Can You Resist ‘Temptation’?

 

‘I can resist everything except temptation,’ is one of my favourite quotes by the talented Oscar Wilde. The Irish essayist, poet and novelist produced many memorable quotes.

Temptation is one of those wide-ranging areas in life. Whether we go back to Adam and Eve, or consider a multi-million dollar robbery, we are reminded of temptation.

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In this, my latest collection of short stories I’ve employed temptation as a core theme. In a couple of the stories it may be obscure. The tale may be dealing with an imminent allure, or the after effects. The final decision does not always follow the enticement, which is where I considered true entertainment would be found.

 

I’ve diversified as I usually do with the plots, by using a mixture of genre for the stories. I have featured vengeance, thriller, horror, romance, paranormal, sci-fi, contemporary, and sizzling romance (not erotica).

I’m a keen reader of short stories, and I derive tremendous pleasure from building a mini-world for characters who must come alive for their brief shot at fame.

Amazon – Preview/Buy                   BookLinker – Universal

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On the subject of choices, I am like many writers, in that I am always on the lookout for another platform. On Facebook for example, I originally had a personal page, and after a long settling in period, I started an author’s page. Last year, I set up separate pages for Short Stories, Erotica, Poetry, and kept my original author page; Tom Benson – Writer.

tb-writer-fb

Click for Facebook page

Following a post by Val Tobin, who constantly produces great content for authors in her entries on Facebook, I took the plunge and set up an inter-active ‘shop on my author page.

Facebook suggests it takes about fifteen minutes to set up. Well, I don’t know what they were setting up, but by the time I got my head around the project and uploaded my titles and links, I’d used about three hours. The good news – the idea is working.

I left it for a day to recover from the titles/links overload and have now gone back to install ‘shops’ in my other three writing-related Facebook pages.

I’ll write a post on this idea soon if I see an upsurge in sales, although it would be nice to think any upsurge was purely because the books were so popular. I know, I know …. 😀

As always, thank you for your time, and any comments.

To Blog … or not to Blog?

There are many reasons for maintaining a blog, but before I offer my view, this is a good time to be honest.

Why do you personally have a blog?
1. Do you like to be a part of an international community of like-minded folk?
2. Do you like being able to air your opinions or grievances and occasionally receive support from others?
3. Is it simply a pastime and a regular part of your social life?
4. Are you perhaps particularly good at something, or have an interest in something and like to write about it?
5. Do you use your blog as a sounding board for thoughts and ideas, but also as a platform?

As I suggested in my intro, there are many reasons to blog, but it doesn’t make any difference if you’re honest about your reasons. The only way anybody will ever know your true reasons is if you tell them … and they believe you.

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Why do I have a blog?
Before answering that question I’d like to say that I now have a blog for different reasons to those I had when I started.

For many years I haven’t been the social animal I was in my military career.

At about the time I took up writing I was advised to try writing a blog. I used it as a social connection, and as a means of learning about the internet and also aspects of writing.

It took me about a year to gain around 25 followers with my first attempt at blogging, so a couple of years ago I closed it down. I started again with a new theme, a fresh attitude … and a couple of books to my name.

My reasons for having a blog changed from social to business. I have a blog quite simply because it is one more way of promoting my books and my brand as a writer. The whole concept of ‘brand’ is a topic for another day, so I don’t want to get into it now.

This blog for me is a practicality. Since stepping down from my retail management role about three years ago, I only work three days per week to support my writing ambitions. I’m serious about my writing so I owe it to myself to conduct a strenuous and ongoing self-marketing campaign. I know there are many who don’t like the idea of ‘self-marketing’, and it may come as a surprise, but I count myself in that group.

Self-marketing for the indie author is a necessary evil. I’ve dealt with necessary evil in my life before so perhaps that’s why I can get over it and get on with the job in hand.

There is a nice side effect of having a blog, in that I have gained some social contact online now with a handful of other writers who blog. We don’t commit to checking each other out every week. We comment on each other’s words occasionally, which to me is more important. I’d rather have 10 genuine contacts than a few hundred names of folk who have registered their names purely so that they will attract attention for a mutual comment feed.

Along the way on this second attempt I’ve somehow managed to gain 140+ ‘followers’. Okay, maybe I have a figure displayed that suggests 140+, but I know I have an intermittent following. No, I don’t expect to be followed and not reciprocate, but there are only so many hours in a day for any of us.

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Does the intermittent following bother me?
No. The reason it doesn’t bother me is quite simple. No matter how hard I try, I know I’ll never manage to maintain my commitment to writing and checking out 140+ blogs every week, or even every month. I’ve tried catching posts by email, and I’ve tried checking so many per day and so many per week, but it’s all far too time-consuming. There are also many who click the follow button on my site, but they blog about topics that hold no interest for me.

