Netflix Review: ‘Sweet Tooth’

A boy with innocent determination can be a dangerous thing in a volatile post-apocalyptic world…

The post apocalyptic world is a popular concept in story-telling right now and some of the themes in Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ are a little close to home perhaps, but many of us find a strange type of comfort in realism with me included. It wasn’t that long ago when the world seemingly faced the potential brink of collapse but only very briefly – this show capitalises on that concept and takes things a step further after a deadly contagion sweeps across the world. At the same time something extraordinary happens, children are being born partly crossed with animals – fear begins to spread about these ‘hybrids’ being the cause. A totalitarian army rises and we have all the makings of that dystopia . If you can allow your imagination to bend to that initially weird hybrid idea then you’ll probably be immersed by this show after just one episode like me.

And that first episode sets the bar for a strong story told by a strong diverse cast led by child actor Christian Convery who plays ‘Gus’ a half-human half-deer. Whisked away from the apocalyptic clutches as a baby and raised by his father in the woods, he is somewhat protected from what is unfolding. It isn’t until he realises there is a bigger world out beyond those tress that the story begins and our young hero finds out first-hand how dangerous it can be. He meets ‘Big Man’ Tommy Jepperd portrayed perfectly by Nonso Anozie as the rugged and tough drifter who takes the boy under his wing – their chemistry develops as the show unfolds. There are second and third story arcs which all come together by the final episode which I’ll admit choked me up just a little.

Netfilx continue to lead the charge with television binge-a-bility and Sweet Tooth was a show I consumed in less than a week. The themes throughout range from political to scientific and even to just fitting in, this show carries an iceberg of powerful messages and references to humanity; for that I highly recommend it, but all in all, the story is entertaining and original.

‘King of the Wicked’ by T.R. Hamby – Review

An immersive imaginative take on Angels, humanity and immortality…

T.R. Hamby has constructed an original immersive and imaginative take on Angels and how their world interacts with the human one. We meet ‘Nora’ who is a struggling performer when she encounters ‘Mel’ who at first seems like a threat until he reveals who he truly is. What follows is a journey that will keep readers turning pages as the twists and turns present themselves. Its well written and even logical in places – especially when it comes to how these Angel types operate and have operated over time. We get a glimpse at the history of ‘Mel’, his world, and of course ‘Michael’ who plays an instrumental and pivotal role in the wider story which plays out.

With morality being a key theme throughout, these Angels and their motive is to put an end to bad people doing bad things which adds some high stakes as they must track them down before more bad happens. This concept is then woven into ‘Nora’s’ story which continually evolves. Romance and selflessness sits at the very centre of a real world fantasy story that will leave you wanting more.

5 Stars – Reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads.

Let’s talk about… Book Marketing

Do you feel slightly dirty whenever you spam the link to your book on social media? People who see it feel the same too because nothing is worse than seeing an author constantly spamming their own social media platforms with their own stuff…

I thought it would be best I put together some other methods to get folks to buy and more importantly read your books. Marketing is the most overlooked part of being a writer and the excuses range from ‘I’m an introvert’ to ‘I’m not a salesman’. Well the truth is you need to be neither to get reads and sales. While selling stuff is subjective I can happily admit I’ve sold a few books in most corners of the civilised world so this is my talk about book marketing…

What you need to do above all is to set out a realistic and achievable goal. Before you even start, ask yourself what I do want to get out of this book I have bestowed upon the world?

What do you want and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Sales and money ? – in this age of everyone self publishing (which is good and sometimes very bad…) I wish you all the luck in the world. Unless it’s about a real current thing that’s gone crazily popular or even a masterpiece you’ve written, don’t expect instant bucks, just don’t. Breaking even is a dirty word around here… and so I can’t help with this one…

sales

People reading and reviewing your work – now this is a very achievable goal and the chances are of it happening will grow as you release more stuff – that is if you intend to write more than one book like a real writer… There are many a different factors that govern whether or not people will see you work, pick it up and then review it. I can’t list them all but here’s a mini breakdown.

  1. Reasonable Price
  2. Decent Blurb
  3. Decent pro cover art
  4. Catchy title that matches genre and cover
  5.  A social media presence of some kind

That’s great and all but HOW can I get people to read my work?

Well if you have the 5 factors above ticked then all you have to do is let the world know about it. And no don’t just go spamming the link every 5 minutes. Do these things instead:

  1. Reach out to book bloggers for a review – offer a free copy in exchange. We don’t bite…
  2. Friends and relatives are a great starting point for reads/reviews. Ask them to help.
  3. Give your E-book away for free and pay for advertising through many book promo sites – check this post out for more info on that 
  4. Read and review other authors works – many writers will repay you because that’s just manners (don’t expect this though).
  5. Write another book and then another – writers with a back catalogue will most likely have returning readers if they liked one of your titles. Immediately after reading my first Crichton novel, I pursued his whole catalogue…
  6. Start a blog like this and talk about the laments of being a writer. Share your woes, book sales results and give back to the community.

