What’s next for Lee Hall…

I agree the title of this month’s final blog entry is a little self centered but you have to be that in order to write a blog. It’s all about the me apparently and so my second book release has been and gone, sales are still trickling in bringing it to around 20 units sold so far.

My conclusion right now is yes Darke Blood has been a success for an independent author like me but right now I have done all I can to market the book. Much like Open Evening or any book; real success takes investment of time and along the way I have learned a hell of a lot. And now I even have a back catalogue, groovy right?

So what is next for me? Well as an independent author I mostly have control over what I plan to release and what I want to work on next. The turn around time from finishing a draft to publication is around a year or maybe less depending on the quality of the story and availability of editor/publisher/cover artists.

 “Good ol’ ‘CH'”

Yes for those who are aware of the ending of my first book Open Evening (I wont spoil it, that much), it ended with a nod towards where the story was going to go next. The word Cemetery House in all it’s damning glory was mentioned in the final pages and yes that is what I am currently drafting at the moment! I guess that’s an exclusive scoop, of course I will announce that officially when I am ready. But let’s just say I am around 30,000 words in.

Darke Blood 2?

All I can say is read the first one, then we’ll talk about a sequel! Review it and let people know about it. And yes Darke Blood and Open Evening are connected in a way or two.

A super hero comedy book!

Back in 2015 when I decided to drop the series of books about robots in the future I came to a proverbial fork in the road, I was either going to write Open Evening or try having a go at a comic book style hero story. At the time I had more story to go on with Open Evening and so I wrote it, over the last few years I have gathered some ideas of how to make this potential super hero book work, so watch this space.

Acting? No I was just asleep..

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I have been taking a break as of lately in terms of all things stage, and by that I mean all things Iver Heath Drama Club. My efforts were needed towards Darke Blood and IHDC’s current production nodded heavily towards giving their youthful demographic a chance with some big roles for their up and coming show Peter Pan! So naturally I thought it was appropriate to step back for a while and maybe recharge a little.

Right now I have every intention to return to the stage for auditions in the late summer for the next IHDC pantomine show; I hope I still have something relevant to offer in my forever hopefulness of getting a larger role this year, we shall see.

Iver Heath Drama Club presents Peter Pan tickets available now online! Support local live entertainment! 

 

And remember every writer needs reviews for their work, if you have read either of my books, be cool and leave a review!

And here are a few highlights of social media from the week… Click on them and they take you places!

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Darke Blood Goodreads Giveaway

It’s time for a Giveaway! Yes free stuff alert, because I have began a Goodreads giveaway for my latest book Darke Blood…

You can get your hands on a signed copy of my latest book by entering the giveaway for free here! In order to enter you can sign in to Goodreads through Facebook making this whole deal a lot easier than signing up to a site you may not use often. I am asking for an honest review in exchange of entering the giveaway because it’s all about reviews, reviews and more reviews! Over 100 people have entered so far!

With publication day and the release of Darke Blood behind me now its up to the rest of the world to help spread the word about the book. Reviews are what sell books and must I implore you to leave one on either amazon or goodreads  or both; even if you are only a portion of the way though Darke Blood, every review helps! 

And some of you have been fantastic in showing your support, the #darkeblood selfie movement has begun which is massive in getting the book seen across social media.

Publication Day! Darke Blood out now!

The day is finally here! My second book Darke Blood is officially out now! The selfies already started earlier this week after I kicked off proceedings on Instagram where I can happily say we have already broke records with the amount of likes it recieved.

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That many likes for something without a cat, food or cleavage…

And that is all I want out of this book, growth and evolution. A few more sales and few more likes than last time will make me a happy independently published author.   Above all more reviews on Amazon and hopefully Goodreads will grant this project a success, so please if you read my work leave a review!

I must take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support towards Darke Blood, this was indeed the hardest story I have ever struggled to tell and seeing the whole thing come together with your support has been fantastic. Being a two time author makes this all seem like I am more than just a lucky one off guy who published one book, plus it gives readers a back catalogue to delve into if they like my work.

If you like Darke Blood and survive the ride,  the twists and the turns then I guarantee you will be a reader of my stuff for years to come. This one really tests the boundaries for the reader as well as tell an atmospheric psychological story of redemption and identity. And yeah there are vampires, witches and some connections to Open Evening!

