June 2020 Newsletter

Hello Again Booklovers

My I’ve been busy over the last six months. Yes it’s really six months since the last newsletter when we had the Grand Christmas Prize Draw. Oh Lordy, there’s news. So much has happened since we last spoke.

  • Note:- Don’t forget to select Download Pictures (or whatever it is on your computer) or you won’t get the full technicolour experience of this newsletter and, worse still, you won’t be able to enter the competition.

In this newsletter

  • In SatNav We Trust – final cover design with competition
  • New merchandise and book shop
  • The new edition of The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil in a swanky new cover.
  • Lots of blog posts

Don’t forget to read to the bottom to enter this month’s competition for a T shirt.

So here is the news

The last you heard I’d been contacting agents to see if I could find a mainstream publisher. Well I can tell you, I’m done with that shit! Therefore, the big news is that In SatNav We Trust is coming out under my new self-publishing imprint, Cosmic Jellyfish. Up the revolution!

For the last eight years I’ve been with a small press publisher which means that, while they take on a lot of the work, you don’t have much control. However, small presses are often very small organisations so they don’t really have the resources of a large publisher. Basically you have to do your own promotion so you might as well be independent anyway. By establishing my own imprint I can control the whole process and be picky as I like. The downside is that a bigger publisher would put in place a publicity, marketing and sales infrastructure that a one man band simply can’t afford. Of course being self-published means individual readers, such as yourselves, become invaluable for thinking of people who might like to hear about a book once you’ve read it.

So the big news is that In SatNav We Trust will be published in September! It’s already got a skeleton listing on Amazon so it’s really happening. The ISBN will be: 978-1-527 2-6030-6

The cover design for In SatNav We Trust

I’ve spent the last few months designing covers, typesetting all the text, registering the ISBN, thinking up pithy statements for the frontmatter and end notes, and making all sorts of arrangements. If it hadn’t been for the apocalypse I probably couldn’t have done it all, even though my day job has continued. The current status is that the text is finished and is now with the printer. I’m now deciding on the colour combinations of the cover. All the blurb is finalised apart from one or two short passages that I’m quite excited about but can’t share with you until publication day.

Here are the choices of cover colour:

Don’t forget to scroll down to the competition. Once you’ve seen these cover designs you have a chance of winning the competition. You did activate the pictures like told you?</p?

New online shop

The other news is that I now have an online shop. It’s a bit rough-and-ready at the moment, but when I get time I’ll sort out the formatting. WordPress keep messing with the design tools and I quickly forget how they all work when I don’t use them often enough. It’s a wonder the web site works at all. So, if you have been entering the competitions or the prize draws since I started this newsletter, and you wish you’d won that mug, or tote bag, take a look via this link and see what you can buy. There are only a few options at the moment. I hope to add more once all the busy publishing stuff is out of the way.

Rerelease of The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil

However, what I can announce as of today is that, to go with the upcoming release of In SatNav We Trust I’ve released a new edition of The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil. It’s basically the same eccentric book as before but with a swanky new cover and an improved subtitle. Here’s what book blogger Elizabeth A. White said about it back when the previous edition came out:

  • “Author Jack Barrow has created a very strange animal in The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil, a bizarre mash-up of magic, organized crime, and unlikely heroes, with a dose of stoner road trip thrown in for good measure. The magic is not the wands and broomsticks variety though, but is more ancient spells and incantations. Of course, when your magicians are fond of beer, rum, and weed, well, they often end up with questionable – and highly amusing – results for their efforts.”

The new edition of The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil is now available on ISBN 978-1-5272-6312-3. Do buy it from your local high street bookseller, heaven knows they need the support, but if you’re likely to forget then it’ll be on the Waterstones web site soon and it’s already available on Amazon here.

Here’s the new cover art:

I said it’s been a busy six months. I’ve done all that, prepared two new books, built a shop, designed some T shirts and written all these blog posts… Phew!

Blog posts

It’s been another long break since the last newsletter so there have been quite a few blog posts.

