Tag Archives: zombies

Some summer holiday reading

Kindle_UnlimitedIf you have a kindle (or something that can run the kindle reader app) then you can get hold of both of the Jack Reusen books (and a whole heap of books by other authors too) by signing up to a month’s free trial of Kindle Unlimited over at Amazon, here’s the link.

Once you’ve signed up you’ll see that both of the Jack Reusen books come up as free, so you can read the whole adventure so far, for nothing.

Jack Reusen and The Fey Flame‘ introduces you to the land of Fey, as creatures (and other things) make their way through to the ‘matter-world’ (basically our world). Jack and his family have to discover a way of closing a collection of ‘breaches’ between the two worlds to make their world safe again.

‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams‘ is a slightly different kind of cover with blurb and barcode 2 trimmedadventure. People are losing their ability to dream. Every night more and more people lose the certain something that makes human beings so good at solving problems and creating things; the spark of dreams. Jack discovers that he could be the key to understanding what’s causing this change, and he may even be the only person who can solve it and bring back the dreams and imaginations of hundreds of people.

I hope that both of the Jack Reusen books give you and/or your kids something to enjoy over the summer holidays. Let me know what you think, all the best, John

And…they’re off!

cover with blurb and barcode 2 trimmed

Another wee sample of Karen’s artwork

Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams‘ is ready! The artwork is done, the text has been edited, all files have been sent off to the printers, and now comes the waiting. (Though the wait won’t be too long for the kindle edition, which I’ll have ready sometime tonight.)

The process for print editions is fairly simple; first they send me a digital proof (which I expect to receive sometime early next week). After this comes approval of the proof, which is kind of an odd thing to do actually; basically I send them an e-mail saying ‘yes I like my own book, send me lots’. Once I’ve told them I like my book it can take seven to ten working days for them to to print up a bundle and send them to me.

I’ll probably end up posting a lot of updates on Facebook and Twitter once I’ve got a tracking number, so if you follow either account expect to see lots of posts about UPS on the day the books head my way.

To be sure that you get hold of one of the first copies you can pre-order one by leaving a comment below (they’re £6.99) and you can either pick them up at Fun Junction, get me to deliver them to you personally, or if you’re further away I can post one out to you.

Writing this book has been a totally different experience than the last one. Knowing that people have read the first, that some readers might be emotionally invested in certain characters (no I haven’t killed anyone, nor do I plan to), and knowing that there are many more books planned, has meant that I’ve had to be very careful with this one.

There are some scenes that had to be big and dramatic and they change characters in ways that might take them a couple of books to recover from. That’s what all these big delays have been about (I originally planned on having the book out in April). The trickiest part has been the fact that two key story lines run from just one early scene involving Fynn and Thea.

They come out of the event changed, but getting the balance between developing a character in that way, and just all-out changing them is difficult. Every change I made to that one scene (you’ll see what it is soon) had a heavy ripple-effect throughout the book, at times it was like playing Jenga with a sledgehammer. After a lot of work I think I’ve got it right and I hope you guys enjoy the journey that both of these characters go on.

Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams‘ is darker than the Fey Flame (though not by a lot), my proofreader/editor left me a note about three quarters of the way through the book that simply read ‘this is freakin’ scary!’. Don’t let this put you off though. I’ve left a lot of the scarier scenes open in a way that lets the reader fill in the gaps with their own imagination. This way, readers at my eldest son’s age (seven in a few weeks) will likely find these parts a lot less frightening than their parents.

Overall the story is based around what the world would be like if people didn’t dream, imagine, or come up with new ideas. Some of this is a little scary but mostly I wanted to deal with how important imagination is for everyone. Jack has to navigate a city that doesn’t dream and it doesn’t look like a nice place to live.

I’ve said before that there are ‘zombies’ in this book, but they aren’t undead, flesh-eating monsters; they’re innocent people who are sleep-walking through life and have lost something important because of it. Jack goes through a crisis of confidence but we all know that in the end he’ll have what it takes to help them.

Thea hasn’t been left out either; she gets to be an action hero in this book. Her fight scenes were some of the most enjoyable things I have ever written (though you’ll have to get a fair bit through the book to see them) and I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of girl she develops into in future books.

Sorry for the long post, as you can probably tell, I’m a little excited about launching the latest Jack Reusen book. I really hope you like it (when the books finally get here). I’ll keep you updated here and on the Facebook and Twitter accounts about when to expect them. In the mean time I’ve got a school book talk to prepare for. I’m off to Comrie Primary on Monday (my school between the ages of five and seven) and I’m really hoping the children there enjoy their introduction to Jack and his friends.