Some writers who stubbornly say they wont give their work away for free will not get very far. Unless you are already famous or some kind of popular figure it’s highly likely you are starting this from zero. Sometimes setting the price to zero will attract readers who might buy at full price next time.. this then leads into…

Use social media properly – The word ‘properly’ is just my humble opinion but I cannot stress enough how important it is to be active on social media and to engage with others both respectfully and genuinely.

Don’t just share your book link, don’t, I see you’re about to do it, just don’t!

Instead comment on other authors posts, be encouraging, friendly, follow back and retweet stuff. Trust me this will turn more heads than anything else on social media and of course Twitter. Be genuine.

If you want my top tip have a real profile picture. This is a very simple and effective way to be genuine. People who don’t have an actual person as a profile picture have an incomplete stance on social media, plus it’s kinda creepy that you would wish to remain anonymous. Honestly show your pretty face, it can’t be that bad…

Be patient – okay this one might be a cop out, but good things like having sales and reads take time, commitment and books. Write more, dive into the words and don’t dwell on people who haven’t discovered your work.

Many many more things – there are a stack of more things that come into play with book marketing, perhaps for another post sometime. But don’t forget luck, the time of year, what’s happening in the world and many many more things need to be taken into account in book marketing…

The biggest challenge any author faces is not the writing but what comes after. Informing the world you exist is that challenge. Embrace it, go after it and more importantly don’t give up on it. Giving literature to the world is a gift trust me…

And if you enjoyed this post head on over to my resources section for more book promotion and marketing things! 

Tips For Better Twitter Engagement

The Tweet machine. A conversation driven social media platform full of opportunity for pretty much anyone. Engagement is the way to succeed but how do you get more? This is a post dedicated to helping a fellow tweeter with that, but first, what exactly do I mean when it comes to engagement?

To me, and from experience, Twitter engagement simply means conversation. In really simple terms, engagement is basically any activity resulting from a tweet, so better engagement equals more activity and conversation. This also includes likes and retweets. From there, many more possibilities will emerge from making new friends to even sales. Now we’ve defined what engagement is, here are some tips and methods to get more?

Spend More Time

Everything I have achieved in authoring, blogging and social media-ing revolves around having the time to be present for it. This is more of a long-term thing but it is also the most important tip I can give you because presence is what makes the tweet machine turn. If you do spend more time on the platform eventually you shall be rewarded for it and over that time you’ll probably figure out what subjects best suit your audience. Twitter has a very specific psychology that takes time to master and as long as you set out to inform, inspire, entertain or provide some level of value you’ll be okay.

An average day for me on Twitter is around 7 composed tweets, sometimes that can be pushed to 10 but this took time and I gradually ramped up to that number. This leads us to…

Consistency

Tweeting sporadically and even randomly probably won’t get as much attention as someone who tweets regularly every day so a consistent tweeter will naturally draw more engagement. If you tweet 3 or four times daily for a week at spaced out intervals then I’m pretty certain by the end of that week those tweets will see better results. I’m no expert but I’m certain the algorithms at play will push regular tweeters to more people.

Figure Out What Works

Using the above, eventually you’ll be able to figure out what your audience responds best to. Tweets that do get better engagement – do more of, Tweets that don’t – do less (easier said than done right…).

What kind of subjects get more engagement? There are too many inputs to list but keeping it either visual or conversational will probably get a better reception. Twitter wants users to stay on the platform so posting links seems to have a negative effect on engagement most of the time – I know this because I have spent hours figuring it out. For those of the author persuasion you might find this post useful. Variety is key when it comes to subject matter.

Feeling Invisible? My top tip would be to take a look at some previous and recent tweets, do they all contain links? Links tend to bury your visibility. Try posting that link in the replies or simply talk about the link instead. I’ve said link a lot..

Reply Where Possible

A revelation for me and an actual physical tip to instantly get more engagement is to reply to a comment that someone has written on your tweet. Doing this will boost the visibility for both parties engaged in conversation and all you need to worry about here is thinking of something that has conversational value. A simple thank you is enough sometimes. Get replying tweeters, it is good for conversing and it boosts everyone involved.

This also applies to you commenting on other users tweets because when I am not tweeting I tend to find something to comment on and this will boost your presence further.

