The Weekly Ramble #2

I want to talk about cliché, a word every blogger and writer clashes with every time they put finger to key board, and in this place it’s okay to talk about it…

Is it cliché to come across as artsy and reflective when talking about being a writer? As much as I like the image of wearing a dark roller neck jumper, cradling a whisky tumbler, staring through thick rimmed glasses and reclining in a popular chat show sofa; that image totally isn’t me.

I find myself dancing around the inevitable question when somebody tells me they’ve read my work, it’s almost as if they are waiting for me to ask ‘what did you think?’. Instead I’ll weave around their words and seem disinterested, yet another typical behavior artists have towards their work.

But cliché seems to evolve around everything successful in story telling today, you see it in similar looking book covers, titles and everyone has to have at least two reviews on that cover. As much as we strife to stay away from cliché, we need it for our stories to thrive.

In my writing I like to suggest something typical is about to happen or a certain person has traits that are seemingly familiar only for the reader to discover there is something much deeper within and that is the inner message of all my work. I call back to my latest novel The Teleporter, and the main character Kurt Wiseman. On the surface of this story the whole deal reeks of comic book style cliché with a dusting of comedy, something I meticulously toiled over and decided would probably sell the book, something now I was very wrong about. I wanted people to come for the super hero bit, but stay for what the story is really about (read it and you will find out). In essence I failed to capture the right level of cliché in a super hero comedy, a niche which would seem failure proof.

Unfortunately cliché moments in the book are what sometimes define them, readers want to see the good versus evil battle, the damsel in distress get rescued, the rugged semi handsome guy put in the save, an older paternal/maternal type perhaps die on their valiant sword for their efforts, the guy gets the girl, the nerd is actually a warrior, the monsters came from space, the bad guy is bad for a reason, the dead parents… the list ultimately goes on.

What if all of the above is justification to say there are no more original stories?

Something which I half agree with, but what if you can get over that statement by being different, perhaps delivering the story in a different way that distracts the reader enough not to think this was the same old stuff. If can call back to another one of my works; Open Evening, the not so typical high school horror with so much more waiting underneath the surface. Yes you’ve got the typicality of such a story, but the way it is delivered, the struggle, the uncertainty, the ultimate resolve all have a different and a cliché busting way of providing the story which is totally different to those in it’s genre. Just read the reviews, not one bad word goes against the actual story.

If I’m going to plug my books it is not complete without Darke Blood; a not so ‘vampirey’ type vampire story… again the whole deal begins with your typical horror affair but what comes out the other end is a bunch of things done before, but not like they have been done in Darke Blood.

All of my work is example enough to say cliché can be embraced and avoided. There are ways as writers and bloggers that we can deliver our products and words differently. Then again if we are all going to be different, then aren’t we actually the same? I guess that’s cliché to say…

A guide to book promotion

The thing about life and doing stuff means that sometimes you gain experience. And to be more specific, when it comes to writing books (I currently have 6 published with 3000 in the pipeline) I have learned all sorts of crazy, funny and sometimes important things. I’ve dabbled many times in sharing my experiences all things publishing and this post is indeed another branch from my resources section.

This is my guide to book promotion…

First of all the results I got from my various endeavours is subjective and dependent on a lot of things. This includes: the type of book you are promoting, the state of the market, timing, pricing, quality of product and how it looks, how many reviews, yada yada yada.

A lot of things have to align pretty well for any book to sell, even though there are snake like marketing tactics to trick people into buying things. You wont find any here, just honest experiences, ideas and tactics.

STEP 1 

Firstly you have to decide what you want. For me personally and my two books, I wanted people to know they existed, quite simply. Thousands of sales would be great but I realistically want to shift enough books just to know they are being read. A majority of 2017 I spent trying to figure out the best way to promote both of my books published at the time and truthfully my sales were god awful. (Basically near to zero).

I went from near enough nothing to a maximum of 600 plus sales in 1 day! Hell we even hit number 1 in the occult charts at one point. And there’s no proven secret, you just need to do your homework and that’s the next step.

