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I Choose Fantasy

February 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Rise of the Serpent, Book 2 in the Serpent's War series, by Jason HalsteadThis blog post isn’t so much a new release blurb so much as a call for me to ask WTF is wrong with America. See that picture above? I’m told it’s too scary and sexy. I’ve gotten feedback telling me people expect it to be fantasy porn to “rapey”. The nicest feedback in that camp is “sexy wrestlemania.”

To be fair, there’s been a few people that don’t see it that way at all. They like the cover. Heck, I like the cover, I think it’s really awesome. It shows a strong warrior who has the crazy eyes going on. Why? Well it’s not because he wants to take the athletic woman covered in snakeskin tattoos to a dark alley and do violent / pornographic things to her! The big guy has a story and a lot of depth to him, none of which includes any particular or unnecessary violence towards women. Yet the feedback I’m getting about that cover is that the guy is what’s freaking people out, not the girl.

So this question is not about the cover, it’s about what the hell is wrong with society. Why is it such a frightening or dreadful thing for a man to be large and muscular? I get the crazy eyes bit, but that harness he’s wearing has nothing to do with 50 Shades of Grey, it’s appropriate attire for his time and place. Has Planet Fitness won with their bullshit propaganda about big hard working athletic men and women are to be ridiculed and feared?

I’ve busted my ass in the gym for most of my adult life and built myself into a large and physically powerful man. Does that mean women and children should run screaming from me because I’m obviously going to chase them into a dark alley and do bad things to them?

I know I can’t change the horrible mess that our culture and society is becoming. Books have been accused of being subversive, or at least as catalysts of societal change. 70+ books later, society keeps getting more and more out of whack with what makes sense. With age comes the wisdom to see such things and to modify what I say and do and deliver to fit the times, but it also comes with bitterness. To that end, I am looking at redoing some of my covers in hopes of drawing in a bigger crowd of people.

Because of all of this, I choose to dream and spend as much time as possible in fantasy. I want to revel in stories and worlds where dedication and commitment is admired. Where people aren’t made fun of for trying to be better at what they believe in. I want to read about heroes that act on principle, rather than being afraid to stand out and be different. That’s what I want, and that’s what I write. People who make a difference for the better. Sadly, my heroes these days are fictional. The world is lacking in champions that I can find admirable.

If you’re like me and you like to escape the politically correct nonsense we live in, maybe you should ignore the threatening cover and try out the book above. It’s the second one in my Serpent’s War series.

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Scribd

Page Foundry / Inktera

Next up on my plate is Out of the Dark, the sequel to Into the Dark. Or, if you prefer, book 2 in the Dark Universe setting. After that? Probably the eighth Voidhawk book, the eighth Vitalis book, or maybe even book 3 in the Dark Universe series.

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.

Look Ma, New Ads!

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Continuing the website rebuild project I’ve added a section on the bottom left. I forget what I called it, but it’s under my newsletter signup form. The content of this section is a single ad chosen randomly among the ads I have on file. So far I’ve got four, one for my wife, a couple of other authors, and another to a new website put up to showcase free reads on the Kindle.

My plan? Millions of dollars in advertising revenue, of course! Okay, maybe not. In fact, I’m not charging a damn thing for this. Stupid? Maybe, but I don’t figure I can justify charging until I know if it does any good. So far the results are disappointing, but I am tracking the number of displays and number of clicks. Then, if things do eventually start working out, I may dig deeper into monetizing it.

But how? Am I going to be one of THOSE guys that charges for ad space? Maybe…but probably not. I’d rather go with an affiliate account and spare my fellow starving writers. That and I have this annoying habit of trying to help people. Sure, my ulterior motive is that if they succeed I can ride their coat tails into greatness, but so far I remain firmly entrenched in the helping others mode.

This experiment did get me thinking though. What other web pages can I build up to help myself and others? The http://www.readfantasy.org ad I added last night really got me thinking. Except that’s already been done now, so what else can I do? Happily taking ideas if anybody has them.

And yes, I need to build up a website for Dawn Michelle too, but that’s going to take a little more time and effort. Meanwhile I’ve still got to write. Rise of the Serpent is coming very soon and I’m on chapter four of Out of the Dark, book two in the Dark Universe series. At this rate I should have Out of the Dark ready to go by mid to late March, as long as I can do my part and my editor and cover artist are available.

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.

It’s Alive!

February 7, 2015 Leave a comment

After years of neglect, it’s time to try again

 

I’m talking about my website. It’s been old, dusty, and unmaintained for far too long. Well after the last week of work, I’m happy to say that’s not the case anymore! Not only did I give it a complete overhaul, but I changed technologies to make it faster and more secure, and switched it from my old twitchy ISP to be hosted on my own server sitting a few feet behind me.

