All I know…

Forwards is all I know. It’s probably my greatest coping strategy and my most powerful weapon against anything adverse in this life and believe me, adverse is understatement when it comes to describing 2020. How we cope in situations life throws us is our true measure. Much of what I do involves thinking on my feet and going with it. There is no short term planning, it’s just me going with instinct and trusting it will stick. When something does stick. I just go forth with it. That’s how I got here, a road behind paved by supporting and being supported by others. There’s gold in supporting others, not a physical kind but the kind that means more than fortune.

Figuring out this whole blogging and authoring deal is half the battle. This year provided an opportunity to go forward continually. That ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is gospel to me, when they said that all the way back during WW2 they knew what they were talking about. All this uncertainty shrouds the true opportunity and that opportunity is carrying on through anything and everything. Even when we don’t know if we’re really going to win, what is winning these days? Survival is winning to me, it always has been.

I’ll be taking everything I do into next year and beyond. Truthfully it’s kept me going emotionally and physically. To have purpose and to find purpose is to truly live. To live is an awfully wonderful adventure. See you in 2021, no doubt I’ll be going forwards, it’s all I know…

Let’s talk about… writing – The First Draft…

Happy Sunday folks. Here’s another look at my Omelette writing analogy which you can find over on Twitter

Lee's Hall of information

A new blog series emerges, out of the unknown void of creativity where I sometimes have ideas…

Let’s talk about writing. You’re probably not going far and neither am I.

So while I’m here and you are (hopefully) let’s use this time to reflect on writing, after all it’s what most of us blogger types do.

Personally there is no full proof blue print to teach someone to write. You have to find that within yourself but I can sure as hell talk about it and hopefully pass on some ‘wisdom’ about the craft. If you tuned in to Twitter recently you may have seen my recent thread that 4 people probably read all about that first draft.

15 Websites And Apps For Creative, Fiction, and Short Story ...

It’s easier and relatable to think of writing in a way that everyone can. So for this post, we are going to use the analogy of cooking to represent writing that first…

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Merry Christmas, all 6 of my books are FREE today!

For me today is all about giving and as someone with something to give, well here I am. You’ll find all 6 of my books available to download for Free today via Amazon. Consider it my gift to anyone who needs a read or an escape over the holidays and beyond. These are unprecedented times and this is an unprecedented year so it calls for things like this. I offer you my entire backlist just for today kind reader. This is an offer that may never happen again. Strange times indeed.

In the spirit of the season I wish you a safe Christmas wherever you may be. Those who take any of my books today, enjoy them, they embody everything I’ve ever had to say in this strange world and life. They wholeheartedly describe everything I am more than I ever could personally and for that they are worth the time.

Merry Christmas.

Click on this graphic for the US Amazon Link

Amazon UK Book Link

Amazon Canada Book Link

Amazon Aus Book Link

Amazon India Book Link

The Final Ramble – 2020

Unprecedented is probably the biggest understatement to describe this year but somehow we face the end of it.

Reflecting can do strange things to one’s thoughts. The future, the now and the past all come to mind. What we’ve been through as individuals and together will shape our lives maybe for many years to come and I won’t lie, back in March even I thought this fragile society we live in could possibly collapse – it came near but not near enough because we dug our heels, stayed indoors and got through. We dealt and most of us tried to make do while others suffered. Still good folks out there are suffering and its important to think of those in need no matter what time of the year it is.

There have been so many ups and downs, it really has been a rollercoaster and not for one second do I regret carrying on with this blog, carrying on producing content and overcoming everything to publish my 6th book. I wouldn’t have met folks like you if I didn’t and not to mention the loyal folks who have seen this blog rise from absolute zero. All of you make me somebody – perhaps my dream in all of this. The rewards have formed into a hopeful and promising future, I’m still only on the first few rungs of the author ladder but I’m getting there. Armed with a dream I’ve had since the age of 12 and you guys, the loyalists who somehow see what I see, together a vision shared is one dreamed. I just made that up but it sounds pretty epic and let’s hope better days are just that.

