Making things Beta

A glance at my Work in Progress will give some idea of my intended output for the next few months. I enjoy variety in my writing as I do in my reading, so apart from working on novels this year – I aim to produce two anthologies.

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A Time for Courage - 1My next anthology of short stories is due for publication at end of March 2016.

I’ve already adjusted the font, and the angle of the plane on the cover for about the fifth time, but I believe the latest version does the job.

A Time for Courage is a collection of 12 stories. There are two which appear in other collections, but they deserve to be included here.

As always I strive to produce a varied selection, even when adhering to a theme, and I’ve worked to develop these stories in each successive draft.

I’m now looking for volunteers to sample the collection. Ideally, I’d like readers to try at least two stories each, but if you’d like to experience variety I can supply a surprise third story based on your two choices.

If I’m fortunate enough to have more than one reader for any of the stories, it will only be a good thing for the final product.

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What do readers need to know?

Photographic Memory* and Duty Bound* are the two tales which are appear elsewhere, so they don’t require beta reading, but I’ll be happy to send them on if somebody particularly wanted to see them.

I tend to set myself a maximum word target of 3,500 for short stories, but in this list I have one tale which is 4,000 words. There are two which are under 1,000 words.

If you would like to sample any of these and provide me with feedback, please get in touch via email, Facebook, or use a comment here. You don’t have to use the title of the story, (or stories) – the number, (or numbers) will be sufficient.

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1. A Time for Courage
2. Users Guide: Soldier
3. Thanks Dad
4. *Photographic Memory
5. Special Forces ?
6. The Odd Couple
7. Walking Wounded
8. Brothers in Arms
9. *Duty Bound
10. Roamin’ Soldier
11. Blood Brothers
12. The After Life

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I’m presently editing a novel for a fellow writer, so I will allocate time in mid-month to revisit this collection for final amendments.

Thank you as always for reading and leaving a comment.

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How Far Should We Go?

 

No, it’s not a question about bedroom antics – but I have written a few stories in that area.
Yes, it is do with journeys, but not merely in space, the final frontier – some of the journeys are much closer to home.

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How far are we prepared to allow our imaginations go?

A reader should enjoy more than one genre, even if they tend to lean more to a main one.
Yes, I’m a lover of adventure stories, and thrillers, but I’ve read and enjoyed romance, paranormal, horror, YA, sci-fi, dystopian, and a few more besides.

How does a variety of material reward me as a reader?

Apart from enjoying the variety, I believe it helps me to focus clearly when I return to the bedrock of my reading – the thriller, or adventure story.

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A creative writer ought to try something similar. In my humble opinion, a writer should occasionally get out of their comfort zone, and stretch. They should exercise the main accessory in the toolbox of their craft – imagination.

In the previous section, I mentioned being able to focus clearly on my return to reading thrillers or adventure stories. Switching genre also aids me as a writer.

How can altering my reading assist me as a creative writer?

Until recently, I looked upon Science Fiction as a genre beyond my reach, but one day when my caffeine levels were particularly high, it struck me that it had more to do with imagination than knowledge of the genre.

I will tackle any genre for two reasons.

1 – to find out if I enjoy the writing.

2 – to find out if I can entertain in that particular area.

In the same way a reader might choose to stick with what they know, so too can a writer, but if you’re a single-genre writer, let me, as a multi-genre writer put an idea to you.

Think about the excitement of setting up a new story. Now, imagine trying a new story in a genre you’ve never tried before.

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Let’s go full circle, and get back to where we came in to this article.

How far should we go?

In my efforts to push myself and to entertain those people kind enough to try, or continue to support my brand – I am prepared to go to considerable lengths.

My thrillers and erotica are laced with incidents from my life, some big, some small, but my latest venture has taken me to the stars … and I’ve landed characters on some of them.

The Welcome: and other sci-fi stories

This is not only my work, but includes the efforts of a handful of guest authors who have each been kind enough to indulge me by donating a story.

Why did I invite guest authors?

I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident to produce my standard 12 stories for a collection.

I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident in writing a genre I’ve only dabbled in previously.

My aim was to produce the best and most varied collection I could on such a wonderful topic. I want readers of this collection to sit back and think about the stories and the theories long after reading our efforts. I know that my guests would echo the sentiment that we want readers of this collection to truly enjoy the journeys.

I sent out an open invitation a few weeks ago, to give fellow authors an opportunity to join me in this venture. At the time of this article, two of my six guests are novice writers, and four are experienced writers, but all will have their own take on what makes a good sci-fi tale, and for me, that is the exciting part.

