Weekly Ramble #32

As an author do you want to know what’s worse than a one star review?

A one star rating with no review, words, explanation or even evidence said ‘reader’ has taken on your work. Not to mention the mindfu** it will give an author for a long time constituting to the round in circles question; why didn’t they like it?

One of my previous ramble post’s was half rant and half response to a one star review that had an actual explanation which I tried my best to debunk and move on from. This is different and it appears a particular book of mine keeps getting ‘pot shot’ with these random ratings (Open Evening) via Goodreads. In fact you can compare the reviews on Amazon (UK) to Goodreads to see the inconsistencies which just leaves me flapping my arms as to why?

I don’t want it to appear as if it’s getting to me, but it is, because we’re only human right? As authors we live and die by the currency that is reviews and as a reader if there was something I thought deserved a one star review I probably wouldn’t have finished reading it and then would have just moved on (and I have done that very recently). We’re all entitled to an opinion, that’s fine and I am not contesting that, what I am contesting is conduct towards writers. Leaving that one star might turn someone away from the craft forever.

Another huge factor is Open Evening like all my books was funded entirely by me including the sequel and the other book it is linked to Darke Blood; there is plans for further sequels but thoughts of that turn me away from it.

The question that remains in my head; Is Open Evening that bad? Does it justify someone swooping in to leave a one star rating and think nothing of the consequences? Maybe some like minded writer folks should swoop in and help an author in need…

 

 

 

 

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I am not the Lee Hall who wrote ‘Billy Elliot’

Hello everyone. Important message here, well all of my blog posts are. I feel somewhat inclined to reach out to everyone in general just to say I am not the Lee Hall who wrote Billy Elliot. Quite recently I have received messages from people assuming that I am that same Lee Hall. I am not. But my name is Lee Hall.

And yes this blog post is totally dedicated to me not being the guy who wrote Billy Elliot!

It isn’t particularly difficult to work out that I am an Indie Author of 4 books and 2 plays. None of which is Billy Elliot. I mean that in the most sincere way but use your fu**ing eyes! I’m sorry for swearing but all you really have to do is read probably the first few lines of my profile on all social media outlets to grasp that. I’m not angry either (that’s not allowed either these days).

However, speaking of me, here are the four of my books that are competitively priced on amazon, you should buy one and leave a review….

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5 Reasons why you should read Darke Blood

I’ve come to believe that anyone can write a book. I mean that in the singular sense. Most of us have enough inside us to create one book’s worth of content and tell a story worth reading. Although having one book out there is indeed a phenomenal achievement a real writer only finds themselves after that first journey. What I’m saying is indeed subjective and from experience but I truly believe that I became a writer only after I managed to finish drafting Darke Blood and so here are five reasons why you should check out my story of true darkness… 

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1: This was the most difficult project I’ve ever drafted… and arguably the most ‘book like’ book I have out there… it’s probably the most rewarding too…

I almost sent ‘DB’ into the recycling bin around a third of the way into drafting. It made me angry that I just couldn’t get the book to work or fit with any type of story. My writing style isn’t to have much of a particular plan, in fact for this book I had 3 or 4 ideas and no real idea for a finish. Without boring you all to death with vague details let’s just say I persevered and found myself as a writer, pulled everything together during an angry session at the gym one day and created a story I am damn proud of.

The real truth is; and this is further to my point above, I gave myself 4 ideas and then said ‘let’s go write a book’. Being able to write a story on the spot with just a handful of concepts is the definition of a real writer. They will find a way to link everything together via characters, plot and setting no matter what.

Most of my books read like a film, but ‘DB’ reads in a more stationary manner making it deeper and immersive and overall more book like.

2: Yes it’s a vampire story, but that’s just a side genre…

Creatures of the night have been done and done again we all know that and I knew that going in. But Vampires have never been seen in the way I delivered them (sophisticated and logical, no offence or slander towards others though) and as much as people think they have been done; there’s still a huge array of vamp stories out there. This story is Vampires grown up. Above all DB is about identity and finding yourself even if you can only see pure darkness eventually you can find your own light to shine a way.

