Something About Me

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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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Forward!!

It's a while since I wrote a blog update. 6 weeks or so. Lots of "bits of news" but the big "Bit" is that "A Heart of Stone" will be published by Crooked Cat Books in October / November. As I write this, I am waiting for the first batch of edits to come through.

This is a "Dummy Cover", but is certainly atmospheric enough.

While that happens, I am pressing on with Book 2. Also historical, and one generation in the future. The setting this time is London and the continent. This WiP brings its own problems. I've got good, strong characters, good locations, and a host of sub-plots. What I am missing is the main story arc! If people remember Lark Rise to Candleford, and/or A Year In Provence, you might recall that both of these excellent books had almost no plot. They were a series of episodes packed with atmosphere, but with nothing happening. However, I need the main story arc. I'm nothing like as good a writer as Peter Mayle or Flora Thompson to make it work without.

Anyway, Liz Fenwick suggested I get hold of Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc: by Dara Marks. This is currently proving very helpful.
 In other news, I'm going to be changing my blog platform to Wordpress and publishing it more as an author site. It'll be at Just a placeholder for now, but it will be filled over the coming weeks. Recently, I've been up in Hartlepool for the first time in 45 years, and over to Belgium for a weekend with friends, and to top up the beer cupboard. The latter is, unfortunately, a lot more expensive than it was, thanks to the swallow-dive in the value of the Pound. Still worth it though, purely on quality grounds.

Hartlepool was fun (and I never thought I'd write THAT!) It's all been cleaned up from the old steel town it used to be. An amazing amount of dogs, though. All either Bedlington Terriers or Mastiffs. The weather held fine for us, as it did in Belgium.
The small town of Kortrijk set the scene for an excellent weekend carousing with 110 close friends (!) and a continuing supply of excellent Belgian beers, including several new to me. #knowledgeispower 

Now it's back to work on Book 2 (Working title: Strange Bedfellows)


Oh, and the Hedgehogs are back in force!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Getting Legless! (No, not like that)

Long, long ago in a galaxy far far away, I had, like most of us, 4 fully functioning limbs, two of which were legs. They did sterling service, right up to the moment I broke my left leg playing rugby, almost 40 years ago.

While that put a crimp in my ambitions to play rugby to a high level or for a modeling career, (yeah, right!) I eventually went back to rugby, only this time with a whistle. I also ran and walked with the Hash House Harriers (the drinking club with a running problem) for many years. Basically, think rugby without the bruises.

Unfortunately, time (and my left knee) ran out, and I was waking up in agony in the night.

So I went and had a knee replacement. They do thousands of them every day, and they work 97% of the time. 
Everything went perfectly, and I went home and was being really good with the exercises, going around the block on my crutches.


Three weeks later I got an infection in the bone. 6 major, and 9 minor ops later we are where we are. I have a thing called a "SMILES Knee Joint" In this case SMILES is an acronym, and definitely not a sign of amusement. Feel free to Google it.

The last op was 8 years ago, and I've been having some slight "issues" with the knee recently. I know it won't last indefinitely, but I should get a few more years out of it. Unfortunately, they can't replace it – which means that when it DOES fail (eventually), the leg comes off.

This morning's session with an orthopedic surgeon was my first for several years, at P's behest, following those "slight issues".  The upshot is that he repeated the advice I have had from other quarters. Hang on to the leg until it's too painful to bear my weight.

That sounds quite reasonable. I've grown quite attached to it!

It probably also explains why I tend to pack the diary with as much as I can. So no doubt I'll see you at the next RNA function, or on a hash weekend, or somewhere connected with writing, or – indeed – just for fun.

Someday I won't be able to do it all, but "Today is not that day!"

John :)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A New Year - and a New Post on Twitter and the #FF Follow Friday Tweets!

The #ff Follow Friday Tweets

For those who receive the #ff tweets and know how they work, please feel free to skip the first bit of this. However, if it is all new to you, then read on.

Every Friday I send out a series of Tweets, all with the hashtag "#ff" in them, followed by a short random group of names.

They all go out OK, but Twitter does funny things relating to how it indexes tweets, so an appearance in your timeline is not guaranteed. A good way to look for it is to search for your twitter name in the search box on your twitter page. This also works with Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. If you are using a laptop or PC I recommend you use either Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.

a.       Click on Search
b.      Put your twitter name without the @ the searchbox,   so I would put jjackson42
c.       Click to search.

This way you should see ALL tweets where your Twitter name has appeared, although I can't guarantee it will work.

When you receive a Tweet with the hashtag #ff, then feel free to "Like" it, and to Retweet it, and, most importantly, to Follow the other names in the Tweet. Due to the strange way Twitter works (i.e. badly) re-tweeting it will help others in the message to see it.

The names you see will ALWAYS be names of writers, bloggers, agents, publishers, etc. In other words, people or organizations who are actively engaged in this mad and lonely world of writing. Each week you should see a different group of names.

I have spent some considerable time going through all MY followers to identify RNA members, followed by other UK based writers I know. If you know any RNA members who are NOT on the list and you think they should be, then do let me know.

Most of the writers work in the romantic genre, but there are also many members who write crime, historical, sci-fi, young adult, etc.  The list is mostly of writers, etc. based in the UK and Ireland, but with some from Europe, etc. There are some US based writers, but very few, and these tend to be writers I know.

Click on the names and "Follow" the person. This is a good and meaningful way of expanding your twitter pool of followers. You also expand your group of followers slowly and gently, so you get the chance to see what these new followers are tweeting about.

If YOU think someone should be "on the list" then feel free to let me know.

Remember, Twitter is a "LIVE" medium, so do post regularly. Not just your own book-related news, but retweet news of your friend's announcements and successes. People, i.e. your followers, LIKE to know stuff about you. They also relish pictures of your cats, grandkids, friends, etc.
The more you use it, the more you get out of it – just like many things in life.

The one thing NOT to do is to send endless Tweets saying "Buy My Book!" 2 or 3 times in a day is fine. 36 times a day is SPAM!. Remember, the Tweet goes to the SAME people every time. 2 or 3 times in a day is enough to catch the main timezones.

Re the book(s) The manuscript for A Heart of Stone has been finished, including all the suggested edits, and structural changes. I have also edited it down to under 90,000 words, which is the canonical length for a first historical novel.

I am still farming it around, trying to get an agent or publisher. Meanwhile I am working on Book 2, with a working title of The Greener Grass. It concerns the next generation of Rochforts, specifically Jane Rochfort who seems to have been a real rackety sort and went all over Europe leaving debts behind her. I'm up to 25,000 words and a bit bogged down. It WILL come, though.

If I can't get A Heart of Stone away by midsummer, I will self-publish, probably on Amazon Create Space. I have had some good recommendations for them from my friends in the Harrogate chapter of the RNA.

I am busy researching Book 2, and have been greatly helped by Kate William's England's Mistress, which is crammed with detail on all areas of life at around exactly the right period. Very helpful. Emma Hamilton mentions Jane Rochfort in her letters, just after she (Jane) and her husband, John King, had fled Naples leaving a mountain of debts!!
In the meantime – its back to the struggle, or, as some would have it, the opportunity :).