Looking back … and forward …

 

Top to bottom: Zak Tracey, Derek Nicholson, John Rowley, Mick Bush, Sandy Shaw, Dave Crisp (RCT), Jim Farrell, Me, The chef, an u/k RCT driver

Top to bottom: Zak Tracey, Derek Nicholson, John Rowley, Mick Bush, Sandy Shaw, Dave Crisp (RCT), Jim Farrell, Me, The chef, an u/k RCT driver

For over a year now, I’ve been doing a three-day working week at my retail assistant job, so most of my time is spent writing, which is how I like it. Imagine my shock and delight, when on 15th January, into the store, walks a man I last saw 38 years ago.      

Top to bottom: John Worsell, Mick Bush, Jim Farrell, Dave Crisp, John Rowley, me

Top to bottom: John Worsell, Mick Bush, Jim Farrell, Dave Crisp, John Rowley, me

In 1976 when I left the city of Londonderry, I was a Private soldier, and my Troop Commander was Captain Les Fox. Why, might you ask, after such a long time would I still remember him? In all of my 23 years in the military, he was one of only a handful of men, (and the only officer), that I worked hard to impress. Sadly, he’s not included in the photo I’ve used in this post, but he was there with us, on the Mull of Kintyre on a memorable two-week exercise in 1975.

Still ‘looking back’, in December 2013, sales of my crime novel, ‘Beyond The Law’; were in double figures for the month, and copies of my poetry books sold too, so it was a good month.  Beyond the law_Helvetica_V2

I’m presently making headway with my next romance novel, ‘Amsterdam Calling’, which is due for publication in June this year. The second draft is going well; the characters are behaving, and I’m happy with the places of interest I’ve been able to include in the tale. My son Andrew has agreed to lend his expertise in producing the cover, which removes a lot of pressure. Apart from being important, the cover is a very personal thing, but I trust Andrew implicitly, especially after the cover he produced for, ‘Beyond The Law’.

With regard to ‘looking forward’, I am more eager than ever, to get back to work on my next big project, ‘A Life of Choice’; which is a fictional tale, using many of my own experiences, and those of others from my military service. Meeting Les Fox again, has provided me with the incentive I needed, to get working on my fact-based fiction story.

For now, I must get back to Amsterdam …  

 

Great Expectations?

Disturbed at work ... or just disturbed?

Disturbed at work … or just disturbed?

 You want to be a writer – so you write. Once you feel you have a flair for it, the next natural notion is to be a successful writer – yes, then that sordid subject of money rears its head. In some cases, the decision to join a class or group is a no-brainer. Surely that’s going to be the next step, it will help to set you up as the next great thing in the literary world. Isn’t it?    

How hard can it be to come up with an idea, string a few sentences together, build them into paragraphs, and then block the paragraphs into chapters. Give it a title. Oh my goodness – a book!

Marathon runners don’t normally set out to master that gruelling discipline. They will usually go through an apprenticeship of sprints, middle-distance, cross-country and finally, having altered their training regime, they feel they are ready for the big one.

In terms of writing, I’ve discovered a lot of folk have served a similar apprenticeship with their writing. It seems to follow the pattern of; poetry, short stories, flash-fiction, novella, novel. Okay, in some cases there are those that go straight from one of the early stages to novel writing. There are even those few who go straight for the big one.

What’s the next logical decision to be made? Traditional publishing, or eBook?

A tropical romance.

A tropical romance.

Now we come to the crux of the thing. At this point we must do what many people have difficulty with … and be honest with ourselves. Are we in it for the pleasure of writing, to entertain, to make money, or a mixture of the aforementioned?We must consider our answer before we go back to that publishing question. Why? It’s quite simple.

If we go down the traditional route, we will be spending money on our hopes of recouping the outlay with sufficient sales. All the months of effort must go through the time-consuming, filtering process of proof-reading, copy editing, etc. Does the style work? Is the grammar good enough? How accurate is the punctuation? Oh yes, that’s apart from questions raised on title, plot, characterisation, imagery and whether there is any entertainment value. The traditional route can take many months after the story is written.

Personally, I have no desire to be famous. My driving force is to entertain and as a by-product of that, I’d like to achieve some success – which isn’t the same as being famous. What have I done about it?          

In 2007, I started on poetry at Starlite, and then progressed to short stories and flash-fiction. I tried writing a novel, but was honest enough with myself to know that I wasn’t learning enough from my reading, or my reference books. I joined local writing group, the Inkerman Writers under the leadership of John Dean, journalist and crime novelist. Within the environment of a writing group, an aspiring writer learns if they have any ability in the use of words. It’s not pleasant to hear that what you thought was good, is actually not, but isn’t that what ‘feedback’ is all about?