STEP 2 – RESEARCH 

Now where did I do my homework? Goodreads!

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There are hundreds of discussion boards/groups amongst the grand depths of goodreads full of mostly up to date and historic information. One particular group I joined; ‘Support for Indie Authors’ is packed to the rafters with stuff. And for the first time in my writing life, I knew I wasn’t alone.

This group is full of not only valuable tutorials but it is run by people who have been there just like you, their books haven’t sold either and they discuss it, vent and share. This is the wonderful thing about the modern age we live.

There is a section dedicated to book promotion, and so I got to work deciding how I would go about promoting my books. I wanted people to know my product was there so how would I do that?

I was willing to part ways with some money, not a lot mind, say around £50. How would I know my money was being put to use, I consulted the discussion boards where people tell you results and now here I am.

STEP 3- DECIDE 

I put together a short list of promo service providers. Websites and companies who specialize in promoting books via websites and mailing lists. Some of them promised over 10,000 eyes would look over their newsletters alone. I made contact with ones who looked genuine; many of them have a process such as a form making it all the more easier. I will list my results further down.

STEP 4 – IMPLEMENT 

I timed my booked promotions with a view to eventually give the e-book of Open Evening away for free. I enrolled in KDP select for both books and set up dates for them to be free (5 days in a row). (I only intended Open Evening to be free but Darke Blood was also for a time). Everything was organised and so I waited for the promo dates to roll by.

STEP 5 – TRACK SALES AND RESULTS

Book sales began to trickle in. And so here are the results and who I used:

Before books were free: 

Book Doggy – Cost $10 – Book sales – 21 (not bad huh?)

Bargain Booksy – Cost $43 – Book sales – 21 (somewhat pricey compared to above..)

Fiverr – Cost $5 – Book sales – 3 (Probably not worth it again, but lesson learned)

The 5 days my e-books were free:

Bookwerm – Cost $10 – Book sales – 10

And then things went a little crazy, by day 2 I had sold 83 books and then that number kept growing until my final day of being free. Open Evening was downloaded 629 times. We hit number 1 and many post downloads came in after! oe 1

So there it is, Open Evening officially arrived and I was only just touching the surface in terms of promotions. But this is the beginning.

The good thing about kindle is that you can also track pages read, and so here are my results…

people are reading

As you can see people are reading my book. Which is what I wanted from this, just to let people know it exists. When it comes to promotion of books, the job is never done. And there is always someone who has been in your situation.

Factors for Sucess

There are a host of reasons why a book promo goes well, from how many book reviews you have to the quality resources used. If you have a pro looking cover and an enticing blurb you are halfway there. Put that together with a nice book banner and tweet about it and kablamo you’ll get some attention. It’s a case of combining methods to get the right results. You can check out my other promo posts in the resources section for more ideas and inspiration.

Cemetery House Release Date confirmed

Yep, you read that title right. CEMETERY HOUSE, the sequel to Open Evening has an official release date! There’s a teaster trailer currently making the rounds of the Facebooks so if you see it, remember to give an indie author a hand by liking, sharing and commenting…. 

Seeing as I haven’t blogged in quite a while here’s a rundown of all the recent news from the universe of Lee Hall, procrastination extraordinaire and sometimes word smith…

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Click on me to view the trailer, you know you want to…

September Anniversary Freebie Bonanza!

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Yeah!

A few weeks back I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of becoming a published author via the arrival of Open Evening. For a few days the E-book of both Open Evening and Darke Blood were available for free (I only intended the first book to be free, so a cock up on my behalf). But either way the reaction was massive, and already I have received new reviews from new readers. And I have to say the numbers of downloads were record breaking for me. A new personal best came on the 23rd of last month with over 600 e-books being downloaded. Of course if you were watching, Open Evening shot up the Occult charts on amazon all the way to Number 1! Awesome right?

Drafting finishes for the Teleporter!

