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Archive for July, 2016

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.

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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

July 6, 2016 2 comments

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
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera
Vitalis: Genesis Vitalis: Invasion Vitalis: Chrysalis
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Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera
Amazon
Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera

Amazon
Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera

Vitalis: Communion Vitalis: Commandos Vitalis: Valkyries
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Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera

Amazon
Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
Page Foundry / Inktera

Amazon
Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd
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.