Book 6 – ‘Darke Awakening’ – Pre-order launch/Full Cover Reveal

“Between chaos and the unknown, you’ll find a perfect storm…”

Well what a year it’s been, through the struggle and uncertainty all the way to the apocalyptic vibes 2020 has seemingly spat our way and still I’m standing exactly where I wanted to stand when this year began (only now I’m washing my hands every two seconds and wearing a mask)!

Some of you would have seen over the weekend my lack of ability to contain my excitement pride in being able to share my latest book cover. Darke Awakening is not just my 6th book but a personal journey and a symbol of how important carrying on has been this year. It’s also been mighty rewarding as many different folks have connected or continue to connect with this here blog. Through all of my endeavours in 2020 the book has been a beacon of hope that has carried me to here and hopefully beyond because now it’s up to my readers and you, kind follower.

Those who have supported me from the beginning, those who have captured and seen my vision over the years and quite frankly for me, that is who this book is for. It won’t be selling thousands of copies on release but the people that matter to me will be buying it. The individuals I have convinced one at a time to believe in my work and those who have made a believer out of me, that is who this is for. And for one very important demographic of folks who only exist in words…

What you’re probably here for…

Well I’ve done the introductory preamble bit and laid it on as thick but smooth as possible. Let’s take a look at the cover of Darke Awakening in full, front and reverse:

It’s darker compared to the first one and murkier because there’s a theme of uncertainty. Just what is in the deep woods? What everyone thought they knew will get blown wide open. Plus it snows quite a bit later on in the book. There’s some new faces and even some unexpected arrivals all of which looks to tell a story of darkness and awakening.

A huge shout out to Design for Writers who put together this fantastic cover!

Darke Awakening carries on straight from Darke Blood but then later begins to cross over with both Open Evening and Cemetery House. You kinda need to read all three books in the series that precede it to appreciate the whole thing – hence why 15 people max will buy it. The good thing is I’ve got ya, all three of those books in the Order of the Following Series are currently discounted to 99 cents. One of which will be free this weekend but I’m not here to sell those….

The sales part….

Those who have been watching closely will know right now Darke Awakening is currently available for Pre order! Yes you can go right now and pre order the damn thing! This is of course only for the E version, Amazon aren’t brave enough to trust indies with paperback pre order things. I’ve said pre order a lot.

If you click on the rather shiny banner I put together below, it will take you to the Amazon US page.

Folks in the UK can click here.

Everyone else, just copy and paste this into your regional Amazon:

B08HX1B49G

Final fun part…

This cool little comparison feature might be one of the only good things to come out of the new WordPress editor. As you can see all of the wonder and brightness of stars is gone as we go further into the dark – they both are really cool covers!

Closing statement/ a thank you

As always my efforts on here are made better by you. Thanks for reading and thanks for the constant support. You guys gives me hope and belief. To those who have already pre ordered the book, you are amazing, and to everyone, help an author out and go grab a pre order, let me know if you do grab a copy and let me know what you think of the cover!

Rock and roll man. Peace out!

Weekly Ramble #82

The 6th book release is near. Everything has kind of come together recently in a somewhat surprising turn of events from reaching the 4000 follower milestone on Twitter to actually selling books on a scale I’ve never known before. Maybe, just maybe I’ve figured things out. But how?

Sometimes stuff just aligns and it hasn’t been easy. It’s taken trial and error to figure out. The road to anything good is paved with hardship and hardwork. Those days of reverting to zero still rear their head every so often but I’ve learned a lot.

I’m by no means a master at this and as much as I expect not a lot of sales from the release of this next book, I’m optimistic that a cluster of loyal folks will at least support my efforts. This is no longer 2018 and my following is full of people I’ve helped and those who’ve helped me. We’re a community and collective, you know who you are. The philosophy of being in Island in the modern world of social media authoring will get you nowhere. This is possibly my greatest learning curve. Connecting, socialising and being consistent with content will eventually foster growth and a following. I’ve recently lauded the concept of getting readers to first invest in you before they take on your work and it’s becoming a way of life. This is while I’ve always kept pecking away at the stories, chasing the words.