R2D2 is glad I have new brake pads, first in this year’s series of R2D2 blogs in the run up to the annual Star Wars film

R2D2 is glad I have new brake pads

R2D2 isn’t coming to New Year’s Eve, his adventures over the Christmas holiday

R2D2 isn’t coming to New Year’s Eve

R2D2 gets his reward for good behaviour over the holidays, finally he gets to see the film and meet some of the cinema staff

R2D2 gets his reward for good behaviour over the holidays

Bournemouth, Wimborne, and how not to be a tourist, just a weekend away, how complicated could it be?

Bournemouth, Wimborne, and how not to be a tourist

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, a review of the show in Ipswich featuring the late great Tim Brooke-Taylor  

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue – Review

Venturing out amid the virus, walking the streets the first night the pubs were closed

Venturing out amid the virus

How things have changed, or not changed, with the virus, three weeks into the lockdown and counting

How things have changed, or not changed, with the virus

Four ambulances and an apocalypse, a story about how people depend on each other that ended up being about Thunderbirds

Four ambulances and an apocalypse

See, I’ve been really busy.


To celebrate the upcoming publication of In SatNav We Trust I’m offering an In SatNav We Trust T Shirt. It’s available in any colour you like, so long as you like black or white.

If you can’t quite see the detail of the design here’s a closeup of the art. For some reason the image here is a bit low quality. It’s much better on the T shirts.

To win your very own fashion icon here’s what you do (I know that a fashion icon is really a person but what the hell.):

The instructions for the competition are only available to subscribers to the newsletter.

The competition this time was won by Graeme in Dundee where you’ll be able to recognise him wearing a magnificent In SatNav We Trust T shirt.

So that’s it for this issue of my occasional, not at all spammy, newsletter. Do invite your frields to sign up. Good luck with the competition and do feel free to comment on the blogs or other posts on social media.



Christmas 2019 Newsletter – Grand Prize Draw

Greeterings again Booklovers

Welcome to my increasingly intermittent newsletter. Do tell your friends who declined subscribing to my monthly newsletter that it isn’t at all monthly, as it’s currently December and the last one was August, so it could never be described as spammy.

Get ready to hear about the prize draw.

So here is the news

Many of you will know that earlier in the year I decided to have a grand push at finding a literary agent for In SatNav We Trust. In the modern world of publishing you don’t submit to publishers, you submit to agents and they talk to the publishers in return for a small consideration. However, it’s the devil’s own job submitting to agents and in the past, such as with The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil, I got tired of the process and decided to self-publish. This is the difference between J.K. Rowling and myself, she didn’t give up after the 25th submission and eventually ground the industry down. Well neither did I and, hopefully, so will I have. If you get my drift.

Since you last heard from me, as well as earning a living writing about things I’d rather not write about, I’ve written 31 proposals to agents. Each one takes a good hour or more because you have to write to the person rather than the job title, tailoring your submission to their requirements. And that’s after reading the entries for another 350 that I decided not to write to. You can see why people often give up and that it’s a wonder that poor old Harry Potter exists at all. It’s a brutal industry.

However, I’m having a prize draw, which is a good thing.

So now I’m waiting for the responses. While I’m waiting, I’m preparing to self-publish, which comes with both positive and negative feelings.

Self-publishing is a bit depressing because unless you are writing about S&M you tend not to get noticed and you get read by about six people plus your mum, so not much joy there. Having said that I wrote a novel about three blokes who smoke too many drugs, drink way too much booze, to the point of falling over, and perform ceremonies that people might mistakenly describe as satanism. I didn’t get noticed so far so writing about something controversial or titillating isn’t always a guarantee of success.

However, the positive side of self-publishing is that I get to make all the decisions. That means that when In SatNav We Trust comes out I can decide to list in the book all the names of my supporters from the aborted Unbound campaign. So that is my plan. After Christmas is over, I plan to start typesetting In SatNav We Trust with a view to publishing on one of the platforms that publishes on paper. There might be an eBook available but my plan is to provide you with a proper paper book to buy.