Try it out and see what you think. ALL of my books are on there now (listed by series), as well as handy links for free books and audio books. My past newsletters are archived there, and there’s a direct feed from my blog. It’s almost like I knew what I was doing!

But I can’t take all the credit. My wife, the lovely Dawn Michelle, provided a lot of assistance in picking colors and laying things out (and by a lot I mean damn near all of them – I can’t pick one decent color, let alone the half dozen or more used in a website). My beta testing team consisted of a wonderful group of writers and readers too lengthy to list – but I express my heartfelt appreciation to them all.

Check it out, It’s www.booksbyjason.com.

But wait, I mentioned multiple releases…what else have I got up my sleeve? Rise of the Serpent, book 2 in The Serpent’s War fantasy series. No, it’s not available just yet, but it will be very soon. I’ve got a soft date of Feb 15 from my editor and I’ve been actively working on cover art with one of my amazing cover artists.

And now that I’ve hit a happy point with the website, it’s time to get back to writing! Dark Universe, here I come… I’ve been dreaming up all sorts of ideas to put into the sequel for Into the Dark. Now I get my chance to make it happen! But don’t worry, fans of Vitalis and Voidhawk, those are coming soon too.

Thanks for the patience while the construction dust settles. Now it’s time for me to get back to work to get the books flowing again.

 

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 Cost of Writing…and other BS

January 29, 2015 4 comments

Anybody in the world of writing has probably seen all the hoopla about an article in Salon by some lady who’s name I don’t remember. She went on ad nauseum to discuss how success was only possible because her husband made a substantial income that allowed her to stay at home and write. Everybody else wouldn’t talk about the money or where it came from, it was taboo.

Uh… no. I’ve been talking about it for years. And I’ve been working my tail off too. And not just at writing, I’ve got a day job too. I’ve always had a day job. And I’ve written. And I went to school for three degrees. And I have two young children and a wife I adore.

Since 2009 I’ve been doing all of that and writing professionally. The schooling ended a couple of years ago after I finished my MBA, but nothing else did. This year I have over 30 releases planned, from several full length novels and a few novellas to multiple serials. In 2014 I put out 22, so it’s very realistic.

What about the numbers for 2014? Well, they weren’t nearly as good as 2013, unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean they were dismal or upsetting. I damn near hit $60k with books, after all! What worked best? Science Fiction and some (not all) fantasy. Summer, fall, and winter saw definite plunges in ebook sales. I offset it with a combined exploratory effort into paranormal romance with my wife and that, in turn, led me to a NY Time and USA Today bestseller spot.

Yet I’m still at the day job and struggling to get sales back up to levels I can accept. I’m dabbling in advertising, something I’ve had no success with in the past. It’s helping a little, and between that and a new book that’s doing quite well (Into the Dark, a new science fiction book that will begin my Dark Universe series), things are coming back around. Fantasy, sadly, seems to be dying off for me.

But you want the details nobody else gives you. I’m here to deliver:

Title Genre # Books 2014 Royalties
Blades of Leander Fantasy 3 $5,155
Order of the Dragon Fantasy 4 $3,998
Serpent’s War Fantasy 1 (2 more in 2015) $43
Homeland Intrigue, Erotica 2 $156
Dark Earth Urban Fantasy, Paranormal 5 $1,120
The Lost Girls Sci-fi, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy 5 $5,386
Vitalis Sci-fi 7 $11,741
Voidhawk Fantasy, Space Opera 7 $10,454
Wanted Sci-fi, Post-Apocalyptic 4 $9,568
Fallen Angels Urban Fantasy, Occult 3 $438
Transcendent Sci-Fi 1 $105
Claimed by the Beast Paranormal Romance (shifters) 6 $6,133
Blood Kissed Paranormal Romance (vamps) 2 (1 more in 2015) $97

 

You might notice all the links above. That’s my subtle way of inviting you to check them out and see why they are as successful as they’ve been – or not as successful as they should be. And this paragraph? Well, this one is the same thing, except maybe not as subtle!

I’ve been very disappointed with the response to Serpent’s War, for example. After two great fantasy series in the world of Kroth (Blades of Leander and Order of the Dragon), as well as a Voidhawk book (Broken Shards) that visited the world, Serpent’s War is pretty much tanking. I will finish book two (Rise of the Serpent) this week and get it to my editor for a release hopefully in mid to late February), but I’m not expecting much. I wrote it because it needed to be written, as does the third book in the series.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing up touches on a new paranormal romance series about werewolves and a young woman that’s been terrorized by them most of her life. Tooth and Nayelle has five parts that are releasing on a regular cadence through late March / early April. My next project is probably going to be chasing the success of Into the Dark, then I’ll work with my wife, Dawn Michelle, to capture more of the magic she and I make together in the PNR world.

