‘Susan Shocks’ my new book for children. Get it now for £2.30 ($3)

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Seven brand new stories for children. Strange things are happening in the seaside town in which Susan lives. The seagulls have grown tired of begging for food from humans and have taken control of the promenade. Most of the grown-ups have run away screaming in terror. Eight-year-old Susan is not running away. She enlists the help of mysterious odd job man Mister Sixty in order to save the town from danger. The pair go on to face such weird threats as rebellious TV sets, out-of-control baths, and giant goldfish in order to defend the sleepy coastal town.. Finally, they must pit their wits against The Happysad in order to win the battle once and for all. The stories are exciting, funny and heart-warming and will captivate children from eight years old and upward.

Get it from (USA)

https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Shocks-Jon-Kenna-ebook/dp/B01II8D4TO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1468624011&sr=8-2&keywords=jon+kenna

Get it from (UK)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Susan-Shocks-Jon-Kenna-ebook/dp/B01II8D4TO/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468626296&sr=1-4&keywords=jon+kenna

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Will you let him in?

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“He comes to my room at night…”

In 2014 ‘Mr. Mad’ was published.

Imagine a box. Imagine putting all the darker aspects of yourself, all the things you would rather no-one knew about you, into that box and imagine closing the lid. Feel better?

Doctor Georgina Barnes is a respected psychiatric consultant on a busy hospital ward. She knows exactly how to convince people that she is confident, capable and in control. All of the darker aspects of herself are safely locked away in a box. No-one can threaten the façade. Not even Junior Doctor Billy Craig?

A year ago, Redman was a detective with the police. Now he’s an in-patient on a psychiatric ward. When a fellow patient falls to his death from the hospital roof, Redman’s cop instincts re-awaken. People say the old guy took his own life. Redman is not convinced. But if the man was pushed from that roof… who pushed him? And why are the hospital authorities so keen to avoid an investigation?

The doctors have suggested Redman imagine a box. They say he should imagine putting the symptoms of his illness; the voices, the hallucinations, the paranoia… into that box. Redman battles his symptoms in order to uncover the truth about the man who fell from the roof. Everyone on the ward is a suspect, even Redman himself. To solve the mystery, he must face his own demons. He must open the box

For a limited time you can download ‘Mr. Mad’ FREE. Click the link.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00THCJ11Q?keywords=mr.+mad&qid=1455055683&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

New look for jonkenna.com

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I have an official writer’s website which has just got a bit of a make-over. I’m going to try to use it a bit more than I have in the past so I’d love it if you’d take a look by going to

jonkenna.com

The first of the planned regular posts is a list of my top 5 books of fiction. How does it compare with yours? It would be great if you could become a subscriber at that site as well as this. If you do, I’ll come round to your house and bake you a cake.

Change, Decay, Transformation. The Breaking Brilliance of Vince Gilligan

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For years, everyone’s been saying how great Breaking Bad is. I never fancied it. Drugs dealers, hit men, terminal illness…? Narr not for me. Then someone lent me the first season on dvd. Like everyone else, almost instantly, I was a hopeless addict. And it’s all Vince Gilligan’s fault.

Actually it’s not. Brilliant though the initial idea of the ultra-square teacher and his former pupil cooking meth in the back of a trailer, Gilligan is the first to credit the team of writers, performers, directors and producers around him. Maybe that’s why the writers’ room for that show was reportedly the happiest of all writers’ rooms.

‘One of the more unusual things about the Breaking Bad writers’ room is just how happy it is, as opposed to the writers’ rooms on shows like Mad Men, The Newsroom, and Girls, which have an incredible amount of turnover often attributed to the egos of the showrunners who want to maintain control (and all the credit). As such, there’s been virtually no turnover in the Breaking Bad writers’ room over six years, so now that the show has come to an end, you can expect that many of those writers — Peter Gould, George Mastras, Sam Catlin, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett, Gennifer Hutchison, and John Shiban — will likely end up running their own shows soon.’  The 10 Most Influential Writers’ Rooms In Modern Television Drama History BY 08.27.13 http://uproxx.com/tv/2013/08/modern-television-dramas-influential-writers-rooms/

The series shows how collaborative drama can be of top quality. Breaking Bad is not only full of crowd-pleasing suspense and plot twists, it’s also full of superbly drawn characters and complex interplay. Parts of it are almost Shakespearean in their depth. Not what you expect from a committee.

