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

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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.

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Five into Three

 

A Life of Choice is fact-based fiction, presently available as a five-part novel for Kindle. The story is the most popular title in my catalogue.

If my first attempts at this tale were included, A Life of Choice has been a work in progress for about twenty-two years. On the other hand if we were to treat my military service as research for the story—it goes back to forty-eight years.

Whatever else I published it was always important to me that I completed this project. It was heart-warming to see the first reviews from serving personnel and ex-Service personnel, of course, but to see glowing reviews from readers who’d never donned a military uniform—gratifying.

As with all of my writing, it was never my intention to publish in paperback, but like many things, I’ve decided to change course and take that step.

Why paperback?

– Since the first part was published as an eBook (two years ago), I’ve had requests to produce the story in paperback. There are many people out there who either have difficulty using a digital reader, or simply prefer a physical book.

– It will give me the opportunity to use the paperback version as a gift, or on occasion a ‘prize’ in draws for various military charities.

Do I expect to make a profit from sales of a paperback edition?

No.

– I don’t write to make money, which I like to think is reflected in the price range of my eBooks. My titles are competitively priced or they wouldn’t be treated seriously.

– By the very nature of indie paperback publication the individual books are expensive when compared to availability of the household names in any supermarket or bookstore.

– I’ve created the covers for my eBooks with a few exceptions—those being designed by a professional cover designer.

– This series will have covers created by Aimee Coveney of Author Design Studio.

What’s going on with the ‘Five into Three’?

I produced the story in logical parts to publish as eBooks, but the individual books would not justify the price set by Amazon for paperback versions—in my opinion.

Due to the the process and use of the data provided by the author, the Amazon KDP system requires exact information when relating an eBook to a paperback. I’m taking a risk, but trying to think outside the box.

A temporary cover idea.

– For the paperback version, the series will be broken into three parts. They will still be ‘logical’ parts, but of greater substance than their digital counterparts.

– To ensure the job is done properly I’ve spent many hours selecting where to move chapters from one book to another in order to adjust overall length. This has entailed amending the Preface and the Epilogue in each part.

– As I did with Amsterdam Calling, and Ten Days in Panama, I am underway with a complete revision of the story. The tale will remain the same, the humour or more serious aspects will stay in place, but the writing will be tighter. I will also be adjusting the use of uppercase letters for certain instances.

– Instead of associating the paperbacks directly with the eBooks within the Amazon system, I will sub-title the paperbacks as The Trilogy Edition. I’m in the process of writing appropriate jacket blurbs to highlight that it is the same story but in a different format. This will also forestall any conflict with Amazon and their ‘Matchbook’ process.

Will the updated writing have a detrimental effect on the eBook version?

No.

I will be using the rewritten chapters from within the paperback manuscripts to replace the chapters in the appropriate eBooks. In this way, the writing is updated but the front and back matter of each book remains constant.

How will I prevent issues with the publication of the ‘original’ and ‘updated’ editions of the eBooks?

I will prepare all five eBooks and update them in one session so that they’ll become ‘live’ on the Amazon system within hours of each other.

How will I ensure that ‘The Trilogy Edition’ paperback version is seen to be the same story?

– I will not publish any of the paperback versions until I have all three completed.

– As with the eBook updated versions, I will publish the three paperbacks in a single session, aiming for them to appear within hours. Paperbacks are not purchased as rapidly or frequently as eBooks so there isn’t as much pressure on timing.

A Life of Choice: The Trilogy Edition – Part One is completed.

There you have it, people.

In my next post I’ll report on how things are going with my conversion of five into three, and I’ll explain why my eBook publishing plans for this year have been altered.

As always, I thank all of you who take the time to visit and read my blog.

Amsterdam Calling – with options

There is no excuse for not reading certain books and Amsterdam Calling is now included in that ‘certain’ category. It matters not if you use a smartphone, eReader, computer screen or prefer to handle a physical book — the options are all there. If you have a Kinde eReader you can even read the book for free on Kindle Unlimited.

As the author it’s not for me to say whether it’s a good story, but here is the selection of review excerpts I’ve included on the back cover. I’m delighted to say that the reviews are by three exceptional authors: Lesley Hayes, Patrick Christopher Power, and Barbara Fagan Speake.

Research in Amsterdam

The seed was sown by my distant friend and fellow author, Carmen Lopez. She suggested my knowledge of Amsterdam and its many attractions would lend itself to a good story. In the latter part of 2012, the first notes were made, hundreds of photographs perused and a simple plot devised. A few weeks later I had the makings of a thriller, but as an author will tell you, strong characters have a way of messing with your head; and your story idea.

