Writing Matters #8: from puppy dogs to angels

My fundraising book ‘Born to be a Life Changer’ is patiently waiting for the cover and the e-versions to be done, but this is no time to relax. As the title of this blog says, I need to move on from puppy dogs to angels!

My next novel is a new edition of my humorous fantasy ‘Orders From Above’, first published in 2012. It received terrific reviews, but the publisher wasn’t doing much with it so I took back the rights in 2018 to bring it under my own imprint, just as I’ve done with ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’ and ‘Walk in the Afterlight’. Rachel Lawston of Lawston Design, who designed the gorgeous covers for my previously mentioned books, has created yet another fabulous work of art.

Publication date is 1st June, by which time the paperbacks will be available to order from Amazon and all retail outlets, and e-versions will be available from Amazon and Smashwords to cover all e-readers. LiterallyPR, who did such wonderful things for the first edition of ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’, will once again be doing wonderful things with ‘Orders From Above’.

I spent most of the lockdown time last year editing and publishing the new editions of work already written, which is relatively easy because the hard work is done, but now it’s time to turn to a brand new work, the sequel to ‘Orders From Above’ which is called ‘Orders From Below’. I very much admire all the prolific authors out there, and wonder how they manage to write so many books, because at this stage, when I’m embarking on a new story, I always think I’ll never be able to do it. Write another 100,000 words with coherent plot lines that flow and weave together to their conclusion, believable characters who use realistic dialogue, then go through interminable revisions and edits, while throughout the process my mood flips between pleased-with-myself and doubting-myself. Impossible! But not impossible, of course.

So there will be another book about mischievous angels Gabe and Nick wreaking havoc by the end of this year, and there will be a third paranormal drama featuring psychic medium Alex Kelburn after that. But ‘Orders From Below’ is first in the queue, because having delved so deeply into the story lines and characters of ‘Orders From Above’ in the past few weeks, it’s all fresh in my mind. Added to that, the characters are furiously nagging me to carry on telling their stories in this sequel! As of today, I know the beginning, I know the end. I know bits of the filling in the middle. And I know that the rest will come to me over the coming weeks during long dog walks with my dog, frantic typing at my laptop, and frequent sleepless nights. The sleepless nights have already started, in fact, for last night I just could not shut my mind down and get to sleep – the characters were having a party in my head! Not only that, when I did eventually fall asleep around 4am, I dreamt they were partying on my driveway and I came wide awake again at 4.30am knowing I had to get up and fetch my notebook to scribble everything down. Deciphering my scrawl is going to be challenging.

I look forward to being able to tell you about the PR campaign for ‘Orders From Above’ as it rolls out, about how the fundraiser ‘Born to be a Life Changer’ is doing once it’s released for sale, and my progress with ‘Orders From Below’.

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Writing Matters #6: a change of genre

In ‘Writing Matters #1: Starting Over’ I wrote about how two of my previously published novels ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’ and ‘Walk in the Afterlight’ were given new life by a thorough edit, new covers and, in the case of ‘Walk in the Afterlight, a new title (it was originally called ‘The Waiting Gate’ but the story underwent enough changes to warrant a change of name). These two books have family dramas at their hearts, encompassing the topics of bereavement, near death experience, dementia, afterlife, ghosts, and psychic mediumship and are classified as supernatural fiction.

My next novel, ‘Orders From Above’ also has supernatural elements, but the genre this time is humorous fantasy. This is the back cover blurb:

I had such fun working on this book as part of my Masters in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and I was over the moon when it was published in 2012 by an imprint that’s part of a large publishing house. However, as I was very naïve about the publishing world back then, and despite getting fabulous reviews, it didn’t make much of an impact. After seeking advice I decided to take back the rights and put it on the back burner while I worked on my other projects.

Now the story has been professionally edited and proof-read and I’m working with talented cover designer Rachel Lawston of Lawston Designs to give it a whole new look, as she did for Kingfisher and Afterlight (that’s one wonderful aspect of being an independent author, I can choose my own covers!). I’ve also teamed up once more with LiterallyPR to run a marketing campaign, which I’m very much looking forward to.

I shall be excited to show you the cover when it’s done, and a little while after that to tell you when the book is available (I’m hoping early-mid March). In the meantime here are a few of those early reviews:

“This novel is full of warm, traditional humour, depicting a cast of colourful characters with fondness and affectionate criticism. One of the central concepts – the bestowal of a virtue and a vice on a village’s least and most popular characters respectively is a great one, as is the idea that Nick and Gabe previously made an agreement to share the pain of running Hell. They were, after all, both Archangels once and it seems only fair that Nick isn’t banished to the hot place forever.”
Cornerstones Literary Agency

“Author J M Forrest has had a lot of fun writing this book. You can just tell from reading it. The whole cast of characters are delightful, but I adore Nigel and his wife Amelia, particularly Amelia… sweet, but tough and smart too. However my favourite characters have to be the di Angelo brothers Gabe and Nick. Think about that for a minute… The story is so much fun it reads like a breeze… Definitely give it a read.”                                                                                                                               Geekygodmother.ca

“A lovely story full of well-defined characters and a very original take on the archangel hierarchy. I found myself wanting to spend as much time as possible in Ham-under-Lymfold, the quaint little village in which Gabriel and Lucifer set about renovating a mill into a restaurant while they decide who to temp into a range of virtues and sins, all to a mysterious and quite innovative end. I would recommend this wholeheartedly to anyone with a taste for angelic figures turned on their heads. J M Forrest writes crisp and wonderful dialogue, carving clearly distinct characters throughout her story. A delightful read!”  
Nicolas Forzy, Producer/Director/Writer

“Brilliant… I actually cracked up at parts of it. The characterisations are so good you can almost see them – and as I read it I thought it would make a brilliant film. The angels are a riot.”
J A (5* Amazon review)

“Orders From Above is a book that will keep you entertained from the first to the last page! It is impossible not to become involved with the characters in this strange, but beautiful village of Ham-Under-Lymfold. I desperately wanted to help Lorelei on the one hand, at the same time as give the mean-hearted Violet Cattermole a good talking to on the other! I also loved the sibling rivalry between Gabe and Nick, who stole the show for me. J M Forrest writes with a great wit and insightfulness of human behaviour – you just want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.”
PJ (5* Amazon review)

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jmerrillforrest.com