A thrilling jet-setting tale of deception stretching further than anyone can imagine…
Henry Cox returns with his thrilling brand of reality style storytelling for Deceit of the Earth which pairs a satisfying personal tale to modern fiction diving deep into the subject of our planet’s resources and those trying to control them.
Kansas Attorney Benjamin Oliver finds himself tasked by US intelligence or so he believes to find a unique treasure that dates back to WW2 and carries a power and influence nobody could possibly imagine. Why him? Well, that’s what readers will spend the story finding out and it is delivered with depth as technology, military and government secrets all combine for an excellent reading experience that is along with a good old fashioned slice of romance and even some feel-good family moments. Cox does a great job of merging real-life concepts from his wealth of knowledge to those of his own imagination – a style that is both original and immersive. From military aircraft to world geography, the delivery of his knowledge and imagination merging makes everything believable and the final verdict may even be out of this world.
The several twists in the latter stages will creep up on readers as the culmination will provoke your own thoughts on this planet’s mineral resources and how we handle them. Just who really is in control? Readers will certainly feel like they are no longer in Kansas after reading this one and that’s a good thing.
5 Stars – A cracking read with a modern Crichton meets Dan Brown feel.
The season of spookyness is here and what better time to get into a book because the evenings are short and the lanterns of carved fruit are being lit. Here are some indie books that I think are perfect for spooky season.
‘Evil Eye: A Slasher Story’ by April A. Taylor
Of course this season brings with it the plethora of slasher films like ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ so if you like them, you’ll love ‘Evil Eye’. Set on a remote island during a hurricane, there’s a masked killer stalking those left behind. Perfect for this time of year. Full review here.
‘Fear Farm No Trespassers’ by S.J. Krandall
For those who enjoy shorter reads that all link together, this is the one for you. Each story of ‘Fear Farm’ starts with that slow creepifying burn which then flows into much quicker tempo producing those spooky season thrills and spills. Well worth a read for anyone looking to be thrilled. Full review here.
‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ by Dave Williams7
Although to me ‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ is an all-year-round type of dark read it will definitely haunt you in deep and unique type of way. Conscience and repercussion take centre stage in this story that I couldn’t put down and there are plenty of themes within that perfectly align for this time of year – atmosphere and creepy visuals are a plenty in this one. Full Review Here.
‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean
It probably doesn’t get any darker than the apocalypse and Brooklynn Dean delivers it on a lavish plate full of prose, depth and darkness in a story that will keep you glued. This one is perfect for spooky season but again definitely an all-year-round type of read. Full Review Here.
‘Nocturnal Blood’ by Villimey Mist
Without vampires there would be no spooky season and my go-to indie vampire story is the ‘Nocturnal’ series starting with this part one. A unique blend of chase and discovery take a young lady on one hell of journey down the sometimes gory but always satisfying rabbit hole of vampire horror. Full review here.
‘Demonspawn’ by Christina Engela
I’ve always got time for a little space horror especially when it is this good and chilling. A stranded and down on their luck crew of the I.S.S. Mordrake discover a seemingly abandoned vessel floating in the depths of space. What they discover takes the reader on an awesome ride. Full Review Here.
‘The Ghost Beside Me’ by Lee Hall
You’ll have to excuse the blatant self promotion here but there isn’t a ghost story on this list and considering how well this book is doing of recent, I thought I’d give it a little plug. ‘Ghost’ is a unique short read making it low commitment which is part of the appeal. All you need is a free evening and you’ll probably get through the whole thing. Here’s a recent review.
Thanks for stopping by and check back soon for some more reads that are perfect for spooky season!
“…what do you know of the forces that stretch beyond the boundaries of our own mortality?”
Lee Hall, The Ghost Beside Me
October is the perfect month for a ghost story. I learned about The Ghost Beside Me through the Twitter writing community.
With its enchanting cover, The Ghost Beside Me drew me in. Part ghost story and part love story, this beautifully written novella is about the lonely M. Neville and his quest for companionship.
