Home / News…and Thoughts

Hello and welcome! 

I’ll be posting sporadic news, progress and general thoughts here. Click the “follow” button (at the bottom of the page) to make sure you keep up to date. 

You can also follow me on Facebook: @LeeStoddartAuthor

It’s a social world – please like and share (below) and help spread the word.

Now, read on!

‘Blue’ anthology Launches

Hello, everyone!

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.

Stay safe, and best wishes for a fabulous summer.

Lee, 1st June 2021

Update:

‘Clear Blue Water’ can be read, for free, here: ‘Clear Blue Water

‘Caught Blue Handed’ can be read, for free, here: ‘Caught Blue Handed

Free ‘Loch-down’ fiction

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

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.

You can read it, for free, on my website, here: Clear Blue Waters.

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.

A Couple of New Bits

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Hi all.

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:

Should You Enter a Writing Competition

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:

Computer Health and Safety

I hope to have a short story going live on Thanet Writers very soon, but in the meantime, don’t forget I’ve got an archive of some of my favourites, here.

Stay safe, everyone. Stay home.
Lee

And The Hero Makes Five

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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 StoriesYou 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!

Cheers!
Lee

The Hero, Alone and some Agents

 

Hi folks!

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!

Alone – flash fiction by Lee

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!

Inspirations Launch of Green

 

Spotlight: Robert Calvert

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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.

Please take a look at it here: Spotlight on Robert Calvert.

HG Wells Short Story Competition: 2019 Winners Announced

Time 2019 Cover

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-1 discussions 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!.

You can read my shortlisted entries here: Free Stories.

At the end of the ceremony, Charles Bain-Smith announced next year’s theme. It being 2020 what else could we choose but…

“VISION”

Submissions for Vision will open in the new year, and the competition will close at midnight on the 11th July – so no need to rush yet… get those great ideas in order, draft and refine…

Plenty of time

Have fun!
Lee

Facebook and GDPM Addendum

photo of green data matrix
Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

I’m sure many authors, and indeed any “page” owners, have recently received an email from Facebook saying that they are updating their Page Insights Addendum. 

I was going to ignore it, but a friend of mine made me sit up and think when he said he would be closing down his FB presence as a result.

Time to investigate.

Click here for FB update on Page Insights Addendum

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…

Book Club

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

It’s been a long time… did you miss me?

 

The first rule of Book Club…

Today sees the publication of Book Club, on Thanet Writers. It’s a flash fiction piece about a gentleman who returns from the Crimean War to indulge in more literary pursuits, only to find he is in much demand for other ‘activities’. You can access it here: Book Club

 

Waterguard

The quick update is, I’ve been utterly focused on finishing my first novel, Waterguard. As far as I’m concerned, it’s done.

Mostly.

I’ve had some very positive feedback from my group of beta readers – many thanks to all of them! Lots of improvements suggested and implemented. Overall it felt like a very positive experience.

I thought I’d finished completely, but no. I still had / have one more round to go. I’m hoping there won’t be much to change. I have one sensitivity reader and a final read through by one ‘critical friend’ who is an excellent writer and an even better critic. Let’s hope there’s not too much to change.

But, essentially that’s it.

Now it’s time to submit. I’m really after an agent so I can focus on writing. Whilst I respect the self-publishing route, its not really for me at this point. So, I’ve needed to craft a submission letter, synopsis (how long? Depends on agent!), an elevator pitch and a jacket blurb. Turns out these are harder than writing the damn novel and took me about a week! There’s so much advice out there on how to do it, it swamps you. And, it’s all contradictory. So, thanks to all my writing group buddies who have taken time to give it a read through. In the end I settled on a short letter and a 1 page synopsis for my first submission.

Wish me luck!

 

Thanet Writers

Book Club is my ninth piece (7 stories, 1 article, 1 interview) published by Thanet Writers. As an aspiring professional it does my ego no end of good to see it go up and really encourages me to push forward. If you are a writer, with any connection to Thanet, I’d encourage you to submit. Whether it’s short stories, flash, poetry, a book review or an article on technique it does the heart good to see it released into the wild. Don’t forget, they pay £10 per piece and they are happy to take reprints – providing you hold the rights to publish.  Everything published online will later be considered for the next anthology. It’s an ideal place to make your old stuff work harder for you, if you are already established, or to gain your first publishing spurs if not.

Don’t forget, Thanet Writers have their inaugural annual Conference at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Cliftonville on November 2nd. The team are working hard to get a really great line up in place for the sessions and panels.  Tickets go on sale soon at just £4 each.

See more about the conference, here: Thanet Writers Conference Announcement

 

Well, that’s about it for now, folks. I’m off to write a new short story and then start on the follow up to Waterguard!

Lee

Jilted

railroad tracks in city
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Very happy to announce that Thanet Writers have today published a piece of my flash fiction, Jilted.

Its a tongue-in-cheek tale of Victorian murder. If I say much more, I’m in danger of writing more words than in the story! It’s just 750-odd words (and some of the usual ones). Ideal to read on your phone on the way in or home from work (unless you are driving).

Go on, give it a go!

Jilted on Thanet Writers

Jilted came out of an Inspirations homework some time ago, and has been looking for a home once it was finished properly. Thanks for being that home, Thanet Writers!

 

In other news, the beta read of my novel, Waterguard should be completed very soon. Last pages going out to readers this week! My focus on WG is really why my short-story output has stalled. Hopefully, should be able to get a few of the ideas I’ve got brewing out (they may now be stewed).

 

My other distraction has been the HG Wells Short Story Competition. The competition closed on the 8th July and we had a phenomenal volume of entries this year (50% up on last year, which was about 50% up on the previous year) and I (along with all the other judges) have been reading and scoring the stories. The short list will be announced, as every year, on HGW’s birthday – the 21st September.

 

Finally, my usual plea. Please, if you’d like to help a struggling author, don’t just ‘like’ my FB posts. To get them a higher audience, the algorithm needs to see ‘loves’ and, more importantly, actual comments! So, say what you liked – or even what you didn’t! Most appreciated of all would be to share it with your friends – named individuals, groups or the public – with a suitably inspiring comment to get them to look. Honestly, it’s the only way any small endeavour like this can hope to grow.

 

Thanks for reading this far! Hope you find time to read some of the other FREE stories I’ve posted on my website… over here! If you haven’t seen it, you might like to take a look at my first ever live video event for the Derwent Valley Litfest, you can see it here.

 

Ta-ta for now!

L