During the difficult draft I decided the world of Darke Blood was in fact linked to another world created in my debut novel, which brings us to numero 3…

3: Darke Blood is set in the same universe as Open Evening!

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I had a great deal of fun building bridges between Open Evening and Darke Blood. Without dropping a bunch of spoilers I will say it just makes sense for these stories to be in the same ‘time’ and world. If you have read ‘OE’ and if you are looking closely you’ll see a few hints towards the ‘DB’ universe. This becomes a little more obvious in ‘DB’ and those who know the two universes will collide eventually.

4: The characters

Quite simply Darke Blood is a character driven novel, for much of the writing I let them lead the charge and you’ll find arguably the greatest cast I have ever assembled on the page. One of the biggest motivators to write this novel for me personally was to tribute Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a subtle sense as well as carving my own path. Those who are one with the Whedon will know his work is driven and centered by diverse three dimensional characters and Darke Blood tributes that. There is a character for everyone waiting in Darke Blood

5: There’s going to be a sequel!

I have already drafted the sequel to DB and at the far end of this year I shall delve into the editing phase. In terms of release date, we’re looking at 2020. ‘Darke Awakening’ will see the world of Open Evening and Cemetery House collide with Darke Blood in the ultimate culmination and cross over.

Bonus Reason 6:

Turns out cross overs are hard and long (that’s not a porno honest…) so ‘Darke Awakening’ is part 1 of 2 Darke Blood sequels. ‘Darke Apocalypse’ will close the story and crown the ‘Darke Trilogy’ along with carry on the story of Open Evening and Cemetery House. This will be later as opposed to sooner so you have got all the time in the world to read Open Evening, Darke Blood and Cemetery House.

Bonus Bonus Reason 7:

Okay I’m pushing it now and I don’t want to go hard sell but Darke Blood is relatively undiscovered. The truth is it needs a bunch more reviews and reads before I will even think about launching the sequel. My big plan and aspiration this year is to get DB read and reviewed more. You could be responsible for the success of what is a deeply immersive character driven story. Anybody who does wish to read it, I will happily send an e-copy for free in exchange for a review so get in contact for more info…

Or you can just wait until this friday when it will be free to download for one day only celebrating 3 years since release!

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OPEN EVENING IS FREE TODAY ONLY!

With the sequel coming this Halloween now is the perfect time to grab yourself a FREE TO DOWNLOADABLE COPY of Open Evening for today and today only! (21st Sep 2018).

Elevator pitch: 

What if that feeling of everyone being strangely against you turned out to be true? What if lurking under the horror of trying to survive high school was a much worse terror. Open Evening is a primal story of survival, fighting and running. It’s a fast paced ‘never a dull moment’ read seeing a band of unlikely heroes club together in order to survive a night!

If you’re still not convinced here’s 5 reasons more why you should read Open Evening...

Grab yourself a free download now via amazon and remember to leave a review!! 

This Halloween will see the story of Open Evening continue with Cemetery House! Where survival was just the beginning….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cemetery House Blurb Reveal!

With Halloween on the not too distant horizon, this year comes the long awaited sequel to Open Evening; Cemetery House. Those who survived are back to continue what has already been started.

I began production of ‘CH’ quite literally after Open Evening, well sort of. The first portion of the book serves as a prequel/origins story of a man named Twister, I wrote that very early on. The rest of the story is a continuation of Open Evening making the whole deal rather unique. I’ve tried to take all the good stuff from sequels I like and put those concepts into this book along with being conscious of what makes a bad sequel also (I didn’t to put that stuff in). There will be answers this time around, especially from the many questions Open Evening asked. What this has resulted in is a story in which I am so damn proud of, these characters who carried the last story were given another opportunity to prove how wonderful they are, and for me they wrote this one.

Those that do know, this story is indeed linked to Darke Blood and their universe is shared. There will be more nods towards that in this book, so look out. 

I have just finished my final OCD edit, and reading through Cemetery House has actually pulled me out of a rather rough time I have been having as of late. August was a pretty hard month personally but I am over myself now and this book has helped leaps and bounds.

