Awesome Recommended Indie Reads #8

And so the journey of reading indie books continues. Here are some of my recent reads…

‘Sentinel: Galaxii Book 4’ by Christina Engela

Immersive and enjoyable space-sci fi…’

Full Review

‘A Still Life’ by Elliott Wink

Short and intriguing, an original sci-fi tale perfect for reading in one sitting…

Full Review

‘Dead of Winter’ by Antoinette McCormick 

‘It comes in the night…’

Full Review

Check out Lee Hall on Patreon

‘Fallout’ by Pat Griffith

An imaginative and highly original tale about first contact with corporeal beings from another world some of which are already here….

Full Review

‘Where Darkness Meets Light’ by Sabrine Elouali

Thought-provoking poetry reflecting many themes surrounding the dark and light…

Full Review

‘San Francisco Suite: A Rudy Parsons Story’ by Ethan McCaffery

Well-written detective mystery with noir tones and a metaphysical twist…

Full Review

‘Pirate Sea’ by Kyler Kuehler 

A swashbuckling and sometimes brutal tale packed with action

Full Review

And so that wraps up another edition of awesome recommended indie reads. Thanks for stopping by and remember to leave a review after your next read!

1000 Blog Followers Special

Blogging has been a journey that’s served as probably the greatest companion and outlet for my creativity. This Hall of Information blog began life as a plunge into the unknown to create a presence and a home for my writing online. It pulled me along when nothing else did and eventually over some years it became the central pillar of everything Lee Hall.

This post is a short reflection on reaching 1000 WordPress followers which is a huge number for a WordPress blog and a powerful thing that has kept me inspired to simply keep going. Over some years I found my creativity, my consistency and of course my content through this blog and eventually it began to turn the needle for me. There are so many lessons I have learned over the years on this journey and this blog has been there for all of them.

Like many of my successful moments, they are defined simply by the fact I have just kept going, kept chasing and kept learning. Along the way I gained you, a loyal follower and reader, someone who answers back from the void that I was seemingly shouting into all these years – the secret ingredient to all of this. I am living proof that blogging can be a success if you work for it and part of this journey would be nothing without this Hall of Information blog – a hub and account of my journey told in real time. And time is what it takes for anything good in this world along with good people to help me, you.

There are a plethora of influences who have shaped my blogging success, from those who nominated it for awards to those who might just be silently reading without ever engaging with me – both and everyone in between is fine for me and no matter who you are, as long as you are kind, you are welcome at the Hall of Information. From the day in day outer’s who I see blogging everyday to the occasional creator, the interactions I have had over the years with all of you have given reason and meaning to this sometimes hard journey.

From then, now and to the future, thank you for supporting me. I have learned so much from what you have given me.

Weekly Ramble #146

Just a few years back the concept of reaching 30,000 Twitter followers is something I would have laughed out loud at. Not anymore. And this journey has known zeros often but not today because I’ve reached that once impossible seeming milestone on the platform.

Of course and above all, this has not been a solo effort or journey. Much like all of my successes, they have been governed by others. And the help of others is what has pushed me to go further and dream bigger. I am nothing without the fantastic support of you and the now 30,000 followers who give me reason to keep going. This creative journey has been hard and every now and then it does bite me on the rear end but, the rewards are huge and this is a defining turning point.

But how? And what advice would I give to anyone looking to grow on social media as a creative? Just be open and do your best to build conversational bridges. My agenda has never really been to make money – I suppose that’s what has driven me to try and find something else and I have, conversation, support and consistency, they are just three of the many elements that make up the factors of my Twitter success. If you can offer something, someone out there will probably be motivated to take it. That and the sheer will to never ever give in, no matter what adversities I’ve faced internally and externally. Rewards come to those who work and keep going.

There is a hell of a lot more to come from me and you can expect a lot more content based on my Twitter experiences soon. For now, be sure to check out my Twitter Coaching Sessions here.

Thank you for the support!

‘Sentinel: Galaxii Book 4’ by Christina Engela – Review

Immersive and enjoyable space-sci fi

Christina Engela returns with her immersive and enjoyable brand of space sci-fi in the latest instalment of the Galaxii series.