My next book will be a novella/shorter story called the Teleporter, and it is predominantly a super hero comedy with elements that break the fourth wall and has some politically loaded messages. Last month I managed to finish the first draft and will hopefully be looking at a release in the fist half of 2018. You can like the Teleporter’s page right here. 

Editing begins on CHc house

Seeing as I have already decided upon a release date for Cemetery House you can probably guess editing is going spectacularly well. The story is shaping up and will be somewhat of a departure from the first one as much as a continuation. Of course I plan on developing characters and giving answers to the readers along with linking this all in with the Darke Blood universe in which a crossover will follow. If you liked the first one, you will love this one, trust me.

 

All I can really say now is thank you for the continued support, reviews, likes and shares. This whole indie author thing only works if awesome people like you who use their right and left turn indicators help me!! 

 

 

Next Book Release Date Confirmed…

Yes you read the title of this post correctly! I officially have a release date for my next book Darke Blood.

Things are getting pretty busy around stately Hall manor right about now and most of my efforts are now pointing towards the official release date of Darke Blood which is….

Thursday May 25th

Of course this hasn’t been a journey of solitude and again I have a wonderful book team; both Nicky Fitzmaurice of Satin Publishing and Design For Writers will be reprising their roles in helping me bring an awesome book to you.

Another huge member of my book team is you, my valued reader whom I do this for. Open Evening was a huge learning curve and somewhat a success, none of what I have achieved in writing would be possible without my readers. Thank you all for the support, likes and follows. Together we are a successful unit of independent publishing.

There were many times throughout the drafting of Darke Blood where I thought it wouldn’t make it as a book. Truth is this one was hard, really really hard. But I got through, mainly due to the support of my wonderful readers and people of Facebook and twitter. So here I stand just under a month away from another book release.

I have just put together a short trailer for the book which can be seen via my Facebook page, something which I didn’t do last year, even though I probably should of. My marketing strategy for this one will indeed be more detailed with giveaways planned and of course another book selling selfie movement which I will be forever thankful for.

So what’s Darke Blood about you ask? And is it a sequel to Open Evening?

My short answer to the sequel question is no, sort of. This is a standalone story set in the same universe as Open Evening. If you read either when they are both available you will see they are linked with the view of an eventual crossover of stories. Darke Blood explores the occult and witchcraft along with one of my all time favorite things, Vampires, which seem to never go out of fashion. This is my own take on the above and is a little different.

So what’s it about, well here’s the blurb….

‘There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness of those trees.’

Blake Malone is in search of a new start, he arrives in the remote forest town of Darke Heath. The memory of his past oddly becomes a blur as he discovers this place isn’t what it seems.

Malone shares a romantic encounter with someone who reveals herself to be a ‘creature of the night’ and he learns of her story which intertwines with the history of the ‘Heath’. Together they must face the evil forces of vampirism and witchcraft that lay in the Darke forest.

But just who is Blake Malone? That’s something even he must fight to discover. Because ‘you’ve never known true darkness…’

 

Darke Blood arrives on the 25th of May in both paperback and e-book formats!!!

 

Beauty and the Beast: Review

It seems to be movie season yet again or shall I say movies that I want to see are coming out thick and fast. This past weekend I had the pleasure of watching the live action ‘remake’ or ‘reboot’ of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…

Let me say first of all, the two words ‘remake’ and ‘reboot’ don’t really fall into my thoughts of what this film was. In fact I was very impressed and don’t have much at all to really criticize.

I think it’s very bold of Disney to try and reinvent and re imagine their previously successful tales especially as it hasn’t really been that long since the animation came out. As a child I saw both the animation and a stage production on a school trip which always left a lasting memory and fondness for this tale older than time.

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The film verdict

It gets going straight away with the very familiar telling of how the beast came to be. This time though we get a more detailed version instead of just a brief skip over. Life before being a beast is shown and depicted effectively with some impressive looking sets, costume and cinematography. I did struggle to tell the difference throughout the film at what was clever computer camera stuff and real stuff.