By the spring of 2013, my tale was a romance with thriller undertones, so thanks for that, Dan and Crystal, (the main characters).

The final version took a year of rewrites, double-checking of facts, emails to businesses and reaching up to pull out hair that was no longer there. Amsterdam Calling was no longer one of several optional title ideas and a hard-fought manuscript. By the summer of 2014, it was an eBook.

This year, having revised all of my books at least twice I was prepared to do so again, starting with Amsterdam Calling. After all, the paperback version was going to be more expensive and I wanted them to look professional in every respect. My aim was to deal with formatting so I purchased the Vellum program. I asked Aimee Coveney a professional cover designer to deal with the solution for the exterior of the paperback. I gave myself a target of four weeks for completion, and that was how long it took.

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It was halfway through my final year at school, in May of 1966, the Beatles released what was to become one of my favourite tracks – Paperback Writer. I recall there was a big football tournament on TV at the time, but it took second place to my loves of music and reading. It would take a little over fifty years before I fulfilled my dream and published a paperback.

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My creative writing commenced in earnest in 2007, so I spent ten years working at my craft and only publishing eBooks. For the past two years I’ve suggested I’d get into paperback versions of my books, but each time I’ve started work on the project it’s been postponed to write more stories.

To see this story in paperback is a thrill, and sales are being made which is heartwarming, but unlike many authors, I have something else which will give me a buzz. In the summer I’ll be heading to Amsterdam, so I’ll be taking a few copies of the book; gifts for people who gave me permission to use their enterprises in the story.

I’ll leave you with useful links in case you’re one of those yet to find a comfortable way to read this story:

Amazon Preview/Buy      Amazon Paperback      BookLinker Global

You’ll notice in the graphic of the paperbacks, I finally have the excuse to make bookmarks. They’re double-sided and laminated, which means anybody who uses one won’t forget what I write and where to find my books.

As always, thank you for reading my post, and those of you who do; my books.

Introducing – A Life of Choice

 

Part celebration of an anniversary, and part promotion of my longest running project.

It was 7th November 1969, on my 17th birthday, when I signed ‘on the dotted line’ and joined the British Army. On that momentous day 48 years ago I left the family home in Glasgow, Scotland. I took a train for my first journey to England. I wasn’t sure if I’d be gone for a week, a month, or a bit longer. As it turned out, it was a bit longer …

 

Not in my wildest dreams could I have envisaged the next stage of my life. Within the story are: violence, sex, alcoholism, humour, drugs, bullying, armed conflict and a lot more besides. Having since built a collection of books on modern warfare penned by the men and women who lived through it I have altered my tale of life in uniform in two ways.

First, I felt a greater freedom to expand on certain topics by making the work fact-based fiction.  I also wanted to focus on the humorous outlook of the average serving soldier and his progression – or lack of it. My view of soldiering is told through the eyes of a fictional character.

Secondly, I do not call this an autobiography; it is a five-part novel.

I have written a tale I’ve researched in considerable depth. The interesting ingredients are still there and in the same measure but with a more light-hearted view.

I sincerely hope it leaves a sense of intrigue and not frustration in the mind of the reader to ponder whether some events actually took place or are fictitious. The story is told from the point of view of a variety of ranks, and not all by a Private soldier, but if you choose to read this tale, you’ll see how I’ve achieved varying points of view.

 

If you should decide to take this journey I would ask that you read the books in sequence. Should you read my efforts please leave a review. My intention is to entertain and I’d like to know if I’ve achieved my aim.

 

The initial covers have been designed and produced by me. If you are not ex-military and you’re wondering what the three background colours indicate – they are the ‘Corps colours’ of the Royal Corps of Signals. There is a brief explanation within the story. I’ve used graphics and sub-titles appropriate to the stages of the journey.

Clickng on any cover takes you to the book’s individual page and the links to preview/buy. Clicking on the ‘series’ picture below will take you to the Anthologies page of my author website.

 

As 2017 draws to a close I am in touch with Aimee at Author Design Studio to arrange professionally-designed covers for the series. Next year I’ll be investigating the idea of producing the series in papaerback. There are many people who enjoy reading, but are not fans of eReading devices.

Many thanks for taking an interest in my work,

Tom

P.S. For those who like detail, the bio picture in this post was taken yesterday – 6th November 2017.

Shy and Retiring …

 

       A ‘fresh’ early morning – October 2017

Okay, so the ‘shy’ is no longer accurate, but ‘retiring’ will provide me with a renewed freedom. My second career (retail), has now ended and I’m a few days away from my 65th birthday. I’ve worked and paid my dues for fifty years, and I’m ready to chill-out.

What lies ahead?