So there’s only one thing left for me to say, here’s the blurb of Cemetery House….

The survivors from Open Evening are back for their next chapter and together they must face life after high school. Led by a man named Twister, they learn of his origins and where he came from; a place that suffered a similar fate to their hometown. Accompanied by his newly formed crew; Twister must return home to face the demons of his past, only now the town has been converted into a horror themed amusement park.

With a ‘purge’ imminent in the park, those who survived High School must look for answers as they take on their next challenge. The world of work can be filled with horror hiding just beneath the surface which has returned yet again for the roller coaster ride that is Cemetery House.

So get ready to run, think, fight and live, because ‘survival was just the beginning…’

 

5 Reasons why YOU should read Open Evening

Shameless self promotion alert and as an indie author most of the time if I’m not shouting about my books, nobody else is apart from a very selective well read and cultured few. So here’s some top reasons why you should invest your money, imagination and hopes into the literature I have brought into this world, we’re gonna start where it all began…. Open Evening

1. This book is different…

Okay, you’re probably thinking everyone says that about their stuff but stay with me here. Open Evening initially reads like a typical high school horror but spends most of the book being anti-genre and even turns certain horror cliches back on itself. Our nerdy sometimes socially struggling narrator has to overcome so much more than a lack of confidence to survive what becomes a night of running and trying to live.

For those who have read it, their initial feedback has described ‘OE’ to read more like a film than a book with a bunch of clever and fun twists along the way…

2. It represents the struggles all of us have been through as a teen, even though it’s based in the early 2000’s..

Everyone who has ever been a teenager will know what I mean by the struggle of what high school is, and that is one of the main themes captured in Open Evening. I took the idea of this book from a bunch of notes I wrote when I was at school and could easily tell this theme ran throughout so I had to translate that to Open Evening.

Whether you’re the bully, the jock, class clown or anything in between, there is something everyone can relate to in the whole psyche of high school and that is present in Open Evening. There are elements of ‘breakfast club’ and who doesn’t like 80’s films or nostalgia?

Sometimes it feels the teachers are against you and sometimes it feels like the world is against you and in Open Evening there is something else was lurking underneath it all….

I will even admit there are some elements which are taken from my own personal experiences, so you could say it’s semi autobiographical. In all of my works you’ll probably learn more about me than in anything else I do.

3. It’s extremely action packed…

This book goes! Yes there’s running and screaming, but there is also a lot of sequences that involve fighting and even explosions (yes there was budget for pyro…).

If Open Evening could be compared to a film it would sit somewhere between Alien, Aliens, Blade and Jurassic Park. The short punchy chapters are designed to keep pages being turned and there is never a dull moment, and if it goes quiet, be scared, be very scared…

4. Open Evening is practically free to read..

So here’s the deal, outside of writing I have a job which pays my bills and I love it therefore I do not need to make money from selling books which means I care more about producing something worthwhile that will enrich a reader. 

Technically if you have kindle unlimited you can download the e-book for free but if not the price is well below most books and if you’re like me and prefer holding a book in your own hands then you can find it via amazon for £6.99 or some dollars…

5. Open Evening is part of a wider franchise….

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Open Evening is indeed just the beginning of a wider franchise which looks deeper into the occult world. By the time you have finished Open Evening there will be a bunch of head spinning questions in which the wider franchise will answer for you. This includes my second novel Darke Blood which is set in the same world as Open Evening!

You can check out 5 reasons why you should read Darke Blood right here…

Just last year Cemetery House was released, the direct sequel to Open Evening. The story will then move towards the world of Darke Blood in a cross over story planned for the near future. So there will be a plethora of books and stories to invest your imagination in, which all started with Open Evening….

6. Special bonus reason… Cemetery House (the sequel is out now)

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2018 Preview

Happy New year loyal reader and welcome to 2018! My blog is back for what will hopefully be the biggest yet for my writing.

