Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 4, Part 1

Chapter 4 – War Friends

“Well, I think cuddling is out of the picture,” Steve Franco chattered. A plume of vapor rose from his mouth into the still night air.

“With the way they crack the whip here, it’s probably a court martial offence.” Nicks smiled with a cloud also rising from her mouth.

The big freeze had consumed X43. A ten-day stint where the planet moved from the reaches of it’s nearby star that normally kept temperatures habitable. Both Franco and Nicks were huddled inside a sheltered alcove of the front-line trench. The smouldering glow of a barrel between them did just enough to stop the hypothermia.

“It’s funny,” Franco said, “I’m not sure our auto rifles will work when its this freezing.”

“Good thing the robots are hibernating for now,” Nicks added.

“Look alive grunts! We grovelled just enough for some gifts,” the commotion of Rob Connolly said. Jack appeared with him and they both carried a quadrant of canisters each.

“Is that beer?” Nicks asked.

“You bet your ass it is,” Jack said. They ducked into the alcove and began to hand out the stubby box shaped canisters.

“Two grunts of our stature blagged our way into the refectory tent.” Connolly began to gulp down his drink.

“We’re known as the ‘Shift-blasters‘ apparently,” Jack said.

“Well how abouts we toast before freezing to death.” Franco took a beer and held it up.

“To the Major,” Jack said, and they toasted.

“How could I forget. I snatched another burning log also.” Connolly pulled out a plastic log and dropped it into the barrel.

“So I guess we won’t be seeing any action if there’s beer?”

“Well Franco, I guess those walking tubs of plastic feel the cold too. If they call us over the top, we’re taking the beers with us,” Connolly added and again they toasted.

“You fellas are on quite the winning streak. Two gold stars of honour so far.” Nicks moved her hand to reveal the shroud below her name. A solitary gold star glistened below it as the nearby fire came to life.

“That gives me an idea. We earned that star together, with the Major. Perhaps we should honour her for it.” Jack unpinned his latest star and held it to the piping hot barrel. Carefully he let the flames lick gold paint which in turn became blackened.

“A black star for the Major,” he said.

“Too right.” Connolly did the same along with the others.

“We all stick by Thorn and more stars will come our way. That includes you Nicks. Maybe you can show the folks back at V54 after the war,” he added.

“Yeah, what’s that planet like?” Franco asked.

“I won’t be going back there.” Nicks pinned the now charred star back on her chest.

“I’m sensing a story,” Connolly said.

“Well. V54. Since birth you are taught to find an escape plan. ‘People’s republic planet of V54’, my ass.” Nicks kept a stare on the embers.

“That bad huh?” Jack asked.

“Yep, it’s that bad.”

“I thought the Chinese were not that bad,” Franco said.

“You hardly see them when you’re below the overpopulated poverty line. Yeah, they run V54, but you never see them on the streets. As soon as I heard they were offering troops to help the Army of Earth, I enlisted.”

For a moment Nicks eyes showed a struggle filled past she lived. Overcrowding, tightly spaced high rises full of disease, the slums and struggling to make ends meet. Even more so the sticky heat that made up most of the climate on V54. And worst of all, the pollution. New Earth it wasn’t.

“Sounds like a one-way deal then. Fight, win and the reward is Earth,” Connolly said nodding.

“Damn straight,” Nicks half-heartedly added.

“It’s not like V54 have the authority to come get me. Universal politics work in my favour.” She took another sip of beer.

“Now are you guys gonna tell me your story? Thorn? What is up with that accent?” She asked.

Jack finished his beer and crumpled the canister before dropping it into the fire.

“I bounced around a few places in the past. So did my accent I guess,” he said.

“Real mysterious,” Nicks said and finished her drink.

“He lived in England until he was like fifteen,” Franco said.

“Okay so we got English over here, and what point do you meet New York over there?” Nicks held her hand toward Franco, Connolly then filled it with another beer canister.

“My folks, well, my Father was from New York. Met my Mother from England in the city. Had me and sent me to live with my grand folks,” Thorn explained.

“For fifteen years. What were they protecting you from?” Nicks asked with a smile of intrigue.

“Whoever or whatever killed my Mother.”

All of them sat in momentary silence, looking to the burning embers.

“Sorry Thorn, I didn’t know…”

“Neither did I.”

Again came the silence while they all stood looking into the orange glow of heat. Then Franco spoke,

“Then you came back and went to that stuffy academy out in Cliffeville.”

“Is that when you started writing Thorn’s biography?” Nicks asked.

“We’ve always known each other. That Franco kid is the oldest friend I have. He came to England in the summer every damn year. And then to Cliffeville, he drove as soon as he got a licence. Even after I dropped out of that academy. They were grade A assholes,” Jack said.

“The greatest love story never told,” Franco added with a mischievous smile.

“All manly love aside. You were a young fella with a young family Thorn. You needed to provide and so you stumbled upon the Army of Earth and me.” Connolly raised his canister again.

“To family,” he said.

“So you got a kid Thorn?” Nicks asked.

“I’ve got two dependents, and a wife.”

