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Archive for January, 2014

Naked In A Cave

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Now that I’ve got your attention, consider the realities of a situation like that. Cold, wet, and potentially slimy rocks and mud. Several kinds of bacteria, mold, and fungus. All in all, probably a very unpleasant experience!

Unless you happen to live on the planet Vitalis. That changes things. Tropical weather, no diseases or sickness, abundant food in the form of wildlife and fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and an amazing environment that seems to restore youth and vitality.

On Vitalis the caves aren’t so cold. The slime isn’t so slimy. The mud? Well it’s still mud, but the colonists that live there and do the hunting and scouting for their village use it as camouflage. The real threat comes from hunting animals big enough and dangerous enough to be hunting them right back!

Oh, and then there’s the problem of never being able to leave the planet because you’ll die once you’ve been changed by Vitalis’s natural ecosystem. But is it a price worth paying?

Ask Jasmine Sinclair, a 14 year old little girl with a genetic disease that rarely allows anyone to live past the age of 11. Her time is up and no amount of money or medicine can keep her alive. All that remains is the wild hope of an impossible cure on a world known throughout the Terran Coalition only through rumor and superstition. A world where Jasmine’s father wants her to come and join him.

With the colonists fighting for her survival will Jasmine find a cure, or become the latest casualty of the growing war against humanity?

Chrysalis, book 6 in the Vitalis science fiction series

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Sony, Kobo, iTunes, and others will be available somewhere in the next few days to few weeks.

 

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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What I Can Do For Me

January 28, 2014 Leave a comment

As my children learned to crawl, walk, and talk I considered the first major milestone to be when they could wipe their own butts. To me that was an epic moment. Maybe not on the list of top 5 moments in my life, but it was up there. I do not, however, recall the moment when I hit the same goal.

I’ve been reaching out to my writing peers lately. I reconnected with them on the Kindleboards’ Writer’s Café message board. I ran across a link that mentioned it and wanted to check out something from a few big names that post on there. I was shocked to remember my username and password that I’d set up on it years ago, so I figured I should jump in. So I did.

What I found out surprised me. I’ve long considered myself a little fish in a big sea. It seems I’m not quite as little as I once thought. I might even be in the vaunted top 5% of writers as far as income is concerned. That sounds awesome – right? Well the bottom 95% appear to being making three, four, and low to mid five digit incomes.

So that made me feel proud of the hard work I’ve done over the past several years, but it only served as fuel to build a bigger fire under my chair. I want to write more and to reach more people. I may never be a Dean Koontz, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try like hell to be a Hugh Howey, Michael Mathias, or Joe Konrath.

So close on this realization I received an email from a publishing company that has been on a string of acquisitions lately. A real New York based publishing company, although they are focused on the ebook market. They wanted me to consider them for future sci-fi books that I write.

Now I’ve never snubbed my nose at the more traditional publishing industry. I started out seeking acceptance from them and received a fair share of rejections. A mark of passage and, to be fair, I deserved to be laughed at for those horrible early submissions.

Receiving that email felt a little bit like a pat on the back. But then I got to thinking about it. What’s the big deal? They focus on ebooks and that’s what I’ve been doing for years now – longer than them, in fact. So I responded and said something to the effect of, “Tell me what you can do for my that I’m not already doing for myself.”

Yep. I said that. Fired it back and got a timely response – they want to do a conference call with me and the president of the company. Sounds impressive, I admit, but I’m doing well enough with my books that I’m not in any rush.

Okay, so why consider them in the first place? Traditionally established New York publishing companies offer reduced royalties over what I can get on my own. Bragging rights? Is that worth going from 70% royalties to 25% (or lower)?

Well that depends – can they step up to the plate and offer me increased visibility that would allow for additional sales? Right now I’m considering one of my books a success if it sells over 100 copies a month. Sadly, I’m only forecasting six of them this month (although one should be over 500 copies). If they could offer exposure that increases my visibility and allows sales to go from 50 to 500 or 100 to 1000, then that’s a win. Not only does it offset the lost royalty percentage, it also increases my potential audience. And the more readers I can get who find my books and like it, the more of my existing books they’ll find and grab.

So maybe, just maybe, that’s worth offering up a new book or a trilogy. It can’t do me any harm – worst case I explore some new characters in a new book that broaden my mind and give me the chance to learn more about writing.

In the meantime, I’m days away from releasing Vitalis: Chrysalis and probably halfway through book five in The Lost Girls: Guardian. Check for more info as I share it or sign up for my newsletter below so you can get the updates when they happen.

 

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.

Do We Need Men?

