Announcements, Articles

Vote for Nightmare Tenant in the Tuber Book Club!

I’m really excited to announce that my horror thriller novella Nightmare Tenant has been nominated to be the second book read as part of the Books by Adrian Tuber Book Club, following on from Blindspot by Kent Shawn in April.

The Tuber Book Club is a new initiative by Books By Adrian (AKA Adrian Santiago) author platform. Adrian is doing some great things for the community in the online space with his platform, which features a diverse plethora of guests on his livestreams and podcasts.

The Tuber Book Club is a new but exciting twice-monthly stream where a panel of guests discuss the book in question with an active chat participating in the comments. It’s a lot of fun and it’s very worthy of supporting as Adrian continues to grow in stature. Authors cannot feature on the panel if their book is featured but are welcome into the text chat and, should I win, I’ll be there and more than happy to chat to you!

This is a fantastic opportunity for Nightmare Tenant and I’d be thrilled if you could support the book by both joining Adrian’s book club and voting for Nightmare Tenant with this easy two-step process:

  • Join the Tuber Book Club by clicking the button above to go to Adrian’s website. All you need to enter is your Name and Email Address
  • Confirm your subscription; then you’ll be sent a link to vote. You must be a member to vote or your vote will not be valid.

You’ll also hear from Adrian about the live events you can participate in if you choose to.

The poll remains open up until May 2nd 2022 so there’s still a few days to get your vote in! Every vote counts as the poll is close (with Nightmare Tenant jostling for position) so please don’t underestimate how much your vote can support my book and my passion.

If you do choose to support Nightmare Tenant I am eternally grateful and appreciative of the support, and I look forward to seeing you in the live chat.

Articles, reading

Top 3 reads of 2021

2021 has been a pretty good year for me reading wise. I’m really pleased with how many books have managed to squeeze in with some effort so I think it would be good to just go through three of the more memorable reads that I’ve really enjoyed this year.

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

The Warehouse: A brilliantly imagined, thought-provoking and exciting  Orwellian thriller eBook : Hart, Rob: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

This book is an excellent example of what I seem to enjoy the most both in reading and my own writing – taking a prescient or emerging current issue and extrapolating it to an extreme with around which a compelling story is built. With The Warehouse we get an almost cyberpunk twist on a massive corporate conglomerate (analogous to at least one company right now…) that has its tendrils in everything. I enjoyed the speedy pace and how it introduced us, the reader, to concepts in the story world that become important later and I was quite engaged to find out the revelation of the mystery. The riffing of the characters off each other and their dynamic was quite good to see. This was a thrilling and enjoyable read that was right up my street.

Cold Storage by David Koepp

Cold Storage: From the screenwriter of Jurassic Park, comes one of the best  and most thrilling science fiction books of 2019 eBook : Koepp, David:  Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

This book was another thrilling and claustrophobic and read. While the ramifications of the plot are huge, the action takes place in a very small and compact setting with only a handful of characters that we do get to know pretty well by the conclusion. I thought the stakes were built up quite quickly and it felt believable in the universe and there was a lot of tension as the clocks are wound down towards the disaster. Cold Storage was another read that flew by pretty quickly, it grabbed me pretty fast and left me wanting more! David Koepp being a screenwriter on Jurassic Park impressed upon me its technothriller heritage and considering the novel of Jurassic Park is a firm favourite, Cold Storage is a definite contender for carrying on the mantle of what made Michael Crichton’s books so good.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Dan Brown books are always a little bit chaotic but this was one that I got quite into. The plot played at breakneck pace while I knew that the main plot device was a slightly nonsensical if given a great deal of thought, I managed to suspend my disbelief enough for it to be an enjoyable and brisk thriller read. What this book does well is not to get hung up too much on the religious aspects but to focus on using those religious elements as devices on which to hang a thrilling plot.

I hope my recommendations of these books helps you find some good reads to fill your shelves! If you want to see the full list of books I managed to have a go at (as I didn’t finish all of them) then I set up this page on my Goodreads. I generally use this just for my own purposes but you might find something you’re interested in!

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Articles

Taking a break from social media

At the end of November I decided to take a break from social media effective December 3rd 2021. This may sound oh-so-edgy but before I talk about my thoughts, what’s the background?

  • Fatigue – I was just tired of the relentless, endless scroll, not wanting to “miss out” on any content. Gradually this was just occupying too much of my time and I realised it was doing this. I was also experiencing seasonal end-of-year fatigue with my workload in my day job which while not totally overwhelming was an additional, significant mental toll.
  • Keeping up with online communities – I’m part of several wonderful online communities across social media, but I found I was becoming aggravated about not being able to be as active I’d have wanted to be (or perhaps that I felt I needed to be?) and that “fear of missing out” on discussions with interesting people on my wavelength was bothering me too.

Plus, I’m currently in a between-projects stage and I needed to make sure that time was spent more productively while also giving myself a welcome break that is pretty much a requirement at this time of year as things wrap up.

I decided to solution for this was to take an extended break from social media, in particular the three demons: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This period of abstinence from those platforms didn’t count toward communications apps such as Messenger, WhatsApp and Discord, though I no longer allowed myself access to Instagram DMs as this function was baked into the main app.

Realising that I would be battling against habitual norms I took steps to implement my plan:

  • As I’d been quite active in the Bookstagram and Authorgram community – surprisingly so – I posted a message that I would be taking a break.
  • I deleted the apps for the respective services from my phone
  • I installed a Chrome plugin called StayFocusd with the intention of limiting my time on those social platforms.

This has been largely successful. I initially had planned to limit my access to the apps through the use of Screen Time on my Apple iPhone, while hiding the apps on a separate home screen but decided that this was needlessly-complicated so just removed the apps, and I’ve not been bothered to re-install them.

However, the quarantine from social media hasn’t quite been absolute as I omitted to remove Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from my iPad so I’ve had a few quick peeks on there. However I’ve not spent a lot of time on there, knowing this goes against the spirit of the challenge to myself, and while I may have had the odd little browse I have not interacted at all.

I’m really pleased I’ve tried this experiment as I’ve found I don’t miss the instant-access to social media that was proving a bit too magnetic. While I will be coming back to social media I will be coming back with these principles to preserve my wellness:

  • Notifications will be disabled. If I’m needed, I’m contactable by my website or email, or close contacts have my personal contact details.
  • I will limit my screen time to no more than an hour a day using the facilities on my phone and from StayFocused. I was particularly impressed StayFocusd; I set it to allow the least amount of time possible on the three social media websites (one minute across all restricted sites per day) and it has a comprehensive system in place to dissuade and stymie the urge to disable or reconfigure the extension which I found helpful.

I do hope this reflection is helpful to someone who might be in a similar position to me! Disconnecting is surprisingly hard – especially with online status notifications everywhere, which were a false alarm to those who knew I wasn’t actually active – but a worthwhile endeavour.