Thursday, August 28, 2014


I literally have one of those good news, bad news things to tell you. I know, it sounds so cliché. But before I start, I'm being rude, how are you? All good? You look fantastic today by the way. OK, sitting comfortably? Right, let's get cracking.

I never know whether to give the good news or the bad news first. Personally I prefer the bad news first - the kick in the balls, before the nice cup of tea and warm hot water bottle that is the good news to follow. So bad news first. I really wanted to write a Christmas novella this year. I spent a long time thinking up ideas, writing a few beginnings, a synopsis or two and I even decided on a final story idea...But...I don't have the time to write it. I so desperately wanted to write this story because it's so lovely, funny, charming, and I think it would have been really good. Plus, I love writing about Christmas. The thing is though, I refuse to put out work that isn't the very best I can do. I could have rushed it out, but the truth is it wouldn't have been my best work. So they'll be no Christmas novella from me.

Instead of rushing out a novella, I'm spending all of my time writing book number four. I want this book to be amazing. It has to be amazing. I'm working harder and longer on this book than any other book because I see that it has enormous potential. The story is fantastic, it has great characters, it's funny, sad, heart warming, and all the things I want in a great novel, plus it has a great hook. So I decided that I didn't want to a half-hearted Christmas novella and a half-hearted novel - I'm focused entirely on one to make it the best book I can write. I honestly feel like as a writer we're under so much pressure to keep churning out book after book and financially I need to, but I also believe that writing great books is the most important thing.

So that's the bad news out of the way and so time for the good news. I have a great promotion coming up next week. I can't go into enormous detail - I'll do that next week - but from next Wednesday I have a great deal that I'm super excited to announce. So stay tuned and I'll write another blog for next Wednesday. OK, so I guess the good news is a lot shorter than the bad news. Typical.

Until next time.

Jon X

Friday, August 22, 2014


A happy weekend to you all. Today's been a weird day for me. My eldest Charlotte starts school on Monday and I'm at a bit of a loss. Five years ago I worked full-time, but then we had Charlotte and I decided to stay at home and be a full-time dad/writer. At that time I hadn't written much. Two full length novels, a bunch of short stories, and I'd had nothing published. Part of the reason I decided to stay at home was that I thought I'd have more time to write. I knew then that I wanted to be an author (not a marketing office bod), and so this was my chance. I didn't know, of course, how much  that decision was going to change my life.

I love being a stay at home dad. Yes, some days are horrible. Yes, I occasionally get lonely and crave adult company, at least a proper conversation that doesn't involve talking about poo, pee, or puke. Sometimes I start drinking before my wife gets home because I'm at the end of my tether...but, without being a stay at home dad, I wouldn't now be a full-time author.

My first published novel, 'This Thirtysomething Life' was mainly written when Charlotte was young (and still napped a lot and so I actually had some free time), and it was inspired by having her. After my wife gave birth to Charlotte, the idea for the book came to me. A funny book about childbirth and becoming a parent from a man's point of view. If we hadn't had kids, I could never have written that book (write about what you know, right?). If we hadn't had kids, I would have kept on working full-time and maybe I would never have become a published author. All what ifs, but having Charlotte changed my life, in so many more ways than one.

So, back to today. It's her last day at home with me before she starts school on Monday. I'm going to miss her so much, more than it's possible to write about in a blog, but I owe her so much. I still have my three old year Jack, who's off to preschool two morning a week (and finally giving me some much needed writing time), but Charlotte is off now and will never completely come back. People talk a lot about being parents. There's so many quotes on it, books about it, but the truth is until you do it, feel that love, that pain, that sadness, that life changing happiness, nothing can prepare you for it.

I've loved every single moment at home with Charlotte. She's an incredible little girl. She's so funny, smart, goofy, and always has a smile, a kiss, a hug, and lots of love for me, but she's going away to school and she's going to change. The world has a bit of her now that I'll never get back and it makes me sad. I know it's OK though because the last five years are in her, they've made her who she is. 

Five years ago I was a full-time office worker with dreams, ambitions, and a child on the way with no idea what to expect. Now I'm a published author, with a five year old going off to school, a three year old off to preschool, and although I still have no idea what to expect...I know we'll all be OK. Although, we're moving back to England in January (after 10 years in San Diego, CA), and life is going to change again...I guess I'll let you know how I'm doing in five years.

Until next time.

