Social Media 101 – Updated

Social Media 101 – A starter session: Particularly for Writers who are NOT too sure about Social Media This first session is for those people who are new to Social Media. We will look at the different types of Social Media, and what they do.We will also look at the pleasures and pitfalls of the different types. What is best for you? You don’t HAVE to use any one over another, but Twitter and Facebook are the market leaders for a reason. This is part 1 of 3. All packed with – I hope – useful info. I would, however, recommend going on a Course if you can. My friend Anita Chapman (@neetswriter) runs excellent courses in various locations. Highly worthwhile.

There are SIX main social media platforms.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Goodreads
  • Youtube

There are other platforms which you CAN use to gather followers and exchange information. I’m not going to cover them in this session.These are:

  • LinkedIn,
  • Reddit,
  • Google+ (now defunct),
  • Tumblr and
  • MeWe

Facebook is the giant of the bunch, with over 2 BILLION users worldwide.

Twitter is for sharing shorter messages (up to 280 characters). It is very “transient.”

Instagram is a picture-sharing app designed for use with your mobile phone and its camera. It is ridiculously popular for the younger market and their predilection for “selfies”

Pinterest is a “picture collecting” site. I find it useful for research, and it can give you a nice shop-window for your books – WITHOUT you having to update it all the time.

Goodreads is a site you should ALL be on, as authors. It’s a shop window for your books, and, like Pinterest, doesn’t require you to update it all the time.

Youtube is a video sharing site. If you are happy in front of the cameras, this may be for you. It CAN be very effective.

Before you start, pick a “Headshot” for your profile pic. Pick a good one that is unmistakably you. Use this pic for ALL your profiles at this stage.

We want consistency. This is your business! This is your “Brand”

Similarly, write a short bio you can use on all your Social Media sites. You can cut-and-paste it from one to another.

Also, equally important, what name do you want to use?

The choices are

  1. Your name.
  2. A Nom-de-plume
  3. Both.

You may use your “real” name on your personal Facebook page, and restricting your “Friends” to people who are friends or family in the real world.

You can then use a Nom-de-plume for another Personal Page. Set up a simple Gmail account under your nom-de-plume.

You can then use your “Nom-de-plume Page” to set up an Author Page.

For women writers, or teachers and others, there can be a need to keep a degree of separation between your writing life and your home life. This is NOT as complicated as it may sound.

Goodreads.

I thought we would deal with Goodreads first. EVERY author needs a Goodreads page. It is FREE and doesn’t take too much to set up.

Goodreads is a site where you can collect reviews, and also where you can leave reviews of other authors books. The site is owned by Amazon, but there is no direct link between reviews on Amazon and reviews on Goodreads.

Go to https://www.goodreads.com/. Follow the simple instructions. Check out books you have read, or are reading. Add reviews where you can – even if its only a number of stars.

To get your own Author page, go to https://www.goodreads.com/author/program

To apply for the Author Program, you can follow these steps when visiting the desktop version of Goodreads:

  • 1. Sign in or create an account, and then search for your most popular book via ISBN, ASIN, or title.
  • 2. On the book, click on your author name. Scroll to the bottom of your author profile page.
  • 3. Click “Is this you? Let us know!” to complete and submit the application.

They will send you an email when you’re approved within 2 business days. Your login and password will stay the same.

Follow the (fairly) simple instructions.

Once you have added your personal details, pic and bio, add details of any other books.

Basically, that is it. You can follow other authors at your leisure.

If you have a blog, then you can connect it to Goodreads, so that when you update your blog, it will also show, on your Goodreads page.

If you are having a Launch party or event, you can invite your Goodreads friends to attend or join in.When you read a book, please, please review it! Review it on Amazon and then copy that review to Goodreads. Then, hopefully, your friends and readers will review YOUR books. What goes around, comes around!

Facebook.

Facebook is the giant of Social Media, with nearly 3 BILLION pages out there. This is YOUR market!

Everyone starts with a “Personal Page” (Their Profile). I imagine everyone here has a personal Facebook page.

This is – as it says – a Personal page. This is where you post pics of your cats, your grandchildren, your holidays and your friends, or in my case, hedgehogs.

Do NOT post your home address or your home phone number on Facebook! You CAN post the town or area. i.e. York, North London, Cornwall, etc.

You SHOULD enter a mobile number. This is NOT shown on your page. It is there so Facebook can send you a Code to reset your password, should you need to.

1. Click on Edit Profile

2. Click on About, and add as much detail as you are comfortable with.

3. Under contacts, you will see: Mobile phones 07123 456789 · Texts Activated · Remove and a small icon.

4. Click on the icon and select “Only Me” illustrated by a padlock.

5. Put your birthday in. Ladies may not want to put their year of birth in. That’s fine.

Also, add details of ALL your social media and authors links.

This is mine:WEBSITES AND SOCIAL LINKS

Websites

Social links

Also, if the site allows, your Profile Page. The Romantic Novelists Association, the Crime Writers Association, and Promoting Yorkshire Authors ALL have Profile Pages. https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/john-jackson/

Remember – this is FREE ADVERTISING for you. Make it as easy as possible for potential readers to find you.

You should now have a working Personal Page. You will start to acquire Friends immediately. You can acquire your own Friends as well. Don’t go off and send 200 Friend requests at once though. Do it steadily.

You NEED an Author Personal Page. You can’t join or be added to some Groups just as an Author Page. Again, remember – you need to connect with people. This is business!

A good place to find Friends is to look at those who belong to your “Peer Groups,” i.e. the Facebook Group “Promoting Yorkshire Authors.” or also, in my case, The Romantic Novelists Association

Click on “Members” and look down the list and send Friend Requests to as many as you feel happy with – especially if you know them in real life.