Blindly sharing the link to your work is a beginners error. Nobody cares for a writer who does this for self gain. Do this so we can all gain something from one another. There’s a compelling story that’s beyond our books and that’s what will hook people in to you. Being active in the arena and contributing to the writing community is the only way I’ve got to where I am and I’m thankful for the people I’ve networked with.

As much as social media can be a toxic cesspool it’s here for the long haul like me and Book 6 is just my latest milestone of many more things to come. Watch this space which is now decorated with optimism.

You can expect more information about Book 6 very soon!

‘Lords of Mars’ by Colin Yeoman – Review

Gripping high end space fiction about the politics of humanity, civilisation and revolution…

Lords of Mars is a story that embodies the many aspects of human politics from power, revolution, deception, change and no matter what civilisation we create, these things will always exist wherever we go. Perhaps the greatest threat to our own civilisation and history is ourselves as a species. These themes and concepts are then combined with the question of where we originated from and how we actually got here on this planet.

While the first book in this Custodian Library Archives series merely considers the question, Colin Yeoman uses this story to answer it and there is a lot more going on throughout this fantastic well paced read. This book could even be enjoyed on a stand alone level simply for it’s originality.

We are taken way back to when humans were leaving the near fallen civilisations of Mars; although some feel as if they were abandoning their fellow man but there is a new planet on the horizon. This is a polarising subject that creates opposing factions who feel like their history and people are being left behind. The preservation of this history is being contended here.

Much of the story takes place during the crossing between the two planets on board the ‘Spero’ where a multitude of characters are either for or against the new frontier. We meet ‘Cal’ who looks to lead a revolution in securing the ‘Remnants’ history and survival, that is after he encounters a stowaway who might know a little too much about the future. Of course there are other physical struggles like adjusting to the gravity of space travel and then the new world. ‘Centrifugal Gravity’ is just one of the many cool concepts this book is full of.

The pace quickens in the final chapters with action, deception and page turning thrills that highlight the early days of when we first arrived to the new world all of which is left open for more. Readers of science fiction will enjoy the original world building and thought provoking nature of what is a great read.

5 Stars – Thoroughly enjoyable and great escapism!

Book Promotion Results September 2020 Pt1

Ah the selling of books, I’ve done that, quite a lot this year and my latest Book Promotional efforts are looking towards being personal best material. With that in mind and for the purposes of helping a fellow author here’s a detailed breakdown of what I did and the results I got. Roll the intro….

Introduction/Aim

First of all, before setting out and committing to any type of book promotional run it’s important to aim for something. What exactly are we looking to achieve here? In my case which I hope doesn’t sound too complex I wanted to promote my book ‘Cemetery House’ and get as many folks as possible to grab a copy during the run. The ‘run’ meaning the time it was going to be free to download and advertised. The more complex bit is below and optional to read.

Not so important background info, skip if you don’t care…

Over the 2 years ‘CH’ has been available it’s been the most under-performing book on my back list. It has the least amount of sales, reviews and I’m not sure many have actually read it. This is a shame, because it’s the bigger, better older brother to my clunky (but also good) debut novel ‘Open Evening’. ‘Cemetery House’ is also part of the wider ‘Order of the Following Series’ which continues in the form of my 6th book which arrives at the end of this month (September 2020) so you kinda need to read it in order for book 6 to make sense. My true aim in this promo run was to fix all of the problems stated above by getting some folks to actually download and eventually read it.

Strategy – how was I going to do it?

So the best way to get as many downloads for a book is to set the price to Free for a minimal amount of time. 2 days works quite well, you can generate a sense of urgency by saying ‘Free for a limited time only’ which is a sneaky way of pressurising people into downloading it. So as all of my works are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited they allow you so many days within a certain period to set any of your books for Free. So I did that.

Cemetery House would be avalable for Free on the 3rd and 4th of September 2020. And then advertised as Discounted on the next two days.

While Free is good, along with the small space of time this offer is available they are not a guaranteed way of shifting books and like every author everywhere the greatest struggle we all face is being heard. Our voice is only as loud as our social media following and even that sometimes isn’t enough.