Then of course the movie flashes forward to the present and we are treated with the famous opening number from the animation. Now don’t let the homage to the original animation put you off if you haven’t seen it, this doesn’t really matter. This opening number impressed me no end and it was an effective way of introducing main characters and minor characters who were all equally impressive. In and out of song we went with Emma Watson proving herself not only to be the perfect fit for Belle but to also have an impressive singing voice.

I think for the first time she actually stood out in a film and I know she had a massively successful tenure in the Harry Potter films, I will boldly say she fitted better into the role of Belle than she would ever as Hermione Granger ; simply because she could express herself more into what her character meant. Bare with me here but in Harry Potter she spends most of the time reigning in Harry and Ron with the casual viewer developing a somewhat toleration for her being there. However with Beauty and the Beast I think we actually see Emma Watson for the first time and you don’t have to be ultra glamorous to be a Disney standard princess and this is the wonder of live action, these are real people and it feels more real.

Again I must say how well the cinematography was throughout along with the sets and costume. Disney weren’t messing around with this one and meant business. The full cast was decorated and a full ensemble of Hollywood’s then, now and future.

The main ‘baddie’ type character came via the flash arrogant Gaston who was wonderfully brought to life by Luke Evans. He was joined by Josh Gad who played by the equally as funny and different LeFou. Belle’s father came to life by the veteran actor Kevin Kline who fit into that role perfectly. Lower down the pecking order of major to minor characters you had Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Ewan Mcgregor (Lumiere, who I give full credit to as I didn’t know that was him especially with the french accent), Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts) and Stanley Tucci ( Cadenza).

Now for what was mostly a great film there is one minor or major flaw that bugged me ever so slightly. The Beast throughout was mainly computer generated from what I can gather. Now he was voiced well and I believed his character throughout but there were just some moments where the animation of him seemed a tad clunky, this was the only real thing I had which could be classed as a problem but everything else was, well let’s say awesome. Dan Stevens did great as the Beast but the computer effects just let it down a tad.

There was action, tension and detail where there previously wasn’t in the past version. Emma Watson has officially arrived as an actress who should no longer just be known for Harry Potter and Disney have taken a well calculated risk which has indeed paid off. This film has something for everyone, as long as you like the occasional song and well choreographed dancing number. Everything that Disney are known for being good at is in this film.

My final rating for this film is 4 Roses out of 5!

 

Introducing my new book!

Without anymore introduction I give you my newest venture. Firstly you are reading an account of the narrator. Then below is a slight blurby type preview, just writing this has got me all kinds of excited. it has taken many years for me to pluck up any courage to begin writing this project. Hope you like how it sounds.

“Most of the time you don’t get to choose where you are placed in the social eco system that is high school. For me I spend most days with my head down and even that’s a struggle. We all know being a teenager is hard, but when you’re thrown together with a thousand plus kids. All going through the same stuff but at different stages, consider that hell. I guess people deal with it in different ways.

Not that I’m saying my story is any different up until that point. But that’s where it gets interesting. The real horror in my story isn’t the struggle to fit in or having to endure the crap that goes with being a high school student. What if the horror of high school was something completely unexpected?

You see that’s where my story really differs. Yeah we have all seen the high school horror or slasher. It’s been done so many times the whole genre is just cliché. We all know the rules. But my story changes that. From a distance you will see the usual signs that lead to the ordinary ‘popcorn thriller’

This is all because I account these events being very much aware of the genre.”

 

Luke Harper has a vision in the form of a dream. Or is it a nightmare? The lights go out and he got the girl but then things go south pretty fast. The school he goes to is preparing to open its doors for their annual open evening.

A mysterious man arrives in town. The local sheriff department want to speak to him.

Teachers acting strange. Something in this whole town is really off.

The lights then go out.

“If I can see you, they can see you.”

Luke and an unlikely team must fight for their lives as they try to survive.

 

Open Evening

 

 

Coming soon.