My Guest Today is Harmony Kent

Don’t be afraid of ‘Fallout’ … check out Harmony Kent.

Sarah Stuart - Romantic Suspense

Hi, everyone. Harmony here. Many thanks to Sarah for hosting me. I have a new book on preorder called FALLOUT, which is a post-apocalyptic dystopia. This novel started out life by playing a little game. I sat and closed my eyes and imagined an empty room … in that room, a vial appeared. A dull orange plastic thing covered in scratches. It sloshed when I shook it. From that tiny beginning, the world of Exxon 1 and its deadly virus was born.

Did John betray Sasha?
Why wouldn’t he take this golden opportunity to get rid of President Terror?
How can she protect herself now?

Click the cover to preorder and get a lovely surprise on August 25th when it downloads.

WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

The year is 3040.

The location is Exxon 1, part of a six-planet system in settled space.

Determined to avoid the…

View original post 238 more words

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Light at the End

 

The ‘working’ cover

I’ve published short stories in a wide variety of genres, but before tackling a novel I think ‘long and hard’, which I suppose is a reasonable euphemism for writing a novel.

Many authors who write sci-fi, dystopian or apocalyptic naturally populate their world with those creatures with whom we are most well-acquainted—humans. If not human, the characters are invariably a variation of the model. The unbelievable can be found in any genre but, in sci-fi,  dystopian and apocalyptic stories, we as readers must more readily ‘accept’ the author’s word—it has to be convincing.

Apart from reading pretty much anything I also write in a broad spectrum. Although my sci-fi short stories have been well-received, for a long time I’ve wanted to write a novel with a sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic flavour. I was afraid of being drawn into a world of unpronounceable equipments, scientific jargon, strange weaponry, beams, time warps and goodness knows what else.

Two writing theories came to mind. ‘Write what you know’ and ‘ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances’. Now, here were two things I could work with in my new venture.

Alternative colour scheme

During my morning cycle rides when my surroundings permit, I let my thoughts wander and over many weeks I dreamt up a situation which involved ‘ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances’. If I’m writing ‘what I know’ then that as always will be down to memory, experience, knowledge and research.

My sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic novel has the working title ‘Light at the End’. Like most of my titles, this one carries more than one meaning.

For the benefit of new writers or those who are interested in such things as how an author’s mind works when a new idea is bubbling under the surface, I used my favourite method for building the basics before writing any of the story. It’s a one-man brainstorming session.

– On a regular A4 sheet of paper, I drew a bubble and wrote the title inside.

– From this first point, I drew a line with a bubble on the end and wrote ‘tunnel’.

– From ‘tunnel’ I added several other threads with bubbles on the end—some of these immediately gaining their own extension.

– Back at the central bubble I extended more threads and added topics like ‘nuclear strike’, ‘tourists’, inhabitants’ and so on. Inside about thirty minutes I had thirty extensions from the original bubble—Light at the End.

– I spent twenty minutes listing character names and ‘other considerations’, writing as fast as possible when an idea came to mind. Speed is more beneficial than procrastination when brainstorming, otherwise it becomes braindrizzle. Characters would need names—not descriptions or ages—not yet, but male and female—yes.

I stopped the whole brainstorm session at one hour.

Result?

Forty circles with topics or sub-topics, and a list of forty ‘other considerations’.

While my thoughts were concentrated on the new story idea I had to keep pushing. Next up was another sheet of paper on which I drew a quick sketch of the tunnel and the surrounding countryside. By this stage, I was thinking of the opening scenes.

Before I stopped working I assessed progress.

A working title, a cover, a wide spread of information required, a plan of the main location, characters … and a catastrophe waiting to happen.

I performed the brainstorming session on Thursday evening and yesterday (Friday), I spent the day working on Chapter 1 – A Leap of Faith. Take a look and leave a comment if you wish. It’s a bit rough, due to being the first draft, which like the brainstorming was produced rapidly.

