Friday, May 20, 2011

They're Not Squirrels

In my second novel, The Awakening, as one of the characters seeks to unravel the mystery before him, the trail leads him to a specific Web site.  Blakesville.Net is the local Internet Service Provider for the small town of Blakesville, Pennsylvania.  If you put the address in your browser and go out to the site, you'll find that Blakesville.Net really exists.

But there's much, MUCH more there than just a Web address.

For those interested in poking around, Blakesville.Net holds its own stories, characters, and mysteries.  There are comments to each post and news article as the residents of town of Blakesville offer the perspective of those who live in the town.  In addition to the news stories that lend additional details to The Awakening and foreshadow the next book in the series, A Tide of Shadows, there are threads of the larger tale that exist only on the site.

Take, for instance, a seemingly mundane problem with squirrels.

The story begins in the Blakesville.Net forums under the post, Squirrel Problem and the first post (by user sbaker) opens with the innocent words, "I've been hearing something crawling around in my ceiling and walls..."

It turns out that something has been walking down the walls of sbaker's bedroom in the dead of night.  Something that left footprints behind.  Photos are taken and posted in the forum.  People grow scared.

A news story posts the next morning, Local Home Gutted In Late Night Fire.  "The home of Blakesville resident, Scott Baker, was destroyed in a fire late last night. Arson is suspected. Mr. Baker's whereabouts are currently unknown."

Rumors run wild.  Did Mr. Baker burn down his own home and flee the town of Blakesville?  Was he taken away by whatever left the footprints behind?

Seven photos of the footprints that appeared on sbaker's bedroom wall are posted to the forum.  A second user posts a similar photo, this of an eerie handprint left near the bottom of her car door.

The thread plays out in a seemingly unrelated news article, Home Now, Local Veteran Is Still At War.  An interview with John Peterson, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq who was exposed to chemical weapons during a firefight relates the hallucinations that still haunt his dreams.  In his nightmares, beings come with the darkness, trying to pull him into the shadows.

A coincidence?  Are Peterson's hallucinations real and related to the photographs posted in the forums?

Hints to the answers can be found in The Awakening, currently available in both paperback (autographed for $15 which includes shipping via USPS priority mail) and $0.99 ebook (Kindle | Nook | Other) editions.  All will be revealed in A Tide of Shadows, coming May 2012.  In its first week of publication, The Awakening has already received five glowing "5 Star" reviews at with additional reviews appearing nearly every day,

In case you're wondering, all of the photos are real.  I took them myself.  None of the photographs on Blakesville.Net were staged.

The "Squirrel" Story

Part 1: Squirrel Problem (Forum)
Part 3: Local Home Gutted In Late Night Fire (News Article)
Part 4: House Fire (Forum)
Part 5: Footprint Photos (Forum)


  1. Ooooooooo haven't started it yet (needed to finish one of my 8 In-Progress books >.<), but I need to!!! Then I can spend an entire work-day perusing Blakesville.Net :D Woohoo!

  2. This is some of the coolest and most original marketing I have seen. Well done Jeffrey!! I can't wait to check out the site.

  3. @Becky and Scott: Thank you! This is just the tip of the iceberg where marketing is concerned. I should have more details either today or tomorrow. :)

  4. That is such a great idea! Very creative. :-)