This book will have three key components, apart from the running theme of the genre.

1 – Six stories are penned by me.

2 – Six stories are penned by my guest authors.

3 – Three ‘bonus’ stories by me will be added at the end. These three extra stories are already featured in other collections.

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I will not be posting the guest authors’ names on the Amazon page when I publish, because this will connect us in the complexities of Amazon’s referral system. It’s not a topic to deal with here.

I decided it would be more beneficial to put those authors’ names where they belong – right there on the front cover, where I have my name. They will also be supplying personal contact information to be included in the book.

I feel that this is the fairest way to repay and market my guests.

How did I work out whose story goes where?

I considered the various hi-tech methods of dealing with this quandary, and in the name of fairness I’ve interspersed my work with my guests’ stories. I’ve placed the guest work in author / alphabetical order.

Whether or not you are a Sci-Fi aficionado, I would ask you to consider taking a look through your reading telescope at our joint effort when I publish – Sunday 20th December 2015. Perhaps having seen the sample in your telescope you’ll decide you’d like to take a shuttle to our many and varied destinations.

If you should decide to try our work, I’m sure I speak for all when I ask that you be kind enough to leave a review of your findings.

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As always, you have my sincere thanks for reading my thoughts, plans and intentions. All comments are ‘Welcome’.

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Book cover - You're Not AloneIncludes ‘Goals‘.

Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2Includes ‘Down to Earth

912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_Includes ‘Out of this World

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Treasure Island – a review

Treasure Island Cottage - Braemar

Treasure Island Cottage – Braemar

    If you’re wondering why this review is supported by the picture of an old building, it’s quite simple. The picture shows ‘Treasure Island Cottage’, which is situated in the tiny, but beautiful village of Braemar amidst the Scottish Highlands. I had the good fortune to rent the cottage for a week in October 2013. On the front of the building is a plaque, assuring the visitor that the great Robert Louis Stevenson wrote part of the book whilst he lived there.  

I first read Treasure Island away back in … 1966,the Football World Cup year when England won the tournament. I was 14 then, and wasn’t interested in English football, which is just as well, because my father would have disowned me. I digress.

If the task of the writer is to suspend belief, and whisk the reader to some other place and time, then RLS has succeeded with this timeless tale of adventure, mutiny, treasure hunting, and summary justice.

Did I read this book again at the age of 60 to see if I could learn anything to aid my writing? No, I read it quite simply, because I remembered I enjoyed it for the escapism and pure entertainment it gave me as a teenager. It provided those same things for me all over again.

The characters are well-drawn, and come to life as the story unfolds. The twists and turns are as good as any modern author could produce, and even if there is no intention to learn anything; I think all writers could learn from reading it – as adults.

There is no problem with the dialect, because the way the characters express themselves becomes part-and-parcel of bringing the tale to life. Sufficient imagery is provided to have the reader believe they are observing the events, but nothing over the top.

It’s a wonderful tale which I would recommend to any who have yet to read it. As much as I tried to make the pleasure of it last, I read it in two days.

I have a yearning now to read ‘Kidnapped’, which I last read all those years ago when I went through my first phase of admiration for Robert Louis Stevenson‘s work.

Spinning Plates …

Look ... no hands ...

My drawing for this post is a nude study I completed in March 1985.  I remember it took about three hours.  I still consider it to be one of my best of that time.  This is one of very few ladies drawn naked because I prefer to draw them partially clothed. 

Decided I had to check in here with an update.  I now have three short stories on the go and an appropriate piece for the monthly magazine Scottish Memories.  I’ve completed the writing but I want to edit once more before it goes to the magazine.  I’m considering a sidebar menu for features and articles.  It would make sense since I’m getting back into my studies with my Creative Writing course. 

Over this last week I’ve been enjoying my favourite writer’s latest tale, THOSE IN PERIL by Wilbur Smith. It has all the usual WS ingredients like adventure, larger than life characters, death and heroics.  I’m savouring this one because it will doubtless be a while before his next. 

On the Starlite Cafe site I read a poem about a lad being taken to a brothel by his father as a treat and an introduction to sex.  The comments I noticed didn’t seem to be concerned with the poetic tale itself but with the subject matter … prostitution. 

The comments rather than the poem got me thinking that there was a need for a wider explanation of the topic.  Not that I’m an expert, but I’ve written a piece which in the next two days should be ready to post.  All I ask of readers is that they remember it is personal observation, not banner waving support of the industry. 

Hopefully now everybody who reads this will be waiting impatiently for my poem about prostitution.  I’ll post a link for it on Facebook and I’d like to think it will be read with an open mind.