Initially, I was a little thrown by the formal tone of the language, but it worked with the setting and the story. I appreciated the book’s overall message. I just wish it had been a little longer with more character development.
I’ve read other works by Lee Hall and he is a versatile writer. Bonus: Hall includes a sneak peek of The Teleporter in this book. I will be…
A feel-good cosy romance story about two passionate souls…
It can be quite a challenge to put together a slow burning romance that doesn’t appear over indulgent or even sickly but Emma Jordan hits all the right notes in this wonderful cosy love story about two creative souls crossing paths. After their chance encounter, ‘Lucy’ and ‘Cain’ along with their lives are never the same, from picturesque west English west country surroundings to the big cities of New York and London this tale takes the reader and their romance on a journey. Their individual interests from Country Music to 80’s films fit together much like a cosy glove. Many aspects of their backgrounds are polar opposites from family to even career aspirations, even their flaws are perfect but this is a fictional escape after all.
‘Everything, Except You’ is a well-executed story about two people and their lives that are made better for finding each other and the way in which they discover a love for each other. From the initial meeting, to the waiting and eventually breaking down of defensive barriers, the set up to pay off is wonderfully done. I don’t think there was a dull moment throughout the sometimes dramatic but always eventful story that is uniquely told from both perspectives. As these two passionate souls find love in their busy lives they eventually come to realise it. This is not only a great advert for love and romance books but life in general because to me, love is always the answer.
Let’s face it, eventually every author is going to have to swallow the medicine that is a bad review. Whether it be a low rating without an explanation to a full on dismantling of a book someone probably should have just put down. Over many years I’ve experienced every kind of review, from the ‘abandoned’ to the snarky ‘let’s try and be funnier than the book’ to even scathing borderline abuse. I have even received constructive criticism that I’ve then used to correct a typo or potential error so its not all bad and ‘bad’ may just be a stance.
Disclaimer: I will say now first and foremost that any reviewer no matter their opinion, as long as it is not abusive, is entitled to say what they feel about a book freely. This post is not an attempt to bash anyone that has left a less than favourable review for my work or anyone else’s.This post is designed to help fellow authors cope with bad reviews. I have to include this disclaimer because this subject might be perceived as ‘spicy’ and if I don’t, my Goodreads ratings will go even lower…
Its not a nice feeling when someone leaves a bad review for our work. It can straight up hurt and that’s more than okay because our books are a labour of love, time and effort. For someone to say negative things about it can feel like a personal attack and leave an author spinning for days while also questioning themselves. Feeling bad and every other emotion that comes with a bad review is totally normal. Remember that.
Ahead are hopefully some pointers and a few truths that will help any wordsmith deal with the inevitable because for every author receiving a glowing review, there will be another receiving the opposite.
1. Be Aware…
This is aimed for newer authors and has a bunch of inputs, but after publishing that book, your writing is no longer just a hobby and your presence on social media is now one of a public figure. Whether you like that or not is kind of irrelevant because being published puts you in the public domain. This means that as an author you now stand in the spotlight inside a glass house. Anyone can throw stones at you, and if you give them a reason to, they will, trust me. You see that disclaimer up there, yeah I put that in to cover my ass in case someone gets precious and decides to defend anyone who has ever left a bad review – your actions online can draw unwanted negativity sometimes, even if your intentions were good.
What do I mean by this? Social media and the internet can be a volatile place and now you have a book out there, it is vulnerable also. Because of that, its time to consider your conduct online. Me; I have a pretty comfortable seat on the fence in most of my social media endeavours and I make every effort to be inclusive, decent and supportive. This will go a long way to preventing certain stones being thrown and I would even go as far as saying some negative reviews are simply a reaction to something you may have said online. That’s why I have that comfortable seat and I tend not to react to any major news subjects or any polarising political situations – these things will always be happening and providing an escape from them works for me.
Of course there are many great causes out there that authors have every right to stand for but remember social media can be a volatile place where someone might not agree with you all the time so be mindful and be aware.
