Book Talk: ‘The Novice’ by Taran Matharu

*Warning – overuse of the words cool and coolest.*

Hey guys. Hope you’re all good.

It’s been a few weeks since I found out about Taran Matharu. The first literary agent I submitted my query too is the agent that represents Taran and it was while doing some research on her that I came across him. And I’m glad I did.

To start off, I can tell you that by talking to him on Twitter, reading a couple of interviews and seeing a couple of videos that he has done, Taran is a cool guy. (FYI, the piece he wrote about how racial bullying turned him to writing about fantasy races is pretty moving and you can find a link to it by trawling through his Twitter. Oh and he’s a cool tweeter too. Look him up at @TaranMatharu1).

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Update #6 – Literary Agent Situation

Hey guys, Hope you’re all good.

Finding myself kinda busy right now. Wanted to post this update and cross it off my ‘to do’ list.

Okay so since I posted my last update, I have received my third literary agent rejection.

It’s fine. I’m fine. I only felt bad for a little bad. #Perseverance

The agent who has my full manuscript I’m still waiting to hear back from. Fingers still crossed. Spare me a thought if you would my friends. 🙂

On to the second part of this update. #Excited #Hopeful

Until next time guys.


Book One Problems

Hello everyone!  Brandon here. Sorry it’s been a couple of months since my last post. The past few months have been pretty hectic (I’ve been in the process of plotting my new book, writing the outline for it, working on submissions for writing contests, and dealing with life in general), but I’m finally back with a new post. In my previous blog post, Beginning (Almost) From Scratch, I talked a bit about reworking, and eventually rewriting, the earlier books in my series, The Indigo Chronicles. I spent years tweaking them, especially the first book, Tomb Terror, trying to find a way to perfectly set up the series, the characters, and the world they inhabit. I will admit, I had a very definite idea of what the entire series would look like. I knew the titles of each book in the series, and where in the series each book fell. The problem was, Tomb Terror always wound up being two stories in one; the first few chapters were basically the setup for the series, but Tomb Terror’s main plot didn’t even begin until three or even four chapters in—not good. I wracked my brain, trying to figure out how to set everything up seamlessly, while introducing the main plot sooner, and almost always wound up getting frustrated when it wouldn’t work out the way I wanted it to. I found countless articles online that stressed the importance of a good first chapter, because, as I knew quite well, a well-done first chapter can mean the difference between someone eagerly reading the entire book cover to cover, and someone putting the book down after just a few pages and never returning to it. I even consulted “book ones” from other series, and noted how the authors established their plot and main conflict for the novel itself, while still introducing elements that would span the entire series. Of course, I found myself listening to the Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone audiobook again and again, especially the first two chapters. The first few minutes of the audiobook almost immediately raised several questions to keep the reader invested in the story (“What’s up with this strange cat on Privet Drive?” “Who are the cloaked people Vernon Dursley encountered?” “Why are the Dursleys so afraid of the Potters?” “Why are there owls flying around in the daytime?”), and by the end of the first chapter, had already set the groundwork for much of what was to come in the rest of the series (including clever, throwaway mentions of Sirius Black, who would not be seen until book three; and Dumbledore’s crooked, formerly broken nose, which would finally be addressed in book seven). I marveled at how well it was all written, and then remembered that J.K. Rowling herself once said that she rewrote that first chapter fifteen times because nearly every version of it gave away too much of the plot. As I continued to examine my own work, I began wondering if everything I’d written beyond chapter two or three of Tomb Terror would work best as the second book in my series, instead of the first. Over the past several months, a nearly steady stream of ideas on how to expand the first couple of chapters into a new, full-length “book one” flooded my mind, and it wasn’t long before I realized that this was what I needed to do, though I initially resisted the idea, because it meant changing things about the series that, in my eyes, had already been set in stone. Though my new “book one” is still in the outline stage, it already feels far more cohesive than its predecessor. The backstories of my characters had to be tweaked a bit, and while it was a lot of hard work, it feels worth it to create something that truly feels (at least, as of right now) like it is working, and seems to be moving in the right direction. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s okay to have a plan for your series. In fact, I highly recommend it. But don’t become so married to a plan that you become unwilling to tweak it, and make full-on changes to it. Sometimes you’ll make changes that you don’t like, or ones that don’t work, and in those cases, it’s okay to go back to the original version and start again from there. And sometimes you’ll make changes that you wind up loving, and feel right. If I hadn’t come around to the idea of building a new “book one” around the first few chapters of Tomb Terror, and pushing Tomb Terror itself back to book two in the series, I’d likely still be struggling and frustrated and making very little headway.  The more open you are to new possibilities, the better.

Happy writing everyone!

Until next time,


Author Interview: Jack Croxall

Hey guys. Hope you’re all good.

For this post, this Author Interview, I interviewed an author by the name of Jack Croxall who wrote a trilogy called ‘Tethers’.

