Monthly Archives: November 2017

The One Day One Book Challenge

Do you always wish you had more time to read? Do you wish your kids would find reading more enjoyable? Either way you may benefit from a one day one book challenge.

Here are the basics.

  • Commit: Set aside 6 to 8 hours within one single day for reading.
  • No distractions. I recommend a Sunday or a day during the holidays. I will be doing mine of Christmas Eve, which in Iceland is called ‘Jolabokaflod’ or “The Christmas Book Flood”, where people give each other books as presents and you spend the rest of the day reading. Seems a good time to go for it. (You can add the event to your Google Calendar now)
  • Don’t go crazy: Pick a book that you can realistically finish at a normal reading pace (Standard middle-grade fiction length would work well for a family reading aloud together, otherwise an individual, or group of individual readers, should get through a novel-length book in the same amount of time). May I recommend ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame‘ (if you haven’t already read it)
  • Share the Load: If reading aloud, be open to sharing the load. Invite friends/family young and old to read what they can out aloud too.
  • Keep it Fresh: The book must be new to everyone involved. (Again, may I recommend ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame‘ or even ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams‘ if you’ve already read the first book 😉 )
  • This aint ‘fight club’ (OPTIONAL): Tell everyone. Share your progress and experiences on Twitter or Facebook with #onedayonebook

How do you know this is doable?

I’m not claiming extensive knowledge so use your own judgement. Here’s where I got my numbers from.

I read to my kids at a rate of about thirty to forty pages an hour (we get through an average chapter in about half and hour). I figure I could keep this up in one individual day for four to six non-continuous hours (I’ll need breaks). This should let us get up to two-hundred and forty pages read in one day (once we count in breaks for tea, food, fresh air etc.).

With this rate in mind we’ll be avoiding Harry Potter (both because of length but also because most of the family have read all the Harry Potter Books already). As much as I love them, most of the books in the series are very long and probably aren’t suitable for this challenge. If you have a few ready volunteers though you could always give it a go (just watch you don’t lose your voice).

I have no idea if anyone else has tried this, or whether this is a ‘thing’ already. If it is and you can point me in the right direction I’ll be sure to credit the right people here.

Go forth and Read

All I have left to say is I hope you decide to join in. There’s no specific date fixed for this but it would be great to hear how people get on via Twitter. If you decide to join in on Christmas Eve with me I guess we’ll all be in on it together (which is always good at that time of year).

Please also feel free to pop in any suggestions you have for suitable books (also using #onedayonebook).

I hope you enjoy your day of reading,

All the best, John


P.S During my own search, I did come across an event called ‘One Book One Day’. During the course of this event a whole school chooses to read a single title throughout the school day. Staff and pupils are all reading the same thing which should lead to discussions about the book as they go. This sounds like a great idea, just think how good it is when you meet someone reading the same thing as you at the same time and then multiply that by a whole school. Definitely one for teachers to think about. You can find out more information here.

P.P.S: Also hastag readabookaday

About my new book ‘Marcus’

Please be aware that ‘Marcus’ is not aimed at younger readers.

I’ve been writing ‘properly’ for four years now. The Jack Reusen books are aimed at children of around eight years old and over. They are primarily fantasy stories, adventures in magic in which the main characters grow and develop. There’s a coming of age component to them which seems to resonate with kids. I love writing these books.

However, there are forms of magic that are too dark for Jack’s world. This year (2017) for National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo) I decided to write a book that played with that magic. It went to a dark place. A place that isn’t appropriate for children.

What is ‘Marcus’ about?

Children are asked to grow up very quickly now. There is some truth to the idea that the teen years seem to be bleeding into the twenty-somethings, creating something called ‘twenagers’ apparently. This is something that I didn’t really see occur when I was that age (though I’m not saying this is a bad thing).

However, Children as young as eight or nine are being described as ‘pre-teen’, where the simple term ‘child’ would have sufficed in the past. The complicated description of this would tie together the odd pre-teen/twenager issue. The simple way to describe it is to say kids are growing up too fast.

Marcus is a book that looks at what happens when a child doesn’t grow up too fast. It’s a book about a boy who never grows up at all (and not in a Peter Pan, happy thoughts and fairy-dust sense).

Set in Crieff, it is a horror story about the importance of growing up. It features some of Crieff’s history along with some of my own creation (it is not intended to be completely historically accurate).

Who is Marcus?

Marcus is brilliant. Everyone at school likes him (even the teachers) but when James finds Marcus’ ‘grandad’ in an old school photo things get really strange.

The photo is odd, too similar to Marcus. Even more little things mount up. Marcus arrives late in the front office every morning. He’s always last to be picked up (even the teachers don’t remember seeing him go). Marcus doesn’t go to any after-school clubs, he doesn’t come round to anyone’s house. No one has even once bumped into him at the supermarket. Possibly strangest of all, no one has ever seen Marcus eating lunch.

There’s a lot more to Marcus than meets the eye and as James and his friends start to investigate they find that the closer they get to the truth. The more dangerous things become.

Marcus is far from what he seems but he is also not alone. Who should they trust? and what fate awaits them if they place their trust in the wrong hands?

In a room more ancient than their school or even the town of Crieff itself they find their answers. Can they escape? Will they ever see their missing friends again? What is the truth about Marcus?


Please read on, I hope you enjoy the story. I’ll post a chapter every week as it’s revised and edited. If you see anything wrong or if you know some part of Crieff’s history that contradicts the events in the book please leave a comment (I’ll do what I can to fix it).

This is a work in progress, what you read here may change as time goes on but I will do everything I can to maintain the characters, setting, and overall story. I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best, John

Your fears and mine

You wake to see the shadow in the doorway. Unmoving, its silhouette breaks the illusion of safety. Your home no longer belongs to you. 

You shift position and realise the thing at the door was simply a trick of the light. The shadow of an object so mundane it makes you laugh (a jacket, a bag, something hung on the door handle).

You pull the covers back over your head and enjoy the warmth. Snuggled tight, you try to enjoy your silliness, to laugh off the fear. 

But the fear won’t go easily and the memory of that spector in your doorway plagues you. Hiding in the fringes of your vision and at the edge of your dreams. It will not be an easy night.

I’m writing a horror book and it’s given me a new found respect for R L Stine. Stine is the author of the infamous ‘Goosebumps’ series of children’s horror books (among many other titles) and he is very good at what he does.

There appears to be a tightrope to walk when writing horror for children. It wobbles between thrills and frights, and a true sense of horror. I walked the tightrope for the first eight chapters and then I fell in.

This new book is not for kids.

The difference became apparent when a main character takes in the reality of what they’ve done. That depth of responsibility, the reality of remorse somehow made things grow a lot more ‘adult’.

This made me wonder if there is a fundamental difference in what can terrify a child and an adult. We will overlap in the basic self-preservation fears, those that make us run from the monstrous (we all want to stay safe after all). However, do adults find a different kind of horror in recognising the monstrous in themselves?

Is the deep end of horror found in the place in our brain where our own monster lives? I’d love to hear what you think so please leave your own ideas in the comments section below.

As always, thanks for reading, all the best, John