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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Beyond The Law: Retribution

Yes, it’s finally here. The sequel to Beyond The Law has been available on Amazon since 7th November. The original story was a joy to write, apart from being hard work at times, so it’s great to see it is still my best selling tale.Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

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In Beyond The Law: Retribution, it was great fun bringing Phil and his team back to life to create more crime-busting scenes, and the inevitable summary justice. As there were in the first book you will find good deeds, bad deeds, crime and punishment.

Apart from Phil, and the BTL team there are a couple of new faces, but to maintain balance, there are some old and new faces on the other side of the equation. Bad guys are easy to come by, but they have to be different. The BTL team now have a name and a new operations HQ.

BTL RetributionAllies and enemies come in many forms, and in this story you will find they don’t come any more different than a motorbike gang. The aroma of whatever they’re smoking, the feel of leather jackets, and the sight of long unruly hair and beards, combined with the power and noise of motorbikes.

Are they violent?

Well, of course they’re violentthey’re outlaw bikers.

Okay, so I opened by saying it was fun bringing back the original characters, but this is my first sequel and I found it hard work. Threading in enough, but not too much of the original story was difficult, so I look forward (with trepidation) to find out if I’ve created the right feel.

Map of Scotland, plan of BTL Enterprises HQ, and map of Glasgow.

Maps of Scotland and Glasgow. Plan of BTL headquarters.

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The titles above are linked to the pages of this blog which are dedicated to these two books, so if you haven’t read the blurbs, you can see them there. There are live Amazon links available there.

I’ll leave the links here to take you directly to Amazon, and then dear reader it’s up to you.

Beyond The Law

Amazon UK                    Amazon US

Beyond The Law: Retribution 

Amazon UK                    Amazon US

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Sales are always appreciated, as they are by any author, but I would also appreciate feedback. If you have the time, and hopefully enjoyed the story, please consider leaving a review.

That’s it for now. I’m off to work on my sci-fi anthology, and maybe read …

Reasons to be cheerful

Yesterday I received my copy of Writers’ Forum through the mailbox, and opened it with the same enthusiasm it produces each month. I thought the ‘Prize Letter’ in the Readers’ Letter page was particularly good, but then I would, because it was mine.

My fuel tank ... and a message.

My fuel tank … and a message.

Apart from having my letter, ‘Chapter and Verse’, published, I had other reasons to be pleased about the event. First, it means I’ve won a year’s subscription to the magazine, but in my letter there is the subtle mention of my thriller, ‘Beyond The Law’, and my website. We need all the publicity we can get – right!

Today, I received an email from Robert Grieve Black, author of ‘Jammy Dodgers’ and several other books, all available on Amazon. Like me, Robert is a Glasgow man, which comes through in his writing. He wrote, in response to my review of Jammy Dodgers, which just goes to prove, you can get feedback on feedback. Check out Robert’s writing.

What am I working on? I’m still giving every spare moment to ‘Amsterdam Calling’. Instead of some simple notes, I’ve written a full cast of characters, a family tree, places of interest, and of course a comprehensive synopsis.

My next coffee is calling …

Glasgow – an inspiration

Argyle Street - facing east

Argyle Street – facing east

My home town created an excellent backdrop for my latest novel for several reasons. Not least of course is the fact that it’s a beautiful city. Yes, like any large industrial city it has old granite and sandstone buildings getting up close and personal with the steel and glass of the modern, but it works. One of the city’s saving graces is the vast areas of greenery. It’s difficult to go to any area of Glasgow and not find parkland.

Greendyke Street tenements - bordering Glasgow Green

Greendyke Street tenements – bordering Glasgow Green

The hero of my tale rents a tenement flat in the East-end which is where I spent my formative years. I remember clearly the trams running along London Road through the heart of that area from the city centre.

A five-minutes walk from our tenement took us to the famous Glasgow Green. That particular attraction plays host to the People’s Palace and Winter Garden, both of which I feature in my story.

