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.

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Re: Cycling, and Recycling

writing-recycling

What connects my title topics to creative writing?

As a teenager I was a keen cyclist and would be content to go on a ride alone, or with my best friend. Since my childhood I’ve valued solitude as much as companionship. While I spent time alone, away from regular surroundings my mind was free. The time to let my thoughts roam provided me with an unequalled exhilaration.

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bike-shots-plus-025Move forward fifty years. My trusty steed of recent times has been a re-cycled mountain bike I bought in a charity shop a couple of years ago. Function ruled over appearance, but I gave it a re-spray for good measure (from red/blue to black). During the spring as I pedalled to work I recalled how I felt all those years ago when cycling far from my usual haunts.

In the summer of this year I treated myself to a new road-racer. I’ll admit the idea behind the purchase was a two-pronged attack.

I yearned for the sensation of freedom a long cycle ride gave me, but I also wanted a regular exercise to help shift a few unwanted pounds. A change of diet was underway, but to achieve a lasting result takes more than extra fruit and less chocolate.

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bike-shots-plus-033How have things shaped up?

Since July I’ve re-discovered the joy of cycling solo. Not many folk want to join a person who sets off at six o’clock in the morning for a twenty-mile ride, but the other benefits add to my contentment. The two bonuses are worlds apart.

I’ve lost 25lbs which leaves me at a personally acceptable 10st 12lbs (152lbs). For perspective, I’m 5ft 8ins tall.

On each ride I rehash and mentally rebuild one or two scenes or sequences from my latest work in progress. I replay a passage often enough to recall it clearly when I return to my keyboard.

In business terminology I’ve found a win-win situation re: cycling, and recycling.

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How does recycling work as a creative writer?

A good writer will not throw out an idea, but store it to be retrieved at a later date. It might be a character profile, a sentence, a paragraph, an opening line, a title, or the main points of a story which isn’t gelling as required. Whatever the aforementioned item might be, it can be brought back to life at any time.

When a writer creates an article for a magazine or newspaper, the creative material is capable of being used with another magazine, thus increasing earnings from the same research. The effort required after the initial article is in the rehashing of the words as the ‘piece’ is prepared for recycling.

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blog-two-books-one-story

 Do I have a favourite way of recycling a story?

Yes. It took me many attempts at reviving certain stories before a simple solution hit home. In many hours of reading text books and other people’s work I saw how a tale could be affected by the point of view.

1.  How the story is told might be the difference between a good story, and a great story.

2.  Whoever tells the story has a crucial bearing on how it comes across to the reader.

For example:

A story told in first person creates a ‘me and you’ intimacy between character and reader.

The intimacy is intensified if the narrator is the main character and creates a personal introduction early. Empathy between reader and narrator evolves rapidly.

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What’s my favourite recycling project?

A Life of Choice - Part OneA Life of Choice is without doubt my best example of recycling a writing project. The story is loosely based on my personal experiences during military service, and has undergone more recycling than water in a space station.

My career in khaki ended in 1992, but the intention to tell the story occured before I handed in my uniform. The urge to relive it through writing was strong. Unfortunately, what wasn’t as strong was the requisite writing skills. Undaunted, I put together hundreds of passages and snippets of long-remembered conversations.

In 1996 my working title was ‘1001 Short, War Stories’.**

I had no knowledge of point of view, back-story, info-dumping, formatting, or … well, you get the idea.

I had no serious intention of producing a tale for anybody other than me and my family. As it happens, neither my wife, nor our son (now 33), enjoy reading fiction.

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How have I brought cycling and recycling together with my favourite project?

As I write about a particular time period from my past I listen to music of the era. I’ve found inspiration from a single track, and on occasion a ‘sound’ like: The Sound of Philadelphia, the New Romantics, Synthesisers, the 80’s. The idea works when at my keyboard, but is equally useful when on the road.

Prior to my ride each morning I get into my cycling outfit, but before setting off, I listen to a single piece of music from a time period on which I’m working. The most recently heard music is rememberd naturally.A Life of Choice - Part Two

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Many people think of recycling as a task. They consider what they might be able to recycle, and a lot of materials are simply discarded, because it’s easier. Laziness is a human trait.