Jon X

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I'm pleased to have a very special guest back on my site for the third time. He's a man who needs no introduction, but I'll give him one anyway. He's the award losing author (twice) of eight best selling romantic comedy novels, and he's written about life, love, and relationships for The Times, Guardian, The Sun, and for a number of magazines including Cosmopolitan, Company, Elle, and Glamour. He lives in London and previously worked as a lifeguard and an I.T. headhunter, before realising that writing novels was a far better use of his time. Any guesses? Of course, it's the brilliant, funny, and talented Mr Matt Dunn, and he's talking about his latest novel, 'What Might Have Been'. 

Mr Matt Dunn

A couple of years ago, I read a book called “The Seven Basic Plots”, which outlines the seven story lines that every book/film/play can be summarized by. As a writer about to embark on his eighth novel, this was more than a little concerning.

Fortunately, another old writing maxim, ‘write what you know’ came to my rescue. Years ago (oh, the shame), I was involved in a ‘love triangle’ (no, that’s not a Fifty Shades-type perversion involving Dairylea cheese) – I started seeing a girl who already had a boyfriend. In my defence, she didn’t tell me, and whether she began seeing me to test her feelings for him, I’m not sure, but one thing I knew – I was mad about her.

Unfortunately, I was even madder when I found out, so I did the decent thing and walked away. And ever since*, I’ve wondered what might have been had I stayed and fought for her (*until I met my lovely wife, of course, if you’re reading this, sweetheart).

And that struck me as a great premise for a novel; the idea that someone was so scared that they’d once turned their back on the love of their life that they’d do anything – risk everything – for another chance.

Evan McCarthy’s such a person. Knocked off his feet by Sarah Bishop, he’s convinced the two of them are meant to be together. So why she’s marrying someone else is beyond him. But Sarah’s sure she’s doing the right thing. Or at least she’s managed to convince herself she is. Until Evan arrives back on the scene. A week before her wedding.

Normally, I’d end that paragraph with ‘...and hilarity ensues’, but while What Might Have Been (for that’s the title of the book) is still a rom-com, it’s perhaps a little more serious than my seven previous novels - perhaps because the subject matter’s a little darker. Or maybe because I’m getting older. Or maybe – just maybe – because I’m still wondering what might have been
Pick up your copy of 'What Might Have Been' at Amazon

Cheers Matt. I've read nearly all of Matt's books and they're always funny, always entertaining, and always keep me turning the page. So pop on over to Amazon and get your copy today - you won't be disappointed.

Follow Matt on twitter: @mattdunnwrites
Matt's website:

Until next time.

Jon X

Friday, August 8, 2014


A very happy Friday to you all. I hope you've had a lovely week. I'm in the middle of editing book number four, and so I thought I'd write a last blog about 'This Family Life' before I move on. It's funny being a writer because we spend so long writing books, getting to know the characters, submerging ourselves in the worlds we create, but once we finish them we never really going back to read them. At least I don't anyway. Maybe it's because I read them about fifty times while writing them. Anyway, so before I say goodbye to 'This Family Life' for good (at least until I write 'This Fortysomething Life' anyway), here are my final thoughts.

When I started writing 'This Family Life' I struggled a bit at first. I found it hard to find the story. The trouble with writing a diary novel is keeping the main story going alongside all of the day-to-day more mundane entries. If you've read 'This Thirtysomething Life' or 'This Family Life' you'll know that a lot of the comedy comes from observing life. I like to take things that each of us go through in life and point out why it's funny - almost like an extended stand-up routine. It's these observations that form the basis of a lot of the comedy in the book. Like for example when Harry goes to management training, which I've done myself, and just the absurdity of it. Writing this book I had lots of funny ideas, especially on being a parent, but how to form all of that into a coherent story?

A couple of things happened which brought the plot together. I'll try and explain this without giving too much away. Probably the biggest breakthrough I had was deciding to bring Harry's parents into the book in a big way. In the first book, they only played a very small part. They were peripheral characters, who although I loved writing, didn't really play a big part, but I decided that they would play a much bigger role in this book. I also think it makes sense because speaking from experience, when you have children grandparents do play a bigger role in your life and so it felt only natural. Once I knew they were going to be in it a lot more, I had to create a storyline for them and this is when things started to click.

