Czech Mate – early moves

 

Any creative writer who is honest will admit that it would be nice to make it big, but while we wait for a movie producer to call – we continue to work, honing our craft.

Blog posts made by our fraternity are wide-ranging. Depending on how things are going with the Work in Progress (WIP), it could be a post about how the previous book is selling (or not), ideas for the new one, a review on somebody’s book, or many other topics.

If it’s a promotion, it might be shouting about the latest idea, or trying to push it when the work is done, and it’s available. I thought it would make a change to talk about a new novel in those introductory stages of its life.

 

How did I come up with the idea for my latest?

This is the year I retire, and our son, Andrew, (who lives in Amsterdam), got in touch a few months ago and suggested that we had a father and son reunion to celebrate my special year. We’ve both seen a lot of Europe, although he’s seen more than me. I was delighted when he said Prague was our destination for a four-day stay. I decided I’d write a story using the Czech capital as a backdrop.

Within twenty-four hours (and an early morning cycle ride), I had considered romance or thriller and had a basic idea for my plot.

What came next?

It took less than two days before I had my working title, Czech Mate, and I began creating my main character, a Scottish artist called Bryce. As my morning cycle rides were conducted each day I considered locations, action sequences, other characters, and crucially who were the good guys and the bad guys.

I dedicate a notebook to each of my projects and this one was no different. When I went shopping with my wife, or we went somewhere for a day out, my Czech Mate notebook went too. I listed names, ages, nationalities, and a few personal details for each new character.

What about research?

Google is good, but, in mid-September I flew from the north of England to Prague in the Czech Republic, to meet Andrew, who had flown from Amsterdam.

Andrew is a keen photographer with an eye for detail, so when he was setting up his tripod, I had ample opportunity to take pictures, make notes, and gain a ‘feel’ for my surroundings.

To us, streets, restaurants, pubs, theatres, galleries, churches and regular tourist attractions are not simply places of interest, they are ‘subjects’, or ‘locations’. For four days we were both able to indulge in our chosen passions.

Prior to the trip, I spent hours reading up on the history of the Czech Republic and had several pages of notes on people, places, and political events.

How did I follow up my great trip?

Since my return, I’ve written four thousand words, invented a few action sequences, and worked out who is good, bad, or on the fence. A few locations will be in the UK which will help to balance the story.

What about character detail and development?

I’m presently filling out my characters’ details as I let the early part of the story rest. Each person will have a date of birth, a physical appearance, a profession, an allegiance, a background, and certain skills. No, not all detail will be brought into the story, but it’s important to create a rounded character in the author’s mind which helps to develop the character for their part.

When will the story be published?

I aim to have the basic storyline completed by end December 2017. Like all my projects, it will be printed and left aside for three weeks, or perhaps a month. During that time I’ll work on something else. There are three main projects in my stable at present which is healthy, because they will each be allowed at least three weeks between drafts.

At present, I’d like to see Czech Mate being published in the spring of 2018.

As always, thank you for taking an interest in my work and my words. All feedback is welcome.

***

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A Stage further …

 

Yes, I’m a happy man. I’m filled with a sense of achievement as I compose this post. This is not something about which I’d normally boast, but hey, it’s special.

As I reach this point in my life I have already put a sequence in place for my monthly freebies on Amazon.

It’s only three weeks until I give up my retail job, and one week later I’m officially retired. The act of retirement is a conclusion of sorts, and my other achievements are also conclusions in their own way.

Some time ago I suggested I’d try to write a sequel, which was done and then followed by a series. This of course refers to Beyond The Law, the trilogy.

I have over the years insterspersed my other other writing with a long-term project. My factual autobiography and military memoirs was fraught with issues when I first wrote it – apart from the standard of the writing.

Now, with reasonable writing experience and success, I’ve completed my five book series, A Life of Choice. The fifth book is not due publication until November, because I would like to use completion of the series to celebrate the 48th year since I signed up to join the British Army.

I tried my hand at erotica in short story format, moved on to novel, and following success with both, I recently completed a series of five novellas. Highland Games is the result.