At the start, if you get Friend requests, feel free to decline any you are not happy with. If you get any spam requests, i.e. from US Generals, or sundry Sheiks, just click on “Mark as Spam”.

In the next session, I will cover having your own Author Page, Facebook Groups, and setting up your OWN Authors Facebook Group.

Twitter

Twitter is probably the most popular social media among writers. Twitter posts are for immediate short-term announcements. You are limited to 280 characters, which forces you to concentrate on the substance of your message.Also, because Twitter handles a lot of traffic, you will find your messages scroll up the screen rather quickly. How to get a Twitter account.

  • 1. Choose a profile name. This is the name you’ll be known as on Twitter (also known as your @name or twitter handle). Be consistent; have it recognisable as your writing name.
  • 2. Add a photo of you, not your logo. The same photo as your Facebook account. Again, its consistency, and becoming your “brand.”
  • 3. Complete your bio. Be guided by your Facebook bio.
  • 4. Add your website address.
  • 5. Follow some people. Celebrities, news media, friends, etc.
  • 6. Get tweeting! Cat pictures are allowed.
  • 7. Check your mentions regularly.

I recommend you use Tweetdeck. This is a good way of displaying your Twitter feed on your laptop. Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter! It’s at https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/

As you can see, it organises traffic into columns. Types of Tweetdeck columns and what they display

  • 1. Home: Home timeline for any specific account.
  • 2. User: Tweets from a specific account.
  • 3. Notifications: Notifications for a specific account, including when the account’s Tweets are Retweeted, liked, or mentioned, and when someone follows the account.
  • 4. Search: A specific search term.
  • 5. Lists: Create or connect a list you already follow.
  • 6. Collection: A timeline of curated Tweets, hand-selected by you, to share with others.
  • 7. Activity: What’s happening with the accounts you follow.
  • 8. Likes: Tweets marked as likes from a specific account.
  • 9. Messages (one account): Direct Messages for a specific account.
  • 10. Mentions (one account): When someone mentions a specific account.
  • 11. Followers: Follow activity for a specific account.
  • 12. Scheduled: Your scheduled Tweets.
  • 13. Messages (all accounts): Direct Messages from all your authorized accounts in aggregate.
  • 14. Mentions (all accounts): Mentions from all accounts.
  • 15. Trending: Specific worldwide trends.

Just click on the “+” sign in the left-hand column to set up a new column. You will start to build up a collection of Followers quite quickly.

If you post your new Twitter handle on the RNA group page, or any other group you belong to, on FACEBOOK, then your friends and co-authors will follow you.

Instagram

Instagram is VERY popular. It is a photo-sharing site and is particularly oriented towards Smartphone cameras. When you see people taking “selfies” of themselves, you can be pretty sure they will be posting it to Instagram.

Again, for YOU, as an author, it is Free Advertising.

Why is it so popular? Instagram is Social: People are social creatures. We like to tell others what we are doing, eating, buying, and seeing.

Instagram is Free: Though it is downloadable from the iTunes store, all the photo-editing bells and whistles of Instagram are completely free to users. Another big benefit to users is the lack of advertisements cluttering up the screen, a common complaint of Facebook users

Instagram is Easy and Fun: Instagram doesn’t need a complicated help page to get it up and running. Snap a picture, edit, caption, comment, like and share are simple tasks to accomplish, so the learning curve is easily manageable.

Through the use of filters, borders and other special effects, people with little artistic ability can drastically change the look of any picture they snap. That is just plain fun.

Instagram is Instant: Clumsy user interface and long loading times were criticisms of other photo-sharing applications, and even of Instagram’s early versions. The current version loads quickly, and in this age of “instant gratification”, this feature alone gets points with users.

Instagram is Creative: While a status update on Facebook or Twitter of “Bought a pair of red shoes” can be boring to read, illustrating the purchase with a snappy photo including a border and a retro filter effect is visually appealing and allows the user to show some creativity.

Anyone and everyone can show their artistic sides with Instagram. Ordinary, everyday objects can be transformed into works of art in a few moments, then shared with the Instagram world and other social media friends to admire your previously unknown artistic ability.

To actually get on to Instagram:

1. Download the app. Instagram is different from other social networks in that it is primarily a mobile phone platform. Once your account is set up, you will have a page that can be viewed on a desktop, but the majority of your activity will take place within the mobile app. Click here to download the app.

2. Choose a recognisable username.You can sign up for Instagram with an email address or a personal Facebook account.

3. Once you sign up, you’ll be asked to choose a username.Your username will display publicly and will be what people see when they find you on Instagram. Make sure the username you choose is recognisable and is as close to your business or organisation’s name as possible.

4. When signing up, Instagram will also ask for your full name. Here, you can put your business name or pen name which will make it easier for people to find you through Instagram’s search function.

5. Update your profileInstagram lets you fill out a 150 character bio about your business. Use your standard Author bio. You can also add your business’s website, which users will be able to click to visit right from their mobile device.

6. Add your profile picture. Your profile photo can only be updated on a mobile device. If you don’t have your logo saved to your smartphone or tablet, Instagram has the option to import it from Facebook or Twitter. You can also take a new photo with Instagram.

7. Research. Otherwise known as poking around and looking at what other people have posted. It might not sound fun, but without having a good understanding of the type of pictures others are posting, you won’t know what content tends to do well. Happily, for you, Instagram research is less staring-at-piles-of-data-wearing-a-lab-coat kind of research and more look-at-pretty-pictures kind of research. Start by finding a writer in your genre who has a hefty Instagram following and high levels of engagement. What do they tend to send, and when do they tend to send it?

