Hall of Information Interviews: Blair Leftly – Feed the Crime

The venture of discovering unique voices extends into the important world of book blogging for this Hall of Information Interview. Blair Leftly from Feed the Crime is a prolific blogger who has contributed so much to the writing community through her passion for reading and reviewing. Her efforts have guided many readers and helped many authors including myself. It’s incredibly important that bloggers who work so hard get the coverage they deserve. 

Feed the crime

Feed the crime

Feed the Crime Instagram

Q1. Let us jump right in and talk about reading. You dedicate an impressive amount of time to books. Have you always been an avid reader? And how many books do you read on average a month?

“For as long as I can remember I’ve always read, in school we used to have silent reading time which now looking back I seemed to be the only one who looked forward to it. My reading has taken a nose dive these last few months, I used to read at least 10 books a month where as I’m struggling to even read 1 book a week at the minute. I think I put too much pressure on myself to read a large amount each month and it’s taken it’s toll. I need to remember that it doesn’t matter how much I read each month just as long as I’m enjoying what I do read.”

1 book a week is still an incredible feat!

Q2. Of course you review these reads via your Feed the Crime blog. Please tell us more about your blogging efforts?

“I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes I find it hard to pull inspiration for enough blog posts to post each week so that is why I do take part in book memes such as Top 5 Saturday and Down The TBR Hole, they are the posts I love reading each week so it makes sense for me to take part in them. I’ve not been blogging as much the last few weeks, there’s so much going on in the world right now, I work my ass off in the lab and I’m moving house on the 25th. I love my blog and I never want it to feel like a chore, so if I don’t have enough time for everything right now then I’m ok with that, after all we’re only human.”

Top 5 saturday

Q3. In recent times, you’ve branched out to read other genres as opposed to crime fiction. What other genres do you enjoy?

“Until last year I had only ever read crime fiction hence the name, however the blogging world showed me all these amazing books that have never even been on my radar before and it was so exciting! I found out that I love fantasy, sci-fi and I’d never read a vampire novel until your book Darke Blood which completely took me by surprise. My two favourite books of the year so far are actually fantasy which I never would have expected!” 

Thank you for mentioning ‘DB’, of course the unexpected can bring wonderful things especially when it comes to reading.

Q4. Feed the Crime is very close to an incredible 1000 followers. What does it take to achieve such an impressive following?

“I didn’t actually get involved with the blogging community that much for the first year as I was too nervous and felt that I would never be able to fit in. I finished the first year with less than 50 followers. I think I started gaining followers more consistently from the beginning of 2019 as that’s when I was posting 3/4 times a week, as well as participating in weekly book memes and blog tours, I was starting to put my blog out there.
I still can’t believe the number of followers, I used to go on all the blogs with 1000+ followers and just think there’s no way I will ever get there and now it’s so close to happening.”

That is quite incredible and goes to show that consistent content and participation work in building a following!

Q5. Where did blogging begin for Blair?

“I first started my blog in September 2017 not long after I started having seizures, I had to leave my job as I worked in a children’s play centre and I had 2 fits in front of children. When it was diagnosed as epilepsy I had to surrender my driving license and sell my car, so I was in a really low place with too much time in my head. My friend suggested that I find somewhere to review all the books that I’d been reading and after some research that’s how Feed The Crime happened.”

Q6. Moving away from books and blogging, do you have any interests outside of being an awesome blogger? You’ve mentioned WWE once or twice; something I used to follow religiously and more casually these days. Do you have a favourite WWE performer?

“I don’t have very many interests outside of books and blogging to be honest. Me and my partner have been to see WWE live here in Liverpool twice and it was an amazing experience, we were stood at the ramp so we were able to see each performer up close, it’s something I will never forget. In terms of favourite performer, that’s like asking me to pick my favourite book I can’t just have one haha!”

“Female I would say Becky Lynch, I loved her old steampunk style and lass kicker attitude. Male I have two, Roman Reigns and Goldberg they are just legends no doubt about it.”

Excellent choices. I will have to agree with you on Becky Lynch, she is the lass kicker!

Q7. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

“Hmmm this is a tough one it definitely depends where I am, at home I drink gallons of tea, if I’m catching up with friends or writing blogs in coffee shops then I normally drink a Caramel Macchiato. Of course after a stressful day or week at work then a cold beer is just what the doctor ordered!”

Q8. Back to books. Do you have a short list of must read books that everyone should experience?