A vigilante in Glasgow

A vigilante in Glasgow

  I’ve produced two novels in the last two years, ’10 Days in Panama’, and ‘Beyond The Law’. I’ve gone through the journey of at least four drafts with each story, and had the satisfaction of formatting the manuscripts myself. I’ve self-published my stories as eBooks on Amazon. In both cases I’ve gone on to publish fresh editions – because I found issues when I downloaded them and read again as a writer.

My books may not be ‘bestsellers’ and they may not bring me fortune and fame, but they have sold in six countries so far and I’ve had several decent reviews. The only ‘Great Expectations’ I have is the copy on my Kindle, but I’m enjoying what I do, and also the thought that my efforts have entertained. In that respect I’ve achieved my aims.My third novel, ‘Discovering Amsterdam’ is already underway. It is a romance laced with intrigue and my first objective is to submit it to New Writing North as a contender for the Northern Writers’ Awards 2014.

Why the analogy with running? In my running days, I started at 200-metre sprints, moved onto cross-country, 5000 metres and then competed in half-marathons and marathons.

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment.

My website: http://www.tom-benson.co.uk/

  

A long and winding road

I published my crime thriller ‘Beyond The Law’ in early October right on schedule, which was good because the next day I headed to the Scottish HIghlands to chill out for a week – and it’s easy to ‘chill out’ in the Highlands in October.

The road through the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands

The road through the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands

My novel tells the story of Phil McKenzie, an exSAS soldier who is framed for an assassination. He returns to his hometown, Glasgow – as Hawk, a vigilante. He then recruits a small team and tackles organised crime head on.

As usual I aim to link my graphic with my post and this one is no different. What is the relevance of the picture? Just like the road through the Cairngorms from Braemar to Blairgowrie, I faced many twists and turns with my novel.

It was a long road with my hero being brought to life in a poem in May 2008. My character ‘Hawk’ attracted interest and good reviews, so the poem became a series of 35 poems. In November 2011, Hawk became a novel written in 30 straight days during my first attempt at the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

During 2012 I started a serious rewrite with various working titles, the favourite being,  ‘Hawk – A Vigilante’. On completion I left it aside for about six months before revisiting the manuscript. When I started work on it again early this year I set myself a target date for completion of late September/early October.

I’m delighted to say I met my deadline. I set it up for a one-day Free promotion on Amazon on Saturday, 12th October and I’m pleased to say it was downloaded over 100 times and sold 5 copies. Interested readers came from UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Italy and India. Now I have to hope that the story works for all those people.

My aim for this week is to relax and paint some scenes from my recent Scottish holiday. Where did I stay? I rented ‘Treasure Island Cottage’ in Braemar – so called, because it’s where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote part of the famous book, ‘Treasure Island’.

Thank you for reading – I’ll be back soon with news of my new romance novel, set in Amsterdam.

Link to ‘Beyond The Law’ on Amazon.co.uk

Link to ‘Beyond The Law’ on Amazon.com

Beyond The Law

Design by Andrew Benson (my son).

Cover design by Andrew Benson.

The first five chapters of ‘Beyond The Law’, my crime thriller are posted on my blog. Why not give them a read and see what you think.

Here’s an overview of the story:

In January 1996, Phil McKenzie leads his Special Air Service team on a secret mission into Kentobi, Africa.

An assassin codenamed ‘Chameleon’ kills the Kentobi president, but it’s Phil who is framed for murder. To appease the authorities he agrees to a brief secondment with the Metropolitan Police and then discharge from the Army.

During his short attachment to the ‘Met’, he sees how the hands of the authorities are tied. It reminds him that the teenager who murdered his parents in 1977 was never caught to face justice.      

Phil returns to his hometown in July 1996 as Hawk, a vigilante. The term ‘deniable ops’, finds new meaning as Phil tackles Glasgow’s underworld.

***

The e-book is available on Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=beyond+the+law

and on Amazon.co.ukhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-The-Law-ebook/dp/B00FMZ7LQ4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381043818&sr=1-1&keywords=beyond+the+law

At less than $3.10 / £2.00 – it’s worth a look …

If you don’t have an e-reader, Try this link: Free Kindle App for Laptop, PC and Tablet

I’ll be back in a few days with an update, but for now I need a rest. Enjoy and please feel free to give leave feedback here or on my website at: www.tom-benson.co.uk