Beyond The Law – The Trilogy

The trilogy is completed with the publication of Beyond The Law: Consequences.

My character Phil McKenzie aka Hawk, was born in an experimental poem in July 2008. Due partly to the nature of the writer’s craft and to the evolution of a story it has taken until now to complete this trilogy of novels.

Novel - BTL - Formation - 220216The first book Beyond The Law: Formation (originally titled Beyond The Law), was intended as a standalone when published in 2013, but as I received feedback it was plain to see I should develop the idea and the characters.

In the second story, Beyond The Law: Retribution, in order to maintain balance and credibility I took the story beyond the streets of Glasgow, and introduced more characters on both sides of the fence which separates good from evil. I continued with the aspects of the original story which had appealed to many readers.BTL Retribution

It will come as no surprise, to bring a successful story to a close is a difficult decision, and no less difficult than how it should be done. I spent many hours considering how to further develop characters and what might become of them in a final story.

As an avid reader I am aware of the empathy felt for the heroes in a story, and in particular an ongoing story. Who should die? Who should live? How will the survivors if any move on?

Novel - BTL 3 ConsequencesUntil I read feedback on Beyond The Law: Consequences I will suffer a long wait.

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Sincere thanks goes out to Anne Francis Scott and Sarah Stuart who performed the task of beta reader for me, and gave me plenty of useful, insightful feedback. Every point highlighted and each recommendation was appreciated. My intention was to accredit these two fine authors in the front pages, but as many writers will be aware, the ‘cross-contamination’ of author names in Amazon can be lethal to all concerned.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Aimee Coveney of AuthorDesignStudio who designed all three covers for this trilogy. In each case Aimee provided a variety of solutions based on my brief. We worked together as she took my initial vision to what have now become established and successful covers.

Aimee is now a member of the team at a new venture called Bookollective.

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As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my post. Now, how far have you reached in the BTL story? If you do take the journey, please consider leaving a review.

Tom

Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 3 of 3

 

Give & Take 150516

FREE  weekend on Amazon –  Sat 30th / Sun 31st July 2016

In Part 1, I wrote about the titles and general description of my work in this genre.

In Part 2, I moved on to how I found myself venturing into this area of creative writing.

I’d like to use this final article to go under the covers ….

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In the wake of Romance, the Erotica genre is the next big thing – in regard to sales. For this reason alone, it’s not surprising writers of other genres attempt erotica, and it might be why their trials are published with a pseudonym.

Many writers try producing this special genre. Having read widely in the indie and the traditionally published sectors, I’ve discovered a wide range of ability.

We all think we know what goes on behind closed doors, but how much of our ‘knowledge’ is actually supposition, imagination, or guesswork?

The first aspect of this topic to put to bed (pun intended), is about how wonderful other people’s sex lives are. We could look at examples, but in reality there are too many variables to examine sex life.

I’ll list a few examples to prove the point:

1. A person who has no sexual experience, but has read a few books which suggest sex should be enjoyed by anybody with anybody, doing anything. I remember a girl from my early 20’s who earned the nickname ‘Martini’. If you’re not old enough to remember the TV ad, the slogan was: ‘any time, any place, anywhere ….’

2. A person of limited sexual experience, but read widely, and is eager to try anything once.

3. A person who enjoys the early years of marriage, where there has been an occasional hot night between the sheets. Lifestyle calmed and the bedroom became a place for two things; frustration, or boredom – or both.

4. An older person who has been in a relationship for 50 years, had a lot of varied experiences before marriage, and has for far too long settled into a mundane ‘get it over with’ mindset.

5. A person in a long-term relationship, but is with a partner who has no desire to ‘experiment’. Opportunities may not have been taken when younger, and now one partner may spend time wondering about activities found in books, but never tried.SS2 - Coming Around 150516

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What must a writer consider when publishing erotica?

Instead of producing a text-book answer, I’ll list a few of my personal criteria.