January 20, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s Monday morning and I’m driving into work through some mild freezing rain. What does my mind turn to? Genetics and evolution. Naturally, right? Doesn’t everybody think about that kind of stuff while weaving in and out of the slow drivers? Yeah, I’m that guy…

So anyhow, I just finished my latest book, Vitalis: Chrysalis. I won’t go into great details about it other than to say it brings out some seriously scary critters that are sent to test the colonists on the planet. There’s a new girl in town, a young lady by the name of Jasmine. She’s got a terminal genetic condition that almost nobody survives past the age of 11. Jasmine’s 14 and her parents are desperate for a cure. So desperate they’ll send her to Vitalis.

That’s a teaser for the book but it’s a couple of weeks out still. I’m trying to figure out what to write next now, hence the thinking about stuff like genetics and evolution. It fits in well with the Vitalis theme and it also brought me back to a heated conversation that took place this weekend involving possible genetic damage.

Conspiracy theorists, wackos, and perfectly sane and sober people have made claims and done research on chemicals in our environment. Phytoestrogens, PCBs, solar radiation due to diminishing ozone, and the list goes on. There has been a shift in the ratio of male : female births worldwide over the last twenty or thirty years. Not practically significant, but it is a statistically significant number (I forget and I’m too lazy to try and find it right now, but I believe it was half a percent or less in the favor of more girls than boys being born).

The aforementioned people want to blame it on the way we’re surrounding ourselves with man-made pollutants of whatever flavor or type. That may be the case, but is it a bad thing for our species? What if more girls are being born than boys? It threatens our culture and society from a monogamous relationship based point of view, but does it threaten our species?

Look to many species of wildlife where there are more females than males. There are even pseudo conservation efforts in place to protect the males in some types of critters (e.g. white tail deer – there’s a limit on how many hunters can take but with the does the limit is much higher).

I’m not advocating any hunting changes nor any sort of violence against women. I’m saying that as we evolve and grow, perhaps men aren’t needed as much anymore? We’re large, loud, and given to primitive outbursts at times that can escalate into full fledged wars. Not to imply that women aren’t fully capable of the same thing, but femme fatales make the headlines a lot less often. So it makes me wonder, is nature slowly cutting back on the testosterone in our society?

With the increased metrosexuality and cultural impact of train wrecks like the Kardashians, Real Housewives, and Miley Cyrus how can we deny it? Incidentally, for a hilarious (and disturbing) alternative to Miley’s hit, “Wrecking Ball,” google Ron Jeremy Wrecking Ball. Arguably not safe for work. Or while eating.

Does that mean I’m hanging up my boxers for a pair of silk bikini panties? Hell no! I plan on celebrating my masculinity right up until the very end. Heck, speaking of traditionally manly things, I set a new personal record just this weekend by picking up 600 pounds. On a related note, I’m not allowed to even walk through the parking lot of a Planet Fitness “gym”.

But it does make me a little less concerned about the future of our species. It may not be a future present day me would like to live in, but at least it means my children and their will continue to adapt, evolve, and excel.

 

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.

Living the Dream

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

The topic of today’s post is backwards. However, “living the dream” sounded a lot better than “dreaming the life.” People would read that and maybe wonder what the heck was wrong with me. Maybe. More likely they’d not even bother.

The question of what the heck is wrong with me still applies though. I’ve been writing hard and fast, like always, but my last two books were both Vitalis books. That means futuristic science fiction, complete with animals, plants, and people from another world. And trust me, alien plants can be some pretty scary things.

I’m near to finishing up Vitalis: Chryslis, it’s the 6th book in the popular series and it brings the reader back to the plight of the colonists stuck on the planet of Vitalis. In this book more is learned about how Vitalis works beneath the surface while most of the characters are trying to find a way to help a very sick young woman that comes to planet with no other options left to save her.

Vitalis, futuristic science fiction by Jason Halstead

Now I explain the dreaming part. I had a dream last night that some people might consider terrifying or at least disturbing. I’m not most people. In fact after my alarm went off and I finished stretching and bemoaning the fact that I didn’t want to get up yet, I remembered the dream and began to pick out bits and pieces and tie them in to things that made sense. I was left with a sense of satisfaction and warm fuzziness.

In my dream it was obvious that a few people trying to fight or escape something monstrous. That’s easy – I’ve got a small security team amongst the survivors busy fighting the biggest and nastiest threat they’ve faced yet. Then they’re running from this monster down a dark tunnel – easy again, the people my characters are trying to protect are holed up in a cave.

Next comes a light that seems like a possible escape, only find out it’s some sort of fire or explosion racing down the tunnel. The people in the dream duck into a side passage and find a place to take cover while the flames race past them. They do not escape unscathed. The dream people lose track of the dream monster, but it tries to escape too. It doesn’t find a place to hide and it’s too big to try and duck behind a rock.

So what does the light and fire mean? Well I can come up with a couple of theories but they would release spoilers in the book. The fire, I believe, represents something more intangible, and yet more threatening long term.

