Weekly Ramble #94

It’s going to be a long and brutal year. From what has already happened all the way to the perhaps far off light on the ever further horizon it’s going to be a grind. I’ve faced many adversities in my life and survived; this year will be no different – perhaps surviving and rolling up my sleeves is all I know what to do.

You watch the news and you’ll know just what we are in for. But not all of it is bad, it’s just difficult and defining that difference much like any perspective is what will pull me through. I’ve had every type of day at the office in my life so the sequel to 2020 doesn’t scare me although every time I look at the news there’s something else to sigh deeply about. Where I am is currently locked down, the virus numbers are higher than ever, the causation most probably people not acknowledging how serious this whole deal is – the people that aren’t me.

January is traditionally a gruelling month with book sales, already somehow I can boast just a handful – something I will revel in, damn it’s hard to sell books sometimes and getting reviews, well that’s another question. That struggle is universal and never ending, the trick is not to let it get to you. A poor man doesn’t dwell on their bank balance or what he hasn’t got, he concentrates on trying to improve from zero, take that how you will but with everything going on around me, I’ll look to improve what I can by taking every victory I can no matter the size. Every single victory is going to count this year and hopefully turn the tables, eventually. Let’s hope so…

To those who have grabbed a copy of my work recently or left a review, thank you.

Weekly Ramble #93

Pick a project and start editing. That’s my motto for the start of this year and that’s what I’m currently doing. The self help guide book is shaping up and also growing in detail. Although I only drafted it back in August, that’s a long time in this world, things have moved forward, lessons have been learned in abundance and this train of authoring and blogging is not stopping.

It’s a good time to be busy and to get lost in projects because out that window, much like the last ten or so months it’s just doom and gloom. The UK is going into another ‘lockdown’ imminently and well for me nothing much changes. Work, home, work and then home. In between that reading, writing and blogging. I’m staying in, much like last year and for probably the duration. I’ve said before that lockdown equals opportunity and so that’s what I shall seize. As much as things are bad, while I’m at home, I’m safe and I take solace in that.

While this year has started in one place, twelve months is a long time and everything is still to play for….

Busy folks get things done and that’s just what I am… hope you are all keeping busy and staying safe….

2021 Goals

Things never turn out how you expect. The unexpected has fuelled every moment of my life in both good and bad senses. Now we stand with the smoking wreck of 2020 at our backs although for now it’s going to feel more of the same but as an author and blogger I am always sowing seeds and harvesting what I’ve laid down previously. Carrying on through whatever has its rewards and last year was good to me.

I tend to keep most things coming rather close to my chest until they are guaranteed, this year, like so many before is going to be a big one. Every year I put a list of the things I want to achieve up on a wall and get to work – this post is that. At the close of this year it might be cool to revisit this list to see what I achieved…

In 2021 intend to do the following as an author and blogger:

  • Read and Review 43 Independently Published Books
  • Draft at least one book – I’ve got a few ideas swimming around…
  • Release my self help authoring and blogging guide book
  • Interview way more folks on here
  • Sell a boat load of books and promote them
  • Edit and finish the last Darke Book – perhaps publish it also
  • Get 10,000 Tweet machine followers
  • Find a publisher for a novella I wrote last year
  • Kick 2021’s ass…

Hopefully the world is going to slowly emerge from this dark cloud which has seemingly shrouded everything. Right now we are driving towards daylight. There’s hope. Wishing you all the best for this year. Stay safe. Rock and roll man…

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 set to drop next year. 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 wan 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, until then for more blogging and authoring stuff do check out my resources section

Hall of Information Interviews: Marc Cavella

The exploration of unique voices in story telling has returned with another Hall of Information Interview. Fellow author and story-teller Marc Cavella shares an insight into his world, from writing all the way to the niche but ever so interesting subject of politics in pro wrestling.

Q1. Let’s jump right in and start with writing. Where did story telling begin for Marc Cavella?