You can see the pain in his face, he’s clearly an author…

My go-to way of amplifying my author voice is to used paid advertising in the form of Book Promotion sites. Using a combination of paid sites and some of which were free, I would be able to amplify my voice while also working in tandem with my social media platforms on the days of the promo to maximise telling folks about it. This strategy can be used for all books across all genres. E books sell a lot more than physical copies in my case but that’s not to say you can’t use this strategy to sell all types. Just do your research, there are plenty of authors out there who share their results. And use the Google if in doubt.

Results first, how I did it later…

While you all probably just want to know how I did it, you first need the context of how well things went to gauge whether or not you can try and achieve the same. So here are the results.

Day 1

Cemetery House Free Downloads: 1643

Stuff I didn’t expect or account for:

Selling nearly all my back list in one damn day….

Including sales of the other two books in the series which are priced at 99 cents:

Darke Blood: 20

Open Evening: 30

Sale of other books not in the series:

The Ghost Beside Me: 1 x Paperback

Total Sales of priced books on Day 1: 51

Context/debrief:

I probably sold 51 books last year in total without promo. This is an unexpected but wonderful result.

Open Evening sold 33 copies on release way back in 2016. For this promo, in which it wasn’t even specifically advertised, it got downloaded 30 times in one damn day.

Day 2

Day 3

All 3 books in the ‘Order of the Following’ series sold very well over the promo run. A huge factor in the success of this is governed by the fact ‘CH’ is the middle book in the series, although there is no particular order in which you need to read them. It is also mentioned on each of their Amazon pages, as seen below with Open Evening. It is mentioned in the start of each book also.

Although on this run I advertised ‘CH’ as stand alone which it can be enjoyed as, there was still plenty of interest for other books in the series and they are both available for 99 cents.

Honorable mentions for both ‘The Teleporter’ and ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which sold copies without any prior advertisement on this run and proof that my single best piece of marketing advice is true. That advice being, the best way to sell a book is to have another available, and then another and so forth. The graph and breakdowns above sing from that hymn sheet big time!

Amazon Chart Movement

My newest strategy in promoting free books is to then advertise them straight after the run as discounted. On this occasion this only generated 3 discounted sales of ‘CH’ after the run, but the sales of ‘Open Evening’ and ‘Darke Blood’ rocketed them both up their respective charts, from several thousand to double figures in a matter of days which will give them some new visibility as they begin to recede back to the dark depths of the unknown, like me…

Tis the season

All three books in the Order of the Following Series are occult, horror or thrillers. I’ve been waiting all damn year for the Spooky season to promote them and they always do well this time of year so let that be a top tip; genre and seasons coincide with sales no matter what book you’ve got to offer non fiction or fiction. People will gravitate towards a spooky tale during the run up to Autumn and Halloween. This is probably why ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ sold some copies also.

Execution – what I did

This is most probably best described as the ‘good part’ of the post and probably the reason why you are here, so here’s what I did.

Book Promo Sites

Freebooksy Horror Promotion – Cost: $40 – Date: 3rd

E Reader News Today – Cost: $40 – Date: 3rd and 4th

E Book Booster Guranteed Promo – Cost: $20 – Date 3rd and 4th

Pretty Hot – Cost: $25 – Date: 4th

Bookzio – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th

Booangel – Cost: Free – Date 5th and 6th

As you can see some of the dates and sites overlap with one another. A top tip: if you really want to know how much reach a certain book promo site actually has, then just advertise with them only on a single date. The more expensive normally means better reach. You have to be willing to spend a little money if you want some good reach.

Twitter:

On the first day of the Free promotion I put up this banner and then RT’d it later on in the day to coincide with Eastern Time for my American Friends. I’m near to 4k followers so it probably helped with some international reach. I’m proud of this banner which I put together myself via Pixlr.

Instagram

My ‘gram following isn’t huge but I also shared the banner and put some other info about the results via my story. Come and say hi, you can find me here...

Facebook Page

Good ol life invader. I don’t use my page that much these days but my 500 plus following will always be appreciated and so I shared the banner and relevant links on day 2.

A blog post

My blogging efforts are very busy and so I didn’t have the time or space to put out a post on the Free days so instead I put one out on the Saturday. If you want to know what it looks like, here’s the link…

Factors that helped…

Having already mentioned that ‘CH’ is part of a wider series and this is clearly marked on each book’s amazon page, what else helped shift a bunch more books than usual?