My September give-away was the first in my Beyond The Law trilogy, and with three months to the end of the year, I’m giving away books with connections.

Over the next three months, on two occasions the weekend freebie will be the first in a series, and the remaining weekend freebie will be a pair of books which complement each other.

Military Matters is a book of poetry which contains 80 verses which reflect aspects of life in military uniform. This book will be accompanied by A Time for Courage: and other military stories. In an attempt to avoid any hitches they will be offered separately, but over the same few days.

At the end of this year I will be terminating my monthly, freebie weekend. If you haven’t yet sampled my work, this is a good time to try a variety for free.

As we come into the final three months of the year it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have three WIP. Two of the new stories are thrillers, Czech Mate, and  Codename: Nightshade. The third is erotica, Curious and Camping. All three books will be published in 2018.

Thank you for taking the time to read my words and taking an interest.

***

Elementary to Erotica – my journey so far

Kindle Edition Normalised Pages - Sept.

Like the Kindle Edition Normalised Pages, writing is a life of peaks and troughs

I am always keen to learn about a fellow author’s route, from those tentative steps of composing a first piece of work, to first publication and beyond. Irrespective of age, or experience, the early days are the most difficult, as they are with most ventures.

An introIt’s good for a writer’s morale to take stock occasionally, but publicly like this. It’s also self-marketing, but we can’t hide our light under a bushel, because therein lies obscurity.

My story may not be awe-inspiring, but I’ve reached another stage with my latest release.

Now is a good time for me to take a look back.

*

In 1992, following a military career of 23 years, I next took up retail management, which I did for 20 years. In the mid-90’s I started to write my military memoirs. It took over two years and the writing was abysmal. I abandoned the memoirs, and over the next few years I wrote short stories for my own amusement, not knowing anything of the required discipline.

In 2007 I wrote a rhyme whilst on a coffee break. A colleague told me I should join an online poetry site. I did and I wrote 700+ poems in three years, but felt the need to do something more.Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2

I read short stories and books on how to write them, whilst I practised. I took out a subscription to a national writing magazine. In 2010 I won a competition and had my story included in an anthology. Poetry was left behind, as I spent every available minute producing ideas to create short stories.

I joined a website and a local writing group and learned much from having my work critiqued. I’d long had a yearning to write a novel, but felt it was beyond me. My first novel was inspired by a fellow poet on the other side of the world. We’d reviewed each other’s poetry and kept in touch. I’m delighted to say that our friendship has remained firm and we continue to support each other.

Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904In December 2012 I published ‘Ten Days in Panama’, a romance-based thriller. I knew it wasn’t great, but I had introduced aspects of the thriller, and I knew I had to write something more exciting. It was a steep learning curve, just as it had been with short stories. I used the manuscript ‘rest’ periods as a time to continue writing short stories.

In October 2013 I published ‘Beyond The Law’, a crime thriller about a vigilante in Glasgow. During breaks from my novels, I honed my 12 best short stories to create an anthology. In May 2014 I published ‘Smoke & Mirrors and other short stories’.912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_

When I read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ I was disappointed in the content. I got the impression that the author had a good idea, but minimal knowledge of her subject. I am amazed at the success of that series.

I had experimented with writing erotic stories, but they’d never been seen. I thought back over my life experiences and decided I had the knowledge and imagination to adapt them and create a variety of scenarios. In June 2014 I published my second short story anthology ‘Coming Around and other erotic stories’.

Amsterdam Calling - the cover 260714My work on thrillers continued. In July 2014 I published ‘Amsterdam Calling’, a psychological thriller. Since moving on from poetry, my practice had been to work on more than one project simultaneously, so my next book was at an advanced stage.

I published ‘A Taste of Honey’ in December 2014. It was another vigilante story, but this time about a rogue female detective – in the US.