All the best, thanks as always for reading, cheers, John

Almost time…

wpid-imag1530_1.jpgThere are two big reveals to share tonight: a sneak-peak of the cover for ‘Jack Reusen and The Spark of Dreams’, and on top of that I’m sharing the title of the very last chapter, it’s that close to completion!

I’m so sorry for the long wait, editing has been a tough run this time round. I did something with one of the main characters that I wasn’t 100% happy with, unfortunately it was quite early on in the book so changing it has had a ripple effect. ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’  is looking to be ready around a month later than the April release promised at the back of ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’. To everyone who has been asking about it, I am so sorry for the delay, and thank you for all the support you have all shown so far.

As for the book cover I hope you like the wee snippets shared in this post. I put out a call for an illustrator a few weeks ago and an illustrator called Karen MacAllister came forward (pop over to her illustrator website and her blog to find out more about her work). She showed me some great wee preliminary sketches and we took it from there and, thanks to Karen we now have a really dynamic and intriguing cover.

wpid-imag1532_burst001_1.jpgTo be slightly annoying (building anticipation a bit), I’ve decided to only show small portions of Karen’s finished work. I thought it’d be more fun to share the finished article once the book is out.

I need to point out that Karen’s advice and knowledge were almost as valuable as her artistic skills in creating this cover. She really knows her stuff and de-cluttered my original plans to produce something that catches the eye and draws you in and I absolutely love the colour and tone she’s put into it.

I’m going to edit like a lunatic over the next couple of days, the book is all but done but I want to really do this justice (it isn’t easy getting the balance right in zombie scenes for kids). So many readers have been so supportive of this next leg of Jack’s adventure that I don’t want to let them down. Hopefully the story within will have the same draw as Karen’s fantastic cover.

As always thanks for reading, I’ll try and visit here more frequently over the next few days with updates so you should hopefully hear more soon. All the best, John

Book 3: working title…

moirai_by_pandorasconviction-d4njggqWho doesn’t like a sample of the next book at the end of a book they’ve just enjoyed reading? I know I like a wee taster, if for no other reason than it tends to prompt me to pre-order the next instalment so I don’t miss out.

Well I decided in “Fey Flame” to do just that, it was an easy move since I’d already written the first four chapters of the next book before I published ‘Fey Flame’ (NaNoWriMo needed me to get an extra 15,000 words done before I’d be able to submit).

Well roll around ‘Spark of Dreams’ and we get a wee dilemma: book three doesn’t (/didn’t) have a title, let alone a few chapters to work from. Aside from a fairly detailed idea of what will be happening in the next book, up until tonight, there wasn’t really any substance to it.

Well now there is, I now have some actual, solid, story writing down for it and I’m pretty excited to see how this one plays out.

Anyway, without further ado, may I present to you the working title of book three…

“Jack Reusen and the Children of Fate”

I say ‘working title’ and it is just that, I’d love feedback on what people think of it, especially if you have views on what children might think to it.

I’ll be asking my eldest son in the morning but it’d be great to get a wider perspective on what people think. The story will centre around the families of Fynn, Alyssa, and Granny Reusen and will tell us more about these characters and the magic they wield. What’s more we’ll also get a revisit from the ‘Wishmaster’ (though he may be less nasty in this book).

Anyway, it feels great to have that dealt with. I now have a complete book (along with epilogue and taster) to edit, some artwork to figure out to show off the books and hold them together, plus I’ve got book three taking shape before my eyes. All in all it’s great having a sense of where I’m going next.

Also, don’t forget there’s still the option of getting to appear in ‘the Spark of Dreams’ as a ‘zombie’ (plus some of these characters might get the chance to follow on into book three). There’s not much time so if you’d like to see your name appear in the book I’ll need to know in the next couple of weeks. As always, thanks for reading, all the best, John

Book 2 Progress

wpid-imag1323_burst005.jpgThis is just a quick wee update. I just started writing the final chapter, we’ve had zombies, a race against time, heroism, and some big revelations about Jack’s world. To be honest I’m pretty pleased about how this book has gone there are obviously some kinks to be ironed out but that’s what editing is for.

I expect that tonight my first draft of ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’ will be complete. I’ve made the decision this time to do the first edit run before I hand it over to my beta testers, that way I’ll (hopefully) avoid wasting their time with typos etc. and instead they can focus on the story and tell me about continuity errors and the more glaring problems in plot that I might not have noticed.

Book three is also an issue for me now as I want to put a preview at the end of book two just as I did with book one. With this in mind I’m going to have to set some facts in stone about a book that’s only in planning at the moment. The alternative (and the option I’m warming to) is that I start work on book three whilst book two is getting beta tested. That way I’ll know what’s coming next and I’ll even have time to add some tiny hints inside book two before it goes to press.

