Thursday, March 13, 2014

The 9th Spider Shepherd Short Story

I've just self-published the 9th Spider Shepherd short story - Personal Protection - in which Spider, still in the SAS, is tasked with protecting a Middle Eastern ruler whose life is under threat.

You can buy Personal Protection on the Kindle  BY CLICKING HERE

There are now nine Spider Shepherd short stories, more than 120,000 words in total, so I'm going to look into the possibility of having them published as a paperback.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

White Lies - Off To The Editor

Well, White Lies, the 11th Spider Shepherd novel, is off to the line editor.  My editor at Hodder and Stoughton, Oliver Johnson, who also edits John Grisham in the UK, gave me his input and there wasn't much to do - about three hours' worth of rewriting.  Three hours?  Yup, that's how long it took to get from the first draft to the final draft.

I always smile when I hear writers talk about the weeks they spend polishing and rewriting their books.  I've never worked like that.  I rewrite as I go along, so if I write a paragraph that I'm not 100 per cent happy with, I delete it.  If I'm not happy with a description I change it, and I rewrite all my dialogue as I go along, after reading it out loud. Generally my first drafts are pretty much complete. Rarely do I have to make any changes to the structure of the plot, for instance.

My journalistic background is a big help. When you work on newspapers like The Times and The Daly Mail, the news desk expects you to deliver your copy on time and ready to go. There isn't time to edit and polish, a reporter who doesn't get it right the first time won't last long. When you deliver a story to a national newspaper the facts need to be right and the writing has to flow. Yes there are sub-editors, but if your copy isn't good enough they will soon let you know.  I always prided myself on being fast and accurate when I was a reporter, and that has carried over to my fiction writing.

Writing shouldn't be like pulling teeth, and getting your work ready for publication needn't be a struggle.  Some writers say that once the first draft is done, the hard work really begins. And I get what they mean, I just think it's a very wasteful way of writing. I know some writers who throw away half of what they've written between the first draft and the second draft, and another big chunk between the second and third draft. That seems to me to be very inefficient. Far better to maintain quality control as you work and if you see something you're not completely happy with, don't be afraid to use the delete button.  I always think it's far better to produce 200 words that are close to perfect than 2,000 words that are going to require hours of rewriting. Having said that, as a writer you have to choose what works best for you.

So what's next for me?  I have another Spider Shepherd short story I want to write, and a couple of Jack Nightingale short stories. I already have a rough plot for the 12th Spider Shepherd book.  But I also have a really neat idea for a totally different sort of thriller, one that I'm pretty sure hasn't been done before. I'm keeping that one close to my chest, but I've already started on the research and I'm pretty sure it's going to be amazing!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The New Spider Shepherd Short Story

I've just self-published the new Spider Shepherd short story. It's called Narrow Escape and is set at the time Spider was on SAS Selection - in particular on the Escape and Evasion part of the course. It's generally regarded as the toughest part of the SAS Selection process, but as Spider progresses through it he realises that all is not as it should be, and that his life is truly on the line.

You can buy Narrow Escape BY CLICKING HERE

I have another Spider Shepherd short story planned - I shall keep you posted! It will be the ninth at which point I hope to publish them in a paperback. The series of short stories take Spider from his time on SAS selection, through missions in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, and end with the episode where he got shot.  I had great fun writing them and will probably do more in the future!  Spider was in Sarajevo before he joined the SAS and I think there is a good story to be told about his time in the former Yugoslavia. We'll see!

The 11th Spider Shepherd book

Whew, I've just finished writing White Lies - the 11th Spider Shepherd novel. It came in at about 108,000 words, which is about 400 pages and a good length for a thriller.

I had a blast writing it and don't think it will need much in the way of editing.  We'll see!

Unusually, the cover isn't ready. Publication is set for the first week in August so I'm expecting the cover sooner rather than later!

In the meantime, I'm working on two more Spider Shepherd short stories - Narrow Escape and Personal Protection. Watch this space!