It’s Okay to Talk About Mental Health

It’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to talk about mental health. We are human after all and life can be less than kind every so often, not to mention difficult. The modern world of social media and what’s happening outside our windows can take its toll, even on those who might appear strong. Here at the Hall of Information we stand with anyone who is suffering or feeling the affects from their own mental health. We also support anyone who wants to talk about it.

None of us are anything without our minds and to me its important to acknowledge that we can get down about even the most trivial of things. It’s important to acknowledge that depression, anxiety and the wider mental health struggles many of us face, do exist. I’ve suffered from anxiety in recent times, just from being busy and having a lot on my to-do list which is totally normal and okay. It has affected my sleep and my productivity but I’m doing better now. Triggers come in many different forms for everyone, from a bad day at work to an unexpected bill in the mail to even a bad interaction online.

To have a reaction to something that triggers our mental health is normal and valid. Only you know how you feel truly and if you are having a tough time, reach out if you can, reach out to me, reach out to someone, I’m always here for anyone feeling the grind and if you see someone who may be suffering, reach out to them too because it is so important that we talk about our mental health – our lives are so precious and what we all offer to this world is unique to ourselves.

There is only one you, remember that. Some day, what you give to this world could bring light to someone’s darkness.

Excerpts from -No Rest for the Wicked and After the Glory

Fellow author and blogger Megan Hinde shares some exclusive excerpts of her works…

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If your new here or just need a reminder I write fiction. Here are two excerpts from my ebooks available on Amazon. Also all my ebook titles are free with Kindle Unlimited, or .99 cents each. -Megan

Fireweed

Blood dripped off the side of the heavy bottomed crystal ashtray, in Corbin’s hand. Surrounded by exotic flowers in the Botanical Gardens Greenhouse, staring in disbelief over what had just occurred. Corbin had always considered himself an intelligent, rational man.

Hell he was Dr. Corbin Newcomb practicing Cardiologist with the University Medical Center.

Diana had done nothing wrong, they had spent a lovely day together looking at antiques, having lunch and touring the gardens. She had even picked out the ashtray that was now splattered with her blood as a gift for him. Corbin dropped the ashtray, turned and stumbled towards a bench. He sat staring at Diana’s body. Trying to remember…

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Excerpt of ‘The Big Cinch’ by Kathy L. Brown

The Big Cinch, Chapter One: Goodwill


I tapped the Judge’s office door, once, then twice more. At his beck and call day and night, I was. “That must be him now,” Judge Dolan rumbled through the oak panel. “Come on in, Joye.” He was behind his desk, and a swell doll in a smart black dress sat across from him. He gave me a nod and a wink and said, “Mrs. Humphrey, please meet my assistant, Mr. Sean Joye.”

The lady stopped rooting through a beaded bag on her lap and looked up. Pale blue eyes behind a short net veil met mine. They gave me the once-over. A high-society doll and not a bad looker at that. She hadn’t bobbed her hair yet, like half the women in the city. It was all pinned up, mysterious-like, under her wide-brimmed purple hat. Whatever this job was, it couldn’t be all bad.

“Sean, this is Mrs. Taylor Humphrey,” said the Judge. “She brings me an interesting problem.”

“Mr. Joye,” she said, extending a small hand with long, slim fingers. “Please call me Violet.”

I didn’t think she meant it. I shook her sweaty palm, which smelled of Shalimar and jumpy nerves. “Mrs. Humphrey, an unexpected pleasure. This fine morning is now brighter, indeed.”

Her look told me, “Cut the blarney, paddy,” but she said, “The old woman in the lobby predicts snow. The ghost from the elevator shaft told her so.”

I didn’t know which old woman she meant but pretended I did, doubling down on the brogue. It seldom failed me. With American women, anyway. Gents? Not so much. “Pulling your leg was she?”

