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Archive for November, 2013

The Definition of Insanity

November 25, 2013 Leave a comment

One of the more colorful definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I remember watching a guy in a meeting many years ago click on a link on a presentation and it kept breaking. So he kept trying it. I finally snapped and shouted that out to him. I think it amused the other people in the meeting. I hope.

I decided to take that to heart and instead of trying to coerce or woo readers of this blog into contacting me or leaving a comment, I’m just going to throw down some codes and first come first serve. The codes won’t give you unlimited lives or the ability to use any weapon imaginable against aliens that have landed and taken over South America, but they will allow you to hear about a new kind of alien life discovered in the future.

I’m referring to my latest audiobook that is available. Vitalis, as read by James Killavey, will knock your socks off. Jim is a great narrator and Vitalis, well, that’s just one heck of an awesome story. No, I’m not biased, why do you ask? 😉

Jim and I are working on more audiobooks too, so keep checking back. I’ve got Traitor, read by Kate Udall, coming out soon and after that I have Child of Fate, narrated by Sean Wybrant, and Bounty, another book read by Jim Killavey to work through. I hope to get all of my books available in an audiobook format one day, but I write faster than we can get them produced, so it’s going to be a challenge. I’d call it job security except the security is only there if people buy them.

So, with that in mind, grab a code and check out Vitalis for free to see if you like the audiobook style. Then go gobble up as many more as you can! Please note that each code will only work once, so if the one you tried doesn’t work, try another. If none of them work that means you showed up too late. Feel free to contact me though, I have a couple more that were given to me – but once they’re all gone then I’m out and there’s nothing more I can do.

7XWWY252L7YGF
4NGMGTTAZ9C9D
2JMEB555QQ22G
GG63FZ5N3YJGA
WL9CH6GRFPEXC
T38EH8H576NLS
P5P3NA3X8G342
34J8ACL4ELL2D
HT3W7F76JJH23
STNTDK4F5MB2H
MWPWTH2E4TXA3
CRKX6MBXC7TKH
7XWDNDZD69NY7
CNW8NPCRYT6XE
PHNFCG6BQ8XK6

Bonus points if you know what code / game I was referring to above, but keep in mind that the points don’t count and everybody’s a winner.

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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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.

When The Hero’s Away, The Dragon Will Play

November 15, 2013 Leave a comment

It was about this time in 2012 when I decided to take a chance and write a traditional fantasy book called Child of Fate. I assembled a cast of characters that were part imagination and part remnants of time spent playing Dungeons and Dragons as a kid. The real D&D, with paper, pencils, and dice. It also required lots and lots of soda and pizza so our character sheets could end up spotted with grease stains.

Child of Fate climbed slowly but steadily up the charts until in early 2013 it exploded and was selling like crazy. I was quick to use this as a springboard and wrote the sequel, Victim of Fate, early in 2013. Silver Dragon followed and the trilogy continued to perform very well. Unfortunately, a trilogy ends at three books but I still had more stories to tell.

That meant I had to start a new series about those characters. The new series was longer and dealt with established characters coming to terms with their rise to fame and power, as well as the repercussions of what happened to them in the Blades of Leander trilogy already. The new series was called Order of the Dragon, and it began with Isle of the Ape and then continued with Chasing the Dragon and Sands of Betrayal. And now, as of today, I’m excited to announce that it’s completed with the release of Dragonlady.

But does that mean that this foray into medieval fun and games is over? Well, read the book and find out! Order of the Dragon is completed, but there’s always opportunities for more adventures to spring up at any time.

With the Order of the Dragon in retreat Alto’s thoughts turn to home and his future with his betrothed, Lady Patrina of Kelgryn. But the future, once a shining light guiding him through a dark tunnel, has grown cloudy with indecision and confusion.

One last torch in the darkness remains, directing him to revisit some of his darkest times and put to rest the ghosts of his past. The ghosts he finds are more than memories, they’ve been given flesh and blood and are reaching out from beyond for him.

Defeated but not destroyed, the silver dragon has been watching and waiting. Her plans, years in the making, are coming to fruition. Only one man dares to defeat her, but Alto is the man she waits for so that she may spring her trap and rule from her mountain throne forever.

Dragonlady, book 4 in the Order of the Dragon series, by Jason Halstead

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble (coming soon)

iTunes (coming soon)

Kobo (coming soon)

Sony (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.

 

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.

A Little Song and Dance

November 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Today’s blog isn’t about me, which is good. My news hasn’t been very uplifting or fun lately, so instead I’ve been given the opportunity to share the good fortune of Tara Maya, a fantasy, science fiction, and children’s author that’s been working hard for quite some time now. The news has to do with a book of hers called “The Unfinished Song: Initiate.” Initiate is the first book in a new series and it’s free!

But rather than letting me talk about her book, how about I let talk about it? Here’s the blurb, and except, a cover, and some links if you’d like to know more. I recommend the “knowing more” part.