After much heart-searching, I’ve amended the sub-title/strapline from dystopian to apocalyptic. The two phrases are regularly and rightly associated, but I feel my tale will lean more heavily toward one than the other. Stranger than fiction really, since I’ve only written one chapter.

You’ve got to love being an author.

As always, thank you for dropping by, and for any comments or suggestions.

***

The interview by Fiona Macvie

Interviewed by Fiona Mcvie

Here is my interview with Tom Benson

Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Tom Benson, and I’m 66 …until November ….

Fiona: Where are you from?

Originally, from Glasgow, Scotland, although I’ve lived in Northeast England since my military career ended in 1992.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I’m the oldest of four boys and two girls. I was eight years old when my three brothers, my parents and I, moved out from a single-room house in a rundown tenement in the east end of Glasgow. We set up home in what to us, was a luxurious two-bedroom apartment in Drumchapel, a sprawling housing estate on the city’s western boundary.

I was a natural scholar and artist, so I excelled at lessons, but due to lack of support and financial backing I was destined to leave school at 15. That was just how it was in 1967. I worked in an office for the next two years and commenced training as a book-keeper. (There’s something ironic about that job title and how life has turned out for me).

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

-Two weeks ago I published ‘One Man, Two Missions: and other stories’, my seventh collection of short stories.

– At the time of responding (July 2019), I have thirty-six published titles and I’m presently working on three projects.

– ‘Codename: Nightshade’ a standalone/spinoff of the ‘Beyond The Law’ trilogy.

– ‘Czech Mate’, a standalone thriller.

– ‘Around the Bend: and other stories’, my next collection of twelve multi-genre tales.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing my military memoirs in the mid-1990’s, having finished my army days in 1992. It took me a couple of years, because I was then a retail manager and commuting daily. When the manuscript was completed, even I knew that the story might be okay, but the writing was terrible. I left the idea aside and concentrated on my day job.

The story was written in different points of view, but I eventually opted for changing all the real names (including mine), and declared the tale to be fact-based fiction.

I wrote my military story partly as a catharsis, partly as something to leave behind, and if I’m honest—to relive those 23 years. I enjoyed the life and I survived to tell the tale.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In 2007, about ten years after shelving my military life story, I started writing poetry, which was something I did spontaneously one day during my lunch-break. At the suggestion of a colleague I joined a poetry website and after a few months I attempted writing short stories.

In 2010, one of my stories was a winner in a national competition to be included in the anthology ‘Whitby Abbey – Pure Inspiration’. For me, that was the turning point—my writing and my name were in print; together. One year later I came second in an international competition.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

My military career inspired my first book, ‘A Life of Choice’.It wasn’t the first story I published, but it will remain my magnum opus however many other titles I publish.

Although ‘A Life of Choice’ is available as a series of five eBooks or a paperback trilogy, it is word-for-word the same story.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The title is a key ingredient of the whole writing package, so I tend to give myself a ‘working title’. I list more possible titles while I’m in the process of writing the particular story. The title is something which must carry appeal, but also be an accurate description of the tale, whether it be location, character, plot, a message or even a hint of the content.

‘A Life of Choice’ was not my first option, but it grew on me and I realised over time that it was an ideal fit for such an extended tale.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

In my writing I’m not inclined towards the regular use of ‘three days later’ or similar phrases to show the passage of time, so from the outset I’ve kept a perpetual diary close at hand. This means that for the sake of detail it doesn’t matter if the date were in 2018, or 1901, I would know what the specific day would be. I like my reader to be comfortable with time scale and progression.

I would hesitate to call it a style, but it’s in my nature to keep everything neat and tidy. It’s probably for that reason that I tend to produce a story in a mainly chronological order with clearly defined periods of time. Flashbacks are used sparingly, but as required. If my fiction had a style it might be referred to as ‘literary diarist’.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Although ‘A Life of Choice’ is purported to be fact-based fiction, the story is factual and autobiographical. The names and descriptions of all characters are disguised to protect the innocent … and the guilty. Apart from this I omitted a couple of family members.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

In the case of ‘A Life of Choice’ the travelling was already done many years before.

