My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2020

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

Numero 5

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

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

Numero 4

500 Followers Special – Awesome bloggers who deserve recognition!

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

Numero 3

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

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

Numero 2

Book Promotion Results September 2020 Pt1

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

Numero uno

Book Promotion Results – July 2020

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

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

Weekly Writing Inspiration #16

I think some you need some memes right now. The first few are actually writing related…

Write your book if you’ve got one, it makes for a great escape trust me….

I mean this review for the Ghost Beside Me is better than the damn book and has nearly a higher word count… thank you for the glowing words!

Back to some regularly scheduled memes...

Ha

Being a cat is good choice I reckon…

Yes I own a Michael Myers mask… I mean we’re supposed to be wearing masks right? Halloween feels like two years ago now…

I could really go for some nuggets right about now…

Grove Street represent…. I loved that game.

Yep they have locked us down here in the UK. Sigh….

Plant that seed folks!

Thanks for joining meme… pun intended, see you in the next one, look after yourselves!

Weekly Ramble #86

Reviewing 41 books in just over 10 months is up there with 2020’s finest moments for me. These days book reviews are the anchor of premier content for this blog and they make the whole thing seemingly tick. Not only do they provide content that an audience likes but with book reviews comes a plethora of opportunity.

Although I’ve said writing more books is probably the best advice I can give for marketing, first of all you have to convince people to invest in you before they’ll invest in any of those books and so comes that opportunity. Reviewing books by fellow authors will get you more personal investment than any marketing trick or tip out there. It proves you want to contribute to the industry and be a part of it. You’ll be seen in a trustworthy light, and with trust comes loyalty. This will take time and all good things do.

Let’s face it, if your an author you know the struggle to get reviews, if your a blogger you know the struggle to get reads, I know it too and so I set out to fight back by helping others as I would wish to be helped – that’s all this is and the road to being taken as a genuine and respected figure in blogging and authoring is paved by giving back. The best forms of engagement rely on being genuine, honest and giving without expectation. I’ll say that word again trust. Commenting on another blogger’s post will sometimes make their day and most of us know how much a good review can help an author’s general mood.

And what do I expect in return – well here’s the wonderful thing, I actually expect nothing back because reviewing and helping authors is done out of mutual feeling so if I get anything out of it, that’s a bonus. This whole deal is a state if mind and importantly above all I’m reading wonderful books – something I have loved doing most of my life. If you can fashion a passion into a worthwhile cause then you are a better person for it. There have even been better outcomes than selling books or getting reviews because now I regularly connect with authors through email, twitter and this blog. Some just want to talk while others run ideas by me, not that I know much but I’m happy to help.

To all the authors I have connected with through reviews and social media endeavours, you were the one’s who got me interested in your work and pushed me to this achievement so thank you. Where do we go from here? Well the year isn’t out yet so you can expect this Hall of Information blog to do what it always does, to review more books!

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!

Spooky Season Movie Recommendations 2

What’s better than one post about spooky season movie recommendations? Two posts about spooky season movie recommendations and because the moment I published part one I realised some worthy contenders were left off that list… so let’s dive in…

Final Destination

I regret forgetting to include this film in part 1 and arguably Final Destination has one of the most original premises there is in horror. In Final Destination there is no murderer running around yielding a knife or wearing a mask, there’s no ancient curse or ghostly apparitions. The killer in Final Destination is real. That killer isn’t a character but the inevitability of death and the plan it has for you. Just what happens if somehow you skip that plan? Well that’s what this film is about in all of it’s early 2000’s glory but even today this one holds up quite well. I’ll happily admit the premonition part of Final Destination shaped my work – the MC dreams his death and so therefore avoids it – this inspired my own story telling as the MC from my debut novel ‘Open Evening’ experiences a similar vision.

Final Destination and the tone it captures is something that has a place in my heart. Yes it’s a little absurd but the concept is both terrifying and wholly original. Those early 2000’s horror flicks make for some great viewing, trust me and this one is perfect for spooky season.

