Codename: Nightshade – available

 

A standalone crime thriller produced as a result of the Beyond The Law trilogy.

Yes, we authors can write what we ‘know’, or what we enjoy but at the end of the process, the result must be entertaining. For some authors the task of producing a standalone crime thriller might not sound too daunting, after all, what do you need apart from time (two years in this case), imagination and research where required?

I reread the Beyond The Law trilogy from beginning to end in a week. Yes, I wrote the books, but I still made copious notes. The cast includes friends, allies, enemies and a handful of neutrals, but the body count is important—we can’t have dead people coming back if it isn’t that type of tale.

 

Dare I say, I enjoyed the trilogy and felt justified in the character I singled out for the spotlight.

Rachel Donoghue rapidly developed from being a vehicle thief to covert operative and had the desire to continue improving her skills. In Codename: Nightshade, Rachel proves that not only has she improved as an operative she has leadership skills to offer.

Of course, besides all of those things, she is first and foremost an effective vigilante.

There is no requirement to have read the Beyond The Law trilogy before reading the new story, but perhaps you will afterwards. The original trilogy is available as a box set, therefore saving you money, and allowing the download of three books in one.

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Codename: Nightshade

Amazon Preview/Buy

BookLinker Universal

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One step beyond … Beyond The Law

 

Originality is relatively easy when an author is working on a single title. When the title/premise goes to a second, third or more, the idea must be examined closely to see how far it can be taken without repetition.

Certain sub-genres can run for several books and if the author is careful and inventive the fictional world will remain exciting to the reader. This must be paramount in the mindset of the creator of the work. Reader satisfaction is everything.

Beyond The Law: Formation was published in 2013, Beyond The Law: Retribution in 2015, and Beyond The Law: Consequences in 2017. In terms of timing, I’d be on target now to produce the next if it were an ongoing series.

I have no worries about a continuing story, but I enjoy stretching my writing creativity in different directions, which is why I ended the Beyond The Law (BTL) idea and proclaimed it a trilogy.

As a reader and a writer, certain characters lend themselves to the spotlight and become favourites. For me as an author, one such character is Rachel Donoghue. When the BTL trilogy ended, the door was left open for several characters to make another appearance. Rachel was crying out to be given a standalone adventure. From this premise was born Codename: NightshadeRachel’s antics will provide continuity, closure in certain areas, and further entertainment for those who have enjoyed the BTL trilogy.

As a precursor and to get me in the right frame of mind I recently reread and made several edits to each book of the BTL trilogy. Plot and detail were not affected, but some dialogue and narrative were tightened to improve the reading experience.

In the new story, a few names from the past from both sides of the law will show up, combined with new good guys, and new bad guys. This will not be a fourth BTL story, but by its nature, it will lean in that direction. The key aspect of the tale for me is to highlight an individual character.

The first five chapters of Codename: Nightshade all appear in my Work in Progress menu. They’re not the finished article, but they give a flavour of how this individual character will demonstrate her skills and how much promise she has as a central protagonist. As an author, I’m thoroughly enjoying expanding my notes and ideas, many of which have been made over the past year. For me, Rachel is already real, and out there doing her best … to the worst.

I aim to produce the book in June 2019, which means that by May I hope to be asking for beta readers to help refine the tale.

In the meantime, thank you for reading and in particular, thank you to the followers of the BTL story. I have to go now … gangsters, guns and a girl are waiting for me. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 – 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.

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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

A long and winding road

I published my crime thriller ‘Beyond The Law’ in early October right on schedule, which was good because the next day I headed to the Scottish HIghlands to chill out for a week – and it’s easy to ‘chill out’ in the Highlands in October.

The road through the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands

The road through the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands

My novel tells the story of Phil McKenzie, an exSAS soldier who is framed for an assassination. He returns to his hometown, Glasgow – as Hawk, a vigilante. He then recruits a small team and tackles organised crime head on.

As usual I aim to link my graphic with my post and this one is no different. What is the relevance of the picture? Just like the road through the Cairngorms from Braemar to Blairgowrie, I faced many twists and turns with my novel.

It was a long road with my hero being brought to life in a poem in May 2008. My character ‘Hawk’ attracted interest and good reviews, so the poem became a series of 35 poems. In November 2011, Hawk became a novel written in 30 straight days during my first attempt at the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

During 2012 I started a serious rewrite with various working titles, the favourite being,  ‘Hawk – A Vigilante’. On completion I left it aside for about six months before revisiting the manuscript. When I started work on it again early this year I set myself a target date for completion of late September/early October.

I’m delighted to say I met my deadline. I set it up for a one-day Free promotion on Amazon on Saturday, 12th October and I’m pleased to say it was downloaded over 100 times and sold 5 copies. Interested readers came from UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Italy and India. Now I have to hope that the story works for all those people.