8. Even if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition, it’s essential that you know what others are doing.

9. Post your first photo

Okay, now that your profile is set up, it’s time to take your first photo.

Here’s a quick run-through of how Instagram works:

  • 1. Take a picture.
  • 2. Click on “Share”
  • 3. Select Instagram
  • 4. Decide whether to Crop it.
  • 5. Decide if you want to use a “filter” (but its OK to skip this)
  • 6. Click NEXT in the top right of the screen. Add a caption or description, if you want.
  • 7. You can also tag people and name the location.

Setting up your location. When you click” Add Location” you will see a list of previously used locations in your general area. Give a “general location”, i.e. York, rather than a precise address.

After your photo is posted, you will see the location name in blue. When you click on your location name, you’ll be able to see every picture that has been tagged there.

Tell people you’re on Instagram. Tell your Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers. This goes for EVERY new account you set up.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES! If you have an email list, you can send out an announcement and ask readers to follow you.

Follow others. Instagram’s search function makes it easy to find people and brands to follow. You can search by username, or choose a hashtag that may be relevant to your business. Following more people and businesses is a great way to make new connections and can also provide inspiration for your Instagram account.

Get social. You’ve set up your account, learned the basics, and found the right people to follow; now you’re ready to start building a presence for you and your books on Instagram.

The key is engaging with the people who follow you. When someone likes or comments on your photo, you will receive a notification.

You can respond within the comments of a photo by including the “@” symbol, followed by their username.

You will also receive notifications when someone tags you in a photo.

You can view all of the photos you’ve been tagged in, on your Instagram profile.

Pinterest.

Pinterest is another picture-sharing site. You can Pin and keep almost any picture you see on-line – and your own pictures.

I find it VERY useful for research. When writing Heart of Stone, I used it extensively for pictures of costume from the 18th Century.

It’s also very useful for pics of the site where your book is set (or where you imagine it to be)

You can log into Pinterest with both Twitter or Facebook, or by setting up a User name and password of your own.

1. Choose Your Topics of Interest

Once you’ve signed in using Twitter or Facebook, you’ll be presented with a visual grid of 28 topics. You’ll be asked to choose your topics of interest so that Pinterest can make better suggestions of who you should follow.

Pick some topics, then click the blue “Follow People” button at the bottom of the page. You’ll see some images of people and Boards based on the selection of topics you just made.

2. Create Boards

Next, you’ll be given a default selection of pinboards (or “Boards”) to choose from, such as “Products I love,” “For the Home,” and many more.

You can also click the “Add” button at the bottom of the screen to add your own Board with a custom name of your choosing. These Boards represent topics that you can “pin” pictures to.

You can create as few or as many boards as you like. You can also edit the titles of Boards you’ve created or delete them altogether.

Allow other people to contribute to your boards by clicking the “Edit” button at the bottom of your Board.

Next, find the option “Who can pin?” and change the setting from “Just Me” to “Me + Contributors.” You have to follow at least one Board belonging to a Pinterest member in order to add him or her as a contributor to your boards.

3. Install the “Pin It” Button and Start Pinning

Once you’ve created some Boards, you’ll be directed to a page where you can install a bookmarklet, called “Pin It” in your browser.

The Pin It button gets installed on your browser’s bookmarks bar so that when you find images on a website that you’d like to pin to one your Boards, you simply click the button.

The Pinterest application will open, showing you a grid of thumbnails of all the images available on the website. When you scroll your mouse over any image, click the “Pin This” button to pin the image to your Board.

A pop-up window will open and you can choose the Board you’d like to pin the image to from a drop-down menu of the Boards you’ve created in Pinterest.

Select the appropriate Board, give the image a description (this is mandatory) and click the red “Pin It” button.

Another pop-up window will open, confirming your successful pin and providing you the options to “See your Pin,” “Tweet your Pin,” or “Share on Facebook.”

Pinterest takes care of attributing the sources of the images, and every pinned image contains an embedded, clickable link back to the original website from which it came.

4. Get Social

Once you’ve created some Boards and you’ve pinned a bunch of images to them, you can begin the process of finding, connecting, and sharing with other Pinterest members.

You’ll find a search bar in the top left-hand corner of the Pinterest home page. Type a keyword that you’re interested in finding and click the Enter key.

You can refine your searches by selecting “Pins,” “Boards,” or “People.” Once you’ve found some interesting matches you can follow individual Boards, or follow all Boards from any Pinterest member you’re interested in.

Following a Board places it on your Pinterest homepage so that you can visit the Board any time to see and interact with any updates made to it.

You can “Like” an individual image (or “Pin”) using Pinterest’s own Like button, or you can Like it with the Facebook Like button at the side of the Pin’s page.

You can tweet the Pin to your followers, email a link to your friends, and even “Repin” an image to one of your own Boards.

Anyone familiar with other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ should have no problem finding their way around, and making the most out of Pinterest, in no time at all.

Youtube.

Youtube is a video-sharing site. Some authors find it very useful and can use it with ease and comfort.

It has a VAST number of subscribers. One of the best Vloggers is RNA member Nikki Moore. Nikki produces some very good and very useful Youtube Vlogs for writers. If you’ve got the knack, you could do it too.

My local writing Group, Promoting Yorkshire Authors has its own Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VdN2-Dl1qM

It’s easy to do this on either the desktop or mobile versions of YouTube.

YouTube and Google accounts share logins, so if you have Gmail or another Google account, then you already have a YouTube account as well.