Writers are a breed apart in a lot of ways, and recycling should be a major ingredient of our lives – at least with regard to our literary intentions. We tend not to give up, and those who know their craft will hold onto written material which another person might consider meaningless.

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As always, any comments are welcome, and I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and reasoning.

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A Life of Choice – Part One, and A Life of Choice – Part Two are available on Amazon now. A Life of Choice – Part Three will be published by the end of November 2016.

A Life of Choice - Part ThreeThe final two parts of the tale will be published in the spring and summer of 2017 respectively.

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**1,001 Short War Stories has never been more than my earliest attempts at creative writing. I recently produced the cover seen above to support this post.

A Life of Choice: Part One – now available

In 1992, I considered myself fortunate, not only to have completed a military career, but to have done so unscathed by mental or physical trauma. It was towards the end of that great life I considered writing my autobiography, but I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

Most service personnel are storytellers, although many would say it wasn’t the case. To put that statement in context, if you have two or more soldiers in a truck, in the troop garages, a trench, a bar, or a social event – you will have storytelling.

My favourite setting is the ubiquitous campfire. I can recall more than one occasion sitting around with a group of guys, sometimes with beers, and sometimes with coffee. Even the memory brings a smile.

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CampfireThe scene means more to me now, as a writer.

Why?

It is where storytelling began – and in effect where my present career was born.

Prior to the written word, storytelling was how experience, instruction, and legend were passed between our ancient ancestors – and it still is in some places.

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I toyed with the idea of a straightforward, no holds barred, truthful account of 23 years of fun, fear, drunken nights and a multitude of different days, but I realised it couldn’t work. Next up was the thought of writing the chapters as individual short stories, but that method would have made it easier for real people to see themselves and others.

I followed my military career with 20 years in retail management, during which I wrote my autobiography in several styles – but always badly.

I am not foolish enough to judge if I’ve got it right this time, so I’ll have to await reviews, but the story will now be published in easily digestible parts.

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It was in 2007, I stepped down from retail management to make writing my third career, but it was only in recent times I pulled out my handwritten notes and word documents to assess what to do with my very first ‘big’ story.

Armed with the experience of writing my novels and short stories, I tackled the venture with a new attitude. The story is loosely related to my military career, but it is not an autobiography. Although I’ve chosen to write the tale in first person point of view – it is fact-based fiction.

All the ingredients are retained, but with a light-hearted tone. I sincerely hope it leaves a sense of intrigue and not frustration in the mind of the reader, to know that some events involved me, some are fictitious, and yet others are based on events that I know happened to somebody else.

A Life of Choice – Part One is now available on Amazon and is unlike anything I’ve written previously. My estimation is to complete the story in five parts, and if reviews are favourable, this is the story I would most like to produce in paperback at a later date.

The link below is an Amazon – universal link which will take you to your local Amazon.

Amazon – universal / preview / buy

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As always, thank you for reading my blog, and if you do decide to try this new title, I would appreciate a review, however short. Authors don’t ask for reviews to receive praise – they ask for them to provide feedback to let them know if they’ve achieved the primary aim, which is to entertain the reader.

Until we meet again. Thank you.

Tom

Hello and welcome!

I am presently convalescing and therefore have the opportunity of a few days to kick-start my blog.  Three days ago I had my gallbladder removed so I’m not moving around too quickly.  The holes made during the operation may have been small but it feels as if the offending organ put up a fight against it’s eviction. 

So that it doesn’t come across as just another gush of personal blurb I’ve decided to share some of my efforts.  I would appreciate any and all comments on my writing.  As a novice at this particular idea (the blog), I’ve set it up with a link to my poetry, included some short stories and introduced my autobiography with the first chapter in it’s entirety. 

As things stand I want to embrace the blog as a means of self-expression, a marketing tool and a social link.  If you’re a writer and you happen by, please leave me your thoughts on what you find here and a link to your own work. 

Please take a look around, enjoy and comment.     Tom