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

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 over 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, 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’s 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 it’s 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 2 people read my latest post but eventually things grow if you keep going…

the stats

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. It’s 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is genre variable in storytelling?

We all know that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. They are a constant much like all of us have a brain, a heart and an imagination, mostly. It is my belief that a story teller can turn their hand to any genre, the work itself doesn’t change physically, just the subject. 

Many will argue that genre is more of a constant in their story telling efforts and I applaud that. They’ve found a home, a comfort and place to hone their ability, while others like to move around more, they prefer to drift from place to place. People find stability and home in different places, and stability is probably the most underrated thing artists need to work – some level of calm in all this chaos.

To paraphrase Stanley Kubrick, he said that all movies need two or three ‘big moments’ that make the jaws of the audience drop. I’m talking twists, turns, revelations; all of the good stuff that makes moments in cinema and story.

I tend to aim for these moments when linking my story together although you can only really have a few of these per story. The shock factor is only good for a couple of times max. The audience are human after all. It’s much like yelling an expletive at someone over and over again, eventually the recipient is numbed to it and you’re better off complimenting them. When this type of moment unfolds in a story, things are never normally the same from then on. Examples come from my own work ‘Darke Blood’ which has a sequence of big reveals later on. It’s a make or break situation sometimes and the audience do not like their intelligence insulted but more their ego slightly massaged.

Writers can factor these moments in whatever genre your story is. Again we go back to the beginning, the middle and the end. From Aliens invading to the YA love triangle, as long as you have the constants and the ‘moments’ it is my belief any story teller can grasp any type of genre. 

Can you turn your hand to any genre? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Writing Inspiration #2

Did somebody say Friday? We made it folks, even though the meaning of days have kind of faded – I’ve been working 2 shifts every six days which has been fu**ing fantastic but still the weekend is nigh… so let us celebrate with some mostly meme related inspiration…

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Truly wise words…

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Truly wiser words….

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When the crap I’m writing is literally propped up by the crap I’ve written…

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It’s never too late.

Never

Too

Late

FB_IMG_1594277838835shameless promo….

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And finally…

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Have a good weekend folks. See ya in the next one!

Weekly Ramble #76

Those two words. The ones every writer aims for, but many never get to. Truth is, they don’t come along that often for me. Even though the back list will say otherwise, all good things in this world worth having, take time and work. 

It does just start by putting one word in front of the next in succession. All stories are just a series of words put together in an orderly fashion physically but within that order is where you’ll find the story and our vessel is the imagination.

Reaching the summit of a story is both empowering and sombre. It’s a goodbye after all, and living with the characters who have completed their journeys and arcs makes everything seem quiet for a while or even empty when they are done. I guess the same can be said for life also, and relationships or even the times. They end and new ones spring up eventually.

I’m constantly driven by what’s next on the horizon, what I’ve done in the present isn’t enough, I could tell you the next five projects I plan on trudging to next. This writing deal has never been a sprint, but an endless marathon. I’m too busy for it to reach the end… 

 

Weekly Ramble #75

I’m approaching the finish of my current WIP. Ten to fifteen thousand words remain for a trilogy and wider pentalogy that has defined my indie author efforts. This time around there is no urgent rush to finish, I have taken the slower approach, a gradual effort in taking in every sense that I wish the reader to experience. It’ll be done when it’s done (in a months time worst case…)

Marketing and sales is still a constant struggle. Whether or not the whole covid thing weighs on that, it’s still difficult keeping these books afloat in the deep waters of so many other writers trying to do the same. Sales are few and far between albeit better than last year and the year before. I’m in need of a new tactic to move books.

My efforts will soon move to the next release. ‘Darke Awakening’ a cross over that ties Open Evening, Darke Blood and Cemetery House together – the Order of the Following series and that pentalogy I talked about. At the moment I’m either reading, running or writing. It could be worse I suppose…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Books I’ve read this year, so far…

Whoa we’re halfway there… but I suppose with all that’s going on, living on a prayer is out the window… but books aren’t and no matter what shit storm is going down out that window, the Hall of information vowed to carry on and carry on is what we have done!

Now that we are halfway through 2020, I am also half way through my TBR list and so here’s a breakdown of some of my best reads so far…

 

‘Dead End’ (Clown Conspiracy Book 1): A Short Thriller’ by Mallory Kelly

 

dead end

Short books don’t get nearly enough credit especially when they do everything a longer book can. This series known as the ‘Clown Conspiracy’ is like a bunch X-files episodes that all carry the same chilling clown type theme but branch out in story with individual arcs in each addition. From this first one I was hooked and went back to the series over the past six months. Give short reads a chance! Here’s my review from January

 

‘Nocturnal Farm’ by Villimey Mist

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Vampire stories are still very relevant today, even more so when they break the usual mould and take a path less travelled like Nocturnal Farm which is the sequel to Nocturnal Blood. Book one was a chase style story that introduced the universe while this one represented more of a rescue effort while uncovering more of the vampire world already introduced. The MC is a sufferer of OCD and anxiety, but it’s not glorified or exploited, it’s highlighted in a brave and original way.  The Nocturnal series is definitely the one to watch right now as more sequels are planned! My full review is here. 