You can create a new YouTube account with any email address on the desktop YouTube website, or by creating a new Gmail account on the YouTube mobile app.

If you have already got a Google account:

1. Open YouTube. Go to https://www.youtube.com/ in your computer’s web browser. This will take you to the YouTube home page.

2. Click SIGN IN. If you aren’t signed into a Google Account in your web browser, this option is in the top-right corner of the YouTube home page.

3. If you’re already signed in to a Google account in your web browser, then you are also logged in to your YouTube account. There’s nothing more you need to do – you can get started using YouTube right away

If you DON’T have a Google account:

1. Click Create account. It’s a link near the bottom-left side of the sign-in page. Doing so opens an account creation form.

2. Fill out the Google Account form. Type your information into the following fields:· First name and Last name — Enter your first and last name, respectively.· Your email address — Type in a working email address to which you have access. This cannot be a Gmail account.· Password — Type in the password you want to use to log in.· Confirm password — Re-enter the password you just typed in.

3. Click NEXT. It’s at the bottom of the page.

4. Retrieve your email address verification code. To do so:· Open your email address inbox and sign in if necessary.· Click the “Verify your email address” email from Google.· Note the six-digit code in the middle of the email’s body.· Enter the verification code. Type the six-digit verification code from the email into the text box in the middle of the Google Account creation page.

5. Click VERIFY. It’s below the text box.

6. Enter your date of birth and your gender. Select your birthday’s month, day, and year, then click the “Gender” drop-down box and select a gender.

7. You can also enter your phone number here, but doing so is optional.

8. Click NEXT. This option is at the bottom of the page.

9. Scroll down and click I AGREE. You’ll find it at the bottom of the list of terms. Doing so will create your Google Account, log you into YouTube, and take you back to the YouTube page

On Mobile

1. Open YouTube. Tap the YouTube app icon, which resembles a white triangle on a red background.

2. Tap the “Profile” icon. It’s in the top-right corner of the screen. A drop-down menu will appear.

3. Tap SIGN IN. This option is in the drop-down menu. Doing so opens a new menu.

4. If you’re already signed into a YouTube account, you’ll tap Switch account here instead.

5. Tap Add account. It’s near the bottom of the menu.

6. On Android, tap + in the top-right corner of the menu.

7. Tap the Create account link. This option is near the bottom of the screen.

8. Enter your first and last name. Type your first name into the “First name” text box, then type your last name into the “Last name” text box.

9. Tap NEXT. It’s a blue button at the bottom of the page.

10. Enter your date of birth and your gender. Select the month, day, and year of your birthday, then tap the “Gender” box and select your gender.

11. Tap NEXT.

12. Create a Gmail username. You can’t use an existing, non-Gmail address to create a Google Account through the YouTube app, so you’ll need to create a new Gmail address by typing whatever you want to use for your Gmail address’ username into the “Username” text box.· For example, typing in “iamabanana” here will set your Gmail address to “iamabanana@gmail.com”.· When creating a YouTube account on your mobile, you’ll have to create a Gmail account rather than using a separate email address. If you want to use a non-Gmail address, use the YouTube website to create your YouTube account.

13. Tap NEXT.

14. Enter a password twice. Type your preferred password into the “Create password” text box, then repeat the password in the “Confirm password” text box.

15. Tap NEXT.

16. Scroll down and tap SKIP. It’s at the bottom of the page.

17. Scroll down and tap I AGREE. This option is at the bottom of the list of YouTube terms.

You can post any videos you take on your smartphone or with any other camera. Some people find this very easy, and review books on video.

If you want to see other people’s videos, just search in the box for Book Reviews, to give you an idea of what is out these.

What is the quickest way to increase Friends and Followers for ALL Social Media? There are lots of FREE ways to do this.

1. Do Follow/Unfollow

2. Find people who like similar things. Follow them or send them a Friend request.

3. Comment, Like and Share / Retweet / Repost.· Find interesting or amusing content on your platforms. Comment on it, then like them and share, retweet or repost.

4. Build friendships

5. This is Social Media so BE social! Make friends and follow people.· There is a real buzz when you get a tap on the shoulder, and turn to meet someone new, who says “Hi, John. We’re friends on Facebook*” (*insert Social Media platform of choice.)

6. Hashtag research· Use #hashtags! Use #hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. # A good hashtag can bring in thousands of new people a post, and ALWAYS include #yourbooktitle. i.e. for me, I always include #heartofstone.

7. Post it everywhere

8. Self explanatory. Post on one platform, and share it to others.

Don’t let your life be dominated by Social Media. It is a tool for us to use, not an end product on its own, and DON’T try to read EVERY message or Tweet that crosses your feed. You will soon get used to picking out the info that is interesting for you.

The key to ALL Social Media is “Engagement”

Day 7: Those Questions! Everything you didn’t think you wanted to know about me. 🦔🦔

After an hour, the major domo entered and announced a short break for refreshments. The four players rose and moved out of the card room into the main ballroom where tables with champagne and canapes were arranged. As they circulated, greeting old friends and acquaintances alike, Jane found herself listening to a familiar voice as a body appeared behind her.

“Don’t turn around. You know he is cheating, don’t you?” she heard the voice murmur.

“Mr King, is that you?” she whispered.

“It is, my lady.”

“How do you mean – he is cheating.”

“He is very clever. I know him from several gambling clubs. He is one of those who play cards, but who cannot bear to lose. So, they make sure they do not lose – ever. They cheat.”

“He introduced himself as Mr. Thompson from York.”

“He uses many names. You note, he never wins much. To win a hand of several thousand guineas would attract attention. Instead, he wins small amounts, but constantly.”