Captain ‘Sonia La Belle’ is tasked with an uphill struggle of bringing the starship I.S.S. Munray back up to better standards. With mostly disorganised personnel and the ways of a former disgraced captain leaving the ship in disarray, not to mention an old flame on the crew, this new skipper has her work cut out and then come the space pirates.

In the wake of these ‘Corsairs’ being a near enough wiped out, two particular outlaws find themselves in possession of a dooms day-esque technology that threatens not just ‘La Belle’s’ reputation but much more. A pirate resurgence begins along with a matter-of-time chase that ensues with drama and deception at the forefront of a great story delivered by way of Engela’s best writing to date. For anyone looking to for some fun space sci-fi immersion then ‘Sentinel’ is the book for you!

5 Stars – thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Weekly Ramble #145

Thank you to those who signed up to my Patreon over the weekend! For all my social media posting and effort I wasn’t sure if anyone knew about my latest venture of Twitter coaching. Social media can be hard sometimes, especially when you want to yell from the high hills about something but the algorithms and platforms tend to work in mysterious ways.

I am recording again today – another coaching session which will drop this week and will be exclusive to Patrons. Of course those who do sign up will receive regular shout outs on Twitter as well as access to a growing catalogue of exclusive content. Having something to offer regularly is the key to success on social media and whilst it can be difficult to be heard, those who do keep going will find ways to be heard. I am proof of that and even though my numbers aren’t huge, they are enough for me.

This month is the anniversary of Consistent Creative Content and soon you can expect some cool promotional things.

Have a great week!

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads 7

I’ve been reading and reviewing indie books again so its time to take a look at some recent titles that I thought were awesome…

‘Powerless’ by Vicky Ball

A well-written twisting thriller with darker themes…

Full Review

‘Lazy Creativity: The Art of Owning Your Creativity’ by Kyle Bernier

A detailed, modern and refreshing take on creativity that covers so many applications for success!

Full Review

‘An English Teacher in Mexico: Memories of a Midlife Career Change’ by Irene Pylypec

A fun and insightful well-written account of adventure and culture…

Full Review

Join Lee Hall on Patreon

Those who do join my Patreon will get regular shout-outs on my Twitter for you and your work in front of my near 30,000 followers. Plus you’ll get exclusive access to my growing series of Twitter Coaching Sessions, future guides and fiction.

‘SKINNER: Thirty-five years. Four killers. One city’ by Nathan Jones 

Immersive near future sci-fi meets the macabre…

Full Review

‘The Tolworth Beacon’ by Huw Langridge

Intriguing British mystery with tension, atmosphere and code-breaking vibes…

Full Review

‘Recovering Alice’ by Catherine Morrison

A gripping uplifting tale of romance and relapse…

Full Review

And so that wraps up another edition of Awesome Recommended Indie Reads! Thanks for stopping by!

Weekly Ramble #143

It’s an incredible feeling to have an audience member approach me and say they enjoyed the play I wrote. This past weekend saw my 4th stage adaptation premiere and it was a huge success. Shows and large gatherings of audience have been absent for quite some time in my life and to see it return is very special to me.

There are many writers who live with their work in obscurity and never ever have to opportunity to see their words brought to life or even read so I consider myself lucky to have that. I am very grateful to the drama club that take on my work and bring it to life whilst also giving it a whole new meaning. As a performer way back when and now a writer, this wonderful group has always embraced my creative efforts and my writing is merely a suggestion because the final performed product is even better than I could imagine. To me, nothing beats the roar of a crowd and the bright lights that wash over the stage. Live entertainment, is the best entertainment.

This has been a busy year so far and to have good things like this is incredibly rewarding. To those involved, thank you.

The Twitter Bar Analogy: Creating a Nice place to be…

The majority of people enjoy nice experiences and the same can be said for most people on social media. A nice or pleasant social media experience can lead to so many possibilities from making new friends and connections, to even earning someone else’s trust or perhaps making a sale. Subconsciously and over many years, I made my social media presence across the platforms a nice place for my followers to hang out. This was also driven by how welcome I have been made to feel by so many others. Because social media is sometimes viewed in a negative light for many reasons, being pleasant tends to stand out.