For my other fiction I don’t usually travel to complete the process of writing a story, but in the case of my ‘Beyond The Law’ crime trilogy, I conducted detailed research on several brief visits to my birthplace, Glasgow.

For one of my projects ‘Czech Mate’, I made copious notes on a five-day trip to Praque and several weekends in Edinburgh.

There is something visceral about walking the streets a story’s characters walk and inhabiting their world, even partially. In my military career I drove on city streets and walked among people while armed and I find it easy to recall such a strange sensation.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

The covers for my early novels; ‘Ten Days in Panama’, ‘Amsterdam Calling’, ‘A Taste of Honey’ and the ‘Beyond The Law’ trilogy were all designed by Aimee Coveney, a professional cover designer. Aimee also designed the covers for the paperback trilogy version of ‘A Life of Choice’.

I take pleasure and pride in designing my covers and have produced the others myself. I have created 34 of my present covers.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In my work generally, whether it be novel, novella, short story or poetry I strive to entertain, but in that context I work hard to provide a sense of justice, karma and a feeling that good will prevail. As things turned out in my military career, I feel that these same things occurred throughout ‘A Life of Choice’.

If there is a message in that story it is that beneath the military uniform and the confident, usually humorous facade is a human being, complete with all the trappings of any other.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

– I can’t think of anybody I’d classify as a ‘new’ author. I’m a fan of several indie authors but if I had to choose one, for consistently memorable storytelling and incredible characterisation I’d name Lesley Hayes.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

If you’ll excuse the pun, this is relatively easy for me. Although my wife has believed in me from the outset, neither she, nor my grown-up son have read any of my work.

If there were one entity I’d name as support it would be Amazon as a platform. After publishing a few titles, more important to me has become the psychological and personal advice and support provided by the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group on Facebook.

For quality reading material in a wide variety of genres, I would recommend many of the talented authors in the IASD.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I would say, yes I do, if we take it that as a career or occupation it takes up a significant part of my time and I maintain the desire to improve, or if you will, develop my craft.

Although I treat my writing as a ‘job’ I do so more to achieve the natural wish to produce stories—not to earn money. For example, I regularly send the paperback versions of my work as gifts or prizes for military veteran fund-raising events.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I’ll refer once again to ‘A Life of Choice’ and the answer would be; no. I gave my heart and soul (not to mention twenty-three years of my life) to producing that story. At twenty years (off and on), it took almost as long to write and edit as it did to live the life.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

If I were to use ‘A Life of Choice’ as the book(s) I’d suggest that I learned how fortunate I was to have achieved so much after such a self-indulgent, self-destructive start to my military career. The success was, of course, a by-product of effort, enthusiasm, diligence, and professionalism, but also due to marrying Olive, my lifelong support and anchor since we tied the knot in 1977.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men, The Last (King of Scotland ), et al. He is not only a fellow Glasgow man, but was brought up on the same housing estate as me; Drumchapel. Like me, he was Roman Catholic and also like me, for a brief period in his childhood considered joining the priesthood.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

To a novice writer I would suggest—do not publish until the work is as good as it can be and accept constructive criticism in good faith. We’ve all been there—really.

To established writers I would suggest—whether or not we sell our work we are promising entertainment and/or education. With this in mind we should devote ourselves to achieving what we’ve offered. Do not over-promise and under-deliver.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

If you enjoy my books, please tell others—if you don’t; please tell me.

I’m a really big fan of reviews—particularly good ones!

 Fiona: What book are you reading now?

‘The Silence of the Stones’ by Rebecca Bryn, aka Ruth Coulson.

 Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

– ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Mark Twain. Until I finished reading; I was Tom Sawyer.

 Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Humour is capable of making me do both.In my writing I’ve learned to judge how realistic a scene has developed by my mental and physical reaction. I move on at a pace when writing, so it’s when I am editing for the final time that I might feel the emotion. This applies to all genre: thriller, adventure, erotica, romance.

I may not always be reduced to tears but in our modern world I despair when I see evidence of tragic loss of life. For example, with humans due to natural disaster or terrorist activity, or in the case of wildlife, wanton destruction like ‘hunting’ or ‘poaching’.

 Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

Sir David Attenborough—the naturalist and broadcaster. My hero. He’s been to places and seen and done things many of us will only ever see on a screen. I admire his tenacity, and though in his winter years now, he remains passionate about our natural world.

I’d also like to go back in time to meet Adolf Hitler in a dark alley when we were both in our twenties …

 Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

I’m a self-taught artist, so I draw and paint when not reading or writing. Maintenance of my physical fitness has been a personal aspiration for many years. Due to a knee injury in my forties I had to abandon long-distance running. About two and a half years ago I rediscovered my love of cycling. I go out every morning (except Monday) before breakfast to cover between ten and twenty miles.

 Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Natural History on TV has been a favourite all my life, even when the picture was black and white. In films I like humour, action, adventure and espionage.

I love the Airplane movies, the Monty Python movies and I enjoy the flippant humour in The Three Musketeers (1993 version).

 Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music?

I’m not now, and never have been a ‘food junkie’. I like sweet rather than savoury. If anyone pulls me up for not trying new things or eating more, I have a maxim—‘I eat to live; I don’t live to eat.’

I like reds and golds for some reason. Perhaps I should have been a Chinese temple designer or an interior designer for Chinese restaurants.

I like most music, including pop (up until about 2015), classical, instrumental, folk, country and western, and heavy metal, but I don’t like jazz, garage, funk, hip-hop or any of the other strangely designated stuff that is around now.

 Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

–  Art would be my natural choice—most likely graphic design. If not, then musician or linguist would be my next choices. I’ve always wanted to play the piano, but though I can touch-type efficiently I don’t have the dexterity for instruments.

Although I’m capable of learning foreign vocabulary, I’m not good at conversational use. Okay, for a long time I’ve also harboured the dream of being a rally or racing driver.

Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

 Best answered by a poem from my ‘Poetry-Volume 5 – Thrills and Chills’.

I can give you a flavour* of the piece:

Mentally Prepared

.With only one more day to live

all worldly goods I’d gladly give

to let me simply go on living

I would never tire of giving

 

I wonder how I would be

knowing soon I would be ‘free’

No more trouble and no more worry

what time is left there’s no hurry

.

I’d go to Scotland’s mountains high

watch golden eagles in the sky

I’d see the herds of deer all wander

that’s how time I would squander

*(there are five more verses)

 Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

‘Here lies Tom Benson: soldier, retailer, author, and artist. He was adored by women, admired by men and envied by all who saw his beautiful house in the Scottish Highlands so realising the extent of his astounding fortune.’

I would like that message to be true, but at least it would bring a smile when a visitor realised it was for fun.

 Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

http://www.tombensonauthor.com

https://tombensoncreative.com

https://tombensonerotica.wordpress.com

https://amzn.to/2CXjflq (Amazon)

I highly recommend a visit to the IASD website which has an extensive catalogue of excellent reading material available.

https://indieauthorsupportanddiscussion.com

Author: http://www.tombensonauthor.com

Artist: https://www.tombensonartist.wordpress.com

Blog: http://www.tombensoncreative.com

Temptation … at no cost

 

Yes, hard to believe, I know. Temptation often comes with a price, however small—but not this time.

My next collection of short stories is due to be published next week, so I thought it would be appropriate to offer something at no cost for all you who like a short story. For three days, my anthology Temptation: and other stories is free to download.

Friday 14th June to Sunday 16th June inclusive

Contrary to what the title might suggest, there is no erotica, but the stories are connected by the theme; Temptation.

