Monday, July 28, 2014


It's the penultimate blog of my 'This Family Life' blog tour *wipes tears from eyes*. Today's blog was supposed to be on another site, but they had some technical problems and so I'm hosting myself! The show must go on! If you missed the last blog you can see it here 

I’ve written sixteen other blogs, each about a different aspect or theme from ‘This Family Life’ and so I thought for this one, I’d just write a bit about the book as a whole. I finished writing the prequel ‘This Thirtysomething Life’ in 2011 and I never imagined that the book would do as well as it did, get me a publisher and agent, and so when it came to picking book number three I knew I wanted to go back and visit with Harry and Emily again. I didn’t intend to write a sequel, but people seemed to genuinely love the book and I got so many lovely emails and messages telling me how much of the book they could relate to and how much they enjoyed it. I sort of felt like l owed it to them to write the sequel...and not mess it up!

It was actually quite easy to get subject matter for this book because so much of it was based on my own experiences. Surviving the first year of parenthood is a tricky thing and I’ve done it twice and so I have plenty of experience. What was difficult with this book for me was the pressure to make it better than the first book. We’ve all read sequels that quite literally stank up the room. We’ve all seen film sequels and wished they hadn’t made them. Sequels are hard. My main thing was that I wanted to keep the book the same. It had to be believable. The characters had to be the sort of people we all know, the scenes had to be something that we can all relate to, and the humour had to come across as natural. The first book worked because it was about real life and I wanted to keep the same formula and if anything I made it more real, more mundane, and I let the characters and situations speak for themselves.

I’m so proud of my ‘This Life’ series of books because they capture a moment that not only I went through, but I think that all parents go through. They’ve had so many great reviews and in Harry I think I’ve created a really funny, annoying, complicated and yet simple character that people can relate to. ‘This Family Life’ is definitely my favourite book of the series and who knows, maybe they’ll be a ‘This Fortysomething Life’ one of these days!
Below is an excerpt from the book and Harry (he’s a teacher) is off on a school trip for five days and he gets a bit of a surprise when he comes back!

Sunday 21 April 7.15 p.m.

Home. Packing for Dartmoor. Emily putting William to sleep. Dad out with CT. Still raining. I fear Devon might be a bit of a mudfest.

This is my last diary entry for a week. Tomorrow I’m off to Dartmoor on the school trip. Five days of camping, hiking, abseiling, canoeing, cooking, trying to get seventy kids to sleep, realising that half the boys are trying to get into the girls’ tents during the night, making sure they don’t, waking up too early, sharing a tent with Rory and Alan (who has a disgraceful bottom at the best of times), trying to stop the parents who volunteered from drinking and smoking around the kids, and missing Emily and William terribly - I’m sure it’s going to be fine.
I’m going to finish packing and then I’m going to make love to my wife like a man who’s about to leave for war and might never come back.

8.15 p.m.
Emily has a spot of thrush. I had no sex like a man about to head off to war with the horn.

Saturday 27 April 9.15 a.m.

It’s possible that in my absence William has become a Nazi.
‘Look at this,’ said Emily excitedly. ‘I taught William to wave. William, wave at Daddy. Show Daddy how you can wave.’
Then William did what I can only describe as a Nazi salute.
‘What the fuck was that?’ I said.
‘Ear muffs,’ said Emily putting her hands over his ears.
‘That was his wave.’
‘That wasn’t a wave, Em, it was the Nazi salute.’
‘Oh, Harry, don’t be silly.’
‘William, wave at Mummy,’ I said. ‘Wave at Mummy.’
William took one look at Emily and then did the Nazi salute again.
‘Oh, now you mention it,’ said Emily. ‘It is a bit -’
‘Yeah, our son is a Nazi.’


Things that might happen during your first year of parenthood:
1. You’ll get covered in a ‘nuclear’ poo.
2. You’ll be convinced your son is talking with a Japanese accent.
3. You’ll worry that when your son waves, it looks like a Nazi salute.
Of course, this might just be Harry Spencer.

