Archive

Posts Tagged ‘total recall’

Writing When What I Should Be Doing is Writing

January 16, 2013 1 comment

I sat down with a little time to spare this morning and tried to figure out what I should be doing. Relax? Heck no! Spare time is time that should be filled with something productive, after all. My options were more studying for a certification I’m working towards or I could do some writing on my current work in progress, The Broken Path (book 3 in my Blades of Leander fantasy series). The Broken Path scares me a little though. In the three days since I officially started it I’ve thrown down over 15,000 words on it. For my non-writing readers, that’s a considerable amount.

So rather than leaping into another feverish and obsessive writing spree I decided I should write about writing instead. Thus I’m here, tossing words on a screen for this blog. It’s not a waste of time, provided I’ve entertained or educated someone out there, but it may also not be as productive as working on the story. But that’s okay.

I’ve read some interviews or viewpoints from some writers that say writers shouldn’t blog. They think they should spend time writing, not doing activities that takes away from that. Others, including myself, have argued that it can be creatively helpful to write up a blog post to get the juices flowing and make a transition into working on the next great story that much easier. Then there’s some people that think blogging is essential to the success of a writer because it allows them to interact with readers and promote / market themselves.

Well I’m all for marketing and promotion. I suck at it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a firm believer that people can’t buy what they don’t know about. I have to take a page out of the book I’m reading right now (Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography) where he talks repeatedly about how his movies and his career was a success because of how much marketing he personally did for them. Internationally, no less. The man went as many places as he could to push his movies and convince distributors and theatres to show them, as well as working with the movie studios on the promotional campaigns for them. One example is Total Recall (the movie, not the book, and not the recent movie with Colin Farrell). The original trailers sucked for it and nobody was interested because it hadn’t been promoted worth a darn. Arnold was upset about that and arranged to get the head of the studio to watch an advanced screening with him 3 weeks out from release date. The guy was blown away by the film and disgusted by what his people were doing to promote it. They brought in an outside firm and in those three weeks boosted the public interest so much that Total Recall was one of the highest selling blockbusters that year. Had it not been for that promotion it still would have been a good movie, but hardly anybody would have known about it.

So is promotion and marketing important? Hell yes. The vast majority of us don’t have the budget to invest to achieve that kind of success though. Instead flukes like 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight somehow become viral through chance. Or maybe, like John Locke, they’ve got some hidden secret they figured out that was just right for the time when they hit it big, granting them the opportunity to skyrocket into the stars. Mr. Locke’s secret isn’t so secret anymore, he bought tons of reviews for his books when they came out, boosting them in the charts and convincing people that they were great books. To his credit, his books continue to sell and I don’t hear about too many people that say his books are poorly written. Apparently the ends justifies the means in this case.

So will blogging help me reach that level? I doubt it. It’s a fun thing to do and it helps me ramp up my productivity though. Maybe it helps other writers, readers, and random people from all walks of life too. What I can say is that I have had very few readers reach me via my blog. My feedback with readers almost always comes through email, and that’s not an infrequent thing. I respond to them all and enjoy doing so – with some conversations taking place back and forth for a few days. But those readers always tell me about the books and the characters they enjoyed, they don’t mention how my blog was a wonderful thing for them to find and enjoy.

Instead I’ll keep on trying different things and doing what I can to build my brand. I’ve found that writing a large number of books definitely helps. Kind of like salmon fishing with six lines in the water at once instead of sitting on a dock with a fishing pole in my hand – the more opportunities there are for people to find me, the better my odds are. But that’s still not much better than tossing darts while blindfolded. What I’m ultimately trying to find is a way to shine a light on my books and let people know where they are and that yes, they really are a great book.

To prove my point I just read a five star review this morning from someone about Bounty and my Wanted trilogy in general where they said, “I’m not recommending that you buy these books, I’m tell you that you must buy these books!” That’s the kind of feedback I’m getting from people and that’s why I believe that my books are worth reading.

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.

My Pants Are On Fire!

Back around 2004 I held the match used to light a fire under my own ass a little to close. I haven’t been able to put the flames out since. No, there’s no burning sensation when I go to the bathroom, it’s all about motivation and self-discipline.

I received a Christmas present from my wife and kids that seems a little funny. It was a book. A giant hardcover book. I write books, what do I need to read one for? Not only that, but I’m a huge proponent of ebooks, what’s this boat anchor doing on my desk? First and foremost, a writer that does not read is a writer doomed to obscurity. Secondly, it’s no simple task to get somebody else an ebook for a gift. Oh sure, it can be done, but I think that Amazon needs to come up with a way to make it a simpler process.

So what book was it and how does this have anything to do with my pants being on fire? The book is Total Recall. It has nothing to do with freeing Mars from an oppressive regime (nor does it involve Colin Farrell). Total Recall is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography. So far I’m only about a third of a way into it, but that’s due to lack of opportunity, not lack of interest.

