Lots of things were happening in January, so I didn't get as much done last month. Not even reading! So, forget about writing. But fortunately, I still stumbled on good stories -here are my recommendations this month.
What I'm watching
Stephen King - he knows how to tell horror stories. It isn't all ghosts, ghouls and gruesome things; sometimes ordinary things are scarier. King's novels don't always gel with me - he tends to be too long-winded for me -and I felt that in the last few years he has lost his mojo somewhat. But somehow, his movie adaptations are always top notch.
The recent It movie impressed me. And now, Gerald's Game and 1922 (both available on Netflix). They're easily the best adaptations of King's stories I've seen in a while.
1922 was especially riveting - it's the story of how a man's determination to hold on to his land ends up dooming his entire family. It has the slow, riveting, tense build-up that is trademark King. A heavy sense of doom permeates the movie. Love it.
Gerald's Game is more macabre. A couple decides to have a romantic getaway in a secluded part of the country. Husband decides to tie her up for some kinky games. And, unfortunately, he dies on her, leaving her chained to the bed. But Gerald's Game is more than a "survival tale". It's about a woman coming face to face with horror - not just of her present situation, but of a memory she had long buried.
What I'm learning
Content Strategy is a field I've long been fascinated with. It's a relatively new field, and many Malaysian companies don't even realise they have a need for it, let alone what content strategists do.
Basically, content strategists are the folks that help an organisation craft a strategy to give customers the right information they need at the right time. Journalists and editors have been doing this since forever. But now, corporations are becoming publishers of content themselves and most don't have content strategists doing this. This duty is often given to someone without any training in writing or editing content. As a result, most Malaysian companies I've seen have approached content marketing in a haphazard and non-targeted way. Let's not even talk about the awful copy.
Yes, one of the best people to be content strategists are journalists and editors but media folks cannot just waltz into the role without preparation. They know how to write content and organise it in a nice package. But now, they need to also learn how to harness digital tools and social media to promote said content.
Northwestern University's Content Strategy course for professionals on Coursera is a good backgrounder to the field. You can audit the course, free. Lynda.com's Content Strategy pathway is worth considering as well - they have a more practical curriculum.
What I'm reading
I love discovering new authors and Caroline Linden is one of my discoveries for the month. The first book of The Truth about the Duke series, One Night in London, swept me off my feet. Primarily because the hero, Edward, is so swoon-worthy. On the outside, Edward is a paragon of propriety. But on the inside, what a smouldering ball of passion!
The story is almost like the one Mary Balogh wrote about in her recent Wescott series: Three aristocrats discover that their father had married before marrying their mother. Unfortunately, their father never properly divorced his first wife. So, if his wife was still alive when he married their mother, they would be deemed illegitimate and lose the title, wealth and status in society.
I quickly read the other two books of the series, Blame it on Bath and The Way to a Duke's Heart in quick succession. However, while good, I don't find Gerard and Charlie as fascinating as Edward. Perhaps I just like taciturn heroes. Can't wait to get my hands on the more Linden books!