Tag Archives: fun junction

Boy from guitar lessons (it’s nice to be nice)

14224700_10157295428425401_4845612948376145664_nA few weeks ago, on the way out of my son’s guitar lessons I noticed one of the other kids watching me with a puzzled expression on his face, clearly trying to figure out where he knew me from. It’s not uncommon for me, for many years I worked in the local toy shop so a lot of local kids know me but struggle to get who I am out of context.

This wasn’t one of those times. Laden with bags, guitars, packed lunch boxes, and all the other paraphernalia that parents so often end up stuck with, I waddled along the corridor outside the music room. The puzzled boy kindly held the door open.

I thanked him and was half way through the doorway when he blurted out “Are you an author?”. At first I wasn’t sure what to say, I decided against my regular ‘Kind of, I write kids books.’ Replacing it with a simple “Yes, I am.”

He remembered me from a talk I’d done at his school. When I told him I’m still working on more books he explained that he thought the Fey Flame was great, then he thought for a few seconds and told me that, in fact, it was his “favourite book ever”.

It’s amazing to know that you’ve made something that someone has enjoyed that much. I’m so pleased he decided to share that with me because it made my day. It actually made my week.

Simply telling someone that you appreciate something they have done/made/written can be the most awesome thing, so thank you boy from guitar lessons. Thank you sincerely.

It’s so easy to praise people. Sometimes we need it more than you realise. None of us should be afraid to say a few words that could make someone’s day. So here’s a wee selection of praise I thought I’d pass on:

June: I have no idea where you get your energy and enthusiasm from but you’ve added a lot to our wee town. Thank You.

David: The Artspace is shaping up to be something brilliant. I don’t get along to events as much as I’d like because childcare isn’t always easy but I’ve always enjoyed the things I made it along to. It’s a real asset to the town.

Fun Junction: You guys are awesome. There’s a whole heap of stuff I could list here but mainly I’d like to highlight your awesomeness.

Valentines of Crieff: Superb clothes. Every shirt I owned used to bake me. I wasn’t a fan of dressing smart because it meant a day spent sweltered and sweaty. I have to admit I never spent as much on a shirt before but then I also never wore the cheap ones any longer than I had to. Thanks for helping me feel comfortable in my own clothes.

Marrianne: You are mental but like June you seem to give people the wee pushes they need all over the place. Most of all, on my part, thank you for being a constant wee niggling reminder that I need to get back to my writing.

On that note I’ll get back to my writing. I’m planning on sending Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame in to a publisher soon so it’s getting one last wee polish before it gets shipped out.

Writing advice this Saturday

Are you three chapters into writing that novel but on the twentieth edit? Do you have extensive notes planning out a whole book but still haven’t written one paragraph? Have your writing efforts left you with a folder full of half finished chapters and sprawling notes? Well so have mine.

I’ve been trying to ‘be a writer’ since I was a kid. I started to take it more seriously in high school and actually made a solid attempt to write a novel while I was at uni.

However, I fell foul of a myriad of problems that I’ve come to recognise like old friends. I would over-plan, spending all my creative energy and leaving nothing for the writing itself. Then, to compensate, I would try to write in a free-flow style only to find my direction-less flow of words draining into stagnant puddles with no hope of turning into anything.

If this isn’t common of all writers I’d be very surprised. It seems like a necessary part of what we all go through. We all need to find the right pace and discover ways of retaining the creative spark in our writing whilst ensuring that our text actually means something (even if it is just to ourselves).

On Saturday I’ll be doing book talks and chatting about writing for most of the day. It’s part of Crieff Arts Festival hosted at Fun Junction in Crieff, and since I write kids books I expect I’ll be giving a lot of early advice (‘pay attention to your favourite authors’, ‘keep observing the world around you’, etc.). However, I’m also more than happy to offer advice (or even simply to mutually commiserate) to grown-up would-be writers.

I am not a break out success but neither are most successful writers (even J K Rowling still had to do the rounds with school talks to get the word out about Harry et. al.). I can’t be sure whether the Jack Reusen books make me an official ‘writer’ or not but that’s something that doesn’t bother me as much any more. I write and some people read it, and even better some of them seem to like it (at least that’s what they tell me). For me that’s enough.