“And let me guess New York over here followed you into the army also?”

“Na man. I stand in nobody’s shadow. I’m a man with my own aspirations and stuff. I had a career before this damn rock.”

“Is that so? What type of aspirations and stuff is that?”

“I was, I was a bus driver,” Franco said with pride.

“Then Jack called me and asked if I wanted to enlist. So I did and came to Cliffeville.”

“Cliffeville. State of sin and robots, right?” Nicks asked.

“Yeah, even people on V54 have heard of it.”

“Last hold out of the Western divide political alliance. Cliffeville is the real last land of the free in America,” Connolly said.

“To Cliffeville,” Nicks toasted. They all raised a beer over the fire.

“Maybe one day you guys can show me Cliffeville.”

“Sounds handsome. We all got something to go back to on that blue and green rock,” Connolly said.

“Are we finally going to hear the mysterious yet intriguing back story to Rob Connolly? Goatee wearing, gun toting man’s man,” Franco laughed.

“Save it soldier. The only thing waiting for me is the only woman who ever loved me back. Mrs Connolly’s baby boy will get back to her, no doubt. That lady, would do anything for her only son. Hell, I would do the same back.”

“To Mrs Connolly, family, fresh starts and driving buses,” Nicks said.

“And war friends,” Connolly added.

At the very moment they touched canisters a blaring screech from the nearby siren blared out to them.

“What is that?” Franco asked over the loudness. He poked his head out into the trench.

“I don’t recognise that sound… wait what? Have we gotta go over the top?” He asked to a passing soldier who shrugged whilst rushing past.

Jack gripped his auto rifle and moved out of the alcove. The drastically colder air hit him and instantly took his breath away.

“Damn, it’s cold. What’s happening?” He stepped up onto a ladder and squinted out of the trench. All he could see was the dark sky.

“Where’s the damn superiors? Shouldn’t they be yelling out orders.”

“I don’t know man, but that siren is loud!” Franco shouted as he joined Thorn.

“Is anyone going over the top?” Nicks asked appearing with Connolly.

Jack tried to see past murky darkness of a frozen battlefield.

“I can’t see zip. Wait. Where’s that dude going?” He watched from the left to see a solider clambering up onto the battlefield.

“Hey. Solider. Get back here! You’ll freeze to death…” Connolly shouted to the tall and wide shadow of the soldier trudging away. The siren clicked off to reveal another sound. Men and women arguing in confusion.

“Stand down termites!”

A superior officer appeared behind the front line.

“Back to your alcoves. Do you want to catch ice death?”

“But there’s a soldier out there on his own…”

“I said back to your alcoves…”

“What about the siren?” Franco asked.

“If you termites listened in basic that’s the enemy air strike alert.”

Jack began to climb the ladder. He stepped up onto the ice-covered mud.

“Stand down solider! That is an order!”

“Well I guess you better shoot me if you want me to stop.” And like that he hurried away.

The dramatically colder air hit him and darkness soon surrounded him. The voices of his friends drowned out and over the nearby horizon he went.

“Soldier!” He called out and saw up ahead the outline of a tall and wide man.

Now it was even darker, and the air seemed to sting as he breathed.

“Fall back. Turn around, it’s too damn cold out…”

From all directions forward came flashes of gun fire. Robots were closing in. Still the shadowy figure stood and fired back.

Jack ducked and continued to sprint forward. More gunfire exploded all around. Greens and reds coursed by him. The enemy were using laser rounds and Thorn glanced up to see a red burning strike the very near soldier in the shoulder.

After a loud grunt this soldier recovered and began to fire back. Jack joined him,

“This is suicide. There are too damn many of them.” He cowered back and tried to pull the much larger man back.

“Come on soldier. Move!” He fired some more but his efforts were focused on retreat.

From the murk above they both heard a droning. It moved fast and closed in.

“That’s a jet engine!” Jack shouted, and he looked up wide eyed the brightening fog. Something airborne swooped down and unloaded an onslaught of explosions.

Jack yanked the man down and they huddled behind a nearby rock. He saw this aircraft fly past, a shape he didn’t recognise. Just when the droning simmered down it came back along with a brightness up high.

“It’s coming back. We need to move.” Jack didn’t even look at the soldier’s face. He began a frantic retreat and this time the soldier followed.

They felt the airborne threat looming in the clouds above and just when it swooped out of the low fog they jumped down into a crater. Explosions rocked the ground and something solid crashed into Jack at head height. Clutching an auto rifle, he clenched both eyes shut. He momentarily saw stars and then darkness.

*                      *                      *

Even though most evenings were sticky in the Cliffeville desert heat, Rouge insisted she wore the dark camouflage uniform given by her friend the Freak. It still smelled of those revolutionary days he spoke of. A smell she came to embrace and totally not because it needed laundering. Out of waitress hours, Rouge was a soldier, in training. And here she stood within the horseshoe arrangement of trailers around the back of Denny’s diner, ready. Again.

“Check your stance Rouge,” the Warrior commanded from somewhere behind. She couldn’t see him and so her focus remained on the incoming target.