1. It is erotica, but it should not only be about the sex – a plot should exist.

2. I avoid sexual taboos, which I don’t believe have to be listed. If you have any doubts what is considered ‘taboo’ in erotic literature – use a search engine.

3. Colloquialisms for body parts and activities read better than creating a biology lesson with an underlying story.

4. Consent – or a fair idea of what is ahead is my preference. If a character sounds as if they didn’t know what they were getting into – or what was getting into them – it’s not non-consensual or innocence; it’s naivity.

5. Exceptional hygiene standards and preparation are occasionally mentioned in passing.

I have other minor points I keep in mind, but the aforementioned are the main ones.

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Highland Games - 1 - CougarWhich erotica appeals to me?

I enjoy the tale if I find myself consumed by the story, embracing the characters (metaphorically), and reading for the story – not the genre.

Which erotica irritates or alienates me?

When the language used is stilted, and the body parts and activities are like a sex education class for those who speak English as a second language.

When the situation and dialogue is contrived and the ‘story’ goes from dialogue to action in an unrealistic time scale.

Two-dimensional characters usually combined with little or no back-story.

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Where do I go from here with my titles?

I have erotica poetry within my Love and Romance volume, short stories in Coming Around: and other erotic stories and my novel Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica.

Highland Games is the series title of my erotica novellas. My first tale is an introduction to the series and the main location. In each successive book I aim to explore a different aspect of sexuality. As I do with all of my work, I’ll be taking note of feedback, and I’ll adjust my writing if there is good reason.

Coming soon ...

Coming soon …

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Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and particular thanks to those of you kind enough to leave your thoughts. I appreciate all feedback.

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As a reward for your kindness, I’ll remind you my novel, Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica is FREE on Amazon over the weekend Saturday 30th July / Sunday 31st July 2016.

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Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 2 of 3

SS2 - Coming Around 150516

Click graphic to Preview

 

My first article in this mini-series looked at what I’ve written and published in the erotica genre. As a refresher, it explains I’ve written poetry, short stories, and a novel. It also highlights my latest venture – I’m underway with a series of novellas.

This second post is an insight into why I decided to get involved in this area of creative writing. Reading erotica isn’t for everybody, and having read comments from writers who can spin a great yarn, I know the writing of erotica isn’t for everybody either.

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In closing Part 1, I promised the whys and wherefores of my interest.

I first dabbled in literary titillation when I was experimenting with poetry. I’d written about natural history, the military life, thrillers, reincarnation, romance, and a few odd pieces where I introduced humour. It was when I wrote about relationships I found I had to move on from the meeting, and the dialogue.

Surely as the romance deepened it would be natural to move on to action?

It took several attempts before I produced anything I’d post on the poetry website, which had guidelines on ‘acceptable’ content for any genre.

My erotica poetry started out like sexual foreplay. The hints were in there, a bit of teasing of what might come, and I took it forward with visual appreciation, dialogue, romance, titillation, and finally action. I received several compliments on my efforts and I was glad I’d tried.

An excerpt from ‘Our First Time’ (Poetry Vol 2 – Love and Romance) Click graphic to Preview

 

In the background I had already started playing around with the concept of short stories, and I’d tried a variety of genre. The prompt to try my hand at erotica came from a fellow poet. The lady wrote well, which was why I was delighted to have public praise from her on my widely varying poetic efforts. As I developed my verse, this lady was particularly impressed with my erotica and wrote me a private message to let me know.

A couple of private messages later there was a request for me to write an erotica short story. It wasn’t for general consumption, but for my secret fan, who said she’d be willing to critique the finished product. I obliged and produced a story which she liked, and it was followed by a few others. We’re no longer in regular contact, but I get an occasional message to let me know she reads all my work.

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I was keen to write romance, adventure and thrillers, which were the genre I read. As I increased my selection of reading material, I selected the first in the ‘Fifty Shades …’ series. Suffice to say I wasn’t impressed by either the writing or the content. I wrote a review which appears here: Fifty Shades – a review.