Thank you for joining me this year, wherever you are have a safe end to 2020, be kind to yourself and others, you, they and we deserve it. Even though you’ll probably be busy over the coming weeks, I urge you to check back here on Christmas day. I’ll sign this post off with a quote I first laid down back in 2017, some thing’s don’t change, they just get better…

Calling Authors and Bloggers! – Unique Opportunity Alert!

Hello loyal followers, readers and passers by. I do hope December is treating you well. As some of you may know next year I am setting my sights on releasing a self help authoring and blogging guide book.

This project I hope, will be an inspirational and hopefully culture affirming experience designed to help those looking to get into writing/blogging and for those already on their journey. The key word here is ‘Inspirational’ and while this book will be filled with guides and help taken from my own experiences my ultimate vision is for it to inspire those who read it.

Therefore, I am calling on the wider writing community to help in the form of a unique opportunity to have your very own quote included in the book. Some of you may have seen my recent tweet, the annual tweet I put out looking for book rec’s for 2021 and this time I have included a question. You can find that tweet here; but I will happily accept any correspondents on this blog. Just leave your answer in the comments. Seeing as there are some wonderful bloggers and writers who follow this effort, I thought it best to include you by writing this post.

Here’s what I am looking for:

1. Your book or blog link.

2. One sentence of advice to someone with dreams of becoming a writer/blogger.

* If I choose your quote, I will reach out and ask you for permission to use it in the book.

Weekly Ramble #91

Looking back at my debut novel these past few days has presented a range of emotions. From cringe to admiration all the way to evolution. Like all art it captures a moment in time and also accurately relays the creators frame of mind and their ability in such a moment. It might not read as fluidly as my more recent works and I’ll admit it’s got all the usual ‘debuty’ attributes of an author figuring out their words but that story even now is solid as a rock. Back then I had that same fire I still have only now it burns brighter.

For what once stood as 6 lined pages of scratchy writing telling a story based on a dream I had way back when I was 14, Open Evening became my entrance into everything that stands today. I sometimes forget the before, we all do while striving for a better future.

Just what business do I have going back to revisit old works? This time of the year I always update the URL’s and links in all my works but this time I thought I would give Open Evening a little polish. Now when something is released into the world of publishing it kind of no longer belongs to the creator but the wonder of modern publishing allows some licence to improve existing works. Truthfully my writing style back then (2015) seems so far removed from my standard today and I guess above all that’s a wonderful sign of progress. You can trace my evolution as a story teller chronologically in all of my works which is voyage of discovery in it’s own right. These books will be around for a lot longer than me and the hope is perhaps some day someone follows that evolution as a reader. That paper trail I leave behind will hopefully represent me more than personality ever could. Maybe that’s how our legends are built.

How I got Five Thousand Tweet Machine Followers – a guide

Good things take time. Really worthwhile things take a long time and you might have seen me singing my own praises about getting five thousand twitter followers so I figured now would be a good time to reflect and pass on some helpful information.

How did I get there? Well it wasn’t easy. From deleting the app two years ago to now. I’ve had an eventful relationship with the platform I still don’t fully understand but there are some fundamental basics I implemented which will help anyone reach some level of social media success.

This post takes direct inspiration from my upcoming self help guide book which is available now for pre-order. I’ve broken this guide down into three sections which go hand in hand. The Why’s, The Basics and the Advanced Tweet Machine Methods. I will also cover some fixes for those already on Twitter who aren’t getting any engagement. Now there are plenty of folks I know who have way bigger followings than me, and that’s cool, but this guide is designed for hopefully anyone.

The Why’s

Exploring motive before anything else will ultimately give you something to aim for, much like any character in a book. Why are they there? What do they want to do? Ask yourself this: What do you want to achieve on twitter and why?

In my case, and the short answer; I am on Twitter to promote my efforts as an author and blogger while also learning from those doing the same.