Glasgow Green - view north to south

Glasgow Green – view north to south

People's Palace and Winter Gardens - view from west

People’s Palace and Winter Gardens – view from west

 

 

 

 

 

When I was eight-years-old our family moved out to the Drumchapel housing estate to live in a modern version of the tenement block, so it felt right to bring that estate into the story. For all that it boasted then, and still does now, the gangs of youths and unruly behaviour, there was but a 10-minute walk to find yourself in actual countryside; trees, grass, woodland and the road north to the Highlands.

In my early teens I delighted in cycling out on the dual carriageway to Helensburgh, always amazed at how close we lived to such a lovely place with Marina and promenade to walk along where the River Clyde starts to open it’s arms on the stretch to the Firth of Clyde and the sea beyond. These places all found themselves being enmeshed in the story.

The darker side of the city is allowed to show through the plot by way of the selfish and violent nature of some of the characters. At the same time, there are characters with a selfless side who want things to be ‘right’ and will remain tight-lipped as justice is done – Beyond The Law.

'The Barras' market - London Road, which never seems to change.

‘The Barras’ market – London Road, which never seems to change.

I felt the need to include the diversity of the city’s culture by bringing into play characters who had been brought up as Glaswegian – although their heritage was the Indian sub-continent or Europe. The city wouldn’t be the same without them.My intention was to tell a story of good over evil, but as with any story it requires a background. What better background for a modern crime story than a modern city that maintains a reputation of being ‘mean’, but the people are still some of the most ‘genuine’ you could ever wish to meet.

I salute the city of my birth and I’m grateful for all the memories engrained from walking the streets and parkland.

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.

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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

Easier on the eye?

Is Bradley to your taste?

Is Bradley to your taste?

If you’re a woman (or even a man) then perhaps you like the look of Bradley Cooperwhere did I put my mirror …

or for others, it’s relaxing to gaze at Liz Hurley … oh those lovely big eyes

Does Liz ease your eye strain?

Does Liz ease your eye strain?

Whatever your preference – it’s nice to look at something and not feel eye-strain. With that in mind and to make it easier for folk to read my short stories and novel chapters I’ve conducted yet another revamp.

Yes, brimming with the milk of human kindness, I spent my morning easing all my creative writing out from column-width to page-width. ‘What difference does it make?’ I hear you ask.

Why not have a look?

It’s particularly important for me right now because I’m working on the final draft of ‘Hawk – A Vigilante’, my thriller set in Glasgow. The novel is set for publication on Amazon in September / October so the rewrite is taking up most of my waking hours.

The first three freshly reworked chapters are now available to read on my blog. Whether you want to see my style, or if the idea of a modern vigilante in a British city appeals to you, please feel free to read and leave a comment. If I find feedback I’ll add the next two chapters. I will – honest!

I appreciate all feedback so whether or not you like the early chapters it will help me to produce a better story. The main job is done – the story is written, so my job now is to ensure the sex, violence, death and mayhem sounds as realistic as possible. You could help me shape the plot.

That’s all for now while I let you all think about it.

FREE on Amazon Kindle

The new look cover and title - being used on Amazon / Kindle

The new look cover and title – being used on Amazon / Kindle

Yes it’s true, I’ve moved my novel to Amazon Kindle and I’ve put it on a FREE promotion for five days.

I spent two weeks in March giving the manuscript a mini-revamp, re-titled it to become: ’10 Days in Panama’ and to finish the job off, I refreshed the front cover.

I’m pleased to report that in it’s first couple of hours on promotion it was downloaded over 130 times.

If you haven’t got your copy, why not get along to Amazon Kindle before Saturday and get it for FREE. From Saturday it will revert to the minimum price of £1.99 / $2.99 approximately (give or take a penny or two).

This is a short post to highlight the move to Amazon Kindle but I’ll be back in a day or two if there is any progress to report. I’m now once again working on ‘Hawk’, a vigilante thriller set in Glasgow. It’s already on the third draft so I’m pleased to be getting back onto it.

