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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.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A New Year – So New Inspiration Required!

I got my manuscript back from Jane Eastgate, who did a brilliant job for me, so the "bad bit" has now started. i.e. "Trying to Get an Agent."

No luck so far, and I'll be approaching various agents – especially those with an interest in historical fiction – over the summer. I'll be meeting several of them at the RNA Conference, and at the Historical Novel Conference in Oxford. Note: it is VERY early days in this process, and its just what you have to do! *sigh*

For those not in the world of writing, you need to send off a synopsis of your book, plus the first three chapters. Strangely, beyond this standard, every agent likes their submissions to come in different formats. Some want it printed out, some as a series of docs attached to an e-mail, and some with everything concatenated into a single e-mail. It behooves an author to get the format right for each agent. By doing that, you remove the likelihood of them chucking it out before they even look at it.
Oh, and you wouldn't believe how many writers fail to follow an agent's submission guidelines.

On the social side, I've had three (!) trips to London – the first to the rarified heights of Wimbledon, where we combined catching a show with meeting some of our oldest friends. Two excellent nights! The show was Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace's last touring show – The Last Tango. Once again, choreographed by the pair of them and Karen Bruce. It is still touring until July and, if you like dance, you will love this. We've seen all of their shows, and been fans since they started on Strictly, and have met them a few times.

The second trip was to join my old friends, the London Hash House Harriers, who were celebrating their eighth Leap Year Run. This was the first not to have been set and organized by my old friend Colin, truly a Prince among men. It is also an occasion when EVERYONE comes out of the woodwork and goes specifically to meet their old friends. These days, being embarrassed in the working-leg-department to the tune of one, its the best and only reason for me to go, but so, so worth it.
In the Admiralty, on the South-west corner of Trafalgar Square.

Not just an excellent pub and full of friends,
but they were having a "Pie Promotion into the bargain!

I also did some "street research" for the next book, walking around Mayfair and snapping some of the old buildings there where my protagonists actually lived. VERY useful! As was a trip to the V&A to check out dress and costume from the 1770s.

Clarges Street

Stanhope Gate

I can just see myself and Pam in these!! 

 The third London trip was for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. For my writer friends and I this is the equivalent of the Oscars, and is very much a Dress Up affair! (for nearly everyone) (you had to be there).

   It was held at No. 1 Whitehall Place, in what used to be the National Liberal Club. This is a magnificent venue and we all appreciated being there. We managed to fill the Gladstone Library and its adjoining areas.

   I found myself slightly torn, knowing well six of the authors who had made the short list, and knowing slightly several more. One of my friends won her particular class, but EVERYONE nominated has worked so hard, and, in some cases, for so long. Well done to all of them!
(and don't they scrub up WELL!)

The one and only Milly Johnson,
winner of the Romantic Comedy Award

The winners, plus Fern Brittain, who gave out the prizes.

The full list can be found atThe RoNAs - 2016.
and thanks to Goldsborough Books for sponsoring the event.
Iona Grey, the overall winner, for Letters to the Lost,
and my best pic of the night.

The Terrible Twins, AKA Brigid Coady and Liz Fenwick

Alison May & Janet Gover

It was a great night and capped off by going up the road for wine and pasta with a very convivial bunch. 
Immi and Pippa Howson, and Julie Vince, leading me astray!

There's a disease called Caligynephobia. I am SO glad I don't suffer from it!

On a more somber note, it's been a hell of a year for losing friends – apart from the public figures whose numbers seem to be mounting unusually rapidly. I've lost two friends in particular, in Eric "Digit" McGaw, and Johnny "Condom" Johnson. Even more salutary when you think that we are all of an age.
The irrepressible and never-to-be-forgotten
Johnny Johnson.

Eric *Digit" MacGaw

So for now, it's back to the grindstone, and inspiration is proving difficult to find, but it WILL come eventually. I know the outline of the story, but am working very hard to fill in lots of blanks, and it really IS very hard work!

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 
Ernest Hemingway

 Caligynephobia: The fear of beautiful women!


  1. Good luck with the new inspiration AND grabbing an agent, John!

  2. Love a blog post with 'behooves' in it, John. A word not used often enough! And I never knew there was a term for the fear of beautiful women - perhaps not a problem here in NE Scotland! Wishing you every success with the agent hunt. I'm sure it's only a matter of time. :-)

    1. Thanks, Rae - I'll keep plugging away until I can get one :)

  3. Good luck and keep going with your agent hunt. John. I'm proof that it can happen x

    1. Thanks Wendy - you are an example to all us struggler.

  4. Good luck, John! 'He who tries long enough catches agent.'
    The love interest in my next book, The Butlins Girls, is named Johnny Johnson!

    1. Thanks, Elaine. i WILL keep plugging away till I get there!

  5. What a really enjoyable blog, John, and what a fantastic few months that records! Hopefully, Lady Luck will shine on you in the coming months and your hunt for an agent will be rewarded by a well-deserved success. My (non-typing) fingers are crossed for you!!

  6. Great blog John. Good luck with finding an agent.

  7. Thanks, Rosie. I'll keep plugging away!

  8. A great post, John. Good luck! 🍀🍀🍀

  9. Sorry to hear of the loss of your friends, John, who look as though they were great company from your photos. Best of luck finding an agent, and I look forward to seeing you at the HNS conference (and hopefully the RNA conf too, haven't booked yet).

  10. Thanks, Anita - looking forward to seeing you too. xx