Category Archives: Book Progress

Staying on target

wpid-training_dummy_500.jpgToday I passed 12,000 words of ‘Thea’s Quest’. Chapter six is done and I’m close enough to my word-count target to feel fairly comfortable. It was a hard slog today (wrote almost 4,000 words) but I really feel like it was worth it.

It’s a lot of fun experimenting with what Thea will do in different situations, it’s telling me so much more about who she really is and what the tone of the other books in her series will have.

As I said in my previous post, I won’t have much time for blog posting during all the other writing madness this month but when things go right it’s nice to share. Hope you’re all well, and as always thanks for reading (and for stopping by). All the best, John

Thea’s Quest

11703059_507851296031556_3727381389049552295_nYep, the beginning of Thea’s story is already taking shape. The fifth book set in the world of Fey now has five (very rough) chapters and it’s surprisingly different from Jack’s books. This month also marks the one year anniversary of the very beginning of Jack’s (and Thea’s) adventures. I still can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by and I’m really thankful for the reception the books have had so far.

Thea is such a different character to write about. I now have a character that instantly understands all of the basic things about Fey, she’s a lot less surprised by magical creatures and events than Jack was and I’m really enjoying the fact that I can just let odd things happen and then drive the story forward. It was always fun to share Jack’s awe as a new world unfolded around him but there’s something really liberating about just taking that magic for granted now.

The new book series will be released more slowly than the first as I now realise just how demanding it is to do all of the additional stuff required of a book. First there’s editing, then there’s talking about the books (because otherwise how would people hear about them), and alongside all of this I need to go over cover designs etc. with Karen but to be honest the bulk of the work there is on Karen (she knows her stuff so well, I barely need to go into any detail with her, she just gets it).

Talking about the books is definitely the most fun of the two ‘non-writing’ jobs associated with writing, I’ve been for school visits, held an in-store book launch, joined in with an authors event to do a book talk at the Crieff arts festival, not to mention a steady stream of communication with readers through this blog and the social media profiles I set up for the books over on facebook and twitter.

The big bad EDITING job is never a thrill and it’s this that has prompted me to spread out my book releases a little. I’d rather be able to spend more time chatting about the books and doing a wee bit of editing each week than be locked to the computer almost every day desperately trying to catch up with editing. At least for the foreseeable future I think we’ll be on about two book releases a year. I just don’t think I’ll be able to do four in one year again for a while.

Speaking of editing the next two books are on their way but it is taking a while. Though it’s less work this time through (I’m definitely learning from my mistakes), it’s still work. I’m going to try and get Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ away to the printers in the next couple of weeks (should be printed by the start of December) and ‘Jack Reusen and the Christmas Fox’ should arrive a week or so later (it’s a Christmas story so definitely want to get a rush on that).

In the mean time I can share a wee bit about Thea’s Quest (though it probably won’t be out until next summer). In Thea’s first book we find that the polar-bear girl has discovered some pretty impressive powers (even more impressive than turning into a polar bear). She is struggling to understand them though and she’s having an even harder time learning to control them. Her quest will take her to parts of Fey she’s only ever heard of in stories and her journey will teach her a lot about herself and her friends. Where the Jack Reusen books introduced us to a strange other world, Thea’s books will take us on a voyage steeped in ancient magic and even older stories.

I’m really enjoying the research for these books, I started looking ahead to some of the places Thea might visit earlier this year, I even posted a few sample pictures on the Jack Reusen facebook page. I desperately want to get the third and fourth books out before Christmas so I probably won’t be blogging a whole lot over the next few weeks. Every spare minute I have this November is going to be spent on books. Hope it all works out, wish me luck. As always, thanks for reading, all the best, John

AAARRRGGGHHHHHHH!

poiewrhkejbfkjfYep my brain is near bursting, in just over a week we see the start of ‘NaNoWriMo’ (National Novel Writing Month) the event that started all of this, and I still have so much to do.

Karen (the awesome cover illustrator) is working on covers for the next two books in the series as we speak and I’m battling my way through the editing process in pursuit of completed drafts in time to start writing the first book in Thea’s series. It’s all go and can’t wait to share both of the new books with readers over the next couple of months. ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ should be out in November and DUN DUN DUN…(new title reveal!)…’Jack Reusen and the Christmas Fox’ will be out just before Christmas.

NaNoLogoOne thing that I’ve learned over the past year is that writing and editing (you skip editing at your peril) at this pace is tough and sadly leaves little room for school visits etc. The weird thing though is that without school visits I’m not really sure how kids will hear about the books.

