February ’22 Wrap-Up

The sometimes strange and short month of February has come to a close so here’s a wrap-up of what has been going on here at the Hall of Information in that time…

Podcast Appearance!

This month I appeared on the awesome Indie Book Talk Podcast to share all of my wisdom on Author Twitter.

New Guide Alert!

My aim this year is put together a new guide every month. In between my writing, reading and procrastinating on social media efforts, this month saw my 9 year celebration of being on Twitter. Here are some things that I learned and a basically how I operate right now to stay present, support others and sell books. I basically don’t stop.

#indieFebruary – some love for Indie Books

Over on Twitter I did my best to try and get a new hashtag trending. While the results weren’t great I still led the charge in supporting my fellow indie authors by putting together a series of posts celebrating my favourite indie reads. You’ll find some below.

Indie Book Recs: Space/Sci Fi Horror Memoir/Non-Fiction Thrillers Shorter Reads

Reviewing a new Stephen King Book

I’ll admit that most of this month was taken over by my reading efforts of Billy Summers by Stephen King – like many of his works, it was enduring but overall a worthwhile read – here is my review.

Guest Articles

Of course the Hall of Information is always open to guest content and so here is some from this month:

How To Stay Creative With Chronic Pain by Ariel Jensine Dodge

Overview: SHAKEN NO MORE by Jacqui Morrison

I’ve nearly finished writing my next play adaptation…

Part of the reason why I have been less active on this blog in February is because I am deep into writing and nearly finishing my next play adaptation. You’ll hopefully hear more about that soon.

And so that wraps up Feb 2022, have a good one!

How To Stay Creative With Chronic Pain by Ariel Jensine Dodge

Creatives face a myriad of daily challenges that get in the way of their craft. From day jobs to home demands to health issues, it seems there is always something standing between the desire to create and the act of actually doing it. One of the most significant challenges a creative might face in their lifetime is chronic pain.

In March of 2018, the cartilage in my left hip joint tore because of a malformation in my femur. Suddenly, sitting down to write or draw became an agony. Taking a walk outside could lead to a several-day flare-up. I was only 25 years old, and otherwise in good health, with an unusual presentation of symptoms that led to doctors brushing me off for over three years.

I felt like everything that had meaning in my life had been stolen from me in one moment.

So how did I manage to maintain focus on my novels throughout this challenging period in my life? Of course, everyone’s chronic pain story is different, but I hope these suggestions will help you stay creative through times of adverse health.

Rest when you need to.

In a society that encourages us to put productivity before health, it’s important to recognize when you need to LET YOURSELF REST. Do some self-care, take your medicine, or get lost in your favorite media. Powering through the pain will likely burn you out and worsen the pain long-term.

Create when you need to.

There may be days that you feel you may explode if you don’t write a few sentences or finish that outline. Take full advantage of inspirational episodes. Accommodate yourself by taking frequent breaks, make sure you’ve eaten and are hydrated. Write in bed if you have to! At the least, jot down some brainstorms in your journal for the next time you’re feeling better.

Don’t stop seeking relief!

In the early months of my injury, it became clear that this was not a health issue that would vanish on its own. As I continued to go undiagnosed, I lost hope many times that I would ever find a doctor who could help me.

A friend said to me one day, “Be persistent until you get relief.” Though her words were simple, the meaning and strength behind them were the reason I finally found a practitioner who could diagnose me. I am currently working towards a life with less pain. Please, don’t give up. You will find someone who can help you.

Finally, to maintain your creativity through chronic pain, there is one ultimate truth to hold in your heart:

NOTHING CAN TRULY STOP A CREATIVE PERSON FROM CREATING.

Art has persevered and permeated human society since the first smudge of ochre was painted on cave walls. Creation is our birthright, something that lives within us, even when we have no choice but to put it aside and focus on our health.

Whatever you do, don’t lose faith in yourself and your ability to create what is in your heart. The magic is there, and it will wait for you until you are ready to pick it up again.

You can read more from Ariel Jensine Dodge including this article via Medium

Weekly Ramble #139

The truth is and this might not be a revelation, I’m constantly busy with something. Whether it is blogging or writing, social media or day job stuff, there is always an abundance on my to-do list. I’ve partially concluded that I might only be able to function effectively as a busy person which is great, but that also means I cannot stop…

On my usual social media scrolling travels I often see writers who are in the querying trenches. It seems to be a borderline obsession for some and that finding an agent or publisher is the only route to success in writing. While I applaud and admire anyone taking the dive into querying their work, I am simply too busy to be doing that. Especially when there isn’t a guarantee of an actual end result. I could be waiting half a year for a response and so everything I am busy with, ends with an actual result. From social media posting to writing on this blog, I’m getting sales and I’m getting views. Although slowly, things are moving in the right direction which is all governed by me doing the work.