Amazon Reviews

Reviews, ratings, critiques whatever you call them, spiritually they don’t matter but in the sense of book promotion they do so it’s a conflicting double edged sword. Even though ‘CH’ did not have any US Amazon reviews at the time of this promo, the two other books did. Having a star rating on Amazon will help shift more copies and I could even argue that is the only purpose reviews serve – that’s a rabbit hole of debate that I wont go into right now.

Book Covers

I firmly sit in the corner of investing well in a good book cover. This is such a huge factor that will attract passing trade. Yes your book is free and being paraded in front of a big internet audience but does it look good? People do judge a book by it’s cover. If you scroll to the very top of this site you will see all 5 of my book covers. Trust me, they matter in sales and they are shiny also.

I Invested with money

It doesn’t take a business major to see a potential flaw in this book promo run. Giving a book away for free but paying for advertising, how are you going to make a profit? The answer to that question is, I’m not, in the short term. The purpose of the book promotion is to maximise readers, if your work is quality enough for readers to look at more of your books then this will eventually lead to potential profits. Right now I am in the process of building that readership which is growing. This also coincides with having more work available which the results of this promo have proved as a tactic in selling books. If you seriously want success in publishing you need to invest money.

Final thoughts…

The numbers speak for themselves and I was pleasantly surprised to sell anything more than what I tried to promote. Like everything in publishing apart from the story, us writers aren’t actually in control and that’s both scary and thrilling. Embrace all the stuff you don’t intend to achieve in writing, trust me, its normally the best stuff. Quite recently I have been very much enjoying the connecting with fellow writers who’ve published all types of works from cookery books to vampires which are still the fashion!

To everyone who has read up to this point thank you, I hope you find this post useful an you can hopefully expect the full guide book to arrive next year. But just remember, this post is just Part 1…

But wait there’s more…

You can read part 2 here….

Thanks for reading, stay safe and peace out!

Toxic Undertones

Quite recently I’ve been caught off guard with a handful of ‘bad’ social media interactions which have served as a stark reminder of how toxic and volatile the underbelly of social media really is. There seems to be a consensus of those laying in wait, ready to pounce upon negative situations with their own negativity sparked from a desire to either be a troll or to be an opportunist in the face of adversity in order to get follows, likes and interaction. This can seem to happen at any time and it’s something I’ve always known but presently perhaps forgot while my momentum is building and my following is growing.

As an author in the modern social media age, my market is based mostly within it, and as much as I would love to just turn around and walk away, I’m not in that position just yet, although it’s just another driving factor to get me there. Having a higher following on social media will attract many lower level folk who are trying to get their own foothold and sometimes they use whatever leverage they can to climb. Such recent experiences have forced me to back away from my usual level of engagement, especially on Twitter which is a particularly volatile, mob cultured petri dish of assholery that can turn on you in an instant. The ‘mute notifications’ button has been utilised is recent days.

While this post isn’t an attempt to vent, it’s become an opportunity to do so and that’s okay, this is my patch. And my philosophy on book reviews is simpler now: they don’t actually matter in the broadest of senses, I cannot help but sometimes notice the ilk of review that is literally an attempt to troll, or be funny. Although after a night’s sleep the nagging pain they cause is gone, and I am big enough and old enough to know my stuff is in the public domain and that it isn’t for everyone but any type of cross word against me will affect me, I’m human after all. Any review really, is a good review, because it’s proof somebody took the time to look at your words and possibly buy it. Most of them aren’t constructive, even the positive ones, what I can do with ‘your book was great’, although I still appreciate the sentiment. No matter what anyone says, they’ll never know the journey, the struggle and the ultimate satisfaction of being a better person for finishing the crafting of a book. Their words about your words will never match them.

I guess all of this is just the symptom or the outcome of reaching a new plateau of a bigger following. This blog is growing and the content includes reviews and investigations of other parties who might not appreciate that so perhaps this is a glass house situation. My ambition has always been to write books and tell stories, no amount of toxicity will stop that, after all I am radioactively coated in stubbornness, so I’ll always survive, it’s all I know what to do. It’s up to us as individuals not to get lost on the journey.

‘Cemetery House’ is currently discounted…

I mean most of my books have remained constantly discounted this year for part promotion part people need to read something in order to distract themselves from the dumpster fire that is 2020 but why is this significant now?