The long answer; it’s a huge opportunity to connect with near enough everyone. Predominantly I sell my work online, about 95% of my book sales come from online sources so I need to be there for that. It’s also a wonderful way to find new books that I can review.

In your case, this may differ depending on what you want to achieve. Perhaps you are a blogger who specialises in photography, or someone interested in nature; there is a crowd for near enough all interests on the tweet machine. You want an audience right? And connecting with others will get you there. It’s both a social and a promotional opportunity. Use it to find your crowd – we’ll go into that with more detail below.

The Basics

From experience you need the basics for people to start following you regularly on Twitter. In order to get more followers you need engagement.

Engagement is basically having a voice that folks can easily hear. There is no overnight solution to more engagement but there are ways to increase it over time. My philosophy is and always will be this:

To give yourself the best possible chance at Twitter success you need to be honest, friendly and decent.

But that’s just conducting yourself professionally, most people are cool but what else can you do? Well, you need:

A real profile picture of yourself. Trust me other humans like to see other humans

A friendly bio that describes who you are, what you do. The more inviting, fun and friendly the better.

A pinned Tweet – a tweet you can put at the top of your profile that relays what you are currently doing in life, what’s coming soon or even a link to your book /blog/ content.

To engage with others by commenting, help, offer advice, be friendly, supportive and decent – trust me most twitter types are drawn to honesty. Engage with folks all the time.

To Follow those who follow you.

Unfollow those who no longer follow you.

Follow those who interest you.

If you follow the above basics you will find some level of success and gradual growth. All of these basics are aimed at getting more engagement or at least the right kind.

For absolute beginners I strongly suggest your tweets include relevant hashtags to what you are interested in. Introduce yourself and explore those hashtags, comment on other folks posts who use them. Be social.

Things not working – a few fixes

I have opted to put this section in here because this tutorial is designed for all and you might already be on the tweet machine and experiencing little or no growth/engagement. You need engagement for growth and growth for engagement but why are your tweets feeling invisible?

If your tweets aren’t getting much attention perhaps it’s time to consider what you are posting. Is it relevant or even interesting? Is it heavily opinionated or political? Is it ‘spicy’ or angry? Are you an author who just constantly shares the link to their own work? This is also relevant to what you are saying in the comments of other folks tweets. Regularly I see a user say something that can appear aggressive or forward – although this might not have been the intention it’s easy to be misunderstood in a tweet. I very much HATE WHEN PEOPLE CAPITALISE things or tell me what to do. The whole tough love/truth thing will annoy me also. Try and keep things light and friendly.

My tip would be to scroll back down your feed and look at the last tweet you put out which got some good engagement. Do more of that and less of the tweets that don’t get any attention. Easier said than done but it works trust me.

Things not working can also be related to consistency, if you post sporadically every few days at random times then it’s likely your audience won’t see it. Those with a lower following, you folks risk being forgotten if you don’t post regularly. Consistency is key.

Engaging with others more will also spread your visibility across the platform, remember it’s social media, if you see a tweet that compels you to make comment then follow the basic philopshy above and go for it!

Advanced Methods

Let’s say anything over a thousand followers means you’re serious about this. Now you need to step things up while also raking in more followers because in theory the higher volume of followers you have the easier it is to get more. It me took several years to get a thousand, but way less time to get double that.

So what advanced methods did I use to get there? While the trends constantly changed, I did these things:

Posted regularly, normally more than 3 times a day.

Figured out when the majority of my audience were online. In my case I have an audience that is mainly Europe or USA based so I post in the morning for the folks in my time zone then wait until later on for the USA folks

Treated it like a job.

Did everything I possibly could to get more engagement by tweeting relevant, fun and engaging posts every time. Post memes, post fun stuff, ask questions, run polls, share reviews of books you’ve read, so many possibilities …

Kept following the basics while also using relevant hashtags.

Took part in the newest or relevant following fads – writers lifts, shameless self promos and other follow trains – they work trust me but not every day or week…

Kept it fun and light. I tend to stay away from heavy politics and opinion based stuff.