2. They are Inevitable…
While being aware and conducting yourself in a certain way are great preventative measures, bad reviews unfortunately are inevitable. If your work sells enough it will be discovered by someone who doesn’t like it. Any author who has been around a while and sold a bunch of books will tell you this. So think of it as a baptism. Your writing has done enough to at least stir a reaction, even if it is not so great and you are now part of the club!
3. Is it Worth the Time?
Time for me is valuable. I can get a lot done with my time, from social media posts, blog posts, editing to even exercise so ask yourself if the review is worth your time? Those star ratings without an explanation – there isn’t really much to digest there so why spend time thinking about it?
I’m quite selective when it comes to where I read the reviews I receive. Goodreads is a place where I only focus on the statistics and not really the content of the reviews. Amazon is way more important to me so I tend to read the reviews I get on there. Even then if the review is negative with zero constructive feedback I’ll tend to just move on.
4. Is it Constructive?
Speaking of feedback, does the review help you in any way? Anyone can claim to be an editor if they spot a simple typo or even a spelling error. Even pro published books have those. US and UK spelling does differ sometimes and some reviewers won’t be aware of that. If there is something constructive you can get from the review then to me its really a positive one in disguise – remember sometimes the truth can hurt and we are all human so mistakes happen.
5. What’s the Value?
I’m going to confide in you here while also stating that I appreciate everyone who has made the effort to review my work but I can count on just one hand the amount of reviews that shaped my future works or had any real constructive feedback and for this I consider myself lucky. This is the case with positive reviews also and while we all love a compliment, what does that actually provide us with? Speaking truthfully, there is normally zero personal value in a review – good or bad they help sell future books and sometimes they need to be looked at just that way because…
6. A Rating is a Rating…
Above all, even if the review is down right insulting, a rating is a rating and proof of readership. Someone out there in that vast busy world of constant content found your book. Good or bad if they were thoughtful enough to rate it, then somewhere deep down there was something in that book which meant something to them.
Side note: If the review is abusive or even a personal attack, you might have grounds to report it and get it taken down. I’ve done this before.
If you were to purchase my self help guide book for indie authors and bloggers you’ll find there is a whole section dedicated to reviews and dealing with them.
7. Can You Spin it?
Some years ago, one of my newly released books received a low rating that kind of came out of nowhere. I forget the name of the book blogger but I confided in my social media following and managed to spin that review into a bunch of sales and positive reviews from some friends in the writing community. As long as you are decent, it’s okay to confide in your following, they might swing in to help you.
It will feel better tomorrow and much like that struggle for reviews you feel sometimes, the best thing to do in order to cope is to focus your energy elsewhere. Of course its okay to vent but do it with tact and confide in others because you’ll be surprised by how many bad review stories authors have. Use this post as a reference to when the inevitable happens and of course vent below if you wish because this will always be a safe space for creatives. How do you deal with bad reviews?
Thanks for reading.This post originally premiered on Patreon where all of my guides are available to Patrons first before they make their way onto here. For information on my Patreon which aims to guide and help fellow creatives click here.
Time can be a funny thing and it has certainly flown since I first envisioned and then eventually released my first book ‘Open Evening’ back in 2016. We’ve seen pandemics, two different presidents and even hardbacks being introduced to Amazon since this book came out.
For a story based upon a bad dream I had during my teen years it has shaped a huge part of me and my author journey ever since I wrote down the events of that nightmare onto six sides of lined paper. While it sat amongst many of my writings gathering dust for some years after, eventually it would be brought back into the light and served as my great writing reset while also being my debut novel and probably being my most important publishing moment to date. This post is dedicated to some of the vital things I have learned through releasing that book and my wider path as a creative.
Books capture a moment and version of you in time…
I am going to defend it jealously but I am also not afraid to admit that ‘Open Evening’ doesn’t contain my strongest writing – why would it? Because between then and today six other releases have arrived in that time. That’s six opportunities to be better than the previous project. Literally hundreds of hours toiling away figuring out my own style and the English language in general stand between my debut and now.
