‘Escaping First Contact’ by T.S. Beier – Review

Original and imaginative space sci-fi full of depth and immersion

Set in a detailed future of cultivated space filled with different species and cultures, T.S. Beier has built a world of depth and originality. These species, some alien and some more familiar to us collide as a diverse group find themselves trapped on a ship, it soon becomes apparent, that even though they might have differences, they will need to work together to survive and escape.

It is within those differences where the story contains power along with plenty of messages about understanding and cohesion while also being fun. Readers will get a lot of information throughout as the point of view changes which establishes a universe with plenty of depth. From the usage of new inventive language to describe certain species to the dialogue interactions – there’s a strange but fun sexual curiosity undertone between some providing a good balance of humour as these characters try to understand each other and navigate their way through a death trap environment and a ship they aptly name ‘Misery’. The whole chemistry between everyone is the real strength in this story.

“Get your weird xenophilia fantasies out of here, Rip!”

And this ship ‘Misery’ is an organic kind of Rubik’s cube full of mystery where threat and challenge lurks around every corner. Our heroes are placed in various scenarios as their journey progresses and just who is behind everything? You’ll have to read it to find out.

They’re playing with us. The only reason you’re all alive is that they want you to be…”

Anyone who enjoys space sci-fi with plenty of detail and originality along with a message about different cultures working together will certainly enjoy this one!

5 Stars – original and imaginative! Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads

Excerpt of ‘Nowonderland’ by M.C. Gladd

Billy soon ran out of tunnel, er rather hallway, and entered a room about twice the size of the living room in his and his mom’s small house. Purple tiles still lined the floor and wood paneling the walls. There was a lopsided vaguely trapezoidal shaped door on the far side of the room. Two crooked looking sofas and two armchairs of grey leather or horribly patterned fabric lined the walls, all scaled down for people of a rather small stature. He walked nearer to a sofa that had a dotted fabric on it only to realize that the small dots were in fact, insects. The bugs on one of the cushions scrambled out of the way, giving him room to sit down, but not before spelling out ‘sit here please’ in all caps and then crawling off to the side, still in formation, like a marching band halftime show. He didn’t sit down. As he backed away from the sofa, he could have sworn he heard a thousand tiny sighs of disappointment coming from it.

Between each of the chairs and sofas was an end table of some sort, each supporting some of the ugliest lamps Billy had ever seen. The tables themselves had been crafted with all the loving care of a nearsighted carpenter who didn’t own a tape measure, a square, or a level, and had never held a hammer in his life, and who was working with his feet instead of his hands. In the center of the room was a dining table with four mismatched chairs. On the table was a pitcher full of water and four cups, none of which was perfectly round. There wasn’t a single right angle, level surface, or straight line in the whole room.

The water reminded Billy he was thirsty. As he looked closer to the pitcher, he noticed little fish swimming around inside. Weird looking fish that were subject to the same laws of dimension and proportion that affected the rest of the room. As he looked closely at the fish, one of them took notice of him, swam up to the glass and said, “what?” in a voice both too deep for such a tiny fish and muted like you would imagine someone speaking underwater would sound like. He also sounded a bit irritated.

“Nothing,” he replied, backing away. He pulled his backpack off his shoulders and grabbed his own water bottle. He froze before opening it when the door opened and in walked the strangest creature Billy had ever seen. It didn’t see him though, it was staring at the floor as it walked, mumbling to itself. Its mumbles were interspersed with strange whistling and popping sounds.

“Hello,” Billy said, announcing his presence and startling the creature badly.

“Oh my! Oh my,” it said, waving its arms around and jumping back. “You scared me half to death.”