 

What’s inside?

1.   Temptation  – Dave has a long-standing weakness.

2.   A Grave Mistake – DC Jeff Clark cannot resist the chance of glory.

3.   Good with Words – Who is in control at this meeting of minds?

4.   Poisoned Ivy – Emma’s desire and potential were recognised early.

5.   The Reunion – Will Gerry feel the wait was worthwhile?

6.   Going Down? – Being impulsive sometimes has consequences.

7.   A Day of Reckoning – Lei Mei has a tight schedule to meet through choice.

8.   The Visitor – A remote island offers unusual opportunities.

9.   To Go Boldly – Was this where it all started for Jim?

10. Louise E Anna – Where there’s a will, patience, and understanding ….

11. Bewitched – In the 16th century, not everything was as it appeared.

12. One Good Turn – Wayne risks his life for a stranger. 

The twelve stories are supplemented by five bonus stories taken from other collections.

Debt of Honour – from Smoke & Mirrors: and other stories, by Tom Benson

Blood Brothers – from A Time for Courage: and other military stories, by Tom Benson

Stranger than Fiction – from The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories, by Tom Benson and guest authors.

Goals – from You’re Not Alone: An Indie Anthology, by Ian D Moore and friends.

Faith, Hope, and Charity Holes: An Indie Author Anthology, by authors of the IASD.

Amazon Preview/Buy

BookLinker Universal

There you have it … are you tempted to grab a book of seventeen short stories for free?

If you haven’t sampled my work before then this is an ideal opportunity to try it for nothing, and if you’ve never got into short stories—take the plunge.

*

Perhaps if you like what you find you’ll be tempted once again in about a week when my next collection makes an appearance.

Watch out for, One Man, Two Missions: and other stories. The tales have been honed by using the valuable opinions and suggestions of several fellow members of the amazing Indie Author Support and Discussion group. They will, of course, be accredited in the new anthology.

Thank you for the visit.

***

Who writes fiction and can it be taught?

Sarah Stuart - Romantic Suspense


The answer to that question must be a qualified yes. Given the opportunity, every human being can learn to communicate. From stories passed from generation to generation in words to cave art, to writing, printing presses, and computers, men and women have always told stories. Those tales have changed from history, or magical explanations of the, at the time, inexplicable, to deliberately make-believe novels intended to entertain. It is to those novels that I refer when I ask, “who writes fiction and can it be taught”, and I don’t mean correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation – school – evening classes – proof-readers –

I told stories before I could hold a pencil, and a collection of dolls and teddy bears acted them, or did they? I had my favourites – the good guys who had families they cared about– and the ones I wished one of my aunts had never…

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One step beyond … Beyond The Law

 

Originality is relatively easy when an author is working on a single title. When the title/premise goes to a second, third or more, the idea must be examined closely to see how far it can be taken without repetition.

Certain sub-genres can run for several books and if the author is careful and inventive the fictional world will remain exciting to the reader. This must be paramount in the mindset of the creator of the work. Reader satisfaction is everything.

Beyond The Law: Formation was published in 2013, Beyond The Law: Retribution in 2015, and Beyond The Law: Consequences in 2017. In terms of timing, I’d be on target now to produce the next if it were an ongoing series.

I have no worries about a continuing story, but I enjoy stretching my writing creativity in different directions, which is why I ended the Beyond The Law (BTL) idea and proclaimed it a trilogy.

As a reader and a writer, certain characters lend themselves to the spotlight and become favourites. For me as an author, one such character is Rachel Donoghue. When the BTL trilogy ended, the door was left open for several characters to make another appearance. Rachel was crying out to be given a standalone adventure. From this premise was born Codename: NightshadeRachel’s antics will provide continuity, closure in certain areas, and further entertainment for those who have enjoyed the BTL trilogy.

