let a friend down? My friends expect me to entertain them and give them stories they enjoy and I would hate to disappoint them!

More on blogging and my website. I was amazed at watching the stats during the holidays. Traffic dropped to almost nothing during the break but this morning I noticed it had jumped back up. That told me two things: 1) People would rather browse the web, read blogs, and do other things than work and 2) I was apparently one of those people!

Now some numbers to prove it:

June Sales:              July Sales:                  Aug Sales                Sep Sales              Oct Sales                 Nov Sales               Dec Sales

20                               20                                 50                              109                       197                             456                         1399

 

Yeah, it ramped up quick once I started figuring things out. Granted, I also put out more books and continue to do so, but I learned a lot along the way about marketing. The problem is I’m a long ways away from doing well enough to bail on the day job. And in January things seem to be slumping a little. The holidays are over though and I’m back on the writing and promoting bandwagon, so hopefully I can bring things back around in short order! In the meantime, I hope my experiments helped my fellow budding and struggling writers as well. If you’re interested in learning more I recently created a Yahoo group called The Marketeers. Look it up and request to join if you think you’d like to be a part of the process – I’ve got a couple of great writers in there already (including yours truly).

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

 

 

It IS a Happy New Year

January 4, 2012 1 comment

Earlier this week I got an email from a reader that told me she’d gotten a Kindle Fire for Christmas. She grabbed one of my books (Dark Earth), and was hooked. Then she grabbed Wanted and the hook sunk in even deeper. She came up for air long enough to send me an email letting me know how much she was enjoying them and that, for me, was worth its weight in gold.

Sadly my sales have been slumping lately. I blame it on the holidays and people being busy with decompressing from the holiday stress (or recovering from New Year’s Eve). Or at least that’s what I’m hoping the slump is from. In spite of that, getting that one single email perked me up and helped remind me there’s more to this than me getting excited about the stories I’m telling and selling books. It’s also about touching people and entertaining them. Maybe even helping them a little. The reader I mentioned could certainly use a little escapism in her life, from what she told me, and I’m honored to have been picked to provide it for her.

She’s not the only one, just the most recent. I’ve had other people email me to let me know what they thought. So far the thoughts have always blown my socks off in a good way, so I encourage the world to keep ’em coming! I’m not much for shopping but for this cause I’m happy to go and find new socks. Heck, that’s why the first books in three of my series are free – so people can enjoy them without any strings. Just a chance to prove that there really is a free lunch. Of course I’m hoping those readers will then buy other books I’ve written. Even if they don’t, knowing it helped them find some stress relief, escapism, come up with a new angle on a problem, or just kept them entertained is a great feeling for me.

So my friends, feel free to check out Wanted, Voidhawk, and Dark Earth on you Kindle or Kindle Reader for the PC / Mac. They’re free on Amazon, just click on the links provided. And let me say thank you to each and every one, even those who write the nasty things on reviews – you all help to make me a better writer and a better person.

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

Accountability in 2012

January 3, 2012 1 comment

The holidays have come and gone. With it, for me, came an amazing lack of productivity. Oh sure, it was great to decompress from the day job and spend time with my family. Hated coming back to work, in fact. I also learned an important lesson: if I want to get anything productive done at home on a daily basis I need a home office, preferably with sound proofing.

So that brings me to new year and what it has in store for me. Or what I have planned for it. Either way, I’m counting on it being exciting! To start with I’m days away from releasing my first book of 2012, Traitor. It’s the sequel to The Lost Girls and takes place in my Dark Earth series. This particular book takes the heroine from The Lost Girls and tosses her back into Dark Earth where she gets to be bombarded with Native American folk lore and spirits, shamanistic practices and magic, and a confusing betrayal while she tries to establish her own love life.

Shortly after that (I hope), Vitalis book 3: Parasites, will be released. I’m still hoping for a January release date, but nothing’s carved in stone. In Parasites the Terran Coalition makes first contact with Vitalis in a two-fold mission: search for survivors / natives and establish a research colony. What they can’t possibly know is how xenophobic the planet is and what lengths it will go to in order to claim and trespassers as its own. The survival of the fittest them continues as new people are introduced (and devoured), while those that survive learn quickly to adapt and evolve.

There are more books in pipeline as well, but they’re far enough out (Feb – March at the earliest) I don’t want to get anyone unduly excited. I will say that I’m working on the fourth book in my Voidhawk series right now and once that’s finished (this month or bust) I’m going to start in on an immediately sequel to Dark Earth. I’m really excited about the ideas I have for that book and can’t stop new ones from popping into my mind all the time.

The title of this blog is Accountability. I used the term intentionally, it’s meant to help me hold myself accountable for my boasts. Thus far I’ve done a fairly decent job at that, and maybe that’s because I put them out there for anyone to see. That way I know I’m not the only one who expects results from me. So this is sort of a new year’s resolution thing as well. On top of the 4 books I have pending in (hopefully) Q1 of this year I hope to squeeze in a total of at least 8 books this year. 10 – 12 would be ideal, but hey, there’s only one of me! 🙂

And outside of the writing world I’ve got other goals. Paying off bills and getting ready for pending student loans (MBAs aren’t cheap), bench pressing 405+ again if my injured body will let me, and deadlifting 600+. Silly goals to some, perhaps, but they help me develop the discipline I need to continue to push hard for success in all venues of life.

A new year means a new chance to start out fresh and make things happen for you. Big or small, make some changes in your life that make things better for you. Improve what needs improve or get rid of what needs to be dropped! We could also stand to fix something, what’s yours?

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