Wednesday, 13 April 2022

"Deep Wood" awarded funded from Creative Scotland




Ring the bells and fetch the hatchets! My novel-in-progress, "Deep Wood", has been awarded funding from Creative Scotland!

The funding is to help me focus on editing the novel so it's ready to rock in the wild world of publishing, which includes redrafting and hiring the critical eyes of a couple of beta readers.

Huge thanks to Creative Scotland for seeing the value in this novel, and here's a little information about the story itself, which is a slight side-step for me genre-wise. It's called "Deep Wood" and is a psychological drama with horror elements...

Wanting to fix their fractured relationship and escape the strains of city life, a couple (a therapist and an artist) move to a remote forest community, where they are forced to face their failures and fears as monstrous shadows infiltrate their lives.

I'm looking forward to whittling this woodland novel into shape before (all going well!) sharing it with the world. Until then, keep your eyes on the trees...

Russell Jones

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Re-Agent





Unless you're a close friend or family member (Are you? I don't remember you at my barbecue and you don't have my Jonesian nasal features) then you probably didn't know that around 6 weeks ago, I separated from my agent.

It was sad, but there was no argument, no big moral debate or industry-defining angst. It just didn't work out for us.

However, I am pleased as punch (and Judy) to announce that my fiction is now represented by Caro Clarke at Portobello Literary, who signed me up for Bucket List (see details in other posts). 

Not only is Caro incredibly enthusiastic about my work -- which for me is super important in an agent -- but they also have an extensive and successful background in books rights management and (perhaps even more importantly) a very VERY cute dog!

So, in short: please direct all fiction-based quieries to caro@portobelloliterary.co.uk from now on. Ta muchly! See you at the next barbecue?


Russell Jones

Thursday, 30 December 2021

2021 roundup!

Okay, please stop with all the fanmail asking me, "RJ, when are you going to update us on what you've been doing in 2021 and what you plan to do in 2022?" -- It's here, Megafans, so cool your writing hoofs. (PS: there is no fanmail, that was just an excellent joke)

So what have I been doing in 2021? Getting fatter, mostly, but also a few other points of interest...

Two new novels published
I finished my fantasy/LitRPG trilogy, "Beast Realms", published through Portal Books. The audiobooks were also narrated by Travis Baldree, who's an audiobook superstar. It's always fun listening to them being recorded live, and I especially enjoyed hearing Travis sing a sea shanty in the voice of a dog pirate.

Here are links to each of the three books in the trilogy:


One graphic novel published
I worked with artist Aimee Lockwood to publish a graphic novel called The Wilds. It's a story about a girl who's struggling to cope with the death of her mum. So, she runs into the wilderness and meets an ethereal bear, who helps her to survive and process her grief.

Aimee and I had the idea before lockdown, and when I wrote a part of the book (which is a series of 13 poems) I'd send it to her and then we'd go back and forth adjusting the words and images. We got Tapsalteerie on board to publish it, with feedback and support from Child Bereavement UK, and managed to snag enough Creative Scotland funding for Aimee to complete the illustrations. And now it's a real thing, like cheese!

And here's the link to buy The Wilds.


A novella sold
Due for publication some time in 2022, my novella "Dating Superman" is loosely based on a true story told to me by a friend who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the USA, the World, The Milky Way, The Universe. Rhiannon Bolos Da Cunha told me about a man who used to turn up for weekends in Brooklyn, dressed as Superman. He used the outfit to hook up with women while avoiding the press in his home city (where he was a big deal, I think he was a politician or some powerful businessman).

My novella is from the view of Sophie, an 8.5-year-old girl in Birmingham (England, 1980's). Sophie thinks her neighbour really is Superman, and she wants her mum to date him. It's been a while since I wrote this one, but I'm really glad it's finally been picked up by Leamington Books because it is one of my favourite things that I've written.

Leamington Books are a local Edinburgh publisher, and they'll be releasing a series of novellas in 2022. Dating Superman will likely be published within the covers of a book containing one or two other novellas, and it may come out as an e-book and/or an individual publication.



Another novel written

Just before Christmas, I finished writing a new novel called Bucket List. It's a story about an intergenerational friendship, following the exploits of Dot (72) and Max (19) as they attempt to complete Dot's bucket list after she wins the lottery.

Initially, I had planned on writing a quite dark dystopian novel to sell through my agent, Juliet Mushens. However, I was taking some time out to complete my "Beast Realms" trilogy and the pandemic hit. Given that everything in real life seemed a bit grim, I wasn't so inclined to write a downbeat novel, so decided to write Bucket List instead! It's a humourous (I hope) page-turner, meant to make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, as though we're all filled with hot peaches.