“How does he manage the affair?”

“He deals cards from the bottom of the pack, and he has an accomplice who can advise him of the cards other players hold. Normally he uses a woman for the task. I haven’t identified her yet, but I will, eventually.”

“What should I do? I can’t accuse him of cheating without some proper proof, something that others could see.”

“I agree. You should do nothing. Leave this to me. I will speak to him and tell him he is observed. “

A few minutes later she heard raised voices, and saw Mr Thompson being ushered from the Pantheon, followed by a brassy-looking woman dressed in green taffeta. Jane remembered seeing her earlier in the card room circulating among the tables.

When they sat down to play again, the others were astonished to see that Mr Thompson did not join them. Instead, Jane was surprised to see Mr King step forward and offer to take his place.

I’m afraid Mr Thomson has had to withdraw. He asked me to make his apologies.”


  1. What makes a good story?

Character! All great stories seem to have really well developed characters. You need your readers to believe in your characters – and then the plot will almost come on its own

2            How have YOU become a better writer?

By reading! All sorts of books. Just keep reading and keep learning.

3            What inspires you?

People and their personal stories.

4            What does your family think of your writing?

I must ask them sometime. (Actually, not true – they are VERY supportive, and not to the extent of saying “everything is lovely”.)

5            What was the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books?

That I could write at all!

6            If you could have written any book, what would it have been and why?

Too many! Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, Winston Graham’s Poldark, J B Priestley’s “Good Companions” just to start!

7            How much research do you do?

LOTS!!! You have to do justice to the times your characters moved in. Also, if you get something wrong, no matter how small, SOMEONE will pick you up on it. You don’t need to know EVERYTHING, but you do need to know and learn enough to make your story ring true.

8            How do you relax?

We have a 2-year-old Granddaughter! Apart from that, friends, cooking, music….

9            Do you have any writing quirks? (and if so what?)

Not particularly.

10         Why write in your genre?

I’ve always loved historical fiction and historical romance I was brought up on Georgette Heyer, Robert Louis Stephenson and the like. How could I NOT write in that genre?

11         How is your writing different now from when you started writing.

At least I’m learning some of the mechanics and basics now. Point of view and head-hopping are less of an issue.

12         What do people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that they don’t?

Time. How slowly transport moved. It might take a week to go from Dover to Calais, and it would be normal to take three days or more going from London to York.

13         Your 3 favourite authors?

Bernard Cornwell, Liz Fenwick and Georgette Heyer.

14         In what ways do you ’service’ or ‘support’ your books?

I’m very active on Social Media and really try to engage with my friends, fellow authors and readers I also make a point of supporting our libraries up here (Yorkshire) and other writers at Signing Events, etc.

15         What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Sometimes you eat the bear – and sometimes the bear eats you! Get over it and get on. You can’t please EVERYONE!

16         What makes your book(s) stand out from the crowd?

A couple of things. I’m a man working in a largely female genre – and that’s fine by me. Also, I tend to work with “real people”. These are all actual relatives of mine, although all dead, and some of them really vile specimens of humanity.

17         Tell us something about your road to being published

I managed to join the Romantic Novelists Associations matchless New Writers Scheme, and my reader REALLY helped. A lot of very useful criticism and an almost complete line-edit. Invaluable.

I then touted the MS round looking for an agent, with no success. I also submitted the MS to a couple of the smaller publishing houses. A friend, Angela Wren, was with  Crooked Cat, and I submitted to them, and was accepted.

18         Plotter or Pantser?

Plotter. It comes with my background in systems auditing on ships.

19         Your main character. What makes him or her so special?

He or she has to be “different”. There has to be something about them that makes them interesting, be it a personal trait or something they have done.

20         What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

How much do you want for the film or TV rights for Heart of Stone??


Only £0.99 all week!

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, have been transformed into Darkstroke! They are open to submissions, too, particularly if you write in any of the “Dark” genres or tropes.

Day 6, What Now? “Strange Bedfellows” 🦔🦔

“Eventually, the audience went quiet, and the play began. As the lamps around the auditorium were extinguished, there was a knock on the door to her box. Rising rapidly, she opened the door to find Harry there. He strode into the box and while keeping in the shadows and well away from the front he pulled Jane to her and kissed her passionately.

She returned his kiss, and she felt his hands moving up the outside of her dress to cup her breasts through her clothes. She grasped his hands and pressed them further to her.

“Oh my love,” he whispered. “This is a happy chance to find you here.”

“What about the rest of your party?”

“They won’t mind. In fact, they won’t even notice. They are set for an evening’s carouse. They are all younger than me, Ensigns and Lieutenants. They don’t want to be out for the night with someone so much older.”

“Sit with me then, and enjoy the play!”

“I’d much rather show you my rooms on Brook St.”


One of the advantages of a complicated and “easily findable” family tree is that, for a historical novelist, it really is “the gift that keeps on giving.”

My Work-in-progress has a working title of Strange Bedfellows – and the main protagonists certainly were that.

Jane Butler, the daughter mentioned in Heart of Stone, duly grew up and married another Irish peer – as you do. Brinsley Butler, Lord Lanesborough. They were happily married for about twenty years, and had a total of six children, when – suddenly – Jane announces that she is leaving her husband and going to live in London.

Jane Butler, Lady Lanesborough

This she does, taking her 3 youngest children with her. While in London she:

  1. Goes broke,
  2. Loses her income,
  3. Meets John King,
  4. Becomes one of the “Faro Ladies”
  5. Is involved in forging banknotes,
  6. Travelled all over Europe,
  7. Was run out of Naples, owing money to everyone.
  8. Knew Emma Hamilton there.

