‘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

Blurb Reveal – Book 6 – ‘Darke Awakening’

Coming this September (that’s rather soon!), my 6th book and sequel to ‘Darke Blood’ and the next story in the Order of the Following Series;

Darke Awakening: Embrace the True Darkness

Here’s the blurb…

Darke Awakening blurb announcement

Of course any critique on the grammar/structural front is welcomed, I can’t really change the content in terms of the story as it’s already written… either way, I hope you are ready for what I hope is going to be quite an event. 13 or more sales on release day is considered a win. It will be available for Pre-order soon – I hope some of you will at least think about supporting this one. 

More information about the wider Order of the Following Series can be found here. All three of the books that precede this one are discounted to 99 cents in most territories. If they are not available where you are and if you promise to leave a review, I will send them to you free of charge. The book cover shall be revealed soon! 

Rock and roll, peace out and thanks for tuning in!

The Order of the Following Banner

‘Breaking the Darke Crusader’s Code’: The making of a book that almost wasn’t to be…

Some of the best moments come from the most difficult of circumstances in this funny old thing we call life. In early 2017 when I began to embrace the idea of drafting a ‘second book’ I never expected that journey, laced with internal creative difficulty and even physical health obstacles, to end up producing a book which is now my most critically and statistically acclaimed.

Of course I am talking about ‘Darke Blood’ which on the surface appears to be a vampire story, but in truth there is a hell of a lot more going on underneath the surface of just blood sucking creatures of the night. This post is a deep dive into the making of that story, and yes there will be some element of light spoilering with the intent more to advertise and spotlight the qualities of a book’s success that still fills me still with baffling but swelling pride. I’ve never really spoken about the process that goes into writing a book and they sort of get forgotten after being released. But what I went through to write ‘DB’ should be remembered, because it did not come easy and hence the swelling pride… 

Rule one in all writing: always embrace the good things that comes from it, especially the one’s you don’t expect…

image

Before the books that now make up my back list (I have a back list? even that baffles me sometimes…) there was a time where I exclusively wrote science fiction with a hope to query agents, get a book deal, get a movie deal and thank the academy for giving me  this here best original screenplay award. Let’s just say the experience of getting nothing more than a few good people’s attention, none of them rhymed with Spielberg was humbling and as a writer and person, I grew up and started again mostly from scratch.

It’s never too late to start again, or even start. Starting is the first step to anything worthwhile…just start okay! 

The feeling of dropping a project that saw zero success was liberating to say the least and even though I left those sci fi books behind they stand as a testament to how I learned to write. Post writing liberation came my first foray into the world of indie publishing with a book known as ‘Open Evening’ which had some ‘success’ but before even sending that manuscript to my editor, like always I was looking to what would come next.

With 6 months until ‘Open Evening’ would see the pen of an editor I decided to get into another story which eventually became ‘Darke Blood’. My divine wisdom told me after writing a creature feature chase story with heaps of action I needed to do vampires next along with a slower more mysterious and fleshed out pace. Like everything I write, it needed to have some differential concept to the last project and the whole vampire thing would also be a tribute to probably my all time favourite character driven show – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

What’s in a name?

Okay, so I’m doing vampires, that means the setting would need to be dark and shadowy, perhaps almost black like the night. This would tie in with the title and be both catchy and unique, something only someone searching for your work would find; and that’s a pro tip when coming to deciding title’s, make it stand out

There would be some kind of forest, one with trees where the leaves don’t fall and a town that’s small enough to realistically host vampires. In 2017 I was spending a lot of time in a place known as Iver Heath which is a neighbourhood surrounded by mostly trees and farmers fields. They have two country parks nearby one of them called ‘Black Park’ so in the beginning I just merged ‘Black’ and ‘Heath’ but it turns out Black Heath is an actual place – back to the drawing board but I was set on using ‘the Heath’ I just needed a word to put before it. Next came Dark, but as the history of the town began to spiderweb in my head, perhaps when it was established back in colonial times it would be spelled oldy worldy style and so ‘Darke Heath’ was born. Put the concept of vampires, blood and all that along side Darke, you have ‘Darke Blood’. Trust me this process sounded prettier in my head…

Black Park

Black Park in Buckinghamshire near Iver Heath in the UK

So we have a forest, it’s going to be shadowy and there’s a colonial history to the place. By the time I had reached this point, the Prologue had already been drafted. A page turning chase in the shadows where some not so happy campers are split up, they first find an old cemetery and then a house – the haunted house trope always, always has a place in my heart, it just does. At the very end of that sequence we are introduced to the perhaps slightly condescending main narrator. Open Evening had more of a pessimistic trope busting narration style, this one, straight up insulting, trust me those differences are important…

What’s in their names?