Having had my interest piqued by the popularity of something so badly written, I downloaded erotica eBooks by both male and female authors. It should be remembered at this point, a high number of authors in this genre use a pseudonym. I found several areas of concern in my research of erotica storytelling.

1. A lot of the ‘books’ purporting to be erotica are neither erotica, nor stories, but a series of scenes involving two or more people in sexual activity.

2. Many of these titles are badly written in the extreme, but the worst are usually spotted in their short sample available on Amazon.

3. A personal gripe is the ‘author’ who produces a badly written, short book, and compounds those two factors by over-pricing.

Is there anything worse?

Yes, sadly, a few of them go on to write a ‘series’. I detected many of these by the rapid turnaround of the ‘next in the series’ being produced a month after the previous title.

Having read several erotica titles covering a wide range of sexual orientation I can tell who knows their subject, and who uses vague descriptions.

What’s the difference?

Put simply, it’s the difference between saying ‘The man had a gun.’ or, ‘Dan carried his Browning 9mm automatic.’

I’ve read samples which have had me shake my head because they’re so awful, and I’ve seen eBooks which made me smile – because the cover, title, length, sample, and price were so bad. It takes imagination to believe the author is serious.

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Coming soon ...

Coming soon …

There we have it faithful followers. I was erotica curious, and tried my hand. I believe I’m making progress, and my titles have positive reviews. I am still experimenting to some extent, but I work on the premise my finished titles should have a story, and the books should be written and formatted with the same care given to any other genre.

In the final part of this insight I will take you under the covers, and we’ll look at the detail.

Thank you for reading my offerings, and any comments are welcome as always.

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Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 1 of 3

 

Poetry Vol 2 - 150516

Like it or loathe it – erotica is one of the oldest genres of storytelling. You can dress it up (no pun intended), in a pretty cover, or go black cover with a suggestive title, but the introduction of the eReader has enabled many people to indulge and enjoy the reading of sexual adventures which had previously been so near … yet, so far.

The erotica eBook market is a gift to those who would have looked at titles in a bookstore, but never lifted the book. In many cases it would be due to the books being out of reach. Peer pressure, embarrassment, upbringing, or whatever reason might have stopped thousands of folk from buying into this area of reading, but no more.

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What is the appeal to a reader?

Two areas come to mind, although there are more.SS2 - Coming Around 150516

1. For those who have, or have so far had a less than adventurous sex life it gives an insight to how things might be, even in the imagination. We can all dream.

2. The erotica eBook opens doors (mainly bedroom doors), and it allows the voyeuristic aspect of our nature a little exercise.

‘I don’t have a voyeuristic aspect …’

‘I just love the stories …’

‘It’s porn in words …’

Whatever your attitude to it, I’m here to tell you I enjoy reading it (if it’s well written), and I enjoy writing it too. Yes, I’m still in the early days in writing the genre, but for me, it gives the same release of imagination other writers have when working on paranormal, historic romance, or any other specialised topic.

I will continue to write thrillers and romance, but I’m unashamedly erotica-curious. I have a strong desire to explore erotica, and I’d like to see which type of writing works best.

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Highland Games - 1 - CougarI produced a few pieces of erotica in my Love and Romance poetry volume. My short story collection Coming Around: and other erotica stories is popular, although only a handful of brave people have cared to leave a review – but they’re good reviews, so I’m delighted.

My debut erotica novel Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica sells on a regular basis, but again sadly isn’t supported by many reviews.

It was while considering story length it occurred to me to produce a hybrid – the erotica novella. Thus far I have one title out there, but I’ve already made notes towards the others in what will be a minimum five-part series.

How do I intend to capture and hold interest with the series?

Each of the stories will be based in the location which is introduced in the first novella Highland Games – 1, but as the series progresses I’ll concentrate on a different angle of sexual persuasion.

