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In every day life, John Jackson, a former Ship's Captain now retired. He still retains an avid interest in the Hash House Harriers, Rugby, Food, Romantic Fiction, Philately, etc etc etc.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Nights are Drawing In

Yes, the nights ARE drawing in, and it can only mean one (actually, several) things.

The RNA Winter Party – AND the new series of Strictly Come Dancing!

I write this just after the RNA Winter Party. I had booked early and cheaply to get a train ticket at a decent price, but I still arrived in London just in time for the Love Stories Awards. Normally these are held at the Festival of Romance. Unfortunately, that was cancelled so their organiser, Kate Allan, rearranged the awards for the same day as the Winter Party. 

The venue was Jewel, a fashionable drinking hole close to Piccadilly, and it was well supported by writers, bloggers and editors. A good start to the day, and great to see so many friends there.

Mandy Baggot, who needs no introduction, and Kate Allan,
who organised the event and kept the bubbly flowing!
Julie Cohen, - a Winner!!

Samantha Tonge, whose Game of Scones is a REALLY good beach-read (and another winner)

Waterstones on Piccadilly was placed handily half way between Jewel and the Royal Over-Seas League. A handy spot to gather breath, especially timing our arrival for Happy Hour, but the pull of the party held firm and after the shortest of breaks we were off to the League.

This was one of their best ever parties, and pretty well as full as it could be. I talked to a LOT of friends old and new for three hours plus, and STILL managed to miss several people. Such is life! I missed Alison Morton completely, and only got a passing glimpse of Carol McGrath and Imogen Howson, and missed getting snaps of several friends! I'll do better next time, promise.

Highlights for me included finally meeting, if only briefly, Ellie Dean and Fanny Blake, whose books i have REALLY enjoyed.

Julia Ibbotson and Ellie Dean
Lynda and Hadyn Stacey, with Liam Livings.

Lynda Stacey and Kate Johnson

I did manage to talk to Jane Eastgate though, who is going to edit my MS. A new experience for me; we have met a couple of times, she has already seen part of the MS and she comes highly recommended, so I eagerly await the results. 

Once I have them, I’ll act on them and then start touting the MS around, and try and get myself an agent.

The writing course I mentioned in my last blog was a blast! 11 eager pupils and 2 wise owls tutoring us. A great place for it, too, and back in my old back yard (we lived 4 miles away for many years). 
Our wise owls were Alison May and Janet Gover, good writers and good teachers both.

Wendy Prove and Immi Howson

I followed this up with a one-day course in York, held by two more friends, Rhoda Baxter and Jane Lovering. I’ve spent a lot of the time since then trying to put into practice what I learnt and improve the MS. Time will tell if I’ve been successful.

Oh, we also had a quick break in Northumbria at Bamburgh. In preparation for The Last Kingdom on TV (it's allegedly Uhtred's home)

The Christmas Season is upon us and we live in challenging times. Have a great party season, stay safe, love and be loved, and may Christmas and the New Year bring you all you wish yourselves, (only more so)

The next update will be in the New Year!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

.....And a Short Cool Summer *sigh*

Time for another blog update!

A busy couple of months too. I have been insanely busy editing and correcting “the book”. I submitted it back in June under the New Writers Scheme. For my non-writing friends, this is a scheme organised by the Romantic Novelists Assoc., whereby – if you are accepted– they will arrange for your manuscript to be given the “once over” by an experienced author who knows what they are doing.

The lady who read and critted my MS did a brilliant job. I’ll never know who it was – that is part of the deal. It is completely anonymous, but the level of detail she covered was brilliant. A shed-load of work, but all very do-able and all sensible. So if she happens to read this – many thanks.

I’ve now reached the stage where I need to send it out into the cruel wide world to try and find an agent who will take it on. I’ve still got about 3 weeks more work first. It still needs a final polish.

I’ve been busy on the Social side, too. I went down to Oxford for the biannual UK Nash Hash – exceptionally well hosted by Oxford H3. Before the festivities started I had time for a very convivial lunch with a favourite author and friend – Liz Harris.

While my running days are over, I go purely for the joy of meeting old friends. Besides, who could resist a weekend imbibing the excellent Hook Norton?

Loads of friends there, but more special than most was seeing Whad-Ya-Say (known in the civilian world as Iain McRobbie) up and around after a shocking accident when he was knocked off his bike. Long may his recovery continue. Even the weather smiled for most of the weekend.

This is the famous Whad-Ya-Say, Good to see!

Oh, and for the avoidance of doubt, I can confirm that Oxford is FULL of outstanding pubs!

London H3 still throw a mean cocktail Party - and dress accordingly!

Hashers en-mass are always a colourful bunch!