That narrator just happens to be named Blake Malone. The Blake I can’t recall settling on,  it came after I decided to use Malone which is tribute to the narrator ‘Edward Malone’ from Conan Doyle’s Lost World – a book I first read when I was 12 and then proceeded to get bitten by the literature bug. Blake Malone also shares a light Irish heritage like Edward as they both have a pale complexion and they both are recalling their account of an experience in going into the unknown.

blake quote

The second billed character and creature of the night/ bad ass ‘Caitlyn Turner’ came next. Her inspiration came from the world of video games. One of Fallout 4’s popular and bad ass companion’s is an Irish lady known as ‘Cait’. I gave her a full name and a backstory of depth and history which spans back to those colonial days and is inspired by the many episodes of ‘Angel’ that see’s a younger version of the title character in the past. She has a history of love, deception and fighting along with links to witchcraft. Her story serves as the second part of the first act and by that point should hook most readers in.

caitlyn quote

Another popular face in the lore of ‘Darke’ is the older gentleman known as ‘Angus Greene’ who is a pick up truck driving, helpful and kind country fella who’s family have been taken by the vampire threat in the Heath. His inspiration and name is tributed loosely to ‘Hershel’ from when it was popular TV show The Walking Dead. Although Angus is more of a fighter and perhaps a little more cynical. He becomes more and more of a leader in later books.

The Darke Crusader’s code

Blake Malone has arrived in Darke Heath for a ‘new start’ or so he says but after confiding in the reader only, he is actually in the Heath to investigate the findings of someone known only as the ‘Darke Crusader’ which is in fact an anonymous internet handle who has reported some weird things going on in the Heath before disappearing. This is the central motive as to why Blake has come to town but worryingly his recollection of anything before arriving is blank, and this works as the conflict our MC would overcome later on in the narrative. It also adds a unique psychological edge to the whole deal – so we’re already better than Twilight…

Much of the time during my writing process I will just throw open ended ideas into the mix, and originally what brought Blake to town was most likely going to be dealt with much later on. The Darke Crusader was originally in fact someone external from outside the character loop who would arrive and lift the dramatic lid later on, sort of like a murder mystery reveal. Unfortunately this concept didn’t really line up or work. Bearing in mind I was already 40,00 words into the book at this point and in April/May of 2017 I was suffering badly with sciatica – to the point where sitting, laying and standing hurt. Writing is still painful by the way… always.

The concept of this mysterious internet persona held everything together. After all it’s why Blake is in the town and why the story is happening. The magic word there is motive, which all stories must have, the why.

I just couldn’t find a way to link it all together to reveal this external character and break the Darke Crusader’s code and it started to piss me off.

The recycling bin beckoned…

Frustration loomed, and anger, lots of it. This was my second foray into writing an original story from scratch and I’m stuck. After an angry gym session (is that sweat or tears?) I seriously considered putting that many words into the recycling bin but then, inspiration hit me. Like always while in the car on the open road a solution appeared.

Never underestimate a good drive to clear the mind and find thoughts… sorry environment I need to think!

What if this Darke Crusader was actually already an existing character? What if Blake had no recollection of the past because it was removed in some way? Maybe he was already from Darke Heath in some capacity and then sent out by the evil forces to shut down this crusader. The whole plot began to turn back on itself and unfold into the series of twists and revelations that followed. I’ll admit I put Blake Malone through a Shutter Island level of mind melt hell. But it worked; just about… I was already going down the psychological route anyway so it lined up. There is also just a slice of the Shining in there too.

Big reveals turned into twisting revelations as the Darke Crusader’s code had been cracked in front of my own eyes and imagination. The characters figure out themselves as the story unfolds. Placing this character into an already introduced persona made for a justified twist that the vampiric powers were willing to go to in order to find out who this crusader was because after all they had control of Blake. He also found out where he had come from and it was much closer than he thought. Doing this aligned him with the forces to fight back and so the final act emerged out of such struggle.

Keeping it in the Heath…

Deciding to keep the Darke Crusader inside the confines of just the town made for the feeling of no escape. The world was just limited to that town between the trees. There is an alternative ending to ‘Back to the Future’ where instead of harnessing lightning from the clock tower in Hill Valley, they go to a nuclear power plant instead, out of town and away from where the story takes place. Comparing my stuff to that masterpiece is a little indulgent but keeping everything in the Hill Valley/ the Heath rounded the story perfectly.

