‘The Genius’ Guide to Bad Writing’ by R.T. Slaywood and R.C. Martinez – Review

A refreshing outlook on writing and publishing that’ll make you smile…

From the very start I had a smile on my face while reading this short but fun guide designed for writers who are ‘plagued by success’. The whole subject of art and creativity is too serious and rigid for the most part and this book breaks down that barrier while also being fun. Already from the reviews emerging I can see it is bringing fellow creatives closer which can only benefit others.

To have this kind of approach to an industry that continuously slams the door in the face of many brilliant creatives it’s refreshing and fun to see it being perceived this way. I loved the interactions between the authors in every part that told its own side story while also being very relatable.

Take a few moments to read this book and bask in the enjoyment of two writers who have earned my respect for their refreshing and comedic outlook on the craft because good comedy is rare and this type of comedy is my favourite. You’ll probably learn and thing or two also. While some might not know how to handle this type of reading, the best thing you can do is embrace it because it’s enjoyable and between those lines and in this book is a lot of truth.

5,000 Stars – Saw this on Twitter the other day and thought I’d check it out! Well worth a read!

Why I Wrote ‘The Deep Space Between’ by Cassandra Stirling

Why I Wrote The Deep Space Between

One of the first things I did before I started writing my novel, The Deep Space Between, is write my inspiration story. My why-I’m-writing-this-book story. This is what I wrote. I’m sharing it because it says a lot about me, the writer, and the journey I’m on. It also foreshadows many of the imposter syndrome setbacks I’d have (am still having) with writing and sharing my writing.

And, it answers that age-old question: when did you know you wanted to write?

Let me take you way, way back

As a kid, I always had stories running through my head. If I wasn’t acting them out with my stuffed animals, I was laying in bed or the grass with an internal movie playing out whatever theme was the flavor of the day.

I also wrote stories — not at home because why do that when it could play out in my head without handwriting to slow it down — but in school, specifically during our weekly library sessions with the librarian, Mrs. Barzinski.

Mrs. Barzinksi was an odd woman. She wore clogs, big round plastic glasses, clunky wooden beaded necklaces, heavy wool sweaters in winter, and white cotton gloves. Her thick wool sweaters had the telltale bumps of her breasts somewhere near her stomach, which earned them the nickname Barzinski boobs, and served as a cautionary tale for all the girls to make sure they wore bras.

In those weekly sessions, the table at which we sat was split. One end featured those students who listened to the chapter of the current book we were all reading, headphones twice the size of Princess Leia’s braid buns clamped to their heads. Mrs. Barzinki’s voice read out the most recent chapter; at the end, she included a prompt for a story topic. We then had 20 minutes to write a story about that prompt.

At the other end, the students read the story out loud and she taped us. Similar to the ginormous headphones — this was the ’80s after all — the recording device was massive. It contained two tape reels fastened to the top. When she turned it on, there was a distinctive “thunk.” I can still hear it today.

Every week, she put the best-written stories on the wall outside of the library with an A and then numerous pluses after it big fat red marker at the top of it.

At the end of the year, the students who had the best writing, aka the most pluses, got a prize — always books — for their efforts.

In my sixth grade year, I was in an unstated competition with my best friend, Jenny Simeon, over the total number of pluses we’d get on those stories. Some weeks I won, but most weeks she did. I always came second when I didn’t win, but it was never enough. Jenny was smart, funny, creative, and well-liked. I was awkward, wore outdated hand-me-downs (which I loved), and quiet.

We were really good friends. Outside of school was the requisite sleepover. During school, we’d hang out on the monkey bars (until some dummy got hurt and they banned them), making up stories.

Sometimes they were based on Greek myths (I was Athena, always) and sometimes on characters we created, like Ricky and Katie (I was Katie, she was Ricky). We even wrote and put on a play for our 4th-grade class (9-year-olds).

We were enmeshed in our creativity without even trying. And yet, I still competed with her. I wanted to win that content — to be the best writer in the school.