‘They’ do say it takes 5 books to finally ‘feel’ any success towards being an author and so 2018 will see the arrival of not 1 but 2 more books to the back catalogue. That puts me 1 away from being a modern Tolkien right? We’ll see I guess but first before I talk about my books I want to address the white elephant in the room!

Star Wars – What were they thinking?

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This review will contain spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the Last Jedi, scroll on or don’t see it, I stand in either choice right now…

That bad? Well thinking about it and having let the whole thing sink in after xmas, yes. Now not all of it was terrible and as a casual (didn’t see them fully until my teens) fan I found myself wondering what the hell they were doing along with ‘hey that was pretty good’. There were some parts of the Last Jedi I did really enjoy, I could count them on one hand and on the other hand all of the bad or shall I say unnecessary plot arcs, events and characters that took up too much of the long run time.

It felt as if all the great work and promise from the force awakens seemed to be completely ignored or dashed by new the director Rian Johnson (the now voldemort of films). We didn’t see anywhere near the screen time needed for both Finn and Poe Dameron. Instead we are introduced  to filler characters. Some of which are trying to make an already richly diverse universe even more so. This time around the whole diversity thing just felt pushed. I mean the world is obsessed by such a thing which the original Star Wars had. Princesses that were strong and could fight, different skin tones and accents, its all there in a new Hope.

I cant get my head around why they cocked this up but they did. And for those who had waited 40 years to see their master Jedi return, you will be disappointed by Luke Skywalker, the recluse who spends a film ignoring Rey.

What interests me the most is an impending doom of where they will go next. Maybe Rock ‘the Dwayne Johnson’ was right by releasing Jumanji at the same time…

Let’s talk my books 2018…

Loyal followers will know this year will see two books come out.

The Teleporter

In a world where there are already too many super heroes, comes another super hero…

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Okay that may be a bit broad, but the Teleporter, arrives this April/May and promises to be of novella length. This short mainly comedic piece will see one layabout drunk guy accidentally acquire the ability to Teleport! Some other stuff happens and he tries to save the day and get drunk….

Sounds fun huh? Well I enjoyed writing what is a departure from horror and took my time to create something which will hopefully be a barrel of laughs. There will be more teasers like the one on the left soon. You can find more information here.

 

Cemetery House

‘Survival was only the beginning…’ 

The long awaited sequel to Open Evening arrives this Halloween and sets out to tell the story of those who survived that night in Haddington. We will see an extended origins arc for Twister who has to ‘go home’, this time around he’s not alone. Here’s the teaser trailer…. 

Cemetery House will also connect with Darke Blood resulting in a crossover coming 2019!

 

 

A guide to book promotion

The thing about life and doing stuff means that sometimes you gain experience. And to be more specific, when it comes to writing books (I currently have 2 published with 3 in the pipeline) I have learned all sorts of crazy, funny and sometimes important things. I’ve dabbled many times in sharing my experiences all things publishing and this post is indeed another branch from my resources section.

This is my guide to book promotion…

First of all the results I got from my various endeavours is subjective and dependent on a lot of things. This includes: the type of book you are promoting, the state of the market, timing, pricing, quality of product and how it looks, how many reviews, yada yada yada.

A lot of things have to align pretty well for any book to sell, even thought there are snake like marketing tactics to trick people into buying things. You wont find any here, just honest experiences, ideas and tactics.

STEP 1 

Firstly you have to decide what you want. For me personally and my two books, I wanted people to know they existed, quite simply. Thousands of sales would be great but I realistically want to shift enough books just to know they are being read. A majority of 2017 I spent trying to figure out the best way to promote both of my books and truthfully my sales were god awful. (Basically near to zero).

I went from near enough nothing to a maximum of 600 plus sales in 1 day! Hell we even hit number 1 in the occult charts at one point. And there’s no proven secret, you just need to do your homework and that’s the next step.

STEP 2 – RESEARCH 

Now where did I do my homework? Goodreads!

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There are hundreds of discussion boards/groups amongst the grand depths of goodreads full of mostly up to date and historic information. One particular group I joined; ‘Support for Indie Authors’ is packed to the rafters with stuff. And for the first time in my writing life, I knew I wasn’t alone.