Back To The Future Review | Movie - Empire

Overcoming it all to tell one heck of a tale…

The struggle I went through in both back pain related and story related issues may have made for the reason why Darke Blood stands out as probably my better books. The whole tying together in the penultimate act either turns people away or grips them more. It’s decisive and carries weight. And this is before the awesome editing and cover art work that tops off the whole deal. It didn’t come easy, and much like those difficult second albums, it felt like an uphill fight to tell a story that I desperately wanted to be different from Open Evening and so it was, but they are connected…

The Open Evening Connection…

Open Evening banner with DB and ch

In order for the past elements in Darke Blood to work (Cait’s story and the main antagonist), it made sense for the creatures seen in Open Evening to exist in the same universe. And so after all of that struggle and part of it was making the whole deal fit, I managed to tie it into a wider universe which is still growing today.

the order symbol (weathered with title)

Final witchy thoughts…

20200712_191712

This deep dive is in fact just more of a shallow swim into the complex but satisfying tale that is Darke Blood: You’ve never known true darkness. There is a whole segment of the book that is probably best described as ‘Light Witchcraft’ which I haven’t really mentioned here but later on becomes ever so important. This is also galvanised by the Sisterhood theme that runs beside the second billed character of Caitlyn Turner who turned out to be way popular than I thought. Her journey continues in the next Darke coming this September.

Looking toward the wider ‘Darke Series’

In what is hopefully going to define my work as an indie author Darke Blood works as a stand alone but can also be delved deeper into a trilogy which will continue this September but the Open Evening side arc is very important to that. They are tied together and will culminate together.

Have you read Darke Blood? Not many have but those who left reviews, thank you. 

Darke Blood banner with OE and ch

Darke Blood 3 year ‘Book-iversaire’

It’s been three years since Darke Blood was released. The reason I acknowledge this milestone is because during the writing process of that book I firmly believe I hit the point of no return on the road to becoming a writer. And plus in life, you should celebrate the little things… image

Now I firmly believe a true writer isn’t just someone who puts together one story and a bunch of concepts to then throw into the world. A writer is someone who can fashion a story from very little to create a lot multiple times. One book isn’t enough to find yourself as a story teller, but two, means it was no fluke.

I could lather it up with this artistic talk but I’ll just admit ‘Darke Blood’ was a pain in my ass to write and put together. 2016 – the year I drafted it was a tough year, I had bad sciatica, I was getting used to working shifts (albeit badly) and all around the writing stuff didn’t seem to be flowing. A few times I almost dragged DB to the recycling bin but now I don’t regret persevering once. Digging deep in times of struggle comes with reward and that’s what I got with ‘DB’.

It has become my most successful and most critically acclaimed book. Yes there a few moments where the story is a bit ‘out there’ and trust me I know it’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to immerse a reader and that’s what story telling sometimes needs to be. As book it must have worked and this one fashioned and shaped my tenure as a pensmith while also shaping the Order of the Following Series which it is now a part of.

You can expect more from the ‘Darke’ series this September as the follow up and sequel ‘Darke Awakening’ arrives which is also a crossover to Open Evening and Cemetery House. Currently I am drafting the third and final ‘Darke’ book which will cap the pentalogy that is the Order of the Following.

Happy ‘Darke’ Day! 

Exclusive Darke Awakening Excerpt – because we all need a distraction…

As an author and creator with material to give and seeing what we are all currently facing around the world I have decided to share some reading material with you.

This is the opening of Darke Awakening, the 4th book in the Order of the Following Series. I have chosen to share this part because anyone can pick it up and I have something to give (not corona)…

Enjoy and love to you all!

 

 

Darke Awakening

(The Order of the Following Series)

By Lee Hall

Copyright 2020

 

 

 

Prologue: The Skeleton man

Darkness. The blackest of the black. Not being able to see and all that. Yeah some of you have heard that speech before and this isn’t my first venture into the lightless void of the unknown. All of us look to the dark differently but we always see one of two things. Nothing, and everything. Fear fills the gap between what isn’t there and what could be and you’re thinking, how artsy and self-reflective, we all know this story isn’t. Drown someone in shadows and eventually they make their own light to find a way out. That’s what I did, Blake Malone; the name personally adopted as a reminder of what I have fought for and who I stood alongside. Luckily for you, that fight isn’t over.

My journey continues right where I left it and now there are others whose stories intertwine with mine. These folks and their past may not fully matter but it’s why they ended up crossing my path and so they matter to me.

I wanted to be clever in how I kicked this tale off, instead of being corny and obvious, like saying ‘strap in, things are about to get wild’. Where we are going will need more than a seat-belt and if you excuse the segway, a seat-belt is something Mitch Hawkins wasn’t wearing as he drove his battered old Ford towards Darke Heath on a cold still night. And let’s face it, around these parts they are all cold still nights but this one has some significance.

the road

Tall old pines straddled both sides of the main forest road, hence the name, but Mitch wasn’t focusing on the lackluster view of mainly black. He had one hand on a peeling steering wheel and the other on a nearly finished cigarette. Something loud and grungy blared out of his speaker system, the most valuable part of the vehicle, the L.E.D display danced to the base. Just as the next song was about to kick in, he heard a dull vibration from behind.

Instinctively he stubbed out the cherry and slipped a hand into his front pocket, except the vibration didn’t come from there, he felt nothing but denim.

“Aww, shit,” he said. The shuddering cell phone sat in his biker style jacket that was laid across the back seat.