But I didn’t. Jenny did.

As I watched her walk up to accept her prize — the full set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books we’d read that year — I had mixed feelings. I definitely did not want that prize, because I hated those books. Who needs to know how to build a bed peg by peg? Not this girl. But I also really wanted to be as creative as Jenny was and I failed. I sucked. I wasn’t good enough. It didn’t matter that I came in second out of my entire 90+ student class.

I didn’t beat Jenny.

The in-between years

Fast forward through my life, where writing wasn’t a feature because I obviously wasn’t any good at it coming second place to someone I looked up to when I was twelve. I still had stories running through my head and often used them as a means to fall asleep when my brain wouldn’t shut off from the day. But I never wrote them down.

And then in 2009, after getting laid off from my publishing job, I decided I was going to write something down. The book I wrote was based on a dream in a post-apocalyptic world.

Most of my stories are extensions of my dreams, but this one had a lot of rich details to it that were used to get the ball rolling.

In November, still unemployed but freelancing to be able to eat, I participated in NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write the 50,000 first draft ugly awful words of a book. And I did it. I wrote 50,000 words and my book was born.

My main character, Jenna, was smart, sarcastic, and funny; she was also incredibly isolated, an outsider, and a person who never saw her impact on the people around her. It took me 5 years to finish it, picking it up and putting it down at random moments in time. But eventually, I finished it.

At the time, I had taken a science fiction and fantasy writing class at the local university. Part of the class requirement was to read out five pages of your book. The same week it was my turn to read I had had a job interview. I was more nervous to read those pages than anything else I’d done in life, including that interview.

My classmates liked the content, but I was bombarded with questions on where the people came from, how did the food get made, where did the clothing come from. I couldn’t answer any of these questions, because I forgot to build the world while building the book. I had no idea where it came from; to me, it wasn’t relevant to the narrative. But to the readers, it most definitely was.

My husband did some research as to how much water and power my New City of York needed. He did amazing work on it and tried to help me build the world, but it was so overwhelming, I couldn’t face it. Once the class ended, I shelved the book.

Fast forward to the present

The idea for my current book, The Deep Space Between, came to me while I was writing my other poorly titled Apocalypse Girl book. And it wasn’t a dream, but an idea born out of another daydream, featuring a girl with a boogeyman riding shotgun in her body.

A girl who was an outsider, who was isolated, who felt unloved and separate from everyone else. A girl who never saw the impact she had on the people around her.

Once I realized I’d written, or started writing, two books about the same type of girl, I took a long hard look at myself. I realized I was them, they were me, just in different settings and circumstances. I had a story that needed to be told and I was the person to tell it.

This book is born out of two fears: I’m not good enough to write an engaging story; and, it wouldn’t have any impact on anyone even if I did. But I’m done competing with my 12-year-old self (since it was never about Jenny Simeon anyway).

I’m ready to see the impact I could have, or my character will have, on the world around her as she navigates the story and potentially learns more about my impact on my world in the process.

And that’s good enough for me.

Thank you to author Cassandra Stirling for sharing her inspiring story that led to the release of ‘The Deep Space Between’ which is available now.

About the Book:

Seraphina Lastra Covington had never planned to set foot in the Magical Community of Merricott, New Hampshire again. When she reluctantly returns after a twelve-year absence, she finds that the town has changed: the bustling square she once knew is quiet, and a Magic Wielding child has gone missing. It is not until she starts heeding advice from the voice inside of her head that she realizes everything in her childhood home is not as it seems.

About the Author:

Cassandra Stirling’s entire career revolves around language. She has worked in the fields of law, publishing, and marketing; writing a book seemed like a natural progression. In 2020, her husband noted that, while Cassandra’s childhood dream job was to be a writer, she “was not a writer,” as “she didn’t write.”

She proved him wrong by writing her debut novel The Deep Space Between.