“Check.” She bent both her knees whilst twisting side on. Her head began to turn away when the Warrior ordered more words,

“Eyes on the target at all times.”

Her target being the Freak holding the remnants of a beaten armchair resembling a padded shield. He hesitantly moved her way.

“Strike, now,” the Warrior said.

Rouge side stepped twice before her legs tangled together. She stumbled and before gravity took full effect she managed to swipe out at the weathered padded shield come make shift punch bag. Her nails scratched at crumpled gaffer tape. Before her moving target or teacher spoke, she shot up.

“Again,” she said and waved the Freak forward.

“Stance.”

“Check.” She glanced at the Warrior for a flash and her target came crashing forward. She tried to lash out and clumsily wrestled the shield down. She angrily laid in a fist.

“I just can’t do it.”

“Yes you can. Belief comes from within the mind,” her guardian said.

“That’s coming from the mechanoid type,” Rouge sniped.

“My computer mind was created from the Warriors of old. It is that of a human or equivalent. Now come on. Again,” the Warrior ordered.

Rouge dropped her fists and they swung in frustration.

“I just can’t do this fighting stuff. I’m just no good.” She slumped down onto a nearby rock.

“I sincerely doubt a girl of prophecy would lack self-esteem,” the Freak said. He scooped up his make shift punchbag shield.

“Woman of prophecy. And what about flat-footed clumsiness?” she asked and dusted herself off.

“You’re trying too hard Anne-Marie. A fighter doesn’t have time to think, thinking comes from learning how to use your body as a weapon. Now try again,” the Warrior said.

“Perhaps think about those robots you took down back in the diner,” the Freak added.

“That was different. I could feel what they were going to do. I could see the future, in my head. That’s my true gift. Vision, not fighting,” Rouge said.

“Maybe your actual vision clouds that initial judgement. Hence, I have an idea. Turn around young lady,” the Freak instructed.

“Her mind is gifted for more than fighting yes,” he said and spun her around.

“Then we shall put that theory into direct practice.” The Freak took off his pot washers apron.

“What if you can sense without seeing.” He folded the fabric and made a blindfold for her wear.

“What? This is stup…”

“Let the robot help you Anne-Marie,” the Warrior said, and the greasy fabric covered her eyes.

“Now I will approach. But I won’t say when or where. Sense me,” the Freak said. He rushed away and took hold of his improvised punchbag.

The Warrior watched on. His red-haired student turned sharply and dropped into a defensive stance. Gently her feet moved across the hardened sand. Although her eyes saw only black, her vision opened from what seemed like a view from above. The Freak approached from the left, so she moved the opposite way. This gave the robot a false confidence that he hadn’t been detected. She knew exactly where he walked, she was the predator here.

Instantly she dropped and swung a leg around. It clipped something hard and next came a thud followed by a short groan.

“Robot down…”

Rouge stood up straight and pulled down the blindfold. She looked to see the Freak laying on his punchbag.

“Good. You must hone the basics first Rouge. Detecting an enemy is only a portion of combat,” the Warrior said.

“I’m not particularly sure how many bumps one has left like that,” the Freak said. Rouge moved in and pulled him up.

“You can only provide basic simulation. Eventually you will combat against me.” The Warrior moved in between them.

She looked up to his black balaclava covered head.

“But you are a Warrior. Am I supposed to fight Warriors?”

“No, but my speed will certainly train you to be superior over any robot you face.” He began to turn and then lunged back. With a clenched gloved hand, the Warrior drove it toward Rouge’s head. Without looking she held a firm forearm in defence. She blocked his wide arm instinctively.

“Your mind is gifted beyond anyone I have known. Even the Mavericks of old would envy you. I can see your senses already have reflexes for speed. Another lesson for another day.” His hand slowly opened.

Her much smaller hand fit inside it. She looked up to the near dark sky and exhaled.

“Until tomorrow,” she said and threw the blindfold apron back to the Freak.

“Every time you fall,” the Warrior added as she moved towards her trailer.

“Is an opportunity to learn a new way to pick yourself back up.” Rouge’s silhouette disappeared into the silver vessel she called home.

“An improvement tonight perhaps,” the Freak said.

“Yes. Every day she gets stronger and every day my concern grows. I dread the sun going down.” The Warrior looked up to an emerging full moon.

“There is always the option of relocation. Wasn’t this place always a temporary arrangement?” The Freak asked. He dropped down to the same rock Rouge had just sat on.

“She is settled here. For the first time her mind is one with her body.”

“Then the burden of worry falls on your shoulders for now Warrior. They called you Runner before, didn’t they?” The Freak asked.

For a split second the Warrior’s computer mind flashed back to a time long ago. He saw the world from a different view, a more vulnerable view. A time when there were others like him. His body looked different, it was smaller, before he became who he was now.

‘Watch over her’

The image of an infant girl flashed across his view.

‘Be her guardian’

“Many years ago,” he said.

“And I am certainly not Runner by nature. If they come for her again, I will fight them all.”