He did that thing where you try to turn one-eighty and crush the soft part of your abdomen under the ribs whilst driving. Without buckling up an easy feat, so Mitch grabbed the jacket and pulled out his glowing cell phone without realising the old Ford had veered out of its single lane prompting him to glance up. He corrected the steering with a mind on the caller and failed to focus fully on the dim headlights that shone on an outline in the road.

“Oh, crap,” Mitch shouted in that elongated way where you know you’ve screwed up.

He frantically veered the wheel right and looked to a thin tall figure stood dead in the middle of the road. The image of two hollow eyes and not a lot else burned into Mitch’s head before his car left the asphalt. Rubber skated over loose gravel and to much softer ground. The suspension strained and dipped the shuddering car which crashed at speed into ferns eventually scraping to a stop.

Our driver had blacked out upon impact, and if you were to drive past that uphill spot five minutes later, you would be none the wiser an old Ford left the road.

Mitch came to in a spaced-out daze, the car, dead. Light came from a now full moon revealed itself behind thick clouds. The headlights, smashed along with his side window. Something pinned the sleepy driver into his seat, a strong lifeless type of force that also burned.

Just how long was he out for? The internal compass of awareness inside Mitch wanted to say not long. With a gasp he looked down to see a sizeable branch embedded into his shoulder, there was blood and the wood extended beyond a shattered front windscreen.

“Jesus,” he gasped with a pained breath.

You see Mitch should have worn a seat-belt, let that be lesson one. Then he wouldn’t have found himself restrained out in the Darke Forest at night and alone, another big no around here.

His shaking hand gripped the blood covered branch, the lightest of touches and he was in hurt city. It made him nauseous and kind of panicked at the same time. From the foot well came that familiar vibrating of cell phone. It was frustrating and painful all at once because for the life of him Mitch just couldn’t move to answer it.

“Goddamn it,” he blurted and rested a forearm on the permanently open driver’s side window which must have dropped in the crash; something he didn’t remember happening.

In his mind that image flashed into view of someone stood in the road. He’s heard the stories of the ‘Heath’ and so right then in that helpless state his mind began to wander. Those hollow skeleton-like eyes staring right through him. The Skeleton Man, he named him, perhaps a hitcher who walked from that Glenwood travel interchange place, or just a guy on a night-time walk.

For some strange reason Mitch had a feeling he was no longer alone.

Floating out of the cold air came a presence along with the frightening image of this ghostly face. Those hollow eyes stared down into the car. With a certain fluidity this Skeleton Man dressed in rags lowered to Mitch’s overturned forearm which hung just out of the car. Bony mud encrusted fingers coldly squeezed him.

“Could you lend a hand bro?” Mitch asked. The ghostly figure seemed to just hang there before moving in closer.

A sudden sharp burning sunk into his arm, Mitch desperately tried to scream but something hypnotic stopped anything emerging from his mouth. He could feel his existence floating away as the sound of gulping filled both ears. Soon enough Mitch slipped away into a deep sleep.

 

Part 1: ‘DB’ Continued

1

“Well damn Blake, it’s like you said, you suck at pool,” the man called Twister said. I guess he had the right to say that, especially after potting the black around my partially embarrassing array of red’s. They sat stranded in that after game type of way which just reeked of ‘you suck’.

“I’m more of a social pool player,” I said.

And there we were, in the corner of a busy bar called ‘the Cure’ while the Eagles did their Hotel California guitar riff thing. My grip loosened on a now pointless pool cue and Caitlyn Turner stepped in.

“I guess it’s my turn.” She took the varnished wood and stood ready to challenge this newcomer.

“Well it looks like the lady is up next. You’re giving me those eyes like you’ve kicked the ass of every damn hustler whose come though those doors,” Twister said and gulped down his whisky.

“Yep, and twice on Sundays.” Caitlyn moved to set the next game up.

“It’s wise not to play for anything more than pride I’ll tell you that much Twister,” I said looking at my girl Caitlyn grin from a fond memory.

“That’s code for she wears the pants in their relationship,” a voice said from behind the bar.

“Is that so? Well it is the twenty-first century,” Twister said. He leant on the bar and presented an empty glass as I turned to see the stand-in bar keep, Susie. She shot me that look all siblings give each other when they are in chop busting mode.

“Twenty first century? I’ve been around a lot longer than that,” Caitlyn said and broke.

“Although, a lady should never reveal her true age.” She stood proud of the scattered and still spinning pool balls.

“Ha, lady,” Susie said.

“Watch it biker chick Barbie,” I said to her, but she had another distraction, Twister. Susie did that thing girls do when they know they’ve got a guy interested. Her fingers brushed back smoky blond hair and she poured him another whisky.

“Keep the change.” Twister pushed a twenty her way and headed back to the pool table. Susie winked at me and took it.

“Smooth huh? Considering I’m not employed here. Well smoother than Splint anyway,” she said.