From late 2014 into early 2015 I had a handful of private messages asking if I’d ever considered writing an erotic novel. These were not random queries, but from folk who had read my erotic anthology. Just as I had with my poetry a few years before, I sensed a challenge, but once again, a challenge I relished.A Taste of Honey

In September 2015, I completed the final draft of ‘Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica’. It has sold almost daily since publication.

Give and Take - the final coverIf my first attempt at an erotic novel receives positive reviews, I will be happy to produce a sequel. It has two reviews already.

Whether or not I find success in the world of erotica I’ll continue to write thrillers, but there is escape in writing contrasting genre.

I would suggest to any writer who feels the urge to try a new genre – do it. Don’t let anybody hold you back with their opinions. You owe it to yourself – and your readers.

In November 2015 I aim to publish ‘Acts of Vengeance’, the sequel to ‘Beyond The Law’.Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

One of the greatest things we can all do as indie authors is to support our peers. Try to read other indie authors, and provide reviews. Make an effort to read widely in genre – it really does pay dividends.

Another good idea is to do as I’ve done here, and produce an occasional update on progress. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written one book so far, let people know you are out there.

As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Feedback is always welcome.

***

A Taste of Honey – published

atasteofhoney(1)Having already produced three novels and two collections of short stories, I’ve learned that it takes several drafts and many days and months of work to produce something close to a good story. That is vital to me.

I believe that the most important thing I’ve learned has come from reviews of my work. Judging from sales figures and comments I started to appreciate where my audience wanted to be taken.

In my novel writing, I started with Ten Days in Panama (a romance-based thriller). Next I tried more action with Beyond The Law (a crime-based thriller). My third project was experimental. I aimed to tie together a travel guide and story in Amsterdam Calling (a psychological thriller).

Each of my forays into the thriller genre have led to me tackling different sub-categories and this next one is different again.

A Taste of Honey is essentially a one-woman fight against evil. The evil in question consists of more than one perpetrator, so the heroine has to stay one step ahead of the law. Anyone who has read my novels or short stories will be acquainted with my style and desire to see justice.

Honey dishes out that justice in spades.

The story is set in the USA so it is no accident that I’ve spent many hours attempting to dig out the British English and replace it with a language that our American cousins would feel more at home reading. I don’t believe the reading experience is spoiled for the British reader, but I’ve no doubt I’ll find out soon enough.

From idea to publication has taken four months, so has that time scale created any issues?

It has created issues, if I was to say that I’ve hardly been near this blog, or anybody else’s blog. I devoted my time, day and night to this story. The final version is the sixth draft although I feel sure that I could have spent more time and refined it further. There comes a point when we have to say, okay the job is done.

If you do decide to try my latest novel, please consider leaving a review. I’ve taken the precaution of giving the story the option of a sequel, but a sequel will be dependent on how Honey’s introduction goes with readers.

In 2015 I will be producing a sequel to Beyond The Law.
I am now going to catch up with some blogs before I settle down to my next story. As always, thank you for reading and remember, comments are always welcome.

A Taste of Honey – an update

atasteofhoney(1)In July 2014 my author website went live. I had three novels to promote on there, plus two books of short stories and five books of poetry.

It was the first week in August 2014 when I first came up with the idea for my next story, so I made some simple notes in my trusty notebook.

What did I write as the basis for the new book?
Vigilante, young female, NYPD, trigger – family connection, short time scale, fast pace, outside influence.

Okay, so that wasn’t much to go on, but as any writer would agree; it was enough.

The mention of outside influence was essentially because I was asking for ideas from anybody to keep the story going after the first chapter. There wasn’t much of a response on the ideas side of things, but I did have suggestions from several people that I should go it alone to maintain my writer’s ‘voice’.

I gave myself an estimated publishing date of mid-December 2014.

Why so tight on time?
I know I feel more of an incentive, so work more efficiently when under pressure. I completed the first draft six weeks later.

*

It is now 16 weeks since I started and I’ve completed the fourth draft. I’ve just finished editing my latest printed copy of the manuscript and gone back to the screen to make my amendments – again.