The story to me is still strong, but the execution, that’s something all writers will always be trying to get better at and so O.E. captures my writing ability at that moment in time. This is a book based in the US but written by a UK based author who has never been across the pond – words and phrases don’t always connect but I’m not going to change them for the world, this book represents so many things I’ve learned in time and those quirks make it all the more meaningful. There’s almost a charm in early works by some creatives and this book perhaps has a little of that.
Every time I have gone back into the manuscript files to change back matter or correct the odd error I find myself unable to change anything more than that. It represents me back then and I’m proud of that version of me in time. This also means that if you do read this book first and move on to later releases, you should hopefully see my writing ability evolve.
Truth in fiction resonates big time…
You’ll find that ‘Open Evening’ contains a huge dose of truth in between the monsters, the running and the terror. My own high school days play out in this book but with the fictional volume turned up. From geographical elements to even characters, much of this story is influenced by real things, people and encounters. For it, you get one hell of a resonating and relatable ride. If you are able to find some element of truth to base your own works on, you’ll probably captivate readers. Combine that with the sometimes outrageous fictional ideas and we’ve got ourselves an immersive tale. That ‘truth’ model is a concept you’ll find in all of my works so this book paved the way.
There are some fictional influences also…
From combining the name of my old high school with the town where slasher film ‘Halloween’ is based all the way to Alien, Buffy and even Blade. Much of my favourite thriller/horrors are also represented in this book and I’ve found that paying homage to them in a story gives readers a weird nostalgic comfort. If you liked Final Destination or any of the stuff below, you’ll probably like ‘Open Evening’.
Social Media Following is everything to me now, but it wasn’t always…
I had a fraction of the following I have now when this book was released and still it sold relatively well at the start.
41 copies – most of which were paperbacks got sold on release. This was a record I have only just broken in terms of release month sales. Back in 2016, Facebook was my main platform along with this blog which also had a fraction of the following I now have.
My advice when it comes to authoring and releasing books: You don’t necessarily need a big following to start off with because as long as that work of yours is findable, readers will eventually gravitate to it over time.
Me: I worked on regularly releasing content before I got anywhere near the social media following I have now. Content will foster new followers.
I got busy writing and spending the time I had to create…
Like I have said before, time is probably the governing factor in all of my content and success. When’ Open Evening’ was ready to be released, my editor wasn’t available and then so I had a year in lieu to use and that’s exactly what I did. Just as O.E. hit its release I was planning my next and already had a draft of ‘Darke Blood’ ready to be edited. 8 months later I had two books out there all because I used the time.
The Free Promo(s) have been worthwhile…
Many authors are strongly against giving their work away for free but I’m not many authors and for the six times ‘Open Evening’ has been priced at zero, thousands of people downloaded it. This has led to me finding an important readership and has even boosted paid sales of other titles over time.
Damn, getting reviews is hard…
I’ve tried near enough every trick out there to try and get more reviews and all of that started with this book. From sending physical copies to bloggers who never even responded, let alone left a review to giving copies to perhaps ‘higher end’ indie authors only to see that same copy on ebay some time later. Reviews are so hard to get and this book confirmed that for me. Since publication ‘Open Evening’ has managed 30+ reviews in that time. A small figure to some, but to me and considering I had very little following back at release, a good number.
It is never too late…
You’ll see me preaching this on Twitter every now and then but the release of a book is only the beginning and from that moment after, the opportunity for a book to find sales, reviews, audiences and a following is always there. It is never too late.
Only you can write your book…
Writing tips and advice take many forms these days, from the awesome gems of guide books out there to social media, but only you the author can find what it takes within to write that book. It started for me with this fast paced high school creature feature horror but I have dabbled in many different genres while only really listening to myself and figuring out this wonderful craft.