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What’s coming next in this three-part post?Give & Take 150516

In the second part of this article I’ll explain the whys and wherefores of me getting into bed with this genre. At the end of Part 2 I’ll give you a hint of what’s coming in Part 3.

If you’ve taken anything from this first part (other than the links to my books), I’m certain you’ll enjoy how I first discovered my desire to experiment … and later in Part 3, we’ll go under the covers, or between the sheets if you prefer.

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May … I continue with projects

 

In the next few days I’ll be reading / reviewing which will take me to a new month.

May update - five

As this year got underway I made a list of ten targets, so I thought with one third of the year out of the way I’d revisit my list to check progress. As I hit 2016 the five titles above were at various stages of completion.

1. Publication of A Life of Choice: Part One – job done and, now has reviews.

2. Production of Codename: Koki by Malcolm (Mali) Beadle – a detailed critique / suggested edits which took a couple of weeks. Manuscript is now back with Mali being redrafted.

3. Revision of my present novels – Ten Days in Panama – job done and, now appearing on Amazon categorised under Romance.

4. Publication of A Time for Courage: and other military stories – job done.

5. Produce artwork to accompany Whisper Wood, my submission for the IASD Children’s anthology – job done.

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What else is going on?

Since January, apart from my personal workload and, working on Mali’s book, for fellow authors I’ve beta read three short stories and, two novels.

A Life of Choice - Part TwoA Life of Choice: Part Two is in the final stages. I’ve heard from one beta reader and, in the next couple of days I’ll hear from the other, who is one of our IASD authors. I’ve printed the manuscript and, by the coming weekend I’ll be performing a red-pen edit, line by line.

  • No music and, no interruptions.
  • As usual it will be me, the manuscript, the red pen, my perpetual diary, character profiles, cast of characters, a plentiful supply of black coffee and, a notepad for worries, queries and, thoughts.

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Did I mention I’ve set up two more pages on Facebook?

I set them up without any grandstanding to see if anybody would come across them and, I’m delighted to report I’ve got a couple of likes by IASD members and it’s much appreciated. I’d noticed several authors had set up pages for individual novels, but I decided to go with my writing categories. I now have:

Tom Benson – Writer

Tom Benson – Short Stories

Tom Benson – Poetry

Tom Benson – Erotica

I look at extra Facebook pages as a passive marketing tool. I may not produce many regular entries on them, but they’ll add to my online presence. I felt I needed to demonstrate diversity by not using a single page with disparate genre spread throughout. Temptation (2)

As ever, I’ve got projects listed in my Work in Progress section. Some of these ideas have been planned for a while, but now I’ve added a new and, for me, exciting project. If you want to know what it is, you’ll have to look for the clue.

One of my latest projects is Temptation: and other stories. It will be another collection of short stories, but with an open theme.

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I’ve now decided the Beyond The Law series will end as a trilogy. The original idea was intended as a single story. I like to think of it as my signature style and, I don’t want the stories to become formulaic. The original tale is re-titled as Beyond The Law: Formation, the second is Beyond The Law: Retribution and, the final title will be Beyond The Law: Consequences. A lot of background material has been written and, the story will start taking shape in the summer.

Beyond The Law - pair

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Following the successful conversion of Ten Days in Panama to the Romance genre, I am intending to perform a similar conversion with Amsterdam Calling. Once again, there will be little change to the storyline, but I know where it needs to be adjusted.

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I’ve now made inroads into my two short stories for IASD anthologies. For the Indies for Charity anthology my story will be Taken for a Ride. My story for the Horror anthology will be Dark Places.

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I’ve got a bit of reading, reviewing and, writing to do guys, so if you’ll excuse me … oh, and, thank you for dropping by. It is much appreciated.

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Happy New Writing Year!

