I’m absolutely delighted to let you know that my short story—Ham, Egg and chips—has been shortlisted in the 2021 H.G. Wells Short Story Competition for the Wells Prize (the new name for the Grand Prize, aimed at adult authors).
Set in the near future, it’s a dystopian tale of desolation and cannibalism set on the Kent coast.
I’ve had the story kicking around for some years, following a writing provocation at Inspiration Writers Group. The 300 word homework turned into a 1300 word short, which became a 6000 and then 7500 word piece. Following some judicious editing by Karen Ince, and encouragement to keep honing it to the best it could be by Tony Osgood, it ended up at just under 5000—the word limit for the competition. Thanks go to both for their support.
I was previously shortlisted in 2013 and 2015, so here’s hoping that third time is the charm!
One day, it may get expanded yet again… there’s a novel in there that’s fighting to get out. In the meantime, all shortlisted stories will be published in the anthology, Mask, after the final winner is announced in November. Mask will then be available on Amazon as both a high-quality paperback and Kindle download.
Congratulations to all those (seniors and juniors) who shortlisted, and all those who entered—it’s hard exposing your work to the criticism of others. See you at the (online) prizegiving giving!
A very quick update to say that my prose-poem, ‘Clear Blue Water’, has been published for the third time in Le Menteur – the Paris based literary and arts magazine. Previously published in the Creative Inspirations anthology Blue and in the now defunct online literary magazine Blue Nib; making it my most published piece by a factor of 3!
In (mostly) unrelated news, the Creative Inspirations anthology, Green, has been shortlisted for the National Association of Writing Groups prize for anthologies! Congratulations to all those authors in the anthology, Carol Salter (the group’s chair) and especially to Karen Ince (Editor) who puts so much effort into getting it published. My short story, ‘The Hero’ is one amongst many included.
I’m delighted to say that the Inspirations Writers Group anthology, ‘Blue’ has been published and contains two pieces from me: the 300 word prose-poem ‘Clear Blue Water’ and the 5k long short-story ‘Caught Blue Handed’.
Im particularly pleased with CBW as this is the 2nd time it has been published (previously in the literary magazine Blue Nib) and its due to be published in Paris literary magazine Le Menteur in June.
‘Blue’ should be available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats at some point in the near future and as soon as I get a minute, I’ll post a downloadable version of my stories in the downloads section.
In other news, I continue to be very busy. My focus is on the final edits of ‘Lodger’ which has turned into a 140k epic. I’m struggling with where to cut it, or whether to cut it at all. I’m fond of saying it needs to be the length it needs to be, but it will make it harder to sell. I’m unrealistically proud of this one, but its a strange beast that’s hard to pin down: the darkly humorous story of a very middle-class girl growing up with a dead French philosopher living in her head. She struggles with her family, presumed mental illness and her relationships with both the eponymous Lodger and her best friend, Charlie (Charlotte), as they go through school and then university together. It’s a dystopian tale looking at the threat of technology and what it even means to be human.
Initial readers have been very positive about the drafts, so I’m hoping this will be my breakthrough! It feels tangibly different to ‘Waterguard’—a much more challenging read for a start, but dealing with some real, rather than speculative, issues and threats.
At the same time, I’m working up ideas for the next novel, which moves me even further still from my first forays into horror and into more literary work—inspired in many ways by CBW. It’s too early to reveal any more, but I’m very excited by where it’s heading.
It’s been a while. Apologies for that, but I have been working on my new novel, Lodger.
The first draft is complete. The second is also complete. The third is abandoned (a complete rewrite) at the end of Act 1. I’m now working on draft four, which is another complete rewrite, following some feedback from a friend and fellow scribbler on draft three.
I’ve been pretty focused on Lodger for the last nine months. I’m not one to skip from one project to another. But, I have managed to squeeze in a couple of pieces of flash fiction in the last year or so and a couple of articles for a car magazine.
Clear Blue Waters came from a piece of writing homework (pre-lockdown), from the Inspirations Writers’ Group. Just 300 odd words (some not so odd), developed over about five days—it became the first piece of work I’ve done I would categorise as ‘literary’. Some have described it as a tone poem.
