My Shorts are Expanding

It’s now five years since my first collection of multi-genre short stories and two years since my most recent. Don’t repeat it too loud, but I also have erotic shorts. Now, armed with such random anniversaries, and a host of new ideas, I’m well on the way to releasing my next anthology.

 

What can be expected in One Man, Two Missions and other stories?

The use of firearms features prominently, and there will be more than one tale about hostage taking, but of course, those incidents don’t always end well for the kidnappers.

Police officers, special operatives, and soldiers of fortune make appearances with some strange outcomes.

For good measure, I’ve slipped in a sci-fi tale, only because it fits the general theme. There will be no steamy romance, erotica or humour.

When will the new anthology be published?

My target date is 6th July 2019.

As I tend to do with these stories, I will work on them, rest them, edit and rework until I’m content, and then they’ll be farmed out to a few beta readers for opinions and suggestions. A couple of the tales have been in my files for three or four years, but have undergone massive makeovers.

Reasons I’ve been drawn back to short stories are that I thrive on variety, and it’s good to break away from spending too long on the same project.

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My priority and biggest WIP is my next thriller, Codename: Nightshade, which is coming along but to ensure it has an original feel I have reached the point where I have to leave it aside often. When using characters from a successful trilogy it’s essential to avoid the trap of reusing previous scenarios to create a credible standalone.

I would like to publish this thriller by the end of 2019, but it must be ready.

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What have I got in store with the new anthology?

1. One Man, Two Missions – a tale of terrorism, and counter-terrorism

2. Hunter – a young gamekeeper is repaid for his devotion

3. A Fair Cop – the law works in mysterious ways

4. Target Practise – assassins should avoid role reversal

5. The Meeting – karma, it just comes around

6. Taken for a Ride – do your homework before kidnapping

7. Dealing with Conflict – a run leads to a run-in

8. Changing Tides –  when all around is darkness …

9. The Hostage – impulsive decisions can be fatal

10. Finger of Suspicion – the small things matter

11. The Beginning of the End – how far would you go for science?

12. Escape – you must know when to get out

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Why have these books taken so long to reach this point?

Over the past two years, I’ve been working on something special which I’ll blog about before the end of the year. The secret project has caused me to sideline several other things, but in my opinion, this serves to maintain a freshness to all of my work.

In the meantime, thank you for your visit, and your patience.

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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.

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Work in Progress ?

My fuel tank ... and a message.All writers have them, but it’s down to the individual if it is a shelved idea, or a work in progress (WIP).

What’s the difference?

Like all topics I post, this is a matter of personal opinion and experience – and not the result of a deep, and prolonged survey of thousands of hours of discussion. I believe there is a stark difference in this case.

Editing - Amsterdam Calling

What do I consider a shelved idea?

As I tend to do, I write about what I know, including my blog articles.

The following are ‘shelved’ as opposed to WIP.

1 – I have an abundance of titles – yes, only the titles.

2 – I also have around 20 short stories which have been started. This doesn’t mean I’ve opened a file and given a title – it means I’ve written at least an intro paragraph, or more in some cases.

3 – The shelved ideas category also includes the ‘ideas’ which are still in my head. I don’t like to think of myself being busier than anybody else because I’ve got a head full of ideas.

Every writer should have a head full of ideas.

What do I consider a work in progress?

At the time of writing (31st October 2015), here is my WIP:

1 Beyond The Law: Retribution.BTL Retribution

This is the sequel to my most popular title so far. Understandably, I’m working hard to produce my best.

I’m presently reading it aloud, line by line, and using a red pen to highlight minor issues before final tweaking and formatting.

Publication date is 7th November 2015.

 

2The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories.

The WelcomeThis is not a single title of course, but a collection. I will be supplying eight of the stories. Four other stories will be supplied by guest authors. If you’d like to take part, please see the recent, relevant post:

(The Weclome) – plus details of the invitation to add a short story to an anthology.

Three of my stories in this collection have been published previously in other anthologies. Another three are new and completed, while the final two are completed, but I don’t like the endings – yet.

Of the four stories coming in from guests, I have two firm and in my file, one being reworked, and there is no show as yet from the fourth.

I’m determined that any anthology I publish will have at least 12 titles, so if necessary I will write another title to make up the shortfall.

3 A Time for Courage: and other military stories.A Time for Courage - 1

This is another anthology, for which I’ve invited at least four guest authors. The offer is still open.

Three of my stories in this collection are previously published elsewhere in anthologies. The other five are at various stages of completion. A satisfactory ending is paramount for me with a short story, so it’s an area that will affect a completion date for any of my work.

4A Life of Choice – Volume 1.

This is a coming-of-age story with a difference.

ALOC - Vol 1It is a fictional tale, but based on my life. The story started as my autobiography many years ago when I could type … but I couldn’t write. I’m now fairly confident in my ability to do both, although how good a writer I am is not for me to say.

Instead of one book, this story will now be written as a series, which will allow me to take it into the years after the military career.

I believe the post-military character of a person is as important to understand as the boy-to-career soldier.

Much of what will be in the various volumes will be true events, where only a name or two have changed, but some scenes will be completely from my imagination.

I’m always working on this series in the background, but until I’m happy with the first three volumes, there will be nothing published from the series. (Volume 1 should be out by March 2016)

My theory is that I have to know if the idea is worth the effort. To be fair to readers and give the project a healthy chance, I feel I must give at least a good bite of the cherry – or in this case, three volumes, all at low prices.

Well, there you go my faithful, and possibly some new followers.

