Posts Tagged ‘Cover art’

The Price of Beauty

Our culture puts a premium on aesthetics. Sculpted figures, plucked eyebrows, laser depilliation, and cosmetic surgery. It’s a multi-billion dollar business and it makes a person wonder if it’s all worth it. The great news is, this post has NOTHING to do with any of that!

I’m a writer anxious to find any ethical means possible to sell my books. Part of that means having some outstanding cover art for them. By and large, I’ve surpassed that goal with everything I have. But sometimes there are exceptions to that rule. Exceptions that knock even my personal standards away… but more on that in a moment.

For my 50th title available for sale, I put together my fantasy series, Order of the Dragon. It consists of four books that continue the adventures of the characters in the Blades of Leander trilogy. This comes right after I put out a 4th book in my Wanted series, which meant my trilogy omnibus needed to be updated to a series. More cover art changes!

Willsin Rowe to the rescue! Not only did he make the minor changes to the text for Wanted, but he put into reality some work he’d been dabbling with for 3D style cover art. So now Wanted and the new Order of the Dragon boxed sets show some outstanding cover art! The only problem was the original Blades of Leander omnibus – how could we leave it plain and 2D? Willsin put his creative genius to work and a couple of days later he gave me my answer. A new 3D cover for all 3 of them!

But is a new cover art, no matter how amazing, reason enough to buy the book? Well, if you ask me and if it’s about my books – absolutely! But if not, then consider the great deal getting all of these top rated books at once is. How can you go wrong?

Wanted series boxed set, by Jason Halstead Blades of Leander trilogy, by Jason Halstead Order of the Dragon fantasy omnibus, by Jason Halstead

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


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


A New Look

December 14, 2011 1 comment

Voidhawk – The Elder Race, has a fresh face on it. The new cover art (by Willsin Rowe) continues the new look of Voidhawk and really spices things up. The original art, I’m not afraid to say, always bothered me. Quickly thrown together and mismatching, I was miffed but forced to accept it. The new stuff, on the other hand, is sharp, has some great contrast, and really pops off the stage.

Check it out yourself – and if you like it start with book 1, Voidhawk, which is only $.99 on Amazon!

Voidhawk, book 2, by Jason Halstead

Voidhawk - The Elder Race, on Amazon


Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble


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

Cover Me, I’m Trying Something New!

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

The “Cover” I’m talking about is new cover art! This time it’s Voidhawk, my first book with some fresh new art from Willsin Rowe (artist extraordinaire!). But wait, this isn’t just a simple collection of images joined together to make a cool looking cover, he had to create much of this from scratch. That, my friends, is the true mark of a craftsman! Go check his website out ( and feel free to hit him up if you’ve got some artwork you need done.

In the meantime, here’s the new cover for Voidhawk:

Voidhawk, by Jason Halstead


Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble


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

Starting Over

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I emerged from my warm house this morning to find a blanket of heavy snow on the ground. I believe I may have said a bad word. Or five. I need new windshield wipers on my car and my windshield washer fluid is low. Oops, another bad word just slipped out. Yes, it’s November and yes, I live in northeastern Ohio. Suck it up, right?

Well not to worry, in spite of the inconvenience of cold hands and slow drivers, I remain positive. Very positive, in fact, because Willsin Rowe and I finished a great new cover for one of my books last night. The book is Dark Earth and it was supposed to be my attempt to enter the YA genre. It turns out I have a hard time telling a story from the perspective of a thirteen year old girl, so instead it launched my first foray into urban fantasy / paranormal.

Dark Earth follows Eric Baxter, a devoted single father who has not had the easiest life. His daughter, it turns out, is very special. So special that people want to kill her. It becomes Eric’s job to protect her, even if that puts the world as we know it in jeopardy. We all know the good of the many is supposed to outweigh the good of the few, but try telling that to a man who’s lost everything except his little girl.

In the process of keeping her safe Eric learns that part of what makes Jessica so special comes from him. He’s got a little something special inside him too, something that comes out when the moon is full.

Dark Earth also establishes my Dark Earth series. Already published in this series are The Lost Girls and Voices, with Traitor pending release in December of 2011 or possibly early in 2012.

Paranormal thriller Dark Earth

Dark Earth, by Jason Halstead


Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble


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

Overcoming Random Writing Pitfalls

October 31, 2011 5 comments

It occurred to me that I’ve been blogging for a while now and the value of my blogs to my fellow writers might not have been as helpful as it has been in the past. Oh sure, I’m trying to share what I learn as I fight my way into the industry, but I’m contacted fairly regularly by people who are at the beginning phases and are desperate for help in trying to achieve their dreams.

First a disclaimer: I’m still reaching for my dreams, I’m not there yet. What are my dreams? Making writing my day job. I know some people who have reached that point though, and without exception they are stand up people that I’d be happy to spend time with. I’m working on it though and to that point I’ve made my way up to over 150 books sold a month, including some wonderful people in Europe. So take my advice as my opinions only. These tricks and tips work for me, but maybe the won’t for you. Even if they don’t I encourage you to read them with an open mind and see if maybe they might spawn some out of the box idea that will help you when you’re in a bind. With that said, on to the questions:

I want to write a book about such-and-such, but I don’t know how to start it!