Two friends from my local RNA Chapter, Lynda and Jane, arranged the RNAs first event in the North of the UK, “The York Tea”. We had the use of the Guildhall in York, handily close to Bettys, and a gorgeous venue on its own.

About 85 RNA members and guests turned up, some from considerable distance away – and a seriously convivial afternoon tea was had by all. Kudos to Lynda and Jane (and their other halves) for putting it all together. What we’d REALLY like now is for one of the other RNA Chapters to take it on for the next one.  

 This is Katie Fford who has the biggest smile on the face of the earth and came for the day all the way from Cheltenham!! THAT's dedication.

A great venue!

 The afternoon started with a glass of prosecco, which certainly had the desired effect of loosening everyone's tongues, and finished with the hysterically funny Milly Johnson presenting a paper comparing Northern Birds with their Southern Counterparts. I laughed so much the tears ran down my legs. 😂

I resumed my visits to Silverstone this year, going back for the Silverstone Classic. 2 days of classic sports and racing cars, back from my formative years and even before!

This was when racing cars LOOKED like racing cars – besides, what can you say about a race with 7 Bentleys and 3 Bugattis – all from the 20s and 30s.

It does rather help if the rain stays away.

Coming up, I’ve got a weekend writing course in a couple of weeks – just up the road from our old home in Evesham. Hopefully I’ll be in time to get a few punnets of plums. It's jam, jelly and chutney time again. Haxby, our village, has a couple of crab apple trees right outside the Post Office and Sainsbury's. There are also a lot of Rowan trees, so we now have a stock of Crab-apple Jelly, and Crab and Rowan Jelly nestling next to the beer in our garage-cum-beer cupboard.

Next time, I’ll tell you of the frustrations of trying to find an agent and/or publisher!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Another Long Hot Summer

Wow!! Just back from my first RNA Conference. For my non-writing friends, this was a VERY concentrated three days of talks, workshops and panels, freely mixed with meeting toooooo many old and new friends to count, and doing a LOT of socialising. More on the Conference in a moment.

A month ago, we went over to Ireland for our major holiday this year. This was a combination of meeting more old friends, including many Hash House Harrier friends, and a chance to do some research as well as have a great break.
We managed all four, just. Dublin, Galway, Mullingar and Cork.

H3 (that's Hash House Harriers)  friends growing old disgracefully in Galway.

Mullingar was the highlight in many ways – the on-line research that I had been doing for my book was pleasantly confirmed, but I really wanted to get a “feel” for the places. It’s a gorgeous area. My leading villain, Robert Rochfort’s house is still there, as is his brother’s, and the wall he built between their houses. (he didn’t like the view, and trees took too long to grow!)

Robert's House "Belvedere"

Georges House "Rochfort House" (Now renamed Tuddenham)

The Wall that Robert built.

We loved Ireland. Lots of space and GREAT driving. Empty motorways and low tolls. The Guinness really DOES taste different in Ireland, as well.
Of course, as always, it’s the people!  Old friends, new friends, more old friends and young friends!

My friends over at Manchester Hash House Harriers were celebrating their third birthday in June, and it would have been churlish not to join them for a real fun weekend. Apart from the friends (again / more) the highlight has GOT to be playing Hungry Hippos with real people!! Hysterical.

It IS as much fun as it looks!!

And so to the RNA Conference. I was told by Roger Sanderson, the doyen of male RNA members, that you see the RNA at their best at Conference and he was NOT wrong. A great weekend, a stack of friends old and new and a lot of very helpful info for someone like me. I had three meetings with Agents/publishers/editors all of which were excellent and very positive, I went to a LOT of talks, lectures and workshops and generally had a great time.

Some highlights? Hazel Gaynor on promotion, Jane Johnson, Joanne Hickson & Jenny Barden on Research, Charlotte Betts, Emma Darwin on keeping the reader reading(your book), Alison May on projects down the line, AND

                                The utterly brilliant Julie Cohen on the Art of the Rewrite!!

(subtitled Repetition is Death!)

On the social side, it was almost beyond comment. I’m sure RNA members will be reassured to know I’ll be over in France stocking up on bubbles before next Conference. Preparation is key.

I took over 400 pics of the weekend, and most of them have appeared on Facebook. Adrienne has grabbed 40 or so for Romance Matters, so we'll see those in a few weeks. (the best ones from the Gala Dinner)

To close, a taste of pics from the totally vital and imperative socialising that accompanies Conference. 

Jenny Barden
Great books and impeccable research.

Liz Harris (old friend who got me into all this in the first place)

 Liam Livings (at last. Good bloke)

 Imogen Howson (who WALKED to Mile End from Kinfs Cross with a Backack!)

The naughty step, with Jane Lovering, Alison May and Kate Johnson.