“Yeah, I suppose so, for a vam…”

Her cold hand gripped mine and stopped me from saying any more. For a moment I had forgot we were in the company of a newcomer. Twister wasn’t smartened up to this town’s ‘affliction’ which my sister just happened to have.

“I mean right about now Splint would be frowning at this newcomer bigtime,” I said and looked to see my Caitlyn continue an intrigued stare towards this stranger.

“So, been in town long?” she asked.

“Got in tonight.” Twister took his shot.

“On a dark desert highway…” the sound system blared.

“Now I like this song just as much as the next cat in here, but I’m pretty certain that’s the fourth consecutive time it’s played,” he added.

the bar

Yep, Twister was right and like that we were back as that damn song began playing again. Things never turn out like you expect and our story starts just a little later than expected or unexpected. Some of you know how I got to be standing at a bar in the middle of Darke Heath whilst I watched my girlfriend exchanging small talk with just a little hint of interrogation towards an intriguing character known as Twister.

She stood in that usual garb of strappy midriff revealing top and ‘pain in the ass’ to take off tight jeans of the red persuasion. Her boots finished at knee height and the heels were just enough to bring her height equal to the man she stood opposite.

This guy took the rugged look to new heights with a wealth of scars up either sleeveless arm. The flannel shirt on him had probably never seen an iron along with the cargo trousers. Twister’s face showed the signs of man who probably saw some shit in his lifetime, especially with the map of scars to go with it.

The two of them could probably have a decent fight. Caitlyn, a former vampire; long story, could still handle herself even if she represented a petite brunette lady. Twister didn’t exactly tower over her, but he carried himself in a ‘don’t mess with me’ kind of way. The visible muscles on both his arms weren’t huge but they were more than what I had.

I took a bar stool while the pool game represented a metaphorical sizing up of two considerable forces. Their exchange of words tested everything they wanted to know about one another. As far as I knew then, Caitlyn, vampirism cured and all, still packed one hell of a feisty punch. But this wouldn’t get to that point, either of them had too much tact.

“So, what’s with this place?” Twister asked. He never let the whisky leave his grasp.

“Well the bar’s owner, Splint, he just felt like a change. Hence the remodel,” Caitlyn said with a game face smile knowing he wasn’t asking about the decor.

He too cracked a ‘game on’ type of grin and probed some more,

“I’m talkin’ about the town. As I rolled in, I saw a stack of places under repair. Looked like fire damage mostly. That apartment block on the main drag in here looked pretty much levelled. I’m just sayin’, this place don’t look like a trouble type of town, on the surface,” he said.

“Then again most small towns aren’t what they seem.” And again, he was right. And again it’s a long story.

“Yep. Small towns, aren’t all their cracked up to be, am I right?” I said to them with nothing more than a ‘let the adults speak’ glare from Caitlyn.

“Swing and a miss,” Susie teased next to me.

“I’ve seen some places in my day, but every time I come through here, there ain’t much going down. Now I thought that was strange until it looked like hell went down here recently.” This time Twister paused and glanced up to Caitlyn before taking another shot. He sunk a red followed by the white.

“And when it comes to strange, I’m used to that rap. You seen the car I drive?” Twister nodded to the yellow classic style taxi parked in the street outside.

“So, let me ask again. What’s the deal with this place?” He asked with a tone that matched his serious look.

Caitlyn placed the white down and kept her equally strong stare on him while she lowered to aim.

“I’m a straight shooter Twister, so here’s the deal.” She drove the cue forward with a harder than usual shot.

“How about you tell me a little bit more about yourself before I answer that question. I think we both know in this world that knowledge is power, but only for the right person,” Caitlyn added.

The tension between them began to simmer a little, but she had this way. Must have been something to with being a creature of the night for the lengthy time she was. Like my sister, Caitlyn could ‘tame’ any alpha male type, she relied less on body language and more on honest words alone.

“Fair enough, Mrs Blake Malone. What do you wanna know?”

“It’s Caitlyn and what’s a fella like you doing in a town like this?”

“I’m just passing through like I do every now and then. I travel around most of the time,” Twister said.

“What do you work in sales or something?” Susie asked from the bar.

“Not exactly, I’m more of an exterminator,” Twister said, he kept both eyes on Susie for a little too long. Being the older brother made me notice that kind of stuff no matter how flirty she acted.

“We’ve had somewhat of a vermin problem around here recently,” Caitlyn said stepping into Twister’s view.

“Is that so? Well I don’t think you’ve seen the type of infestations I’ve dealt with,” he said.

“Try me,” Caitlyn added.

Another conversation trailed towards the bar and I did that thing where you try and tune into both sets of dialogue.

“Jeff, let me introduce you to my kids,” my Father Angus Greene said with his signature country accent. He shuffled a tall flannel shirt wearing frame my way and beside him walked a smaller Korean man. I swivelled on my stool to see Angus take a large hand off this man’s shoulder and stretch it towards me.