“The books that I think are must reads won’t be to everyone’s taste, so I’ve picked 4 different genres.”

– “The Joona Linna series by Lars Kepler (This my favourite translated series that I would love to see more people read)”

– “You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke (This had me hooked and I was stood up shouting by the end)”

– “The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (He is my favourite non-fiction author, If you love Louis Theroux documentaries then you need to read his books)”

– “The Teleporter by Lee Hall (Of course I had to include this book as I had so much fun reading it, it’s hard for a book to make me laugh but this did it!)”

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Its an honor to be a part of this list. thank you.

Q9. What are you currently reading/plan to read next?

“I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Written in Blood by Chris Carter which is number 11 in the Robert Hunter series. The series as a whole is addictive but extremely gruesome and not for the faint-hearted!”

Q10.  And finally, in one sentence, what advice would you give to someone just starting their blogging journey?

“Don’t ever feel alone, embrace the book community, find blogs that interest you and comment on them, you can make so many friendships that way, also don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Wonderful advice and a unique insight into reading and book blogging from Blair of Feed the Crime. Thank for sharing and for the continual support of the writing and blogging community.

I highly recommend you follow the awesome Feed the Crime Blog. 

You can also catch Blair on the Tweet machine  and Instagram

Readers old and new, I appreciate you taking the time to read this Hall of Information Interview, hopefully see you in the next one!

Red Headed Book Lover – How I Beat a Scammer — Damien Linnane

Today’s post is another re-blog but a very important one from fellow author Damien Linnane who has generously shared his experience of how he beat a very well known scammer in the world of book reviews.

As some of you will know I have shared my experience with the same ‘reviewer’ and it’s so important as authors and creators we work together in sharing our experiences for the greater good of the writing community! Check it out below… 

 

It was January 2020. My novel had been released for less than two months. I was busy juggling my day job, my master’s degree, running a small business and preparing for an art exhibition. I knew I should have been doing more work to promote my novel, but I really didn’t have the time. And […]

via Red Headed Book Lover – How I Beat a Scammer — Damien Linnane

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

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The road of life is long and so is the journey this blog has seemingly endured. Has it really been 6 years since I plunged into the world of blogging? Time has a way of slipping before our fingers when we’re busy and having fun, perhaps those two things are the main staples of how all of this is held together. That is along with the revelation that time has convinced me most people are decent but those who follow this outfit are exceptional. 

What have I learned in 6 years of blogging? Probably enough to fill a self help book and well that may eventually appear on the horizon, wink wink. I’ll give you an insight because for my followers, it’s the least I can do. These are the pillars that hold up the Hall of Information…  

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Choose a name that stands out…

Let’s face it, Lee’s Hall of Information is a gimmick style name and back when I started out, gimmick style names for blogs were all the rage. You don’t see it as much these days but I’ve embraced my not so serious blog name. It’s a play on words with my real name and it’s fun.

All the right people can make all the difference in the world

This blog has picked up the support of some awesome people over the years. People who see your vision like you do are important and if you work hard enough they will eventually find you trust me…

Support others like you wish to be supported

This one is in red because it might be the most important pillar that holds up the Hall of Information and my entire ethos in life (or at least on here anyway). Commenting or liking another blogger’s post will most likely make their day and give just a little justification or satisfaction for their efforts. A few years ago I had the epiphany that basically sealed that ethos when I began to review Indie books. Pretty much as soon as that first review dropped the traffic to this site rocketed, which leads to the next thing…

Offer something that people need 

We’re using green because again this is important and possibly the code breaking formula in all success everywhere. If you can offer something that people need, they will grab it. Sales people use that tactic to fling whatever they are flinging and I used it in more of a supporting way by reaching out to the wider writing community and offering to read and review their work – I did this to support others like I wished to be supported and it resulted in connecting with so many awesome people, some I even consider my friend plus it led to an often overlooked factor in blogging…

Regular Content is King

Because I have so many indie books on my list and I am always reading (I need to read to get better at writing) there will forever be a constant stream of content (book reviews) being churned out by the Hall of Information. The internet moves quickly and if you don’t put stuff out regularly then you will get forgotten. Being consistent in blogging will eventually get results, trust me. This is also relevant advice to whatever you blog about not just books…

Diverse content is King also… 

Unless you’re a book reading machine, and trust me there are a few bloggers who are, you’re going to need a range of content that extends towards the main stream. Trust me when I say some of my most viewed posts are nothing to do with books or writing. This review for DDP Yoga gets reads nearly every week and this post about wrestling often gets looked at. Neither of them are my core content subjects but they draw in views from outside that bubble.