What it has taught me is that the length of a work is no measure of the joy it can bring to the author (and hopefully the reader). I sweated and stress tested every word in this piece and am absolutely delighted with it. Yet, there’s no plot, no payoff, no big reveal. I know what I had in my mind when I wrote it, the reader is free to interpret it and make of it what they will.
At the suggestion of Tony Osgood, I submitted it to the literary mag Blue Nib for consideration, and was delighted when it was published in August on their website. To date, I think this is perhaps my most prestigious publication. I hope it shows a growing maturity in my craft skills and on my journey as a writer.
CBW will also be published in the forthcoming anthology ‘Blue’, edited by Karen Ince, for the Inspirations Writers’ group. I also managed to sneak in a longer piece (about 5k words) called Caught Blue Handed—the tale of an obsessed and deluded man.
I’m trying to build some of the lessons I learnt on CBW into the latest draft of Lodger. It’s no horror, but has elements of spec fic. It’s more literary, a dark comedy that might best be defined as ‘commercial literary’.
I hope to finish this draft by the end of February, 2021.
I hope everyone is bearing up under the restrictions. For some it will be an opportunity to crack on with something creative or they’ve been putting off for a while—like writing, for others the worry of the situation will be too much to focus on anything. My sympathies if you fall into the latter category. I’m somewhere in between, and it really depends on how the day takes me.
Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Harry, our ancient moggie, helping me with my editing.
Despite Harry’s intrusions, I have managed to get a couple of articles into Thanet Writers. Both essays on the practicalities of writing rather than the craft or anything fictional.
I’m hoping the first, Should You Enter a Writing Competition, will be the start of a couple of connected pieces about how to maximise your chances of shortlisting. These draw on my experience as an HG Wells Short Story Competition judge. You can find it here:
second is an article on Computer Health and Safety, published today. Ironically, it’s about how to avoid viruses and put yourself in a position not to lose any of your hard work when something goes ping! in your laptop and crashes the disk. Not exciting, but necessary. Find it here:
To celebrate the inclusion of my short story, The Hero, in the Inspirations Writers’ Group anthology, ‘Green’, I’ve made it available as one of my Free Stories. You can find it here. It’s the story of a reluctant goblin striving to save her race from the threat of human expansion.
Available on Kindle or as hard copy from Carol Salter’s store. If its not there yet, I’m sure it will be soon! I also have access to copies if you really want one. ‘Yellow’ and the other anthologies in the series – ‘Orange’ and ‘Red’ are also available in her store (or from me). I think they may also be on Amazon.
I only joined the Inspirations group during the development of ‘Yellow’, so I’m not in ‘Red’ or ‘Orange’. In ‘Yellow’, my contribution is Johnny in the Waiting Room, where Johnny awakes to find himself in an other-worldly waiting room, his eternal future on the line.
There are many fine writers within the pages of Inspiration’s rainbow anthology series. If you can, please support them by buying a copy – or even the whole set – deals available!
My other physical copy publications include a short-listed story in each of the 2013 and 2015 HG Wells Short Story Competition anthologies. I also have an editing credit on the 2019 anthology.
All the HGW anthologies are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions. Both stories, Diaspora (2013) and Degrees of Separation (2015), can be found on my website in the Free Stories section.
Both IWG and HGW are not for profit organisations that are on a mission to elevate the art of creative writing. It would be great if you could support them!
Just a quick update on a couple of things going on. It’s been busy, busy, busy!
First thing is: I have a very short (sub-500) word piece of flash published today (10th Feb) on Thanet Writers about a marriage at the end of its tether. Pop on over and have a quick look, go on, it won’t take long!
On the 13th Feb Thanet Writers will also be publishing my essay on Are You Sitting Comfortably. Workstation ergonomics isn’t thrilling, but it is important when we sit in front of a screen for hours at a time.
Secondly, my first novel, Waterguard, is now being circulated to agents – very exciting. It’s going out to UK and US agents, focusing on those that deal specifically with horror.
My third piece of news is that the prequel to Waterguard, tentatively titled Ynys Thanatos, is now about 50% through draft. Obviously very rough. I hope to complete it by March. Still, the best laid plans, etc.
My fourth piece of news is that Inspirations Writers Group are launching their Green anthology on Saturday 15th Feb at the Old Kent Market in Margate. I’m delighted to say my short story, The Hero, is included amongst the fifteen odd (and a few not so odd) authors’ contributions. Come along and support the launch if you can – you’ll also be able to buy previous anthologies from the group (including Yellow, which I’m also in) and maybe some of the contributors own publications.