This group is full of not only valuable tutorials but it is run by people who have been there just like you, their books haven’t sold either and they discuss it, vent and share. This is the wonderful thing about the modern age we live.

There is a section dedicated to book promotion, and so I got to work deciding how I would go about promoting my books. I wanted people to know my product was there so how would I do that?

I was willing to part ways with some money, not a lot mind, say around £50. How would I know my money was being put to use, I consulted the discussion boards where people tell you results and now here I am.

STEP 3- DECIDE 

I put together a short list of promo service providers. Websites and companies who specialize in promoting books via websites and mailing lists. Some of them promised over 10,000 eyes would look over their newsletters alone. I made contact with ones who looked genuine; many of them have a process such as a form making it all the more easier. I will list my results further down.

STEP 4 – IMPLEMENT 

I timed my booked promotions with a view to eventually give the e-book of Open Evening away for free. I enrolled in KDP select for both books and set up dates for them to be free (5 days in a row). (I only intended Open Evening to be free but Darke Blood was also for a time). Everything was organised and so I waited for the promo dates to roll by.

STEP 5 – TRACK SALES AND RESULTS

Book sales began to trickle in. And so here are the results and who I used:

Before books were free: 

Book Doggy – Cost $10 – Book sales – 21 (not bad huh?)

Bargian Booksy – Cost $43 – Book sales – 21 (somewhat pricey compared to above..)

Fiverr – Cost $5 – Book sales – 3 (Probably not worth it again, but lesson learned)

The 5 days my e-books were free:

Bookwerm – Cost $10 – Book sales – 10

And then things went a little crazy, by day 2 I had sold 83 books and then that number kept growing until my final day of being free. Open Evening was downloaded 629 times. We hit number 1 and many post downloads came in after! oe 1

So there it is, Open Evening officially arrived and I was only just touching the surface in terms of promotions. But this is the beginning.

The good thing about kindle is that you can also track pages read, and so here are my results…

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As you can see people are reading my book. Which is what I wanted from this, just to let people know it exists. When it comes to promotion of books, the job is never done. And there is always someone who has been in your situation.

Big Book Update 2018

2018 is closing in on the horizon and I find myself asking where did that year go? Time flies when your kicking ass and writing books. But these days blog posts are rare for me due to my procrastination efforts and my philosophy of no news equals no blog.

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Of course I could find something to vent about, like the deteriorating political situation in ‘insert nation here’ or how ‘insert maniacal world leader here’ will get us all into a nuclear war. It’s safe to say I prefer not to debate and voice opinions of such things, I find most news tiresome, especially when most of it is bad, I’m not ignorant, just selective. All bad news aside, I must say 2017 has been incredibly diverse for me in terms of success and writing efforts.

Earlier in the first half of this year we saw the release of my second novel Darke Blood in which sales are still trickling by and even some fresh reviews have made their way in. The feedback overall has been good and my efforts to publish this book have been very much worthwhile.

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Open Evening had further success by reaching Number 1 in its Occult category on amazon and sold over 600 copies in a day (it was free to download at the time!).

Soon after DB’s publication and before I got to work drafting my next next book. I say next next because 2018 is a huge year for me.

 

2018 will see two books of mine grace publication. My back catalogue this time next year will increase to 100%! (that’s just maths…) 

So what are they? Well scrolling down past this post you will see my announcement post for CEMETERY HOUSE; the sequel to Open Evening and also linked to the Darke Blood universe! Exciting huh? Click on the picture below to view the teaser. We are looking at a Halloween release for CH.

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So what’s the other book?

Soon after finishing the inital draft of CH I needed a much needed light hearted break away from horror/thrillers and so I got to work on a comedy novella called, wait for it….

THE TELEPORTER; a super hero comedy type story. I am looking at an early April release date and more importantly over the last week I have been in contact with my awesome book publication team and I can confirm…..

both Satin Publishing and Design for Writers will be on board to publish/edit and create an awesome cover not just for the Teleporter but for Cemetery House also!