Ten Titles minus oneI’ve left behind a year which felt productive from beginning to end.
My primary objective for 2016 is that it will be at least as fulfilling as last year.
I will continue to deal with my Work in Progress (WIP) simultaneously, and in that way each project will feel fresh at every session.

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What’s on in 2016 for Tom Benson – Author?

1  Publication of A Life of Choice – Part One

Production of Codename: Koki by Malcolm Beadle

3  Revision of each of my present novels.

Publication of A Time for Courage: and other military stories, my next anthology

Produce artwork to accompany Whisper Wood, my submission for the IASD Children’s anthology

6  Produce a short story for the next themed IASD anthology

Produce one of my present novels as a paperback using Create Space

8  Ongoing maintenance and improvement of the IASD website / blog

Read and review more titles from the IASD catalogue

10 Support of the IASD members in whatever capacity I am able

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Tom’s blog post – Supplementary

A Life of Choice - Part OneMy aim is to publish A Life of Choice – Part One by Sunday 10th January.

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Codename: Koki is the debut novel by Malcolm Beadle. He is fellow writer and friend who is more comfortable scriptwriting, which is why he needs support to edit and fine-tune his first action thriller. Malcolm has a direct and entertaining storytelling style.

Provisional cover idea

Provisional cover idea

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As mentioned in a blog post last year, I intend to visit each of my present novels in the order they were published. My intention is to revise each book, but using the reviews as my guide. I will amend the book covers as I complete the revisions.

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IASD - globe 2The IASD website / blog is now fit for purpose, but we are going to introduce new ideas and aim to achieve regular interaction for our members and visitors.

The Admin team will be driving the changes, but from this point onward, guided by the comments, suggestions and support of the whole group. There will be more on an update in January.

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I’ve got some serious work ahead of me now, so I will thank you for dropping by and any comments.

Let’s get reading, reviewing, and writing!

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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. 😀

The Wallpaper Effect – Part 1 of 2

WallpaperWhere am I going today with my opinion?

Marketing, and more importantly – self-marketing.

I’ll explain ‘The Wallpaper Effect’ later in this short post, but before we get there I’d like to address what is probably one of the biggest headaches for indie writers.

An indie writer spends months, or perhaps a year or more working on a book. My average is between eight months and a year for a novel, and longer for a book of twelve short stories.

Having taken every care to get the book ready for the world, the writer is then hit with a variety of issues.

Where to publish?
What price to sell the work?
Where to advertise?
How often to advertise?
Produce it in paperback?

That is a short list, but I think long enough to make my point, so let’s move on.

There are those who believe (as I once did), that we should get the book written, publish it, and then plug it at every opportunity, on every available social network, and as often as possible.

I am not an expert, but trust me – that is not the way to go.

Why not?

There my dear reader is where I believe ‘The Wallpaper Effect’ presents itself.

The book is seen so often that it effectively becomes a ‘regular’ sight, so rather than attracting attention – it is ignored. Think of it as negative marketing.

Where did I come up with this theory?

I will use two previous careers to demonstrate my point.

We’ll look at ‘blending in’ versus ‘standing out’.

1 – In my military career, I had to ‘conceal’ my large radio truck in woodland by ensuring I broke up the square edges and straight lines with camouflage. I made it blend in, so it wasn’t seen. If I was on foot, I’d camouflage myself so that I blended in – unseen.

It was desirable to have The Wallpaper Effect.

2 – I now work a couple of days a week as a sales assistant, but before stepping down – for twenty years I was a retail manager, and for five of those years I worked as a ‘support’ manager.

My role encompassed many aspects of the trade, but one challenging area was pointing out to store managers why an in-store display or window display didn’t produce sales. Sometimes it was just badly done – but in many cases it was the ‘wallpaper effect’.

The display had been the same for so long that it became invisible. It had once caught the eye, but sadly no longer.

It was not desirable to have The Wallpaper Effect.

I’d suggest changes were made – and the product caught the eye once again – and sold.