The first thing I really remember sharing with a bigger group was a class assignment that I wrote in sixth grade. We had to write a fake advertisement for a product we’d created. I ended up writing an ad about a machine that administered corporal punishment to children so parents wouldn’t feel guilty about doing it themselves, and it got a huge laugh from the class. (Bear in mind that we were sixth graders.) I remember that even our teacher was crying with laughter (and yet she still only gave it a B+). That’s probably when I first learned that something I wrote could have a cool effect on people.

Q2. Your latest book draws influence from an interesting subject– the politics of professional wrestling. This is a unique basis for a story and one I found highly enjoyable as fan of wrestling and reader. Please tell us more about ‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’ and what influenced the story?

“I’ve always been a huge fan of pro wrestling. I used to watch every show I could find when I was a kid—WCCW on ESPN when I would come home from school in the afternoons, WCW and NWA on the weekends, and all the old WWF shows like Superstars, Main Event, and Shotgun Saturday Night. So I’ve pretty much been watching wrestling for as long as I can remember—and I was an especially big mark for guys like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, The Four Horseman, and the von Erichs.

At the same time, I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to learn about the history of the things I liked. So as I got older and the “business” became more exposed via the internet, and later, social media, I started to dig a little deeper into wrestling’s past: The people who ran those old regional promotions like Jim Crockett and Verne Gagne, how the old territories worked and competed with each other, and how the business itself had evolved from the carnival circuits that ran shows around the country at the turn of the century.

So all of that together really served to influence the story and let me combine a bunch of different aspects into one piece. I enjoyed the opportunity to write it.”

Interesting, as a kid and teen I was drawn to watching wrestling, it made for great entertainment and escapism. Today much like you I enjoy the political element just as much.

Q3. I think we can agree the more prolific days of pro wrestling are behind us but that won’t stop us from looking back. Are there any moments or stand out personas that you have been drawn to over the years? What names would consider to be all-time greats that would perhaps make up a ‘Mount Rushmore’ of the industry?

Man, that’s a great question. I was always a big fan of tag-team wrestling. The Hart Foundation was definitely my favorite, even though I couldn’t stand Jimmy Hart when I was a kid. (I have a great appreciation for him now, though.) I also loved teams like Legion of Doom and Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.

The Legion of Doom

Stand-out moments for me will always include The Ultimate Warrior vs. The Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam in 1988. I loved The Ultimate Warrior as a kid and when I heard that music and Gorilla Monsoon’s famous call of the match, I yelled so loud that my mother came in to the living room to see if I was okay. Watching The Undertaker toss Mick Foley off the top of the cage at Hell in a Cell is something I’ll always remember, too. I was watching that show with some friends, and I remember looking around the room and seeing everyone’s faces just absolutely frozen in shock and surprise. I didn’t think he’d survived that fall, and then he goes on to get thrown through the top of the cage and down onto the mat. Insane.

The famous Hell in a Cell match between the Undertaker and Mick Foley

As far as my wrestling Mt. Rushmore goes, the first name that comes to mind is Ric Flair, obviously, seeing as he was the biggest draw of an entire era and he was the total prototype for what a modern wrestler should be—fantastic at all aspects of technical wrestling, but one of the best promos of all time and a masterful storyteller. Bret Hart is always going to be up there for me, too. I read something recently that said he’d never injured an opponent in the ring, and yet his offense still looked stiff and believable. I think you’d have to put Hulk Hogan on there, as unpopular as he is with a large segment of the wrestling community, simply because of how big a star he was and how he helped to raise the industry’s profile so much during the 80’s boom. And as much as I want to say Andre the Giant or The Fabulous Moolah (as controversial as she is), I think you can make a case that Chris Jericho belongs up there as well, given that he’s had long runs as the top guy in multiple promotions working a variety of different styles for about twenty-five years now.