Break Them All!!: A Modern Era Awakening! by DRTao

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The Hall of Information proudly takes on books from all corners of genre. Fiction or non-fiction we’re happy to read them and this unique self help book can best be described as ‘A unique mind opening insight into breaking the shells that govern our existence…’ and that’s taken straight from my review.

Break them all can be picked up by anyone looking for a little more insight into their own mind. It’s written in that accessible way and like I said in my review It’s intelligent but easy to take in and highlights how to see things differently and perhaps not the way we usually see them.’

Nightjar by Paul Jameson

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Every now and then a true literary gem comes along and this one took me by complete surprise. So much so I had to drop mostly everything and just read it cover to cover. Nightjar can best be described as something between folklore and fantasy while being written in a classic literary style. It’s a fresh story with an oldie style and that will take you back and it’s a combination that makes this one a potential read of the year! Trust me, check it out, my review is here…

Swinging Sanity by N.F. Mirza

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And now some poetry because every reader’s list should have some on and mine is no different. ‘Swinging Sanity’ is a deep and sensory collection of poetry, by that I mean it’s  an emotion fuelled account full of feelings that covers a range of subjects. ‘From self harm, depression, anxiety, loneliness, love, individual suffering and pain to everything else that centres around our sanity, you’ll see it represented here without any reservations and with honesty – something the world needs to talk about more…’  Check out my full review here…

The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle by Donald Lee

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The Hall of Information was approached directly by Donald Lee who introduced his work and it didn’t take much to convince me to check it out. This collection of scenarios serve as parables related to the teaching of music that reflects on lessons learned. The subject matter ranges from time management, knowledge, belief, having fun, performing, forgiveness, failure and so much more (50 in total). This is a book that’ll make you think and hopefully motivate you to be better in the same sense. My full review is here…

Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman

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I cannot stress how good short books can be when they are good and Memories of Mars is one that caught me off guard yet again. Part science fiction and part literary ficton, this brand of ‘Fringe fiction’ faces the age old question about our origins and that of the red planet’s. To quote my reviewColin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original…’

And so that wraps up my ‘best books of 2020 so far’ but there are a stack of great reads I did not mention as I am saving them for the yearly review. Thanks for stopping by!

Let’s talk about… writing – The First Draft…

A new blog series emerges, out of the unknown void of creativity where I sometimes have ideas…

Let’s talk about writing. You’re probably not going far and neither am I.

So while I’m here and you are (hopefully) let’s use this time to reflect on writing, after all it’s what most of us blogger types do.

Personally there is no full proof blue print to teach someone to write. You have to find that within yourself but I can sure as hell talk about it and hopefully pass on some ‘wisdom’ about the craft. If you tuned in to Twitter recently you may have seen my recent thread that 4 people probably read all about that first draft.

15 Websites And Apps For Creative, Fiction, and Short Story ...

It’s easier and relatable to think of writing in a way that everyone can. So for this post, we are going to use the analogy of cooking to represent writing that first draft…

Drafting a book 101 – The Omelette Analogy

 Egg sales have soared to a 30-year high  — smashing the 6.5billion barrier

So, you’re hungry and it’s approaching lunchtime. You have a hankering for an omelette…

* Translation – you have an idea and want to write a book. 

For a while you’ve been thinking about what you want to put into this omelette and you have some ideas. Do you have the ingredients? Do you have long enough in your lunch break to pull it off? Is there is decent frying pan in the kitchen. Do you even have a kitchen?

* Translation – you have some story ideas that could link together to make an entire book, and you’re set on a genre. Do you have enough ideas to run the course of a book? Do you have the time in your schedule to dedicate to writing. This will need to be a regular time nearly everyday. Do you have a laptop or a working computer? Do you have a dedicated writing space – I wrote on my bed for 4 years, ask my back about it… 

You’ve got several eggs and various other ingredients (ideas) some you know work and others that don’t but you figure ‘what the hell, this art and I am an artiste’. You grab the frying pan (laptop or notepad), make some time and start cracking eggs. You set the heat to medium and begin to mix..

*Translation – you’ve answered most of the questions above and dive in! 

Even though you’ve never cooked an omelette of this kind in full, you are getting a feel for the process and are learning by doing. This is probably the way I found my chef’s voice (writing voice) by spending hours upon hours of cooking (typing).  

*Translation – you’ve probably dabbled in some kind of writing before. A short story here or essay there… 

You then omit some ingredients (story ideas) because there are too many things going on at once hence disrupting the overall flow of things (the story) and so now you pour the mix into the pan. Of course you haven’t greased the pan (know what you’re really doing yet) but go with it and set the heat lower..