Scary Movie

Okay now before you leave I know that Scary Movie is predominantly a comedy but it’s a genius comedy that still holds up rather well-ish today. Those Wayans brothers know how to make a comedy and consider the film a spoof/ meshing of ‘Scream’, ‘I know what you did last summer’ and the plethora of other teen thrillers of the time. The cast is stellar with many familiar faces and some moving onto bigger better heights thereafter (Anna Farris) so if you want something that’ll make you laugh out loud then try Scary Movie – they don’t make them like this any more. Plus even though it’s mainly comedy there are some spooky bits also…

Zodiac

This film ‘effed my shizzle’ up and by that I mean why the hell hadn’t I discovered it beforehand? Well apparently this one released in the mid 2000’s and seemingly passed everyone by. Why? I do not know but the film which is a factual re-telling of how they ‘caught’ the Zodiac killer (google it) is incredibly intricate, chilling and gripping. It focuses on the investigation and one man who moves up from newspaper cartoonist to full on book writer as he deciphers the Zodiac killer’s coding to pretty much solve the case. It’s quite a long watch but well worth it! And did I mention it’s kind of chilling also!

Devil’s Pass

Now some of you may know I love a conspiracy theory, preferably the unsolved one’s and Devil’s Pass is a kind of found footage film that starts off rather well – probably why I’ve included it. Back in the early 1950’s a group nine people skiing out in the remote Russian mountains go missing and their remains are found in rather harrowing circumstances – that’s the true story part. This film does an incredible job of documenting what is now known as the ‘Dylatov Pass’ and those making the film decide to take a trip to the incident site through unpredictable cold weather to find out what happens. I mean would you bother? Predictably things start to go ‘wrong’ and well the film then unfolds. The truth is, I thought the ending to this film was dog shit, but the first three quarters pulled me in and so therefore it’s worth a look. If not just google Dylatov Pass Incident and thank me later.

It Chapter 1 (2017)

Although some will argue this film isn’t a full on horror and more of an extended version of the Goonies and partially I would agree it still makes for some incredible spooky season viewing. I love IT part 1 because of the story it tells between the ‘Loser’s club’ – a group of kids who aren’t popular and don’t have a lot going for them but they find each other. Of course there’s a demon clown running around killing kids also not to mention the wonderful photography and setting of Maine – Stephen King really does know what he’s doing! Although the running time is longer, it has nothing on the book so go check it out. Fun fact: I saw this film 3 times in the cinema. That’ll tell you how good I think it is

The Mummy

Brendan Fraser is probably a name you haven’t heard of or for at least a very long time and I believe this film might be his best one. The truth is I saw this when I was 10 years old in the cinema and it’s rated in the UK at 12. Somehow I got in with my parents and brother, not only did this film partially terrify me but it also captivated me with gripping action, wonderful characters and a pretty well rounded story. The Mummy strikes the balance between thrilling and chilling with an ancient curse, gun toting action, archaeology adventure and Rachel Weisz. It has a cinematic charm paired with a wonderful musical score that I still listen to today – yeah I have a thing about film music… Trust me this one is perfect for Spooky season!

Well thanks for joining me for another Spooky Season Movie Recommendation post. You know at the very end of the month on Halloween you can expect to see my paranormal romance available for Free!

Are Writer’s lifts worth it?

It’s a polarising subject amongst many writer folks over on the Tweet machine but are the various lifts and self promo posts worth it? Are you going to jump on board the follow train or are you a soloist? That’s what this entry looks to explore so let’s get into it….

What exactly is a writers lift?

Well, in simple terms, a writer/creator will put up a post on Twitter asking other writers and those in the community to share their links or profiles to accumulate more followers with a view to generally boost their presence on the platform. Using the right hashtags might get a huge number of engagements and I suppose this is what the whole deal is about – getting more follows or engagement or even both. Some follow trains can grow semi out of control with a deluge of fellow wordsmiths looking for follows and numbers as opposed to actual engagement so is the concept of a lift just an empty attempt to gain?

And most importantly (for some) does it work?

Many writers and twitter users straight up refuse to take part in lifts and self promo tweets as they believe it just results in empty follows and temporary engagement. To them it appears to be a waste of time and lets face it, procrastination is the demon that comes in many forms. They also tend to clog up feeds and some folks just get sick and tired of seeing them time after time. Me; I’ve put that hashtag on mute a few times just to see more variety in my feed.