Great memories and moments. Of course I agree with all the names mentioned, that hell in a cell match is something I always use introduce those who have never watched wrestling before, it normally hooks them in…

Q4. And just briefly what’s your take on the current wrestling industry?

“The current generation is probably the most athletically talented, but I just can’t get into it like I used to. I think it’s gotten too bland for my tastes, to be honest. I don’t need a steady diet of chair shots and barbed wire, but once WWF became a publicly traded company, the corporatization really kicked in and it became very milquetoast to me as a whole. There are still some wrestlers who do great work both in the ring and on the mic, though.

Q5. Let’s talk books. Do you have any other works currently available and what can we expect next in terms of writing from Marc Cavella?

My first novel, “Tabernacle”, is available on Amazon and all other major outlets. “Tabernacle” tells the story of Edward Jones, an incredibly successful salesman who sells a product that none of his clients actually wants. I like to describe it as sort of a genre mash-up—it’s a dark comedy, but it’s also literary fiction with some suspense, noir, and neo-Western elements to it as well. It’s gotten some very nice reviews so far and I’m always glad when people tell me they enjoyed it. John Cena and Alexa Bliss make very brief cameos in it, so it has some ties to the wrestling world as well.

I’m currently working on some sequels. “Place the Flowers” follows Edward Jones as he eases into family life (sort of), but not without his own gritty twist to it. And I’m working “The Man from Coronado,” which focuses on Lance Sacramento, one of the wrestlers who appears in “The Ballad of Ricky Risotto.” I’m hoping to make a trilogy out of those wrestling-based novellas and release them as a paperback anthology in the summer of 2021.

Sounds like you have some awesome projects lined up for next year.

Here’s my recent review of ‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’

Check out Marc’s Amazon page here

Q6. What interests do you have outside of writing?

I love reading, certainly. I’m also a huge history buff, as mentioned previously, and that extends to lots of different topics beyond wrestling and sports. I’m very interested in military history—I love going to the national battlefield parks we have here in America, especially the ones dedicated to the U.S. Civil War—and I’m lucky enough to live in an area that has a lot of Revolutionary War battlefields and museums, too, so I try to go to those whenever I can. I also enjoy poker and other card games as well and spent way too much time in casinos when I was in my mid-twenties.

Q7. Tea, Coffee, beer or wine?

Coffee, personally. But even that’s a rarity. I tried to get into wine for a while but I don’t think my palate is sophisticated enough.

Excellent choice, my problem is I like all 4…

Q8. Do you have a favourite movie or go-to television series? Feel free to name a few and why?

My favorite movies are Goodfellas and Rocky. (I’ll argue to this day that the original Rocky is completely underrated, even though it won Best Picture.) They’re just very well-written stories about people who are on the edges of society, and I’m always a sucker for stories like that. Back to School starring Rodney Dangerfield is one of my favorite movies of all time as well and one that I quote way too often, as is Back to the Future. I also think Predator is a fantastic movie. People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that, but it’s actually an excellent sci-fi/suspense movie. As far as TV shows, I’ll go with my staples: Seinfeld and Frasier.

Great movies! Especially Goodfellas and Back to the Future although all you have mentioned are from an awesome era in cinema. I find myself quoting Predator a lot these days and Frasier of course is my go-to sitcom!

Q9. A hot topic over on Twitter these days, do you have any must read book recommendations?

I’ll always recommend “The Sun Also Rises”—Hemingway at his best. And Robert Graysmith’s “Zodiac” is one of the scariest nonfiction books of all time. If you dislike either sleeping or feeling safe, you should definitely read it.

Both excellent choices – the Zodiac film is a hidden gem also!

Q10. And lastly, a question I ask all interviewees. If there is one sentence of advice you give to someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?

“It’s going to be an incredibly challenging, difficult, and unpredictable road, but you can definitely succeed at it if you never give up.”

Wonderful advice and a great interview. Thank you Marc Cavella for taking the time to give us an insight into your world.

