Tag Archives: experience

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.


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. 😀

X … is for ‘X’ factor

X[1] is for ‘X’ factor. Don’t you dare suggest I’m cheating; it’s an accepted term. Anyway, I doubt if I’ll be the only one who uses a bit of artistic license at some stage of the A to Z.

Enough, enough, let’s move on to the interesting parts.

What is the ‘X’ factor?

Ah, now we have a real quandary, because it means different things to different people. Before we investigate that question too far, I think we’ll have another question. No, I am not joking.

Does the ‘X’ factor exist in reading or writing?

Both, is my response to that, but wouldn’t you just know it. That was rhetorical, so take your fingers off the keyboard.

What is the ‘X’ factor in reading?

For some, the plot is the key to whether a book is worth the investment, while to others it is the characters. Whatever sways us is a personal thing. I’m a massive Wilbur Smith fan and I find myself willing the good guys to survive against the overwhelming odds, and hoping the bad guys are left on the Serengeti with a complicated fracture to a leg.

I’ve never physically been to Africa, but I feel that I know the smells, the tastes, and sensations of being in that wilderness. I know the fears of the characters. I understand the hopes of those who are fighting for good, and occasionally their desperation. I understand their acceptance that they might die for the greater good.

In a previous career, I experienced extreme heat, extreme cold, fear, excitement and a whole load of things to be kept for my writing, but I think for some of us, our reading and writing is enriched by experience. I respect and admire Wilbur Smith so much, because he made me feel some of those things before I had ever experienced them.

That is for me, a true ‘X’ factor in reading.

What is the ‘X’ factor in writing?

May I use my own novels as a testament here? Of course I may; it’s my post. In ‘Beyond The Law’, the hero is an ex-Special Forces soldier who returns home to his native Glasgow in Scotland. He has been ejected by the very system he dedicated his life to. When his military career comes to an untimely end, he becomes a vigilante. Yay!

As a reader or writer, for me there are few stronger ‘X’ factors than a highly-skilled, extremely fit (and dare I say handsome) individual, who answers to no-one. The hero is judge, jury and occasionally executioner. No, it isn’t autobiographical, but there will be areas where a little personal knowledge, or experience has helped. My reviews so far suggest I created some ‘X’ factor. Yay! again.

In my novel, ‘Ten Days in Panama’ the hero is a journalist, but one with strong ideals and a big heart, (damaged by previous love). He goes to Panama on assignment and meets his liaison, an attractive (yawn, yawn) scientist, who also has strong ideals, and a similarly broken heart. They get together in more ways than one, but there is evil lurking. One man is out to kill both of them. Does he get either one?

I’ve never been to Panama, but due to being in touch with a friend out there, met on a poetry site of all places, I had the ideal collaborator. To cut to the chase, my friend Carmen, is a scientist and lives in the area that the story is based. Thanks to her ability to describe places to me, a lot of research on my own behalf, and the desire to write a good tale, I felt I could do the idea justice.

My own knowledge of certain aspects in the tale, and Carmen‘s knowledge in others, produced my greatest compliment on my writing. I’ve been asked twice if the two main characters are real, and if the story is based on fact. (Excuse me while I blush).

Carmen has been asked similar questions by one or two who live near her remote lab. In her case it was questions about the characters, but since I’ve never met them, they can’t be real. All characters were hybrids of reality and imagination. Yay! okay, that was the last one.

What is this elusive ‘X’ factor then?

For me, whether it is reading or writing, it comes down to one undeniable truth. The writer must create ‘authenticity’.

It doesn’t matter whether you write about journalists, soldiers, vampires, shape-shifters, dragons, sex, science, romance, or adventure. The key ingredient that will make the end product stand out, and work … is authenticity. That is my ‘X’ factor.

I realise this is a longer and deeper investigation of today’s chosen word or phrase, but I felt it deserved the time spent. I hope as always that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed teasing out my final hairs writing it.

Only two more letters to go. I know many of my fellow A to Z challengers out there in blog-land are fretting over the final letters, but I have no such worries. Why not? I can’t tell you, because although I know what I’m using for the final two letters, the last two are still in my head in a little bright-coloured box.

Thank you for your time once again, and I’ll see you tomorrow for ‘Y’.



World Wildlife Rhymes

Okay, I may not be David Attenborough but I bet he doesn’t write poetry.   Rhyme Scenes - Volume Three

I’m pleased to announce that this evening I’ve published my third book of verse.  The latest ebook is called, ‘Rhyme Scenes, Volume Three – Natural History’.  It features 45 pieces based on fact, insight and imagination.  As I have done so far some of the work is written from personal experience or observation.

In order to get sufficient information across in some cases I’ve made the topic into a short series of poems; five poems about the Big Cats, four poems on wildlife Survival in a variety of climates.  I believe that mankind is responsible for the majority of devastation and loss of natural habitat around the world – and that shows in my writing.

If you enjoy reading and learning about the world around you, I’m confident you’ll enjoy this collection.  My aim is always to entertain, but if I can slip in some education at the same time, so much the better.  With that in mind, here is a direct link to the eBook on my Smashwords pages:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/267146