Book Review: The Ghost Beside Me (2019)

Thank you to fellow author and blogger Rebecca Crunden for this awesome review of The Ghost Beside Me

a writer's blog.

The Ghost Beside Me by Lee Hall

If I could just break away from the shackles of that internal torment I have created that imprisons my confidence. Just the idea and thought of tackling this enigma of feelings spirals my own self into a deep sadness, hence my lack of entries in the past days.

I’ve been meaning to try one of Lee Hall’s books for a while now, and I don’t have the attention span for a long book right now, so this novella was just the right size! And I do love a good ghost story. Further, I kind of love the kismet of picking this one up now, because the writing style actually really reminds me of the start ofFrankenstein, and I’ve been discussing Mary Shelley all week. ’Twas meant to be! Not that I would liken the story lines, that is, just the stylistic…

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The Story Behind The Ghost Beside Me

This weekend marks two years since my short paranormal romance ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ was published. The years that have gone by have served as the most important of my writing career and this book represents that and so much more. Prior to the publication of ‘Ghost’ my 5th book, I had nearly walked away from publishing and writing all together, this creative journey can be arduous and many different things took their toll so this book represented a symbol of resilience and eventually the philosophy that I carry today- never giving up. Ever.

2019 was a year I spent repairing myself as a writer. Before then, I had gone hard into writing and publishing. Books One to Four were published in two years – the results by the end of that were minimal, social media is something I hadn’t fully figured out, being an indie author is a constant struggle that I had yet to discover too. I was in my late twenties and the previous decade was coming to fruition – I was also moving into my own place for the first time. Things were busy, stressful and something was going to snap and it did. I took most of my stress out on myself and this author path which was seeing near enough no results.

Good things do take time and I’ve learned that now, I am content with that now, but lessons for me are always learned slowly and the hard way. Expectation always plays a part in this journey and now its more realistic but back then it wasn’t so I suffered in my own mind for it. So how did I find myself? I went back to my writing routes. I went ‘dark’ on social media for a short time, I even put the laptop away and started to write down the ideas I had for a paranormal romance that would tribute to my own thoughts and feelings, an echo of me finding myself, finding resolve and a path forward. The concept of Edward Neville being an introvert by choice struggling to break that mould and wanting to socialize with others was a vessel mirroring my own struggles. There were also so many ‘real’ elements of me that went into the story, the concept of trying to fit in at a work place, the monotony of commuting and of course living alone.

Although I was hurting at the time I started ‘Ghost’ I seemingly produced a story that might be my best attempt at emotional depth and expression. For a 59 page book, you get every essence of my inner emotion through Edward Neville. The words poured onto the page and soon enough by early 2019 I had a fully handwritten draft. Then I put it away and did probably the most important thing I have done on this path. I began reading and reviewing indie books. My return to Twitter sparked it all to life when I put out a Tweet asking for indie books to review – the response was huge and showed me the potential this platform has, so I got to work. (This was late 2018, long before those tweets where people fish for engagement by asking for book recommendations).

While the reviews and social media stuff started building my profile, I was reading because I was trying to find myself and my love for stories. The wonderful thing is, it worked. This was just me by myself reading books but then the reviews started helping others and so it became inadvertently selfless. And by the time September of 2019 rolled around I was ready and then the perfect thing aligned. You see 2019 was the 13th anniversary of my Grandfather’s passing – a man who’s influence is still with me today. He told me a real ghost story back when I was a kid and that story became the inspiration for the ghost in this book and now I had a reason to publish it – to tribute him. 13 years later because we always had a thing for the superstition of Friday the 13th and I knew wherever he was, that would make him laugh.

I got to work transferring a handwritten story onto my laptop and organised the cover art. And this book would carry the weight of all the above; an emotional tribute, finding myself, self-repair and that important 5th book where they say things start to happen. And they did.

‘The Ghost Beside Me’ soon hit the highest number of reviews any of my books got on release – even now it is the quickest of my books to reach 30+ reviews. Sales were the best at the time and I’d made some level of writing redemption. Redemption in many walks of life is rare and so this book represented that. Expectation plays a huge role in authoring, especially at the self publishing level and so with this book my expectation was zero and that where it remains for every release. This journey and its success is governed by the beholder, you.