Friends and Family were there for me…
As much as I am thankful for the support this book got at the very start, I will stress the word ‘were’ because after the release most of my family and friends disappeared. While back then it was kind of crushing I now understand that most of these people were supporting me and perhaps not the book which forced me over many years to go out and find my own supporters who backed both books and me. This became a blessing in disguise and I know some authors will never even get the acknowledgement from anyone they know for the work they have done so I am ever thankful for that initial support.
That initial support is how I promote myself today…
While most of my family and friends grabbed a copy of this book on release, they did so to support me personally and today that’s how I promote myself – as a person first and then my books second. Most of you reading this would have probably come from social media and might not have even read my works but you know who I am for that effort.
International pricing matters…
This is more of a practical lesson but for a while, my books never sold anywhere outside of the UK and this was mainly due to me not being fully in the detail about pricing in other countries. Be sure to do a little research just to see what is a fair price someone would pay in other places around the world.
Seek Professional Help…
My budget for most releases includes cover artists and editing – both of which to me are essential building blocks that make up the basic anatomy of a book. From word choices, structure and overall guidance; a good editor will help shape that work of yours. A good cover artist will also guide you – ‘Open Evening’ looks the way it does because of the professional help I got. The original cover I envisioned was way more elaborate but I know that those scratches embody everything I wanted to covey for a potential reader.
Keep Creating, Keep Learning…
The journey never ends and books once they are released will outlive us eventually. Books are a life investment and it’s important to learn what you can from releasing one into the wide world where anyone and anything can be said about it.
‘Open Evening’ represents the start of my publishing journey and for all it’s ‘charm’ this book is something I am immensely proud of giving to the world. There is something truly genuine about fostering a story from scratch and writing it with your heart and then offering it to the world; perhaps that’s the most genuine thing a human can do. To me, its certainly up there, so no matter what happens, embrace your art, learn from it, keep creating it and in this case embrace the unexpected.
Lee Hall’s Open Evening (The Order of the Following Series)
“Hell I know Spike is the best looking and Xander has all the best lines,” I said. A smile began to emerge from Josie’s face.
That is the best thing I’ve read in a while. Lee Hall has a way with words, keeping it a fast paced, action driven horror story, and yet keeping it light hearted with the pop-culture references. Nods to using Buffy as comic relief in Open Evening.
As someone that consumed a lot of media growing up, everything from Saturday Morning Cartoons to Sitcoms to Night Time Dramas. The 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s were some of the best in T.V. pop-culture. In my personal experience. I did warn you that this is a rambling review.
Before I dive in, get yourself a beverage. I recommend water, because even though it’s now September it’s still…
It has been a while since I put out one of these posts and there’s a few books I’ve read in that time. All indie and all recommended. As an author myself I understand the struggle that is finding reviews and the pillar that holds this place together is content driven by indie reads. Let us dive in…
‘King of the Wicked’ by T.R. Hamby
‘An immersive imaginative take on Angels, humanity and immortality…‘
Introducing fellow author Erik Meyers who reviews Fee Simple Conditional by H.C. Helfand
I don’t remember exactly how I found how about “Fee Simple Conditional”. While that’s not really important, I loved the book so much, I wish I knew where I had discovered it.
At first you think ‘what a funny little phrase’. Then you begin reading and are pulled into a glorious story that grows and grows and grows on you.
Besides learning a lot about deeds, property and the history of such, you follow the ups and downs of Abigail Fischer.
A chance side-job takes her to places and people she never thought she would connect with.
I loved the twists and turns and surprises on every page.
What really stuck out though are the quirky characters. None of them are what you would expect. And that’s what makes the book so sensational.
They aren’t perfect. They have their good times and their bad times, like real life.
I read the book in an afternoon turning page after page faster and faster to find out what happened and the whole time wishing Abigail gets the life she deserves. She sounds like a wonderful person I would actually want to meet.
The ending is a beautiful cherry topping on the cake that will blow you away.
No spoilers here. You will just have to devour this book like I did to find out what happened.
Planned as a series, I can’t wait to read book 2!
I haven’t had a book touch me like this is a long time.