I’ve listed a handful of projects to get me underway which includes a couple of days revisiting the various items in my garage, shed, and of course the attic. Apart from those small, ongoing jobs I’ve got a couple of major redecorating tasks lined up.

I’ll be continuing to draw and paint, but new hobbies on the horizon are baking and organising a vegetable patch. If the baking idea works out and I’m not totally useless I’m not worried about weight issues because I’ll also be continuing with my cycling. As recently as the weekend past I’ve ordered a new mountain bike to complement my racing bike. There are times when a writer who rides, needs to tangle with tough terrain.

In keeping with the purpose of this blog, this post is about my writing, but I’ve given an introduction to put recent followers in the picture about the person behind the titles.

I will no longer be going out to play my public part in the rat-race, but I believe my writing will be enriched by a more relaxed attitude to each day. When I stepped down from management a couple of years ago I felt a weight lifted, and my creative output rapidly increased in volume and quality.

Where will my writing go in the future?

I began with poetry and moved on to short stories before novels and novellas. My best work has been in the area of Thrillers and Romance, but I’ve also ventured into Sci-Fi and Erotica. Having attempted and realised the difficulties, I’ve left behind the option of writing for children – which is a very specialised craft. I believe we should all be aware of our limitations as well as our abilities.

I’m considering attempts at Horror, Paranormal, or Fantasy, but I’ll be leaving them until early next year, by which time my three present WIPs will be at an advanced stage.

 

How will I tackle such things as new genre?

Personally, I find an early morning, long, solo cycle ride an ideal environment to let the mind wander. While getting dressed I listen to appropriate classical music, and as I set off on my ride I consider the genre on which I want to focus. I’ll report back as and when I have new ideas developing.

 

 

What else is in the pipeline?

I’ve created many of my own covers, but used a designer for the thrillers and romance novels. I’ve been in touch with my cover designer and as we reach the new year I hope to have professional covers to support my fact-based fiction series, A Life of Choice.

What about paperback versions of my books?

This is an idea I’ve toyed with over the past two years, but I’m cautious.

It is a time-consuming task, and from all I’ve heard, the pricing is too high and not competitive. Yes, it would be nice to have my work in a physical format, but I’d prefer to be producing stories.

What’s in the mix for the near future?

To celebrate 48 years since I signed up to serve ‘Queen and Country’, there is a military theme to my final freebies. I will then end the monthly giveaways. As a thank you for all who read this post, there follows a couple of dates for your diary.

What else is cooking?

I’ve no doubt a few of you who have read my work will have smiled at the thought of me baking. At the present time I have no intentions of creating a new blog based on my new hobby, but for amusement I might slip in the odd photo of my efforts – successes and failures, although I hope to have many more of the former.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and intentions. All comments are welcome.

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Beyond The Law – The Trilogy

The trilogy is completed with the publication of Beyond The Law: Consequences.

My character Phil McKenzie aka Hawk, was born in an experimental poem in July 2008. Due partly to the nature of the writer’s craft and to the evolution of a story it has taken until now to complete this trilogy of novels.

Novel - BTL - Formation - 220216The first book Beyond The Law: Formation (originally titled Beyond The Law), was intended as a standalone when published in 2013, but as I received feedback it was plain to see I should develop the idea and the characters.

In the second story, Beyond The Law: Retribution, in order to maintain balance and credibility I took the story beyond the streets of Glasgow, and introduced more characters on both sides of the fence which separates good from evil. I continued with the aspects of the original story which had appealed to many readers.BTL Retribution

It will come as no surprise, to bring a successful story to a close is a difficult decision, and no less difficult than how it should be done. I spent many hours considering how to further develop characters and what might become of them in a final story.

As an avid reader I am aware of the empathy felt for the heroes in a story, and in particular an ongoing story. Who should die? Who should live? How will the survivors if any move on?

Novel - BTL 3 ConsequencesUntil I read feedback on Beyond The Law: Consequences I will suffer a long wait.

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Sincere thanks goes out to Anne Francis Scott and Sarah Stuart who performed the task of beta reader for me, and gave me plenty of useful, insightful feedback. Every point highlighted and each recommendation was appreciated. My intention was to accredit these two fine authors in the front pages, but as many writers will be aware, the ‘cross-contamination’ of author names in Amazon can be lethal to all concerned.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Aimee Coveney of AuthorDesignStudio who designed all three covers for this trilogy. In each case Aimee provided a variety of solutions based on my brief. We worked together as she took my initial vision to what have now become established and successful covers.

Aimee is now a member of the team at a new venture called Bookollective.

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As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my post. Now, how far have you reached in the BTL story? If you do take the journey, please consider leaving a review.

Tom