This week I reached out to my following to offer Twitter coaching, a new venture and also something I have built a lot of specialist knowledge with. Just by looking at a fellow Tweeters profile page I can tell what they need to do in order to get more traction on the platform. While my guides have all tried to capture mass appeal, I think I would be way more effective on an individual basis. Of course, new ventures always start slowly, but for this one, I am optimistic.

Overview: SHAKEN NO MORE by Jacqui Morrison

To thrive in the present, one must overcome the past.

Tragedy is nothing new to playwright and performer, Meredith Golden. She’s endured the violence of an alcoholic husband, the tragic death of her parents, and abuse from her uncle. To say she is a fighter is an understatement. She is a survivor. But tragedy leaves scars. When Meredith meets Paul, it seems that the past is finally behind her, but when her ex-husband begins stalking her and making new threats, old wounds are torn open. She realizes that peace comes with a high price and ’til death do us part may be a curse that can’t be undone. As her world spirals out of control, Meredith vows to be Shaken No More.

REVIEW:

Her Best Book So Far
I received an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of the book in exchange for an honest review. Shaken No More by Jacqui Morrison is a romantic suspense novel and it’s women’s fiction set in New York City in the 2010s, with flashbacks to the 80s and 90s. This is Morrison’s fifth novel, following Kaitlin Wolfe Crown Attorney, The Vigilante, Escape The Castle, and Terri’s Journey – The Colour of Rain. Shaken No More may be her best book so far.
This is the story of Meredith Golden, a performer and playwright, who has to overcome staggering real-life challenges. The novel title cleverly alludes to James Bond’s catch-phrase “shaken, not stirred” and there are more cocktails in this story than a 007 movie. There’s drugs, detectives, doctors, divorce, and violence, in this story. There’s also therapy, meditation, qigong, and healing. Will Meredith thrive? Can she survive? That’s the mystery.
The romance is with Paul, after Greg reveals he has problems. Some of the story is told from Meredith’s point of view and some of it is told from Paul’s, but most of it is a third person narrative that will keep you reading and cheering for Morrison’s main character until the final page.
This novel has 76 chapters in 267 pages and that format gives the narrative lots of momentum. Morrison describes everything so the reader can see it as clearly as in a movie. The novel would make a good movie about the scars left by tragedies and how one woman battles back, in the big city, and move on to the next stage and the next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jacqui Morrison has a B.A.A. from Ryerson University in Toronto, and two graduate certificates. One from Humber College School for Writers, Toronto, in 2017. And a certificate in Adult Education from Seneca College, also in Toronto. She has been writing professionally since 2000.

Jacqui won the 2009 IPPY for best regional fiction for Central and Eastern Canada for her first novel Kaitlyn Wolfe, Crown Attorney. In 2013, her second novel The Vigilante came out. Escape the Castle was released in 2018. She has also been published in four anthologies, including the Best of the Muskoka Novel Marathon 2000 – 2010. SHAKEN NO MORE is her first romantic suspense novel.

Indie Book Rec’s : Shorter Reads

In celebration of #indieApril over on Twitter and because there are some wonderful indie books out there, I’ve put together a series of posts recommending some awesome works I have read over the years.

This post is dedicated to some shorter indie reads and so here are some books I highly recommend:

‘The Right Thing’ by Kelsey Kupitz

‘An easy-to-read mystery full of intrigue, atmosphere and chills…’

Full Review

‘Fated to Meet You’ by Despoina Kemeridou

‘A feel good fun and imaginative modern fairy tale…’

Full Review

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‘‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’ by Marc Cavella

‘An entertaining gem of a read celebrating the glory days of pro wrestling with a modern voice…’

Full Review

‘The Ghost of Whitmore Manor’ by Sarah Jayne Harry

A breezy paranormal romance with a young adult edge…

Full Review

‘Josef The Writer’s Cat’ by Ellen Khodakivska

‘A heart-warming and fun story told from a unique perspective…’

Full Review

‘Life of Maggot’ by Paul Jameson

A masterfully written vision and song about the end of time…

Full Review

‘Nevada Noir : A Trilogy of Short Stories’ by David Arrowsmith

A brief but deeply descriptive brush with the dark…

Full Review

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to use #indieApril over on Twitter to show your support for indie authors and their awesome works!