A few days before that I had a dream about a haunted house where everybody’s insisting I not go in because the ghostly / evil presence up on the second floor would do bad things to me. Mortal danger / scary kind of bad things. So of course, I thought I’d do it and show them what a bunch of wussies they were. I went up and sure enough, evil powerful badness awaits. I thought it was cool and somehow came out it changed. Not like puppy-kicking innocents-slaughtering evil change, just some occult weirdness with Hollywood style superpowers. That one, near as I can figure, isn’t related to any books (yet!).

So ultimately I’m still left with one question that you might share – what the heck is wrong with 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.

Knights, Dragons, and Trolls – Oh My!

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Recently I went on a mini-campaign to brag up my new audiobook, Child of Fate. I encouraged people to check it out because it’s just so darn cool. But let’s be honest – I’m biased. I wrote the book and worked with somebody else who gave the characters an audible voice. I have a vested interest, both in pride and in financial terms.

So what if I took the money out of the equation? What if I said here you go, check it out for free and enjoy it as much as I have? Well, here’s your chance. I’ve got a bunch of free coupon codes available to download Child of Fate (the audiobook version) for free. The ebook already is free, so there’s no excuse not to snatch that up. Go here: http://www.audible.com/at/redeem and enter in a coupon code below.

Try it out and see if you like it. I can’t guarantee you will but I’d be amazed if you didn’t!

 

Child of Fate, by Jason Halstead

 1. H3RR64LDB6AS8
2. CSH9W7LAXUMQD
3. LKR8SD4U27BFE
4. D8B3GFJ56ZQEL
5. TCQX4BF3HFBCU
6. TD2KN22ZBBQYH
7. 56XAT75FGF64J
8. NZQLC5SSTFD4U
9. 5RAACBLBXAMD6
10. H2FJFBCWAP4XZ
11. XFAMQ5J22R47B
12. 8LEKUFZKNK6A7
13. 2H3MEPM3XYG3B
14. RC7QGR7ZG44H8
15. 9GFCPNBWST59J
16. HZZYYAD88WCAA
17. 7JBE8Z8NDTEFT
18. J62G34NPQRYPL
19. 3583KAZFSFYFW
20. Y4N72LPS9FQBS

 

If you try a code and it doesn’t work, move on to the next one and try again. These are usable one time only each, so the first twenty people to check it out are the “winners.” Oh, and the “Oh My” in the title of this post is not related or affiliated with George Takei nor his book in any way, shape, or form (not that I wouldn’t be proud to call him a friend if I were cool enough to be a blip on his radar, I just don’t want any confusion).

 

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.

Categories: Writing Tags: , , , , , , ,

Debt Free!

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment

A week or so back I contacted some people about hosting a blog post of mine where I sang the praises of my new audiobook that was just released, Child of Fate. Now the time has come for me to repay one of those favors and share a post from the talented Catherine Broughton, a lovely young lady from across the pond. Give it a read and enjoy the change pace from my usual ramblings!

 

People in my books: Pia. A novel set in Cyprus. About Pia.

“The Man with Green Fingers” by Catherine Broughton.

When Pia left University and trained as a teacher, she had no wish but to return to her home in the Troodos mountains.  For a while, as a student, she had befriended a Nicosia girl who wanted to leave Cyprus and teach in England and, although Pia thought about it for a while, it was never more than a passing idea.  Home was home, and it was where she belonged.  Back with her parents and her sisters.

She liked to think that she was adventurous.  Compared to most of her family, she was.  After all, she had been to University and had travelled around Cyprus.  She had even crossed the Green Line in to northern Cyprus.  During her second year at Uni she had dated an Isreali boy, much to the dismay of her sisters – they kept it from their parents.  She had also been out all night on many an occasion, dancing and drinking … and that too was kept from her parents.

But in reality Pia was not at all adventurous.  She was steady, sensible, honest.  Were it not for her wholesome and sunny disposition she may, by some, have been considered tedious.

When she met John she knew instantly that he was attracted to her.  She was considerably younger, and he was not a Cypriot, let alone from the Troodos.  He wasn’t at all what her parents had had in mind.  Mostly they were concerned that Pia would go with him to America.  The thought of it thrilled and terrified her simultaneously.  But John had no wish to leave the Troodos either.  And that was fine.

Pia was an innocent.  She took people at face value. She liked most people and most people liked her.

She didn’t deserve what happened to her.

 

Extract from “The Man with Green Fingers”, a novel set in Cyprus:-

Ashley saw his father only once after he left, when he was sixteen. His mother, apparently at great effort, had organized the meeting because, she said, Ashley needed some male influence in his life.

“You look like your mother,” his father had said.

Ashley wondered if this was supposed to be a compliment; if it was, he wondered what made his father think that he’d be pleased to look like his mother who, after all, was one of the most daft women around ….. and if it was not supposed to be a compliment, why was he saying it in the first place?