The truth is, and whilst finding myself I never gave up even though sometimes it can get dark, it can depressing and it is hard, there is always hope where there is life and creativity. Books are a truly wonderful thing and even now with all this modern tech, social media and other stuff, books still have a powerful mystique, their wonder to expand our minds has never changed. Their power to connect us and heal us when we most need it is something I will always cherish

And now, two years after publication, the majority of authors who I have connected with choose ‘Ghost’ because it has become a writers favourite. Something I hold dear to my heart for what it really represents. I guess writers can read between the emotional and symbolic lines, well, they did for this book and that means a lot to me. As a lower profile published author I never get much of a chance to talk about my work in this way and The Ghost Beside Me stands out as an experience like no other. It got me back into to writing, it proves that books can still be successful after publication and it paved the way to elevate me higher than I could ever imagine. My centre pillar of blogging comes from reviewing books, and their power is what put me back together.

There is great power in your stories authors, embrace it!

To those who have read and reviewed and supported this 59 page tribute to many things, thank you and thank you for reading.

‘The Bad Part of Time’ By Joshua Ingle – Review Joshua Ingle

A thought provoking time travel caper exploring the themes of life, age and politics…

Just what would you do if given the opportunity to meet your younger self? A younger self who is determined to change the culture of an ageist world through angry activism. That’s exactly what this intriguing and wonderfully original book explores as we meet ‘Variel’ who has lived life knowing eventually she is going to face her younger self and that day has arrived.

“…there was no stopping the inevitable, so she swallowed her dread, observed her morning routine, and accepted today was going to be a very bad day…”

Based in a future where time travel is possible and is a type of tourist or even business activity, ‘Variel’ faces her younger self ‘V’ and their journey begins. The dialogue between them is well executed much like where this story takes you. Social themes of ageism, privilege and politics are centre stage here as ‘V’ is angrily determined to change society for the better and for the young. ‘Variel’ does her best to guide her younger self through the vacuum of youthful rebellion and the morality of the world. Their back and forth interactions act as a metaphor for what is happening in that wider world and being angry is okay but fixing things is perhaps better.

“Stop Blaming. Start Fixing.”

Youth and age clash constantly in a story that carries intricate and meaningful messages throughout where you are viewed as the sledgehammer, the bomb or the paintbrush which serves as great symbolism for the world and life. A great read.

5 Stars – This review first premiered on Reedsy Discovery

Random Words-A Collection of Flash Fiction -an Excerpt

Hello everyone, Today I am sharing some flash fiction from Megan,
Those across the pond – Happy Thanksgiving!

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The following is a collection of flash fiction pieces that I have written from the suggestions of others. Created out of three things: An Item, A Place, and A Name/Occupation. Thank you to all that have participated over the last few years, it’s most appreciated. 

Coffee Black

Mr. Davis sat in the center of the downtown mall, playing Billy Joel’s Piano Man. Watching the people go about their day. As he played he took note of the pretty, cute redhead that works at the coffee shop. She would linger by the door watching him play. He caught her eye and motioned a come here finger towards her. She smiled, looked to see that no one was waiting for service, and hurried over. “Yes,” she said. Mr. Davis smiled at her. “Can you bring me a regular cup of coffee?” 

Decent 

Davis pulled himself away from the flaming wreckage of the…

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Weekly Ramble #129

I’m hanging on down in dry county… Truthfully, this whole author blogger social media plant requires constant watering if I want any type of flowers. The rain being how much I put in but the measure is determined by my following and how they receive my content. Sometimes no matter how much you raise your game, it just feels like you are wading though semi-dry concrete.

There are no reasons for me to complain because this year stands as the best ever but it is a grind and a constant one and as soon as you let off, everything drops to zero. I suppose the demand to keep going does make some fall of the wagon and its understandable. Very little reward for constant work can bring anyone down but those who do keep going throughout the droughts and rains will find something good eventually.

Social media success if forged by presence and reaching out to others. Conversation and interaction, giving and helping. All of the things that make us human are what help us succeed in the virtual world that we are becoming more and more reliant upon – something I enjoy and embrace. With this year nearly coming to an end, I just got to keep hanging on no matter the weather.