Changes don’t have to be drastic, but we’ll cover that in Part 2 with regards to self-marketing for indie writers.

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In Part 2 of this post, which will be with you in a couple of days, I’ll write about my most recent (and successful) strategy. I will also mention a couple of ideas I’ve incorporated into that strategy.

How do I judge ‘success’?

During the past month I’ve had five days when I had no sales. I’m not big on statistics but I thought I’d throw in that small one. Okay, so I suppose that’s no big deal, but it gives my morale a boost.

For now, in summary I would suggest to the daily, blanket coverage, campaigner – ease off a bit, relax – and get onto your next title. Yes, still go for blanket coverage, but only once a week.

If you want to see what type of hornet’s nest can be stirred up when dealing with this topic, please check out fellow author and blogger Andy Updegrove‘s article.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again on Wednesday or Thursday.

***

P.S. How subtle is that graphic at the top!  😀

Fifty Shades of Blue

Oct 1988 - Copy

Okay, I know it’s not a stretch to work out what this is going to be about, but it’s only right that we have some fun with blog titles … right?

When I made the leap from short stories to novels, I didn’t have to be told that I’d need a break after each draft.

 

I needed a serious change of scene, and I found myself trying to write short stories, but my novel characters kept appearing in my head. I vaguely remembered reading that it helped to ‘rest’ the primary project.

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Escapism to some people is Star Trek, Sex in the City, The Boston Chainsaw Massacre, or Gone With the Wind. Yes, escapism is many things to many people. I decided I wanted to write a genre that had no great interest for me with regard to my regular writing – but one where I might have a bit of private fun.

I wanted to write stories that would let me exercise, possibly even stretch my writing muscles, practise my characterisation, scene setting, imagery, dialogue, plot direction, pace, and so on. It had to be something that wouldn’t distract me by being too serious.

I attempted erotic poetry and had a few nice comments, so I was looking for a natural extension … but aren’t we all guys …

Okay, moving swiftly on. I wrote erotic short stories over a period of a couple of years, in between drafts of my novels, and to be honest, I thought they were bloody awful, so they remained on file. I wanted to revisit them at some stage in the future and apply any new found skills.

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Why then did I start to work harder at erotica?

I could write a long, flowing, imaginative answer that still probably wouldn’t satisfy everybody, so let’s investigate the truth.

Now you’re hooked, aren’t you?

The truth is possibly stranger than fiction … and it goes beyond the straightforward.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away, I left home as a non-smoking, non-drinking, non-swearing, quietly spoken, shy and retiring 17-year-old. It was the early 70’s, and over the next few years things were to change in spectacular fashion.

Tom - Dec 1969

Tom – Dec 1969

I had become a soldier. I was young, single, carefree, and lived in a foreign country. I smoked, drank heavily, swore … quite a lot actually, and turned violent at the hint of a threat. I lived a social life that frankly, I’m pleased to have survived.

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Long before ‘porn sites’ were a part of everyday conversation, I was accustomed to sitting in bars, in seedy districts, in the wee small hours, pouring beer down my throat and watching serious hard-core.

I would usually be in the company of a few like-minded individuals. We might have screwed our faces up sometimes, or even shared a laugh, but as I remember, we continued to watch the action. Did I imagine myself taking part in it? Of course I did. We all did.

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I didn’t have to watch that stuff – I had a choice, so therefore I must have chosen to do it. My life didn’t revolve around the subject, but it was omnipresent. Sex and all associated topics was a conversation that was never difficult to have in the company I kept in those days.  March 1985 2

I’m a self-taught artist and have always enjoyed drawing the female form. I thought this was an appropriate article to decorate with drawings.

I’m not about to open up about my most intimate experiences, but let’s just say that at certain stages, it was emotional, enjoyable, and educational.

All of that was before I left my hedonistic lifestyle behind and married a decent young lady and settled down. I would become nornal. Enough said.

