It’s been over a year since we last checked in with author Russell Blake’s JET series, and during that time it has ballooned from seven volumes to eleven, with the promise of still more on the way. A couple of months ago Blake announced that he’d written 40 books in 42 months, which means he’s taking about four weeks to write each of these things. On the one hand this is fine, as I’ve turned out novels in as little as seventeen days and sold them (The Night Charter), but on the other hand something has got to give when you’re only spending a couple of days tops thinking up what’s happening in your next book before plunging into it.
Apparently Blake originally intended for the JET series to run only three installments before calling it a day, but they proved so popular that he just kept writing them. This is perfectly okay, though I have to wonder if maybe the weakness of the third, and now the fourth, volumes have to do with wanting to turn out product to feed the maw of his readership regardless of overall quality. I don’t feel as though my time has been wasted by any of the JET novels I’ve read thus far, but I will say that JET: Reckoning has come the closest to turning me off with its flaws.
Continue reading [REVIEW JET: Reckoning
As was foretold in the ancient scrolls, the end of July has come, and with it the end of my midsummer blogging. August is upon us once more, and I will be away from the blog until the 26th, whereupon I shall once again regale you with tales of my exploits.
I’m of two minds about the summer, as you’ve probably guessed by now. On the one hand it drives me up the wall to not work. I write constantly throughout the year, churning out material that may never see the light of day, but which gives me personal satisfaction regardless of its ultimate fate. So when I’m essentially forced to stop working, I can’t help but take it a little personally. Though you’d think that after ten years of this I’d be used to it by now. Maybe some things never really do change.
But as much as I dislike the enforced downtime, I also appreciate it. I’ve talked before about how I use the Pomodoro Technique when writing. It’s an extremely effective tool for maximizing your productive time and I can’t recommend it enough. If you haven’t tried it, you ought to. Maybe it won’t be for you, but if it is, you won’t regret using it. But the point is that the technique revolves around breaks. It may seem like it’s all about concentrated bursts of productivity and it is, sort of, but the secret in the sauce are the mini-breaks scattered throughout your work-time. I’ll explain.
As human beings, we are not wired to stay “on” for hours and hours at a stretch. Our brains require rest. That’s why we sleep and that’s why we idle. It’s exhausting to concentrate all day long without any respite, and the potential for burnout is very high when you do that. I know I’ve fried my brain more than once trying to work for six or eight hours at a time. It’s just not healthy, and I don’t care if Russell Blake says he works twelve hours a day.
Continue reading And just like that… he’s gone.