Book Club

pexels-photo-1560093.jpeg
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

 

Teaser Revealed, Derwent Done and Beta On-track!

Screenshot 2019-06-30 at 11.07.18.png

I’m very pleased to announce that, as of Saturday, around 12:00, I was appointed a director of Thanet Writers. I won’t repeat everything in the announcement or the role definitions – you can read them in these links, if you wish:-

Announcement on Thanet Writers

Thanet Writers Directors

As many of you will know, I’ve been a great advocate of Thanet Writers for some time and see this as an opportunity to pay back some of the insight and advice the team  members have given me over the last couple of years. The ability to network through the meetings has also been a significant help to me.

Their most important role has been in being able to say that I’m published. Professionally – paid with real money. They’re been kind enough to publish a number of my shorts online.

So, please support Thanet Writers. Go to the events, read the stories, articles and reviews and, if you are an author or poet connected to Thanet (in any way!), submit your work for publication!

—ooo0ooo—

I also completed my first ever Facebook Live Event for Derwent Valley LitFest on Thursday 27th June. I thought it went OK. I’ve had more than 500 views at the time of writing, which seems pretty reasonable to me.

I’ll be getting some feedback from a professional speaker friend later today… then I’ll know how it really went!

In it I talk about being a fledgling author and pass on a few tips I’ve picked up along the way. I also read Lomea (free text version here) – my short story about a monk from Canterbury investigating rumours of heresy on the Island of Lomea, just off the Sandwich coast.

You can see the full Live session (45 minutes), here:

Lee – Live at the Derwent Valley LitFest, 27/06/19

—ooo0ooo—

Beta review of Waterguard, my first full length novel which has been a work in progress for about 4 years, is progressing very well and is set to continue over the course of the summer. In my last post I mentioned some of the feedback, but I want to repeat it, because it feels so damn good!

Gripping

Fast flowing

I can’t wait for the next instalment

Enjoying it immensely

Forgot I was reading an unpublished work

I’ve stalled in the last week. Partially because of the LitFest prep (I over-prepared!) and partially because… it just got hard. The novel is in 3rd person / present tense (as I rewrite) but was 3rd person past tense. Before that it was 1st person past tense. So, I’m transposing as I go, but I’ve just reached the first section where my main character is no longer the centre of attention.

After some advice from a friend who is an author and editor, I’ve chosen a path – I’m going to stick with the narrator following the new lead for a few chapters. They take an increasingly important part as we go along, so it feels OK to preview this by giving them some of the stage now.

We’ll see if it works!

—ooo0ooo—

A quick reminder that the HG Wells short-story competition closes on the 8th July. Still TIME to get those entries in! I’m absolutely delighted to say that Norah Perkins – of the agency Curtis Brown will be our keynote speaker and award presenter at the November awards ceremony in November. She will also be offering a coaching session to our two prize winners.

HG Wells Short Story Competition

Norah Perkins to Present 2019 HG Wells Awards

 

Anyway, that’s it for now. Toodleoo!

Lee

Waterguard, Derwent Valley LitFest and a Teaser

img_2046.jpg

Hi all!

Apologies for not posting for such a long time. I am currently up to my neck in (hopefully) the final round of editing Waterguard. I’ll be out looking for a publisher / agent very soon. I’m about 1/2 way through and hope to have it finished by the end of the summer.

Unfortunately, it’s taken far longer than I had anticipated. I had hoped to have got it done and out the way by now, with the next book in the series (tentatively titled Thanatos) in first draft. Guess it was not to be.

Part of the reason for this is that I am a) writing out one character, b) writing in a new one, c) fixing a few plot points so it meshes nicely with the prequels and sequel and d) rewriting in third person / present tense.

The last one is the biggie. However, it seems it is achieving its purpose in making it more immediate and engaging.

I have a team of 13 fabulous beta readers helping me. They’re doing sterling service pointing out the flaws and holes… but so far it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. Here are just some of the things they are saying:

 

Gripping

Fast flowing

I can’t wait for the next instalment

Enjoying it immensely

Forgot I was reading an unpublished work

Couple of errors spotted…

 

The most difficult issue raised so far has been that I seem to have lost the narrator’s voice in a couple of chapters. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but they start to speak in the voice of the protagonist – which is perhaps not surprising given that the last draft was first-person and the narrator was the protagonist. Hopefully now fixed.

My next issue coming up is that I have three chapters where the perspective changes from following the protagonist to following the secondary protagonist. I’m not even sure if this is a problem. Feel free to comment, I’m interested in your views!

 

Just in case anyone has missed it, I’m featuring in Derwent Valley LitFest’s Meet the Author live series on Thursday at 1800. All for free on Facebook. I might even read a bit of Waterguard.

Find out about the festival here: Derwent Valley LitFest

Details of the live Facebook event, here: Lee’s & Derwent Valley LitFest’s Live Event

The event ticket is here: Eventbrite ticket for Lee

Join in and ask a question, or find out if I can even work the technology.

 

It’s been a very quick update. Sorry!

I may have some very exciting news, but that’s going to have to wait, pending confirmation.  I believe that is called a teaser!