If you’d like to come and bend my ear about writing you are more than welcome. I’m also considering putting together a sort of combined digital & ‘real world’ writers support group in the town. I’m aware that there are a few such groups already but I figure it can’t hurt to have more support for writers, plus developing the digital angle would make it easier to stay in touch.

I’ll be in Fun Junction from 11 until around 3 or 4 (depending on how busy it is). If you would like to talk writing, please pop along for a chat. All the best, John

Visit to Fun Junction

On the 20th August, as part of Crieff Arts Festival, I’ll be doing an author’s visit to Fun Junction in Crieff. This will be the first time I’ve done one in a while so I’ve decided to make the most of it. 

Fun Junction has kindly agreed to offer prizes for a new ‘design a character competition’ (three £10 vouchers up for grabs). I’ll also be running a crossword competition where you can win signed copies of ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ and ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’.

On top of this I’ll be sharing a work-in-progress excerpt from book three (‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’). I’ll only be able to read this a couple of times on the day as the excerpt is longer than the usual readings. If you’re a fan of books one and two please try and make it along at either 1pm or 2pm to be sure to hear the sneak peek.

I’ve also ordered a reprint of the first edition of the Fey Flame. These will be the last original copies I’ll be printing. From then on the new edition will be released, featuring Karen’s amazing new cover art (along with some slight edits to the content). 

You can pre-order the new edition or get one of the last signed copies of the first edition on the day. I’ll also have plenty of copies of ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’ to buy on the day too.

So here’s a basic run-down of what to expect on Saturday 20th (this coming Saturday):

From 11am I’ll be in Fun Junction to sign books, read excerpts of the first two books, provide entry forms for both the ‘design a character’ competition and the crossword competition.

At 1pm I’ll read an excerpt from the new book and I’ll be happy to talk about writing in general to anyone (child or adult) who might be interested in knowing more.

At 2pm I’ll be reading from ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ again. I’ll be packing up sometime after this but I’ll be sure to leave entry forms for the wordsearch and ‘design a character’ competition at Fun Junction. Entries will still be accepted until the following Saturday.

Last year the winning characters were included in a Christmas story which was released on Christmas eve. This year I’ll be including the three winning characters in another story, but this time it’ll be released in spring 2017. 

The winners will receive a £10 Fun Junction gift voucher, along with signed copies of books one and two.

I hope you’ll take the time to pop up on Saturday. All the best, John

And the winner is….

2015-08-21 15.39.35Last weekend, in conjunction with Fun Junction (and to tie in with the Crieff Arts Festival and the mini book festival that ran within it titled ‘Writers Live‘), I ran a ‘Design a Jack Reusen Character’ competition. All the entries had to be in by the end of the weekend and I’ve had a tricky job on my hands ever since.

Basically I liked so many of the entries I received that I decided to have three winners. The fourth book will be out in November, it’s a condensed chapter story set at Christmas time, and I’ve left space for a short story to fit in along side it. I’ll be starting work on the short story tonight but in the meantime I thought I’d share the winners’ artwork.

20150827135455058_0001Congratulations to Jenny, who’s already had a wee mention in the Acknowledgements in ‘Spark of Dreams’. Jenny even submitted a character description along with her picture so here it is:

“Name: Stormfly
What is it: Dragon
Qualities: Friendly, cold dragon. She breathes ice straight up into the sky to make snow storm clouds and tail whacks the ground and is as strong as an earthquake.”

I’m looking forward to seeing what ‘Stormfly’ gets up to in the story (though I may have to ask Jenny if I can give her a different name as she shares her name with Astrid’s dragon in ‘How to train Your Dragon’). I have to confess that I’ve been hunting for an excuse to put a dragon into Fey to see what happens, so thank you Jenny, I’m really excited about this one.

wpid-wp-1440709009452.gifNext, congratulations to Summer. Summer’s character didn’t have a name but I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the picture. I’m not sure how well this will come across in the image here but basically almost every part of this picture sparkles. The twinkling black sky and the girl in the shimmering party dress already have me setting out a wee starting scene on a frosty night in Fey. Thank you Summer.