When she’s not writing or working, Cassandra can be found playing video games, reading, cross-stitching, or generally figuring out how to fit all of her life into the seventeen hours a day she’s not sleeping.

Five Little Monkeys -A Detective Story

Hello friends and happy Saturday, today I’m sharing this recent post by fellow author and blogger Megan

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Five Little Monkeys 

Sunday

Detective James Andrews took a final drag of his cigarette before tossing it. He took a sip of his coffee as he made his way down the taped off alleyway.

“So why am I out here on a Sunday morning?” James asked Detective Benjamin Knowles. Who was speaking with a uniformed officer in the middle of the alley.

“Good morning James. Nice of you to join us.” Benjamin said making his way over to James.

“So what do we have?” James asked, taking another sip of his coffee.

Benjamin opened his notepad. “Female, approximately 5’2” 110 lbs. 25-30 years old. Looks like a drug overdose. She has previous track marks on the inside of her left arm.”

James pulled back the sheet and looked over the pale, skinny woman. “We’ll know more after we run her prints and do a tox screen.” Benjamin said as…

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Camera Equipment, Software, and Other Essential Tools to Launch Your Own Book Review Channel

Every so often a new wave of content creators emerges to satisfy a specific demographic. One of the most recent examples is the “BookTube” community. After all, the value of honest book reviews remains high in an age where it can be difficult to find valuable and trustworthy opinions amid paid ads. In fact, such is the demand for reviews that the aforementioned BookTube scene has amassed a large subset of creators and viewers, which according to Google, even increased by 40% over a single year.

Examples of YouTuber book lovers who have gained a lot of popularity, are Christine Riccio, Ariel Bisset, and Cindy Pham who’ve gained millions of views across their videos. With the growing success of these creators, more people are starting to join this community daily. If you’re one of those thinking of becoming a BookTuber yourself, here are the essential tools you’ll need.

Microphone

A good recording microphone will be important since your content relies on a “chat” format. You want your viewers to hear crisp audio with appropriate volume. Having a good mic can also block out any background noise (like passing cars or pets) and lessen any echoes.

There are various kinds of microphones available, and understanding the science behind them can help you pick which type best suits you. Dynamic mics like the Shure SM7B are popular because they use electromagnet effects that make them great for vocal pick-up. That said, a lot of podcasters also like using condenser mics like the Blue Yeti because they respond to higher frequencies better. This means they’re more sensitive and pick up more nuances. If you’ve never used a mic before, it may also help to use pop filters to help “clean” the audio.

Filming gear

When deciding on a camera to buy, remember not to just opt for the priciest model. Instead, choose a model that has features and settings pre-installed to lessen the guesswork on your end. Thankfully, there is a vast selection of cameras out there with these built-in features, like 5-axis image stabilization. This will reduce any shakiness or unfocused blurs that can affect the watchability of your videos.



If you’re the type that simply wants a clear picture, decent battery life, and a model that you can shoot both stills and video with little need for manual adjustments, consider mirrorless digital cameras like the Sony Alpha a7R. It’s compact, can hit 4K, and already previews exposure and contrast before you shoot. So, you can be sure your recording will look good.

Lighting equipment

Effective lighting ensures that your audience sees you clearly, and that helps them feel more engaged. That said, you may want to eventually put in the coin for umbrella and softbox lights, but you could easily start with a good pair of ring lights. These can provide light for you and any item that you want to pull focus on in your videos, especially if you’re not filming dynamically and are just in one spot. Many ring lights also have brightness settings, which you’ll want to play with to find the intensity you prefer. Because as much as viewers don’t like too many shadows, they don’t want to watch anything too blown out, either.

Video editing software

Finally, you’ll want easy-to-use and efficient software to edit your videos before you post them. There are a ton of options out there, so you’ll want to consider your budget and how intensive you need the features to be. Both Windows and Apple already have free video editing programs (Video Editor and iMovie, respectively) in their OS if you just need basic cuts and transitions.