For a couple of days, I’ll be working through the whole file to check punctuation, grammar and suchlike. One minor issue I’ve created for myself is that this novel is Americanized. The story, characters, and locations are American, so why would the spelling and phraseology be any different? I particularly want it to appeal to the people who live where the story is set.

The file will rest for a week before I complete final checks.
Towards the end of the first week of December I’ll print the manuscript and read it again.

Monday 8th December I’m aiming to publish my new creation, ‘A Taste of Honey’.

The first five chapters are now updated on my blog as a taster.
Thank you as always for being patient with my absence from the blogging community, and thank you for reading.
Any comments are welcome as always.

A Taste of Honey – 1st draft completed

women_sexy_lip_picture_1_167906[1]

 

Okay, so things didn’t go exactly according to plan, but I’m happy with the result so far.

What was the plan?

My intention was to create a new character for a thriller, but invite input from anybody that wanted to put in ideas, for any aspect of the story. As with many things in life, it didn’t work out according to plan.

What went wrong?

I prepared and published an opening scene to try to inspire some ideas. Within a few days I had several contacts saying that folk liked the theory of it, and would like to take part. To cut a long story short, I got one concrete idea from somebody and a character name. I’ve used the character name, but the intention for the plot was too far off the mark. The only suggestion was good, but aimed at an international story. The research would have taken me until this time next year.

What went right?

I had my intro and a skeleton of a synopsis, but after several days of no feedback I set about inventing some more characters and started writing. By the time I’d written the close of the first chapter I knew where I was going and I’d discovered the pace at which to move the story forward.

I had responses from four people (fellow writers), who suggested I should go my own way to maintain my ‘voice’ throughout the story. If nothing else inspired me, then that certainly did and to come from more than one person was incredible for my confidence.

Where are we now?

1.  In a little over six weeks I’ve written the first draft of the entire novel.

2.  The first five chapters appear in this blog, still only at first draft. I have a lot of work to do.

3.  I’ve already decided that there will be a sequel and have a working title.

4.  There is a high possibility that in the sequel, certain characters from this new story will intermesh with the characters of the sequel to Beyond The Law.

5.  I’m now leaving A Taste of Honey to settle for two weeks while I work on other projects, and then in mid-October I plan to start work on the second draft.

Is there a proposed publication date?

If I can work to my usual schedule and everything falls into place – mid-December 2014.

On that happy note, I’m now off to spend some time on the other novel that I have under construction, A Life of Choice.

Thank you for dropping by.

A Taste of Honey – an overview

atasteofhoney(1)Have you ever read a book and thought you had a good idea for a scene?

Perhaps you’re not a writer, but you would like to suggest an idea.

Please read on.

The plot.

On 14th June 2003, Kimberley Forest, a NYPD police officer is awakened by the buzz of her cell phone. She reaches out from bed and sees that the caller is her teenage sister.

When the off-duty officer listens to the call, she hears only a conversation between two men.

In less than an hour, Kimberley is armed and driving 700 miles to the family home in Greensburg, Indiana.

Her life has been changed, and she is intent on changing a few others.

 ***

The project.

My intention is to write a novel under the aforementioned title, but it might be a novel with a difference. I have already started working on the main character’s bio, so we are getting better acquainted with every day that passes.

Chapter 1 is posted on this blog and I’m working on the first draft of the next two chapters. The opening passage is posted on my author website on the Projects page. The ‘intro’ will remain there for one month.

I would like comments and if they feel the urge, visitors may offer suggestions for scenarios that the character might be involved in at some point in the story.

I will post chapters here and mention it on my author website. From day one, there will be an open invitation for readers of this blog, my creative writer and artist site, or my author website to get in touch with ideas.

You don’t have to be a writer to put forward an idea, and you don’t have to ‘write’ the passage – simply send me an outline. Should any good suggestions be forthcoming, I will not be trying to work them immediately, but I will make every effort to get them in. As and when an idea is used I will credit the author.

I’d like to produce a completed novel at the end of the project, so it might take many months. When the story is complete I will remove the chapters for editing and rewriting. At such time as the manuscript is complete, I will be accrediting all who have taken part with a brief explanation to the reader in the preface about what we have accomplished together.