As a precursor and to get me in the right frame of mind I recently reread and made several edits to each book of the BTL trilogy. Plot and detail were not affected, but some dialogue and narrative were tightened to improve the reading experience.

In the new story, a few names from the past from both sides of the law will show up, combined with new good guys, and new bad guys. This will not be a fourth BTL story, but by its nature, it will lean in that direction. The key aspect of the tale for me is to highlight an individual character.

The first five chapters of Codename: Nightshade all appear in my Work in Progress menu. They’re not the finished article, but they give a flavour of how this individual character will demonstrate her skills and how much promise she has as a central protagonist. As an author, I’m thoroughly enjoying expanding my notes and ideas, many of which have been made over the past year. For me, Rachel is already real, and out there doing her best … to the worst.

I aim to produce the book in June 2019, which means that by May I hope to be asking for beta readers to help refine the tale.

In the meantime, thank you for reading and in particular, thank you to the followers of the BTL story. I have to go now … gangsters, guns and a girl are waiting for me. 🙂

***

Happy New Writing Year – 2019

 

There is more than a hint of deja vu as I begin this post. I started 2018 with the intention of producing two more thrillers and a new collection of short stories. Work was done on all of those projects but none were completed. The reasons were many and various.

Among the many other projects I did complete last year, in the erotica genre I published: two novels, a novella, and an anthology of short stories, all of which I found easier, though no less time-consuming than my planned books. If I’m not enjoying what I’m producing, it isn’t going to be my best.

Here I am once again with the same intentions as 2018, but in a better frame of mind to get the job done.

I may not produce as many titles this year, but I feel confident I have sufficient work done to ease my early progress into each of my main writing projects. In an effort to improve my focus I’ve refreshed/improved the proposed covers.

Codename: Nightshade is a crime thriller. The book is a standalone, and spin-off from the Beyond The Law trilogy. Rachel Donoghue is the central character and depending on your viewpoint—the heroine. For now, I think that’s enough to know about this one.

Czech Mate is a crime thriller based on the activities and adventures (or misadventures), of a young Scottish artist and gallery proprietor. The reading of his late father’s will is the kicking-off point for the tale, and apart from his native Scotland, he finds himself in Central Europe—mainly Prague, capital of the Czech Republic.

One Man, Two Missions: and other stories is a new anthology, although some of the stories have been in my files for a few years. They are of a wide variety of genre, similar to other anthologies I’ve produced which have proved popular.

Rather than predict an exact publication date for any of this work, I’d suggest it will be out there when it’s good and ready.

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What else have I got lined up this writing year?

I have four erotica titles at various stages and a book of poetry of the same genre. They are detailed on the dedicated website—Tom Benson – Erotica.

I will be reading as much as possible, as usual, and I’ll be mentoring, beta-reading and helping my peers whenever I can.

I’ll be continuing to offer as much support as possible to any individual or group projects being produced by the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group. 

The production of more paperbacks will probably be put on hold—they don’t sell in sufficient numbers to make the investment of time worthwhile, and at least in my case they are aimed more at giving to charitable causes, or as gifts.

There you have it—a summary of my proposed writing year, so it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

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Did I do anything of importance regarding writing during 2018?

In late December I reread On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. If you’re a writer and you have yet to read that book I would suggest you are doing yourself and your proposed readership a disservice. As I reach the end of this post, for the benefit of my peers who may not have read the book, here is an excerpt from one of the final paragraphs:

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”- Stephen King.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft links: Amazon dot UK ….. Amazon dot com

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What else have I been up to in my writing world?

As recently as the end of December 2018 I spent an entire day working to update and improve this blog. I removed a needless heading from my main menu and set up a new one—Samples of my work. If you’d care to visit the new feature you will find samples of complete short stories of various genre, individual poems of different genre and examples of my serial poetry.

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If you are a fellow scribe, I hope you have a wonderful, productive year ahead. If you’re a reader, may you find yourself absorbed in many a good story, and if you’re a reviewer, I hope you like my work.