This hasn’t been a sole effort and I must thank my editor and publisher Nicky from Satin Publishing for helping me so much develop this story into what was an initial draft all the way to polished published book. Darke Blood went through many minor and major changes throughout the drafting and editing process. My next thank you goes to Design for Writers , they simply gave this book an identity by creating a fantastic looking cover. I was really stumped as to what I wanted this one to look like so Design for Writers saved me in that sense and the outcome is a world class looking cover.

All there is left for to say is thank you everyone, I have achieved my dream once again and now it’s over to you to help me find some success with it. Let’s start a new selfie movement with Darke Blood and remember your shares, likes and comments are what generates buzz about this, and will ultimately decide its success!

Happy publication Day!

And heres the direct link to the book…

My second book cover… Revealed

OKAY EVERYONE HERE IT IS….

THE COVER OF DARKE BLOOD IN ALL IT’S GLORY…

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ARE YOU READY??

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Andrew and Rebecca from Design for Writers have put in some fantastic work with this cover and I think we can all agree it looks awesome! 

The final steps are approaching for the publication of my second book but there is still so much to do. As we get closer to publication day on the 25th I will be organizing a Facebook event to gather everyone for an online launch. Your likes, shares and comments are what will make this book a success and I have to thank you all for the continued following and support.

Any big news from now on will first break via my email list, so sign up today via email (box up in the top right corner) and you will be the first to get stuff (this includes free books/material). 

Rock and roll man…

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Alien Covenant Review

The Saturday morning blog is back! This time I am armed with a review of the new Alien film which was indeed a sequel to Prometheus which was indeed sigh worthy but I went into the cinema with partial hope.

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First of all; I don’t listen to film review people, as far as I am concerned they are full of sh** , let’s face it they are. You know that and so do I, they are either so far up the rear end of a film or the quite the opposite. Here you will read an honest review with a focus on what was good and what wasn’t so good. I think we all owe Ridley Scott some respect for sticking to a series of films and his overall contribution to cinema should never be overlooked.

And that’s where we will start; Alien, Prometheus, Gladiator and now Alien Covenant to name a few. Ridley Scott makes some awesome looking films, you’ll never see him skimp out on production value and this especially goes for the world he has built with Alien. The industrious environment of spaceships and far off planets are always created with a realism in mind. I guess I shall have to nod towards production design as well as a director or writers vision. But in order to make a good film you can’t rely on visuals alone, you need story, performance, tone, theme and plot.

Quite honestly Alien Covenant ticked many boxes but it also fell short in some ways. For much of the beginning portions of the film I felt as if this was an Alien remake, and look we are in the days of constant recycling of material, stuff that works I guess and initally Alien Covenant worked.

First of all we are shown our first billed actor Michael Fassbender his performance as a robot is arguably the best we have seen in this series so far, without treading on the likes of Bishop (Aliens) and Ash (Alien). And a very strong theme in this film is robots or at least Fassbender’s character. So what seems like an intriguing start the main narrative of the film then begins.

A colony ship called the Covenant is on it’s way to a distant planet, events turn quite unlucky and dark at the very beginning so the crew are awakened out of hyper sleep. As they recover from the events and begin repairing damage there comes a distress type signal with it’s origin not far from them. Already this formula sounds rather familiar with some changes and of course comfortable stuff that stays the same throughout an Alien film. We see a diverse range of characters who make up the crew of Covenant including a Captain seemingly out of depth with the arising situation and some familiar faces from recent film which all put in believable performances.

Eventually the crew arrive at the source of this distress type call, that being a distant habitable planet. At this point the build up and introduction of the story is paced well with the ever important element of mystery in the story. What is this getting to? What’s coming? are the sort of questions you ask yourself at this point.

The unlucky element of this arriving crew strikes again with a sinister level of disaster. In moments everything falls apart for them, two members become infected with a new type of organism (which is very alien like) but not shown before or explored in this world and that’s what I feel Ridley Scott is trying to do here, he’s trying to bring his Alien story full circle and with this film we are only half way there.