If you require more post-edit capabilities without eating up your PC’s resources, some of the most popular software suites include Adobe Premiere Elements, Autodesk, and AVS Video Editor. These require a little more familiarity with editing software. However, they can result in more dynamic and exact end results. Alternatively, you can go for free video editing options, such as OpenShot, VideoPad, and VSDC. Like the paid programs, these also offer a wide range of features and are available for most OS variants.

After all is said and done, don’t forget that aside from these tools, what can set your content apart is your passion and sincerity. By combining this practical equipment with a voracious appetite for reading and community, you should be all set to go forth on your hero’s journey to BookTube.

Weekly Ramble #119

Last week saw my Twitter hit the 13k follower mark and I was so busy with content that I had no time to take a moment and let it sink in. Of course we are already moving towards 14k and things just seem to be going from clay to stone on the platform for me.

I seem to have figured things out over on the Tweet machine and just this year it has become an exceptionally powerful tool for my author blogger endeavours, Not only do I regularly sell books on there but I also bring that following over here to read the various articles and guides I write. Now I have even managed to leverage that awesome following over onto Patreon. Over the weekend I secured my first Patron – a fellow author who will get their own feature on here soon and that is just one of the many incentives you’ll get if you join. Others include a free book and social media shout outs to that 13k following.

This week my first fictional Patreon post will premiere in the form of a western sci fi horror I am currently querying. The first part will be Free to read and then Patrons will have exclusive access to the further instalments planned this month and next. Of course this new venture has started slowly but I am hopeful it will eventually be a success not only for me but for other authors who decide to support me. As I said there will be rewards, incentives and plenty of guides coming so watch this space like a hawk!

7 Years of Blogging: Here’s what I’ve Learned

Writing books and blogging go hand in hand to me. They have done for seven years now and just last month I was notified by WordPress for reaching that milestone. Time flies I guess… This Hall of Information blog is the central pillar to all of my content and this post is dedicated to everything I have learned in that time. Before I dive in, let me just thank all of you, for joining me here in this space on the internet I call home. You support is very much appreciated!

Last year I put out a similar type of post which then inspired me to write a little self-help book called Consistent Creative Content. Here’s what I’ve learned in seven years of blogging.

Time

The major factor in all of this is time. If I could have incorporated that word into the title of ‘CCC’ I would have.

Blogging takes time, good results take time, finding content takes time… you probably get the picture. If you dedicate time to blogging it will eventually get better.

For those not sure where to start with blogging my basic tip would be to consider your blog as your own personal space to talk uninterrupted about any subject you wish. This brings me to…

Diverse Content – to a certain degree…

Many blogs including mine will stick to a certain theme when it comes to content. You probably won’t see a book blog talking heavy politics often and sometimes it’s good to branch out a little but my advice is to stay in the same content neighbourhood. While my Hall of Information blog started as a journey towards publishing that was fairly limited in what I could blog about. Since then my content has diversified within the realms of publishing. From indie book reviews to interviewing authors on occasion all the way to book promotion results and even just ramble posts that capture what I’m currently feeling. They are all in the same neighbourhood as my original vision but stretch a little wider in appeal. So perhaps trying new things is a good thing but…

New Ventures can take time…

Blogging for me turned a huge corner when I decided to take the plunge into offering Indie Book Reviews back in 2018. What happened the moment I launched that service? Nothing because it takes time to get the word out and build up a trusted reputation. Eventually indie book reviews became what I was known for but it started slowly.

This year I started another new blogging venture of offering space on my blog for guest posts and articles. Again hardly anyone applied but last month 8 posts were from guest authors who shared excerpts, their stories and even the story behind their story. Some of this stuff makes for great reading.

New ventures in blogging can take time but they’ll work eventually. In these two cases both offered an incentive. Incentives are the key to selling and now this month I have started a Patreon. As of right now the amount of Patrons I have is zero, but with a little more work I imagine some supporters will eventually arrive. There will be some more content soon, even some fictional stuff.