I grew up in rural Michigan. No, not on a farm. Yes, I grew up learning to shoot guns and we ate the larger furry critters for dinner when we could. We had electricity and modern conveniences, though I was eternally upset that we couldn’t get cable TV and in those days a satellite dish was outrageous. So I read and watched movies and found ways to go outside and entertain myself (see the aforementioned “shooting things”). About the age of 8 I stumbled across a movie on network television called Conan the Barbarian that my dad was watching. I was instantly mesmerized. As soon as I could I had him rent the unedited version on VHS tape (it may have been a few years until VHS was available, come to think of it). Then sometime later I bought the tape and watched it again and again, as well as the sequel, Conan the Destroyer.

I loved fantasy, so that wasn’t surprising that I’d take to those movies. It was more than that though for me. I felt the story and I connected with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I had it good compared to him, but I didn’t know that. I was a stupid kid who thought he lived a miserable life. Nevertheless, I was sucked in and eventually ended up owning all of his movies on VHS that were available. These days I still have several of them, but they’re on DVD. And yes, there are couple of real stinkers in the group, but you take the good with the bad.

I read up on the guy over the years and followed him as best I could. What a story he had, it was something the best of fiction writers couldn’t make up. Or, if they did, nobody would dare to believe it. A poor Austrian kid that managed to rise to the highest level of athletics, international stardom, and even land the position as the governor of California? Who does that? Whether you agree with his beliefs or like him or not, I think everybody alive has to respect his accomplishments.

And now, reading his autobiography, I feel a lot of things clicking for me. Of course the book is a matter of hindsight and I’m sure he’s remembering and portraying only the more positive things in his life. He mentions a few mistakes here and there, but this guy is a salesman – he knows how to put a spin on things. Even so, the drive and the way in which he set goals and worked towards them leaves me with warm fuzzy feelings. If he accomplished all that he did using his methods, it makes me excited about my own future. I woke up in 2004, so to speak, and stopped being lazy. I went back to school not because I wanted to, but because I needed to in order to accomplish the goals I set for myself. I got back into working out and not only improved my health, but I won some powerlifting contests and set a few state records (that have since been beaten). I took my writing seriously and was picked up by a small publisher, then I launched out on my own and started my own publishing company with the help of a friend. My books are doing better than ever these days and I hope one day down the road they’ll hit the point that I can make writing my one and only profession.

I have no interest in politics or acting, but I have a lot of things left I want to accomplish. Reading Total Recall is reaffirming my drive and letting me know that somehow I may have stumbled across the path to success. I compare it to working out – no matter what the routine is or who the trainer is, each weightlifter is different. Each body is different, and only by discovering for yourself what works and what doesn’t can the optimal growth be achieved. I still lift some pretty damn heavy weights even though I don’t compete anymore because I know that’s what my body needs. I know it’s the same level of hard work and dedication that’s necessary some times to write through a tough part in a book or to get through learning the next technology I need to master in order to finish my next project at my day job. It’s about setting goals, working hard, and not making or accepting excuses.

And maybe, one day, I’ll be able to write a book like Total Recall that people will be interested in. I doubt it – I have no interest in celebritizing myself, but I learned long ago to never turn away from an opportunity!

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.

 

Signing Off

December 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Because shopping, family visits, making kids happy, and Christmas in general isn’t a complicated and stressful enough, we decided to move at the same time! Yep, the boxes are packed and the furniture’s lined up in the garage waiting for the moving truck to show up tomorrow morning. We load it and head off to Michigan. Two years in Ohio and, aside from an overly intense day job complete with ignorant people in strategic positions, it’s been a good time. We met some great people here and I’m sad to leave them behind. We’ll be less than 4 hours away and we have every intention of keeping in touch, but it still sucks that we can’t take them with us.

Another item that sucks is my new Internet won’t be installed until the 31st of December! Yeah, 5 days without Internet. Big deal, right? Well yes, it is. A sizable part of my income is generated by having Internet access. Losing it for the better part of a week has me irritated. I’ll have my smartphone, but that’s nowhere near the same thing.

Ah well, maybe it’ll give me time to write…in between unpacking and settling in. And more visits from family. Well I’ll try! I’m at or just beyond the halfway point of Victim of Fate and it’s a great book! Had another neat idea for a new one yesterday too, one that would be a stand-alone sci-fi novel. I admit, it was inspired by the new Total Recall (entertaining and fun movie, but it doesn’t replace the original for me. It can stand beside it though, unlike the new Conan the Barbarian which was nothing compared to the original). But don’t worry, I don’t have any plans for recreating the altered memory storyline at all.

So until either the 31st or maybe even 2013, happy holidays to everyone and have a great time! And thanks for reading my random musings as I come up with them!

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.