Lovely Liz

Henri Gyland

Pia and Loraine

The next blog update will be after I get my manuscript back from the New Writers Scheme and pitch into it to incorporate their recommendations, and probably after the August Bank Holiday and UK Nash Hash in Oxford!

Enjoy your summer, wherever it takes you.


Friday, May 22, 2015

The Prune Effect

Or How I need to be More Regular with the Blog Updates.

It's all part of the process of trying to become a published author. Writing the words is only the start.

After the words, comes the line edits and corrections, and, of course, all the corrections and changes that you suddenly find you need.

You've also got do decide what kind of book it is that you have. The best description I can come up with is a “Historical novel, with a strong romantic thread.” There are very strict rules for pure romances. Jane Austen can break them, but not a simple tyro like me.

Why does it matter? Because certain publishers, agents and editors prefer different streams. It would be a real waste of effort to try and sell it into a market for a different genre.

But – we are where we are, and I'm pretty happy so far.

Coming up. I'm drafting this en-route to the RNA Summer party. It'll be a good night tonight. I'll be popping a couple of photos in this update tomorrow.

Most friends will know of Liz Fenwick and her ultra-cool Cornish novels. (Click here - Unashamed plug) Pam and I finally made it back to Cornwall a couple of weeks ago and had one of the best short breaks we have ever had. 

Not only re-visiting a lot of haunts from my childhood but meeting up with Liz at the launch for Under a Cornish Sky. Pam and her finally got to meet as well so an extra bonus. To cap it all, I also got to meet Mandy James, one of the RNA members who got me into all this in the first place.

Talking of “the book” we are off in two weeks or so to Ireland for a holiday-cum-research trip. After meeting up with 250 old friends in Galway we are spending a couple of days in Mullingar, taking lots of pics and generally getting a better feel for the place. It's where the action in the book is set. More past family history. Sometimes it's useful to have some totally scuzzy ancestors.

Also coming up will be a proper web-site, and a “John Jackson – Author” Facebook page. All of the things you have to do if you are serious about it all. Having got this far, it would be really stupid NOT to be serious about it.

RNA-wise after this, it's my first RNA conference in London in early July. As Roger Sanderson – one of the few but really well known male authors in the romantic area told me – you see the RNA at their best at Conference! I, for one, can't thank my RNA friends enough for their help and support getting this all together.

You know what they say - with these three, "There may be trouble ahead......"

More old friends, in Liz and Jenny

AND – Brigid won the Joan Hessayon Award!

Also away from the book, we took friends to see Vincent and Flavia on the last night of their Dance Til Dawn show, in Hull. A great night, and we took friends from Belgium, and met up with several old dancing friends too.. They are now preparing their last show together – The Last Tango. It's sure to be a sell-out. HIGHLY recommended!

So the next blog update will be after the Conference. (and will have more photos!)

Let's see if they like champagne cocktails!


who is also

@jjackson42 on Twitter  on Facebook

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Time Flies – Faster and Faster

Where is this year going? As I write, we are half way through April, and it's almost the asparagus season (always a sign the spring really IS here).

We are now the proud owner of an array of solar panels, It generated a better return for some surplus cash we had than putting it away in an ISA. Almost everything is finished on the house. The conservatory is up and being put to good use. There's still a couple of chairs to get, but that's just a detail.

The book is going remarkably well. I've got some fabulous ancestors on the family tree, including a few really dreadful characters. One of them is providing inspiration for my book. I've been beavering away, and I'm up to 85,000 words. Right now I am about 85% through the narrative, which is just where I want to be, If I finish the narrative line inside the next month, that gives me two months to edit and rewrite before handing it in for evaluation.

Isn't Writer's Block weird? When you just don't know what to write, or where your story is going? I got stuck for about three weeks recently. Frustrating doesn't come close. Luckily, I got some advice from friends at the Romantic Novelists Association RoNA awards night. They were a big help, and thanks for the suggestions. I can say to any (aspiring ) novelist. Just go to an RNA event and you'll find more support and suggestions than you thought possible. A great way out of any particular quandary.

The RoNAs night was excellent. I've read and critted for the awards for the last two years so wanted to go to at least one event to see where it all went, so to speak. A great night with friends, too. Barbara Taylor Bradford looked amazing for 83! Sharp as a button, too.

As I said, a great night. There's me, about ten other blokes, and two hundred women ALL dressed to kill! Nothing wrong there, then!!

My last trip to Belgium was brilliant. Really, one of the best weekends. It started well, with a trip to one of the best beer shops in the country, at Poperinge. They don't spend money on advertising!

The weekend that followed featured no less than 85 different beers. No, I didn't try them all, but I had an outstanding time with about 90 old friends. Roll on next years trip.

So now? Back to the Work in Progress!! (and more regular updates in future. In the next two months we are off to Cornwall and to Ireland, so expect more after that.)


who is also

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