Other projects for 2015? I don’t have them handy, but I’m planning two Voidhawk books, 2 Vitalis books, finishing off the Serpent’s War trilogy, and probably turning my Dark Universe series into at least three books. It’s going to be a busy year, but I’m also going to be working a day job full time because I’ve got bills to pay and a need for medical insurance I can afford.

To those who feel they can only write if they live an otherwise pampered life? Suck it up and get your hands dirty. You might learn something, even if it’s only about yourself.

 

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 Future is a Dark Place… and I Can’t Wait!

January 10, 2015 4 comments

I’ve written science fiction for years now. Post-apocalyptic, near future, mid future, and futuristic. I’ve had aliens devastate the earth and I’ve had humans expand and conquer our solar system and others. It’s been a blast and I love it.

I’ve done the same thing with fantasy settings, minus the aliens. Creatures and monsters aplenty to make up for the missing aliens though. New worlds and magic and sweeping storylines that take characters from the brink of childhood to epic destinies. I love that too.

I’ve bridged the two, blending science fiction and fantasy into urban fantasy and paranormal storylines that take place now and in the near future. Putting two of my favorite genres together can only have one outcome – more love!

So with that out of the way, I’m announcing the next big thing. Dark Universe, my new futuristic science fiction and fantasy series. Into the Dark opens the series in a spectacular way and sets the stage for the unlimited and amazing things that have yet to come.

But why should you care enough to spend a couple of bucks on it? Well, it’s a story for everyone, from diehard sci-fi lovers to people who just enjoy great characters and a great story, no matter what the environment. The book doesn’t go overboard on technology, but it also keeps things realistic. There’s romance, action, adventure, and aliens. All kinds of aliens. Furry ones, chitinous ones. Blue skinned ones. Green skinned ones. Orange skinned ones. Aliens with tentacles. Aliens that walk on four legs instead of two. And good old fashioned Terrans. The humans are the newcomers to the space race, actually, and are trying real hard to play catch up.

The book really has something for everyone, from space fights and fancy things to go boom in the night to complicated relationships and the dynamic stress that brings. There’s humor, there’s emotion, and there’s even a little bit of bow-chikka-wow-wow.

Why did I write it? Why wasn’t Vitalis or Voidhawk good enough? Well they are, but this is different. This is a combination of Vitalis, Voidhawk, and a little bit of extra fun that was inspired, I admit, by watching Guardians of the Galaxy. Inspired by, but by no means a copy of.

Into the Dark takes science fiction to a new place and exposes it to Arthur C. Clark’s law that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. That, my friends, is where the fantasy ties in. Give it a shot, I dare you to be disappointed!

 

Book 1 in the Dark Universe science fiction and fantasy series by Jason Halstead

Available now!

Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble (coming soon!)
iTunes (coming soon!)
Kobo (coming soon!)
Scribd (coming soon!)
Page Foundry / Inktera (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.

Five Years Later

December 3, 2014 1 comment

I’ve been writing professionally for 5 years now, more or less. A little more, truth be told, but I’ll round down. The point is, that feels like a long time. Not including the current book I’m writing, it’s 4,184,000 published words worth of time. That’s a lot of keys being slapped around.

What have I learned? A lot. Unfortunately, a lot of the lessons require unlearning something I learned the month before. For example, just this morning my wife got an email from an ARC reader stating she loved her book, but she was worried at first because of the details and backstory. She wanted to skip past the potato salad and get to the meat right away.

When I saw that I stiffened in my chair and stared at the screen in a serious WTF moment. I’d been criticized by readers in the past for not providing enough potato salad! My only consolation is the disparity in genres. I was chastised for short sci-fi novellas at the time. My wife’s market of choice is paranormal romance. A different breed of reader to be found there. Not better or worse, in my opinion, just readers expecting different things.

So I’ll step back from the tactical and strategic help and focus instead on helping with the writing. As for my work, I’m doing my best to keep it light and fun. Entertainment that turns the pages and makes my readers want to see what crazy stuff I can come up with next. Or at least that’s my current book.

What is my current book? It’s the sci-fi book I’ve been talking about on and off. I still don’t have a name, but I have a lot of ideas and plans. I’ll tease more alien races soon too. Maybe some technology and other random bits of interest about the universe too. It’s the beginning of a setting that, like Vitalis or Voidhawk, could span into an amazing number of stories that just keep building and building.