“Jeff, meet my son Blake. Son, this is Pam’s father Jeff,” he said.

“Nice to meet you,” I said and held out a hand for Jeff to shake.

“Mr Malone. Pam has spoken highly of you. Very nice to meet you,” Jeff said with a warm grip.

“Now the young lady behind the bar is my youngest Susie.” Angus adjusted the one arm he had in a sling, a partially painful reminder of recent proceedings. He signalled to Susie who leant over the bar.

“Hello Miss Malone,” Jeff said, he nodded, and this time kept the hand to himself. We could see his apparent discomfort.

“Please call me Susie, that whole Malone deal is Blake’s thing.” Susie extended her pale hand.

“And please don’t worry sir, I don’t bite, the good guys,” she whispered as Jeff half-heartedly shook her hand.

“Now, do you fellas want a drink? Splint left me to work the bar.”

“Well honey, he did ask if you could skip to another song on his new sound system,” Angus said.

“Uh, I already tried. Maybe I’m not doing it right.” Susie placed a remote control on the counter.

I looked past the several occupied seats to a booth near the back. The man known as Splint sat with his shaven head back facing and beside him, Pam, his girlfriend. He sharply turned to see Angus and Susie trying to work out the remote control.

“That’s for the TV that I no longer have. You gotta push the button on the player,” Splint called from his seated position.

“Okay. Great, thanks Splint,” Susie said back through the several people sat around.

“Where is the button?” She turned three-sixty on her feet and looked down under the counter.

“Bottom left,” Splint shouted. I could see him then turn to Pam as they appeared to argue about something.

“I’m not seeing it Splint,” Susie said over everyone.

“He probably means his left,” Twister said from the pool table.

“My left Susie-Q!” Splint began to get up. He started to climb over the table as his girlfriend sat in the way. She pulled his hand down.

“Let me just go and show her,” he said.

You see Splint and the Korean girl known as Pam were the ultimate odd couple. She turned out to be strong in the ways of witchcraft, Earth-witchcraft to be specific. Pam was also into geek stuff like D and D amongst other quest style games. Splint was pretty much the opposite, he was a jump first, deal later guy who listened to loud music like the Offspring and had a ‘loose’ kind of thinking in life. I didn’t want to say Splint was crazy, but he stood somewhere near it, and he couldn’t defend himself in a fight either.

Anyway, these two got together in the final act of our last story, Pam got sired by a vampire over lord type known as Alexis and his Death-witch partner called the Mistress who also turned out to be my mother. In that final battle Splint marched right up to her with a syringe full of vampire curing goodness and put in the save. They’ve been together since.

I watched them have one of those mini arguments couples have when they are still trying to figure one another out. Splint hopped over the table and Pam, leaving her with who I presumed was her mother.

“He probably means your right, or stage right,” Twister said, again from the pool table.

Splint rushed to the bar and nodded,

“Yeah see, the new guy gets the drift. It’s down there,” he pointed as Susie lowered.

“On a dark desert highway…” the sound system blared, again.

“Did you push skip?” Splint asked.

“I’m pushing it Splint. New sound system my ass,” Susie said.

Splint hopped over the bar and disappeared along with my sister.

“On a dark desert highway…”

“Damn it, it’s just the same song over and over again,” Susie said.

“Maybe it’s the cd?” Twister said, he leant over the bar whilst Caitlyn sunk another ball.

“Yeah, maybe it’s the cd Splint. If you get his drift?” Susie added and appeared again. Her eyes met Twister’s in that flirty kind of way that I wasn’t sure about.

“Your shot Stretch, save the flirting for after I win,” Caitlyn said.

My eyes kept their focus on Susie who turned. Something in her stance changed just then, like an animalistic sense that kicked in. Two ‘shifty’ looking types, shifted themselves in through the doors and over to me. The first guy, unshaven and walking with purpose reached into a jacket pocket.

I double took between him and Susie, then her face began to frown. The muscles around her eyes firmed and from her lipstick covered lips came two white fangs. Her pupils dilated and became something which represented more of a predator than my annoying younger sister. They stared into another set of similar eyes and I saw fangs coming from this approaching intruder.

“Alexis may be gone, but we still own this town,” the other guy said.

Everything moved too damn fast and I sat with a dumb looking face on a bar stool. My Father Angus swivelled to the side and held up his only available hand to defend himself against a glinting blade. Even in his recovering condition he had the strength to swipe the threat away only for the intruding vamp to follow through and drive the weapon into Pam’s father, Jeff.

Susie vaulted over the bar with a growl, she collided into the knifeman and down they went. The other guy smiled and backed toward the doors. I stepped in to protect my father who he tried to catch Jeff from falling. I lowered to see a river of red.

“Dad!” Pam screamed.