Kept away from negativity and toxic stuff which can easily be found just under the surface.

Final Thought…

It’s called social media for a reason, to be social and the more you embrace that concept the better. Following some of the advice above will indeed help. If you have any other advice then please do leave it in the comments below.

There will be a stack of social media tutorial things in my upcoming book which you can buy here, my resources section is also full of more guides and things.

The Best Books I have read this year – 2020

It’s hard to believe that we’ve got to this point but we have. For all the words you could use to describe the dumpster fire that is and was 2020 I am going to use the word grateful.

Grateful for the authors who have provided me with not only an escape through their wonderful works but grateful to them for providing a vital centre pillar of content for this blog – reviews. Some of these creators have become friends and important connections in the world of online authoring for me. This post is dedicated them and the best books I have read this year.

While the criteria of ‘best books’ is derived mainly from my own personal taste it is also influenced by how many views the review got on here along with my admiration for the author. These works are an extension of some wonderful personalities who make up an incredible community. So let’s dive in…

‘Nocturnal Farm’ by Villimey Mist

A flawless and fresh vampire tale full of mystery and unexpected twists…Quote from my review

For all that the vampire genre has been through over the years let’s just say it’s incredibly difficult to find originality – I should know I’ve written a couple of vamp tales myself… but the ‘Nocturnal’ series stands out to me and Villimey Mist does an awesome job at continuing a gripping story with a refreshing take on vampires. I reckon soon enough there will be a third book out so now is the perfect time to jump on the ‘Nocturnal’ rollercoaster of gore…

‘Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening!’ by DRTao

A unique mind opening insight into breaking the shells that govern our existence…Quote from my review

Here at the Hall of Information we review all types of books and this mind opening breezy self help book is the most read review of 2020 and it’s also a book the resonated with me. It focuses on breaking down the barriers in our mind like ego and ambition to give a better outlook on life. It’s worth a read trust me!

‘Nightjar’ by Paul Jameson

Pure immersive and original literature that reads much like a classic… – Quote from my review

‘Nightjar’ caught me completely off guard and before I knew it I was whisked away into the ‘Feudal Future’ through classic and uniquely stylistic description and writing. The style and story is so unique I felt compelled to reach out to author Paul Jameson some time after for a Hall of Information interview and we delved deeper into the mind and creativity of a truly awesome story teller. This book is very much a contender for my favourite of the year.

‘Swinging Sanity’ by N.F. Mirza

A brave expression of feeling through poetry that is both thought provoking and inspiring… – Quote from my review

Those in the WordPress Bloggersphere will know the author/poet of this collection as the awesome Stoner on a Rollercoaster and this book really stood out to me. To be able to share verses of the subjects seen within the pages of this collection is incredibly brave, creative and generous.

‘Scarred by Damien Linnane

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge… Quote from my review

Australian author Damien Linnane reached out for a review of his awesome revenge thriller and since then I have found out he wrote this tale while in prison – this makes for an interesting and unique personal story. We’ve spoken regularly via email about publishing and book marketing and these days you can catch him on various podcasts relaying his unique journey.

‘The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley’ by Nina Romano

A ballad of love, life and destiny in the West – Quote from my review

I’ll happily admit that I still haven’t read another romance since this one back in April but for good reason because ‘The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley’ was incredible. The epic love story between two souls is something I was really immersed in and it also made for a wonderful lockdown distraction. The Western genre is something I hold close to my heart and this one I highly recommend! Nina Romano combines well researched history with some gripping story telling.

‘Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1)’ by Colin Yeoman

A thought provokingly original novella that will leave you wanting more… Quote from my review

Combining real science with imaginative fiction all wrapped up into a novella length story is not an easy feat and Colin Yeoman succeeds with this thought provoking read that is seemingly just the beginning. The question is did man originate on Mars? And how exactly did we find ourselves on Earth? Of course this story just browses that subject which is well worth pursuing – those who like high end space sci fi especially. You can also read my review of the sequel here.