It takes time

No matter how good you are to begin with or what you offer to readers this whole deal takes time to build. I started at zero and spent years not really knowing why only 2 people were reading my latest post but eventually things grow if you keep going…

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Share your feelings

It’s okay to vent, it’s okay to complain, it’s okay to be honest and express your feelings in what ever fashion you like. This is your blog and your world first and foremost. I’ve shared many a grievance on here, one particular grievance about a 1 star review of The Teleporter led to a huge response from the writing community.

Look up to fellow bloggers

There are a stack of wonderful bloggers out there whom I look up to. Don’t be an island, reach out to them, connect and share ideas. Be there when they release new content even if you just drive by with a like for a post and read it later. This is a people thing, be part of it… some of those awesome bloggers you can find here.  The blogger who inspired me to do this started out in self publishing and has recently had one of her books optioned for a movie!

Enjoy it, embrace it and go for it

When I look back at those early days when I first put together the Hall of Information title on a background of dark red and an image of books on a shelf, I never imagined those books by other people would eventually be swapped out for my own.

The reviews and content I put out serves a purpose and people have recently used the word respect when they hold me in regard – this is worth more than probably anything else I could ever imagine as success.

That first post simply titled ‘Pilot’ led to where I stand today, pecking away at the keyboard, chasing the words, keeping things going, supporting others and hoping not just my work is a success but that others are too. Writing, reading and blogging is home to me no matter where I hang my hat.

We’ll get there someday and the Hall of Information continues forth into the world of words and beyond. I like that word, beyond, it makes this feel like it could lead anywhere, maybe it will…

To everyone who has ever followed, read and supported this blog, thank you. See ya in the next one! Rock and roll man! 

That self-help book I mentioned is available now. While you may have seen me tweeting like a mad man here it is. Click on the awesome cover for more information and an excerpt. 

Let me tell you a story…

This was going to be an Instagram post, but it deserves my best audience. Good things in this life are incredibly hard to find. Moments to be proud are too and even with everything that has unfolded this year from the depths of the unexpected, this milestone was always going to be celebrated. So let me tell you a story…  

alas

Ten years ago today I took a plunge into the unknown. Perhaps the biggest dive I have ever taken into the excitement of what could be. It was on the 21st of July 2010 that I first walked through the doors of the Iver Heath Drama Club a place that has always let me be whoever I want to be.

I’ve been to a lot of places, I’ve known a lot of different people. I’ve worked in different industries and socialised in many groups but I have never ever fit in anywhere like I have fit in at IHDC. This is the most important thing the club stands for; inclusion; something the world is always fighting for but something IHDC is ahead of the world with.

From being a performer which they always supported to writing their shows which they fostered and took on with care. To be a success in IHDC all you have to do is show up, embrace it and work hard – perhaps this formula can translate to success in all walks of life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t of ever had the confidence to realise my dream of writing stories and now after all these years, here we all are.

I don’t write shows for me, I write shows for them. And after all the time that’s seemingly flown by, and especially after what is currently going on in the world, good things like the Iver Heath Drama Club deserve celebrating.

Thank you IHDC, for 10 years of memories, for the shows, the audiences, the moments, the friends and family I now have. Hopefully soon we can all get back together and do what we do best, put on entertaining, fun and all inclusive shows for the community.

Here’s to many more decades! Rock and roll man!

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books With Unique Voices

If we don’t talk about books, then how is the world going to know they exist? 

In the past few years and even recently I’ve delved into some truly unique stories that deserve a little more than a review. And a little more than a review is simply talking about them. 

With that in mind let’s dive in and look at some books with unique voices…
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The Good Audit by C.P Aiden (cool pen name) tackles the subject matter of accounting in a funny but very accessible way where pretty much anyone can enjoy it. This book is unique because the delivery style intertwines with a sense of humor that captures every essence of the pressures, the laments and even the eating habits of those who work in accounts. Characters are simply named by their job title which is an original concept as well as a potential protective measure for any type of libel. You don’t need to know about auditing or accounts to enjoy this one!