She coursed from her seated position and past several onlookers. Her outstretched hands clenched, and an aura of purple began to surround her body.

Susie laid in a punch and her target let go of the blood covered knife. Before she could do anymore the other intruder threw out a kick and pulled his companion to. They stumbled away and rushed out the doors.

Caitlyn watched with a front row view. She sharply raised a knee and snapped her pool cue in two, then her eyes met Susie’s and they charged for the doors.

“Dad, no!” Pam cried.

She dropped to the struggling Jeff with her purple aura fading, and she tried to help.

“Somebody call for a damn ambulance!” Angus shouted, and I saw Splint appearing from behind the bar.

“Blake, get out there son. Make sure those girls are alright,” Angus commanded as his hand gripped my open shirt.

They could handle themselves, but I breezed out of the double doors anyway. Out into the cold night air I went to the partial darkness of main street had where Caitlyn and Susie stood with their backs facing me. Opposite, the two intruders both in full vampire mode.

“It’s a shame you won’t be able to tell your friends there are new Slayer Sisters in town,” Caitlyn barked, she handed half a pool cue to Susie.

“That’s funny because last time we checked both the Slayer Sisters are now mortal,” vampire enemy one said.

“The original line up has changed.” Susie stepped into her target.

In my peripheral to the left I saw movement. The metallic sound of creaking echoed out into the mostly desolate street.

Vampire enemy two swiped out and struck Susie, she shook it off and retaliated. Caitlyn swung out her pool cue stake, the target stepped aside, and sucker punched her. She yelped in her now mortal pain.

“Aint what you used to be are you?”

She angrily threw out a connecting elbow.

This time I looked when that metallic creaking came again. It was the taxi, Twister’s yellow taxi, and a figure closed the trunk, Twister. He stepped out into the street with something long and curved in hand, not once did he look up.

“Now now, gentlemen, is that anyway to treat a lady?” He said while Caitlyn’s foe broke away and dove forward.

Twister had no time to react as the vamp pounced and they went down. A feeling I knew all too well. He held that curved weapon in defence to stop salivating teeth getting any closer.

“What, the shit, are you?” He casually asked and impressively hauled the attacking vamp over and away.

Twister jumped up, he stepped into street light and I got a better look at what looked like a sabre blade. Attached to the handle in his grip appeared to be a canister of some sort. Before he could step in the other vampire breezed past Susie. This time Twister lived to his namesake and manoeuvred out of pursuit.

He swung the curved blade up and down and then stepped in with a lightning quick swipe of the weapon’s handle. It cracked into the nearest vamp, but he wasn’t done.

Before I could step off the sidewalk my instincts told me to stay put and saved me from a mass of black which abruptly trotted past me. The cold breeze of a black horse in full gallop stepped out into the street between Twister and the ‘new’ Slayer Sisters Caitlyn and Susie.

Riding this silky coated steed was a hooded figure, I saw the outline of what looked like a bow with an arrow primed. The two vamps looked up in terror toward this horseback arrival. They began to bumble away when the hooded shadow let the arrow fly.

A brief whistle careened toward the pair. It entered vamp one at chest level and into the other close by. A brilliant flash of glowing orange filled the street and the two of them were nothing but dust in the wind.

“Uh, thanks, I guess…” Twister spun and we all watched the horse rear and bolt away.

horse

“Who is that?” I asked stepping out to Caitlyn and Susie.

“Let’s find out.” Caitlyn had already begun to jog in pursuit.

“Guess we’ll race ya,” Susie said and after a few strides caught up with Caitlyn. They ran toward this shadowy horseback slayer.

I began to stride after them when I heard the turning of old motor. Wheels spun, and soft headlights flashed in the street.

“You wanna ride Blake?” Twister asked from inside the taxi. He was already at the wheel and had turned the car around.

I pulled open a yellow door and got in…

 

End of Part 1 – To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Order of the Following Series by Lee Hall

They live on the fringes of society chasing and fighting the horror of what lurks just beneath the surface…

Their symbol opposes evil.

There are five corners to a pentagram.

Five corners.

Five stories.

This Pentalogy is governed and connected by those who look to expel evil from this world.

They are The Order of the Following.

These stories stand on their own but they are also linked….

the order symbol (weathered with title)

1. OPEN EVENING

Embrace the unexpected….

A story of survival of what lurks underneath the fringes of small town America. The sole follower arrives and leads an unlikely group…

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‘Twister pointed to a small pentagram tattoo on her inner arm. Over the top was a more prominent tattoo of a crucifix. He then revealed the exact same mark on his arm…’

2. DARKE BLOOD

You’ve never known true darkness…

Vampires and the occult world; two pillars which are linked to the story of Open Evening while also cutting its own path through the lightless void…

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‘Our following could benefit with more like you two. I shall give you a day to think about the choices you make. If no, then the sun’s power awaits you.’