The big questions…

What’s the point in just having only writers in my following?

How am I going to sell to people outside that circle if there is nobody other than writers following me?

They are both great and logical questions but my response is simply those who refute lifts and self promo tweets just haven’t used them in the right way to get the right engagement. The ‘right engagement’ is what makes the whole social media success thing tick. Good engagement is also a wholesome nice feeling. Good and right engagement will eventually drive book sales – why? Because the that type of engagement has resulted in plenty of other authors getting those sales including me. Let’s break that down with a worked example.

Worked example – the centrifugal author force carousel analogy!

An author on Twitter who regularly does the self promo Saturday post has a book coming out soon. Their following has increased because of regular lifts but not everyday – this author uses moderation and knows their following/audience. This person always return follows and so therefore have retained most of them.

They decide to put that new book on pre order, it’s stand alone and the genre has a broad appeal.

Because this author does regular promo posts and also engages with fellow authors, they become well known in the community as a supporter of fellow authors. Their renown is what will sell above anything. People choose to invest in a person long before their book.

Some authors agree to help that author or pay them back by pre ordering the new release.

The centrifuge begins to turn – that being authors hopping on the carousel of support for one another , this carousel begins to spin faster accumulating more authors who jump on also and pre order the book. Everyone at this point who is engaging right will be getting more followers. The whole deal starts to gather speed and follows.

By the time the book is released, the pre order numbers help it climb the amazon charts where it could hit ‘best seller’ status where a host of non writer people see it and eventually buy it, hence jumping on the carousel also. This centrifugal force started with lifts and promos from an author, then got fuelled by authors with the final resultant being non authors buying a book.

Of course this analogy uses the concept of centrifugal force which is something that is designed to separate things, so eventually the authors who pre ordered separate from the non writer buyers who may possibly come back to buy another title. Fellow writers have played their part and helped another in need. The concept kind of relies on all of us helping one another for it to work… those who refute lifts are just looking at it from just their own benefit…

The big picture is here that if authors work together at the initial stage of a book release that work will eventually break a book past the stratosphere and out into the depths of space where many a meteorite lurk (regular readers). All of this big picture beginning with lifts.

My own case study…

You can probably gauge that I’m in favour of lifts and promo post on twitter but let’s back that up with some actual truth. Back in 2018 I really didn’t have much of a clue about engagement until I stumbled into putting a post up on twitter asking the wider community for book recommendations – this was just when I had started to review indie books on here and I needed books to read. The response was in the thousands… That night I re installed the twitter app on my phone and got to work adding books to my list. In 2019 I reviewed 40 books from that tweet I put out. The numbers for my blog alone rocketed which you can see below… those results came from a lift post! There are authors from that post whom I still connect with today and regularly engage with. They make my social media experience just about bearable sometimes…

The sceptics or yet to do it properly types…

Those who are sceptical and straight up dismissive of lifts and promo tweets probably haven’t used them in the right way. They most probably see this through the eyes of ‘how can this help me’. It can help you but only if you first help others, give it a go and remember the big picture. The only way to find any success as an author on social media is to engage and not be an island. This isn’t just all about the individual getting sales, I mean I didn’t think many of us were in this for the money or sales but instead we’re in this to get better and connect. The word social in social media is there for a reason, go be social and share your links, engage in lifts, follow back, retweet others’ pinned tweets and even do your own lifts. Lean into it and you will be rewarded. Authors together are one hell of a force. Since early August I have gained nearly 600 followers on twitter by doing self promo Saturdays.

But how?

The whole lifts and promo tweet thing is just one slice of the cake. Following through will lead to the right engagement. Take someone’s book that appeals to you from a lift and buy it. Write a review and blog about it. Not only have you read a book, but you have material to blog with and an opportunity to connect further with an author who will appreciate your genuine engagement. You might even make a friend and then repeat the process. That’s what I’ve done over the years to moderate success. As mostly small time authors we are in the business of trying to get anything over zero and lifts might just lead to those book sales even if it is one or two.

