Showing posts from December, 2018

Writing an action packed start, part 3

In another universe, our hero, or a fool, depending on what you think of him jumping out of a moving helicopter, is languishing in the sand. Lying there, afraid to move, I honestly believed that was just the stupidest thing I'd ever done. Aside from the fact I could see we were about to be blown to kingdom come by a rocket, I had that split second to decide if I wanted to be incinerated, or in possession of 206 broken bones. I guess I was assuming I'd survive the landing.  After all the helicopter was only about twenty to thirty feet above the ground and not moving very fast, in fact, it was slowing, and turning away, when the pilot saw the rocket launcher. I could hear the crackling of fire not far from me, a result of the helicopter hitting the ground.  It wasn't a large explosion, and certainly not accompanied by a hail of red-hot metal parts. Not yet. I moved and it hurt.  Understandable.  But there didn't seem to be any broken bones, which was nothin

Writing an action packed start, part 2

I started thinking about the helicopter episode again. I think it had to do with the aches and pains I acquired spending an hour out in the garden trying to defeat the weeds and failing. How did I get in that helicopter? It's like watching an episode of some series or other where you see the main character trapped in an exploding car, and right after the starting credits, it says 'two days earlier'. So, two days earlier, Someone once told me it was not a good idea to ask your commander out to dinner.  Not a date, just the fact you'd like to get to know her better. Yes, my commanding officer was a woman. I thought the dinner went well, we found some common ground, ice hockey, and baseball, albeit barracking for different teams.  Then, the next day when I went into 'the office', the operations officer called me aside. "Who'd did you piss off?" Good question, had I, and who? And asked, "Who?" "The Commanding Off

Writing an action packed start, part 1

It's late at night and I just watched the start of a James Bond movie. Not the sort of thing to be doing just before going to bed.  I watched the start, typically one of the best parts of the film, and then turned it off. Then, while trying to switch my mind off so that I could get some sleep, it started running a hundred different scenarios that I might use in a story. The catchy start, the sort that drags the reader into the book with a bang, high action, with bullets, grenades, a rocket launcher, maybe, a car or a helicopter chase, and a lot of death and mayhem. Soldiers would tell you this is a typical day in a war zone, with real people, and innocent people as casualties. Certain police forces would tell you this is what it's like going up against drug cartels and organized crime. Spy stories always make good reading and sometimes better movies because it is not something er, on average, equate with reality.  We have a hero, we have innocent people being saved,

Being Inspired, Maybe - 30

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance: And, then, the words: There were eleven stormtroopers and eight on Johansson’s group. One of those would be in the communications center, leaving, at worst, eighteen men out looking for me. I also assumed that Jackerby would approach the search in much the same manner as I would, the men in pairs because if they were alone he knew that I would have the advantage. Four pairs would be inside, doing a room to room search, from the top down. Five would be outside, one group in the center, one group at each of the corners, all working the perimeter, all in constant communication with each other. In normal circumstances, I would be caught. These were not normal circumstances. Jack padded his way just ahead of me, stopping every few yards and both sniffing and listening.  At a junction he would stop, waiting, then make a decision which way to go. I had to trust his instincts. Just ahead of me

Being Inspired, Maybe - 29

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance: And, then, the words: "There are two ways out of the town, the road and the river." "You mean there's three.  We could go overland too."  I was assuming that Henry had just omitted the most obvious for the most expedient. "There are two that may be possible, not three.  Go by land, you have to navigate the land mines.  Go by the river, and you have to hope the patrol vessel is somewhere else, and by road, they'll have roadblocks set up and nothing as small as a mouse will get through." "You're not exactly filling me with inspiration." "Just telling you how it is.  It ain't going to be easy.  If it was, everyone would have left by now." "How many have tried?" "Eight." "How many have made it?" "None."  He let that sink in before adding, "but you and I are going to change that."