Leverage your social media following

Those who know me over on the Tweet machine will know my following has pretty much doubled in the space of a year. If you have a loyal engaged following on a platform you can turn their attention to your blog and drive them to it – this is part of the reason why my blog gets so many views these days. But how, well, this leads to…

Know your audience and write for them…

In July of 2020 this blog had 63 click through’s from Twitter, this year it has 394 and counting. This is because now I write partly for that Twitter audience of writers and bloggers who appreciate my guides and reviews. This already galvanised my existing blog audience which was bookish to begin with. For those with a small audience or none at all this is a fantastic opportunity to write about whatever you feel, if it captures your personality, eventually it will resonate with someone.

Blogging Tip: If you blog with WordPress the social element of connecting with others is already there as everyone with an account has access to a feed that shows you suggested blogs to follow – this is a great way to branch out at the start.

Guest content still takes work…

After nearly a year of pushing a lot of my own content out onto my blog I kind of hit a creative wall. While I still have hundreds of guides to come from my many experiences, I took the plunge in offering space for guest posts on my blog which has over 850 followers. Plenty of authors have since provided me with guest excerpts, stories and reviews but even that takes work. While I might have outsourced the creative element in guest posts, they still take time to check, put together and schedule. There is also a fine art to spacing out guest posts so my audience is not too overexposed to the same thing…

All content all the time may not necessarily work…

Simply, if you want to grow and grow quickly in blogging then produce more content but too much content might have an adverse effect as readers read in their own time so if you are posting daily they might not be able to keep up. Last year and even recently I would post up to 6 times a week which is great for views but the content ranged from reviews to rambles. If you do suddenly ramp up content, be aware of how your audience respond and they will…

Listen to your audience…

I don’t get a lot of comments on my blogs but most of them come from loyal long term followers. They are my bricks and mortar and I do my best to listen to their feedback and engage with them. In blogging most followers don’t unfollow so a follower earned is a follower for life most of the time.

Blogging is a craft to me…

Like writing I can show you to the door and even set you up afterwards for marketing but I cannot physically teach you to blog. That is something you have to find within and working hard to get better will pay off eventually. Your audience may start small but they followed you for a reason, give them something to come back to every week or day. Its going to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing for some time but give it time and good things will happen.

My favourite saying in all of this is simple; If I can do this, then you certainly can. Here’s to many more years of blogging and thank you all for being here day in day out to support my efforts. It really does mean a lot. I have some more quick fire tips for blogging over on my Patreon which is FREE to read at the moment and can be found here.

Peace out, rock and roll and to many more years of blogging!

The Power of Positivity on Social Media

Over the many years and through great trial and error on social media I have concluded that positivity is a powerful thing. Now I’m not talking about stapling a smile to your face for the crowd because when it comes to being positive online, that’s something that cannot be staged. But like most of the things I say that work on social media, they are no good unless I show you. So what do I mean by being positive – perhaps something one shouldn’t go shouting about these days out in the street without some context or a mask…

Some Context

Any victory small or large that you positively share with a social media following in a gracious way should be well received. How do I know that? Because I’ve spent a huge amount of time testing the waters and those stormy social media seas can be weathered by anyone; all you need to do is try and keep trying. But what do I really mean? All I can do is tell you my results that have worked and no, there isn’t any hack or magic formula to being positive online – you just have to show up and share.

But what if it feels like I haven’t achieved anything big or small to share?

That’s the wonder of being positive because it has multiple inputs. Sometimes it isn’t all about you and yes even I struggle with telling my ego that but, well-wishing is greatly received on social media. Just wishing your following a good day will resonate with someone and that resonation might compel someone to converse which is engagement which will turn into visibility and visibility turns into sales or follows or often overlooked – a good conversation and experience on social media. And remember social and media, they are named in that order to me for a reason – be social first, share media second.