Rouge flopped back onto her unkempt bed. Isn’t that how all geniuses lived? she thought. A trail of fairy lights swayed above her, and cool conditioned air rattled from the unit nearby. She put a hand on the one prized item she owned, a tablet sketchpad.

“Not tonight,” she sighed. Sleep beckoned more than the urge of drawing.

Her finger tapped clear plastic and the device shone to life. After a couple of swipes the room became filled with floating projections.

The metal walls all around were filled with her various ‘display’ works. Artistic drawings of people caught in the moment in the diner. Truckers sipping coffee at late hours and even some of her as a young girl. Childhood always brought the same image of her holding the hand of a much larger being. Her guardian. In the distance another figure stood tall and hooded, watching. Anytime she thought of this stalker her mind would jolt. A warning shock not to seek any further. All she remembered were two dark hollow eyes staring down at her.

Don’t think about it, not now.

The absence of sedatives now meant Anne-Marie’s mind could grow. All the thoughts and memories of her nearly forgotten past were returning but in jumbled pieces. If it were a puzzle, the pieces wouldn’t fit just yet. They were still morphing and growing with her.

She would also draw other things that popped into her head. More recently a decorative star charred with black from the heat of flames or images of a brown and grey landscape. One picture showed the backs of small people looking up to something high. A solitary neon red strip glowed out of a murky land far away.

Like always sleep came swiftly for the tired robot fighter in training and deeper inside her gifted mind she went.

“Where am I?” She asked. Her voice echoed in the darkness.

A whispering came from all around.

‘Ryan is coming’

Behind her faint light cast across the trailer and out front she saw a haze of smoke, Denny’s diner. On the horizon came a faint glow, flames perhaps, she couldn’t tell. The ground she trudged on now seemed crunchy and frozen, a slight departure from the usual plains of Cliffeville. Still the diner remained ahead and a wide shadow closed in.

“F.G?”

“What is happening?” She called out to the wide robot. His grease covered cook’s clothes seemed to be drenched in something wet. A black ink. Or robot blood.

His vacant eyes stared through her just as the wave of terror set in. In the middle of F.G’s forehead she saw a bullet hole.

“No F.G!” she cried, and he flopped to the ground. The smoke was thicker now, and it closed in all around.

“Freak? Warrior? Where are you.” Rouge clawed emptily through the murk, her feet dragging across mud.

Another figure closed in.

“Are you Ryan?” she asked.

The approaching figure looked thinner as it came closer and looked a plain canvas white. She reached out to this all white washed being. It was as if a robot had been covered head to toe in this material, she looked at the head, a solitary crack ran down where the face would be.

“I know you, I, I remember you, from somewhere,” she said.

“He’s coming Rouge and there isn’t anything you can do. Don’t fight it,” the figure said.

“I don’t understand. Is this Ryan coming? Who is Ryan?” Rouge asked, and more smoke divided them. The figure was gone.

Just when she turned to face the trailer her feet buckled. The ground gave way and began to swallow her whole. Bright flashes raced overhead, reds and greens coursed by. Laser rounds.

Explosions and thudding closed in.

She took in a deep breath, it stung her chest. The air temperature dropped dramatically.

“Stand down solider! That is an order!” A booming voice said.

Rouge could only look up at dark clouds as another voice shouted. Something gave her a familiar comfort about this weird accent.

Her feet tried to adjust in what seemed like icy mud.

“Well I guess you better shoot me if you want me to stop.”

She smiled at the voice and it’s weird familiarity. Then the hole she stood in began to collapse. More of this familiar accented voice spoke,

“That’s a jet engine!”

A deafening roar echoed down to her and the ground violently shook.

“I want to wake up now!”

End of Part 9

Tune in Next week for another edition of Jack Thorn. Same Jack time, same Jack place… Remember if you enjoyed reading, tell a friend, leave a comment and share it around on social media…

Copyright 2004 – 2019 ‘Jack Thorn’ and ‘The Thorn Legacy’ Written By Lee Hall 2019 All rights reserved.  

 

Cemetery House Release Date confirmed

Yep, you read that title right. CEMETERY HOUSE, the sequel to Open Evening has an official release date! There’s a teaster trailer currently making the rounds of the Facebooks so if you see it, remember to give an indie author a hand by liking, sharing and commenting…. 

Seeing as I haven’t blogged in quite a while here’s a rundown of all the recent news from the universe of Lee Hall, procrastination extraordinaire and sometimes word smith…

trailer

Click on me to view the trailer, you know you want to…

September Anniversary Freebie Bonanza!

yeah

Yeah!

A few weeks back I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of becoming a published author via the arrival of Open Evening. For a few days the E-book of both Open Evening and Darke Blood were available for free (I only intended the first book to be free, so a cock up on my behalf). But either way the reaction was massive, and already I have received new reviews from new readers. And I have to say the numbers of downloads were record breaking for me. A new personal best came on the 23rd of last month with over 600 e-books being downloaded. Of course if you were watching, Open Evening shot up the Occult charts on amazon all the way to Number 1! Awesome right?

Drafting finishes for the Teleporter!