Gilligan started out writing for The X-Files. A fan of the show, he submitted a script which became the second season episode ‘Soft Light‘. He went on to write 29 more episodes, in addition to being co-executive producer of 44 episodes, executive producer of 40, co-producer of 24, and supervising producer of 20. He also co-created and became executive producer of the The X-Files spin-off series The Lone Gunmen but it only ran for one season of 13 episodes.

What makes me love the programme are all the obvious things already mentioned but underneath that, I love it because it is character-driven. Where other collaborative TV goes wrong is that it mistakes incidents for story. Writers sit round a table and each comes up with 6 or 7 funny or quirky incidents which they think will be good to see in whatever show they’re working on. But incidents are meaningless unless viewed through the eyes of characters we recognise as true. I reckon this is where Vince Gilligan’s genius comes into play. As show-runner, he must reject writers’ ideas, however funny or dramatic, unless they serve the characters. That’s how we get such a powerful story arc. In UK television soaps used to do this and often produced brilliant drama. Nowadays they focus on incidents alone; plane crashes, tram crashes, murders, explosions…. Each incident has to be a little more sensational than the last in order to keep the viewers viewing. Breaking Bad has dramatic incidents yes but only when they spring naturally from the characters and, because of that, even the quiet moments when nothing big is happening, even those are compelling. Every one of the characters in Breaking Bad is thought-out, cared about and true to life. Walter White says in the very first episode that Chemistry is all about change… decay… and transformation. That’s what characters are all about too.

It seems that Gilligan is applying the same approach with the follow-up Better Call Saul. The focus isn’t on sensational incidents but on the depth of the characters. Change… decay… transformation. Chemistry…. characters…. life.

Writing for Children: How Hard Can It Be?

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Over the last few months I’ve been trying to write stories for kids. In the past I’ve written a couple of books for adults which were fun to write but also a hard slog at times. I was thinking that writing children’s stories would be an easier ride. Nope.

I decided to write stories rather than a novel. I wanted to do a series of stories about a number of regular characters. I thought it would be good if they fitted together in a similar way that episodes in a television series do; separate stories fitting together into an overall story arc. I remember reading Enid Blyton stories as a kid especially the Brer Rabbit and Amelia Jane stories. In these, there was a limited number of characters inhabiting a particular environment, e.g. animals in the countryside, toys in a nursery etc.

So far I’ve written five or six stories about a character called Susan who is a seven year old girl, and a more enigmatic character called Mr. Sixty. The regular characters are Susan’s mum and dad and various other people such as Susan’s school teachers and friends. The characters live in a small seaside town.

As I wrote each one I started off feeling really pleased but I then read them aloud to my seven year old daughter and, although she liked them from the start, I noticed several parts that didn’t work. The main problem with those sections was that they were either too rambly or too description-heavy. I realised that children’s stories need to be lean; there’s absolutely no room for flab. There must be not one word there which is not essential. If the writer rambles on about how pretty the sea looks then he or she has lost the reader. The only things you need are character and story. That’s it. All the rest of the stuff, the bits which show what a clever writer you are, go out of the window.

This is undoubtedly the hardest writing I have ever done. I still lack confidence when doing this kind of writing and so I wondered whether I dared to publish one of the stories here on my blog so that I could get the views of all those who read it. If I do, would you be prepared to give me your opinion, either as a comment here or as a message to my email address? I’d be really grateful. I may post the first story of the series here so you can read it and then give me feedback. What do you think? My email is jonkenna69@gmail.com