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The Four Before Me by E.H Night is an 80’s slasher that brings a whole new dimension of intelligence to the genre. It’s unique because of that and over the years literature and cinema have churned out so many stories that follow the same slash, character makes a stupid decision, kill, repeat formula without any depth. This one breaks that mold with a twisting story of suspense and an array of realistic primary and secondary characters that make up the small town vibe where four women have previously gone missing, women who share similarities to the main character. By the end this book becomes more than a slasher trust me…

fated to mee you

Fated to Meet You by Despoina Kemeridou is a modern fairy tale that serves for some unique escapism much like the M.C ‘Nora’ who literally escapes to another world of Kings, Queens and Castles. It’s a quick read that brings a modern twist the the genre that might possibly be as old as time…

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Nightjar by Paul Jameson is truly unique for it’s writing style that reads much like a classic. It’s no easy feat to achieve that and keep it going for the entirety of a book which sits somewhere between fantasy and folklore. Set in a ‘Feudal Future’ two boys stray from the confines of home and embark on a unique journey and come face to face with Nightjar – just who or what that is, read the book and find out…

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American Blasphemer by John Gillen is unique literary fiction like you’ve never seen before and I say fiction but from this book you’ll get biographical vibes from the very beginning. You can probably guess what unfolds by the title and yes to some it might appear Blasphemic or even the anti bible, but to me it serves as a companion to life in the United states while everyone can relate to it. From sex and drugs to family and religion or even Bob Dylan this one is incredibly unique.

LJ and Rom

How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal by S.D. McKinley is the reason I put this list together and it’s not only unique but fun, sometimes random but always enjoyable. To quote my very recent review  ‘Main characters LJ and Rom decide that they are done with rally car racing and decide to make a pilgrimage of sorts across country along the open road to save their close friend. The action picks up quickly and doesn’t let off the gas near enough all the way through page turning chapters where our heroes come across a multitude of ‘out there’ experiences from trashing motel rooms rock and roll style, fixing their vehicle, high speed racing to even the supernatural and everything else in between...’

Is there a unique tale you want to share with the world? 

 

‘Breaking the Darke Crusader’s Code’: The making of a book that almost wasn’t to be…

Some of the best moments come from the most difficult of circumstances in this funny old thing we call life. In early 2017 when I began to embrace the idea of drafting a ‘second book’ I never expected that journey, laced with internal creative difficulty and even physical health obstacles, to end up producing a book which is now my most critically and statistically acclaimed.

Of course I am talking about ‘Darke Blood’ which on the surface appears to be a vampire story, but in truth there is a hell of a lot more going on underneath the surface of just blood sucking creatures of the night. This post is a deep dive into the making of that story, and yes there will be some element of light spoilering with the intent more to advertise and spotlight the qualities of a book’s success that still fills me still with baffling but swelling pride. I’ve never really spoken about the process that goes into writing a book and they sort of get forgotten after being released. But what I went through to write ‘DB’ should be remembered, because it did not come easy and hence the swelling pride… 

Rule one in all writing: always embrace the good things that comes from it, especially the one’s you don’t expect…

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Before the books that now make up my back list (I have a back list? even that baffles me sometimes…) there was a time where I exclusively wrote science fiction with a hope to query agents, get a book deal, get a movie deal and thank the academy for giving me  this here best original screenplay award. Let’s just say the experience of getting nothing more than a few good people’s attention, none of them rhymed with Spielberg was humbling and as a writer and person, I grew up and started again mostly from scratch.

It’s never too late to start again, or even start. Starting is the first step to anything worthwhile…just start okay! 

The feeling of dropping a project that saw zero success was liberating to say the least and even though I left those sci fi books behind they stand as a testament to how I learned to write. Post writing liberation came my first foray into the world of indie publishing with a book known as ‘Open Evening’ which had some ‘success’ but before even sending that manuscript to my editor, like always I was looking to what would come next.

With 6 months until ‘Open Evening’ would see the pen of an editor I decided to get into another story which eventually became ‘Darke Blood’. My divine wisdom told me after writing a creature feature chase story with heaps of action I needed to do vampires next along with a slower more mysterious and fleshed out pace. Like everything I write, it needed to have some differential concept to the last project and the whole vampire thing would also be a tribute to probably my all time favourite character driven show – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

What’s in a name?