Being Inspired, maybe - 28

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance: And, then, the words: "You have got the guards set up on the back wall," I asked Jackerby, the officer in charge of the rearguards. "Can you see them?" he said in a tone that dripped sarcasm. I didn't like Jackerby, he seemed far too sure of himself and his men, and so far, we hadn't had to rely on them. But that time was coming, and sooner than any of us wanted to believe. "No." "Then no one else will either.  Trust me, no one will be coming over the back wall.  I'll be in the command post, and it has a clear view of anything coming." "Excellent," I said, trying to sound more confident that I felt. Jackerby was Johannson's man.  He had recruited him, in circumstances that seemed a little too coincidental for my liking.  Johannson was too easy going for me, and although he had not made a mistake, yet, I felt sure one was goi

"One Last Look", things are never what they appear to be

Image A single event can have enormous consequences. A single event driven by fate, after Ben told his wife Charlotte he would be late home one night, he left early, and by chance discovers his wife having dinner in their favorite restaurant with another man. A single event where it could be said Ben was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who was this man?  Why was she having dinner with him? A simple truth to explain the single event was all Ben required.  Instead, Charlotte told him a lie. A single event that forces Ben to question everything he thought he knew about his wife, and the people who are around her. After a near death experience and forced retirement into a world he is unfamiliar with, Ben finds himself once again drawn back into that life of lies, violence, and intrigue. From London to a small village in Tuscany, little by little Ben discovers who the woman he married is, and the real reason why fate had brought them together.

"What Sets Us Apart", a mystery with a twist

Image David is a man troubled by a past he is trying to forget. Susan is rebelling against a life of privilege and an exasperated mother who holds a secret that will determine her daughter's destiny. They are two people brought together by chance. Or was it? When Susan discovers her mother's secret, she goes in search of the truth that has been hidden from her since the day she was born. When David realizes her absence is more than the usual cooling off after another heated argument, he finds himself being slowly drawn back into his former world of deceit and lies. Then, back with his former employers, David quickly discovers nothing is what it seems as he embarks on a dangerous mission to find Susan before he loses her forever.

The story behind the story - "Echoes from the Past"

Image The novel 'Echoes from the past' started out as a short story I wrote about 30 years ago, titled 'The birthday'. My idea was to take a normal person out of their comfort zone and led on a short but very frightening journey to a place where a surprise birthday party had been arranged. Thus the very large man with a scar and a red tie was created. So was the friend with the limousine who worked as a pilot. So were the two women, Wendy and Angelina, who were Flight Attendants that the pilot friend asked to join the conspiracy. I was going to rework the short story, then about ten pages long, into something a little more. And like all re-writes, especially those I have anything to do with, it turned into a novel. There was motivation.  I had told some colleagues at the place where I worked at the time that I liked writing, and they wanted a sample.  I was going to give them the re-worked short story.  Instead, I gave them 'Echoes fr

Being inspired, maybe – 27

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance: And, then, the words: We'd come on a holiday to get away from the pressures at home, but it seemed no matter how far away we were, they were still simmering below the surface. It was my idea to come to Italy, and in particular, Tuscany.  Monique was neutral, but she had intimated she wanted to go to Paris to visit her relatives, and this had been planned for the next week. Now, the fourth day of seven in Italy, she was getting restless, and irritable. We'd been to a winery, had a magnificent lunch, and we were heading towards Arezzo. The tour guide had pulled the minibus off the main road and into a layby where we could, he said, get a better view of the 'Ponte Buriano'. Monique was not interested in Ponte's, bridges, in Italian, English or any other language. I shrugged and got off the bus with everyone else.  She remained seated, defiant. In his rather quaint English,

"Sunday in New York", it's a bumpy road to love

Image "Sunday in New York" is ultimately a story about trust, and what happens when a marriage is stretched to its limits. When Harry Steele attends a lunch with his manager, Barclay, to discuss a promotion that any junior executive would accept in a heartbeat, it is the fact his wife, Alison, who previously professed her reservations about Barclay, also agreed to attend, that casts a small element of doubt in his mind. From that moment, his life, in the company, in deciding what to do, his marriage, his very life, spirals out of control. There is no one big factor that can prove Harry's worst fears, that his marriage is over, just a number of small, interconnecting events, when piled on top of each other, points to a cataclysmic end to everything he had believed in. Trust is lost firstly in his best friend and mentor, Andy, who only hints of impending disaster, Sasha, a woman whom he saved, and who appears to have motives of her own, and the