Let’s Talk About… The Free Book Promo

Ah, the freebie, a normally guaranteed way to stir any type of consumer interest or so they say. This post will look in detail at the free e book promotion – something I know a thing or two about because since being published in 2016, I have run the free book promo 14 times… Yikes, that may sound like a big number but spread out over 5 or so years it has served me quite well. Let’s talk about it…

By definition, the free book promotion to me is the concept of setting the price of an e book to zero. This can best be achieved through Amazon KDP and if your digital book is enrolled in KDP select then you are allocated up to 5 optional days every period to list that book for free. I have highlighted the ‘optional’ part because although 5 days seems like a good amount, in my eyes the shorter amount of time a book is free, the better – this taps into the whole impulse purchase and urgency thing which is quite important in selling anything. Creating a sense of impulse and urgency in a free promotion will increase the likelihood somebody will want to download your book.

So, is a free book promotion worthwhile?

There are plenty of authors I know who will never offer their work for free and that’s fine in my eyes. I suppose its a case of weighing up your individual options against the factors for success. For me, I don’t earn a living through the books I have published, in fact I am nowhere near that yet, so making money as a self-published author right now is not on my wish list. But gaining a readership is and if my free promotion is executed effectively then that is exactly what will happen, eventually, in theory, maybe…

This whole thing is subjective, so remember everyone’s situation is different.

I tend to use the word eventually in most of my author situations because this really is a long game and hopefully with my results below you’ll see that. Before we look at the results which have improved over time, there are several factors as to why a free promotion can be a success. Here are the main ones:

Type of Advertising/Budget

Probably above everything else, the who and how much you spend will dictate a lot of a book promo’s success. Higher end book promo advertisers also have higher quality readers who leave reviews like BookBub. Budget will also determine how much reach it will have. In my eyes, for a free promo, I’m going all in so the money I spend will be returned eventually through reviews, readers and even social media follows. You can find some of the book promo advertisers I have used here.

Combinations

The second major factor in all book promotion is combining different methods – what I mean by this is perhaps playing around with the price/advertisers/books available. This is where book promotion runs can be deemed a success or not. In the many times I have run promos I have also reduced the price of other books or even advertised the free book before and after a promo. Just free is great, but other combinations are even better. I nearly always ‘stack’ my promotion too – this means using multiple advertisers over several days.

Social Media Reach/Activity

The higher and more engaged your social media following, the better it should be for any promotional stuff. Me; I’m pretty much addicted to Twitter and my following of nearly 20k does help. At a glance, the more you put into social media over time, the more you get back. If your profile gets bigger, more people are going to be interested in your work. Building trust over time online will create a fanbase eventually. How? Here’s a guide for that.

Genre/Time of Year

A wintery ghost romance probably won’t sell much in the height of summer but it will during the autumn and winter months. Genres and seasons do tend to go hand in hand. From late September all the way to Halloween works really well for horror and thrillers.

Length of Promo

I mentioned above that being enrolled in KDP Select will allow you up to 5 days every enrollment period to use for free promo but the shorter the promo run, the better. Impulse and urgency sell books that are on a price promotion.

Reviews/Ratings

Most of my free promotion runs saw better results after a certain amount of reviews. There is no fixed number but having over 5 will help a little. The more reviews a book has the better in theory. In terms of ratings, anything over 3.5 stars average rating should do quite well also.

Bibliography

My top book promotion advice is to have more books available and the more you have on your shelf the more a potential reader will invest in you. Even if their first read from you is free, if the experience is enjoyable then they may just return as a paying reader next time.

Make it Easy for the Crowd

Have you ever offered a physical book or two for free to your social media audience? From a signed paperback to an advanced e copy? Was the response mostly crickets and you weren’t sure why? There’s something about singling people out and then offering them something because every so often it doesn’t work. People don’t tend to like being singled out and so a free e book promo makes everyone feel part of a crowd with way less reader pressure.

Worked Scenarios

We’ve looked at the factors now let us look at a few real life free book promo examples. When I ran my first free promo back in 2017 it was kind of a stab in the dark. Something I have tried to improve over the years… (the book selling, not actual knife things…).