‘American Blasphemer’ by By John Gillen

A masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… -Quote from my review

Talk about raw, emotional and candid but there are many more words I would use to describe this journey of honesty. This literary novel doesn’t hold back in what could even be the anti-bible. American Blasphemer served as my first Reedsy Discovery Review and ushered in a new era of access to higher profile authors and books. The fact Reedsy approached me is credit to the authors who provided me with books to review so I could get noticed.

‘How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal’ By S.D. McKinley

An entirely unique and original page-turning journey of variety on the open road…  – Quote from my review

This book wins the award for the most unique and ‘out there’ read of 2020 but in a fun and interesting way. S.D.McKinley has fused the buddy road trip story with elements of the paranormal and a hint of high octane. You can expect a boat load of different things all flawlessly put together in a well told story, that’s why it got 5 stars from me.

‘Moon-Sitting’ by E.M. Harding

An original and well-paced character driven sci-fi with a difference… -Quote from my review

‘Moon-Sitting’ is a cleverly written story that starts in one place and opens into a world of something much more. It stands as a book that caught me entirely off guard through the twists and revelations that become apparent. It’s books like this that give science fiction and novellas a collective positive voice. Even after six months and many books later I haven’t read anything like this one since – the world building is something that stood out especially in this one.

‘Mark of a Demon’ by Despoina Kemeridou

A modern feel-good fable of forbidden love and a hint of darkness… – Quote from my review

Despoina Kemeridou’s writing has a unique fairy tale style vibe and it is very much present in her second novel but this time there’s a more of an adult feel. Demonic forces and bargaining are at the forefront of a breezy immersive read. Despoina was also kind enough to be the first ever Hall of Information Interviewee and for that we were ever so thankful. We are looking forward to seeing what’s next from this awesome author.

‘The Player Without Luck’ by Kristina Gallo

A thrilling page turning story that will keep you immersed from the start… – Quote from my review

The works of Kristina Gallo are always guaranteed to be entertaining and considering English isn’t her first language it’s incredible how much she has achieved in publishing. As a supporter of fellow authors you’ll find her across the many social media platforms reviewing books and being a positive part of the writing community. ‘The Player Without Luck’ stood out for me with the multiple themes such as mystery, crime and deception. Here’s a recent Hall of Information interview Kristina took part in.

‘The Silent Betrayal’ by Momus Najmi

Original, eloquently written and thrilling. A tale of deception that reads like a spy thriller but carries a much deeper meaning… – Quote from my review

The ‘Silent Betrayal’ is a thrilling journey that Momus Najmi tells with an eloquent writing style. The story sees the son of a multi millionaire businessman lift the lid on a sketchy past and fortune he is set to inherit. My review stands as one of the most viewed posts of the year on here which is impressive but justified because this one is a great read and somewhat of a gem that deserves way more recognition!

‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott

One giant leap into the future of humankind via the cosmos through the vessel of science that makes for a fascinating read! – quote from my review

You should know by now that here at the Hall of Information we love a good space sci fi and ‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott is a pure visionary look into the future of humankind through some wonderful real science merged with fiction. This is one you shouldn’t miss and was another wonderful Reedsy Discovery find!

‘Deceit of the Soul: Saving the World from COVID-19: Before the Pandemic’ By Henry Cox

A thrilling and interesting page turner that looks to seek out the truth… – Quote from my review

When any major world event happens there’s always someone looking to capture the imagination and after Henry Cox reached out for a review of this book I realised that’s exactly what he did. We have all been affected by the whole covid thing and ‘Deceit of the Soul’ goes into the origins of something still very relevant now. This one is definitely worth a look.

‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’ by Marc Cavella

An entertaining gem of a read celebrating the glory days of pro wrestling with a modern voice… – Quote from my review

Some of you may know that for years I have been a fan of American pro wrestling and so after Marc Cavella reached out for a review for his short but punchy book I felt very much obliged. It captures the very essence of the ‘business’ in what is an entertaining read. Set in the much adored territorial glory days of wrestling Marc does a great job in bringing history to life with sight and sounds of a bygone era. You can read a recent Hall of Information Interview with the Marc here.

‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ by Nina Munteanu

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart – Quote from my review

I’m being 100% serious when I say ‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. For what it stands for is truly a statement towards our own damning of this beautiful planet and our most precious resource – water. Canadian Author Nina Munteanu has put together a masterful look at where we could possibly end up if we don’t act. This one was another Reedsy Discovery find and thus totally justified my joining of the platform well and truly!

‘Blachart’ by Christina Engela

Enjoyable action-packed original space sci-fi... – Quote from my review

South African Author Christina Engela was the very first person to reach out to this site for a book review and served as an important turning point for this blog. Since then her work has probably been one of the most featured here and for good reason – she writes great books! Even though it has been a while I eventually got to the next book in the space sci fi Galaxii Series ‘Blachart’ and was not disappointed by this futuristic action packed tale of space pirates. Highly recommended!

‘Biosphere: Hazard’ by B.W. Cole

Breezy, thrilling and gripping science fiction set in a visionary world… – Quote from my review

Keeping with the space sci-fi theme ‘Biosphere: Hazard’ was a book I discovered after Distant Shore Publishing reached out for a review. It turns out they publish some awesome stuff in the form of short stories and this novella which draws influence from the likes of Alien and Bladerunner. If you like atmospheric reads then this one is for you, and me!

And so that wraps up the best books I have read this year (2020). All mentioned will feature on my Indie Book reviews page for the next 12 months!

Thank you for reading and a shout out to every author who has provided me with a book this year. Even those not mentioned, you’ve shaped this blog to bigger and better heights which is all propped up by reviewing and embracing books!

See you in the next one!

My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2020

It’s December, a time to look back and reflect on what has been a good year for the Hall of Information. There have been some true highlights that have defined the era of quarantine with nothing but good memories of blogging. We thank you kind follower for joining us so for those who might have missed some of the best performing posts this year here’s a countdown style rundown…

Numero 5

‘6 Years of Blogging – Here’s what I learned…’

We don’t need much of an excuse these days to put out a blog post but back in July we celebrated 6 years of doing just that. During those years I’ve learned a thing or two and fashioned such lessons into this post which then served as the basis for a self help guide book I have set for release next year. 26 other awesome bloggers like this post which is near personal best territory…

Numero 4

500 Followers Special – Awesome bloggers who deserve recognition!

It’s hard to believe that all the way back in April this celebratory post dropped and it focuses on the bloggers who have helped this Hall of Information grow into what it is today. Things have moved pretty fast in recent times and now we are on our way to 700 followers so I can imagine there will be one of these posts again in the near future. I highly recommend you follow all the bloggers mentioned…

Numero 3

Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening! by DRTao – Review

Yes, a book review made it on this list which for me is the dream scenario because reviewing books is what we do here. If one person buys a book based on my recommendation then this would have all been worth it. This self help book I picked up all the way back in early February serves as a unique insight into breaking the so called shells that govern our existence. Well worth a look!

Numero 2

Book Promotion Results September 2020 Pt1

Supporting and helping fellow authors is the best way to support the industry you are in and if you support that industry it will support you, trust me. In recent times these book promotion posts have helped many authors navigate the murky waters of trying to sell books they have also got an awesome amount of views. If you have something people need, they will flock to it.

Numero uno

Book Promotion Results – July 2020

As you can see there’s a theme to the top end of this countdown and the most viewed post of 2020 is more book promotion results in the form of a guide which has hopefully helped others. We pride ourselves on helping others and it has paid off by bringing new traffic to this site and new books to read. Long may it continue!

That wraps up a fun but hopefully very useful list for fellow authors and bloggers. Tomorrow – the best books I have read this year. Thanks for reading and see you soon!