Being positive on social media isn’t always about sharing results or victory but simply sparking an opportunity to engage and talk with another human behind the handle. So many users forget that or don’t even realise that. Just being on social media to sell things probably won’t take you very far unless you have a very mainstream and needed product or a bucket load of money to push your presence in front of everyone.

There are so many social media users out there who try to stir a reaction by being controversial or perhaps even spicy. I call that sort of thing bait and they’ll cast it out to the masses just to stir engagement – having been a reader most my life and present on social media for years, someone like me can see straight through it and none of that stuff ever really compels me to engage plus ultimately it is negative. Those who do thrive off negativity on social media will not last, no human can sustain negativity for long so be positive instead because sharing good things leads to even better things.

The Outlook is Positive

I know all too well that it’s hard having a lower following and for a long time it will feel like you are simply shouting into the void. Fill that void with positivity and it will answer back eventually. From sharing those smaller victories like a follower milestone, single book sale or new book review to simply wishing others a good day – humans are drawn to good news, good things and good things happening to you.

It fosters hope and if you give another person hope, they are unstoppable.

Practical Applications for Being Positive on Social Media:

Basic Tip: For those looking for a better reach, try using some hashtags. Most of the time the Hashtags I use are writing based like: #writingcommunity #authors #indieauthors #booktwitter #readingcommunity

There are even some mainstream hashtags that trend at certain times or days like: #mondaymotivation and #fridayfeeling

You can find more positive things listed on the original post which can be found and read for FREE over on my Patreon.

Those thinking about signing up will receive social media shout outs, coaching, a free book and will also get first dibs on my many guides coming soon.

Thanks for reading and stay positive folks!

Favorite Flash Fiction -An Excerpt

Hello everyone, today fellow blogger Megan shares some flash fiction….

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Since I now have three Experiments in Flash Fiction published I figured I would share some of my favorite pieces from each collection. For anyone new here: Inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Clue, is my version of Where, What, And Who. I think of these as writing prompts to help get the writing juices flowing. Using suggestions from my reading audience: A Place, An Item and A Name/Occupation is all I use for inspiration. Ranging in length from 83 words to 4523 words there are 78 unique pieces of fiction. Here is An Experiment in Flash Fiction. 

Starting at the beginning with Haunted Hydrangeas -An Experiment in Flash Fiction.

Treehouse, Crack-Pipe, David Bowie

George climbed the rope ladder up to his childhood hideout. The treehouse that his dad had built a lifetime ago was still in the backyard of the little yellow house on Pine…

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Birthday Book Discount

Hello loyal followers. Today is my 32nd Birthday so I’ve decided to significantly discount the price of my authoring and blogging guide book Consistent Creative Content. I know many of you either write, blog or spend some time on social media and this guide will help you with all three, plus it’s available today for a fraction of the price.

Thanks for the support, rock and roll man!

‘Fear Farm No Trespassers’ by S.J. Krandall – Review

Immersive page-turning horror stories full of thrills and chills…

S.J. Krandall delivers a delightfully chilling collection of page turning, fast-paced horror stories that will keep readers on the edge. All of them are linked and have that similar theme of something lurking in the shadows or the feeling of being followed. That sensory type of immersion is what I enjoyed the most – this is the stuff that will keep you up at night or if you are inclined to a good scare, perhaps the opposite.

Good horror takes a lot of work and imagination to balance and you’ll find it here paired with a style of writing that feeds the imagination.

While our imagination is given room to breathe these stories all start out with a slower pace which quickens as they unfold. This tempo makes for a dramatic thrill ride where the stakes unfold each time for different people who all seemingly succumb to similar gruesome ends. Based in countryside that is equal parts beauty and full of mystery that’s lurking for the next victim. Highly enjoyable and recommended for anyone who does enjoy horror with pace and a little blood.

5 Stars – Thank you to the author who provided a free copy in exchange for a review.