John King, our hero, is the antithesis of conventional heroes.

  1. He is a Jewish moneylender,
  2. He was 15 years younger than Jane,
  3. He was already married,
  4. He makes a living by broking loans for the younger sons of the Irish nobility,
  5. He was in and out of Debtors Prison at least four times.
  6. He endowed the Jewish Orphans School in London,
  7. He was a supported of Thomas Paine (The Rights of Man) – and then fought with him!

And lots more!!


Only £0.99 all week!

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, have been transformed into Darkstroke! They are open to submissions, too, particularly if you write in any of the “Dark” genres or tropes.

Day 5: “Amazon’s Editorial Reviews” 🦔🦔

“Kitty could still feel the warmth and impact of Robert’s hands on her body.”Do you know a young girl called Mary?” she asked.

“I know several of that name,” he replied.

“Mary Molesworth? Young, pretty and just out of the schoolroom. She is always at the theatre.”

“Oh yes, I know her – and her mama.”

“Well, a friend tells me that her mama is determined that her daughter marries an earl at least.” said Kitty, stretching and purring like a kitten.

“That’s hardly news,” replied Robert. “Lady Molesworth’s ambitions for her step-daughter are well known. She has three daughters of her own to marry off. No doubt she wants Mary off her hands so she can concentrate on finding husbands for them.”

“You could do worse. The girl seems amiable, and bright. I assume you know she will come with a considerable fortune?”

“That would sweeten the pill, of course, although I’m not yet an earl. The prospect of having Lady Molesworth as my mother-in-law or being a regular visitor to Mullingar fills me with horror.” “Do you care? Get her with child, let her produce an heir, and then both of you can do what you like. Like your first marriage.”


I was checking through the reviews for Heart of Stone – as you do – and checked on the main amazon.com site. I found a section there entitled “Editorial Reviews”

This is something that Amazon have put together, not me! Fabulous to read, too.

“One of those reads I didn’t want to end. I wanted to know MORE  Beautifully plotted,  such a good read”. – ★★★★★

“as debut novels go this is pretty damn good!”  . – ★★★★★

“A thoroughly fascinating read which I found difficult to put down.” – ★★★★★

” I thoroughly recommend Heart of Stone which is a well-written debut novel with rounded characterisation and pacy narrative.” – ★★★★★

“A wonderful story, very well told with an easy flowing narrative.” – ★★★★★

“Utterly loved the book, fantastic read. All who love history, passion, intrigue and love will adore this book.” – ★★★★★

“Well done for writing such a compelling debut novel.” – ★★★★★

“The real joy of this book was the amazing, yet not intrusive, historical detail.” – ★★★★★

“A remarkable tale and well deserving of the 5 stars I have given it.” – ★★★★★

“Thoroughly satisfying, well-written traditional historical fiction at its best.” – ★★★★★

For any author, it’s definitely worth checking for your “Editorial Reviews”


Only £0.99 all week!

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, have been transformed into Darkstroke! They are open to submissions, too, particularly if you write in any of the “Dark” genres or tropes.

Day 4: Get it into the papers!

“Every year a fresh crop of marriageable maidens and scheming mamas came to Dublin for the Season. While they knew of his previous marriage, Robert found himself receiving more and more attention from those with daughters.

Among those whose attentions were becoming more and more enthusiastic was Lady Jane Molesworth. Mary, her sixteen-year-old step-daughter, was pretty, dark-haired, and vivacious. Her youth was no object for her step-mama, who had three daughters of her own to marry off. The sooner she could get Mary married and off her hands, the easier it would be to contrive good matches for her own children.

From the Westmeath Examiner, in 2018. Where do you do an interview in Ireland? In the pub, of course!

Wicked Earl’s author grandson visits seat of Rochfort ancestors

Eilís Ryan

When retired ship’s captain John Jackson decided to give his family tree a bit of a shake, he was stunned at what he found: castles, titles galore, soldiers, lords – and then the story of Robert Rochfort, the first Earl of Belvedere, nicknamed ‘The Wicked Earl’.

The portrait is actually Robert Rochfort’s father, George.

“Robert Rochfort was my five-times great grandfather,” says Manchester-born John, who was in Mullingar last week promoting his book, ‘Heart of Stone’, a fictionalised version of the tale of his evil ancestor, who locked away his wife, Mary Molesworth, over her alleged affair with his brother Arthur,


It is a tale well-known to anyone who has ever visited Belvedere House, built by Rochfort after consigning tragic Mary to confinement at the marital home – Gaulstown House – where she spent 31 years a prisoner.
Arthur, meanwhile, died later in a debtors prison after the court made a judgement for £20,000 against him after Robert sued him for “criminal conversation”.
Not generally given to colourful language – despite the maritime background – when speaking of Robert Rochfort, John Jackson finds himself resorting to epithets not generally used when we speak of our ancestors.
“He was a complete shit!” he admits, laughing.
“He was a vile human being – but that made him more interesting to write about.”