My target audience are children aged seven or eight years and up and as far as I know not many of them read blogs or hang out on facebook and twitter. Without school visits I’m really reliant on word of mouth from you guys who stop by this blog to find out what’s happening with the books.

With this in mind I’m sorry to say that Thea’s first book might arrive a little later in the year than ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ did. I want to give myself time to get out and talk about the books more in the new year so if you would like an author visit for your school (or even a writing workshop/Q&A) please get in touch.

Sorry for not being on here much over the past few weeks, I completed a rework of ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ (to go with Karen’s mysterious new cover) and as I said earlier I’ve been on editing duty for the next two books. As things start to loosen up over the next few weeks (or, more likely, as I begin to lose my sanity) I’ll no doubt be on here a lot more, and hopefully my posts will be full of updates on how it’s all going. As always thanks for reading, Cheers, John

Well that was intense!

Camp-Winner-2015-Twitter-ProfileLast night I wrote a bundle of words, they were all in an arrangement that I liked and for people who read English they will hopefully make sense. However, probably the most important thing about those words (at least for the time being) is that one of them happened to be the 50,000th word I wrote last month!

Once again I’m a NaNoWriMo winner and now I have a third Jack Reusen book, a Jack Reusen Christmas special, and there’s even a first chapter or so drafted for the first book in Thea’s trillogy (though I was so tired by that point that I’m fairly certain I nodded off pressing keys so I’m not sure what that’s going to look liiiii8iuijjjjiiujujuijke).

Once again National Novel Writing Month was an even mixture of a total blast and ‘that thing that makes me feel like my brain is about to melt out of my eyes’. What’s more I’m now going to be fairly confused if someone tells me they like my new book. I may accuse them of hacking my laptop to get at one of these new early drafts.

I now know what happens to Jack and co. next, and after that, and even a little after that, so expect some mini spoilers and short stories set after Spark of Dreams to be appearing on here in the coming weeks.

Speaking of short stories, I’m also running a competition in conjunction with Fun Junction in the run up to the Crieff Arts Festival. If you know of any children who would like to create a character (either pictures, descriptions, or both) that has a chance of appearing in a Jack Reusen short story then keep an eye out on here for more details. The easiest way to stay informed is to either ‘like’ the Jack Reusen facebook page or follow the Jack Reusen account on Twitter.

Today I am alarmingly tired but happy. I hope the new instalments are a fun read when I get them out into the world. ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ should be ready in October. Thanks as always for reading, all the best, John

Stumbling in a world of words

542826322_0cc5218d63_oI got lost a week or so ago, it wasn’t writers block, I know what that feels like and this was very different. Exhausted, I had just reached the 30,000 word mark of ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ and the end was in sight. I even wrote about how much I enjoy writing endings, I was psyched up and looking forward to writing, then one night whilst writing I was caught almost mid-sentence like a deer in the headlights.

I could still write but it was like the part of my brain that kept a hold of my characters started to unravel, scenes were easy but I started to lose track of how characters would react. I wrote one particular scene that felt pretty good at the time but when I looked back on it I really wasn’t happy.

Marathon runners encounter something called ‘the wall’ at the twenty mile mark; their body and their mind start battling for the last remaining dregs of energy and it becomes difficult for their mind to stay in control of their increasingly lethargic body. They start to make bad decisions, they find it hard to remember why they’re running in the first place, stripped bare of the mental support structures they’ve built up during training they are left to encounter the raw character of the person they are underneath.

I don’t doubt for a second that what I went through was something like a writers version of ‘the wall’, my motivation and capacity to write was still there, I even had ideas for storylines but the tools of the trade, the things that help me tell a story, seemed dulled.

I plodded on but couldn’t keep a grip on the road, I stumbled, tugging at plot lines from earlier in the book for support but still I fell. Unlike a marathon runner, I had time to let my mind recover. I had been on some hard-slog writing and paced myself very badly. I took some time to get my head back into magic and adventure, and enjoy a bit of family time.

One day later I felt rested but I still knew that I wasn’t ready to write, I needed to warm up those imagination muscles. I watched videos of magic on youtube, searched for mystical images on google, I watched the Turtles movie (OK that was kind of frivolous but it reminded me to have fun with what I was writing). On day two I got the laptop out, deleted a day’s worth of scenes, and I wrote some to replace them, then I wrote a couple more scenes, and before I knew it ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ was finished! (it’s still a very basic first draft though)

However, my word count is still short of my 50,000 word NaNoWriMo target, so work has started on a little (almost side-) project that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I won’t share too much at the moment (it a long way off being seen in print) but I can tell you that it’s a wee mini book that I’ll be releasing for Christmas.