Okay, so I’m doing vampires, that means the setting would need to be dark and shadowy, perhaps almost black like the night. This would tie in with the title and be both catchy and unique, something only someone searching for your work would find; and that’s a pro tip when coming to deciding title’s, make it stand out

There would be some kind of forest, one with trees where the leaves don’t fall and a town that’s small enough to realistically host vampires. In 2017 I was spending a lot of time in a place known as Iver Heath which is a neighbourhood surrounded by mostly trees and farmers fields. They have two country parks nearby one of them called ‘Black Park’ so in the beginning I just merged ‘Black’ and ‘Heath’ but it turns out Black Heath is an actual place – back to the drawing board but I was set on using ‘the Heath’ I just needed a word to put before it. Next came Dark, but as the history of the town began to spiderweb in my head, perhaps when it was established back in colonial times it would be spelled oldy worldy style and so ‘Darke Heath’ was born. Put the concept of vampires, blood and all that along side Darke, you have ‘Darke Blood’. Trust me this process sounded prettier in my head…

So we have a forest, it’s going to be shadowy and there’s a colonial history to the place. By the time I had reached this point, the Prologue had already been drafted. A page turning chase in the shadows where some not so happy campers are split up, they first find an old cemetery and then a house – the haunted house trope always, always has a place in my heart, it just does. At the very end of that sequence we are introduced to the perhaps slightly condescending main narrator. Open Evening had more of a pessimistic trope busting narration style, this one, straight up insulting, trust me those differences are important…

What’s in their names?

That narrator just happens to be named Blake Malone. The Blake I can’t recall settling on,  it came after I decided to use Malone which is tribute to the narrator ‘Edward Malone’ from Conan Doyle’s Lost World – a book I first read when I was 12 and then proceeded to get bitten by the literature bug. Blake Malone also shares a light Irish heritage like Edward as they both have a pale complexion and they both are recalling their account of an experience in going into the unknown.

“My name is Blake Malone, and I do hope you will join me on this journey as I relive each moment in an effort to remember what happened. I’ll try not to patronise you but there is no guarantees…”

The second billed character and creature of the night/ bad ass ‘Caitlyn Turner’ came next. Her inspiration came from the world of video games. One of Fallout 4’s popular and bad ass companion’s is an Irish lady known as ‘Cait’. I gave her a full name and a backstory of depth and history which spans back to those colonial days and is inspired by the many episodes of ‘Angel’ that see’s a younger version of the title character in the past. She has a history of love, deception and fighting along with links to witchcraft. Her story serves as the second part of the first act and by that point should hook most readers in.

“A woman’s heart can have secrets. A vampire’s hear can hold dark wonders and deep mystery…”

Another popular face in the lore of ‘Darke’ is the older gentleman known as ‘Angus Greene’ who is a pick up truck driving, helpful and kind country fella who’s family have been taken by the vampire threat in the Heath. His inspiration and name is tributed loosely to ‘Hershel’ from when it was popular TV show The Walking Dead. Although Angus is more of a fighter and perhaps a little more cynical. He becomes more and more of a leader in later books.

The Darke Crusader’s code

Blake Malone has arrived in Darke Heath for a ‘new start’ or so he says but after confiding in the reader only, he is actually in the Heath to investigate the findings of someone known only as the ‘Darke Crusader’ which is in fact an anonymous internet handle who has reported some weird things going on in the Heath before disappearing. This is the central motive as to why Blake has come to town but worryingly his recollection of anything before arriving is blank, and this works as the conflict our MC would overcome later on in the narrative. It also adds a unique psychological edge to the whole deal – so we’re already better than Twilight…

Much of the time during my writing process I will just throw open ended ideas into the mix, and originally what brought Blake to town was most likely going to be dealt with much later on. The Darke Crusader was originally in fact someone external from outside the character loop who would arrive and lift the dramatic lid later on, sort of like a murder mystery reveal. Unfortunately this concept didn’t really line up or work. Bearing in mind I was already 40,00 words into the book at this point and in April/May of 2017 I was suffering badly with sciatica – to the point where sitting, laying and standing hurt. Writing is still painful by the way… always.

The concept of this mysterious internet persona held everything together. After all it’s why Blake is in the town and why the story is happening. The magic word there is motive, which all stories must have, the why.

I just couldn’t find a way to link it all together to reveal this external character and break the Darke Crusader’s code and it started to piss me off.

The recycling bin beckoned…

Frustration loomed, and anger, lots of it. This was my second foray into writing an original story from scratch and I’m stuck. After an angry gym session (is that sweat or tears?) I seriously considered putting that many words into the recycling bin but then, inspiration hit me. Like always while in the car on the open road a solution appeared.

Never underestimate a good drive to clear the mind and find thoughts… sorry environment I need to think!