Eventually the connection to Prometheus kicks in but don’t let that put you off, everything is explained with in this film’s narrative. Soon enough Michael Fassbender is face to face with the character David he played in the previous outing and this was done well. The whole robotic morality thing is touched upon here as they meet but the sinister edge turns even more as this crew are taken in by David.

As much as I would like to give the rest away, that’s not how we do reviews on here. So let’s cover the good and bad.

The good

This felt a lot more like an Alien film as opposed to Prometheus. There was suspense and real tension. The scenes didn’t jump around and most of the time Covenant focused on one story instead of trying to tell five. This means all of the scenes shown were indeed necessary. Prometheus didn’t know what it was but this one was a horror film.

The characters: many of these personalities we have seen before but they were great, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts) and Danny Mcbride (Pineapple Express) all stood out to me.

It continued on from Prometheus and was way better than it. This time we saw an actual Alien we all know well and this time around it seemed more lethal than ever. This may have been due to the use of computer generation of the Alien but gave it an Alien Isolation (video game) feel.

The visuals and sets were awesome as always and kept to the theme of previous films.

The music choice this time was better than Prometheus, and nodded to Alien more.

Robots in this were more of a big deal and less of just a side threat.

The not so good

Bad is a big word to use for a film and Alien Covenant wasn’t. But there were things that weren’t so great.

It was predictable, most of the time we knew what was coming. There were only a few Alien related things we hadn’t seen before.

There were a few moments where things didn’t get explained or where they expected you to fill in the gaps ( don’t do that in a film).

The twists nearer to the end could have easily been called from early on. You could even say some twists just shat on the audience at the end.

This doesn’t wrap up the series: unfortunately we aren’t there yet folks!

Conclusion

For what felt like an Alien Remake to begin with this film took it’s own identity but continued to nod towards the original. If you use Jurassic World as an example, that film nodded to the original but cut its own path more. Alien Covenant just felt as if it was up Alien’s ass too much.

Most importantly for any Alien fan and to my conclusion its worth a look! Prometheus was a solid 3/10 this one is north of 5/10.

 

Any Other Business

Next week things are really going to hot up towards my next book arriving. Darke Blood should hopefully get a cover reveal at some point! I have also started a sale on my first book Open Evening which is available as an e-book for £0.99! 

Free Pre Release Content is available if you sign up via email to this blog. I’m talking free books for loyal followers!! Sign up today peeps!

Great Conspiracy Theories

Before you scroll past this blog link which seems like click-bait, it isn’t. If there’s one thing I love it’s a good conspiracy theory. As the internet becomes more and more powerful and public free speech continues in most places there will always be conspiracy theories. So here’s my take on some personal favorites. And there may be a special very soon to be relevant theory that may just be fiction, or not…. (nudge/ wink) 

Roswell 1947 – Present day!

Many will say this is where the birth of the ufologists came from, yes there is a name for people who study this stuff. I have even had the pleasure of working with someone who used to be a ufologist and seeing as I love a conspiracy we have spent many a night shift discussing this stuff.

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In 1947 something crashed on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. Wikipedia says it was a balloon and so did the military, but the press and eyewitnesses said something different. Of course in all reports like this there are difference of accounts and opinions. Some people saw a ‘flying disc’ and those who found wreckage of what crashed was made from a material described as ‘nothing made on this earth’. So how could this be a weather balloon? Further witness reports even suggested ‘bodies’ were removed from the crash site wreckage. Aliens?

Over the years many people tried to debunk what the military firstly reported, there were books written and several eye witness accounts going into the hundreds. Roswell itself cashed in big on the theory and see’s tourists flock there every year. But what did really happen?

In the 90’s the US military eventually released two statements. Firstly they concluded the wreckage was most likely from a high altitude surveillance balloon used in something called Project Mogul. Then they tried to explain the presence of ‘bodies’ recovered from the wreckage. Memories of accidents involving military aircraft combined with them using dummies in previous projects were to blame for people thinking they saw ‘bodies’ when they didn’t. Seems legit huh?

Either way Roswell was a cool conspiracy theory and the alien autopsy that came out in the 90’s adds a new spin on the whole thing, but was proved to be a hoax.

The Solway Firth Spaceman

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You cant help but let your imagination jump to several conclusions when you see this pic. Now to me the figure seen behind the little girl looks like somebody fencing (sword fighting).