At that time, I didn’t know any better than old granny tales, that ghosts were merely folks carried off to Faerie, come to pay a bit of a visit to our mortal realm. Not that I’d ever seen any of the fae, including ghosts. At least, not in the courthouse lift. Other places perhaps? I’d just as soon not dwell on that.

Violet returned to the bag and fished out a photograph. The Judge took it, gave it a glance, and handed it back to her. “Why don’t you explain your problem to Mr. Joye?” He folded his hands across his tweed waistcoat, leaned back in the chair, and smiled. I’d never seen him more pleased with himself. “Of course.” She took a deep breath. “This is difficult.” I dumped my coat and fedora on the coat rack and pulled up a chair. “It’s about my sister, Lillian. Lillian Arwald.” She indicated the photograph in her hand and handed it to me.

A pretty young woman—a child, really—in a white, high-collared dress that hung near her ankles, smiled out of the sepia-toned picture while her eyes challenged the world. She looked about sixteen years old. Long blonde hair was pulled back from her face with a fancy comb and hung in loose curls down her back.

“We had a small family squabble, and now Lillian’s run off.” Violet looked down at her lap. She bit her lip, like she was about to cry or something.

I didn’t buy it. Something had spooked her, but it wasn’t the need to discuss her sister’s indiscretions with a circuit court judge. “Do you think she’s in danger?” I leaned in closer. “Sounds like a job for the cops.”

“No, no. Nothing like that. Her debut is this weekend at the Piasa Lodge Ball.”

“Debut?”

“A party. Where young ladies are presented to society.”

I nodded like I understood. I didn’t understand. “And it’s in a piazza? Somewhere on the Hill, I guess.” I tried with difficulty to picture which courtyard in the tidy Italian neighborhood, not far from where I stayed, could hold a fancy society party—in February, to boot.

“No. Piasa. Pie-uh-saw,” Violet said as she crossed her arms. “The American Indian mythological figure? The painting on the river bluffs discovered by the first French explorers?”

The Judge looked embarrassed at my ignorance. “At least a dozen businesses in St. Louis and even more across the river in Alton are named for it,” he said, smiling at her. “And, of course, the premier civic booster organization of the city.”

Well, la-de-da. “So, nothing else for her to hide from?”

“She’s been a bit wild.” Tapped the picture in my hand, Violet said, “That’s from a few years ago. Now her hair’s cut short. Skirts too.”

I liked the twinkle in Lillian’s eyes and something about the smile. The girl had a secret or two, just waiting for the right moment to bust loose.

“She’s just in a phase,” Violet continued. “She’s engaged to be married to a respectable attorney.”

“Trouble with the boyfriend?”

“Perhaps.” But from the look on her face, the boyfriend had nothing to do with it.

Kathy L. Brown’s The Big Cinch is a Dashiell-Hammett-style supernatural noir mystery novel featuring wizards and Mississippian mythology, available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Weekly Ramble #134

I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm but this year has officially started rolling. What began with some difficult outside of writing endeavours based stress has turned around for me this week and I’m now diving back in to the writing.

Life will always have a way of stepping in front of my creative endeavours, as always its about priorities and of course my best friend; slow, gradual progress. A sentence at a time in an orderly fashion is enough and eventually that’s what books become. The same can be said for other life things too, ticking one task off at a time is key for me. This year I’m currently envisioning two releases – another non-fiction and the final story in my not very well known Order of the Following Series. I’m also involved in an author academy which you can expect some more news from soon.

Book sales have miraculously continued steadily into this month and it is shaping up to be the best January ever. This month is notoriously slow for me usually and so I am buzzing to see so many sales coming though which is hopefully a sign that 2022 is going to be my year no matter what!

50,000 Views Special

The thing about being busy is that some milestones tend to creep up on you and yesterday the notification came through saying this blog had reached 50,000 views. Let me take this opportunity to thank every single visitor to this site who makes up that number. To be read in a world where everyone online is trying to get exactly that, this is a pretty awesome feeling. This post is dedicated to looking at some fun statistics from the 9 years Lee’s Hall of Information has been operational, you’ll even find a few tips also.