If you have just a few moments let me entertain that question and thought. Now ‘Cemetery House’ is a sequel, part of a series and also works quite well as a stand alone or even an entry point to my Order of the Following Series. Where my debut novel ‘Open Evening’ has all the traits and clunkyness of a debut novel (although I still reckon it’s worth a look), ‘CH’ is the smoothly flowing bigger brother of a sequel.

It’s been Free to download yesterday and the day before, I would have told you this on here but I equally love posting memes and author interviews so there was no blog space unless I wanted to post multiple times a day and I don’t think you as an audience member are ready, and neither am I. Plus buying it after a free promo run while it is on discount will help a lot more, not because of royalties, what are they? But because after a promo run the book is much more visible and has a good chance of climbing the trees of the amazonian eco system known as the charts.

As I write this, this current book promo run has been the most successful ever or all time. There will be a results post sharing what I did to achieve this soon.

If you like this time of year – lets face it Spooky season is great, then Cemetery House is the book for you. It’s part ‘Final Destination’, ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and ‘the Faculty’ all rolled into one. Set mostly in a creepy horror themed amusement park during Halloween, do I need to sell it any more? There is also some great characters and witty dialogue which is all wrapped up in one hell of a thrill ride that is written in the rhythm of a roller coaster.

I’m immensley proud of Cemetery House and the lack of reviews really doesn’t reflect how great this story is. I know I’m tooting my own horn here but for this book I have to until someone actually reviews it. You can grab ‘CH’ for 99 cents or the equivalent of that in your territory.

If you want to grab a copy, there is a link below or you can just copy this number and put that into your regional Amazon search bar: B07JZ6KTBL

Hall of Information Interviews: Kristina Gallo

Exploring unique voices in writing can extend across different languages from many places all over the world. For this Hall of Information Interview we speak with an author and blogger who faced the challenge of learning English and succeeded. Her ambition to express feeling through writing has made for some great stories and it’s even been an opportunity to help others. Kristina Gallo has taken the time to share her story so join us as we dive in to the words…

Q1. Let’s start with talking about Language. English is not your native language but that hasn’t stopped you from writing some great books which is impressive. Please tell us your story and how you learned English? Where did your writing journey begin?

“I have been learning English in elementary school and in high school. English is the main foreign language in Croatian schools. We have basic education 12 years and after this we choose the university. I learned English in my University too. But, the real challenge happened when I started to write a blog in English language. I wanted to express my feelings in the internet, to my foreign friends to understand me. I started blog Rebellious rules by Kristina Gallo, that is still active. Four years later, I decide to collect this blog articles in self-help book, because I had reactions of people, they motivated me to write a book. In the year 2018 I hired an American editor. I wanted to write and publish in Amazon, and I start collaboration with editor. So, now I have nine books and book number 10 is on the way.”

9 Books with 10 on the way, that’s impressive!

Q2. All of your fictional books carry many different messages and lessons. Are these inspired by real experiences and people? Can you share more about your books?

“Yes, inspiration is based on real events and people. I passed through bullying and some traumas. My country was in the war during 90’s. Also I had some painful relationships. Some books are based on real events but names are changed and circumstances are modified.”

Some of the best books out there contain some element of truth that’s modified slightly.

Q3. You’ve also written some self-help books, what subjects are they about?

“One book is about breakups, these are problems that many women are dealing with. How to forget an ex boyfriend and find a new one, how to get out from the toxic relationships. Another book is how to survive in the society if you are rebellious person. Also I wrote a book about dangers in the virtual world. The last book had advice about seducing in a satirical way. I wanted to make a parody to magazines like Cosmopolitan, because they share advice about good looking and nice clothes, like this is enough to find a boyfriend. I focused on inside qualities and how to use logic instead of makeup.”

They sound both fun and insightful. Of course many magazines these days set unrealistic expectations.

Q4. What writing project(s) are you currently working on?

“I am working on mystery suspense thriller. It should be released in December.”

Sounds good, you can expect a review sometime after the release!

Q5. Your highly active across many social media platforms and support many different authors.

How important is the writing community to you?

“The writing community is very important to me. I could not get readers without my friends, I get a lot of useful information and reviews. I am grateful for their support.”

