You will be hearing more from me about Tom Benson in the next few weeks as he’s putting a book of short stories together and he’s included one of mine.
I don’t think this is Tom’s first guest post, as we have been virtual friends for years and it’s thanks to him I have a web site. He helped me so much in the early days.
Soldier, Retailer, Author
Saying that you spend your time telling tales is akin to admitting you have an illness.
“Hello … my name is Tom … and I’m a … writer.”
Yes, it isn’t easy to be open at first, but when a writer’s work earns a few great reviews, it lends legitimacy. No longer are you one of those strange creatures who spend their time living in another world. You are an author, envied by others. You’re earning money from months of toil—perhaps not a lot, but for authors like me, the real reward is knowing from the positive feedback that you have entertained.
There is a widespread notion that writing is an exclusive, even exotic activity. Still, like many things, you can join the club if you’re prepared to put in the time and effort to learn your craft, plus, of course, accept criticism of, as well as credit for your work.
Consider a cake with elaborate decorations. Anyone can gather ingredients and lay them out on a clean surface. It’s the choices of quantity, how those items are blended, and how the mixture is processed, which creates the basic cake. Only with the foundation can the decoration be added; the edible ingredients with which will make it appealing.
Whether it be a short story or novel, there is a sense of fulfillment when you start with a blank screen and with god-like power, create a world from imagination. It must be a believable world with characters, dialogue, and imagery, supported by narrative, a plot, and subplots.
An author can make a book sound exotic. Among my published titles are Ten Days in Panama and Amsterdam Calling.
Continuing with international intrigue, one of my next books will be Czech Mate. In crime thrillers, I can offer such titles as A Taste of Honey set in the USA, or the Beyond The Law trilogy set mainly in Scotland.
I left Glasgow in 1969 aged seventeen and headed to England to join the British Army. While in training, I thought it might well be a short career. During the next twenty-three years, I patrolled streets in Belfast, manned a helicopter-borne camera over Londonderry, and operated a radio in the military train travelling through East Germany from West Berlin. I worked radios all over West Germany, trained young recruits in the UK, and served throughout the first Gulf War.
At the age of forty, I tackled fresh challenges when I became a retail manager. After six months of training, once again, I was in a uniform. I wore a badge and had a team of people who, sometimes with a bit of gentle persuasion performed as I asked.
I changed jobs a few times, going from food and supermarkets to car accessories and then on to stationery which is where I finally settled. Pens, pencils, paper, binders, staplers, punches, printers, laminators and much more besides and I was happy at work for the first time in a long time. As an artist and calligrapher, I was at home. After gaining experience, I spent five years roaming around the UK. I opened new stores and closed failing stores. I had responsibility for hiring, firing, training, disciplining and developing staff, so I enjoyed my second career, which lasted twenty-five years.
I’d always enjoyed reading, and while still in retail, my thoughts turned to a personal dream—to write a book. I’d tried to produce my military memoirs back in the mid-90s, but the writing was awful. By 2010, having read a lot more, I figured I was ready to try creative writing again. I first read several textbooks on the subject.
My poetry online got lots of good reviews. I moved on to short stories and won prizes, both national and international. My first novel was a crime thriller, but the literary creativity was like a drug, I had a burning desire to write for hours every day, at every opportunity.
It was several years and a few books down the line when I revisited those military memories of mine, and I tried again. I describe the tale as fact-based-fiction, but A Life of Choice is a five-ebook series based on my military career. In effect, I researched it over many years but wrote about it only when I had earned my stripes in writing. The story is my top-selling title.
My latest experiment isn’t doing too badly, my post-apocalyptic survival story Light at The End. Thanks to some great feedback, it’s now the first book in a trilogy.
Perhaps I’m biased in believing that to write convincingly you must have experienced highs and lows in life. I always gave my best effort as a soldier and retailer. I still do.
Now is a great time to pick up one of Tom’s books as he’s reduced them all to $/£0.99 during the Covid crisis – links below:
Thank you, Tom.
If you would like to be a guest on my blog, post in the comments below, or drop me a message on Facebook.