What if this Darke Crusader was actually already an existing character? What if Blake had no recollection of the past because it was removed in some way? Maybe he was already from Darke Heath in some capacity and then sent out by the evil forces to shut down this crusader. The whole plot began to turn back on itself and unfold into the series of twists and revelations that followed. I’ll admit I put Blake Malone through a Shutter Island level of mind melt hell. But it worked; just about… I was already going down the psychological route anyway so it lined up. There is also just a slice of the Shining in there too.

Big reveals turned into twisting revelations as the Darke Crusader’s code had been cracked in front of my own eyes and imagination. The characters figure out themselves as the story unfolds. Placing this character into an already introduced persona made for a justified twist that the vampiric powers were willing to go to in order to find out who this crusader was because after all they had control of Blake. He also found out where he had come from and it was much closer than he thought. Doing this aligned him with the forces to fight back and so the final act emerged out of such struggle.

Keeping it in the Heath…

Deciding to keep the Darke Crusader inside the confines of just the town made for the feeling of no escape. The world was just limited to that town between the trees. There is an alternative ending to ‘Back to the Future’ where instead of harnessing lightning from the clock tower in Hill Valley, they go to a nuclear power plant instead, out of town and away from where the story takes place. Comparing my stuff to that masterpiece is a little indulgent but keeping everything in the Hill Valley/ the Heath rounded the story perfectly.

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Overcoming it all to tell one heck of a tale…

The struggle I went through in both back pain related and story related issues may have made for the reason why Darke Blood stands out as probably my better books. The whole tying together in the penultimate act either turns people away or grips them more. It’s decisive and carries weight. And this is before the awesome editing and cover art work that tops off the whole deal. It didn’t come easy, and much like those difficult second albums, it felt like an uphill fight to tell a story that I desperately wanted to be different from Open Evening and so it was, but they are connected…

The Open Evening Connection…

In order for the past elements in Darke Blood to work (Cait’s story and the main antagonist), it made sense for the creatures seen in Open Evening to exist in the same universe. And so after all of that struggle and part of it was making the whole deal fit, I managed to tie it into a wider universe which is still growing today.

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Final witchy thoughts…

This deep dive is in fact just more of a shallow swim into the complex but satisfying tale that is Darke Blood: You’ve never known true darkness. There is a whole segment of the book that is probably best described as ‘Light Witchcraft’ which I haven’t really mentioned here but later on becomes ever so important. This is also galvanised by the Sisterhood theme that runs beside the second billed character of Caitlyn Turner who turned out to be way popular than I thought. Her journey continues in the next Darke coming this September.

Looking toward the wider ‘Darke Series’

In what is hopefully going to define my work as an indie author Darke Blood works as a stand alone but can also be delved deeper into a trilogy which will continue this September but the Open Evening side arc is very important to that. They are tied together and will culminate together.

Have you read Darke Blood? Not many have but those who left reviews, thank you. 

 

The stories that inspire us – Skyrim

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…

Buy The Elder Scrolls® V: Skyrim® from the Humble Store

I firmly believe that Skyrim may be the greatest video game ever made and stay with me here, even if you aren’t a gamer because there are very few video games that give players their own licence to shape their time in a world that is wholly interactive, beautifully constructed and most importantly immersive.

From the epic introductory music that leads into an ensemble of visual and audio beauty Skyrim follows the typical chosen one trope where you, the player are thrown in to a ‘Tolkienesque’ world of being a second coming who is able to face a returning ancient threat; dragons. How you walk down that path is entirely up to you, via magic, via combative brute strength or perhaps sneakily and stealthily that choice falls upon anyone who takes on this game making every journey unique and different – something all games stride to succeed in and maybe Skyrim does that the best and that is what sets it aside. No matter what action the player takes, the level system is counting, adding exp and shaping your character based on what it does in the world.

You can learn magic in detail, from conjuration to restoration but the real magic is all around. The end of 2011/start of 2012 was mostly a wonderful time in my life and perhaps that romanticizes the memories of when I picked up this game and took my first dive into this genre. Although I came late to the RPG genre at 22 I have certainly made up for it over the years with three Fallout games but for me it all started with Skyrim and I have decided to reignite this blog series because I have been playing the remastered version of the game on PS4 over the past few months and it reminded me of how beautiful this game truly is. Lockdown nights have been a breeze with Skyrim as a companion.

