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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.

They Sent Their Worst and Expected the Best

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“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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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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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.

An Update on… stuff

I really don’t have any single points of interest to focus on or talk about. Instead, this is a mini-grab bag of items to share. I’m trying to blog a little more frequently to fill in the blank space and make sure everyone knows I’m still hard at work. So, without further delay, on to the stuff!

First up, Vitalis: Valkyries. It’s ready and waiting on cover art. I thought I’d have something by the end of the month, but we’re not quite there yet. Soon! The story is edited and ready to roll out and I’ve got the blurb written up for when the cover art is ready.

Now current events: I’ve been helping the lovely and talented Dawn Michelle with her Continuum series, which is a deviation from her paranormal romance roots, but a continuation of the world she’s crafted. Here there be dragons, my friends, and all sorts of other wonderful people and monsters. This particular series explores some ancient civilizations that have survived to present day as secret societies working behind the scenes… and as often as not against each other as for each other. The main characters are caught up in all of this and come to discover their own surprising legacies left to them down the generations. That includes a hero who can’t seem to keep his pants on and a heroine who is torn between who she wants and who she needs. Since I’m helping her write this series, I expect everyone to enjoy it just as much as you would any of my books. Not only that, but I’m quite taken with it and enjoying it immensely as we near the end of the third novelette in the series.

Let’s see, what else can I share? I’m a little stiff and sore today, but in a good way. Great workout last night picking up heavy weights for lots of reps. Measured myself at 11.5% bodyfat this morning thanks to the weights too, just in time for a 4th of July weekend spent getting sunburned and hanging out with friends at a pool.

Hmm, in other news, I just got a promotion at my day job too. Sort of. 95% of it is what I already do, but I get a fancy new title – System Architect – that sounds nice. Not to worry, I don’t expect the new responsibilities to cut into my writing time much, if any.

Speaking of promotions and my lovely wife, Dawn Michelle, she deserves some props in writing as well. After only working at her new job teaching pre-school kids she got a promotion to a lead teacher there. I’m not sure anyone there has ever been bumped up as fast as she was, which is a testament to her dedication, commitment, and professionalism. Her job, however, is cutting into her writing time – but given the downturn in the book sales market it also pays better.

Not sure what else to touch on. Brexit seems popular these days – personally I have no opinion on it other than the hit to the exchange rate is another kick in the pants on top of decreasing book sales. I do like a little chaos and pandemonium, I admit. I think it shakes things up and forces people to innovate and improve. So I guess I’m for it, but only in the most uneducated way possible.

To hit closer to home I could discuss the impending US election… but I’d almost rather become an ex-patriot than be forced to choose between the individuals presented to us this time around. Personally, I think that America should change our voting system to include a no-vote cast, and if that wins, we ditch the chosen candidates and start over. The presiding president would remain a lame duck until another election round occurs with new candidates. Perhaps better the devil we know than the one we don’t.

And how about Michael Phelps? He qualified for his fifth Olympics. That’s pretty freaking amazing. Sure, he’s made some mistakes along the way but haven’t we all? I don’t know what kind of person he is, but athletically speaking, this guy is something special. I wish him the best of luck and hope he can snag a couple more medals this year to round out what has already been an amazing career.

Well, how’s that for a sampling of topics? I promised a grab bag and there it is. Enough randomness, now back to your day for you and my day for me. There’s work to be done and words to be written!

 

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 Universe is Going to be a Scary Place

I don’t blog enough. I’d like to, but I don’t. I think about bloggable topics all the time, but thinking and finding the time to write those thoughts down are few are far between. When I do blog, I try to keep it as on topic as possible for the majority of people interested in my blog. Books. My books, in particular. So, with that said, here’s the latest on what’s happening.

Vitalis: Valkyries is what’s happening. It’s book #9 in the Vitalis series and I’m happy to announce it went out to my editor last night. I anticipate releasing it late this month or possible very early next month. I apologize for the delay, I didn’t remember to schedule time with my cover artist and editor in a timely manner.

So what’s Valkyries about? Well, it picks up a few weeks after Commandos finishes. It includes those characters as well, focusing on Lieutenant Simms and Corporal Mendez primarily. There are plenty of new and old characters too though. Astra and Leona are back, for example, and there are four new people joining the story (Pandora, Shannon, Evan, and Faramor). The story takes place back on Earth and not only explores what’s happening there, but it opens up a whole lot of other opportunities down the road.

That’s a quick hint of what’s coming in a couple of weeks. Now for my next project. I was inspired by something I read recently, a story by an amateur writer that explored a man trapped in an Amazon culture. I liked it so much, it made me want to write something similar. Not about Amazons though. My problem was, should I start another story that would possibly become a series, or could I fit it into one of my existing settings? Dark Earth seemed a natural, but there were a lot of reasons I didn’t want to do that.

Enter Dawn Michelle (my wife).  I was talking to her about it and discussing my protagonist. She fell in love with him right away (in a sort of platonic way…I think. He’s fictional, so at least I’ve got that going for me). She demanded that I stop ignoring her and help her finish up her Continuum series that was first exposed in Claimed by the Dragon King (part of the recent Christmas anthology she took place in that landed her another spot on the USA Today bestsellers list). This character, you see, would fit perfectly into that series. Book 2, in fact, would focus on him.