You can find Marc over on the Tweet machine and check out his awesome site where you can find out more.

And so the bell rings on another Hall of Information Interview. Thank you for joining us. See you in the next one!

Weekly Ramble #13

Hello friends. Today’s re-blog is an important look back at an early Weekly Ramble about an author who serves as one of my greatest influences. This past week saw the 11th anniversary of Michael Crichton’s passing but his legacy for me will always live on…

Lee's Hall of information

Crichton has been gone 10 years. Something I  learned yesterday on the anniversary of his passing. Sometimes we are too busy in the world to stop and reflect, sometimes we just have to step away to think about life and how one day we are here the next we are gone.

More recently I have been too damn wrapped up in getting my 4th book published that I’ve lost my way a little, I’ve lost who I am whilst trying to be what I want to be. And learning of this poignant anniversary brought back a memory that carries everything I stand for. I’m not being dramatic and I am not trying to take anything away from a world renowned writers passing this is more of a tribute than anything and its also truth. When you speak from the heart and when you speak truth, people truly listen and care. 

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Words stacked against me…

Happy November folks, how about a Sunday re-blog and yep this one describes my current writing endeavours, this whole deal goes round in circles sometimes…

Lee's Hall of information

It feels like the words are stacked against me, 

Get this done and maybe I’ll be free,

Right now the ending I cannot see. 

Miles of words to go until I can end this show,

Forward is the only way I know how to go, 

How I’ll actually get there, not even I know… 

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Weekly Writing Inspiration #13

It’s that time again to share memes with a hope you find something partially inspirational…

I laughed way more than I should have at this, but it’s true 2020 has been a year…

We’re just one wrong word away from the occult… may dog have mercy on us all

Ha, I take pride in stealing this…

There aren’t many shows like ‘the Boys’ which I urge you to check out, and this is also sound advice…

Truthfully I closed the door with my PS3 by playing GTA V and opened my PS4 door with it also, perhaps I won’t be doing it with the PS5...

Yep and we shall finish with this on the horizon… Thanks for tuning in folks, see you in the next one!

Announcing Book 7: Blog Post #501

Over the weekend the Hall of Information passed it’s 500th blog post with an important but brief talk about mental health. It’s been one hell of a ride to reach that many posts and it’s a celebration worth noting while being aligned with such an important cause. We are now crossing that mark with a special announcement.

Those who’ve tuned in across my other social media platforms will know on Friday I shared the news of my 7th Book and so this is the official announcement post!

2021 will see the release of my first foray into non-fiction with a guide book that relays many of my experiences from nearly seven years in the social media blogging/authoring game.

I’m no life coach or guru in anything in particular but over the years my efforts have gathered some success through trial, error and hard work, all of which has been inspired by the power of good people following me. The many experiences I’ve had in authoring and blogging in the social media age have now been fashioned into a manual that can hopefully help others. Having always been accepted and helped by the writing community I consider this book a way of giving back to those who essentially made me.

My credentials are statistics that speak leaps and bounds more than I ever could and so earlier this year I felt compelled to use them as fuel. These days you can fit this blog’s views for all of 2016 into just an average month and just last month (September) I sold more books in that time than I normally do in the space of a year. We’ve grown and grown since the early days and there are a plethora of folks I have to thank for backing and sticking with me. Some I do intend to name in this project which will focus on many elements of being and author and blogger from basics of social media, marketing your work and yourself along with some never before shared stuff.

This ‘success’ I’ve had comes from years of work and I have found the best way to convince anyone to invest in me, is to be genuine. You’ll find that in my next book and so I hope those in the authoring and blogging game, and those at any level joins me with Consistent Creative Content: A guide to authoring and blogging in the social media age. Coming in the first half of 2021.

Head on over to the tweet machine and give this pinned tweet some RT love

Thank you all for following me on this journey of the first 500 blog posts, here’s to many more. Peace out, stay safe, rock and roll man!