‘Billy Summers’ by Stephen King – Review

An enduring multi-layered tale of one gun for hire and his final shot…

Stephen King has succeeded yet again in turning his hand to crime fiction but describing this story as just a few genres would be an understatement because like always, you get your money’s worth. ‘Billy Summers’ is the name of a man who is a gun for hire, he has a sometimes dark history which readers will gradually realise while also being connected to the underworld of big business and organised crime.

There is a lot to unpack and digest here along with references of many different things through multiple layers, some I grasped and probably others I missed. A few figurative elbows are aimed towards modern politics but for the most part we stay in the neighbourhood King is known for. Our main character turns his own hand to writing a memoir of war, childhood trauma and much more while carrying out a final mission. They do say ‘write what you know’ and for this story its metaphorical in a sense. The ‘dumb self’ concept is particularly clever and a needed vessel to give Summers a certain calculated depth although my only criticism is we don’t get all of him and after such a long read is kind of a waste to me. For a man who spends much of his time covering up who he is, readers never really get to know the real side to him.

Of course the story is an enduring one, we have a slow introduction and long middle and even a long end but it works for the most part. There are many twists, turns and that textbook depraved/twisted style which Stephen King is known for but in smaller doses. I particularly appreciated the reference to one of his older works and for those who aren’t into the supernatural side of things, this one is perfect for you.

4 Stars

Weekly Ramble #138

Variety really is the spice of life and being a social media author the same thinking generally applies for me. As long as you have a multitude of ideas and can lay them down in an orderly fashion, eventually you’ll succeed. The algorithms might change and so will the platforms but those who do continue to seek fresh ways to get their content out there will also have their content consumed by the end user.

Peaks and plateaus, that’s what this journey has been for me and while today’s numbers might seem low, they are still ten times better than a few years ago. No matter what valley or shadow banned state my social media engagement is currently in, it will spin back towards momentum soon. That needle, it can’t always be in constant motion but my drive and desire is. Everyday is an opportunity to find better results, reach new people and of course convince existing followers to stick around.

My conclusion is swaying towards a realisation that I might be a functioning serial busy person – by that I mean constantly having a challenging amount to do keeps me motivated and keeps me working. They do say busy people get things done and so here I am getting things done.

Indie Book Rec’s : Thrillers

In celebration of #indieApril over on Twitter and because there are some wonderful indie books out there, I’ve put together a series of posts recommending some awesome works I have read over the years.

This post is dedicated to the Thriller genre so here are some books I highly recommend:

‘The Silent Betrayal’ by Momus Najmi 

Original, eloquently written and thrilling. A tale of deception that reads like a spy thriller but carries a much deeper meaning…’ 

Full Review

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‘The Player Without Luck’ by Kristina Gallo

A thrilling page turning story that will keep you immersed from the start….’ 

Full Review

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‘Fee Simple Conditional (Arcadia Chronicles Book 1)’ by H.C. Helfand 

A gem of a read about life, love and land…’ 

Full Review

‘We Watch You’ By N.S. Ford 

‘Cleverly plotted British mystery thriller with darker psychological tones and twists…’

Full Review

‘Wonder Rush’ by Dan McKeon

An immersive and suspenseful teen spy thriller with some darker edges, a positive message, originality and depth…

Full Review

‘Awake’ by Andrew Palmer

An original techno-psychological thriller that captures the essence and surrealism of dreams with a sinister edge…

Full Review

‘Scarred’ by Damien Linnane

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge…

Full Review

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‘The Good Kill: A Killian Lebon Novel’ by Kurt Brindley

An enthralling, gripping tale of epic proportions taking the reader on a ride full of twists, turns and action…

Full Review

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Thanks for stopping by and be sure to use #indieApril over on Twitter to show your support for indie authors and their awesome works!

Weekly Ramble #137

Sometimes you’ve just got to enjoy the ride. One of the most wonderful things about being an indie author is having no deadlines. I’m fully in control of what I want to do and when I want to do it while right now I’m just enjoying the view. Freedom in this world is hard to find and so in that respect, it does more good for my own creativity than anything else.

Doing things when I feel like it fosters my creativity, there’s no pressure or rush. I’m taking things slow whilst keeping up with the social media game right now. Books are selling, followers are finding me and reviews are coming in. Everything is seemingly moving in a good direction and all of those foundations I have laid in the past five years are continually coming to fruition. Quite recently I’ve taken the plunge into kind of resurrecting my Facebook presence just to have a better spread for communicating with followers. With my experience its gone well initially and that experience is something I am going to utilise in other creative endeavours eventually.

For what began as a stressful hectic year is starting to calm down a little. I’ve taken the rough with the smooth and rolled with a few unexpected punches. As for my writing, it’ll happen when I’m ready. The wonderful thing is, I’m in control.