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Now, zip forward several light years to around 2012. I had been writing a couple of years. I had memories, experiences, increasing confidence in my writing skills, and a need to draw all of those things together and create believable characters in believable situations, doing unbelievable things to, and with each other.

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Why did I move on from writing erotica for myself?

Keeping my writer’s head on, I read romance, sci-fi, adventure, thrillers, horror, paranormal, chick-lit, and many other things. Fifty Shades of Grey appeared. Erotica had become main-stream – so I read the book – only to discover that in my humble, unbiased opinion, that it wasn’t erotic, and the woman who wrote it must have had a sheltered life if she thought that it was. Anyway, I digress.

The disappointment of that book caused me to ponder what else was out there posing as ‘erotica’, so over a period of time, in between other genre, I read different authors’ ideas of erotica. It was after about the fourth book in the genre, which I had paid for, that I decided I could do the job better.

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The result?

In 2014, my anthology – Coming Around, and other erotic stories.
Okay, it’s not a best-seller, and they haven’t chosen one of the stories as the basis of a movie, but it has received a couple of decent reviews.    912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_

How did I go about the composition of an erotic anthology?

I have always been recognised as broad-minded and prepared to accept people for what they are.

I don’t care if you’re white, black, yellow, or any shade in between. It doesn’t bother me if your sexual orientation is heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, or a mixture of the aforementioned.
I know I could have used LGBT, but there are still some folk who would be Googling it.

I listed a few areas of the sexually-orientated story and then had a look at the fun stories I’d written for myself. Over a period of months, I blended the two.

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Why have I decided to tackle an erotic novel?

Don’t worry if there is somewhere you have to be in a little while, I’m not going to list all of my reasons, but here are a few:
1. First of all an important reason – because I think I can do it.
2. It’s a challenge – and I do enjoy trying something different …
3. It’s a genre which creates a wide variety of responses from men and women alike.
4. I wanted to try another genre, but had tried and failed at writing a story for children – I went in the opposite direction to write specifically for an adult audience.
5. Not one, but three different writers asked if I’d ever considered writing an erotic novel.
6. I am not afraid to recognise when I’m not good at something, so if I make an attempt at this and my peers tell me I’m not good at it – I’ll leave it alone, but I will have tried.

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What is my project?

The title is Give and Take. If I may use an appropriate metaphor at this stage, I’m aiming to make this story like a body. It will have a backbone, plenty of meat on the bones, a variety of senses and emotions, and will provide both pleasure and pain in varying measure. Oh yes, and it will be a naked body – I am not dressing this up.

It will not be a moral crusade, or a guide to good living, so at times the subject matter might give the impression that I’m insensitive to the pain and heartache of the real world of good and bad relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth.
(I did write a paragraph to justify myself here, but I deleted it, because it deflated this entire article.)
I write for many reasons, and I have a strong desire to write my new story – Give and Take.

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Will my signature topic ‘retribution’ be in there?

Of course it will, but adapted, amended and exercised in ways I’ve never expressed in previous work.

You will find all the usual suspects in there: characters, locations, conflicts, sex, dialogue, detail, plots and sub-plots, sex, love, retribution, education, sex, and a few other things besides … Did I mention sex?

I will say at the outset that if you’re looking for a soppy romance with some titillation – this will not be for you. If you are a fan of the Fifty Shades trilogy and you have the faintest belief in the characters and situations – sadly, once again this is not for you.

If on the other hand you’d be happy to read a story that has been researched to a certain extent, albeit many years ago, that has some depth, and a mixture of emotions, laced with some graphic scenes, then you should enjoy the tale.

As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and rhetoric, and for leaving any feedback.

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I thought if you got this far, you might want to see the full version of one of my drawings from the 80’s.

Jany 1987 2

Another one? Okay, but then I really have to go …

Oct 1988 crpd

Change is … Refreshing

It matters not whether it’s an outfit, a job, a car, the look of a room, the layout of your desk, or the way that you do something – it sometimes gives the spirits a lift to create change.