Skyrim Wallpapers 1920x1080 - Wallpaper Cave

Visuals of rolling hills covered in snow, tundras drenched in sunlight, mountains, sea and castle dominated cityscapes. There is no shortage of picturesque backdrops in this open world where anything can happen while the player chooses to do anything they like. Join one of the many factions from a secret sect of werewolves to a guild dedicated to thievery. Many a tomb await filled with the dreaded Draugr or it could even be an old castle filled with undesirable raiders to the ruins of an ancient civilization now populated with those pesky and tough Falmer. The game is a living and breathing work of art all of which can be further crafted by the player.

The actual gaming experience can be anything that player wants, you can pursue the main story line if you so desire or just go anywhere else the path leads you. Eventually destiny of an intricate and layered quest system will pull you in the right direction. What inspires me the most about Skyrim is the freedom for the game to let it be whatever the player wants it to be, the sheer scale of this production is on the grandest of scales and for that and to me it resides in video game greatness.

Can you name a story as accessible and immersive as the one of the Dragonborn? 

Weekly Ramble #69

From every shit-uation there are positives and good eventual outcomes. People have a lot more time now. The hustle and bustle of life’s busyness has slowed down and even I can feel people are taking their time to do things they didn’t before.

slales

These are the best sales I’ve ever had outside of Book promo

Book reviews are up. Book sales are up. And social media engagement is up. I’m even writing new stuff. I’ve always tried to justify my place in the arena with both books and a presence and it’s times of struggle like this that people look for reads and people who are carrying on in the face of adversity.

Writers and artists are needed even more so and while the social media socialite types who produce nothing are being starved out of attention, people are looking to genuine content creators and it gets no more genuine than a book or a blog.

We’ll look back on this time as one of invisible pressure and hardship. But take those away and you’ll find it was a period where we all had time to read that book, watch that show or paint that wall. 

All of a sudden this will be over and we’ll be back in the arms of friends, family and even co workers. We’ll forget what it truly means to be isolated and away from groups. We’re a herd species, until recently anyway.  The rat race will resume and it will all be forgotten. Humans have a fickle way of carrying on. Whether it comes from a vaccine or even medication, we’ll beat it, we’re too resilient not to I salute all of those carrying on in the face of this adversity – by carrying on I mean, writing a few words a day, speaking to friends over skype, cooking that meal, staying busy; we’ll get through, we always do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

500 Followers Special – Awesome bloggers who deserve recognition!

Okay, this actually choked me up a little but here goes…

If it wasn’t for the efforts and support of fellow bloggers, this Hall of Information Blog wouldn’t have seen anywhere near the amount of success it has had in the past few years.

Those past few years have been a journey and even through these incredibly difficult times somehow the Hall of Information is celebrating the 500 follower milestone!

I didn’t achieve the figures below on my own, people helped, some are bloggers whom I share this journey with and so this post is a dedication to those supporters! Whoever you are, from regular reader and liker to casual; my salute is aimed to you!

the numbers

My sole philosophy in life is to give as good as you get, so this post is dedicated to those who have helped this blog become what it is today.

I sincerely believe without these folks, things would be pretty shitty… so without anymore introduction let me share with you the people who deserve recognition for their blogging efforts and for their support of this blog!

Jaycee Lynch – Thinking Moon Blog

thinking moon

You can pretty much pin point the moment the Hall of information started actually getting views and engagement like it has never seen before. You can blame Jaycee for that and I mean that in the most sincere of senses. I don’t think my stuff would have got anywhere near the amount of exposure it has if it wasn’t for this awesome blogger who started following the Hall of information a while ago now – time flies huh…

JC

The Thinking Moon blog is a plethora of blogging greatness – it really is the benchmark of content and something every blogger needs in their life. The sheer amount of subjects Jaycee talks about is incredible; from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I have been a fan of since the age of 13) to philosophy, interviews, book reviews and sustainability (a very important and relevant subject in this day and age).

Last year she even nominated this very blog for two separate awards and has even reviewed my books the Teleporter and Darke Blood. Ultimately J.C has been there for this blog and so in return I do my best to be there for her efforts. She is not only a big time blogger but is also active across social media platforms such as the tweet machine, you tube and the gram… I urge you to connect with her via the links below! J.C’s journey is full of inspiration and colour; something which social media needs!