I’m going to use this post to talk about Twitter in particular and how for me it compares to a bar or pub. Those who know me will also know I love an analogy! As of today my Twitter stands at nearly 30,000+ followers and it is also my primary method to sell books. Every day I am present on the platform and regularly my posts are seen by lots of people everyday. Twitter presents a wonderful opportunity for anyone to speak and find others to connect with pretty much instantly. For those of the writing persuasion, its a natural fit as Tweeting is mostly dialogue and whether you write fiction or news articles, poetry or screenplays – dialogue turns that Twitter machine.

Artwork via Pixabay

Think of your favourite bar, pub or restaurant – a place you’ve had a nice experience and would most probably return to. Now I want you to think why you enjoyed your time there and what factors made the experience worthwhile. The same can pretty much be applied to who you engage with on Twitter and how you engage with them. We’re going to look at why a good experience in a hospitality setting is similar to Twitter.

First Impressions – The Basics

Imagine if you will, the first thing you see when heading out for the evening is the venue and of course the signage for the bar/pub/place outside – for Twitter this is your profile. From your handle to profile picture, banner and pinned Tweet and recent tweets. All of this comes into account when someone has been intrigued enough to check out your profile. Much like the physical building of the bar you face, does your profile resemble what you expect a decent approachable venue to look like?

From the signage (your name, handle and bio – are they clear in what you are about?) to just the general look of the place (your profile picture and banner – are they professional looking or at least friendly/approachable in appearance while also relaying what you have to offer?) There’s a sign outside advertising two for one cocktails (your pinned tweet – does it relay what you are about? – it could be a link to your book or something recently compelling that you want an audience to know about.) You have a pinned tweet right?

All of these basic visual things are first impressions. And most of us know that first impressions are quite important. Getting the balance on all of the above is the difference between being followed or engaged with or not. Before anything else you need engagement and your profile is key to that.

Yep, that’s me trying to be artistic

Heading Inside – Conduct

Most visitors to a bar or hospitality venue will decide within the first few steps whether or not they are going to spend extended time there. In those settings there are a bunch of inputs like lighting, odour, sights, noise, décor and layout but the same can also be applied to your Twitter. This is the part where a potential follower has scrolled down your profile to check out some recent tweets.

Near enough everything on my Twitter is governed by what I tweet about and so if your subject matter and content isn’t inviting it won’t receive any engagement. I generally Tweet about something that inspires, informs, entertains, gives value or has some kind of incentive – the more of these five elements of conduct a tweet has, the better. And the best way to figure out what works is to spend time Tweeting things that include this stuff while also being approachable. Someone who has a feed full of links probably won’t get much engagement much like someone who tweets about angry stuff or heavily opinionated stuff. We want to make solid connections here who might be our customers some day or they might even help us someday or vice-versa. Keeping things relatively light most of the time will make a good impression.

So as for this bar, you’ve stepped inside to see the lighting is ambient, the layout is clear, there are no bad smells, the customers aren’t noisy or hostile and the staff are inviting. You take a seat and order some drinks which there is a nice range of (your potential follower sees your tweet subject matter which ranges, your tweets are mostly friendly and approachable). The staff check up on you every so often – not in an overbearing controlling way, but in a finely balanced non-intrusive way (you reply to people who engage with your tweets, even if it is a simple thank you – this is a major booster for many things.) If you can, try to be like good staff at a venue – above all, good hospitality staff make good hosts.

Keeping Customers Engaged – The Long Game

Now your customer has had a drink we need to keep them interested so they can spend more money (followers choosing to follow and engage with you more) – bars or restaurants will have a range of food and drink to help this and if it is of a high quality, people will stay – the same can be said about your Twitter. What are you offering your followers in order for them to stick around?

Time and incentive go hand in hand here along with conduct, remember the five elements of conduct. If you spend time on the platform, tweeting and offering incentive, you won’t ever have to worry about customers leaving after one drink (losing followers). They’ll move on to ordering food or snacks (buy your books, visit your blog, invest in you, become you friend or simply just be there beside you on the platform), some will even invite their own friends. You don’t have to give a lot to provide incentive – incentive is just another word for offering something which includes: being friendly, helping others, engaging with others, following others, retweeting other folks tweets, liking their tweets – all of this is free. Even just spreading some positive thoughts online goes a long way.