Fingers and toes crossed that this one sells!



Shoreline of Infinity
We've been busy as bee keepers, keeping Shoreline going. We've put on lots of events online, and even one in the flesh at Cymera Fest! We published a monthly edition of the magazine this year, which was a lot of work, but will be returning to our regular thrice-yearly publication in 2022. Excitingly, we gained Creative Scotland funding to help support the magazine and some nifty online stuff, so that's all coming soon (and means we'll finally be paid for our work!!!)

We do loads of Speculative Fiction stuff (mainly sci-fi) so here's a link to check some of it out.



Poetry etc
Nope, not really. Just a few poetry commissions and poems for funerals. I've read a decent number of comics and a few novels, but poetry just hasn't been whispering to me during the pandemic. Although, I have organised and MC'ed a few poetry and other literary events (mostly online, a couple in person). 

Personal life
Well, we're still in the throes of a pandemic (although my gut says it's maybe starting to level out and things may begin to turn towards normality soon -- don't quote me during the zombie invasion though). There are a few notable things, but nothing hugely exciting to anyone who doesn't know me well:

1) Eddie's doing great - our little pup Eddie is thriving, despite having a tough start in life before coming to live with us. He's a lovely little lad who wants nothing more than cuddles, biscuits, and to chase birds. We commissioned a few pictures of him for a "rogues gallery". Pakkun is as wonderful as ever and hasn't really slowed down even though he's 12.5! What a lad! 


2) Neice to meet you - I have a neice (she's just turned 1 actually) called Eris, but I'm yet to meet her as I had to cancel flights to Wales due to the pandemic. My little nephew Lowen is also not so little now. I hope to see them soon, flying diseases allowing. (No picture for this one, I'm not sure about the morality of showing kids' pics online)

3) Driving - I passed my driving theory test on the first try (yes, I am being Mister Big Head) and aim to learn to drive in 2022.

4) Home and Away - we've not really been anywhere other than walking locally, so we've been homies. This has included fixing random stuff, installing new appliances, upgrading the hottub and rubbing puppy bellies. Thankfully I don't mind staying home, but I would really like to see my friends more at restaurants and pubs. And I want to go on the Florida trip we've had to postpone for 2 years so far.

5) Talking of friends, several have had babies and new jobs etc. I've seen them a little in my garden and out and about, but not as much as I'd like (as said just a few lines ago, were you paying attention?!) Anyway, congrats to a bunch of them for finishing PhD's, publishing books and creating new life.

Okay, that's all! If you made it this far, feel free to comment on this post and let me know what you've been up to!

Ciao, bella.
 

Russell Jones

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

2021 update




Okay, yeah, it's kinda ridiculous that I haven't really done a "proper" update for about 7 months. But blogging is just so 2016, ain't it? Well, given the crapolastorm that has been 2019-2021, I figured perhaps we'd all like to feel like we were back in the good old days of illegal war and Pokemon Go. 

So, here's an update on what I've been up to, (mainly) writery-wise, this year!



Beast Realms

I've been working hard on my Beast Realms LitRPG novel trilogy. Book 2 (Evolution) came out in April, closely followed by the audiobook. Book 3, Revelations, is coming along nicely and should be out in the Autumn, all being well. If you've no idea what I'm talking about (you're not alone), my Beast Realms novels are set inside video games. The protagonist takes on a lizard man body, joining forces with a replicating, size-shifting bug, and they fight monsters and evildoers. There's more to it, but that's the basics.


The Wilds

This is the big one for me: my first graphic novel. Just before the pandemic struck, I met with illustrator Aimee Lockwood to talk about a full-length poetry comic. We both liked the idea, so I wrote a 13-part poem series about a girl who's struggling over the death of her mom. She escapes into a mythical/Scottish wilderness where she processes her grief, and learns to survive, with the help of a talking bear.

It's a beautiful thing, 95% because of Aimee's awesome art. The poems aren't bad either, and we worked with young folk from Child Bereavement UK to get their thoughts. We were very please (and relieved) that they connected with the story and its character, and liked the mix of poetry with comics.

The book received Creative Scotland Funding (THANK YOU CS) to complete the manual work, then we blasted through a crowdfunding target (163% funded) to get it printed. It'll be published by Tapsalteerie in September, you can find out more about it here.

What's next...?

I promised my agent that I'd write another book for "general consumption" (rather than the niche genre of LitRPG) after Beast Realms. So, we worked on a detailed plan for a novel in which women could control men with their words, provisionally titled, Conviction. Sound good? Well, sorry, you'll have to write it yourself because the pandemic put me right off writing anything dystopian or full of horror and tragedy.