This is an easy one for me. Make yourself the main character. Sure, it can be a little awkward if the main character is significantly different from yourself, but I’m not suggesting you dress like the character or anything. Just put yourself in that character’s shoes. Once you’ve accomplished that, figure out what the character is going to be doing at any given point and then start writing about it. Ideally your story should start with an explosion. Not necessarily a literal one, but some event or scene with instant excitement that has the reader hooked as quickly as possible. As an example, a book I’m editing right now (Traitor, the sequel to The Lost Girls) starts with my main character out shopping with a friend when she spots a suspicious couple. She trails them, convinced that the girl is under duress and the guy is going to do something particularly nasty to her. This is confirmed when she discovers they’ve slipped into a restricted section of the mall behind a locked door. Out comes the badge and the gun – my main character’s in her prime now, this is what she lives for.

I’ve been working on a story but I’m stuck!

This happens to me too. I deal with it in different ways. Some times I need to shelve the book for a little bit and work on something else. My subconscious keeps working on it though and at some point it forces its way back into the foreground and says, “Since you can’t figure this out, I did it for you – now write this!”

Other times I need to reread it and revise it. My original plans for Wanted involved a lot more happening in that first book. There was supposed to be one character running away from the others who then got “rescued” by a scary group of people. Convinced he needed to win their trust he’d try to become one of them and betray his former companions, all the while that former group would be searching for him. I got stuck though – it didn’t make sense and I couldn’t figure out a way around it. Rather than load it full of BS that I wouldn’t buy I took a step back and then realized I had the perfect solution. It required me blowing away over 8,000 words of the story, then rewriting it so that it ended a lot sooner than I’d first planned. It was a much better story at that point though. Readers agree – Wanted outsells every other book I have by at least a ratio of 4:1 and I regularly get feedback praising the book. In fact, I got so much positive feedback I was compelled to write a sequel called Ice Princess.

So my advice for this is to make sure you’re not forcing something that doesn’t work. Rather than trying to pound that square peg in a round hole see if maybe you should change things so that it fits better. It might not be what you wanted, but if you keep an open mind you’ll probably be a lot happier with the finished product.

I wrote a book, but it’s unpublished and I don’t know what to do with it!

It used to be that was the case of a lot of people with good stories to tell. These days publishing is changing. A lot. I’ve been trying to get people to read my stuff via the Internet since the early 90s – unfortunately I didn’t know how to write back then so it was a crap shoot at best for me. These days I’m a much better writer and there are all sorts of opportunities for people who are willing to publish both digitally and via print. A few print on demand companies exist that are affordable, if you feel you must see your book in print (Createspace, Lightning Source, Lulu, and others). I use Createspace myself, though I often get angry when doing so for a variety of reasons I won’t go into. To be honest, those reasons are likely to be my own quirks as much as they are problems with the company. Worth mentioning is that I only get the print version of the books for either giveaways or for gifts to those who aren’t interested in an e-reader.

Ebooks, on the other hand, are the way of the future. Print books will never go away, but they have been showing steady declines in sales compared to their digital counterparts. Likewise using a POD service will most likely not get you through the doors and into major bookstore retailers. With an ebook that is not the case! Amazon and Barnes and Nobles both have massive online presence catering to their ereaders. I prefer the Kindle myself, but that’s only because I haven’t played with the Nook. I have friends who prefer the Nook from Barnes and Noble. In either case, as a writer you can self-publish your work via Amazon’s KDP site or the Barnes and Noble PubIt website. Alternatively there’s Smashwords, another great epublishing site that will also reach out to both Amazon and Barnes and Nobles, as well as many other distribution channels. Only problem with Smashwords is the delay in getting royalties from the downstream e-tailers.

That’s all there is to it – just self-publish and watch the success come rolling in!

Or wait, maybe it’s not so simple. What about cover art for the book? Editing? Marketing and promotion? Yeah, it’s a lot more complicated than I’d ever realized. That’s one of the backbones of my blog, my exploration into the trials of publishing. It can be done on your own and it can be done at very low cost. Or if you want some help you can try to find one of the many publishing companies that have sprung up recently. I’ve got one too that I co-own with a friend and fellow writer. She’s also a wickedly good editor, with added emphasis on the “wicked”. She wields that red pen like a scythe some days. Anyhow, if you think you’ve got a good enough book and want to send it our way, stop by our website at and click on submissions. We focus on filling in the holes we experienced with other publishers – bad communication, poor business intelligence info, infrequent royalty payments, and a lack of marketing / promotion to say the least. Oh, and the author keeps 70% – 75% of the royalties. We’re here to help each other out, not to get rich off of someone else’s hard work.

Those are the three big questions I see the most – at least among questions not centered around me or my own work. And since this isn’t about me, there’s no reason to bother anyone with that Q & A. I’m happy to field more questions though! If you’ve got them post them as a comment or send me an email ( I love helping other writers out – it helps me out just as much.

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

Fresh on the Shelves – Ice Princess!

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Okay, it’s not on the shelves yet…a few more days, but I’ve got the finished draft of the cover art on hand and here’s a sneak peak of it!

Ice Princess, 2nd book in Wanted series, by Jason Halstead

Ice Princess, the second book in the Wanted series

Oh yeah, it’ll be on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Smashwords, Kobo, iBook, and anywhere else I can think to put it. Help a starving artist out and pick up your copy as soon as it’s available – a good day of sales can push it into one of Amazon’s top selling lists and that’ll help me save towards becoming eccentric in my old age!

By the way, the cover art is by A.J McLain, and every sale sends a little something his way too. Just think, for less than a cup of premium coffee you can help out two people AND be entertained longer than that cup of coffee would last you.

Okay, cheesy sales pitch over, pardon me for my excitement at seeing this book getting close to its release.