Taking up where This Thirtysomething Life left off, Harry Spencer and is wife Emily are back and trying to survive their first year of parenthood. It has its ups and downs (and a few bits in the middle), but along the way they begin to understand the true meaning of family and what it takes to be a parent.

Featuring a hilarious cast of extras including Harry’s father-in-law Derek, who has a unique problem with Scotch, Steve and Fiona, the parents from children’s entertainment hell, and a yoga instructor with a prominent camel-toe, This Family Life is the ultimate comedy for anyone who is a parent, has a parent, or is thinking about becoming one.

Tomorrow I have my last blog of the tour on author Katy Regan's website and she's also written a really great blog for me too. So that means tomorrow will be a double blog day!

Until next time.

Jon x

Sunday, July 27, 2014


For the past three weeks I've been doing a blog tour and it finally comes to an end this week. It's been so much fun writing about my new book 'This Family Life' and also working with so many wonderful writers such as Matt Dunn, Katy Regan, Tracy Bloom, Rosie Blake, Sue Watson, to name a few. I've been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many bloggers who have hosted blogs and helped promote my book and written such lovely reviews. It's been a really wonderful experience and one that I'll definitely do again for my next book. 

As the books been out for a month now and to celebrate the last few days of the blog tour, I'm going to lower the already low price of 99p to a ridiculously low 77p. The reason is that I want as many people to read and enjoy the book as possible. When I self-published the original book, 'This Thirtysomething life' I charged as little as possible because my goal as always been for people to read my work. It's what's important to me and working on the blog tour and talking to so many people in the business, I'm even happier to lower the price if it means more readers. The whole reason we write books is so that people can read them and (hopefully) enjoy them.

I have another exciting double blog day on Wednesday this week with the very funny and best selling author Katy Regan, so please stop by and have a read - it's a great blog. Thanks again for everyone that's been involved in my blog tour - you're all wonderful.


Until next time.

Jon X

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


It's another double blog day! As part of my blog tour for 'This Family Life' I'm over on the Novel Kicks website waffling on about how new parents have to juggle work and being at home, while over here you have a treat because the very funny Heather Hill has written a blog just for you. If you don't know Heather, she's a very funny Scottish lady who's just released her debut novel 'The New Mrs D', which has been getting lots of great reviews. You can get it right here. So without further ado, here's Heather talking about a recent holiday she took in Scotland. 

The lovely Heather Hill

Firstly a HUGE thank you to Jon for letting me loose on his site after my hosting his ‘This Family Life’ Blog Tour over on my blog. I wish him the best of luck with his book and the remainder of the tour.

Last week, I took a break from writing for a family holiday off the north coast of Scotland. I was in Sutherland, expecting rain, high winds and a blue tan, yes, but looking forward to taking in some breath-taking scenery. Yet I was pleasantly surprised because we had what turned out to be a glorious week, where I even got to stand on the very same beach John Lennon played on every summer from the age of nine to seventeen. John’s family had a holiday cottage in the stunning little village of Durness, and he would go there for three weeks during the school holidays. And as I stood taking in the immense, wild beauty of Sangobeag Beach, pondering the childhood experiences of one of Britain’s greatest artistic talents, I thought, ‘his midgie bite collection must have been streets ahead of mine.’ Because, after just one day there, I had a braille tattoo where my back used to be. I’m not sure, but I think it said, ‘thanks for lunch’.

There were scores of them, buzzing round my head and taking aim at me like I was King Kong and they were tiny American army pilots. On one particularly damp morning, I found myself emerging from a cloud of them, saying, ‘and tonight Matthew, I’m going to be… Sting!‘ 


In Sutherland, they have a weather forecast and a midgie forecast. Although I found there weren’t so many of the little buggers on the beaches, they seemed to like hanging out most around fresh water places. But I’ll share a bit of actual-factual info that could save your skin - only the female’s bite. So if you can stick to just being pals with the Mr Midgies, you’ll be fine. But you must, must go to Sutherland. Nowhere does stunning scenery, peace, tranquility and miles and miles of white, sandy, almost deserted beaches like the Scottish Highlands. And I went to Cape Wrath! Yes, ‘I’ stood on the edge of a cliff at the most north western tip of the British Isles and didn’t fall off. Sorry about that.