So let us take a look at the individual monthly numbers first. As you can see things started rising at around the midway point of 2018 which was an important year. A year that I began reviewing indie books and released my 3rd and then 4th book

You can see the highest views came last year in March, April and May – this coincided with the pre-order run and then release of my author/blogger/ social media guide Consistent Creative Content.

Tip for authors: When releasing a book, every element of promotion should be at the maximum running up to release. For this case, my social media and blogging endeavors were and in May I hit 10k Twitter follows.

If we dive a little deeper into the individual years you can see more views appeared as I created more blog posts.

You can also see that comments and likes increased with that content. It seems the more you put in eventually the more you get back.

So where did the majority of my all time views come from. Here are the top 10 nations:

Of course there are numerous other places where my readers come from so wherever you are in this world, thank you!

2021 was the best year yet and so where did most of the reader traffic get referred from?

Twitter makes sense as I spend the majority of my social media time there although it is still a challenge to get link clicks on the platform so how did I get so many?

Twitter link tip: Instead of sharing a link in a tweet either drop it in the reply below or just tell your following to click on the link in your bio (you’ll need to put a link in your bio for them to click on). I’ve been doing this for the majority of last year it has got me nearly 6,000 clicks.

And lets take a look at what you guys have been reading. These are some of my most popular posts of 2021:

You can find some of these things over in the Resources section or just search for them via the search bar which should be to the right or below somewhere depending on your browser. Evergreen is the key word when it comes to these posts – basically stuff that can be shared again and again and have appeal over the long term. The top 3 in particular are very much in that category.

Blogging Tip: Most of these posts were published some months ago and have gained more reads by being shared several times across platforms. It’s okay to share older stuff to newer audiences, especially if you have a following which has grown.

50,000 all time views is an incredible milestone and I hope you enjoyed this post. This Hall of Information blog has become my internet home as a creator and you are all welcome anytime! Peace out, rock and roll and blogging man!

Book Reviews XIV

A big thank you to fellow author J.D. Cunegan for sharing some recent reviews including one for Consistent Creative Content

J.D. Cunegan

Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age by Lee Hall

I honestly believe every indie author needs this book on their shelf.

I’ve made no secret on several different platforms my creative problems of late. The reasons for this struggle are numerous, but at least throughConsistent Creative Content, I now have a road map for getting back on the proverbial horse. At the height of my writing powers, I was publishing two novels a year and averaging a blog post a week — and it’s no coincidence that numbers, meager though they were, were much better than they are now.

Lee Hall’s brief how-to not only offers a road map; it’s also inspiration (for things I can do going forward) and validation (that, in some ways, I was on the right track when I was at my best and most productive)…

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‘Fee Simple Conditional (Arcadia Chronicles Book 1)’ by H.C. Helfand – Review

A gem of a read about life, love and land…

H.C. Helfand delivers an uplifting and wonderfully written story of ‘Abigail Fischer’ who becomes used to loss from an early age in many aspects of her life and while this may sound dreary, it is far from it.

With a style of writing can be best described as charming, pages turn quickly as the short chapters fly by capturing ‘Abby’ and her journey. She finds a job in the Land Record office joining a host of wonderful colorful characters capturing this new world filled with variety and opportunity. One particular patch of land sets her life in motion towards hope and as a reader you want ‘Abby’ to find happiness and success. In between, there’s drama and even some unexpected twists that make for an enjoyable reading experience following one woman as her life follows an interesting path of heartbreak, triumph and even destiny in what is a gem of a read about life, love and land.

Great stories like this deserve way more attention and this is a book that I would highly recommend, especially if you’re looking for something positive and uplifting.