Scenario 1 (2017)

Book Title: Open Evening + Darke Blood (Both Free)

Amount of Amazon Reviews: 6 (UK only)

Length of Free Promo: 5 Days

Month: September

Books Published: 2

Budget Spent on Advertising: $70

Social Media Following:

Twitter: 2,500

Facebook: 300

Result:

Open Evening Free Downloads: 713

Open Evening Paid Sales After: 12

Darke Blood Free Downloads: 144

Darke Blood Paid Sales After: 29

Conclusion:

A very good first attempt at a free promo. Although pricey, 800+ free downloads and then paid sales after for both books was a win in my eyes. Turning a profit at this stage is difficult and not a priority. This was a good entry level free promo and to me anything over 500 free downloads for a book is good. You can read in a little more detail about this promo here.

Scenario 2 (2019)

Book Title: Darke Blood (with ‘The Teleporter’ free on the final day)

Amount of Amazon Reviews: 10

Length of Free Promo: 3 Days

Month: September

Books Published: 4

Budget Spent on Advertising: $100

Social Media Following:

Twitter: 2,900

Facebook: 400

Result:

Darke Blood Free Downloads: 3,403

Darke Blood Paid Sales After: 2

The Teleporter Free Downloads: 88

Conclusion:

An excellent result. 3000+ downloads for any book in that space of time is huge. Capped off with the last minute free promo of The Teleporter on the final day – this proved my theory of eyes being on any other book you have published during a free promo – remember combinations? That’s a major factor for success which you’ll see in the third and final scenario. You can read my detailed report on this promo here.

Brief Interlude

While the above two scenarios are impressive in terms of numbers, the free promo gets more valuable when you have more books available. By the time of the next scenario (April 2021) I had 6 books available, 4 were part of a series and the free promo and a book series go hand in hand for combination stuff. This next scenario is also after my BookBub Featured Deal which was also a free promo and resulted in 10,000 downloads of The Teleporter in a day. Time is your friend with this stuff and you’ll see how my results shifted below.

Scenario 3 (2021)

Book Title: Open Evening with rest of the series discounted to 99 cents or equivalent

Amount of Amazon Reviews: 27

Length of Free Promo: 1 Day

Month: April

Books Published: 6

Budget Spent on Advertising: $165

Social Media Following:

Twitter: 7,000

Facebook: 500

Result:

Open Evening Free Downloads: 940

Open Evening Paid Sales After: 2

Paid Sales of other books in the Series on that day: 176

Total Paid Sales that month: 230 – A record that still stands today.

Conclusion:

You can see from the results that the free promo kind of takes a different role because the other books in the series all sold from that initial visibility. You can create a series page on Amazon that links all books in that series together – let Amazon do the work with this, they have the infrastructure so take advantage. Paid sales pushed all of my books up the charts and to better visibility and the best thing is this book promo broke even the next month. April 2021 was my first $100 royalty month and then the second was May. You can read about this promotion here.

Page Reads

Often overlooked is the concept of e book page reads with can be tracked via the KDP sales dashboard. As you can see from mine and historically they have spiked and even sustained after every promo run since 2017. With more books and promos this can become quite an opportunity while also tracking results.

Final Conclusion

From the scenarios and factors laid out before, you can make a free promo very worthwhile. Of course there have been plenty of not so great promos but they are all part of the journey. You just need a backlist, a budget and some tactics. So in conclusion and for an effective free promo, these things work well:

Minimum time – 1 or 2 days work fine. Impulse and urgency. Think of it as an occasion;

More books helps sell all involved. Discounted prices if its a series. Combinations;

Paying for advertising – kind of a no brainer, plenty of good book promo sites out there. Stack them over some days;

Social Media Following – helps but not essential;

Reviews – Some reviews help.

There are always a few anomalies and variables for the individual but everything laid out above should help to sell books. I have found running a free promo works best every quarter or so and over time it can help grow a readership. These days my book sales are regular and mostly at full price all because I started with the free promo some years ago and built a foundation from it.