My next book will be a novella/shorter story called the Teleporter, and it is predominantly a super hero comedy with elements that break the fourth wall and has some politically loaded messages. Last month I managed to finish the first draft and will hopefully be looking at a release in the fist half of 2018. You can like the Teleporter’s page right here. 

Editing begins on CHc house

Seeing as I have already decided upon a release date for Cemetery House you can probably guess editing is going spectacularly well. The story is shaping up and will be somewhat of a departure from the first one as much as a continuation. Of course I plan on developing characters and giving answers to the readers along with linking this all in with the Darke Blood universe in which a crossover will follow. If you liked the first one, you will love this one, trust me.

 

All I can really say now is thank you for the continued support, reviews, likes and shares. This whole indie author thing only works if awesome people like you who use their right and left turn indicators help me!! 

 

 

My next book is officially happening!!

Yes you read that title right! And yes to those who tuned in to my Facebook page I did say there was going to be an announcement and here it is! 

With excitement I am happy to announce that this year (month/date tbc, but probably around May) we are doing this whole book thing again!!

DARKE BLOOD is going to be published in 2017.

Emails are being fired back and fourth right about now and this past week to organise the logistics of getting it out there but the very good news is my book team from last time are reprising their roles.

Both Satin Publishing and Design for writers will be helping me bring you my next project.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year and it has been a good one so far. I would also like to thank all of those who support me without fail, new readers alike and especially to those showed their wonderful ultimate support in buying my first book Open Evening. 

The good thing is that this book is set in the same world as Open Evening but it is also a stand alone story. They will compliment each other and hopefully market each other when DARK BLOOD is available.

All I can say now is watch this space for more news and of course check out the details below about DARKE BLOOD!

In search of a new start Blake Malone arrives in the remote forest town of Darke Heath. The memory of his past quickly becomes unclear as he discovers this place  isn’t what it seems. There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness of those trees.

Malone shares a romantic encounter with someone  who reveals herself to be a ‘creature of the night’. He learns of her story which intertwines with the history of the ‘Heath’ and together they must fight the evil forces of vampirism and witchcraft that lay in the Darke forest.

But just who is Blake Malone? That’s something even he must fight to discover.

“You’ve never know true darkness…” 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 #writing #revolution

Who would have thought putting black ink on the underside of your forearm would leave such a bad rash after?

revolution

Either way the photo looks kind of cool and I’m willing to live with the redness for a while, plus it also displays my prime directive for 2017!

Revolution! Not viva la France or anything politically crazy like that but something I have envisioned for my little patch amongst the world of the internet and book writing. In order for me to have any type of success and to sell books I must revolutionise the way I do things here. After all this is a journey to publication and that is an experience that doesn’t finish after I reach print, especially for the first time.

2017 will see my second publication come to life and its coming sooner than you think! An announcement is imminent but until then you will have to put up with me telling you about my next novel DARKE BLOOD and the range of other exciting projects I have lined up for this year. So here’s the plan….

THE NEXT BOOK!

I set out just over a year ago to try and repeat the model I used when drafting Open Evening; that was to write a stand alone story in order to build up a profile as an author and try and make it a little bit good. After much frustration and hard work throughout the beginning of 2016, I clutched the few straws of ideas I had and made them into a wonderful little book I am ever so proud to bring to world.

DARKE BLOOD is a story of one person’s journey to find out who they really are and along the way meets some ‘people of the night’ types and some ‘spell casting’ types. Everything culminates in what I can best describe as a shutter island meets a gender swapped Twilight, sounds interesting right, cool.

 

MY NEXT PLAY!

This month, yes this month I will be making a moderate return to the stage for Iver Heath Drama Club’s annual pantomime show Jack and the Beanstalk! For those within the area of Iver heath and surrounding I must urge you come on down to watch a wonderful show put on by great performers who do so much for the community and guarantee a night of entertainment, plus you get to see me in a totally non writing capacity. Tickets can be found here which are very competitively priced, and I must stress there aren’t that many left, we have even sold out our Friday night show!

MY NEXT PLAY (that I am writing)

You may or may not know but I also write plays. 2016 saw the debut of my stage work with Hotel Doom and was a wonderful success. Well I’ve only gone and done it again, well kind of. Over the summer I envisioned myself writing a pantomime based of the story of Beauty and the Beast. I currently have ACT 1 of a script drafted which I fully intend to complete after presenting to my drama club peers. Then my full vision would be to direct it, exciting long term plans are the best plans. I say that because there’s nothing more satisfying than having a plan and then having someone ask you about it and you tell them until they get bored. Seriously having a plan is where success grows from!

OTHER STUFF INCLUDING TOP SECRET REBOOT OF OLD PROJECT THAT IS MY DESTINY TO WRITE

Right now after a nice few weeks away from editing I am drafting some new material. This stuff is very much connected to why I set out to be a writer. There will be robots, enough said. Right now I will call this Project X43.

JOIN MY MAILING LIST!

I have said before and will say it again, I have an abundance of free material I want to give out but I need you to sign up via email to this website. Trust me good stuff will only be sent your way, sign up today!