Billy studied the creature while he, (it sounded male Billy decided), calmed himself down. He was about three and a half feet tall and was just as unsymmetrical as everything else in this strange place. He had ten fingers at least, six on one hand, four on the other. One of his lower teeth was a fang that stuck out over his top lip and was so long that when his mouth was closed the tooth in question rested perfectly, deep within his left nostril. This is what caused the whistling sound every time he exhaled with his mouth closed. The popping sound was that same fang overcoming suction every time it left his nostril when he opened his mouth. He had dark curly hair on the right side of his head and straight red hair on the left. His eyes were different in size and color. Every time they fell on Billy, the creature winced and turned away. The clothes he wore were almost normal all things considered, a bright red, button down short sleeve shirt with what looked like yellow two-headed lizards on it and brown slacks with rough looking, different sized, boots on his feet. Billy was pretty sure the lizards were moving around a little.

Presently it said, “(Pop) I assume you came from the…uh…Outside? (whistle)” It met his eyes again and quickly looked away and grimaced, although that may have just been his normal expression.

“What do you mean by Outside?” Billy said, confused. “I came down the tunnel at the end of that hallway he said turning toward the end of the room he had come from. The arch over the hallway opening had a sign above that read “The Gallery” in crooked uneven lettering.

“(Pop) I know that. I live here. You came through the entrance from the Outside,” the creature said, a tad impatient. Like this should be obvious, which Billy supposed it might be in a place like this. “(Pop) They told me when I bought this house that this might happen, (whistle pop) but that it was very unlikely,” he added, more to himself.

“Well, I’m here,” Billy said. “If you could just tell me where here is, I’ll be happy to return to the…uh Outside and get out your house.”

“(Pop) That would be great actually,” the creature answered. (Whistle pop) “You’re quite ugly and hard to look at to be honest. But you can’t go back that way. As I said, it’s an entrance. To go back you need an exit.” Again, his tone was that of a parent explaining something obvious to a particularly dense child.

“What do mean I’m ugly?” Billy said. “And why can’t I leave through the way I came in? It’s a tunnel, isn’t it?”

“(Pop) Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude, but your face is rather…. symmetrical.” At this, he shuddered as though the thought repulsed him immensely. “And as I said, it’s an entrance, not a tunnel. One is one-way and the other is not. Is that not how things work in the Outside? Go look for yourself if you don’t believe me. (whistle)”

This is an exclusive excerpt of ‘Nowonderland’ by M.C. Gladd which you can find here. More information about the author can be found via Twitter and Facebook.

Introducing The I’m An Author Academy

Hello friends, awesome news alert. I am proud to announce that I am going to be a Professor for the ‘I’m An Author Academy’ – an exciting new venture alongside some wonderful creatives that will guide the authors of tomorrow by sharing our wisdom and lessons learned over the years.

Together we are going to be there for those who want to evolve from from just saying they are an aspiring author to I’m An Author!

So what is the I’m An Author Academy all about and where did this come from? Well, last year and through social media I connected with fellow author and Instagram Royalty Emma Jean who approached me and two fellow authors with this incredible idea. That idea being to pass on everything we have learned on our journey and as a collective our skills range from writing, publishing, marketing, blogging, social media-ing to even podcasting.

Right now, we are working behind the scenes to put together content while Emma Jean is putting in a huge amount of work and effort to bring this academy to life. For those who frequent this blog will probably recognize her name as the author who wrote Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code which I reviewed last year.

And here is some more information about the fellow authors who will be joining me as Professors.

Kelsey Kupitz is the author of The Right Thing which was also reviewed on here last year. You can also catch her over on Twitter being awesome.

Emma G. Rose is a multi-published author who also hosts the brilliant Indie Book Talk Podcast which I highly recommend you listen to especially if you are a supporter of indie authors!

To be included in this wonderful group is probably one of the biggest compliments I’ve received on this writer journey and also a testament to how effective indie publishing and social media can be for connecting with others. This generation of social media creatives is incredibly important for the future of books and publishing so it’s imperative we pass on as much as we can to help it grow and evolve. Our combined efforts make us quite a team.

You can expect to hear a lot more soon as the full website for the I’m An Author Academy will be launching but here’s the landing page. Be sure to check out the Academy’s Instagram page and make sure you give it a follow – your support is very much needed and of course, appreciated.

Stay tuned for more news soon!

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…

cch217

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…

View original post 1,744 more words

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)…

View original post 738 more words

‘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!