 

As Douglas said: Have fun, win awards.

Lee

 

 

 

Lomea and Beyond

beach clouds dark dark clouds
Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

Today, my short story, Lomeahas been published by Thanet Writers. Find it (for free) here: Lomea on Thanet Writers

I’ll also put it up in my Free Stories section.

It’s only 1,144 words. Not quite flash but very short. Try it. You never know, you might like it.

This feels like a significant story for me. Here’s why.

If you’ve read my blogs before you’ll know I’ve struggled with my first written novel (Waterguard / aka Yamaya) and its currently in my virtual desk drawer – awaiting judgement. Once I’d finished with it, I felt there were some significant issues with it. It needed a rewrite, but I didn’t know quite what to do and was on the cusp of just killing it and moving on. Over Christmas, I decided its fate: I’m going to resurrect it.

My NaNoWriMo piece (Redspot2.0) helped me come to this conclusion. Just as I was writing the penultimate chapter, I came to the conclusion that it could form a fourth part for my putative trilogy of horror – although it would need some significant rework. No problem with that – as it stands, it is a very rough draft anyway.

But more than that, it brought into focus exactly what I need to do to link all four novels AND save Waterguard. 

My workplan is therefore to crack on with book one in the series – now tentatively titled Thanatos so that I at least have a solid draft, then write book two: Lomea, as a draft. I can then do the structural and character changes I need to make to Waterguard (book three) and re-draft RedSpot2.0 as book four.

After I’ve finished with the draft of Lomea I will go back to Thanatos and finish it off. That way, I think I have a pretty strong product line up to go to an agent / publisher with:

Book 1:  Thanatos (polished and ready for submission)
Book 2:  Lomea (drafted, needs polishing)
Book 3:  Waterguard (drafted, needs polishing)
Book 4:  RedSpot2.0 (first draft, needs a lot more work!)

Hopefully, that’s a pretty compelling proposition and I can demonstrate commitment and the ability to write in a sustained way!

Now, the astute will have noticed that Book 2 carries the same title as my just-published short. It’s no coincidence. The short was, in some senses an early trial run of the book. The overall plot arc has been in my mind for some time and it just kind of seeped out. Rest assured, the novel will be a quite different story, but set in the same period.

Probably!

I hope to get all this done by mid to late summer. Optimistic? Maybe. But, I have the advantage now of knowing exactly what to write and what the touchpoints are between each of the books are. Not so easy when they are hundreds of years apart.

Watch this space!
Lee

 

 

 

 

RedSpot 2.0: First Draft Finished

red lights in line on black surface

Woohoo!

I’ve finally put to bed the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel. Tentatively titled ‘RedSpot 2.0’, it’s a horror set in a corporate environment. RedSpot is the software system at the heart of a company that definitely doesn’t have the phrase “do no evil” as its motto.

I managed the first 50,010 words in November, narrowly meeting my NaNoWriMo challenge, but then (for one reason and another, including the intervention of Xmas and a few more personal trials) I stalled in early December.

I had hoped to finish draft 1 by Xmas day, but failed. So, in the style of all good project managers, I shifted my delivery date to the 31st December (“Absolute latest, Stoddart. No more excuses!”) and de-scoped my expectations just a wee bit.

Success! I finished ahead of my new target today and to the tune of 66,548 words. And yes, I really was hoping to hit 66.6k words. Just for the hell of it.

“Good stuff,” I hear you cry. “Now what?”

My plan is to shove RedSpot 2.0 in my virtual desk drawer for a while. It’s very raw and needs a substantial re-write if it’s to become anything readable, let alone publishable. I like the story, the themes, the characters and the complexity. It’s all good. It’s just been written at speed. I suspect when I’ve finished draft 2 it will be longer, rather than shorter as there are more themes and sub-plots I want to do justice to. Then, I’ll need to edit it back down again.

One thing I’ve learnt out of this exercise is: I can write fiction at speed for long periods. Although there have been days in the last two months when I have written very little (and some days when I was not able to write anything); there have been many days when I have written three, four or five thousand words, which is very heartening. I put this down to de-camping to my writing shed and minimising distractions, as well as having a (self-imposed) deadline to write to (the first time I’ve really done that).

I’ve managed to avoid writing at weekends. I like to keep that time separate and inviolate, so I can spend it with my family. I admit, I’ve broken that rule today; but, hey – they’ve had me all Xmas the lucky so-and-sos.

Whilst I’m waiting for RS2 to magically mature away from the light of day, my plan is to go back and revisit my first novel, ‘Waterguard’.

With hindsight, I think there are some elements of it I’m not proud of. It needs a fairly major re-write (and it’s already on draft 7 or so), which I’m now in the mood to do. Before that, I might just get a couple of shorts out the way I’ve been itching to attack.

Longer term, I’m want to begin the first draft of Novel 3 – which will be a horror set in either a medieval or Roman setting.

Happy New Year to everybody and keep on scribbling!

If you’re not a scribbler, then, for all the gods’ sakes, keep on reading. Some of us need an audience!