Use Hashtags but Sparingly

Opinion alert but there is nothing worse than seeing a tweet that is full of hashtags. It screams sales, sales, sales and won’t encourage conversation. Sometimes there is such thing as too many hashtags because to me they appear a little too try hard plus they make a tweet difficult to read so I’ll just scroll past if I can’t understand something. From experience you only really need a maximum of two or three per tweet and I tend just use one and put it at the end of a tweet. Remember that specific experiences will differ for each user – this stuff is just from my own experience and not a solid set of rules.

If you really want to test your engagement levels, try tweeting without a hashtag and see how well that tweet performs.

Offer an Incentive to your Followers

No matter how big or small your following is there will always be a fellow tweeter looking for a signal boost. Offering a retweet in exchange for a retweet is great way to cross promote one another. Every few weeks I tend to change my pinned tweet and then ask my followers to retweet it. In return I’ll offer to do the same – this is great for maximum visibility and that pinned tweet of yours could strike up some conversation.

As you can see from this tweet I offered an incentive and also prompted others to drop a fun gif or picture which boosted it even more. Considering this tweet didn’t have a hashtag the numbers were great.

Offering a shout-out is often incentive enough for another tweeter to engage with you. While my recent book release was on pre-order I positively mentioned anyone who did reserve it and I even added some of their books to my tbr list – I shared that also.

Ask Constructive Questions

Asking questions seems to be an overused method to get more engagement on twitter to the point where it is pretty much a trope. Saying that, tropes do work and asking constrictive questions or questions that provide some thinking to answer, work very well. Personally I tend to ask questions for stuff I don’t know the answer to because I genuinely need an answer. My advice would be to stay away from the inane type of questions and only ask questions on occasion. This also leads to…

Keep it Conversational

‘Talk first and let the talking do the selling’ is becoming my philosophy on Twitter. These days I hardly share any links to my works and while some of my tweets do mention my books there are so many other things to share and talk about. As long as your product is easily findable you’ll be surprised how many sales are generated just from conversation.

Go Against the Grain

While everyone in the author twitter world might appear to be dropping links, asking inane questions and putting out that same tweet every morning some of them aren’t and sometimes it will do you good to try different things. Standing out will get engagement and you really need to do is confide in your following. How much you share is your choice but sharing enough to prove you are human will connect with at least one person.

Manage Expectations and Perspective

Try not to be too hard on yourself. It takes a long time and a lot of tweeting to get good engagement but the journey getting there should be fun and one of trial and error. Every tweeter is different and their engagement levels face different circumstances.

If someone has 20 followers and gets 20 likes for a tweet then their engagement rate is excellent whereas I have over 10k followers and 20 likes for my tweet is sweet victory for me personally. All of the above seems to work for me but even in a few months time that could change. Twitter can be a wonderful platform for connectivity and as long as you set out to be conversational eventually you’ll find rewards.

Thank you for taking the time read this post, if you have any tips for better Twitter engagement then do let me know by leaving a comment below. You can find more guides and stuff over on the resources section. Peace out, rock and roll man!

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this post then you’ll probably enjoy my self help authoring and blogging book that is full of experience based advice on social media. Head on over to Amazon and search for Consistent Creative Content.

The Bag -An Excerpt

Hello Friends, today I am sharing a pair of flash fiction excerpts from a fellow blogger and author. Enjoy…

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Hello all you lovely readers and writers. I have two flash fiction, short story collections and I’m getting ready to pull together a third…because ‘hat trick’. (Which may make a good title: notes for later.) The following is an excerpt from a short story found in Down The Rabbit Hole: Another Experiment in Flash Fiction. My first collection is Haunted Hydrangeas: An Experiment in Flash Fiction containing twenty-four selected works ranging from a quick 200 word flash fiction piece, to an elaborate 3074 word short story. With out further interruption here is the beginning of TheBag: Enjoy -Megan

The Bag

The Trail

The trail had gone cold. That was the frustration which James Newton was feeling. He saw the target disappear into the woods but the trail went cold as soon as they hit the rocky cliff. If he had been more steadfast into making the…

View original post 2,455 more words

The Tweet Machine Basics for Authors and Bloggers

The world of social media is the glue that holds all of my authoring and blogging efforts together. In particular, Twitter is a weird and wonderful vessel that sails the seas of social media and can be used as a valuable tool in both marketing and finding your own crowd. Everything I’ve learned from the Tweet machine can both be applied to all writers and bloggers who make up the wider writing community.

To begin with, my advice for any prospective writer or blogger is to get yourself a Twitter account. The potential reach you can achieve doesn’t compare to anywhere else, so if you aren’t on Twitter you will most probably struggle to reach potential readers.