Q6. Do you have any interests outside of writing?

“I am working my job in the office , I love movies and football. I am big fan of nature and swimming.”

Q7. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

Coffee and beer.”

Excellent choices!

Q8. Can you name three films or television shows that have inspired you?

“Basic instinct”

“Parasite”

“John Wick (all parts)”

Great films, Basic Instinct is a classic and everyone loves some Keanu!

Q9. Back to books. Do you have a short list of must-read books that you would recommend?

“Yes I have.”

Jitters – Ken Stark

The Novice Ghost hunter – Martin J. Best

Broken – Donna Siggers

The ghost beside me – Lee Hall

Best kept secret – Elsa Joseph

The Drain – Victor Villestone”

These are some truly excellent choices and recommendations, of course thank you for mentioning mine…

Q10. And finally, a question I like to ask at the end of every interview.

If there was any advice you could give to someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?

I would recommend every person who wish to become a writer to use their free time for reading books at first. Then, such person should connect to other writers and learn from them. After that, every future writer should hire an editor.

I would also recommend everyone to tie their ego and accept critics. I made progress in my writing because of my reviews that motivated me what to fix and what to avoid.

Great advice and coming from an author with a unique voice we would like to thank you Kristina Gallo for sharing an insight into your world of words.

You can find Kristina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Her blog can be found here and of course her many books are available now via Amazon.

Check out a recent review of ‘The Player Without Luck’ which can be found here.

Yet again readers old and new, I would like to thank you for joining me in this exploration of discovery that is Hall of Information Interviews. See you in the next one!

Weekly Writing Inspiration #8

It’s a new month and yet another week so with that in mind it’s time to share memes. Perhaps there’s something amongst all this you will find inspirational, either way September is going to be the busiest month of all time for me. If you hear the faint sound of an explosion in the distance around the 1st of October, it’s just me, exploding….

I suppose we can all relate, although things have been okay-ish this year apart from the global pandemic….. okay maybe I am in denial and I should just accept this year for the dumpster fire it is…

Ah, those tricky interview questions that require an answer outside of logic….

Rock and roll man! Respect to the fans….

Don’t get me started with the Youtube. Would you like premium? Please start this survey, have another ad…. WE NEED A NEW VIDEO PLATFORM without these things…. do something, someone, oh hello Bill Gates…

Good ol’ Bill…. but windows 8 was crap… no hard feelings though, especially if that vaccine works and you create a new platform to rival Youtube! I’m not asking for much

Feel free to copy and paste this all around writers, that’s what I did…. let us browse past the $10,000 part quietly….

And this here graphic shows August was my best ever month for organic book sales ever – no promo, no enhancements just natural sales!

Speaking of Book Sales, this month like I mentioned will be busy and will also see the release of my 6th book Darke Awakening which is part of the Order of the Following Series.

Other books in that series will be on promo starting with Cemetery House which will be FREE to download today and the next day – then discounted over the weekend. If you like a Halloween vibes type of read then check it out, it works as a stand alone also and it NEEDS REVIEWS!

You can also expect another Hall of Information Interview very soon! Stay tuned folks, stay positive but for the love of God do not test positive. Thanks for reading, hope you were moderately inspired. Peace out, rock and roll man!

Weekly Ramble #81

September is finally here. For many, this a month that 2020 has been building to and where some perceived things would return to normal. That old normal is still far away but we’re carrying on through it. To all those going into the unknown this month, good luck and you are not alone.

Right now in all my social media author blogging endeavours I feel like the thrusters are to the max and I’m nearly three quarters down the runway. Take off is apparently imminent and this year from the very start I have pushed and pushed and pushed. From book promotions, to blogging, reviews and even Twitter which is approaching the 4000 follower mark. I have thrown near enough everything at trying to get a bigger better and more engaged following. Of course lock down gave me time to do this which I seized along with some fantastic encouragement from the acquaintances I’ve come to know, old and new. Thanks for the support everyone.