My aim for this week is to relax and paint some scenes from my recent Scottish holiday. Where did I stay? I rented ‘Treasure Island Cottage’ in Braemar – so called, because it’s where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote part of the famous book, ‘Treasure Island’.

Thank you for reading – I’ll be back soon with news of my new romance novel, set in Amsterdam.

Link to ‘Beyond The Law’ on Amazon.co.uk

Link to ‘Beyond The Law’ on Amazon.com

Beyond The Law

Design by Andrew Benson (my son).

Cover design by Andrew Benson.

The first five chapters of ‘Beyond The Law’, my crime thriller are posted on my blog. Why not give them a read and see what you think.

Here’s an overview of the story:

In January 1996, Phil McKenzie leads his Special Air Service team on a secret mission into Kentobi, Africa.

An assassin codenamed ‘Chameleon’ kills the Kentobi president, but it’s Phil who is framed for murder. To appease the authorities he agrees to a brief secondment with the Metropolitan Police and then discharge from the Army.

During his short attachment to the ‘Met’, he sees how the hands of the authorities are tied. It reminds him that the teenager who murdered his parents in 1977 was never caught to face justice.      

Phil returns to his hometown in July 1996 as Hawk, a vigilante. The term ‘deniable ops’, finds new meaning as Phil tackles Glasgow’s underworld.

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The e-book is available on Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=beyond+the+law

and on Amazon.co.ukhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-The-Law-ebook/dp/B00FMZ7LQ4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381043818&sr=1-1&keywords=beyond+the+law

At less than $3.10 / £2.00 – it’s worth a look …

If you don’t have an e-reader, Try this link: Free Kindle App for Laptop, PC and Tablet

I’ll be back in a few days with an update, but for now I need a rest. Enjoy and please feel free to give leave feedback here or on my website at: www.tom-benson.co.uk

Easier on the eye?

Is Bradley to your taste?

Is Bradley to your taste?

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

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

Does Liz ease your eye strain?

Does Liz ease your eye strain?

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

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

Why not have a look?

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

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

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

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

NaNoWriMo

It takes effort but if a task is worth doing ...

My featured graphic is an acrylic depicting a bistro.  I completed the painting for a young couple I know.  It was to celebrate their first anniversary and moving into their first home.   I feel it fits my theme for this post of new beginnings.

The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is almost upon us.  It takes place throughout November.  It’s been running for a couple of years now and very successful it is too.  So what’s so different this year?  I’ve decided to take the plunge … and I’ve already registered.  I enjoy a challenge and in particular one with a deadline, mainly because it gives more focus to the task in hand.  After all, how hard can it be to write a complete novel in a month?  Okay, I’m joking!

From what I’ve read about the whole ‘Nano‘ thing it’s accepted at the outset that the vast majority of entrants will have masses of issues with typos, dialogue, grammar etc., So what’s the point?  The point as far as I can see is that accepting the challenge enables an individual to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words in a month – that’s 1,667 words per day if you’re not quick on mental arithmetic.  As mentioned previously, it will be ‘warts and all’, but the point is, it could be the foundation of a proper, stand alone book or first of a series.

I was reminded of the ‘Nano‘ as I read my friend Chloe’s blog recently.  It’s one of those things, like perhaps a marathon (yeah, done that), a person feels it’s their turn to tackle it.  Only minutes after deciding I would take it on I flicked through some of the poetry series’ I’ve written over the last couple of years.  The winner, if I can call him that is my character ‘The Hawk’.

My name on the ‘Nano‘ site will be, ‘Tom Benson – Writer and Storyteller’.    My novel for the purpose of the ‘Nano‘ will be called, ‘HAWK‘.

Phil McKenzie is an ex- SAS soldier who leaves the military because he’s become disillusioned by his military and political leaders’ decisions.  Within days of becoming a ‘civvy’ once again he witnesses so much criminality on the British streets that he feels an overwhelming desire to redress the situation on behalf of the victims.  ‘Hawk’ is the name adopted by Phil, a modern, self-styled and capable vigilante.

What makes me think I’m capable of this mammoth task?  Self belief for one thing and a strong desire to succeed, which as long as I don’t run out of coffee I’m sure I will.  ‘How about a plot line?’ I hear nobody in particular asking.  Within my poetry I have a mini-series I wrote called, ‘The Hawk’.  I intended it to be two or perhaps three episodes to experiment with the idea of series poetry.  ‘The Hawk’ gained popularity on ‘Starlite Cafe’ where my poems are posted under the pen-name Tomfoollery.  Hawk’s antics continued for 35 poems.  My intention is to draw from the episodes written in verse.

I’m already bubbling with enthusiasm and making notes for twists and turns in the adventures of ‘HAWK’.  It means that I will only have one short story ongoing, but that will have to be shelved until after this endeavor.  I want to totally immerse myself in this new venture.  If I find the time after today and throughout November I will make an effort to update my progress here.