You’re going to need a handle (username). This can be creative or simple. Both work fine and yet again another important attribute outside of the trio looms.

To give yourself the best possible chance at Twitter success you need to be honest, friendly and decent. Why, you say? Because that’s how I got several thousand followers in just a few years, so you need:

A real profile picture of yourself;

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 currently have available/currently writing, what’s coming soon or even a link to your book or blog;

To engage with others by commenting, offering help and advice, being friendly, supportive and decent;

To be honest. Trust me most twitter types are drawn it.

This also includes a following strategy that consists of:

Following those who follow you;

Unfollowing those who no longer follow you;

Following those who interest you.

Now you might be asking what exactly do I tweet about? My mantra is to tweet about anything as long as it informs, inspires, entertains or provides some level of value – this will normally lead to some engagement but if not it’s probably due to lack of visibility because of a low follower count. I will typically add at least one hashtag to that tweet also.

Popular hashtags for authors and bloggers include: #author #writer #blogger #writingcommunity #amwriting #amreading.

Twitter is a wonderful arena full of folks just like you, and together the voice of authors and bloggers is louder trust me.

For absolute beginners it might feel like nobody is listening or seeing your posts. This is only reflective of your current following. At the very beginning tweet less and spend more time commenting on the tweets of others. Explore hashtags and search for folks who you have a common interest with.

Twitter takes some time and effort to work out and has a very specific psychology to master. As long as you are approachable and lightly social, you’ll be okay but remember, it takes time and above all, good conversation between you and others. Before you experience any type of external success (book sales/blog views) your audience will need to feel like they can trust you. This can only be achieved long term and through genuine interactions. I call this the ‘Algorithm of Trust’.

This post is an exclusive excerpt of self help book ‘Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age’ which is available now.

Weekly Ramble 112

Winding down. For real this time. It has been a busy and intense journey but now I’m on my way out of that place to hopefully somewhere a little more calmer. No doubt the last year has been a fight to get my name and words out there but right now I feel like that fight is done and the best thing is, I’m happy with the results.

It feels nice to be able to sit back. By that I mean recede into writing more and more. I’ve got editing to do, I’m going to try and query agents at some point but the wonderful thing is about this stuff, the pressure is off. I was being pulled along by my aspirations to reach 10,000 Twitter followers and releasing a book. Both are now done and so I can relax. This blog wil continue to produce content, it is the pillar of everything no matter how many thousands of social media followers I have.

I’ll be present where I can but for now I’m content with relaxing a little. Maybe that desire to chase and chase and chase will be back again soon, but success is in the eye of the beholder in writing and what I see before me is all good things.

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 2

It feels like a while since I last did a review post about my recent indie book reviews so here we are. From vampires to poetry and a few other wonderful stories in between, here are some awesome recommended indie reads…

Nocturnal Salvation by Villimey Mist

“My blood sings a violent song of brutality. My bloodlust surges through me, and I allow the monster to take the reigns…”

The ‘Nocturnal’ series by Villimey Mist has returned for part 3 and it gets better with each book – that’s the awesome thing about a good book series- the characters grow but so does the author. I highly recommend all of the books in this vamp-action and sometimes gory, but always satisfying series. You can read my review here.

Don’t Lose Your Head by Dave Williams

Dave Williams uses a unique blend of symbolism and metaphor to present a great story about one man’s conscience that tries to get the better of him. Just what’s real and what’s not seems to blend and before you know it as a reader you are immersed. With hint of darker tones this is definitely a story I’d recommend, just don’t lose your head… Full review here.

Hearts and Spears by Somto Jefferson Uwazie

It has been quite a while since the Hall of Information reviewed some poetry and it was very much worth the wait as ‘Hearts and Spears’ is a fantastic collection that covers a plethora of subject matter. From emotion and deep feeling all the way to politics and even nature, Somto Jefferson Uwazie delivers a masterful collection.

“Life offers one omnipresent constant,

Hope hope and even more hope… “

You can read my review here.

Josef The Writer’s Cat by Ellen Khodakivska

The Hall of Information is always looking for unique reads and ‘Josef the Writer’s Cat’ is exactly that while also being much more. Ellen Khodakivska gives readers a cat’s-eye-view of the world in both charming and fun style. It’s a heart warming tale that I’d definitely recommend. Full review.

Life of Maggot by Paul Jameson

There isn’t another author out there who writes like Paul Jameson and he delivers his brand of classic modern style through this novella length tale about the end days. This book is creative literature at its finest and I’d recommend anything from Paul Jameson – you really have to read his works, trust me! Full review here.

And so that wraps up another edition of awesome recommended indie reads. Thanks for stopping by!