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My next step will be to let my loyal readers know official release dates which will turn up sooner than you think! Hashtag creepy wink!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Self Interview: Lee Hall pt2

Hello and welcome to the second part of my author self interview series. Today we cover book reviews, the ten year anniversary of the Christ Benoit murder suicide tragedy and a whole host of indie author questions…

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How important do you think book reviews are for an indie author?

Reviews are a doubled edged sword when it comes to books. They are very unique to any other product available on amazon simply because most of the reviews critique or praise the writers efforts. Clothes, electronics or even medications are reviewed for whether they fit or even work. Books really are unique to review as a product.

So do you think people have read a review of Open Evening and then decided to buy it? 

I would like to think so, even though a very small percentage of the people who did buy my first book left a review. So even though I am thankful for the praise and kind words I don’t take reviews massively seriously.

What are you currently reading? and is it important that a writer must also find time to read? 

Dragon Teeth by Michael Critchton and god yes! If you ever want to get better at every element of story telling you must read and then read some more. Our minds are constantly growing and books feed that growth. With reading you take something in as opposed to writing which works the opposite way!

How are you marketing yourself as a writer currently? 

I like to stay relatively active on social media and do try not to just talk about my books. When possible and if I have some material I like to blog. If I have watched a new film or TV show I may review it or maybe even whatever political situation is going on in the world right now. The first rule of selling books is not talking about selling books…

Being an indie writer means that I probably doesn’t pay the bills. So what do you do for a living? 

I work at the very forefront of cutting edge experimental science. My job involves working in the control room of a particle accelerator in Oxfordshire for the STFC. It’s a pretty cool place and there’s always something interesting happening or another challenge arising from science. I started out as an electrician and then moved into engineering which now nods towards physics, pretty cool right?

Feature Question: Lastly this week has seen the 10 year anniversary of the suicide murder case involving WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, what are your thoughts?

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Benoit (right) with his signature flying headbutt

Well where do I start? Back then I was a huge huge WWE fan! I was still a stupid 17 year old kid but even back then wrestling was everything to me. Chris Benoit was and still is to me the pinnacle of what a successful wrestler should be. He worked his way up for years and only really got rewarded later on in his career. I related to the guy because like me he was only 5’8 but he was tougher than anyone in that ring. Seeing him win in the main event of wrestlemania 20 was pretty special then some years later all of that went away.

Back then I used to record the WWE shows on a small vhs combo TV I used to plonk down next to our actual TV. So I had already watched and recorded the Sunday event where Benoit was scheduled to show up and face CM Punk in a championship match. Of course this never happened and obviously the events that unfolded at Benoit’s residence were tragic and horrific. He took his wife and son’s life before committing suicide himself.

The news broke initially with WWE officials not really sure what to do as the truth was still unfolding. So I put in the tape of Monday night Raw to see an empty arena and even stranger a tearful Vince McMahon. The context is previously McMahon died on screen in a story line which due to the events just got dropped. He spoke about what had happened with Chris but not to any detail. At that moment my heart sunk and everything felt distant for some time,  I was even numb perhaps. I knew back then wrestler deaths were common but a top guy like Benoit was a deep wound to the industry.

The three hour show that night displayed Chris Benoit’s best moments and it even contained some interviews of current WWE talent. Some of which were cagey and may could have actually known the circumstances, I remember both John Cena and William Regal holding their cards close to their chests. Little did anyone know this would be the last mention of Chris Benoit on WWE TV ever! They literally deleted him from the history of their company but for good reason.

It’s scary how quick time can go and I cant believe it has been ten years since the Chris Benoit tragedy. WWE changed that day. The investigation revealed Benoit used a lot of steroids, had some bad brain damage and had domestic issues with his wife Nancy. I guess we will never really know what happened over that weekend but my guess is the combination of lots of things caused this.

Soon after in WWE a new drug wellness policy got phased in. The next year they went PG and never looked back, they look after their talent a little more now but that doesn’t ever change what happened 10 years ago.