Of course, if one of the literary agents comes back with a positive response before I press the publish button then we are talking a whole different game of soldiers and you can expect to see In SatNav We Trust in all good bookshops.

Whatever happens, one way or another, there will be news about In SatNav We Trust getting into print next year.

Watch This Space

Did I mention there’s a prize draw? Keep reading.

Blog Posts

It’s been so long since I sent out a newsletter, I’ve written five blog posts. There’s plenty more on the site.

The Handmaid’s Tale – why I had to stop watching it on TV, some thoughts on the TV series:

The Handmaid’s Tale – why I had to stop watching it on TV

The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District, a review of the book by James Rebanks

The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District – book review

The unseen divisions in the population around us, a blog post in the general silliness category

The unseen divisions in the population around us

Ten Songs to Save The World, a review of the show on tour from Mitch Benn

Mitch Benn – Ten Songs to Save The World – review

Who will look after the NHS? a true story of a conversation on the eve of the General Election

Who will look after the NHS?

Grand Christmas Prize Draw

As it’s Christmas I had planned to have a Grand Christmas Competition but it just hasn’t worked out. I’ve been working on a T shirt design to promote In SatNav We Trust but it’s still in development. I’m also planning to set up a shop so you can order merchandise for yourselves; that way if there’s anything in one of the competitions that you don’t win you can buy direct. But more on that in future newsletters.

However, I’m still doing a Christmas giveaway but there’s no T shirt (yet) and there’s no competition. Instead I’m running a Grand Christmas Prize Draw. I’m going to giveaway another mug, another tote bag and a copy of the Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil (refer to the bit about mistaken satanism above or read about it here). Instead of the usual competition every entry will be in with a chance so there’s no excuse not to try. I’ll get the computer to pick three names on Christmas Day and I’ll contact the three winners shortly after.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year

The link to the competition page is only visible to newsletter subscribers. To enter in future months go to the sign-up section on this page.

The Grand Christmas Prize Draw was won by the following people:
1st place: SongSticks from Suffolk who chose the mug
2nd place: Heather (aka Brenda) from Blackpool who chose the signed and dedicated copy of The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil
3rd place: MKUltra from Hong Kong who chose the tote bag

August 2019 Newsletter

Greetings Again Readers

Welcome to the August Newsletter. The eagle eyed amongst you might notice that there wasn’t a July Newsletter but that’s because July was full of heatwaves, camping trips and me looking out the kitchen window thinking, ‘I really must cut that grass.’ Well I bought a lawnmower so the grass has now been cut.

So here is the news

However, I’m sure you are much more interested in the world of publishing. The last news I had was that I was busy writing a proposal for the agent I was planning to submit to. That was a bit more of a job than I imagined. In SatNav We Trust has 39 chapters, granted short ones, but that’s still a lot of chapters. I spent the first couple of weeks writing a summary for each chapter, which is the sort of thing an agent needs, but by the time I had finished I realised that I’d written it in completely the wrong style. I won’t go into details but, suffice to say, I finished the chapter listing only to realise I had to start from scratch but that’s sometimes the way with writing. So, another two weeks went by which took us into mid-June and only then was I able to start to write the proposal proper.

Phew, I’m tired just talking about this. Is this going on a bit? I think it might be but don’t worry, there isn’t an exam at the end so it doesn’t matter if you’re not paying attention. There is a quiz with a prize draw though. Which, I suppose, is a bit like an exam but much more fun and I can tell you, the answer is ‘London’ so that’s not really a quiz. Of course, in an exam you don’t get to win a bag. Anyway…

Eventually I finished the proposal, and the chapter listing and the sample chapters I had to send and the other bits and I sent the whole package off at the beginning of July which meant the whole process took about six weeks. Therefore, you might understand why there was no July newsletter as I needed a bit of a rest hence all the camping trips and mowing the grass and stuff.