Thank you for reading, and as always, comments are not only welcome but encouraged.

***

My Writing Year – 2018

As many of us do, I like to look back and believe I’ve accomplished something in the past year. For me, this was my first full year in retirement—having finished my regular working life in late 2017.

My aim was the same as always, to use my time productively. Apart from reading/reviewing and my literary output, I had a couple of big domestic projects to plan and complete. I wouldn’t concentrate properly on my writing if I didn’t deal with one of my domestic jobs first, so January was written off.

February—I bought Vellum, a quality formatting programme to use with my Mac. Not only was I intent on producing paperbacks—I wanted the interior to look smart, and professional. Before a book was released as a paperback it would be completely revised. The revisions were already underway. My eBooks were also scheduled for the processing through Vellum.

MarchAmsterdam Calling; published in paperback.

AprilTen Days in Panama; published in paperback.

MayCurious and Camping: An Erotic Journey; published.

—helped to edit and format Lisa: and other short stories, for my dear friend and fellow author Carmen Lopez.

JuneQuiet Night Inn: and other erotic stories; published.

—Commenced work on the conversion of A Life of Choice from five eBooks to a paperback trilogy.

July/August—Continued A Life of Choice conversion.

—Editing and assembling stories for the next IASD anthology (with the invaluable help of several members of the group).

—Completed a large domestic task and fitted in a holiday.

September—Created Tom Benson – Artist, a new website to replace Tom Benson Creative Writer and Artist, which was heavy on admin and light on visitors. 

OctoberRhyme & REASON: 200 Poems, published. A collection I’d considered for a few years which encompasses my serial poetry and samples from each of my genre-based volumes.

NovemberBeing a Good Girl: An Erotic Novella, published.

NovemberA Life of Choice: The Trilogy Edition, published. This was a major task, on which I started work back in June. It is the paperback version of my popular five-part eBook series.

DecemberSharing: An Erotic Novel, published.

In terms of reading, I set myself a target of fifty books and completed forty-six. I will read two more by the end of year. 🙂

Do I feel as if I’ve met my targets?

I do, and apart from dealing with the occasional injury or extremely bad weather, I maintained my daily early morning cycle ride. Personally, I feel as if I’ve had a good year and I now look forward to continuing with the same enthusiasm as we go into 2019.

(I’ve never produced a ‘flag’ from folded T-shirts before ….) 😀

 

My aims for 2019 will be set out in my next post … very soon. In the meantime, thank you for being a part of my writing life, in whichever way, large or small. It all counts for me.

A heads-up for all you lovely people who have taken the time to read this post. I have four very different titles being offered free and they’ll be available* from Wednesday 19th through Sunday 23rd December.

*This is, of course, if there are no technical hitches with Amazon.

Have a peaceful end to the old year and a great start to the new one.

Tom

 

A Life of Choice—Reborn

Click the graphic for my author website

I can say with confidence that I will never apply as much effort to any other writing task as I have to ‘A Life of Choice’.

It was 49 years ago this week when I left home to start basic training with the British Army. My military career ended in 1992, after 23 years, and it was a couple of years later when I gathered information towards writing about that career as military memoirs. It would take many years before I’d gained sufficient writing knowledge and skill to produce an entertaining tale.

I tried the fact-based route first, both in the first-person point of view and in third-person. The end product was massive and carried far too much detail—it went into ‘storage’.

When I’d successfully written and published thrillers, romance, short stories and poetry, I turned once again to my magnum opus. I toyed with fact or fiction, and viewpoint. My choice was fact-based fiction, written in the first-person point of view.

By 2016 the first of five parts was published and was well-received. As each part went out, the reviews continued to be positive, so I sidelined my other writing projects. I still tried to read, review and help my peers with their projects. Apart from public reviews on my new series, I started receiving private messages via my author website—mainly from ex-soldiers (male and female), who wanted to pass on their gratitude for the accuracy and humour. Most of these guys were not comfortable writing public reviews.

