Tag Archives: aspiring authors


Sometimes we struggle. Motivation fails us. I got a taste of that recently as I neared the 30,000 word point in my latest book. Knowing that I was writing horror a friend (thanks Jo!) recommended I check out a podcast called Lore.

Humans are the real monsters

Lore is a fortnightly podcast (or web radio programme for those who prefer that term) that discusses the paranormal, the odd, the unpleasant. However, its primary focus seems to be the darkness that dwells in us all. The selfish voice, the creature that panders to fear, the red eyed monster of rage; all of these are distinctly human, distinctly internal, monsters.

Listening to tales of Lore drew me to that dark place, allowed me a closer view of those nastier human foibles that are the true basis of horror. Aaron Mahnke (the host/researcher/creator of Lore) introduces the listener to a selection-box of human awfulness. From the true story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin (NOT for children or the faint of heart), on to multiple tales of witch hunts through the ages, to the story of H. H. Holmes, a conman who created, and utilised, a hotel full of secret passageways and an underground ‘lab’ for his own sick ends (this hotel has since gained the name ‘The Murder Hotel‘).

The events in ‘Marcus‘ don’t come close to the horrors Mahnke describes in his show (for starters mine is pure fiction). However, I’d like to give credit to Lore, and Mahnke himself. He produced something that offered a custom set of blinkers for this first-time horror writer at those times when sitcoms, kids books, and social media, threatened to draw me away from my writing.

More to learn

There’s something else that Lore helped me see though. Mahnke persisted, every two weeks he got another solid bit of work out into the world. Well rehearsed, well researched, well performed. You can go back to the very first podcast and see the show evolve, gain a following, and importantly offer Mahnke the recognition he deserves.He made something people enjoyed and the world rewarded him. It’s an important takeaway whenever you come across this sort of creativity. The word ‘inspiration’ is banded about a lot, it has transient, insubstantial overtones. Instead I would say that Mahnke’s efforts provide more confirmation than inspiration.

Listening my way through the first episodes gave me confirmation that the right content, found by the right audience, and offered up consistently, will yield positive results.

Mahnke has his own Amazon TV series now (based on the podcasts) but he has also demonstrated his mastery of storytelling through the podcast in a way which has allowed him to market his own writing. Author of a host of books, and clearly working purely within a field he enjoys. What he has done has given me confirmation that all the slog is worth it.

Thank you Aaron.

Why listen to Lore?

Simply put it’s fascinating (if disturbing in places). Often we hear that the world has ‘gone to the dogs’ or that society is being eroded by one modern creation/concept or another. A step back in time (and in some cases it’s an uncomfortably short step back) is enough to show us that human beings have always found ways to be awful to each other.I’m not trying to suggest that we’re living in a golden age but lore can take the rose tinted glasses off of the reminiscence to ‘yesteryear’. We get by, we look after one another, we do what we can to help one another. The stories in Lore highlight this as well. It’s in our nature; the flip side of our darker internal demons.

Watch the news and you can be forgiven for thinking that we live in an age of terror. I find it odd that comfort can be found to remedy this perspective by looking at the horrors of the past.

I hope you take a moment to pop by the Lore podcast page and give it a try yourself (and no I’m not being paid to promote it/endorse it/otherwise send traffic his way).

As always thanks for reading, and feel free to pop back and tell me if you enjoyed the podcast,

All the best, John

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

It was my youngest son’s first day of school today. He is absolutely over the moon and seems to have really enjoyed it. As his wee treat after school (set up in case he hadn’t enjoyed it) we went for a swim.

Hazel (my wife) is a swimming instructor and she played a game with him to distract him a bit as she improved his swimming; he had to jump into the pool and tell her what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Being in the swimming pool he quickly decided that he wanted to be a scuba diver when he grew up. However, being a five year old he has also recently told us that he wanted to be a farmer, a writer, a train driver, and a bear. It’s pretty clear that the aspirations of five year olds are quite transient.

His big brother is a whole different kettle of fish. For well over a year he has consistently told us that he wants to be an animator. The only thing that’s changed has been the medium; sometimes it’s claymation (after watching Shaun the sheep), sometimes stop motion lego (after a bit of Tim and Ralph, and if you haven’t seen these you should really check them out [season 1] [season 2], Michael Hicox is brilliant).

We typically start to get quite fixed ideas about what we want to do with our lives from an early age. Sometimes these stick and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes we attain the job of our dreams and sometimes we don’t.

I always wanted to be a writer, from the day I realised that my favourite stories were written by people and didn’t just appear from thin air I desperately wanted to understand how they manipulated language to do such astounding and remarkable things. It’s not like my full time job yet but I do feel closer to it now thanks to Jack and his friends.

There were kids in my class who wanted to be inventors (some of them are now engineers), there were kids who wanted to be firemen (and some of them are), we all had a small picture of what was available to us but we still seemed to have an inkling of what sort of thing we wanted to do with ourselves as adults.

It makes you wonder if we somehow have natural aptitudes. I’ve done a lot of different jobs in my life from handyman, to busker, to retail, to more corporate, and more academic work. Alongside all of this I’ve always written. I have books that I’ve been working on since my early twenties, and I have books that started in the planning stage just weeks ago. It feels right for me to write.

My son is completely shattered, he seems to have enjoyed his first day of school, part of me would love a day back in the simplicity of primary one but to be honest I’m pretty happy up here in my early thirties too.

Do you have a skill that feels ‘right’ to you? Is there something that has always stood out to you as ‘your thing’?

Are you lucky enough to be what you wanted to be back when you were five?

Feel free to let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reeding, All the best, John

Book sales

Not my image, click picture for sourceI’ve held back from talking about book sales on here. From reading other writers’ blogs I get the feeling that it isn’t really the done thing. This blog is designed to highlight the world of Jack and his friends so perhaps this isn’t the place for this. However, I’d also like this wee blog to give potential writers a real idea about what it’s like to be a self-published children’s author, so here we go.

So far my book sales have kept me happy. They’re nowhere near providing me with a living yet, but as an incentive to get me to write more they’re really fantastic. This week I’ve sold three books (two hard copies and one kindle edition).

That might not sound like much to some people but given the amount of time I’ve actually been able to put into showing the books off I’m finding this pretty promising.

On top of this I’m being asked more about the books by parents, both whilst picking my kids up from school and while working in the toy shop. I get the feeling that people are actually hearing about the books from parents and children who’ve enjoyed reading ‘…the Fey flame‘. Somehow that feels better than a load of sales gained by a big ad campaign.

If you’re a new or aspiring author and you’ve opted to try the self publishing route expect to get sales in direct relation to the amount of effort you put in to getting your book known, and to the reception that your book gets from those who have already read it. I always notice a jump in sales when I do a book talk, show it off on twitter a bit, or simply when (like the other day) someone is good enough to tell others that they’re enjoying Jack’s world.

If anyone reading this would like to know more about what’s involved in the early stages of a self published book feel free to leave questions in the comments section and I’ll give you feedback on my own experiences.

Of course I also welcome comments from anyone who is in the same boat as me or even people a few steps beyond this point. It’s always good to hear how other writers deal with getting their book known. As always, thanks for dropping by, and don’t forget to follow the Jack Reusen account on twitter, or alternatively you can like the official page on Facebook to be kept up to date about the books. All the best, John