‘Despite life’s inevitable changes, some things are simply unconditional…’

5 Stars – a wonderful read that deserves a lot more attention!

Weekly Ramble #133

Let’s do this 2022. New year equals the promise of another chapter on this writing journey and I have so many potential projects to choose from right now that I am kind of standing still. Sometimes having options is a good thing and while I do my best to overcome the urge to just procrastinate I’m ready to dive back into writing very soon.

The truth is, that to-do list will always be there and so I have decided to take my time at the start of this year. I found myself in deep with Twitter all the way up to Christmas day trying to do my best to reach the 20,000 follower milestone which we reached, somehow. Then the 25th came and then it went in a flash and before I knew it I was back at the day job. In between pushing myself on social media and having the pressure of not catching a virus and then actually being able to see family this festive season I am kind of tired – hence the not really starting anything just yet.

For me, rest is imperative for both mind and body. They are irreplaceable assets and so I’ll be picking and choosing projects wisely at the start of this year with that in mind. There are a lot of pressures that no longer exist for me – the struggle for visibility on here and across social media has seemingly dissipated and that’s an achievement in its own right. Good things do eventually happen and the stars do align. For everything I hope this year will be, I just hope it is better than the last. May it be good for you also!

A Guide to Selling Books on Social Media

Writing and publishing a book is an incredible achievement and then comes the daunting task of actually selling it to readers. The truth is, that part is really hard sometimes and finding ways to sell online and through social media really is a challenge.

Marketing is often dismissed by authors because they tend to think they are no good at it and that’s okay. For many years I thought I was terrible at cooking until I followed a coherent and simple recipe to realise with some practice and effort, cooking isn’t that hard. The same can be said about book marketing. With some perspective and a little consistency, selling books online is possible and even fun. I’m someone who regularly sells their books through social media and I’m going to share with you my lessons and observations that will hopefully help you.

We will look in detail at using social media as an author and selling books online while also analysing why some authors struggle.

The Misconception

Whether you are self or trad published, you’ll probably appreciate the work that goes into firstly putting a book together and then the wider journey of marketing. Authors are expected to do a lot of that work but there is a slight misconception or at least a lot of advice that is over simplified or out of date.

Write a book and share it to your social media audience – Instant Sales

This statement although paraphrased is probably why a lot of us fail or at least feel like selling books is a struggle. Oversimplified advice from 2009 is just a Google search away and social media tends to echo stuff like this. On Twitter, authors in their droves share their book links every day and then newer authors see that and do the same and so forth. The truth is, and I realised a while back is this:

Just because your book exists and is published doesn’t mean it will sell a single copy. Take that expectation away and your view on the whole deal will be a lot easier. I know you worked hard and I know you love that story which is okay because the first person who should appreciate a good book is you. But to me, most of the time, dropping that link on social media is in vain. Yes there will always be exceptions and there will even be some that live by dropping their links but from my experience, I sell my books with the link holstered most of the time. Dropping links can still be valid on occasion but it does tend to bury my engagement on twitter at least.

Analogy: Just because there is breathable air doesn’t mean your body will just absorb it. You need to work for it by using your lungs and wider circulatory system to deliver that breathable stuff around your body. I know lungs function mostly without us being conscious of them but you hopefully get my point. And so the same can be said about that book of yours. Social media is an opportunity to make readers firstly aware of you and then your work. I like to say social first and media second.

The Basics: You and Your Book

You

Social and media are two separate entities and so are the basics in book selling which are you and your book. Firstly when it comes to social media, conduct takes precedence over anything else. And by this I mean day to day behaviour and general presence. Attitude good or bad sticks out on the platforms and for Twitter where I spend most of the time, it is quite easy to read between the lines of someone’s profile and tweets to gauge their attitude. I often have authors interact with me who say they are struggling with sales and have tried ‘everything’ for me to see their recent interactions were arguments, heavy opinion and generally an attitude that doesn’t help their image. Or their recent activity is just book links over an extended period of time.