This stuff will eventually turn heads towards your profile and tweets while also building a level of trust. Any venue that provides hospitality is a success because of the overall customer experience and the same can be said about twitter. Give your followers reason to engage with you and everything else will eventually fall into place. Reputation takes time to build and being a good host will help you grow that and eventually your Twitter will be known for being a nice place – something which resonates with mostly everyone. This is a long game and one you can certainly win.

I hope this analogy helps your Twitter growth and here are some specific basics that I do frequently to grow:

Show up everyday – even if I am busy with work or social stuff, I make the effort to spend even just a few minutes responding or even scheduling a tweet or two.

Try new things constantly – I am always trying something new, from sharing something I haven’t showed anyone before to even just tweeting a lot more. Change it up until you find what works for you.

Share more important stuff later on in the day – as the day unfolds more and more people log in to Twitter so by the evening here in the UK there are several time zones in the world that are online so I’ll plug my books and blog stuff later.

Reply back if applicable/possible – replying back will boost visibility on your tweets and others will see that you are engaging and will want that also.

Keep going – yesterday might have been a slow day but the twitter machine moves quickly and every day is a new day to seize the opportunity.

Thank you for stopping by. Quite soon I shall be releasing a series of audio based coaching sessions based on my Twitter experience, you can read more about that here.

For those who want some further reading do check out the resources section which is packed full of free-to-read guides on twitter and the wider subject of book marketing.

For some further listening, on my Patreon I have an audio series based upon my Twitter experiences with a hope it will help a fellow creative. Sessions 1 and 2 are free.

Those who do sign up to my Patreon will receive regular shout-outs for them and their books/creative things via my Twitter.

Of course my journey is also laid out in guide book Consistent Creative Content which is available now on Amazon!

‘Lazy Creativity: The Art of Owning Your Creativity’ by Kyle Bernier – Review

A detailed, modern and refreshing take on creativity that covers so many applications for success!

I had so much fun reading this detailed guide that not only lays out so many ways in which you can explore creativity, but it also normalises and embraces laziness to the point where it can even help with that creativity.

Kyle Bernier delivers his outlook through several easy to digest chapters that work together as an intricate guide whilst using an approachable style littered with light humour and a relatable tone. It is also written in a way that anyone can follow and for that makes it must read. There is plenty to digest and take in but it never feels overwhelming even if I did read it all in just a few sittings, now I am equipped to be the best lazy creative I can possibly be. Bernier identifies so many applications and types of creativity such as quiet, ugly, big, small – this guy really knows his stuff and as an artist and academic he has the knowledge to back it up.

“Everything we need to be successful creative people is inside us…”

Most of us have incredibly busy lives and so finding time to pursue creativity tends to fall further and further down the priority list but this guide opens your eyes in so many ways to find time, even if it is just a short amount to pursue that creativity which to many like me, cannot function without. There are heaps of positivity here not just for being creative, but for everything that surrounds it.

For anyone creative or those looking to be more creative in a plethora of different ways, you’ll have a lot of fun reading this awesome guide which carries a great vibe throughout and will lay out everything you need to equip yourself to embrace laziness and become the best possible creative!

5 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

Weekly Ramble #140

Sometimes its good to get away from the grind and just spend a weekend away. That’s what I did this past weekend and my energy levels have been replenished from being alongside some good company. It might have been an action packed few days but one can always rest at work I guess, and being tired from weekend things is a different type of tired from work things…

My numbers are governed by a constant social media presence. Take that presence away even for just a day or so and it drops to near enough zero. The fun thing is that I know exactly what it takes to get those numbers back up, I’ve spent long enough figuring it out. The concept of social media algorithms being against the smaller person has always driven me to prove that we can defy them to get our message out there. The platforms might be the hosts, but our content drives them and that makes us needed just as much as we need them.

With March nearly being halfway done I’m looking towards some big plans for the next few months in terms of content and of course a book release. Watch this space!