 

And so my 2017 is fully planned, I even have a list on my wall. Let the revolution of writing begin!!!!

 

 

 

My 2nd Big Book Announcement!

“You’ve never known true darkness…” With that statement I can happily announce my next book DARKE BLOOD will be arriving in 2017!

Right now, there are lots and lots and lots of writer things to do but this project is looking really good for a publication date of sometime in the first half of 2017.

Success in writing stands in the eye of the beholder (me) and right now considering the fact I am an absolute nobody, I strongly consider my first book Open Evening to be a genuine success. We sold over 50 copies in the first week, mainly due to the #openeveningselfie movement, something I never imagined would be so big!

As a huge thank you to everyone who has got themselves a copy, digital or paperback; announcing this new project right away is my way of saying thank you and of course another daring attempt to get a wider readership.

So Darke Blood, what’s it all about and what’s with the name? Well firstly its pronounced dark, the ‘e’ makes it stand out a bit more and is all part of the story (so there is reason for it).

This book delves a little deeper into the occult and what’s awesome for my already growing readership ;

 DARKE BLOOD WILL BE SET IN THE SAME UNIVERSE AS OPEN EVENING!

From the title you can probably guess there will be those toothy ‘people of the night’ types heavily involved along with some cool elements of witchcraft. Right now I’m going for a Shutter Island meets a gender swapped Twilight comparison and in terms of synopsis, well here it is…

 

In search of a new start Blake Malone arrives in the remote forest town of Darke Heath. The memory of his past quickly becomes unclear as he discovers this place  isn’t what it seems. There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness of those trees.

Malone shares a romantic encounter with someone  who reveals herself to be a ‘creature of the night’. He learns of her story which intertwines with the history of the ‘Heath’ and together they must fight the evil forces of vampirism and witchcraft that lay in the Darke forest.

But just who is Blake Malone? That’s something even he must fight to discover.

DARKE BLOOD arrives in 2017!

 

image

Design For Writers Review: Judging a book by its cover

No matter who you are, the first thing you do when judging something is by looking at the appearance. Now I’m not saying we are all judgmental like its a bad thing, this is just a fact.

When the wheels were put in motion for the publication of my first book OPEN EVENING, which arrives on the 29th of this month (or if you are reading this after, where have you been? Either way thanks for reading so you can stay), I set out to find the best possible way in which to display my book.

Many of my publishing inspirations have come from a particular author and blogger known as Catherine Ryan Howard. Her website is a very valuable resource for anyone looking to self-publish or even get published. Her book titled Self Printed is a fantastic guide to publishing. Even if you are curious about the process this lady knows it all so check it out. Saying that her recommendations pointed me towards Design for Writers.

design-for-writersJust their Facebook page alone will show you their wonderful capabilities and so I made contact. At this moment in time I wasn’t particularly sure what I wanted my cover to represent, in all the time of me having this story the tag line would always be ‘Embrace the unexpected’ so how do you depict that in the form of a cover?

Well design for writers have a wonderful way of gathering information about the book (they need to in order to create). Upon initiation of the project; I was invited to an online collaborative base camp. My objectives were clearly laid out along with the various stages of the whole development all the way to final proofs.

When taking on a project like this it is imperative to know the ins and outs of the book. After all the writer is the creator but without everyone else they are just idle words.

The objectives I needed to divulge information with included who I thought the target market would be, reader emotion when reading the book, tone, cultural references, particular poster scenes, perspective, themes, protagonists, synopsis, key words, blurb, genre, setting, point of view, ideas towards a cover, similar books, good design types and even bad.

So you probably get the idea that it takes a hell of a lot of detail to make a decent cover!

Saying that my experience from beginning to end was entirely pleasant and the people I dealt with were always helpful, contactable and professional. There is plenty of stuff I don’t know as a first time author so their patience and understanding was very much appreciated.

Working in the base camp allowed me to see the emergence of not one or two versions of a cover but three! All of them awesome in their own right but after much deliberation not only from me but close friends I came to the choice. Then came the blurb and finally the whole thing pulled together. The gradual piece together process gave the real essence of work in progress which resulted in a fantastic final product.

The cover of a book, especially in this age of ‘I want entertainment now!’ is a synonymous part to the success of it. In my case  its mysterious but also somewhat suggestive towards what the story is about. The colour scheme is eye catching but not too bright and overall it does the one job its supposed to, act as a great eye catching cover. You could sum it up to say the cover of my book OPEN EVENING is simple but very effective! 

Design for writers were wonderful to work with and well worth the investment of money which will only help towards the eventual goal of my stuff being read.The total price I paid was £249.00. which is way worth it for the cover I have.

Things are rolling towards publication day and if you want to be a part of it then join me at my online book launch event via Facebook!  My #YearOfWriting continues….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Update

Blog number 80!

My debut novel Open Evening is under two months away from publication. Things are beginning to move in my #YearOfWriting and they are moving towards this project being finalized. And so loyal follower or new reader I thought I would grace you with my presence by informing you of the news.

Here are the facts: On September the 29th this year, Open Evening will be available as an e-book via amazon.