As a writer it helps to have more than one project on the go, moving from one to another as and when the mood takes you, or when ‘resting’ a story between drafts.

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What are we doing when we change something?

We are refreshing. I recently set up a new item on my blog menu to give some basic guidance on the writing of short stories. I said within those guidelines that I’d follow up with a piece on writing short stories for competitions. That is now done and appears in my menu under the Competition Writing heading.

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What was that about change and refreshing in the intro?

When I started creative writing it was poetry, and then I tried short stories. The poetry was left behind as the whole concept of short story writing captured my imagination. It took a couple of years before I dared to consider a novel, but once I’d dipped my toe in the water – I was smitten. That particular change has proved worthwhile and fulfilling.

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What is the relevance of my personal writing progression to this post?

In recent weeks, apart from my other projects I’ve produced two short stories for anthologies. The incentive for writing the stories was that the proceeds of sales of the anthologies will be forwarded to charities. I will return to the subject of the anthologies to talk about them and promote them closer to their publication.

A lot of people are excited about the cover and title of one of the two charity anthologies, and quite rightly – because both are excellent. Over the next few days I’m pretty sure there will be many who ‘share’ the cover and promote the collection before its publication. I’ll leave that to them for now, and I’ll get underway with a similar strategy a day or two before the publication date.

By far my favourite Facebook group is the Indie Author Review Exchange, founded by fellow author, blogger and friend, Paul Ruddock. It is from that group, now numbering 570+ after only a few months, that an open request was made for authors to take part in the two charity anthologies.

I noted that not only were there authors who hadn’t written short stories for a while – it became clear that there were those who had never ventured into the challenges of writing short stories.

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Why is it a good idea to try writing short stories?

The short story is a separate discipline to that of novel writing, or even novella writing. A short story requires tighter word usage, fewer characters, a tight timeline and a single unwavering plot which starts with a personal conflict of some description.

There is no allowance for a cast of thousands, or lengthy and flowery descriptions of imagery. The dialogue should move the story forward as rapidly as the action. The character in crisis should be the one who plays the major part in how the original conflict plays out.

In my own humble opinion I believe that even the occasional short story helps the novelist to tone-up, refresh, and reassess where they are with their writing craft. I am presently working on three completely different longer pieces at the moment, but taking a break to produce two short stories was a breath of fresh air, which I am sure has affected how I am now approaching my novels.

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Are there any other reasons for writing short stories?

It may not be obvious to all writers, but there is money to be made and prizes to be won with short stories. Yes, they have to be of a high standard, and yes they will require to follow certain guidelines, but isn’t that true of any competition. If you’ve never considered the short story competition market and you’d like an insight, please check out – Competition Writing.

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What am I working on in novels?

In terms of priority my front runner is Acts of Vengeance, which is the sequel to Beyond The Law. Rapidly following that one is A Life of Choice, which is a fact-based fiction, coming-of-age story. The latest contender for my literary affections is Give and Take. I am intending it to be a full length erotic novel, so the story is very much an experiment. If you’ll pardon the pun, the secondary reason for writing such a story is to provide relief when not working on the other stories. Give and Take – Chapter 1.

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What else have I changed recently?

Whilst working on my two short stories for the anthologies, something came to mind. I went to my blog to check it out, and I was surprised by how many main subject headings I had on my main menu.

When I was leaving my writing aside for a break, I spent about half an hour refreshing my menu and selecting items that could be stepped down to sub-menu level.

You will see that my tips for writing short stories are all under one main heading. My short story anthologies are under a single heading. My four published novels are under one heading, and one that I’m particularly pleased about is, placing Work in Progress under one heading.

In one session I believe I have: improved the appearance of the main menu, made it easier to navigate, and made it more manageable for me as the main user. I look forward to any thoughts on the topics I’ve covered in this post.

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