20150827135514242_0001Finally congratulations to Grace for her ’10 eyed monster’. I’ve a feeling that this guy is going to have an interesting role to play in the story. My first thoughts picture him living deep in a cave. He comes across as scary and I don’t want to lose that so I’ll need to think hard about what he’ll be up to, in what will basically be a Christmas story. Every good story needs some conflict and I think the ten eyed monster will be just the ticket. Thank you Grace.

It’s going to take me a wee while to get this story drafted up but I’ll be sure to post it on here when it’s ready and it will also be available in print in November. Of course it wouldn’t be fair to ask the contributors to buy a copy so I’ll be sure to set aside a free copy for each of them that they can get hold of before they appear on the shelves.

I’ll contact the winners shortly and will hopefully have their story ready for them in the next few weeks but in the meantime I’d like to ask people to give them a big social media round of applause with likes or favourites on their pictures (you can find them by clicking this link for facebook and this, this, and this link for twitter). As always thanks for reading, all the best, John

Playing to an empty room? (and some info about competitions)

theater-105573_1280Just a short one tonight as I’m getting my ideas together for my book talk at ‘Writers Live!’ on Saturday. Basically that’s the main thing on my mind at the moment; will people come to my book talk? The idea of talking to an empty room is far more daunting than the thought of talking in front of a big crowd.

So far responses on the events page seem promising so I’ll try and hold back on the anxiety, also I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the entries for the competition I’m running in conjunction with Fun Junction.

I’ve actually got two different competitions running in conjunction with my book talk for Crieff Arts Festival but only one of them ends this weekend: The ‘Design a Jack Reusen Character’ competition is being run in conjunction with Fun Junction (where entries can be handed in). Simply design a character to feature in a Jack Reusen book. I’ll write the character into a short story which will appear on this site soon after the arts festival, but it will also be appearing in print and released inside a book that’s due to come out just before Christmas (I’ll post the title of the new book tomorrow night 😉 ).

You can submit a picture, a character description, or both. Just in case you don’t get a chance before the talk, I’ll also be bringing a big pile of paper and pencils along to the Strathearn Artspace on Saturday so that children (and adults if they want) can draw up their characters and hand them in either to me on the day. You can also drop off entries at Fun Junction up until 5:15pm on Saturday (if you want to take your time drawing/writing). Judging will take place this weekend and entries should either be dropped in to Fun Junction, or scanned and sent digitally to either the Jack Reusen facebook account, twitter account, or to jackreusen@hotmail.co.uk.

The second competition will now be running until the end of August: Simply explain what you liked most about ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame‘ on the facebook page to be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of either ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams‘, ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame‘ or (if you don’t mind the wait), you can get an early release, signed edition of ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’ when it comes out in the Autumn.

If you haven’t already, please pop along to the events page on facebook and say whether you’ll be able to make it along to the book talk (if I know that people are coming I might be able to relax enough for that ‘humming’ noise in my ears to go away 😉 ). As always thanks for reading, all the best, John

Crieff Arts Festival competition

crieff arts festival James square yarn bombIn the run-up to the Crieff Arts Festival Fun Junction has agreed to help run a ‘design a Jack Reusen character’ competition with me. It’s all very simple; basically children are asked to design a magical character that they think would fit into the world of ‘Fey’, the winner will see their character feature in a short story to appear here on this website sometime after the festival. They can choose to submit either a picture, a character description, or even both. A winning entry will be chosen on the weekend of the arts festival (22nd and 23rd August).

The Crieff Arts festival has been on the go for a number of years now and has grown to include a wide variety of things to see and do throughout the town (for grown-ups and families). This year’s arts festival will be running on the 22nd and 23rd of August. A full programme of events will be available closer to the time but Fun Junction’s shop event is aimed to highlight a literary event that will be held at the Strathearn Artspace in Comrie street.

The event will feature readings and discussions from a number of local authors and poets including Helen Grant, Susy McPhee, and Jess Smith, along with an exciting array of other names to be announced closer to the time. I’ll be starting the event off with a few wee readings from both the first and second books (and possibly even a wee sneak peek at ‘Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate’).

If you can please try to pop along to the Artspace (at 10:00am on Saturday the 22nd) to join our mini literary festival, it would be amazing. It’ll certainly make my day to see a wee crowd gathered to chat about Jack. Thanks for reading, all the best, John