When John started his research, around 50 years ago, he was working off various handwritten manuscripts handed down in the family. Through these he came to know of Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere, and of his roots in Westmeath – but nothing of the story for which Rochfort became famous locally.
Once the internet arrived, it made John’s researches easier, and stumbling across an online book about celebrated Irish beauties of the 18th century, he came across the name of Mary Molesworth, and realised she too was his ancestor, since she was Rochfort’s wife.
Rochfort and Mary Molesworth had four children.
“The line that comes down to me is through their daughter Jane,” says John.
Jane became the Countess of Lanesborough, and through her the line continues down through John’s mother.
It was the fact of his mother’s unusual surname (Dumaresq) that initially prompted John to start researching his family tree. Since it is a rare name, going back to the island of Jersey, it made researches relatively easy, even in those pre-internet days.
“[The Dumaresqs] were one of the two big families on the island, back in the day, though they’ve all died out now,” he says, going on to recount how they’d tended to marry well – the daughters of peers for example, and thus, it proved a not hugely-difficult task to follow his lineage, and thus discover the story which is the subject of ‘Heart of Stone’.
“What I like to say about their story is it’s fascinating – but nobody comes out of it looking well: nobody at all,” he says.
Rather than giving a faithful account of their story – something already done many times over by historians, John just based his account loosely on the true version: “What I like to say is I’ve perhaps given them the story they should have had,” he says.


John admits he was “fascinated” when he came across the tragedy, and even more so when he realised the leading protagonists were his direct ancestors.
“I hope that’s not too much of a recursive gene!” is the thought he sometimes has when he considers the nastiness of Robert Rochfort – but then he reminds himself that we each have 128 grandparents at the five-times-back level.
“So it’s a very small drop in the mix!” he jokes.


The book took John two years to write – but the Rochforts have proven such a rich source of material that John has another in the pipeline: “I’m 25,000 words into the next book, and the next book is about their daughter, Jane Rochfort, who married Brinsley Butler, 2nd Earl of Lanesborough,” he says.
Jane, the Countess of Lanesborough was herself a pretty colourful character, it turns out.
“They were married for about eighteen years or so; had kids; then the eldest three were married, and she said: ‘right: I’m off to London to live the high life!’”
The Earl, who was high up in the Irish Exchequer, stayed in Dublin; the Countess took off with their three youngest children and took herself a new lover, John King, a loan-broker to the aristocracy.
“And they were together for about forty years.”


John, who has lived and worked for periods in The Falkland Islands and in the Netherlands, had visited Ireland before, but until last week, never this area.
There are no family links in the area any more: “When the Rochforts died out – one of the things I mention in the book, it was in The Annals of Westmeath – when the second earl died in 1814, and having no issue the title became extinct,” says John.


What The Annals then stated was: “The Rochforts are cleared out of Westmeath, root and branch. They were a wicked race, and to this day the name is loathed and execrated in this county”.

• Heart of Stone is published by Crooked Cat books and available through Amazon.


Only £0.99 all week!

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, have been transformed into Darkstroke! They are open to submissions, too, particularly if you write in any of the “Dark” genres or tropes.

Day 3. Heart of Stone – the Story behind the Story. 🦔🦔

“Matchmaking mamas seemed to regard Robert as dangerous, and they made a point of keeping their daughters well beyond his reach. This caused him no concern. Widowed for three years, he had no wish to marry again. It took him no time at all to set up another pretty young courtesan as his mistress in an apartment on Harley Street.

Every few weeks he would receive a summons from Mr Stafford. It soon became clear to Robert that someone was watching his daily habits.

“My colleagues tell me your instruction goes well,” he remarked on one of Robert’s calls. “Oh, and we see you have a new mistress.” “


I’ve always been interested in history and genealogy. Mother’s maiden name was Dumaresq, which is as unusual as it looks. Its from Jersey, and the Dumaresqs “married well”. No money, sadly, but lots of connections and LOTS of “rogues and vagabonds”.

Long before the days of the internet, if you were interested in your family tree, you started off searching in the old Births, Marriages and Deaths registers, then at Somerset House. You could then also find a lot of ancestral records in the offices of the various Mormon churches. Many of them had (or have) Genealogy Centres. No computers, but lots of microfiches to sort through. (remember them?)

But – sooner or later, you got drawn to the Society of Genealogists in London. They had a MASS of printed records, and an enormous Card Index with several million records. While poking around, I found a copy of this, with a couple of Dumaresqs in the index!! The Society office is still down a cul-de-sac behind an old building near the Barbican.

The “Plantagenet Roll”
FIVE Volumes!!

This is part of the same set of records that showed Danny Dyer to be descended from Edward III (as is a third of the population of the UK, so it really IS nothing special!)

A lot of the earlier links in these books are distinctly dodgy, so caution is needed, but here is a link to the first volume:

https://ia800209.us.archive.org/30/items/plantagenetrollo01ruvi/plantagenetrollo01ruvi.pdf

A quick search of the pdf shows lots of Fenwicks, Maynards, Osbornes and Harris’. If you want some fun, click on the link, than on Control F, and put your surname – or ANY name in, and search. You may well be surprised.

And – remember – you MAY find that you are Danny Dyer’s cousin!

My Great Grandfather, Henry William Dumaresq appears in the book (He was a Major in the Royal Engineers and married a peer’s youngest daughter) – so it was easy to trace things back and lo, and behold – what to I find but Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere. For some years, nothing happened, but then I found this!

“Some Celebrated Irish Beauties of the Last Century”

Chapter 1 is about Mary Molesworth, and tells something of the tale of what a total bastard her husband was. Not for nothing was he called “The Wicked Earl”.

More research – and there it was. The story I wanted to write!!

Robert Rochfort’s home, Belvedere, is a national monument and is open to the public. Its an amazing place, and also contains the largest folly in Ireland “The Jealous Wall”. I recommend a visit if you are ever in Ireland.

When I went, the management gave me permission FREE  – to use this picture of Robert for the cover. “Ah, just give us a mention in the book. That’ll be grand!”

Only in Ireland!


Only £0.99 all week!

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, have been transformed into Darkstroke! They are open to submissions, too, particularly if you write in any of the “Dark” genres or tropes.