*Translation – although things might not have fully formed, you see the potential in your own work – its important to encourage yourself in the early stages because this is solitary effort. Nobody is on the sidelines cheering you on, nobody probably knows or ever will appreciate the time you put in to get better and make a story better…

Things start to shape up pretty well and you grab a spatula to shape the omelette into what omelette’s look like (you’ve read books, lots of them and know what they look like…) although at this point you should be concentrating more on the eggs (story) really being cooked… (you may even go back a few pages and do some editing) 

You move to flip the omelette although it’s stuck to the bottom of the pan but you persevere and manage to flip the thing although it breaks up and is partially burnt. Basically one hot mess…

They feel that it is acceptable to serve a burnt omelette for ...

bon appetite, this isn’t mine….

* Translation – you realise writing is hard, this is where most give up but you persevered no matter how ugly it looks and somehow you’ve dedicated the time to completing the first draft…

You take a bite and although you probably wouldn’t serve this up to anyone else, you like it, and you can see some potential. But a first draft is many things, telling yourself the story, the foundations or even the skeleton of a dream. 

For those who persevere with their dream they know things aren’t fully ‘right’ so they continue to go back and change a few things such as the heat level of the pan, what gets used to grease it, the quality of eggs and ingredients. Some of these can be worked on, but only the cook who wants to cook the omelette can do it on their own accord by carving their own path… 

And so I hope you are still with us and that analogy didn’t quite clog up the brain. Drafting a book is just the first step and I hope you can see what I did in comparing it with cooking. This is just like making an omelette and much like you need the tools to execute in the making, you’ll need the same for writing.

Thanks for reading…

Does your writing process compare to something relatable like cooking? 

 

Weekly Ramble #71

Everything feels boring at the moment. Social media has gone stale and seems to be the same broken record playing over and over again. As an introvert I’ve never had a problem with being confined to just my own thoughts but when you confine everyone else at the same time, there’s the problem. Maybe because the whole flock is bored too it’s started some vacuum of mundane repetitiveness.

Twitter for me right now has hit rock bottom in my opinion, my following and those I follow are saturated by the writing community which is overall good but I need to branch out. I’ve muted so many writing community hashtags to try and avoid the monotonous repeat of every writers lift or follow train. How can a room full of millionaires appear to be individually rich when their numbers are all the same, everyday?

I turned off the Prime Minister’s brief last night and substituted it for a few hours in Skyrim. My opinion of the authority dwindles as we try to navigate these pain in the ass times which need to fuck off. This isn’t some depressive slump or episode, I’m fine, trust me, but it’s like what someone once said to me;

‘It will always be them and never you…’ 

Wise words…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #66

Solitude is difficult. Even as an introvert myself human interaction with strangers plays a part in my my life. Just seeing other people gives comfort that none of us are alone in this. For a world that is so well connected there’s a deep sense of loneliness in all of this and some are going to struggle. Those who live alone especially so. 

But even if the most dire of situations you’ll find opportunity. There is only one agreement about this rather mystery illness that’s sweeping the world; it’s contagious. What can you do to fight a contagious disease; stay healthy. Use the time given or lent to you for exercise, catching up on sleep and for cooking good healthy food. All three of these register as self care in my eyes and in times where you cannot physically socialise to feel better, find other ways.

This distancing deal might be around for a while to come. Standing in two meter lines at checkouts and only going out every ten days, my grandparents had it worse and I’m not comparing because I know the impact this is all having. The economy is going to fall to shit, jobs are going to get lost but if you have your health, your body will look after you throughout whatever tough times lay ahead trust me.

The world needs you to take care of yourself so do it by any means necessary. 

 

Weekly Ramble #65

It gives me a sense of hope that even in these times people are buying my books. Not that the sales or royalties matter, let alone do they even contribute to my salary but the thought that someone has been interested enough in the blurb or cover art to give an essence of my soul and imagination a try. 

Hope can give a person enough to know that maybe they are on the right path no matter how uncertain all of our near futures are, some things will shine through this dark time, like sunshine on a rainy day, feeling that heat just feels better when it’s been cold for so long. People who continue to blog and read this blogging effort I must thank you from the bottom of my heart. We must keep the spirit of what we were alive enough so we don’t lose what we stood for. 

I’m trying, like always to create stuff that will at least take one person away for a while and most of my reduced audience seem to appreciate that while those who appear not to be tuning in are distracted elsewhere – this is a difficult time I know and I hope all of you are holding up.

I’ve started a diary that I hope will capture everything that’s going on right now, from my personal life all the way to current events. This is a fascinating historical time and without a diary to convey the essence of in the moment emotion, I couldn’t possibly relay this in years to come. It’s also a way of coping and a self care practice of reflection. Like stories, once I had laid them to rest on paper they no longer need to reside in my head. This coping strategy is working at the moment.

My plan like I said before is to have a business as usual front to all of this. There is no reason not to carry on especially with all the closures and postponements going on around the world, the Hall of Information hopes to carry on throughout.

Good vibes and health to you all!