Twitter:  @JayC_Lynch      Instagram: @thinking_moon_blog  and   Youtube

Megan – A Geeky Gal 

geeky

Megan from A Geeky Gal is one of the most important bloggers I know. Her contribution to blogging and the sheer amount of subject content she covers seals the fact that Megan is a fully fledged blog-star!

geeky gal

I’m not exaggerating when I say she creates so much content and I use the word important because Megan also blogs about mental health and self care – these are subjects which in the world of geeky things and the wider world of social media that I regard as important and very much needed. Megan regularly completes various challenges and over last summer she did a 30 Day Geek out Challenge which not only shows how dedicated she is to blogging but also how similar our tastes are in so many different things!

Megan nominated the Hall of information for the sunshine blogger award last year; the third blogging award nomination and coming from such a prolific blogger it was a pretty big deal for me. I urge you to check out A Geeky Gal!

Twitter: @ageekygal_  Instagram: ageekygal

Feed The Crime

My next nod goes to most probably the busiest book blogger in all the land of WordPress because Blair of Feed the Crime is always reading and reviewing stuff!

Originally specialising in crime book reviews Blair has branched out to many other genres quite recently and in doing so she has helped get my books seen via some wonderful reviews of ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ , ‘Darke Blood’ , ‘Open Evening’ and ‘The Teleporter’. It seems Blair is a convert of my stuff as it’s pretty ‘out there’ and her views on my work are very much appreciated!

Anyone looking for book rec’s I highly advise you follow and check out Blair’s efforts!

Another awesome blogger who has helped with my book promo efforts is Mullen Crafts who has read and reviewed Open Evening and even took on a pre-released version of the Ghost Beside Me which was a great help! Not only does she review books but blogs about all things craft. I urge you to check out her site which is full of awesome craft tutorials, how to posts and book reviews!

mullen

Stoner on a Rollercoaster is another wonderful and unique blogger who isn’t afraid to express herself via many blogging subjects that range from mental health, rambles of the various and recently the trials of publishing (and I know that pain). Not only does she bring words to masses of followers but has also supported and liked many of the entries the blog has, so for that the Hall of information is thankful!

I recently reviewed her awesome and emotional poetry collection which you can read here.

The truth is there are 500 people who made this post possible and it would be difficult to credit everyone as some are just starting their following but there are still some awesome bloggers who deserve an Honorable mention and more importantly your follow! Check out the awesome people mentioned below! Give them a follow and read their stuff. Many of them have liked and connected with this blog for some time with their fantastic support, thanks to all! Some of them even created some go-to content which has inspired this blog!

Not all followers are bloggers, and I appreciate every single follow, even those who don’t blog – from readers, work colleagues, friends and family to everyone else – Thank you! 

And while I finish with these mentions the Hall of information will be looking to what’s next?

Now that the following is over 500 very soon I shall be reaching out to people via social media to begin getting to know them a bit better with Hall of Information Interviews! Watch this space and thank you for joining me…

Honorable Mentions

bookshelfbattle

DirtySciFiBuddha

Jyn

Christina Engela

etjwrites

sunilmdabral

debjani6ghosh

authorirene

michaeljordahl

Kurt Brindley

Sheree

hexandale

Matt Streuli 

Renard Moreau

The Eclectic Contrarian

kristinagallo

500TH FOLLOWER 

Shaunak

Rock and Roll man. Keep on blogging in the free world….

Weekly Ramble #67

Even in these times of pandemic weighing on my shoulders I’m still writing and reading. Carrying on in the face of adversity is a survival instinct and I’m holding in there, I hope you are too!

Like me you probably can’t help but look at the news for the twelfth time in a day but that’s how we are wired in this age of information. Watching the news all the time will have a bad effect eventually, stay away for a while. Find your escape through means of what you would normally do – in a safe way. Its Easter so theres chocolate and food. Check in with family and friends, use the social media channels, they are still plugged in and aren’t going anywhere.

We as a species have an incredible way of facing the odds with a smile and I’m trying. Truth is I’m doing okay and this covid thing has had a unique effect of my literary stance. Books, my books are selling. Paperbacks are actually selling. These really are unprecedented times and now I am feeling the satisfaction for having a form of art to offer. Others are taking on my work which is there for anyone. Writing will last longer than any who scribes it no matter the times. That gives me hope even in ‘normal’ times my writing will have a place for somebody.

Editing and drafting new stuff takes up some of my time, even with this new pressure of what is happening showing no signs of letting up. I’m not spending hours working but I’m slowly and surely making gradual progress. A page a day, one step at a time and things might be okay…

 

My debut novel Open Evening is free this coming Wednesday!