Day 2: A bit about me! 🦔🦔

Although I’m now retired and living just north of York, its been a long and active path that has brought me here.

I went to sea as a Cadet in the Merchant Navy in the late 60s, and spent four years sailing between the UK and the east coast of South America. Back then, a ship might stay as long as three weeks in a port. Nowadays the same amount of cargo will be unloaded and fresh cargo reloaded on board in less than 24 hours.

I’ve always worked on the basis of trying to see as much as I could in the ports we went to, and after South America, work took me pretty well all over the world as I climbed the ladder to command. The only area I never made it to was the West coast of North America.

The Marine School, Honiara, Solomon Islands
The Northern tip of Rannongga in the Solomons

After coming ashore, I took the family off to the Solomon Islands for two years, where I was teaching at their little Marine School there, and then down to the Falklands where I ran the Fishery Protection Service for 2 years (great job).

Stanley in the Falklands
Polish Mother-ship, a reefer-vessel and a trawler, transshipping frozen fish in Berkeley Sound in the Falklands.
Surf Bay, in the Falklands.

Then to Cyprus, Holland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and London working for shipping companies on their safety and management systems.  

Disko Island, off Greenland.

These days, apart from writing, after we retired up here, we found we had hedgehogs in the garden. We still feed them, and they continue to prosper. We find them enchanting, and hedgehogs need all the help they can get.

A few odd facts:

  1. Most remote place I’ve been: Pitcairn Island.
  2. Longest trip on board: 9 months 6 days.
  3. Favourite places: Singapore, Buenos Aires, Santos.
  4. Coldest place: Disko Island, Greenland.
  5. Most Northerly place: Kirkeness(Norway) / Murmansk.
  6. Best place we’ve lived: Stanley in the Falklands.
  7. Worst place: Honiara, the Solomon Islands.
  8. Crew I’ve sailed with: British, West Indian, Maltese, Polish, Croatian, Somali, Filipino, Burmese, German, Russian, Solomon Islands, Chinese.
  9. Flags I have sailed under: British, Singapore, Cyprus, Austria, Bahamas, Antigua, Panama, Liberia, Solomon Islands.
  10. Number of Countries visited: 110

Only £0.99 all week!

And finally – my Publisher’s have a new imprint. Darkstroke Books. They are actively seeking authors, so if you write in ANY of the dark genres or tropes – feel free to submit to them!

Day 1: All Change! (Well, Not EVERYTHING)🦔🦔

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, are running a week-long promo on their web-site for several of their authors – including ME! This seemed a heaven-sent opportunity to refresh everything, including a new Profile pic.

It’s not until you start that you realise exactly WHAT everything entails!

Updated Page on the Crooked Cat website: https://www.crookedcatbooks.com/author-book/john-jackson/

Updated Profile on the RNA Website: https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/john-jackson/

Updated Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Jackson/e/B074L7JD9X

Updated Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17103004.John_Jackson

Updated page on Promoting Yorkshire Authors: promoting yorkshire authors – john jackson

Updated Bookbub Page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-jackson-

And, of course, changing all the profile pics on all my Social Media accounts! Tomorrow – much more interesting (hopefully0. A bit of info about me.

To close – seeing we are doing “Links” today – here are a few:

The Romantic Novelists Association: Celebrating 60 years of Romance right across the spectrum is ALL its forms!!

Facebook: Romantic.Novelists.Association

Twitter: RNAtweets

Only £0.99 all week!


And finally – my Publisher’s have a new imprint. Darkstroke Books. They are actively seeking authors, so if you write in ANY of the dark genres or tropes – feel free to submit to them!

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun!

I suddenly realised it was THREE MONTHS since my last update, during which I seem to have been massively busy. Since then, we’ve had Christmas with a two-year-old (!!) lots of writing bits, pieces and events all over Yorkshire, AND the RNA Winter Party. This was preceded by a truly excellent talk from Sophie Kinsella!

RNA PArties are a GREAT way of catching up with friends!

I’ve also been doing some bits and pieces for the RNA, including a Powerpoint presentation looking back over 60 years. This year is their 60th Birthday, and I’ll be joining in their celebrations with gusto. It has meant going back through their archives, back to 1960 – and long before the internet. It has been fun trying to find a picture of all of the various “Romance of the Year” award winners. Back then, the Association was set up by, among others, the redoubtable Denise Robins and Barbara Cartland. For many of the authors, their publishers never bothered with a “head shot” and its impossible to find a picture of them. The covers all had “a certain look” too.

 

The RNA Winter Party was at a new venue – the Leonardo Hotel at Tower Hill. Strangely, when I was working for NYK in London 13 years ago, we had our Xmas party there. I spent most of the evening talking and taking pics, as usual! A good venue – I can get on the tube there, and go all the way beck to my hotel in Ealing!! #districtline. We are back there again for the RoNAs – the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards, in 4 weeks time!

No sooner was I back from the Winter party than I was down again, this time with P, my other half, to see Bill Bailey performing in the atrium underneath the Cutty Sark. We see him every time he comes to York – and its always worth it!

 

We coupled THIS trip with one to the RHA Wisley for lunch, and seeing one of our oldest friends in SW London.

Apart from an excellent family Xmas, mostly spent watching our 2-year-old Granddaughter have fun with boxes, the public (so to speak) bit of Xmas included doing some readings from A Christmas Carol at a Promoting Yorkshire Authors event at Northallerton Library. A lot of fun dressing up!

My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, are doing a week-long promotion for me on their website, so I’ve recently been really busy getting everything ready for this. Watch this space from Saturday of next week, the 15th of February, when I’ll be updating this blog every day for a week!!