The second thing that happened was that I introduced new neighbours. I sort of knew from the start that I wanted to create some new characters for this book. I loved the characters from 'This Thirtysomething Life' and most of them are back, but I felt like I needed a new set of people who would dramatically impact Harry and Emily, and so new neighbours seemed like the obvious choice. Having a new couple on the street with their own child, set off a whole new world of story ideas. So from struggling with ideas for a strong plot line to thread through the book, suddenly I had almost too many ideas. Actually when I sent the first half of the book to my agent, the first thing she said was that I was trying to do too much. There was too much going on and that I had to focus the story more.

The good thing about having too much is that it's easier to cut back rather than think up new ideas. I was soon decided on the main story lines and after that the book wrote itself. Not literally, obviously, but it it did come together very quickly. I already had so much comedy material, so many ideas for set pieces, scenes, and characters that once the main story came together, I just needed to hang everything else on it.

I love writing these books and I'm definitely going to revisit Harry, Emily, and baby William again. I'm turning 40 next year and so once I have some very real experience of that I'm sure I'll be able to write a 'This Fortysomething Life' and who know where Harry will be, if he'll have more children, the same job, etc, but one thing is for sure, whatever happens to Harry and co, it's going to be funny, heart warming, and I'm going to really enjoy writing it.
Pop on over to Amazon and pick up your copy

Until next time.

Jon X

Thursday, July 31, 2014


So this is it! August 1st - the last day that my new novel 'THIS FAMILY LIFE' is on sale for 77p. After today it's going to be its regular price of 1.99. The books been out for a month now and it's been 99p and then 77p for the last few days, but it's time to put the price up (sorry). So if you want to get it cheap get it now! If you haven't read it, here's what people are saying.

'This is my first book of Jon Ranch and I can't wait to read the rest....sooooo funny....couldn't put it it in 2 days.'

'Absolutely hilarious read. There aren't too many books that can claim to be a laugh on every page, but this classic comedy from Jon Rance is truly funny. It's refreshing to read rom-com from a male point of view too. Highly enjoyable!

'The perfect Summer read.'

'What an amazing book, I finished it over two days and was gutted every time I had to stop reading to do something else, Jon has an amazing talent to make you feel like you know each and every character and you feel so engrossed in the story it's untrue.'

'Characters you will love and recognise, a story line anyone can relate to that has experience of children ( either their own or friends) and a laugh on every page turn.'

'Best 99p ever spent!'

'This is a touching, humorous, adorable read. I defy you not to read it all in one go, it's fantastic.'

I put my heart and soul into this book and it means a lot to me. These characters have become a part of my life and I love writing them and I hope that comes across in the book. It also means a lot because some of this stuff actually happened to me. I'm a dad. I survived the first year of parenthood and so it's about a part of my life I'll never forget. If you want a very real, funny, and heart warming story about parenthood, family, and being a thirtysomething man trying to deal with both (and often failing) then this is the book for you. It's also only 77p for one last day...TODAY!

Until next time.

Jon X

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


It's here - the final day of my blog tour for 'This Family Life'. I must say that it's been brilliant and a huge thank you to everyone that got involved and did their bit. I'll see you all again for my next book! 

Today is a double blog day so you can see my final blog over on Katy Regan's site right here, and on my website I have a real treat for you. The bestselling author of 'The One Before The One', 'How We Met' and her latest, 'The Story Of You' Katy Regan has written a brilliant blog about trying to add humour to drama - something I often struggle with myself. Before I leave you with Katy's blog, please, please, please, if you haven't already, pop on over to Amazon and have a look at 'This Family Life', it's only 77p at the moment. Cheers!

The very lovely Katy Regan

Hello Jon Rance fans! Thanks so much, Jon for having me on your blog tour. Today I am writing about the difficulties I experienced when writing my latest novel, THE STORY OF YOU. In particular, how I finally learnt to inject comedy in a book that deals with some dark and difficult subject matter.

Have you ever thought, when you’ve read a book how hard it was to write for the author? Like, oh wow, that’s a good scene, I bet they spent a long time in a prison / in Jamaica / in a swinger’s commune for that. Or, how did she come up with that character’s voice or write that sex scene? That must have taken her MONTHS (and a whole lot of getting over her embarrassment.)

Perhaps you have a little (especially if you are a writer) but chances are, not that much, because if the book is doing its job, you are too enthralled in the story, too busy watching the scene to think about what’s gone on backstage.