Work on a short story for Blue, the next in the series, begins imminently! Most of my ideas so far have been unprintable in a family oriented anthology, so I’ll have to brainstorm some better ideas!
Hi everyone – just a very brief note as today is a round of excitement including the Inspirations Writers Christmas dinner at Quex (always a joy!) and later a recording session for the Thanet Writers New Year Broadcast. Oh, and the hoovering.
Today, I have a brief ‘spotlight’ article published on Thanet Writers about the poet, novelist, playwright and Hawkwind vocalist Robert Calvert. Captain Bob (as he was affectionately known) has always been a bit of a hero of mine and so I was delighted to be able to do some research and find out a bit more about the man.
Congratulations to everyone who was shortlisted for the HGWSSC, but especially to our junior prize winner, Krystal Song (Da Capo) from San Francisco and our senior prize winner, Bev Haddon (An Alternate Ending) from the UK. Along with their certificates, Krystal and Bev win a cash prize and inclusion in the 2019 anthology, Time.
We were very lucky to be joined by Silé Edwards of the UK’s biggest agency, Curtis Brown. She gave a very informative talk on the do’s and don’ts of working with an agent. Over the course of the day, I think I spotted a fair number of our shortlisted authors and guests having some interesting 1-to-1discussions as well! Let’s hope these bear fruit!
You can see the full announcement, here, on the HGWSSC, complete with readings from Krystal and Bev. At some point, we’ll put up PDFs of their story for your to take a look at, but in the meantime the Kindle version of the book is up on Amazon, here, and the paperback will be available on both Amazon and through the HGWSSC website shortly.
The eagle-eyed will see I’ve got my first editing credit on the cover!
Don’t forget, there’s a stack of other HGWSSC anthologies on Amazon, including the 2013 Flight and the 2015 Class, both of which yours truly was shortlisted in. BEFORE I became a judge or committee member, I hasten to add!.
The addendum says FB, with no apparent way of stopping this happening short of shutting down your page, will be making each page admin a joint data controller, responsible under GDPR for the data processed on their page.
Now, the page admin has no access to individual personal data, and I quote from the update:
Page admins do not have access to the personal data processed as part of events but only to the aggregated Page Insights. Events used to create Page Insights do not store IP addresses, cookie IDs or any other identifiers associated with people or their devices aside from a FB user ID for people logged in to Facebook.
So, as an admin, I have access to zero personal data. Yet, I’m going to be made legally responsible and have to jump through a whole host of hoops just to keep talking to people… Because, the addendum goes on to state:
Where an interaction of people with your Page and the content associated with it triggers the creation of an event for Page Insights which includes personal data for whose processing you (and/or any third party for whom you are creating or administering the Page) determine the means and purposes of the processing jointly with Facebook Ireland Limited, you acknowledge and agree on your own behalf (and as agent for and on behalf of any such other third party) that this Page Insights Controller Addendum (“Page Insights Addendum”) applies…
Now, I’m not even sure what such a triggering-event could be! There then follows a lot of pretty confusing legalise, but the important bit to me is where it identifies the page admin’s role / responsibilities:
Page admins: You should ensure that you also have a legal basis for the processing of Insights Data. In addition to the information provided to data subjects by Facebook Ireland via the Information about Page Insights, you should identify your own legal basis including the legitimate interests you pursue, if applicable, the responsible data controller(s) on your side including their contact details as well as the contact details of the data protection officer(s) (Article 13(1)(a-d) GDPR), if any.
My reading of this is that every fan page / author page or indeed any page at all now needs a data protection policy, a data officer and a complaints / information response process for data subjects. That’s pretty onerous for most one-person bands!
Now, I’m not a lawyer and wouldn’t profess to know the answer. In a previous life, I would have had the budget to get this lengthy (and seemingly onerous) amendment interpreted. But, as a struggling author, I don’t have the resources to do this, or to manage it.
My question is, what are the options? I don’t seem to be able to turn off insights and so avoid the issue.
Does this mean the death of thousands, maybe millions of pages – or that authors and other page owners will simply run the risk of being prosecuted / sued?
Does anyone have any insight on this? Answers on a postcard, please…