While it can be great to share and of course freedom of speech is something I support, social media tends to make you visible and that is both good and bad. Being an author in particular will put you in a glass house sometimes, especially if someone takes offence to what you have said. Now you are published it is time to really really think about what you say online.

Over the years I have conducted my own set of rules when it comes to being an author on social media. These include:

No real heavy opinion on anything that can lead to passionate discussion/arguments. My seat on the fence is comfortable;

Be approachable, supportive and mindful for others and mindful of what I am posting at all times;

Do my best to inspire, inform, entertain or give some level of value;

Be consistent – show up regularly.

If you follow most of these basics, you will eventually find followers which in turn may become readers. And the wonderful thing about social media is the quick results – when you post something you’ll pretty much know if it was good or bad by the end of a day if not sooner. Those with smaller followings may struggle with this to begin with so remember to use relevant hashtags to boost visibility. And because there are so many users on social media, there is always opportunity to reinvent yourself for newer people. This method is long term and takes time along with some patience. If you are looking to sell masses of books quickly then you are in the wrong place.

Your Book

So if you conduct yourself in the ways stated above you are set for at least more positive social media interaction and visibility which go hand in hand and also contribute towards selling books eventually. The main problem we all have is spreading awareness to the masses that our books exist. We will look into the finer details of expanding visibility below but in order to sell your media or have a higher chance of it selling then it will need to have a decent anatomy.

The basic anatomy of a book is something I mention in my guide book Consistent Creative Content and if yours has it, then eventually it will sell. These are:

A stand out or unique title that fits the genre well;

A professional attractive cover;

An enticing blurb;

A reasonable price;

Editing/proofreading to the point that is reasonably practicable.

Some of the above can be outsourced for a reasonable price. I have always invested in a professional cover using the services of Design For Writers. They also offer book formatting and even website construction among other wonderful things. For some who might be on a tight budget you can find some wonderful creatives online who might even help you for free – my most recent release was proofread and beta read by some awesome connections I have made online and for free.

The Everyday Things

So you’ve got the basics and now it is time to face the daunting task that is marketing yourself and that book of yours. There are so many ways to get yourself noticed along with that book but I would suggest picking a handful of methods at a time and seeing what works. Over time you’ll find what suits you and this really is a voyage into the unknown for many.

When it comes to social media all you really have to do is stand out to get noticed. Getting noticed will result in visibility and visibility will equal sales or engagement .

Easier said than done right? But how?

I turn up on social media every day. I keep my visibility boosted by using Twitter and have built a following of over 20,000 by putting in the time. The majority of that following trust me and have got used to me being there all the time – I’m not addicted honest…

These Everyday things increase my visibility:

Timing – know and understand when the majority of your following is online – this is huge for visibility;

Visual content such as screenshots of recent reviews, excerpts, book banners and covers, paperback selfies or pictures, memes – variety is key here and don’t over share the same thing;

Well wishing/positivity – reaching out to your following and hoping they have a good day will bring you closer to your followers and increase engagement on your posts. This also proves that you are human and when everyone else is sharing book links a little variety of the pleasant kind can be nice;

Supporting others – being supportive of a fellow follower is a great way to earn trust, get some visibility for you and others while also building some trust. Plus for me it feels good helping others;

Reply back when you can – this became a revelation for me but if someone puts in the effort to comment on your post, do you best to think of a reply, even a simple ‘thank you’ will help boost both parties;

Sharing links in a tactical way – Instead of sharing a link on a post or tweet I either drop it in the comments/replies below or tell my audience that it can be found via my bio/profile – this is huge on Twitter especially;

Use relevant hashtags – there was once a time where I would always include hashtags on all of my posts and they help boost visibility. These include #writingcommunity #author #booktwitter #booktwt #writerscommunity

Book Selling Related Solutions

Having all of the above will eventually and most likely lead to sales but what about specifics? Here are some things you can try to help sales:

Run a price promotion – from a free promo to a price reduction they are usually effective with some advertising and the right terminology (today only);

Share a plethora of content about your book – from cover art and banners to the blurb and even the first page, this stuff makes for some great material to attract readers;

Write a stand alone book – marketing the 3rd or even 2nd book in a series is difficult and attracting new readers is a huge challenge. A stand alone story will eventually attract new readers. This also naturally leads into having more books available will increase the chances they sell.