In a nutshell, if it’s a work in progress (WIP), to my way of thinking – you are ‘working’ on it.

Thank you once again for putting up with me and my theories.

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PS. I’ve used a little bit of artistic license. I am in the bottom picture of A Life of Choice, but I’m not a recruit. 😀

Creating Anthologies

What is an anthology?

Rather than write a brief history of the word and its meaning, it is to all intents and purposes a ‘collection of artistic works’ which have a common theme, style, or other general pattern. Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2

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Anyone who knows me and this blog, will be aware that in early April 2015, I wrote a post specifically about anthologies, theme and genre. I’ll provide a link to that article at the end of this post. I will also create a dedicated section on my main blog menu for anthology-related articles.

 

On this occasion I’d like to introduce my latest idea, which has been underway since earlier this year.

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What is this new plan?

I’m basing my idea on the theory that the best stories are written by creating a first draft, leaving it aside, bringing it out again at a later date to edit, leaving it aside again, and so on. Using that system, it might take me around two months to produce that one short story.

Now, when that one has been filed away for the first time, I can look at another story. I write the first draft and file it away. Perhaps it has taken me a few days in both cases, to get those first stories written before filing my efforts.

Let’s say that it’s now about ten days since I wrote my first short story, and both the first and second tales are ‘resting’. I could now start my third idea for a short story.

Using this method, by the time I find myself filing my fifth or sixth story, I could feasibly pull out my first one again, and take a look at it. When I’ve read it, and edited it again – I would then file it as ‘second draft’. I then take each first draft in sequence and take it to the next level. During the process I might find the inspiration to add to the collection.

Once the collection is underway it’s important to annotate each title with ‘first draft’, ‘second draft’, and so on to retain control over the work in progress. There is no need to worry about the resting period for stories, because I’ve found that the longer they are left alone, the fresher they look on the next read-through.

In theory, each story will have a minimum of three weeks between drafts, but in most cases longer, which is a good thing.

Slow and steady is the way to work.

Not What You Thought*

Will it take a long time to produce the finished collection?

Yes, of course it will, but anybody who aspires to be worthy of the title ‘writer’ or ‘author’ must have the patience to continually chip away and polish work until it is honed to the best it can be.

 

If it takes months – it takes months.

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How will I keep my ideas fresh during the process?

This is where the second part of my plan comes into play.

For some time, I’ve been working on my next two anthologies – simultaneously. I have one collection featuring military themed short stories, and another collection featuring science-fiction themed short stories.

No, I may not be a recognised sci-fi writer, but I’ve written a couple in the past, and I feel I can produce sufficient variety in the genre.

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Is there any other way I can maintain a fresh outlook on the construction of my two anthologies?

Yes, I’m also working on two novels simultaneously. For some people it may break the rules, or test their resolve to work on more than one project, but I find it works for me.Image (23)

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How do I write two stories at once?

Simply by using the same method I outlined earlier in this article. I took several weeks to get my next thriller up to first draft, and then when that manuscript was put aside, I started work on my first attempt at an erotic novel.

When the erotic novel manuscript was filed away, I pulled out the thriller again, and gave it another rewrite. Both novels are now at fourth draft and resting whilst I read and review for a while.
Yes, I will no doubt write a short story during that time too.

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Are there any tips here?

Yes. If you’re in the early stages of whatever type of writing, be it short stories or novel – you must learn to take time away from the manuscript.

I know from personal experience, that for a novice in particular the work in progress (WIP), is an all-consuming aspect of life. It soaks up time that realistically should be spent away from it. We must learn to allow our WIP to rest, or ‘breathe’ occasionally. It does help.

My two favoured methods are, to read, or to start writing something else. It helps to let your other work rest properly without interference. It also stops your primary WIP becoming a ‘task’. It should be a labour of love, not simply a labour.

Until my most recent work I’ve only ever used one person as a beta reader, but I would suggest at least three other pairs of eyes to have a look at work before hitting that publish key. As I’ve said before, I don’t have any relatives or ‘friends’ to read my work, so it pleases me that any feedback I receive will be genuine.

The people reading your work to give feedback prior to publishing, don’t have to be writers, but I believe in my limited experience of such things, that it helps if they are. They have a keen eye for issues. A non-writer is more likely to simply enjoy the story.

If you have short stories of a reasonable standard, whether or not, you do, or do not have an anthology of your own, it’s a good idea to increase your platform with a guest appearance in somebody else’s collection, or in a compilation by various authors.

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When will I be publishing my next work?Image (25)

I’m hoping to have my debut erotic novel, Give and Take, published in August / September 2015.
A target date for my thriller, Acts of Vengeance, is now around October / November 2015.

My two anthologies are building steadily so there will be no rush to complete them and publish them. They will appear when the time is right.

Do I have any short stories apart from those appearing in my own anthologies?

Yes, I have short stories appearing in my blog menu under the heading Short Stories. I also have short stories making an appearance in mixed author anthologies like:

Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration by English Heritage (various authors),

Christophe’s Farewell and other stories by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

Out of the Shadows by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

The Last Waltz (an audio anthology) by the Inkerman Writers (various authors)

Not What You Thought and other surprises by Paul A. Ruddock (includes guest authors)

You’re Not Alone: An Indie Author Anthology by Ian D. Moore and friends (various authors)

Book cover - You're Not Alone*

Thank you as always for taking the time to read my thoughts, theories and opinions.
Comments and feedback are always welcome.

If you’ve enjoyed this topic, you may find my earlier post on anthologies interesting:
Anthologies: theme or genre based?

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