Sometime later in the month of October (in time for Halloween ooooh) the paperback version will be available for you to buy via a print on demand service. I would recommend you buy this if you really like the e-book version as it will probably be pricey (close friends and family, if you think you qualify will get one as a gift from me).

Open Evening is completely new stand-alone young adult horror story. It is not about robots in the future which my previous unpublished works were (they will come later).

It will be brought to you by the wonderful services of satin publishing, an e-pub house who have successfully published many books previously. Nicky Fitzmaurice of satin will be editing my manuscript and providing the publishing services.

Design for writers will be producing the cover (which I am already very very excited about). They have produced some excellent work which you can see on their FB page. I am currently putting together every ounce of information they need to give me the best possible eye catching cover.

Very soon there will be an official cover reveal, then things will get really really exciting.

I’m currently very busy editing the book myslef at the moment so if you see me in person your very lucky, oh and I am going to be 27 this week so buy me card in the form of a beverage.

This is all well and good but what is Open Evening about? I shall present you with some quotations from the narrative.

“Sometimes you don’t get to choose where you are placed in the collective ecosystem of a high school. Survival for me has always been objective number one.” 

“Just remember what you expect and what actually happens are two separate things.”

“The unexpected is a wonderful thing; anything can come from such a place including the horrors of mystery surrounding it. Sometimes it isn’t what is there but what could be there.”

“If I can see you, they can see you.”

Who are they you ask? Well they may or may not be human (but they are not robots). You shall have to find out. I hope I have given you enough to at least wet your appetite for what’s to come.

To be published is a dream come true for me and I very much want this to be a success. I can only do that with your help!

editing begins

 

 

OITNB: Season 4 Review #nospoilers

The full title of this review post is actually: Orange is the new Black: Season 4 Review #nospoilers so calm your shit but in all honesty you should have finished watching the new season by now as it’s probably the best thing you can buy for a £7 monthly subscription fee.

Unfortunately, that is an inappropriately long title to convert into a URL and then paste onto twitter although short versions are available I’m not that technically gifted. Words are my specialty not computer machines.

OITNB

And so it’s that time of year again where Litchfield opens its heavily barred gates to continue and tell some new stories. A Litchfield that last time we saw, was on the verge of becoming a business and then thrown into chaos with an open perimeter fence. Don’t forget the influx of hundreds of new prisoners and of course Judy King!

A compliment to the writers as they continue to story right were the season before left off. Something which isn’t done enough in TV, even sometimes last season final outings are ignored along with their repercussions and even skipped. Not with OITNB, we as an audience are treated not only with continual stories continuing, but new characters, situations and alliances combined with this continuation.

In most top TV shows there are only third, fourth and fifth stories which swap around depending on the episode. For this show, we see the third, fourth and fifth develop and intertwine throughout whilst still being reminded of the main stories.

Our central character Piper is more of a frequent in this series as opposed to the last but overall the main character has to be the prison itself. Nobody is treated like a side show or event which bolsters this already brilliant formula. Newly arrived characters from previous seasons and even the beginning are given origins stories whilst existing people are built upon. A rich amount of detail is thrown into every one of the 13 episodes, and to me that beats the Walking Dead and Game of thrones.

Stuff happens all the time, whether that be comedic or down right tragic. Existing conflicts evolve to really bring together the three main ethnic groups inside this now business like prison. The introduction of new guards only stirs the already boiling pot that is going to cook out of control. This season has been building from the very beginning and could only be pulled off after the previous events happened. The tension is somewhat rising dramatically this time out.

From what begins as a series of intrigue eventually finds itself and its own voice with unfortunate and tragic outcomes in some places. At the latter end of episodes, it gets very dark and somewhat emotional, I mean we have seen shock and awe at Litchfield but tragedy, something you can only use in moderation twists everything. Most of the faces from before are back, even with a few decent cameos of ‘departed’ characters. There’s someone in there you can like and relate to.

Much like every episode of Orange is the new black, we get an awesome ending which leaves us all on a cliffs edge. But we are not left dangling, only thinking about what will happen next. If you have Netflix it’s about the only decent original thing out there, so go and see it.

Other news (because soon I will need to sell books)

Ok so July has somehow rolled around which means its around two months until my first book Open Evening comes out via e-book and later on paper back. Just a little shameless plug and a thanks to all who have supported me so far. This book is a new start for me and not about robots in the future. It revolves around the concept of how horrific high school can be, then introduce some actual horror and Open Evening is born.

I’m sure you will all be bored with my constant updates, but stay posted for more book related stuff.

After all this my #yearofwriting

 

 

 

My Big Book Announcement

The day is finally here and with great excitement I can happily announce that my first novel ‘Open Evening’ is going to be published!

As some of you may have seen the other day I put up the picture of a date on both the tweet machine and Facebook (or life invader, the name I prefer). And yes and this is actually happening.

On the 29th of September 2016 Open Evening will be available as an e-book initially and then later on in mid-October will see the release of it on paper back.