The Longer Term

Time sits above everything and I firmly believe there are no real quick fixes to selling books on social media unless you have stacks of cash you are willing to throw at it and even then there is no guarantee. Over many years and books I have grown towards regular sales, reviews and social media followers by spending time doing the above. It isn’t easy and there are so many authors like you and me who want the same thing. Even that can help us because our togetherness sometimes makes us stronger.

Social media is an opportunity to succeed but requires work to figure it out. If you really want readers and success then you’ll find a way to get there. Find your crowd, earn their trust and stay visible – these things will eventually help you sell books. Of course there are always exceptions that are good and bad. Try and keep trying because eventually you will succeed. That’s all I have done and here I stand selling books on average every two to three days.

This post is long enough without really dipping into the physical selling side of being an author and I run the risk of repeating already published information which can be read on this site for free. Below you’ll find some links to guides that I have created through the many lessons I have learned over years. Thank you for reading!

The following guides will help with physical book selling:

A Concise List of Book Promotion Sites– mostly good places to advertise online

Book Release and Pre Order Guide – got a release coming up, this is worth a look…

And these free to read guides will help with social media:

The Twitter Campfire Analogy – conversation turns that twitter machine into potential sales

10 Ways to Sell a Book without Dropping the Link on Social Media – my most popular guide these days

And for those who want a more detailed view of my journey, this book lays out how I published 6 books in 5 years and how I use social media to sell them regularly. Available now in both paperback and digital.

Final Ramble of 2021

What a journey this year has been. Rewarding and difficult in equal parts and a major turning point that signals how much potential this writing journey has.

I came into 2021 with relatively grounded expectations and into a world where the pandemic was continuing to unfold and evolve much like it still is now. I won’t dwell much upon it as my whole philosophy has been to mostly exclude the negativity of the whole subject, instead I’ll dive into the positive aspects of this year and how the last twelve months has served as collective corner that I have turned as a creative. I hope none of this is received as a boast because I always share my results with a hope they are inspiring and helpful to my readers, you. While there are many wonderful things this year has given me, it wasn’t easy.

And without you, this wouldn’t have been possible and without you, none of this would have felt real and for your support I must thank you. From having a book I wrote back in 2018 that I thought nobody liked being downloaded over 10,000 times in a single day to the abundance of followers I befriended over on Twitter; 20,000+ and starting this year with just 5k – that is probably my finest achievement in all of my writing. This all started with convincing one reader at a time and if you can convince just one reader then you can convince thousands – I am living proof that being a creative in this modern age can be a successful endeavour and you can be happy with the results. There are a host of other wonderful moments this year has given me like being recruited to be a part of an author academy for young people, an exciting venture that I look forward to sharing more of soon. The abundance of wonderful reviews I got for my works, many of which have been waiting for a long time to reach readers. The support for the content I have churned out on here and of course my most recent release which has seen paperback sales that far exceeded expectations. My next ambition is to see creatives who have read my guide book finding success with their endeavours, while it is great to write all of these guides, seeing others benefit from them would be the dream for me.

After these twelve months I can happily say that I am at peace with so many aspects that were once struggles. Hard work and wanting to be successful go hand in hand. Now I look towards a new year as a more opportunity to build upon the foundations this year has laid. All of what I have achieved is very much possible for you too, remember that.

I’d like to take this moment to wish all of you a happy new year and let us hope that 2022 will be the start of some better days for all of us. Rock and roll man!