Another issue I now have to deal with is cover design. Now that there will be two Jack Reusen books sitting side by side on the shelf I want to be sure that they look unified in some way. With that in mind I think I’ll be putting together a overarching theme to the cover art for the Jack Reusen books.

Once its decided I’ll get book two’s artwork finalised and once that’s off to the printers I’ll rework ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ to have a fancy new cover. I’ll also take that opportunity to deal with the odd wee typo that has come to light since it went to print.

Once again I’m in the strange little window at the end of writing a book where I feel less and less like I have any say in what happens. The characters and the plot have taken me to a point, and if I try to fight against it the book will sound convoluted. Right now I’m fully caught in the flow and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you’ve finished reading ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ yourself please feel free to contact me in the comments on here, I’d love to hear what you thought to it. All the best, John

The zombie horde approaches

zombie-499924_1280Zombies in an early-reader chapter book are proving an interesting challenge. I’ve just finished chapter eleven of book two (‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’) and I’m having a lot of fun with my ‘zombies’ (as I’ve already said I’m a big zombie movie fan). I like to think I’ve kept the content creepy and exciting without making anything that would count as inappropriate for a younger audience.

Even if some scenes prove to be a little too grown-up I’ve got plenty of opportunity, once the book is done, to go back over it myself and make changes. Then comes the input of my grown-up ‘beta testers’ (who should iron out anything else I’ve missed) and then there’s my young beta testers (who will be brutally honest of something doesn’t work). The younger beta testers will provide the real test to see if the thrill is sufficiently high without leaving any hints of terror (I’m not trying to write a thriller).

This past week has been a bit manic, to be honest I’m amazed that I’ve had time to get any writing done, but I’ve managed to get through a few chapters. Though I’m sad to admit that I’m not finished the first draft yet despite the fact that I’d planned to be at this stage.

I have to keep reminding myself that missing a self-imposed deadline is no excuse to stop trying to reach my goal. I’ll have to pick up the pace soon though as I need time to edit, finalising the first book for publication took nearly a month of editing for ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame‘. The longer it takes me to finish my first draft the later into April we’ll be before we see the finished product. I’ll just have to keep on plodding on.

That’s me for the night. I’m going to see if I can fit in some writing tomorrow morning before the kids get up, but recently they’ve both been up before seven each morning which doesn’t leave me much room for writing. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that I’m not bombarded in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning.

Anyway progress report 27,184 words and counting amounting to 11 chapters in total completed. I’ll keep you updated as the book grows. Out of interest what time of day do you feel the most focussed? Would be interesting to chat about in the comments below, I always used to be a night-owl but I’m starting to enjoy being up early to write as the birds start singing. Anyway feel free to share your own feelings in the comments below, all the best, John

Would you like to be a zombie?

Close_Gate_in_Case_of_Zombie_OutbreakBig spoiler for ‘Jack Reusen and the Spark of Dreams’ coming up…there are ‘zombies’ in it. I’ve got ‘zombies’ in inverted commas because I’ve tried to aim along the lines of slightly frightening, irrational people rather than terrifying undead corpses stalking the earth in search of brains. The books are for kids of five and up so, you know, I should probably avoid the brain eating.

So, there are no dead people and there is no brain eating. Other than that I’m running a few standard zombie movie scenarios in the course of the book: the general ‘something’s not quite right’ feeling evoked by the early stages of classic zombie flicks, leading on to irrational people chasing the heroes, and then our heroes are locked in a house with a horde trying to get in. Hopefully I’ve kept the scariness balanced enough for it to be exciting but not nightmare-inducing (don’t worry I’ll test it on my own kids first).

So here’s the fun bit: I was wondering if anyone out there wanted to volunteer to be a ‘zombie’. If I get a big influx I’ll need a way to decide who gets in, so feel free to give me an idea of what kind of behaviour your ‘zombie’ might display.

Here are a couple of examples, a lady with a fixed ‘plastic’ smile, her eyes gazing right through you as she makes paper aeroplanes out of important documents from her briefcase. Then there are two men queuing for coffee who attack each other over a packet of sugar but who forget their fight completely and limp away when someone interrupts them, one limping from being kicked in the butt.

Both of these come from the early ‘zombification’ stage but you could describe your zombie however you like. The basic idea is that people are losing their senses, getting lost in irrational, repetitive, and even dangerous activities (with a slightly comic twist). The best three will make it into the book. I’d particularly like to see ideas for members of the ‘zombie horde’. I look forward to hearing your suggestions/submissions (make sure you pop them in the comments below so I can find them easily), all the best, John