I do make an effort to repay any visit from those who are kind enough to check out my thoughts, like this post.

Sometimes I’ll find a post that captures my imagination or I’ll find a post that I didn’t know had been made, so I write a comment.

I’m probably not using my blog the way the ‘User’s Guide to Blogging …’ would suggest, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m an author, so my main interest is creative writing. I drive a car but I’m not a car enthusiast. I eat, but I’m not a lover of fine foods – it’s a necessary part of life. There are many things that we all do that become a part of our lives – for me the maintenance of a blog is one such thing.

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Do I give anything back to my followers or occasional visitors?
1. I do try. Yes, in my main menu there are my book titles, but there are also topics which I hope will help to guide my peers. It took me a considerable time to learn many aspects of my writing craft so one of my personal aims is to help other writers in any way I can.
2. As I’ve said often before, I’m not an expert in the field of writing but I’ve gained masses of experience and read widely on the subject. When I see a fellow scribe whose writing is perhaps a little below par in one or two areas I respectfully offer some advice.
3. When I review a title I endeavour to get the word out there for the author, so apart from sharing the review as widely as possible elsewhere, I review on Goodreads so that it appears on the Homepage of my blog.
4. I may not write a post every week, but I make an effort to produce meaningful content. There are those that will consider this post an apology for not blogging ‘properly’, but I’m sure there will be others who find this a meaningful post – because like all I do, it is written with sincerity.

I’m presently working on a variety of projects, but I will get out there and visit a handful of blogs. If I cruise through my followers and find a topic I am in tune with, I’ll comment. On the other hand if the main subject matter is of little interest to me, I’ll move on.

As always, I am grateful for any visitors and comments.

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You cannot be series …

Poetry covers compilation
Yes, the fourth word in my title is the proper spelling. It is not meant to be the statment made famous by tennis star John McEnroe, although I admit, I was tempted.
If you’re too young to remember, on more than one occasion the talented and quick-tempered Mr. McEnroe would challenge an umpire’s decision with a wild stare, whilst screaming,                   “You cannot be serious!”
As this post develops I’m sure that most of you guys will see that I could have gotten away with the tennis player’s outburst as my alternative title.

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I’ve noticed that there is a tendency these days for writers, and especially novices, to produce sequels, or even a series of books. Authors have various reasons for doing such a thing, and those reasons cover a wide spectrum. I’ll list a few reasons to help get my point across.
1. The writer wants to explore how far they can push a character whether it be in development or experiences and adventures.
2. The lazy or greedy writer, who simply wants to exploit the market, by producing several titles of very short works; calling them a ‘series’.

Why do I say greedy?
I’ve recently discovered an author who is publishing nothing more than long chapters and giving them the title of ‘book’. In this way he creates a ‘series’. Yeah, whatever.

How do I know that it’s greed?
If somebody has the audacity to consider such an underhand tactic, the least they could do is ensure that the ‘books’ are properly edited and formatted. In the case I’m highlighting, they are not.

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Some books lend themselves to the idea of a sequel, or series, simply by the nature of the original story, whilst others do not.
There is a train of thought that such a thing is easy to do, but in my opinion, in any subsequent books the necessary information must be drip-fed to the reader as the story progresses. It should not consist of massive chunks of force-fed back-story; which I’ve seen in some attempts at a sequel.

My opinion on what works and what doesn’t for sequels and series.

What works?
A series, whether it is 2 books, or 22 books, should have a constant aspect, whether it is in theme or character.
For example:
1. Each book has a different character, but the theme is the same.
2. A fresh case or plot with the same central character since the first book.
For example:
Private Eye, police, medical, adventure, espionage, western, military, thriller, seafaring, Sci-Fi, fantasy, paranormal … and on the list might go.

What might not appeal to readers after a couple of stories?
The certain knowledge that the protagonist is virtually indestructible – and it’s not Superman.

What doesn’t work?
In the right hands just about any genre is good for a series, but the decision to tackle this particular idea is not something that should be taken lightly.
Romance for instance could lend itself to a series if the basis of the stories was to take a fresh story from the point of view of various characters from one central theme.
For examples:
1. Stories detailing the love-life of the members of an office or other business.
2. Stories detailing the love-life of the members of a community. Now this could be a nice little earner if you were prepared to devote half your life to it. Instead of the community being a small village, how about telling of the romances onboard the cruise ship Laid Back Lady, which has 500 crew and 4,000 passengers?

Now there would be a money-spinner.

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To reiterate my point, we must all be aware of giving our customers value for money, so we must be conscious of providing a good product and not creating a ‘series’ out of nothing. In particular we should keep an eye open for those in our business who are prepared to undercut the readership, which includes us.

Integrity is a key factor when considering if a writer is writing a sequel, or series for the right reasons.
As always, I thank you for coming by and reading my thoughts. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

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