Use the title or FREE as your link to download ’10 Days in Panama’

The Hawk Has Flown

Today’s graphic is the view north from the beach at a small place called Dirleton on the east coast of Scotland.  When I was caravanning there with my wife a couple of years ago I would take a walk to the beach early in the morning when there was nobody else around.  Peace and tranquility are the two things I found there on each visit.  It’s a feeling I’m able to appreciate again, now that I’ve completed my latest competition entry.  Of course I’ve experienced those things since that holiday, but they’ve been missing whilst I’ve worked on ‘HAWK, A HUMAN HUNTER’, the novel. Dirleton beach - view north

It’s taken me a few days to come down from whatever place I’ve been for the last two months.  When I took part in the NaNoWriMo I felt under pressure and applied myself daily, safe in the knowledge that what I produced wasn’t intended for the eyes of an agent, publisher or anybody else for that matter.  It was an exercise in writing a serious number of words on a daily basis to achieve two goals; write in excess of 50,000 words in a month, but make a working novel of the writing.

Back then I used my character ‘Hawk‘, developed for a series of poetry.  It was fun to do and it taught me a little about character building – and I don’t just mean my own.  I put in twists and turns, ups and downs, highs and lows, peaks and troughs or however you would want to classify them.  In my own private world I thought the idea worked so I kept all my writing to refer to at a later date.

It was with some trepidation I set out to rewrite my character, in a different city, with a familiar feel to the plot in order to take part in the Good Housekeeping / Orion Books novel writing competition, including a guide to getting published by Luigi Bonomi.  The requirements sounded simple enough when I read them; entry form, full synopsis of up to two pages, a 100 word bio and up to 5000 words of the unpublished novel.

My first task as I saw it was to rewrite my first two chapters and I re-sited the action in my home town of Glasgow, rather than where I originally based the story, in Edinburgh.  I started out by keeping my main characters and set about the re-write happy in the knowledge I would enjoy the challenge.  I continued with my usual routine of write it, leave it aside, print it, edit it.  By the time I reached the third draft I knew I was going to be applying a bit more effort than I first imagined.  It started to occur to me that these wonderful people who churn out novels have to work at it.

I’d never attempted a synopsis, but how hard can it be to write the skeleton of your novel, especially with up to two pages?  Answer – quite hard actually ….

At last count before I was happy with it I worked on the synopsis for two weeks!  A couple of interesting things happened during that process, apart from the repetitive headaches, oh yes, and my inabiltiy to concentrate on anything else.  I realised with a little research that although there is a lot of advice out there on the subject of writing a synopsis, it isn’t necessarily the same advice.  Sure, it might help catch the eye of a publisher or agent, but I ended up with three completely different versions of the same document before I was satisfied which way to go.  The final choice as it happens still took four drafts before I was then happy with it.

As I read it and promised myself, ‘one more time’ I made some notes and went back and amended the opening of Chapter 1.  It didn’t take long before I realised I was working backwards!  It had taken me two months to end up editing Chapter 1.  In the end to preserve my sanity I told myself that what I had was good enough (whether or not I believed it), so I then trusted my hard work to two people I felt I could trust, my good friends Carmen from distant tropical shores and Chloe from these green and pleasant isles.

Between these two lovely ladies they all but destroyed what little confidence I had left in myself.  No they didn’t actually … I’m kidding.  What they did do was agree (without consultation) on a couple of areas where I could improve and they also said some nice things about my writing.  I’ve always been one for taking the rough with the smooth so I accepted the nice things like the gentleman I am … and made a list of the things to be revisited.  It appeared that me and my characters would not be parting company for at least another week.

It’s gone now, the manuscript that is, posted off with high hopes and a background of unseen blood, sweat and tears … mainly sweat, but I don’t intend to hold my breath whilst I wait for the results of the competition.  To Carmen and Chloe, I owe both you ladies a debt of gratitude.  If I win I’ll send you both a small monetary gift … do they still mint the ‘farthing’ coin I wonder ….

So now I’m working on the remaining chapters but at a more leisurely pace, mainly to save my sanity.