Thank you for reading. What are your experiences with the free promo? Any lessons or thoughts?

If you enjoyed this post I have stack of more promo scenarios in my author/blogger guide book which is available now in e format and will be coming to paperback next month.

Paperback Launch of Consistent Creative Content!

Perhaps it was an oversight for me to offer this book in just digital format to begin with but in that time I have learned many of my readers still appreciate that feeling of holding a real book in their hands. Due to that demand I have taken the plunge of converting my guide book into paperback and it will be available from mid December just in time for gift season!

Do you know a budding author looking for a guiding light in the daunting industry of self publishing? Is the blogger in you ready to dive in but not sure where to start? Do you want to learn how to leverage your social media following into sales?

Consistent Creative Content would make the perfect gift for any writer at any stage because it is packed full of modern resources for the modern writer. Below you will find various snippets and other cool things about the book. Rock and roll man!

Opening Pages of Consistent Creative Content

Basic Blog Content Ideas – A sample from Consistent Creative Content

Tweet Machine Basics – A sample from Consistent Creative Content

BookTube Review of Consistent Creative Content

Instagram Interview where I talk about my journey

Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden – Review

Page-turning sci-fi action with a revolutionary theme…

Rebecca Crunden introduces readers to a futuristic world not too dissimilar to our own time where there’s pollution, a rich to poor divide and a government that stokes the fire of such only now its on a grander scale. Straight away we find this out as the scene is set in this rich setting and the stakes are introduced via ‘Ames’ who is on a rescue mission of sorts. A mission and journey that will take him across planets while being chased all for the purpose of finding his missing brother.

On his tail are the various agents of the Democratic Plantery Alliance which are anything but their namesake and even though our main character is seemingly wanted he still does his best to do the right thing. He meets ‘Violet’ and intervenes in her situation which in turn forges a bond and an unlikely ally in a situation full of uncertainty. They band together and eventually arrive on the distant planet of ‘Kilnin’ in search of answers.

Pages turn quickly in this action and drama packed chase/find story without chapter breaks hence I read it in just a couple of sittings. The world-building is on point and the wider universe is something with a lot of potential especially as the ending brings promise of that. There are plenty of messages and themes throughout with many pointing towards revolution and the nature of humanity.

“Eventually even those who avoided the world were drawn into its madness…”

5 Stars

The Twitter Campfire Analogy

Twitter presents a wonderful opportunity for anyone to find success on social media. Whether you are looking to make friends or sell content, everything on Twitter revolves around connecting with others. This Campfire Analogy explains how you can reach others and find success on Twitter.

Image via Pixabay

So you’ve set up a small campfire on the edge of some woods (you’ve created a Twitter profile).

This nice spot is adjacent to a path, that path is then connected to a much wider path where people walk, jog, cycle and appear along frequently. (Basically the wider twitter community, no specific demographics)

You begin to talk to yourself while the small fire crackles away. There is a little warmth but other than the low hum of your quiet voice it’s pretty desolate.

You then talk a little louder (your tweets are specific to your interests, if you’re an author you use the writing community hashtag).

It might feel like you are talking to yourself but that busy path is ever so near. (it feels like you are talking to yourself. This is normal for a while)

A little time passes and someone along that wider path hears you talking (the hashtags amplified that voice of yours).

This person then moves onto the path adjacent to that campfire of yours, (you’ve attracted the attention of a specific demographic you’ve got something in common with).

You talk to this person as they have just replied to you. (they commented on your tweet). It was a brief but a pleasant exchange. This passer by then decides to come off that path and sit at your campfire (congratulations, you’ve just earned a follower).

Because this follower responded to something you said, you now tweet more about the subject you exchanged engagement with. You also talk directly to them (you follow them back).

Other passers-by begin to hear this follower talking to you and some at the very least stroll past the campfire. This one follower has sat at a few campfires before and those who he sat with can see the engagement you are having, (mutual followers of that first follower see your tweets in their feed).

You keep talking and exchange engagements. Some of these mutual followers have now walked by and sit at your camp fire. You talk to them also (follow each other). These folks even bring their own logs and the fire grows in brightness and warmth (more engagements happen, subjects range).