So what was my idea became ours (come on guys, you know that’s how marriage works, and no, ladies, I’m not complaining). I’m okay with it though, because we’ve been working on the concept and it sounds extremely cool. It’ll be a joint effort between us, but with her name on the cover since it’s her series. Fast paced and action packed fun, with the main character being somewhat of a cross between a playboy and a hero straight out of Greek and Roman mythology. And let’s not forget the gargoyles, wyverns, dragons, and other mythical creatures that are coming out to play. After all, this guy is the first full blooded heir to the Kingdom of Atlantis in thousands of years.

 

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

Mother Nature’s a Witch

Believe it or not, I’m not writing to complain about the crappy weather in Michigan. We’ve had summer here, at least one or two days of it in between the cold and the rain. No, I’m referring to the awesome power of nature and just what it can do. Especially when we extend natural phenomena beyond our own planet and into the solar system and universe that surrounds us.

A great example of one such possibility can be found in my latest release, The Vault. The book takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, but yet it’s not the typical war torn world with enemies lurking in every shattered building. The Vault is our present day Earth after a perfectly natural catastrophe has occurred. The kind that wipes out nearly all life on a planet: an asteroid. Not even Bruce Willis can save us this time, and the governments of the earth know it. They know it, and they keep it a secret to themselves.

For millions of people, life is over after a brief but beautiful show of fire and light in the sky. For the billions that remains it takes days, weeks, and for some months for the horrible winter that settles over the planet to kill them. By the time a year has passed only a privileged few remain tucked away inside vaults hidden deep in the ground. The Vault is the story of a group of survivors that return to the surface to discover what remains of the world above.

Rather than give any spoilers away, I’m going to end the description there. I will say that before doing research for this story and writing it, I had no idea just how scary rocks can be. Especially when they fall from the sky at 20 – 30 kilometers per second and rival the size of a city. There’s really not anywhere to hide if that were to happen. And the scariest part is that it’s happened before to the Earth and it will happen again. Hopefully by the time it does we’ll be ready to find a way to save as many people as we can.

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Now it’s time to chase away the grim chill running down my spine and talk about something else. My next book! I’m working on the next Vitalis book and it has been a pure joy to write so far. I’m nearly a quarter done with it already, and I’ve only been working on it a few days so far. Like most Vitalis books, this mixes in some new characters with some old ones. It is a return to Earth (asteroid free, thankfully). Although in place of asteroids there are plenty of other threats that exist, pitting people against not only each other, but they must also struggle to survive against a wild and savage nature influenced by Vitalis. And, hopefully along the way, a couple of them might even find each other. After all, extreme situations can lead to some very intense romantic relationships.

 

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.

Authoring Like a Boss

I just finished The Vault, a book I wrote that takes place in a post-apocalyptic North America (New York, to be precise). I intended it to be a novella but it got away from me and turned into something bigger, longer, and better. It was a book full of lessons for me too, as it detoured away from areas I am more comfortable with (science fiction / fantasy), and yet I could not use a lot of modern conveniences in it (no running water, electricity, etc.).

In fact, The Vault is set a year after a very impressive asteroid falls out of the sky and lands in the Atlantic Ocean, just west of the Bahamas. People around the world are wiped out, either right away or over the next several months as the sun is blotted out by debris, acid rain scours the planet, and the food chain is wiped out. All in all, it’s a pretty grim time, but there are survivors – otherwise how boring would it be to write about a barren rock we used to call home?

But that’s another story that’s already been told. It’s in my editor’s hands and when she’s finished with it, I’ll make it available. A week or two is my guess. I was inspired to write it by the success of my second book I ever released, Wanted. That book (and the series it spawned) has arguably been my most successful book. My hope is that I can recapture some of the magic in Wanted in the post-apocalyptic setting, although this one is very different both in setting and in the amount of people remaining. If it does well, who knows where it might lead later on?

That’s for later, this is now. And now it is time for me to once again take up the glowing crystal spear and knife and revisit the universe of Vitalis. When I last left Vitalis there was a group of bad-asses on Vitalis that were training and developing themselves. They have their orders now, and they are ready to return to Earth. Their mission: become the enemy so they can defeat the enemy. Pity the name “Suicide Squad” has already been taken, it might have made a great title.

At this point, after I finish up Vitalis #9 I’ll finally move back to Voidhawk and finish the rather epic storyline that was unearthed in Fallen Goddess. Not to mention addressing the hole that I left in the hearts of both the Voidhawk’s crew and myself when Jenna was lost. Finishing that story is going to require the third and final book in the Serpent’s War trilogy to be written as well.

Somewhere in there I need another Dark Universe book and another Terminus book. Good thing it’s only May – I have a lot planned for this year still!

As a special note, I’ve been doing a lot of research on character development and interaction recently and I really hope it begins to show in Vitalis and beyond (not that the characters haven’t developed and grown already, it’s just some new things I want to introduce).

 

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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