Taken way back in 1964 by a man named Jim Templeton in Cumbria UK, he seems to have captured more than he bargained for. Many people contest that this photo is indeed an alien or spaceman. Mr Templeton claimed at the time the photo was taken there was nobody in the background so it wasn’t until he got them back from Kodak that he saw this.

Kodak confirmed the photo was genuine and hadn’t been tampered with. He even took it to the local police who found nothing suspicious about it. To make things strange Jim was even approached by two people who claimed to work for the government. They asked him to show them the site and then abruptly left after. Weird or what?

The Darke Crusader

This is a largely unknown one, but still cool if you get my drift? So back in the early 2000’s a forum appeared on the now defunct or forgotten geocities web hosting service (remember that?). The original site was deleted long ago but someone did manage to grab a few screen shots of the original forum.

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The Darke Crusader whom runs this forum talks of visiting a town where things start to get weird. The last entry talks of this ‘crusader’ going into the forest. That was the last anyone heard of the host. The only trace left is of this website which appeared recently.

The Dylatov Pass Incident

After spending many hours of boredom combing YouTube and Google I stumbled across what is my favorite and creepiest conspiracy theory.

The Ural mountains, Russia, 1959; cold war territory. A group of mountain trekkers braved the snow on a expedition which would claim their lives. All of them were highly experienced on the mountains. During their hike the weather gradually worsened and moved the group off course. They eventually set up camp on an open mountain side as opposed to a nearby forest area which would provide better coverage from the elements. None of them knew at that point that was their final camp.

Eventually the group were reported missing and rescue efforts were mounted. All 9 of the expedition were found dead but this is where it gets really weird. Their tents were torn from the inside and there were signs of the group fleeing the area without adequate clothing for the weather. They were running from something.

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The camp discovered later on by a rescue team

 

Initial investigations confirmed 6 of the group died of hypothermia whilst the others had signs of trauma caused by something physical.  Another suffered brain damage but with no obvious cause from impact. What made this even weirder was one woman was found with her tongue and eyes missing. Some of the group were found separately whist others had grouped together, but what happened to those people on the mountains of Ural?

Well the camp showed no signs of intruders, the group left there willingly. Many of the injuries they had couldn’t have been caused by an animal such as a bear. There was a theory suggested an indigenous people lived near by, but were believed to be peaceful.

The bodies and condition of their organs was never made public.

Other hikers 50km away from the camp reported the sight of ‘orange spheres’ seen in the sky that night which points towards military. But the investigation concluded a ‘compelling force’ had caused the Dylatov Pass incident, but maybe we will never know. There are some great resources of this theory on youtube but remember when your watching this stuff at 2am, don’t have nightmares….

My New Book: A Retrospective

May has arrived, and for me this is the biggest month of my writing life! Darke Blood arrives in a mere few weeks so this entry is a dedicated retrospective of all things Darke. I will be talking about the story, the inspiration behind it and of course my extensive attack based marketing plan which is already in full swing! This is Darke Blood, a retrospective look.

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 My first real television hero in life was female. Many of you will know whom I am referring to but before the days of the Avengers and the seemingly endless tirade of cape wearing redemption seekers there was Buffy Summers. One of the very first female leads in television that was perceived as strong and later on independent. This might not appear a big deal today but we still have a very long way to go in terms of diversity in all forms of storytelling,  although cliché does have a big factor to play in that but so does society.

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Joss Whedon created Buffy with a view to flip cliché and embrace the quirky differences many of us have. The real horror in a world of vampire slaying wasn’t the demons coming out of the hell mouth below the high school, it was the high school (something I used in Open Evening). A clever and different story followed from this premise with the introduction of a character orientated story and the ever important humour that brings it away from any real darkness. As the high school in Buffy crumbled so did the change of horror, now it was surviving college and struggling to date someone who’s actually mortal. Eventually it shifted again with adulthood becoming the real theme of Buffy, either way the characters had each other to deal with whatever life faced them and that is above all what inspired me to write stories, the resolve.