Personally, I have recently begun communicating with Jack over Twitter after someone on there told me about him. Jack and I are both from Nottingham, England and after talking to him, I thought it would be cool to have be part of the PenScratch ‘Author Interview’ series.

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Update #4 – I got Rejected, Why am I Smiling?!

Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind.

Hey guys. Hope you’re all good.

In this post, I wanted to talk about my latest project and how it came to be. I’m excited about it and thought I would share it with you all. If you read the last post, you know about the rejection I received from the literary agent. What you don’t know is what happened after that. That’s what I want to tell you.

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Beginning (Almost) From Scratch

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all well.

In my last post, I talked quite a bit about some of the early mistakes I made as a writer, as well as the lessons I learned after making them. One of the things I touched on was the early days of my current project, my book series The Indigo Chronicles.

The Indigo Chronicles have gone through several incarnations since 2000. In fact, I didn’t even realize I was writing a series at first. I just kept coming up with more and more ideas for adventures my characters could go on, and before I knew it, I’d written three books starring them. Early titles for the series included the highly original The Adventure Series, as well as Artifacts (that was around the time when I thought the books would contain lots of history and archaeology) and Discovery Cove (which I changed to The Indigo Chronicles in 2005 after I learned that there is an adventure park in Florida by that same name).

In 2005, I had a sudden burst of inspiration involving The Indigo Chronicles. Over the course of a few weeks, I came up with dozens of ideas for books in the series. I scribbled them all down as fast as I could, as even more ideas for a handful of those books began flooding my mind. The problem was, those ideas were for books that were twenty- and thirty books into the series. At the time, I’d already written the first seven books in the series, as well as book ten. But I wrote the books that were later in the series anyway, because I tend to go wherever inspiration takes me.

I was proud of the way the books came out. I still am, in fact. But in the back of my mind, I knew that something was wrong. As time went on, and I began reworking the earlier books in the series, I realized that I would eventually have to completely rewrite them. There were so many things I hadn’t taken into account, such as continuity and character development. Not to mention, I had no endgame for the series. I had no idea where it was headed. What if, after rewriting the earlier books in the series and continuing on from there, my characters and plot were in a completely different place than what I’d written in the later books? I resigned myself to the fact that skipping around the series, writing whichever book I was drawn to at that time, was not a smart idea.

Around 2008 or 2009, I started mapping out my entire series, from plot to characters and everything in-between. It was an exhausting task, but also incredibly exciting. I began coming up with new possibilities, and new ideas, and after a few more years of plotting and outlining, came up with the series’ eventual endgame. Sprinkled throughout the series were ideas from my original incarnation of the series (such as character milestones and turning points), but tweaked so that they made sense in reference to the other stories in the series.

I’m currently in the middle of yet another rewrite of the early books in the series (more on that and the challenges I ran into on my most recent rewrites in a later post), and while while rewriting can feel tedious and difficult when you’re doing it, the end result (at least for me) is usually worth it, and beginning (almost) from scratch was one of the best things I could have ever done.

Until next time,


My Early Writing Mistakes and Lessons

Hey guys. Hope you’re all good.

Writing is almost never easy. It’s a lesson that pretty much every writer has to learn and accept at some point. Quite often, an aspiring writer will get the thought in their head that, because they’ve read lots of interesting and well-written books, that they’d be a master at it right away. Then, they often pick up their pen, open their word processing program of choice, or load their typewriter, only to learn that that couldn’t be further from the truth. And as they write, they find themselves making various mistakes, and hopefully, learning a few lessons.

I grew up reading three of the most popular and best-selling middle-grade and Young Adult book series of the ’90s and early 2000s—Goosebumps, Animorphs, and Harry Potter. Their popularity was undeniable—you’d be hard-pressed to walk into an American elementary school classroom during that time and not come across a book depicting R.L. Stine’s psychotic ventriloquist dummy, Slappy, on its cover; or one showing an attractive teenager transforming into a wild animal in a way that you knew would likely give you nightmares later; or an uncharacteristically thick children’s book that had a young boy riding a broomstick on its cover. There were a few years where it seemed that every kid in my class was reading those books. I devoured every title in all three of those series, as well as a smattering of titles in other popular series such as The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, The Ghosts of Fear Street, and The Hardy Boys. And because I was reading the most popular children’s books of the time, and had read so many of them, I felt that I could write something just as good. No problem.

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Screen Talk: Big Hero 6 Review

Okay so I just had to write this review, even though I wrote a ScreenReport review only a few days ago cos Big Hero 6 was a wicked film!

Hey guys. Hope you’re all good.

So this film brought with it a lot of hyp. And, for the most part, I felt it lived up to it.

I was eagerly looking forward to seeing this film. And overall it didn’t disappoint.

Oh and btw, where can I get a Baymax?

FYI, Spoilers if you read on.

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