This blog site has been the very forefront of my publication journey in the past few years and finally there is a destination on the horizon. If you look to the right you can see a countdown of sorts that I had ‘fun’ trying to put up on Tuesday (look I don’t computer well ok).

If you have come from life invader you will have seen my short but sweet announcement video available to watch here. 

The details

As many of you book people will know getting published takes a lot of organisation and firing back and forth of emails. Now you’re probably asking who will be publishing Open Evening.

Well back in December I made contact with Nicky Fitzmaurice of Satin Publishing, an e-pub house I have had my eye on for some time. After sending my work to Nicky she happily accepted and will be editing the book (as well as doing many more things in terms of publishing it).

Open Evening has been recognised as YA (young adult) in genre and will hopefully appeal to a broad range of ages. You can read what it’s all about here.

Now finding success through publishing a book is not something that can be done single handed. Having already organised the services of an editor/publisher I have also been on the lookout for somebody to help promote and publicise the book.

Last week I asked a good friend of mine and fellow blogger Matt Streuli if he would help publicise things?

‘Of course’ he said (in abridged form). Now some of you will already know Matt who does fantastic work, blogging and campaigning for the awareness and stigma that comes with mental health. His journey in the past year can be seen in his many blog posts about the subject of mental health. He has appeared on the radio and even writes for the Huffington post.  I will even mention that every year he finds new and innovative ways to advertise the community drama club we both belong to.

What needs to be done?

So my book team has been organised and ready to assemble, what happens now?

Well there is still a lot to consider before any of you read the first words that begin Open Evening.

Firstly I need to get in contact with a cover artist. I know the saying about never judging a book by its cover but people do so it needs to be good.

Then I will need to get my head around all things that make up the publishing process. After all this is a journey of discovery.

At some point I shall sit down with Matt and discuss all the ways I can annoy people on social media about my book.

Importantly I will be blogging and bringing any updates onto here in order to build up an even bigger following that I already have. That ladies and gentlemen is where you come in.

No writer has ever found success without the support of loyal readers and in this day and age, followers. Quite honestly I need you all to like, share, retweet, re-blog and rewind the VHS before taking it back to blockbuster (what?). Seriously I need you, because on that day of publication I want Open Evening to make a dent in whatever list or chart it finds itself on. My dream is for the world to read my stuff and it’s on the horizon, but only if you help. There may be a signed book or cup of tea for your reward.

I said 2016 will be my #YearOfWriting and it is. So come with me if you want to read…

Thank you all sincerely for reading this and liking my posts on whatever social media platform you find me on. It means everything to me. This journey has been long but its going to get interesting soon.

LH

New Year Same Momentum

Like everyone else I am going to say that 2016 is here! It does seem like quite a while since my last entry as I decided not to review 2015 simply because I didn’t fancy recycling old posts and linking them. It’s boring to me if you are recycling old crap and shoving it towards loyal readers. Saying that 2016 and 2015 are just both numbers to me. For many it’s a clean slate to start things again, for the Chinese it probably doesn’t mean a lot and for me well I actually count my years via my birthday.

Momentum is something I want to briefly talk about as I have been gaining a lot of it since my year started back in august. I hope to carry that momentum into this year. Open Evening my latest project ( young adult in genre) has been written, edited, edited again by myself and now it is in the stage of organising a professional edit. I have envisioned the release to be around September time, hopefully.

Whilst that is in motion of back and forth emails I have taken steps towards drafting another project. I won’t reveal any more details other than that as I am still unsure at this stage if it will go any further than the 800 words currently drafted.

Over the festive break I had the pleasure of going to the cinema and yes you guessed right it involved jedi Knights and Storm troopers.

ar wars

Star Wars: the force awakens was a fantastic few hours spent and well worth the over priced popcorn and beverages. As an audience we are introduced to a group of new characters who will later become the heroes much like the original trilogy. We are then re introduced to some favourite characters who then interact with the new. Simply put, this film is a re introduction of star wars for the generations who haven’t had the chance to see it on the big screen and just as important, a carrying on of the original story. One top thing I have heard about this film is mainly from people who are strangers to the Star Wars universe and they themselves say its good, so I recommend it. The force is definitely awake and has out shone the prequels to say the least. I would even argue that this is the best Star Wars offering yet.

 

Moving on, the beginning of a new calendar year means one thing for me and group of talented performers. That’s right, Iver Heath Drama Club are back on stage this month for their annual pantomine show Dick Whittington.

Ticket sales are doing well but could be better, so if you are in the UK and can get to greater London then I suggest you come and see me in a show! Tickets are available online here. You will catch me working alongside fellow blogger Matt Streuli who is the resident dame and chairman of IHDC. A lot of voluntary hard work goes into these performances and it shows when the curtain finally comes up.

Year of writing

My final note will be about the campaign I began late last year called #YearOfWriting . Basically using this hashtag will group all of my stuff together on social media platforms so go ahead and use it when sharing my stuff, that’s if you do share my stuff. Anyway thanks for reading, drop me a comment sometime, share my stuff and thanks to old and new followers. Here’s to a productive new year filled with success and good things.

 

dick