Now I am refreshed.

In the words of The Big Yin, one of my comedy heroes, Billy Connolly, ‘you should go to Scotland, it’s a fabbie place.’ And now, I must haste me back to writing my next novel.

You have been reading comedy writer, author and mum of five (not the band) Heather Hill. You’ll find my blog here at:, my daily thoughts and musings on Twitter @hell4heather and my genuinely hilarious debut novel, ‘The New Mrs D’, here:


Thanks so much to Heather for writing a brilliant blog. If you want to read my blog on the Novel Kicks site click right here.

Until next time.

Jon X

Monday, July 21, 2014


As part of my blog tour for 'This Family Life', I've asked other writers to write blogs for me, and today we have the very wonderful and funny Sue Watson. If you haven't heard of Sue or read any of her books, she's currently in the Kindle top 100 with her latest romantic comedy 'Love, Lies and Lemon Cake' which you should definitely check out right now! So without further waffle from me, here's Sue and her very funny blog about being the parent of a teenager! 


Hi Jon Rance fans! As part of his ‘This family Life’ blog tour, Jon is over on my blog talking about the highs, lows and apocalyptic horrors of early parenthood so do pop over.

As a mother of a 15-year-old I read Jon’s hilarious blog post with a strange combination of revulsion and deep, nostalgic longing for ‘The Nappy Years’. I am here to tell Harry (and Jon for that matter!) that once they hit puberty the vile and disgusting contents of his children’s potties will seem like a day in the park.

Like all teenagers my daughter firmly believes the sole reason for her parents’ existence is to cause her maximum embarrassment. I’m over forty, not cool, I can’t get free tickets to gigs, I don’t speak in acronyms (WTF is that about?) and I’m not on Snap Chat, Kick Ass, Ask Fm nor, sadly am I a YouTube sensation (but I’d give it a go). Therefore, it seems without these highly rated teen credentials I am of no use to the world and should leave at the earliest opportunity.

In my new book ‘Love,Lies and Lemon Cake,’ the main character Faye is over forty her only child has left home and she’s feeling pretty useless. But I reckon the teenage process is put there to prepare parents for the empty nest and that apart from the obvious dispensing of cash or lifts by car, parents are pretty pointless when a kid hits their teens. At 2 or 3 years old a little one smiles and looks in wonderment at Mummy and Daddy – but at 13 your own child is replaced by something scary. On their thirteenth birthday, all children are reprogrammed to roll their eyes at anyone over 25, put two fingers up in family holiday snaps, say ‘gross’ or ‘ew’ to everything a parent utters and treat any polite inquiry regarding school or food consumption as ‘interrogation.’


When my daughter became a teen I worried we’d grow apart so attempted to involve myself in her life by requesting her friendship on Face Book. This was grudgingly accepted with conditions: I wasn’t allowed to ‘lurk’ ‘like’ or ‘tag’ and under no circumstances was I ever permitted to put a smiley face (or anything else ‘lame’) on her status updates.

I accepted her ‘friendship’ with the humble gratefulness of Uriah Heap adhering strictly to the somewhat rigid rules my internet Scrooge imposed. However, recently I suffered an immediate un-friending and my first verbal warning when, on my own page I posted a lovely picture of the cat. Okay, I may have referred to the cat as ‘my pussy,’ which might have been taken as a double entendre by some – but this, to my daughter was apparently the ultimate, ‘gross... eww.’ I’m currently sitting on the Face Book naughty step and have been told sanctions will be lifted when I’ve earned some online trust and stopped doing ‘Carry On’ style updates with Mrs Slocombe undertones (my words – she’s never heard of either).

I could write for hours on this subject I have so much material – as this is just a flavour of the joyful teenage confection to come. But in the meantime don’t worry Harry (Jon) if this all seems a bit daunting because there is a light at the end of the teenage tunnel. As writers we can have exquisite revenge on our teen tormentors... use all their lines and turn them into a book. Now how ‘gross’ is that? Eww!


 If you want to read my blog on her site, please pop over here

Until next time.

Jon X