The Unfinished Song: Initiate, by Tara Maya

BLURB

DEADLY INITIATION

A DETERMINED GIRL…

Dindi can’t do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi’s clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

AN EXILED WARRIOR…

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don’t kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father’s wars and his mother’s curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her… assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

EXCERPT

Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

She hadn’t appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

“Join our circle, Dindi!” the fae voices gurgled under the water. “Dance with us forever!”

“No!” She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, “Dispel!” but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn’t be coming up again.

“Dispel!” It was a man’s voice.

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

“Better?” he asked.

She nodded. He was young–only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

“Good.” He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

Dindi’s hand touched skin–he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

“It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that,” he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. “What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?”

LINKS

Tara’s blog http://bit.ly/12dFdNy

Tara’s Twitter http://bit.ly/162sCtE

The Unfinished Song on Facebook http://on.fb.me/1400mMq

Amazon http://amzn.to/15ciwYc

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/13yM5Dr

Kobo http://bit.ly/1aFhg1P

iTunes http://bit.ly/1baddhN

Smashwords http://bit.ly/17zK8Xn

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashword.

 

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 Not Afraid

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment

There are a lot of things in the world that scare me. I’m terrified of what happens to my family in a couple of weeks when my job ends if I can’t find another one (another job, not family).  I’m particularly frightened in the fall months of the year as my book sales decrease that they won’t rebound, even though the last couple of years show that they can and do.

That fear is interesting and, I suspect, not isolated to me. I’ve seen a few blog posts recently by people with bigger names and louder mouths than me about the surging tide of books and fear of being lost in the wake. Most of these people have been discussing how it was once believed that in order to succeed and be famous— to sell books— one must write as many books as one can. Now the opinion by these vocal individuals is swaying the other way.

One dispute I read claimed that people churning out as many as six books a year aren’t honing their craft. They aren’t making improvements to their writing style, they’re just churning out more and more crap. Another claimed that the flood of self-published books overwhelms readers and causes everyone to suffer because nothing can be found.

Pardon me while I adopt a British accent and loudly proclaim, “Rubbish!”

I receive mail regularly from readers who tell me how much they enjoyed one of my older books. I’ve been thanked profusely for offering books for free, otherwise they might have missed out on the books and on discovering me (they went on to purchase several more of my books). When I get these emails I’m appreciate and honored, but I also cringe. Those early books were so….early! I’ve learned so much since then and gotten so much better! I’m afraid they’ll judge me on those old books and not my current ones, yet somewhere along the way I seem to have forgotten that they said they loved reading them. Oh. Woops.

Okay, so with every book I learn new things and refine my skill at writing. Maybe even mid book I get better. Hmm, so if I’m getting better is the problem then that I’m cranking out six books a year? No, that’s not right. Oh! I’ve been on a 12 book a year pace for the last couple of years. Guess I’m doing twice as bad then instead of learning twice as much. Pfft.

And to the blogger / writer / whoever it was that thinks nothing can be found – every website of substance I’ve seen allows people to search by genre, title, author, and a host of other options. If you’re on the prowl for something new and there’s a lot of material to pick from, well, that’s a target rich environment.

Sure, maybe some of the new books are crap. Maybe most of them are. Maybe they’ve got excessive numbers of reviews claiming it’s the best thing since mankind figured out how to insert rod P into slot V. Well, if they’re using the lingo “rod V and slot P,” stay away. If the book is just released and it’s got a bunch of reviews? Stay away. If the book is written by Jason Halstead – BUY IT!

Okay, sorry, I got a little excited there. The point is that you’re odds of finding a new book online are as good as they are in a bookstore. I can’t help you there. A good cover is exactly that, a good cover. It has nothing to do with the guts. A blurb is a better gauge but even that can be off. Reading a sample is your best bet, but that can take time. Ultimately I think the absolute best practice for finding a new book is to look for freebies.

That (naturally) leads me to my strategy of having the first book in each of my series either free or available for no more than $.99. Grab it and read it at your leisure, then when you realize you have to know more, come on back for the next book(s) in the series. By that time you know it’s a quality read and you won’t be wasting your time or money.

As for me? I plan to keep on writing and getting as many books out as I can. That’s how I learn and that’s how I keep my readers happy. It’s a win / win situation. Sorry to the writers that feel I’m flooding the market because I write faster than they do and give readers want they want. I suppose I’d be upset if I were in their shoes too – they profited on a dying system that barred talented people from reaching the masses. Now people like me are able to get the word out and distribute our books and take reader’s interest and attention away from the old school.

To that end I’m nearing the completion of Dragonlady, the final book in the setting was started with Child of Fate. It’s a fantasy series spanning 7 books and yes, Child of Fate is available on Amazon and other retailers for free. Try it out – I double dog dare you.

Don’t be afraid of progress and hard work, my friends, be afraid of not being able to pay the bills.

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.