They had sat awkwardly in MacDonald’s in Croydon town centre. Ashley barely spoke.

“I know I’m not much of a dad,” the big man had said, spreading his hands out, palms up, in front of him, “but things just didn’t work out. I re-married, you know. Did you know?”

Ashley shrugged vaguely.

“Yeh …”

“That’s right. You’ve got a step-mum. May, that’s her name.”

Ashley didn’t answer. Am I supposed to be excited, dad ? he wanted to say. Come to that, should I call you dad ? Isn’t that a bit ridiculous ?

“You’ve got a little brother!” The big man then said, and gave Ashley’s arm a small shove, as though Ashley should be pleased about this. “Right little bruiser. Football mad!”

Ashley was not even moderately interested in football, and he was most certainly not interested in any little brothers. The word meant nothing to him – no image of a smaller child, a lad to whom he was related, flashed through his mind. His father might have said “we’ve got a new goldfish” . They sat opposite each other and Ashley sucked noisily at the straw in his milk-shake and, in a sudden spurt of clarity, reflected that actually he wasn’t interested in anything much. He had done seven GCSEs the previous year and had got good grades, but couldn’t say that any of it interested him – not in any real sense – and nor did the “A” level work he had since embarked on.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Man-With-Green-Fingers/dp/1475029411/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1377439125&sr=8-2&keywords=catherine+broughton

Also Amazon.com and Amazon worldwide.  Catherine Broughton’s books can be ordered from Amazon/Kindle or from any leading book store or library.  They are also available as e-books on this site:-

https://payhip.com/b/tEva    “A Call from France”

https://payhip.com/b/OTiQ    ”French Sand”

https://payhip.com/b/BLkF    “The Man with Green Fingers”

https://payhip.com/b/1Ghq    “Saying Nothing”

Pia 2 001

Posted by Catherine Broughton on 31 August 2013

– See more at: http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk/blog/people-in-my-books-pia-a-novel-set-in-cyprus-about-pia/#sthash.ZXgK6km2.dpuf

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 Devil Inside

January 13, 2014 Leave a comment

I signed up a few years ago on Kindle Boards – a message board for kindle book owners, readers, and writers. To be fair, I tried it out a little and didn’t see much use for it. So I went away and didn’t come back. Recently I ran across some information about some successful authors not so different from me (save that they’ve gotten much more success) and they mentioned the KBoards Writer’s Cafe as they place to be. I figured I’d log back in and try it out.

My first surprise was that I remembered my user name and password! I mean come on, we’ve all done that where we forgot one or the other (or both). That was an unexpected bonus, but it was only the beginning of my foray. I dove deeper and found the Writer’s Cafe and then started reading up on stuff.

There’s whining – any message board will have its share, I managed to skim over that without slowing down though. I read some good tips and suggestions and a lot of things I’ve already figured out or are doing. I even tried offering some insight to other writers and would-be writers trying to get things rolling.

Then I found some threads talking about income. Apparently it’s not just a superstition to talk about what you make there (unless it’s nothing), but it can spawn such animosity that other writers will find your books and intentionally leave bad reviews and down rate them to spite you. Seriously? WTF! I shouldn’t be surprised considering what I endured in 2012 that snuffed my rise to the top with my science fiction series, Vitalis, but I had hoped it had been largely dealt with my Amazon and by people growing up. Silly me.

It really bothers me that people would do that. Competition I understand. I didn’t invent the word but I have certainly added value to it over the years. I compete with others and with myself. In business, in lifting weights, in writing code, in playing games, and in damn near everything I do. But it’s not spiteful do or die competition. It’s friendly and it’s designed to bring out the best in myself, not the worst. That’s what happens when you can’t beat somebody by providing a better product or effort – you resort to undermining their attempts to succeed. That demon inside of us whispers things when we get frustrated and angry. It suggests ways to win that we shouldn’t consider. Yet some of us still do, it seems. Shame on these people for trying to ruin somebody else’s hard work because they couldn’t produce something better. If this sounds like something you’ve done or will do, then you are a dick.

In spite of that, there is a utility that a few brave souls (including myself, since I feel I have nothing to hide) have used to chart book sales and annual revenue. I’m nowhere near the top. I am, however, surprisingly higher than most. It’s a matter of hard work. H.M. Ward, Joe Konrath, and Hugh Howey have me beat (and so do a lot of other people), but I’m still over halfway to a hundred thousand books sold. Not too shabby by my approximation.

In closing I offer these simple words: work harder and smarter. Improve yourself and learn to be better and do better. All of us, even the best, can always stand to be better. I set records in 2009 for powerlifting but that didn’t mean I should stop trying to improve my technique and my strength. I had sci-fi stories (yes, plural) in the top 10 of the sci-fi Amazon charts in 2012, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a better writer. Oh, and then there’s the easy one: Don’t be a dick.

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.