And now we wait. The proposal is currently working its way to the top of the pile as agents get a lot of submissions. Occasionally I get a spike in visitors to my Facebook page for one of my books or some other clue that might make me think I’ve come to the attention of the publishing world. Perhaps tens of dozens of publishers, agents, book publicists, general hangers on, girls called Felicity (who always seem to end up in publishing), and the like are suddenly looking at my online profile, buying copies of my earlier works and… well, you get the picture. Basically, you can’t tell so I have to wait for a reply.

So the upshot is that you need to keep paying attention (and possibly invite others to do so) and keep everything crossed (and possibly invite others to do so). Don’t forget there’s a competition with every newsletter.


Blog Posts

Again I’ve only written two blog posts this month. There’s plenty more on the site.

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places, a review of the book by Neil Oliver:

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places – book review

Memories in raindrops, Rutger Hauer, Guinness, perception and the nature of reality:

Memories in raindrops


The June competition was won by svmitche from Dorset who received a cool In SatNav We Trust mug.

This month’s competition is for the new tote bag design for In SatNav We Trust. This design utilised another of the memes I created as pre-promotion over the winter.

The link to the monthly competition is only visible to newsletter subscribers. To enter in future months go to the sign-up section on this page.

The August competition was won by Graeme from Dundee who receives a very cool bag.

June 2019 Newsletter

Greetings Again Booklovers

This is my second newsletter so welcome to our new subscribers. I’m trying to get more people to sign up so that they hear about new books and other projects as they develop. If you know anyone you believe would be interested do encourage them to sign up and let them know they needn’t worry about getting a lot of spam. There’s also the monthly giveaway to tempt folks in. This month’s is a great prize so read on for more details.

So here is the news

The latest news is that In SatNav We Trust is moving along nicely. I had a meeting with an agent a couple of weeks ago and pitched the book with a positive result. Of course the nature of these things is that there’s a procedure. You can’t ask someone to represent a book in a face to face meeting, rather you have to submit the right extracts along with a synopsis and all that jazz. Of course, I’ve done this all before but the fact that I don’t have an agent yet is testament to the fact that I’ve not been doing it right. The other issue is that each agent wants it done in a slightly different way or uses the terminology in a different way. What one agent calls a synopsis other calls a proposal and for some a proposal will contain certain elements while other agent will want something else. The upshot is that, basically, you address the individual and not the job title. Mass mailings are not where it’s at.

The current situation is that I’m in the process of preparing my proposal and hope to be getting it off shortly. From then there will be a delay while she considers whether In SatNav We Trust is likely to tickle the interest of a commissioning editor at a grown up publisher, so keep watching this space.

Blog Posts

I’ve published just two blog posts this month. There’s plenty more on the site.

What’s in a name, lunch times, late breakfasts and architecture:

What’s in a name?

Ask an Astronaut, a review of the book by Tim Peake:

Ask an Astronaut – book review


The May competition was won by Karl of Hertfordshire and he received a signed and dedicated copy of The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil.

This month’s competition is for the new mug design for In SatNav We Trust. A little while ago, when I was releasing memes as teasers for the coming book to show agents and publishers what a brilliant prospect I am, one particular meme really generated some great responses. The fact that it’s the shortest text and the only meme with a graphic might have something to do with it.

Here is the new design for the In SatNav We Trust mug that you can win.

The link to the monthly competition is only visible to newsletter subscribers. To enter in future months go to the sign-up section on this page.

The June competition was won by svmitche from Dorset who receives a slightly philosophical mug

For news and information please join my mailing list. You'll be able to join in competitions and prize draws I run with each newsletter.

These are my promises to you:

  • You don’t need to set up an account, just fill in your email address.
  • I have stripped out all pointless questions so I won't ask anything unnecessary. All I need is your name and email address. So long as the email address works you can call yourself Mickey Mouse for all I care.
  • Your email address won’t be used for anything other than to send you a monthly(ish) newsletter and your email won't be passed on to anyone else.
  • You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link on the email if my messages become really annoying.

It's handled by Mailchimp so it's all above board and GDPR compliant. The Sign-up button will take you to a page where you fill in your name and email address before you select Subscribe so you can still backout at that point. There is also a link there that will allow you see the Mailchimp's legal policies.