For me, it’s the same; certainly when reading other books but even with my own. At the time of writing it, obviously, it’s hard. The last book I wrote (the one out now) The Story of You was hellishly hard. In fact I often thought it would never see the light of day.

I always say, writing a book is like trying to do a Bayeux-sized tapestry without your reading glasses: fiddly, intricate, takes forever and you can’t see the wood for the trees.

Then the book comes out and I still can’t read it. It’s like I’ve got post-book-baby-depression: It gave me such hell on the delivery that I don’t want to look at it, I’m not bonding! Then, hopefully a few nice reviews might come in and I can at least read it. A few months down the line and I haven’t forgotten the general trauma, (!) but when I read it, I’ve forgotten which bits hurt the most, which chapters I slaved over, banged my head against a brick wall about and thought would never get finished.

However, I think it’s a useful exercise at some point, to sit down and ask yourself, why was it so hard? What made this book such a beast? If only so that you do not make the same mistakes again, or at least to give yourself a pat on the back and say, I overcame those difficulties and did it in the end.

For me, with this book, there was one over-riding difficulty (amongst everything else: you know, plot, character, structure….the whole blasted thing!) And that was TONE. I like writing funny. All my other books have had a certain degree of comedy, although admittedly have become darker in shade as they’ve gone on. This, my fourth, was definitely my darkest and yet, I still wanted to make it funny. I still wanted that light and shade. That bitter-sweetness which I think reflects real life.  The problem was, when the subject matter is so harrowing in places (I won’t give any spoilers but you can imagine……) how do I inject humour? What is remotely humorous about the sorts of events that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy?

I struggled. A lot. I really struggled to get the balance right and I am not even sure if I’ve managed it now.  I wrote passages then deleted them all when they made me cringe. I cut whole chapters, lots of chapters! I tried to inject comedy where there really shouldn’t be any and vice-versa and it was only a matter of trial and error (A LOT of trial and error) and re-writing that I ended up with something I was happy with.

So along this journey, what were my thought processes?  What specific ‘comedy’ issues did I have? Well, for a start, the main female character in the book is called Robyn and she’s a psychiatric nurse. Obviously her patients are mentally ill and this gave rise to some great narrative potential, drama, conflict and, essentially humour. However, I had to get the humour right, or else it would look tasteless: I couldn’t have her laugh AT her patients – I wouldn’t dream of that and nor would she – but patients do funny things, my research showed me that. I talked to endless psychiatric nurses who told me how nothing was unusual on a psychiatric ward, how literally anything could happen. Every ridiculous scenario I put to them, they said ‘Yep, happens all the time’. However, there is a fine balance, between maximizing the colour these scenes could give in a book, and taking the P out of mentally ill people. One of the central characters in The Story of You is Grace Bird, who has schizophrenia. I wanted her to be central to the drama, but for Robyn to treat her empathetically and sensitively – and also for their scenes to be funny when appropriate.  Much harder than it sounds! Nathan Filer, the author of The Shock of the Fall, which is narrated by a schizophrenic and won the Costa prize, no less gave me some fantastic advice. “Just don’t send her up” he said. “And remember anything is possible on a psychiatric ward”. I tried to remember that as I wrote and I really hope I’ve pulled it off.

My second issue with comedy was the fact that Robyn herself had gone through an awful lot of trauma, but I wanted her to be a funny, humorous person. How could she be irreverent? How would she be an optimistic person? Above all, I didn’t want her to be a moaner and I wanted her to fall in love. And yet, I worked out (sounds obvious but when you’re in it, it’s not always easy to see the wood for the trees) that just because awful things have befallen you (in fact often BECAUSE awful things have befallen you, some of the funniest, certainly the most resilient people I know have been through the worst things) doesn’t mean you aren’t essentially the same person inside. A funny person. Victims of trauma are often the most optimistic of people, because the worst has already happened. This then became the basis for Robyn’s character: She was as strong as she was vulnerable, she still had so much hope despite the fact she’d actually been very unlucky so far. This is the type of person I decided, I’d want to read about, and ultimately who I would want to spend time with (lucky when the book took me eighteen months to write.)This unlocked the ‘Robyn’ key for me.  Comedy can be found in the darkest, deepest of places, after all. It’s just a matter of how you bring it to the foreground.

Follow me @katyreganwrites or pop over to my website

The brilliant 'The Story Of You' out now!

Until next time.

Jon X

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