Tag Archives: Inkerman Writers

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 another general pattern. Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2


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.


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.


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.


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)


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 the 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.


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 really 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 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.


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 (alternatively Beyond The Law), 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?


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/


New Opportunities

2013 New - photo edgeHello one and all and welcome to 2013 – our New Year.  As my freshly produced graphic would suggest, I’m setting off into this new year with a positive attitude to what it might bring.  We all have the choice of starting out positive and letting that attitude slip away over time, or we can maintain that same effort throughout the year.

Early last year I decided to cut back on my retail work and increase my writing output.  I managed to write a novel from scratch and publish it as an e-book, which in itself delighted me.  ‘Ten Days’ is that novel, which has now sold into double figures, so although it hasn’t enabled me to retire from my support job completely, it’s nice to know it’s out there.  At present my novel is published with www.smashwords.com – but if there is insufficient sign of movement in sales, I’ll move the book.

Before the old year reached it’s end I managed to do three things that had been ambitions since the Summer months.  First, I discovered that I could work with my portfolio of poetry to produce a set of at least 6 volumes in different genre.  Second, I established a personal website: www.tom-benson.co.uk  in which I display both my writing and artwork.  Third, and importantly for the financial side of things, I invested in a Desktop Publishing (DTP) programme so I could produce my own artwork for book covers.

I can now report that I have published my first three volumes of poetry as e-books on Smashwords.  The main title of the series is ‘Rhyme Scenes’ and I am producing the cover designs myself.  I’m now well on the way with the next in the set.  ‘Rhyme Scenes, Volume Four …’ which is subtitled, ‘Military Matters’ and will contain a collection of fact, fiction, supernatural and observation.  I will of course be writing a blog post to support the e-book when I publish, which I’m scheduled to do in mid-January.

My aim is to follow up immediately by working on the next category, which is: ‘Thrills, Spills and Chills’ – a collection of thriller, adventure, fantasy, fact and anything that doesn’t fit neatly into the other genre.  My final category is ‘series’ poetry which may be issued as a single volume or spread into two – which I haven’t decided about yet.  Among the series are a host of topics but again, I’ll post about them when the book is published.

By the Spring I’m aiming to have all my poetry volumes published and then I can start to work seriously on my next novel.  I had been considering a sequel to ‘Ten Days’, but I have two other options.  The first is to go back to work on ‘Hawk’ which started life as a series of poetry and then was written as a novel in a month for the NaNoWriMo in November 2011.  My other option for a novel is to go back to my first attempt at novel writing.  The working title is ‘A Life Of Choice’ and was in it’s original draft my autobiography.  In light of what I’ve read, written and learned over the last couple of years the story will become a fictional tale of a young man who leaves home and enters a voyage of self-discovery in a military career.  The tale will bring into play his successes, failures and constantly changing mindset.

On the traditional side of life I’ll be completing a final edit of my short story, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ for inclusion in the next anthology to be released by the Inkerman Writers, our local writing group.

My new three-day working week should afford me the luxury of working on all of these projects and more besides.  I want to improve my website among other things and to increase my potential readership with a more aggresive marketing campaign and a greater web presence.  Any comments here or on my website are greatly appreciated, as are any reviews of my e-books.

Am I crazy … or not? – Part 1

Ryman – Newcastle Upon Tyne.

I know that several people think that I am crazy, and that was before I made the decision.  Which decision?  I hear you ask.

It could be my stepping down from a management position, or perhaps reducing to a three day working week.  In the eyes of different folk it’s one or the other, but for most I suppose it’s because I’m doing both … at the same time.  My graphic is an acrylic of the Ryman, Newcastle Upon Tyne store where I’ve worked as a Deputy Manager for the last four years.  I completed the painting in 2009 to celebrate Red Nose Day.

Mainly thanks to my wife who is continuing to work, I have no major concerns regarding cashflow.  Olive (the wife), is the unsung hero in my situation, because I have her support.  She understands how much it means for me to devote quality time to my writing.  My motivation is based on several factors but I’ll mention more detail on that in my next post.

I am now well on the way with the third (and final) draft of my romantic novel ‘Ten Days’.  My sample readers will have their copies of the manuscript within a few days and a hard copy is already with my son, Andrew.  He has agreed to help me with the design of the cover and I know his design expertise will better anything I could come up with.

The Inkerman Writers writing group has recently re-established itself in a new base and I am in attendance once again every week.  The group is working on short stories for inclusion in an anthology which we aim to have published in the Spring of 2013.

At the time of writing I have two other short stories underway for competitions.  My writing schedule is rounded off by my attempts to write at least one poem a week for posting on thestarlitecafe.com/  For the purposes of posting poetry on that site I’ve retained the pseudonym of Tomfoollery.

Keeping up Appearances

Attended my writing class / group tonight and once again enjoyed giving and receiving feedback on the written word.  Our tutor and leader, John, started the session by letting us know that our recent recital was appreciated by our audience.  We, as a group are known as the Inkerman Writers.   It feels good to me personally to ‘belong’ to an organisation, apart from work.  I’ve been a team player all my life so it feels right to be a part of something. 

A few of us have put forward stories for possible selection in a ‘talking book’.  Until now, I’ve never considered the idea that my imagery would have to be good enough to illuminate a story for a blind or partially-sighted person, but the thought of it has made me realise just how much the written word can mean… especially if it’s being read to someone who can’t see. 

My tale about a UN soldier trapped in an African town is developing well.  He finds himself alone after the loss of his comrades when their armoured vehicle is blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade.  I now have a title, ‘Photographic Memory’.  The first paragraph is completed, the final paragraph is roughly written and the ‘issues’ he has to deal with between the two points are coming together.

Have visited Chloe and Nari’s blogs to catch up with their progress and leave hopefully encouraging comments.

Finally, but important in it’s own right, I’ve almost completed the editing of Chapter 3 of the autobiography.  My aim is to have it posted on here by mid-February.