More folks who have been to other campfires see your campfire is a two way conversation and come to sit by it. (Your following steadily increases because you are talking and including them and you are present consistently over time).

The subjects you talk about are interesting and engaging. More passers-by join the congregating people already by your now roaring fire. You’re going to need more seating soon but you keep talking because these passers-by have become important connections. They have invested in you and trust you because your word is good and honest which started literally with you talking to a campfire. How do you know what to talk about everyday – you get better at this the more you do it. It even feels warm inside…

Some of these passers by now want more from you and so they see you have a product or service available that they know will be trust worthy or will at least provide something which will make them feel good, (You’ve grown your own algorithm of trust over time, as an author or content creator these followers buy from you).

You share with these fellow camp fire members how you got to this point. They eventually take on some of what you have learned and in their spare time they go and start their own campfires and the cycle continues, (you see others being successful at twitter also, they didn’t give up and kept talking also).

Although this is a specific analogy in a perfect scenario, it highlights the importance of being social no matter where you start.

This post is inspired by another guide which you can read here. Thanks for stopping by!

Basic Blog Content Ideas

Image by Werner Moser from Pixabay

Even though this Hall of Information is a blog and journey in publishing, its not always going to be about that, and the more diverse your content, the higher chance that passing trade will read it. Now this may contradict my overall advice about branding, but you are the creative boss in all this and diversity in content is sometimes a good thing. In my case, at the time of starting this blog, I was writing science fiction books which are yet to see the light of day, so I needed separate consistent creative content that casual readers could just pick up. More importantly, I needed to write posts that a wide array of readers could relate to.

This can be quite a hurdle for some and might take organisation, depending on how creative you are. Thinking of what subjects could possibly be appealing and compelling for a reader is a challenge. These days, while I have some structure, my ability to think on my feet has improved. As an author who writes with no real plan I’ve become adept at ‘making it up as I go along’ when it comes to some of my blog content. This method isn’t for everyone and it wasn’t always that way for me either. If you do adopt that method, your ability will improve over time by the act of doing – like all writing.

Over the next few years after my first blog post I managed to channel my interests and experiences of life into content. While I did continue to blog about writing and pondering whether I should self-publish, the Hall of Information still needed to operate regularly and be able to reach out to a wider audience.

Readers don’t always want to hear about one thing, variety is a key factor in producing consistent creative content.  

It’s easy for me to say consistent creative content but what am I actually referring to? Although these may appear obvious, here is a list of basic blog content ideas that will reach wider audiences:

Introducing yourself in a creative and fun way;

Book Recommendations;

Current Movie Reviews;

Classic Movie Reviews;

Movie Previews;

Television Show Reviews;

Television Show Recommendations;

Video Game Reviews;

Day’s out/experience Reviews;

Food and Nutrition Reviews;

Product Reviews;

Exercise Regime Reviews;

Politics*;

Current Events;

Mental health and self-care;

Cosplay;

Poetry;

How to Tutorials;

Regular Diary Style Posts;

Book Reviews.

I have highlighted the last two because back when I began blogging there were two subjects I did not think much about or even cover yet proved instrumental to the success of my blogging endeavours and wider writing career. If both are executed right they can be social and lead to better connections across social media.

My Weekly Ramble blog post is a regular diary style account in a few hundred words of what’s currently going through my mind or a reflection of what’s happening in the world. It’s written in a way where each entry stands alone and over the years I have covered many subjects, from receiving less than satisfactory book reviews to the advantages of being a part of the wider writing community. It’s an opportunity to blog, vent and hopefully reach someone who cares. It’s also written in an inclusive way so I confide in my reader – including others is a fun way of still talking about yourself without feeling guilty or being boring. My weekly ramble post is normally the best viewed article of the week.

Book reviews are a key part of my blogging.  

*When it comes to politics and heavy opinion, these are subjects I would advise you steer clear from early on. There are prolific bloggers out there who thrive off controversial subject matters and for those with a smaller following this sort of practice will only hurt that. Heavy opinion/political pieces also attract attention that may not be the type you want, if you want to sell books or get regular views.

This is an exclusive excerpt of authoring and blogging guide book Consistent Creative Content which is out now.