So instead, I'll soon be starting work on Bucket List (again, a provisional title): a story of intergenerational friendship between an old gal and a young lad in Edinburgh. I won't say much more, because you're a dirty little ideas thief aren't you? (Really, I won't say more because it's not fully planned out yet).

Other stuff?

I've been working on regular issues of Shoreline of Infinity (Scotland's sci-fi magazine, which is now monthly!) as well as putting on lots of sci-fi themed events with them (over 70 now...!)

I tried to break into the "comics about women in STEMM" market, but it didn't quite take off. It has legs, though, I think.

I published some short stories for places like Open Book, fulfilled a few other little writing commissions. Poetry's taken a back seat for about 18 months now -- maybe it feels a bit too raw for a pandemic, maybe I just have nothing much to poeticise about right now. It's okay, it'll come back when it's ready, like a hungry dog.

And speaking of hungry dogs... we also welcomed a new member to our family: Eddie, a Brittany from Benidorm. He's had a tough life prior to coming to us, but he's a cute little guy and settling in nicely with best-bro Pakkun.





And that's about it
I'm sure there are other things to report, but I can't think of them and they probably aren't very interesting. That's my blog done for another short while, in any case. I'll try to be better about updates, but I won't make a promise. I wouldn't want to break your heart.

Russell Jones

Monday, 26 April 2021

Beast Realms 2: Evolution - out now!




The second novel in the Beast Realms trilogy, is now out with Portal Books!

The Beast Realms are under threat: the land, water and air are poisoned. Its leaders are power-crazed and its people are divided. Worse still, strange and powerful Beasts have started dropping from the sky, causing carnage.

With the Beast Realms in turmoil and a ragtag group of insanely strong assassins on Team Venom’s tail, their chances of survival are slim. Escaping through man-eating jungles, seeking allies in underwater and treetop cities, Art and his team need to forge alliances to grow stronger.

As he grows in power, Art is able to unlock more and more secrets of his Gray Knight class. But skill alone will not be enough – to beat the overwhelming odds, he must tap into the unbridled power of the Beasts themselves…

Change is coming and the weak will die out – unless they evolve.

Available as:


Russell Jones

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Beast Realms (LitRPG novels)

Book 2 of Beast Realms ("Evolution") is out now!




The Beast Realms are under threat: the land, water and air are poisoned. Its leaders are power-crazed and its people are divided. Worse still, strange and powerful Beasts have started dropping from the sky, causing carnage.

With the Beast Realms in turmoil and a ragtag group of insanely strong assassins on Team Venom’s tail, their chances of survival are slim. Escaping through man-eating jungles, seeking allies in underwater and treetop cities, Art and his team need to forge alliances to grow stronger.

As he grows in power, Art is able to unlock more and more secrets of his Gray Knight class. But skill alone will not be enough – to beat the overwhelming odds, he must tap into the unbridled power of the Beasts themselves…

Change is coming and the weak will die out – unless they evolve.

Available as:
Audiobook (coming soon)




And of course, there's still book 1, available as:
Audio book (performed by Travis Baldree)


Big news! I'll be publishing a series of LitRPG novels with the tremendous Portal Books. The series is called Beast Realms and it follows the in-game adventures of Art as he assumes the body of a lizard man, befriends a bug, a thief and a giant tarantula. Together, they set out to defeat Legendary Beasts and claim the ultimate prize: a Legendary Beast under their full control. But life's not that easy; there are deadly monster, Beasts and other players standing in their way...

You can buy book one, Chrysalis, now for e-readers, print-on-demand or through Kindle Unlimited.



Books 2 and 3 -- which explore the deep seas and vast skies, pushing Art and his companions to the limit -- will be available in 2021.


Russell Jones

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

New poetry collection: cocoon



Well it's been quite some time since I've updated my blog. The world's fighting a global pandemic, but that doesn't mean poetry stops.

Introducing my brand-new full poetry collection: cocoon

This is a book about transformations, and the worlds we create (often to protect ourselves, or to free ourselves). It includes poems about graveyards and river myths, space travel and rainy days. It experiments with different forms, including 5 full colour comic poems made in collaboration with artists working in Scotland: Edward Ross, Sara Julia Campbell, Aimee Lockwood, Mark Toner and Caroline Grebbell.



Published by the wonderful people at Tapsalteerie, you can order a copy now for £10!

And a couple of sample poems to get you started...







Russell Jones