If you have any early comments on my idea or the process, please leave a comment here on my blog, on my creative writer and artist site, or on my author website.

Up to the first five chapters will be available to read in their first draft on this blog.

Tom

J … is for Jacket

J[1]  is for jacket.

The jacket of a paperback book is the outer covering, and on a hardback; it is the loose cover around the actual book.

An eBook does not by the nature of its publication have a physical jacket, but it must have the pertinent information found on traditional books. This is known as the ‘blurb’, or jacket blurb. It is that aspect of the jacket that I’ll look at today.

The blurb on the jacket is a follow up to the title and front cover. Just as those two items are important in attracting a reader’s attention, so too is the jacket blurb. On a physical book it will be on the back, but for an eBook, it appears on the screen, usually slightly further down than the cover graphic.

What should be included on the jacket information?

On physical books, on the front, we will have a title, perhaps a sub-title, author’s name, and a graphic of some description. On the spine we would expect to see; title, author’s name, publisher, and perhaps a miniaturised graphic. On the back cover we would find the jacket blurb, a price and a barcode. On occasion the graphic may be continued around the entire jacket, including the spine.

How much information will we find within the jacket blurb?

This depends on a variety of things. Publishers will have guidelines. The story will have one or more key characters and a plot to describe. The key is to give enough to interest a reader, but not tell them the entire story in brief. I aim for between 100 – 150 words. That may not sound like much, but any more than 150 words feels long when it’s being perused.

Rather than include my own jacket blurbs here, I will provide links, and then you my dear readers may, if you wish; check them out. My romance, “Ten Days in Panama” contains 158 words of jacket blurb. My thriller, ‘Beyond The Law’, contains 97 words of jacket blurb.

I’m about to head out on my blog patrol, but before I go, I’d like to thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on … ‘K’

10 Days in Panama – 1,100 + downloads so far

I revamped the story, redesigned the front cover and relaunched the book on Amazon / Kindle two weeks ago on a five-day FREE promotion.

So far there have been 100 downloads across the UK and 1000 downloads Worldwide. 

If you are one of those good people – I thank you!

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

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

I have two reviews within the front cover, which was part of the relaunch and I’ve already had a positive review from a new reader. That person will be posting their review on Amazon within the next day or two. Reviews, and in particular positive ones, are the lifeblood of a book and it’s author. I would be grateful if having taken the time to read my work, you could then write a short comment on the book’s Amazon page, either on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk 

My next novel is a thriller set in Glasgow and Western Scotland. I’ve completed the first draft and the rewriting is well underway. I’ll be happy to send an excerpt to any reader who reviews ’10 Days in Panama’

Minimum prices I can use are: £1.95 and equivlent U.S. $2.99

Link to ’10 Days in Panama’ on Amazon / Kindle:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/10-Days-in-Panama-ebook/dp/B00C8WN3NY/ref=la_B00C9HTUTY_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366208592&sr=1-1

Ten Days

It took eleven months, four drafts and a little help, but it’s out there. 

‘Ten Days’, my romantic thriller is published on Smashwords.  According to all I’ve heard, the hard work starts now – the marketing.  Well, I’ve been in retail for 20 years so I must have learned something about marketing.

I published this morning and since then I’ve networked with several folk on Facebook and sent out a message on Twitter, which will be amended and retweeted over the next week or two, just in case it is missed by anyone.  I’ve sent out links for the 20% sample to a few people and I have a few more to add to that list.

Perhaps a little unique, but I’ve also written a poem with a flavour of the main characters.  I’ll post that on The Starlite Cafe site when I’ve tidied up the lines a little more.  For now I’ll have my front cover on here and this brief post.  Now I’ll have to get back to my big push.

What’s next?  Tomorrow I’ll be formatting the manuscript for publication on Amazon/Kindle.

A link?  Of course: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/257906

Please check it out, or better still, buy it!  As Arnie said, ‘I’ll be back!’