After finishing my first published novel Open Evening, there came a decision I needed to make. What next? Very quickly the genre of vampires and witches came to mind, but there were two reasons for this. Firstly I had always wanted to do vampires just to pay homage to my favourite television hero and secondly, these stories still sell and are arguably more popular than ever. If you look at TV and literature, in the last decade there has been more than one big time vampire or witch story . So to me this seemed like the perfect idea to step into.

I’ve already shared the somewhat painful drafting process Darke Blood I went through so I wont dwell on it but there was the question of what exactly does it pay homage to? Well, stories speak to people in different ways, go ahead and read a book you’ve read before, give it a few years and your perception, mood and current lifestyle all come to play in how you perceive it, sometimes it will even change.

As I have read through Darke Blood after the several edits and of course the back and forth with my editor, I think I have finally grasped what it’s about and what it really pays homage to. That being strong female lead characters and our need for them even more so today.

Hence I have come full circle in life, from sitting in front of the TV as a 12 year old kid on a Thursday night, to writing my own take on Buffy. And if you ask me Darke Blood is so much more than homage to a TV show which broke boundaries back in the day.

But isn’t the main character in Darke Blood male?

In essence there are two lead characters in Darke Blood one is male and the other is female. But throughout the narrative our female is the stronger and somewhat a leader, but it isn’t about breaking down those boundaries because Buffy did that, this is about that concept working alongside with the other.

What set’s Darke Blood aside from other stories of the same genre?

Well this book doesn’t spend the whole time paying homage to Buffy, it has an independent identity and my own take on vampires. We are all led to believe that vampire stories have to fit into a certain set of rules, rules which have just been there since the Van Helsing days. You know, using garlic and having to invite a vampire in. Instead of these tales of folklore, why not add a little science to vampires? Maybe even define vampirism as a disease which in fact could one day be cured. What if there was a blood substitute, after all it’s a chemical right?

Same goes for my take on witchcraft. If you break that word down, you are left with ‘craft’, so what if there were different particular crafts? Again I used the science route to redefine and somewhat invent my own version of magic but strictly keeping it close to a reality where this stuff could actually be possible.

Both vampirism and witchcraft are just sub-themes, as much as they are unique selling points that give the book it’s rounded appeal, the main theme of Darke Blood is identity. Main character Blake Malone soon finds conflict within himself as the realization comes apparent that his memory seems to be blocked. Along the way of trying to resolve this conflict he discovers the forces of vampirism and witchcraft accompanied by some very special nods towards Open Evening. I will say no more.

How are you going to implement Darke Marketing?

My first book was always going to be a trial and error experience. Many lessons were learned and a lot of stuff came up that I probably should have done but wouldn’t have been aware of unless I took the plunge into publishing (if you get what I mean?).

In terms of marketing as an independent author I am pretty much the General or architect of my own success. But social media is the king of book sales and so my efforts towards it have gone up tenfold this time.

What I have already done

Teaser Trailer

This was my first experience of making something like this and to be fully honest it looks okay. The whole idea of this trailer was to get the name out there and of course the release date. Over 700 people have viewed it so far, and if I can convert even a small percentage of that figure into sales then we shall be off to a good start. I even had some good people share it which is always fantastic so thanks to those that did.

Emailed my subscribers/ people I know who would like the book/people whose email I have

Yep if you’re lucky you may have an email from me in your junk box. This sort of thing is imperative to get the word out early. Loyal friends are great way to get in early reviews and get the ball rolling. Sign up now by following this blog with your email address to receive future stuff for free.

What will you be doing?

Book cover reveal blog post

Book cover reveal FB post

Book cover trailer (Maybe)

Facebook online launch event – invite people to share the link

Going live on FB- Maybe a Q and A if anyone actually cares (maybe)

Facebook Advertising

Goodreads exclusive UK giveaway

Ask some peeps to guest blog on my site

Incite people to take a book selfie – this really sold books last time

Press release to local and national press

Instagram posts (something that is book related and not just booze or food)

Email my loyal followers – sign up on this site today to receive future news first and even exclusive pre sale content.

So as you can see I have a huge list of stuff planned. This month there will be all hands on deck from me to give Darke Blood the best chance it has of being a success. I do hope you can join me, this story isn’t just about vampires, witches and identity. It isn’t just about a homage to Buffy or female lead characters. It’s about all of them and so much more!