It’s an opportunty to vent…

Constantly sharing the link to your books on your own feed doesn’t work. It might take you a while to realise that but as a rule these days I don’t generally share the link to my books on social media on my own feed. Writers lifts and promo posts are a great way to do that instead, so let that urge to share build up and vent it on those lifts!

External intruders

More recently the twitter beginner who may not even be an author or blogger has realised these lifts are a great way of getting engagement. They will normally and emptily tweet ‘any book recommendations’ knowing desperate authors will share their link hoping it drives sales – it normally doesn’t and these intruders are trying to take advantage of that to boost followers. Not only does this put genuine folks into disrepute but it cheapens the whole deal. Luckily you can see them from a mile off and my advice, don’t engage, save the lifts for the real writers.

Concluding thoughts

I used to be a writers lifts sceptic until I tried it and now most Saturdays I will run one. The detail is key in any post, I normally include a promise to follow folks back and RT pinned tweets. Offering an engagement incentive is a great way to get some results along with the right hashtags. Here’s my most recent one as an example.

And here are the results after 24 hours…

Final final thoughts…

Lifts and promo posts are worth it, but moderation is key along follow up engagement. At the end of the day it’s all about what your intentions are? Genuine engagement will win the day! This may have appeared to be an investigation post on the surface but it sides with doing lifts because they can be very beneficial.

What are your thoughts on writers lifts?

‘Cemetery House’ is currently discounted…

I mean most of my books have remained constantly discounted this year for part promotion part people need to read something in order to distract themselves from the dumpster fire that is 2020 but why is this significant now?

If you have just a few moments let me entertain that question and thought. Now ‘Cemetery House’ is a sequel, part of a series and also works quite well as a stand alone or even an entry point to my Order of the Following Series. Where my debut novel ‘Open Evening’ has all the traits and clunkyness of a debut novel (although I still reckon it’s worth a look), ‘CH’ is the smoothly flowing bigger brother of a sequel.

It’s been Free to download yesterday and the day before, I would have told you this on here but I equally love posting memes and author interviews so there was no blog space unless I wanted to post multiple times a day and I don’t think you as an audience member are ready, and neither am I. Plus buying it after a free promo run while it is on discount will help a lot more, not because of royalties, what are they? But because after a promo run the book is much more visible and has a good chance of climbing the trees of the amazonian eco system known as the charts.

As I write this, this current book promo run has been the most successful ever or all time. There will be a results post sharing what I did to achieve this soon.

If you like this time of year – lets face it Spooky season is great, then Cemetery House is the book for you. It’s part ‘Final Destination’, ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and ‘the Faculty’ all rolled into one. Set mostly in a creepy horror themed amusement park during Halloween, do I need to sell it any more? There is also some great characters and witty dialogue which is all wrapped up in one hell of a thrill ride that is written in the rhythm of a roller coaster.

I’m immensley proud of Cemetery House and the lack of reviews really doesn’t reflect how great this story is. I know I’m tooting my own horn here but for this book I have to until someone actually reviews it. You can grab ‘CH’ for 99 cents or the equivalent of that in your territory.

If you want to grab a copy, there is a link below or you can just copy this number and put that into your regional Amazon search bar: B07JZ6KTBL

Weekly Ramble #81

September is finally here. For many, this a month that 2020 has been building to and where some perceived things would return to normal. That old normal is still far away but we’re carrying on through it. To all those going into the unknown this month, good luck and you are not alone.

Right now in all my social media author blogging endeavours I feel like the thrusters are to the max and I’m nearly three quarters down the runway. Take off is apparently imminent and this year from the very start I have pushed and pushed and pushed. From book promotions, to blogging, reviews and even Twitter which is approaching the 4000 follower mark. I have thrown near enough everything at trying to get a bigger better and more engaged following. Of course lock down gave me time to do this which I seized along with some fantastic encouragement from the acquaintances I’ve come to know, old and new. Thanks for the support everyone.

Every ounce of my efforts have been with my 6th book release in mind, that is along with the networking part of social media which is turning out to be mostly fun – connecting with others seems to be more satisfying than selling books and book sales seem to be happening a lot more now. August was my most successful non book promo month for sales pretty much ever. What did I do different? I just blogged more, tweeted more and engaged more. Folks invest in you before they even consider your work. This also led to the best ever month I’ve had on twitter – 500 followers were gained. As I said the whole thing is being turned up to the max. All of this will be relayed in a growing guide book which I plan to put out next year sometime.