It’s a simple little story that I’ve been wanting to write up for a while. It was too big to turn into a short story on here but too short to make into a full Jack Reusen book. It has lots of snow and to be honest the cold weather over the past few days has been a blessing for me as it’s been easier to get into the mindset of warm drinks, cosy blankets, and powdery snow.

Finally I feel like I’m back on track, but it’s going to be hard, I’ve got two days to write 10,000 words. I’m off to plunge back into a land of snow, enchanted Christmas trees, and ‘war chickens’, wish me luck! Thanks for reading, All the best, John

The cocoon of Writing

2015-07-13 23.20.47So I’m a few weeks into another NaNoWriMo and as I knew would be the case I’ve barely been on here to blog. Part of this is due to my using all my free time to write ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’, however I’ve also just returned from a road-trip through the highlands.

The Highlands of Scotland are not well known for their connectivity and a part of me really liked that. I actually enjoyed a proper break from all the day to day facebook checking, watching blog stats, tweeting, etc. etc. that make up so much of my normal day-to-day life. We camped. Some sites were full of the bustle of people talking as they cooking meals on little camping stoves and played board games. Other sites were tranquil, and still, and so remote that I saw the stars more clearly than I have in years (and it’s hardly like I live with the light pollution of a city).

11217992_511936725623013_2636396095545308916_oHowever, I have to admit that my writing progress slowed a lot in the absence of prompting from my fellow NaNoWriMo participants over on twitter. That said I did get a bit of writing done on my first night in what is probably the coolest place I’ve written so far; a small gypsy caravan in Invernahavon. The kids bunked in a cubby-hole bed under ours, my wife fell asleep reading, and I popped the kettle on the little camping stove.

I took my cup of tea and my laptop out onto the wee outdoor seating area and braved the midges (they weren’t all that bad actually) as I wrote my way through to the end of chapter eight, marking the half way point in the book. The sky was deep and foreboding, I was barely aware of another human nearby. It was just what I always want writing to feel like. I even added a gypsy caravan to the book in tribute to a lovely night’s writing.

2015-07-14 11.15.34-2After that we moved around a lot and it became harder to find somewhere to charge the laptop. All in all I fell 10,000 words behind my target in just a few days, but I’m back home now and pushing on as fast as I can. As of last night the gap is just over 5,000 words and closing. More importantly I’m on the home stretch, I used to find it horribly difficult to write endings but it just doesn’t feel like that with Jack; I love writing endings. The pace, the emotion, tying up loose threads, intentionally leaving others open; it’s all such a rush, and I can’t believe I’m there already.

I’ve got a lot of other things to work on and plan for over the next few weeks so I’m afraid that I may still be a little silent on the blogging front. I am back in the land of wifi though so if you fancy a blether on facebook or twitter I’ll likely be able to respond in minutes. A lot of people now have copies of ‘Spark of Dreams‘ and I’m starting to get feedback. Touch wood, so far I’ve only heard good things.

11143402_513173932165959_305962227106098436_oThank you all so much for the support the books are getting, every new reader makes it all the easier to motivate myself to write down more Fey stories. I’ve heard authors gush about their readers before but I’m starting to get what they mean, without you these books would never have progressed as far as they have. As always (and I really mean this) thank you for reading, all the best, John

National Novel Writing Month update

10,000 wordsJust a quick wee update to say that ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ is now on its fifth chapter. I’m 10,000 words in and counting and the main characters are in for a shock. It’s a lot of fun writing this time round.

After two books it’s a quicker process getting the words down (my typing speed has gone up a lot), which means that action scenes feel more active and descriptive scenes seem more direct for me than they used to. I’m hoping that this makes an impact that people like.

When I was writing ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame‘ I had no real expectations about what readers would think. With ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams‘ I was writing at a point when people had already read the first book, so (to an extent) I could imagine their reactions. The weird thing this time round is that I’m writing book three before I’ve really heard back on what people thought of book two.

In a lot of ways I’m winging it again and the pace I’m having to set to keep up with NaNoWriMo’s daily writing targets means that I’m getting less time to over-think things. Overall it’s an interesting experience, I just hope people enjoy the finished result.

(Wee update on printed copies of ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’, they’re being printed as we speak, based on past experience I’d expect copies to be with us sometime late on next week. Sorry for the delay, don’t forget you can pre-order a paperback, or buy a kindle edition right now by following this link.)