But I digress. Five years and over 4 million words is a lot of entertainment. I have 11 series of stories out there (most of them ongoing), and over 65 books. I write in multiple genres and have been included in group projects by writers far more financially successful than I am. I’ve even hit the USA Today and NY Times bestseller list this year with an inclusion under a pen name in a group project. By myself? Not a chance! But with others that can afford the promotion necessary to get us there – easy as cake.

The two things writing has boiled down to, for me, are financial success and the ability to be a writer. I am a writer. A prolific and well regarded one, to hear people talk about my work. Financially, however, it’s a rough road to follow. I have a day job and it looks like I won’t be leaving my day job for a very long time. Amazon’s ever changing marketplace keeps knocking me around and, especially lately, dropping me into pretty shaky sales territory. All those titles and it’s still a struggle for me day to day. Not to write, but to see the lackluster copies sold. It’s demoralizing, to say the least.

But that’s what makes a writer a writer. The stubborn mulishness necessary to push ahead and write another chapter. To put ourselves out there when the whims of the market and perhaps even common sense would dictate otherwise. It’s a gamble, you see, but a gamble with nothing but positive side effects. So my book doesn’t sell – I still wrote it. I still lived the adventure. I still explored characters, concepts, and topics I hadn’t thought of before. I may be out the cost of editing and cover art and perhaps a few other things (including time spent), but I learned something, damn it. I made myself a more educated and well-rounded person. I’ve learned more from writing all those books than I learned obtaining three degrees.

That’s the sum total of five years. I’d hoped to have a sports car, a nice house, and time to spend with my writing and my family by now. Well, there’s no car and no house, but I still get my family and the voices in my head to keep me company. It doesn’t matter if the sports car rolls in or not, I’m happy to work on hitting the 5 million word mark and enjoying what I’ve got. There’s a lot of things in my life I can’t control, such as whether or not people buy my books. I can control my happiness though, and I choose to find a way to be happy even when the royalties dip and bills begin to loom. Why would anyone want to live any other way?

 

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.

Some Races Just Can’t Get Along

November 28, 2014 2 comments

It’s a bold statement that flies in the face of the equality, legislation, and simple human decency we’ve been trying to establish. Unfortunately, in some situations, it just can’t be denied. No matter what happens, Tassarians are going to shoot first when they see a Criknid. And who’s to say they’re wrong, the insectoid Criknids have a history of raiding and capturing the soft skinned Tassarians. They are considered a delicacy on the worlds colonized by the Criknid hives.

Oh, wait— you want to know what the hell I’m talking about? Sorry. I forgot to mention, this is a quick intro into some of the alien races to be found in my new, and as yet unnamed, project. It’s futuristic science fiction with a whole lot of adventure, excitement, and fun! So without wasting any more time, here’s some of the known races in the universe and a note or two about them.

Humans / Terrans: Relative newcomers to the space race, thanks to first contact from aliens that didn’t try to overrun our world and instead shared some of their technology with us.

Kesari: Little is known about those strange looking aliens. They are secretive and somewhat disturbing to look at. They resemble an octopus, only with more tentacles. No suckers though, and they body / head is bulbous and green or grey. They are merchants that will sell anything, but are best known for being the only race able to produce the black box-like devices that allow faster than light travel between systems.

Tassarians: A race that favors humid and moist climates. They resemble amphibians from Earth in their genetic makeup, but they are humanoid given to varying levels of vanity. They can be asexual as well, of gender neutral in that they can change genders once or twice in their lives as needed. Their skin ranges in nearly all colors, including shades of blue, red, green, yellow, and brown. They are hairless and have webbed fingers and toes, making them excellent swimmers that are capable of holding their breath many times longer than a human could. Their perceived softness, natural beauty, and preference for negotiations over warfare makes some other races see them as weak. And, in the case of the Criknids, tasty.

Criknids: The Tassarian’s greatest threat. These six limbed chitin covered people have a hive structure of society, but they are highly evolved and are not the termites found on Earth. Far from it, even the lowest ranks of Criknid has a mind of their own and the free will to do as they wish. Their upbringing and instincts, however, lead them to be very martial and matter of fact in nature. Their sense of humor is underdeveloped, by human standards. Having two legs and four arms, as well as a natural exoskeleton and the ability to seal off a severed limb, make them very formidable opponents.

This is just a taste, I have many more sketched out that I’ll be sharing. The Tassarians, for example, have more to fear than just the Criknids. Even if the majority of the known universe is living in a relative sort of piece at the moment, tensions are high from one system to the next and almost everyone has something to gain from another race’s loss.

And that’s only the beginning of the setting. The story I’m working on will blend bits of it all together and span both races, worlds, and the universe as we know it. To over-simplify things, it’s gonna be cool!

 

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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