My only concern was that many serving and ex-service personnel were not e-reader users and I have regularly received requests for a paperback version.

Five paperbacks would have been easy to produce, and would also be simple to ‘match’ on websites or outlets. Marketed as five paperbacks, the series would have been expensive to buy, so I set myself a series of tasks.

1. Perform a complete rewrite to tighten dialogue and deal with minor amendments.

2. Break the story to balance the chapters and create a consistent ‘volume’ for each of the five parts.

3. Select the appropriate places to break the story to make a paperback version as a trilogy edition.

4. Rewrite all blurbs for the five eBooks, and three fresh blurbs for the paperback trilogy.

5. Compose a disclaimer which could be used with internet marketing blurbs and within the books regarding the different editions having the same content overall.

6. Select excerpts from reviews to use on the back covers of the trilogy.

7. Build a catalogue of information to educate my book cover designer regarding the ideal graphics solutions. This was difficult because anything available now in photographic evidence is very different to the equipment I would have known in the ’70’s, ’80’s, and early ’90’s. We persevered, and the trilogy covers feature equipments which were landmarks in my story.

As I’ve done for my novels, I hired the talents of Aimee Coveney of AuthorDesignStudio–a designer who works tirelessly until the solution meets customer satisfaction.

 8. Organise the sequence of publishing—all five amended eBooks and the trilogy, only when I had the bespoke covers for the trilogy.

9. Create graphics to market the two editions separately and together.

10. Prepare my author website and this blog for when the new trilogy went public.

 

I commenced this renewed labour of love in June 2018. Once again, apart from helping other writers on individual projects, and managing a major task for the Indie Author Support and Discussion group—most of my efforts went on the conversion process.

How did I relax when it was getting intense?

Several times I pulled out one of my erotica projects—as difficult to write as any other genre, but light relief in terms of content. Occasionally I’d draw, paint, or read, but not as often as I wanted because I felt a sense of guilt for not ‘working’.

In mid-October, I completed the conversion of five eBooks into three paperbacks. It was around 7th November, when I completed the final formatting sequence for the revised eBook versions … and then I had another coffee.

The pricing of the paperback trilogy is more than I’d have wanted, but I reconcile my concerns knowing that each book is around 570 pages. It was vitally important that nothing was removed from the story. 

Useful Links:

My Author Website

Amazon UK – for the paperbacks

A Life of Choice: Part One – The Trilogy Edition

A Life of Choice: Part Two – The Trilogy Edition

A Life of Choice: Part Three – The Trilogy Edition

BookLinker-Universal – for the paperbacks

A Life of Choice: Part One – The Trilogy Edition

A Life of Choice: Part Two – The Trilogy Edition

A Life of Choice: Part Three – The Trilogy Edition

*

Who might find an excerpt from their reviews on the back cover of my paperback trilogy?

Apart from review excerpts by a selection of ex-Royal Signals personnel, and an ex-Army wife, I opted for snippets from fellow authors, namely: Frank Parker, Barbara Fagan Speake, Paul A Ruddock, John MW Smith, and Paul Rees—notably, all fellow members of the IASD.

Thank you for taking an interest, and passing a few minutes with me.

***

Why Write?

A considered piece by Paul Ruddock; fellow veteran, friend, and founder of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group.

rudders' writing

Depositphotos_2488689_original typewriter3

Well, what to say here? This is an article I wrote back in 1995 for no other reason than that it was the very first piece of writing I ever had published (3rd prize in a competition for which I was awarded the princely sum of £20). I’ve tidied it up a bit since then, but the text essentially remains the same 

***

                             Why Write?                                                         

Typewriter2

Why Write? An interesting question you might agree, but one with a multitude of answers. The same question could well be asked of those who follow other creative pursuits. What compelled Van Gogh or Gaugin to paint, despite their sufferings…

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