– a man named ‘Hudson’ (Mayor of Darke Heath township) 

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3. CEMETERY HOUSE

Survival was just the beginning…

The lone Follower Twister is no longer a solo Warrior. His newly assembled group look to find answers about the evil that lurks below. Their story becomes aligned with the occult. They learn of Twister’s origins and the ‘book’…

‘Dreads gently took out a large leather-bound book from the felt bag. That was the first time I saw the symbol. You know, the pentagram with a crucifix over it…’

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“If I can see you. They can see you…”

4. DARKE AWAKENING

Embrace the true darkness…

Everything you thought about these stories is going to change. There has been an awakening in Darke Heath and so the fourth corner appears….

The characters of these stories will collide in an epic cross over full of revelations, action and the occult. 

Creatures, witches and vampires will collide!

It’s time to embrace the true darkness! 

COMING SEPTEMBER 2020

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Weekly Ramble #61

The editing process of book number 6 has gone well. ‘Darke Awakening’ is a bold and somewhat incredible feat – if I’m allowed to say so. The work we do must give us some sense of pride and as I reached the summit of what was a second draft, I feel a little more relaxed about it. 

When it comes to my own stuff, my main concerns when penning any story are:

1. Is this thing going to work?

2. How the hell am I going to market it?

Luckily when I drafted ‘Darke 2’ I put in a huge amount of effort in answering question 1. First drafts serve that purpose and now comes the probable difficulty in all of this – getting people to read it!

My marketing endeavours have historically worked to an extent and this time around I shall be looking at previous methods while also trying to find new ones. My audience is in a constant state of gradual growth which helps immensely.

Those in the loop will realise I have subtly prefixed ‘The Order of the Following’ on the end of Open Evening, Cemetery House and Darke Blood’s amazon page titles. And in order for Darke Awakening to be fully appreciated they need to be read first as it is all linked together in what is an ambitious crossover. You can expect to hear more about ‘The Order’ soon.

dfw-lh-3dx2The hardest challenge an indie author faces is brand awareness and distribution. Translation- telling people your works exist and that they have appeal. That’s what I shall be doing in the coming months so watch this space!

For a while I can let it sit and go back to reading some awesome indie books. My current read is a book called ‘NightJar’ – its a wonderful foray into the English language, I urge you to check it out.

Those of the author persuasion how do you tell people about your works? 

 

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‘Darke Awakening’ the 6th book by Lee Hall; coming this year!

 

Darkness. The blackest of the black. Not being able to see and all that. Yeah some of you have heard that speech before and this isn’t my first venture into the lightless void of the unknown. All of us look into the dark differently but we always see two things. Nothing, and everything. Fear fills the gap between what isn’t there, and what could be. And you’re thinking, how artsy and self-reflective, we all know this story isn’t. Drown someone in shadows and eventually they make their own light to find a way. That’s what I did, Blake Malone, the name I adopted as a reminder of what I have fought for and who I stood alongside. Luckily for you, that fight isn’t over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Evening & Cemetery House are FREE to download today!

Halloween approaches, the leaves have turned and the temperature has began to recede. While the shadows do their best to cast over everything it’s time to embrace the season and the unexpected because both Open Evening and it’s sequel Cemetery House are free to download today and tomorrow only! (this is a one off deal) 

dfw-lh-3dx2Every published author has that book which broke them into the world of story telling and Open Evening is that for me. It’s a story in which I am immensely proud of and I pretty much got to work on making a sequel for straight after; that was after penning Darke Blood which happens to be set in the same world now known as the ‘Order of the Following’. 

There are going to be more books based on these stories coming soon!

So what are they about? 

Open Evening and Cemetery House are two fast paced reads of the unexpected and survival. They are about so much more than the horror that is on the surface; they highlight the social struggle of growing up along with what it’s really like to go through high school. As much as there is terror and action, they are stories of friendship, coming of age and above all life. Much of the stuff in this book represents the years I spent at school – so it’s real to an extent. 

Its ‘Alien’ meets ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ ‘Final Destination’ and ‘Blade’ all wrapped up in some Halloween spookyness!

A recent review of Open Evening: 

“If you ever found secondary school hard, then you’ll be able to relate to the main character. If you loved Buffy the vampire slayer, then you’ll love this book…”

You can download a copy of Open Evening here for free! 

Cemetery House then picks up literally three weeks after the events Open Evening. High School is over and those who survived have moved into the world of work while something else lurks just underneath the surface. Not only is this a sequel but in this one you get answers and the rabbit hole goes deeper into this world which will then lead into the Darke Blood sequel!

‘CH’ is ‘Jurassic Park’ meets ‘House on Haunted Hill’ while continuing on from Open Evening.

You can download a copy of Cemetery House here for free!

A recent review of Cemetery House: 

“I really enjoyed this follow up to Open evening, gripping story definitely a page turner for me…”

 

This is probably one of the only times both of these books will be available together for free!