September was always going to be important to me. It’s possibly my biggest month ever in authoring so far. Book 6 is a sequel and a 4th book in a series, I’m not expecting a huge amount of sales, 15 on release will be redemption and satisfaction all at once. Either way 2020 has been one hell of journey….

The stories that inspire us – Half-Life

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Growing up in the 90’s means that I’ve been witness to some incredible technological advances throughout my life. Video games in particular literally leaped from 16 bit all the way to 64 in a matter of years, but that’s just talking about numbers. The experience of a story is what resonates through us all and one particular story that I first discovered all the way back in 1999 still resonates through me. I’m talking about Half-Life and yes I am one of the people who played it quite soon after release at 10 years old.

TOP 30 BEST Video Games of the 90s (BEST RETRO GAMES) | Chaos - YouTube

Back then parents didn’t really take much note of game ratings and I’m not sure there even was anything strict to really regulate them at the time. Summer holidays consisted of being out all day and then watching the likes of South Park at night or the late movie which again probably had an age rating, there wasn’t a snowflake in sight and well most of my generation turned out okay…

And then this game came along that was included in one of my friends brand new Dell PC’s. It carried an air of mystery as neither of us had heard about it back then and so we went in to Half-Life totally and completely blind. By that year, ’99, the concept of a first person shooter game was relatively fresh from the birth of the genre earlier that decade with Wolfenstein paving the way to Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Alien Trilogy and even Goldeneye for the N64. all of which, deserve a nod. Neither of us knew then what we were getting into.

Lifetime fans such as myself sometimes forget that Half-Life is a first person shooter game because the story is so rich and immersive from the very start – something rare for the era and so after installing this game we began.

Games slowly immerse you these days through a sometimes cinematic sequence where very little is required to do other than get a feel for the environment or what is to come. You have the makers of Half-Life to thank for that as early on, in fact for the first half hour of the game and after what appears to be a calm and very visual but solitary train ride commute, you are Gordon Freeman, theoretical physicist who is late for an experiment.

Half-Life 1 Train Ride - YouTube

This clever but immersive way of starting the game heightens the sense of weight for a situation which is about to unfold. You are late for work and rushing around – something many of us can relate to. You are introduced to other scientists who also work at this extensive Black Mesa Research Facility. The sense of mystery is overloaded while you are unaware of a sinister build up to this experiment which subsequently goes wrong and then the real game begins…

The experiment gone wrong results in something called a resonance cascade and as you the player are in the test chamber when it unfolds. You see just a snippet of what has been unleashed. Another world full of primitive creatures has began to merge with the one of Black Mesa and Freeman must now fight his way through a heavily damaged work environment to look for answers and try and clean things up.

It’s part Stephen King part alien blasting shooter because eventually Freeman comes across allies and enemies who are human as a cover up attempt begins. The army is brought in and so this trifecta of scientists, aliens and soldiers collide, yet you remain silent throughout the unique set up. There are no cut scenes, no level finishes, no speaking from the most iconic game character in modern times, he is the silent crusader working his way through the puzzling hazards of a huge science facility sometimes armed to the teeth and then just with a crowbar. Of course watching the whole thing is a thin man holding a briefcase who appears every so often, a presence now known as G-man. All of these concepts were unique and were never done until Half-Life. Apart from those now iconic loading screens this game just runs from start to finish.

Half-Life on Steam

As a 10 year old kid, this game had a resounding effect on me. That first play through is something I will always treasure and now in modern times and as a person who works in a huge science facility with radiation hazards, cutting edge technology and of course plenty of scientists; I can’t help but think that Half -Life inspired that journey in some senses.

My debut novel carries similar traits that you’ll find in Half-Life, especially the concept of soldiers arriving after everything falls to shit. This game and its setting, story and concept was something that had never been seen before and dare I say it, has ever been successfully emulated. The story stands the test of time and was expanded upon for the subsequent sequels but this one, stands above them all.

Have you played Half-Life?