Being inspired, maybe – 26

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance: And, then, the words: "I've taken the villa for three months," I said, standing near the rear wall, overlooking the valley that gave a great view of the vineyards below and the hills in the distance. It was nothing like the view I had back in Clapham. It was nothing like the overcast skies, the cold, the continuous rain, and the depressing thought of having to live another day in that hell hole I called a bedsit. Beth was impressed.  She'd visited me one in Clapham, and said that once was enough.  "How did you find this place?" "A friend of a friend of a friend." Actually, it was a lot more complicated than that, but it was as much as I was willing to tell her.  The truth was, after the last time I saw her, I didn't think I'd see her again. I had to wonder if it was simply because I'd taken the villa that she was here, expecting a free holid

"Echoes From The Past", a thriller

Image What happens when your past finally catches up with you? Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family. For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be. Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self-imposed exile from a life only normal people could have. From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on. This time, however, there is more at stake. Will has broken his number one rule, don't get involved. With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice. Quietly leave, or finally, make a stand. But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.

A new start for my next Zoe the Assassin novel, 'First Dig Two Graves'

Here's the thing. I've written the story, now I'm editing it after leaving the story for about a year, and it's coming along. But... Yes, there's always a but in there somewhere. But, I don't like the start, or for that matter, I can't get a feel for it.  I have about five different starting points, but none of them feel right. I've been thinking of writing it from John's perspective, but there are so many peripheral characters that need to be drawn in, people he doesn't really know much about, or that some have a vested interest in his current girlfriend if she could be called that. So I thought I'd throw a few words down and see how they sit: You would not know by looking at MaryAnne that she was probably one of the best assassins in the world.  You would be more inclined to consider she was just another spoilt American brat on the loose on holiday. She was certainly one of the most beautiful women I'd ever met. And sh

Plots ripped from newspaper front pages

Sometimes the headlines are ripped from the blurb of an international best-selling novel. Take for instance the latest event generated from the political interference by the Russians scandal in the United States. How would it read? Take what appears to be an ordinary student at an American University, who has the ability to find and seduce various men with apparent political clout for the purpose of subverting election results. This would be rather startling if it was not in the United States because everyone in any substantive lobby group knows any politician, federal state or local, can be bought. There's also the fact the femme fatale is not all that good looking, but on the other hand, men can always be seduced by anything offered on a plate. In fact, you would have to question the legitimacy of any elected official in that country because anything to do with politics is susceptible to bribery and corruption, from any number of lobby groups or outside influenc

Being inspired, maybe – 25

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance: And, then, the words: "So tell me, how is this sword fight going to work.  I mean, the idea of playing out on the stairs is great, but you and I both know the lead actor in this picture is bloody useless." "I don't think I'd quite paint it that badly.  He's trying his best, taking lessons..." "Let's see, stabbed three times, almost killed the teacher, delayed production for three weeks because of injury, hell the man can't even back up the stairs without falling over." Who'd want to be a director? The studio was screaming at the extra costs caused by the delays, the other actors were complaining that they had other projects to move onto, and don't get me started on the cinematographer. So much good weather, such a brilliant location, and time was running out on our shooting schedule. It was a matter of now or never. "It'll w

"The Devil You Don't", the thrill of love and danger

Image John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy. Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over. If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favor for him in Rome. At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one. That ‘favor' for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows. Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been

Being inspired, maybe – 24

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance: And, then, the words: Ever heard the expression 'so near and yet so far'? It applied now.  All I had to do was walk through that passageway and I would be home, back, I had been told, where I belong. The problem was, I didn't think I did.  Belong, that is. Here's the thing. It had never occurred to me that one day I might become romantically involved with a girl from an overseas country. There had been the love of my life, Anastasia, who started out my friend in elementary school, my best friend in middle and high school, and inseparable companion in university. After graduation, we had a plan, but that plan never came to fruition.  It was one of those on again, off again relationships that lastest another ten years, until Anastasia found someone else. When she told me, in person, not a text, I was heartbroken but happy for her.  I decided then it was time to disappear for a