Every ounce of my efforts have been with my 6th book release in mind, that is along with the networking part of social media which is turning out to be mostly fun – connecting with others seems to be more satisfying than selling books and book sales seem to be happening a lot more now. August was my most successful non book promo month for sales pretty much ever. What did I do different? I just blogged more, tweeted more and engaged more. Folks invest in you before they even consider your work. This also led to the best ever month I’ve had on twitter – 500 followers were gained. As I said the whole thing is being turned up to the max. All of this will be relayed in a growing guide book which I plan to put out next year sometime.

September was always going to be important to me. It’s possibly my biggest month ever in authoring so far. Book 6 is a sequel and a 4th book in a series, I’m not expecting a huge amount of sales, 15 on release will be redemption and satisfaction all at once. Either way 2020 has been one hell of journey….

The stories that inspire us – Half-Life

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Growing up in the 90’s means that I’ve been witness to some incredible technological advances throughout my life. Video games in particular literally leaped from 16 bit all the way to 64 in a matter of years, but that’s just talking about numbers. The experience of a story is what resonates through us all and one particular story that I first discovered all the way back in 1999 still resonates through me. I’m talking about Half-Life and yes I am one of the people who played it quite soon after release at 10 years old.

TOP 30 BEST Video Games of the 90s (BEST RETRO GAMES) | Chaos - YouTube

Back then parents didn’t really take much note of game ratings and I’m not sure there even was anything strict to really regulate them at the time. Summer holidays consisted of being out all day and then watching the likes of South Park at night or the late movie which again probably had an age rating, there wasn’t a snowflake in sight and well most of my generation turned out okay…

And then this game came along that was included in one of my friends brand new Dell PC’s. It carried an air of mystery as neither of us had heard about it back then and so we went in to Half-Life totally and completely blind. By that year, ’99, the concept of a first person shooter game was relatively fresh from the birth of the genre earlier that decade with Wolfenstein paving the way to Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Alien Trilogy and even Goldeneye for the N64. all of which, deserve a nod. Neither of us knew then what we were getting into.

Lifetime fans such as myself sometimes forget that Half-Life is a first person shooter game because the story is so rich and immersive from the very start – something rare for the era and so after installing this game we began.

Games slowly immerse you these days through a sometimes cinematic sequence where very little is required to do other than get a feel for the environment or what is to come. You have the makers of Half-Life to thank for that as early on, in fact for the first half hour of the game and after what appears to be a calm and very visual but solitary train ride commute, you are Gordon Freeman, theoretical physicist who is late for an experiment.

Half-Life 1 Train Ride - YouTube

This clever but immersive way of starting the game heightens the sense of weight for a situation which is about to unfold. You are late for work and rushing around – something many of us can relate to. You are introduced to other scientists who also work at this extensive Black Mesa Research Facility. The sense of mystery is overloaded while you are unaware of a sinister build up to this experiment which subsequently goes wrong and then the real game begins…

The experiment gone wrong results in something called a resonance cascade and as you the player are in the test chamber when it unfolds. You see just a snippet of what has been unleashed. Another world full of primitive creatures has began to merge with the one of Black Mesa and Freeman must now fight his way through a heavily damaged work environment to look for answers and try and clean things up.

It’s part Stephen King part alien blasting shooter because eventually Freeman comes across allies and enemies who are human as a cover up attempt begins. The army is brought in and so this trifecta of scientists, aliens and soldiers collide, yet you remain silent throughout the unique set up. There are no cut scenes, no level finishes, no speaking from the most iconic game character in modern times, he is the silent crusader working his way through the puzzling hazards of a huge science facility sometimes armed to the teeth and then just with a crowbar. Of course watching the whole thing is a thin man holding a briefcase who appears every so often, a presence now known as G-man. All of these concepts were unique and were never done until Half-Life. Apart from those now iconic loading screens this game just runs from start to finish.

Half-Life on Steam

As a 10 year old kid, this game had a resounding effect on me. That first play through is something I will always treasure and now in modern times and as a person who works in a huge science facility with radiation hazards, cutting edge technology and of course plenty of scientists; I can’t help but think that Half -Life inspired that journey in some senses.

My debut novel carries similar traits that you’ll find in Half-Life, especially the concept of soldiers arriving after everything falls to shit. This game and its setting, story and concept was something that had never been seen before and dare I say it, has ever been successfully emulated. The story stands the test of time and was expanded upon for the subsequent sequels but this one, stands above them all.

Have you played Half-Life?