Lee

PS: If anyone can think of a reason not to call it RedSpot then please let me know!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yellow and Johnny in the Waiting Room

IMG_2128Yellow – The 2018 Anthology of the Inspirations Writers Group

Over the weekend, I was delighted to receive my author’s copy of Yellow, the 2018 anthology of the Inspirations Writers Group. It’s the third in the series; the first being Red, the second Orange… I’m sure you can see where this series is going. I believe there are a few of the earlier books still available. Alas, I was late to the party and I’m not in them. Yellow will be formally launched to the public in January, but you can already order a copy, here, on Carol Salter’s website. I believe Amazon are also selling the e-book.

Carol is chair of Inspirations Writers and has just published her third novel, Gristle’s Revenge, the sequel to Witch on the Warpath. Congratulations Carol! I’m looking forward to reading them both – but my good lady wife has pinched them before I had a chance. D’oh. Buy your own copy here.

I’ve been going to the group for about six-months now. Regular readers (there must be one or two?!) will know that I go to a number of different groups over the course of a month (most recently, the Write-ins for NaNoWriMo organised by Thanet Writers).

I get different things from different groups. Inspirations Writers (at Westgate Library, fourth Saturday of the month from 1030; should you be interested) has really helped me to move forward on my writing apprenticeship. Great critiquing and lots of advice, mini-workshops and, yes, HOMEWORK.

I really like the homework. It forces me to write about something I haven’t previously considered or in a way which is new to me. It makes me think. I’ve used the homework on a number of occasions to springboard into a longer story. From the Diary of Jane Pugin (see the Free Stories page) and Ham, Egg and Chips (watch this space!) are good examples. So is Johnny in the Waiting Room. It was a story I had an idea (and a title) for, but no urgency to write after a couple of false starts. But, it felt like a good story for the anthology, particularly with the link to the robes used by the Spanish Inquisition. Different colours having different significance. Yellow, being the colour of the penitent heretic.

So, Yellow sees the birth of Johnny in the Waiting Room, amongst a host of other works by local writers from the group: shorts, flash and yes, even poetry. It’s a celebration of the group and the achievements of the people that go to it. I hope you’ll grab a copy (order here!) and I hope you enjoy it!

If you’d like to just read Johnny in the Waiting Room, you can read it in my Free Stories section, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a lovely paper copy? Go on, you know you want to!

 

I’d particularly like to thank Karen Ince for doing the final edit and proof reading on Johnny in the Waiting Room. Find her here. There were also two anonymous rounds of critique. Obviously, I don’t know who read my efforts (I have my suspicions), but thanks for the thoughtful feedback!

 

 

NaNoWriMo – Mission Accomplished!

NaNoWriMo endpoint.png

50,010 words finished @ 19:00 on the 30th November.

Cutting it relatively fine, but at least I wasn’t typing until midnight! Feels so good!

Today I’ve managed just more than 4,200 words – the most I’ve ever put down in a day. I even managed to come up with a title, about mid-morning; so, I’m feeling a bit smug.

Now, all I need to do is carry the momentum forward, because the first draft isn’t finished. I think there’s probably in the region of 20k still to go. Then it needs reworking, editing…etc.

Congrats to everyone who took part – whether you made it or not. It’s taught me a few lessons, but I’m too tired to write about them now!

But, the most important is this. I have learnt I can write volume. Consistently large word counts every day. Although there’s been one or two days where I haven’t written (for one reason or another I won’t be drawn into), when I have written I’ve done 2.5-4.2k per day. A respectable rate, I think. In fact, if you include this mini-blog, today has been more like 4.5k. Result!

Thanks to everyone who supported at Thanet Writers particularly Alice who’s been there every week for us. It’s great to see our Friday Write-In session spawned a small group of new writing friends who will continue to meet to help each other, critique, natter and drink coffee at Cliff’s Café in Cliftonville (and thanks to them for hosting us!).

Thanet Gothic and Time in Folkestone

The H.G.Wells Short Story Competition 2018 Anthology: Peace

Sunday was an eventful day. After months of reading, judging and general preparation, we (the H.G.W.S.S.C) had our annual awards ceremony and launch of our 2018 anthology, ‘Peace‘.

We were very fortunate that many of the shortlisted senior and junior entrants managed to make the awards lunch at the Grand Hotel in Folkestone. Long-distance attendees came from Dublin and St. Andrews but we had entrants from all over the world this year, including India, the USA and Australia – a result of focusing on social media marketing, I think.

It was a real treat to hear authors read selections from their own work. Several of those who couldn’t make it sent in video readings which we enjoyed over coffee and desserts. Every time I hear authors read, it’s drummed into me how important it is, when promoting your own work, to really be able to bring it to life. Take some time to practice. Read it out loud. No, act it out loud. There were two in particular who really stood out from the others – taking their time, speaking clearly and giving the characters a genuine voice – really portraying them as an actor would, with passion. 

Congratulations must go to all those shortlisted, but especially our eventual prize winners. Wendy Riley (from Australia) won the senior (over 21) prize with Yue’s Story, but – remarkably, in a competition that is completely anonymous until the shortlist is announced, also managed to secure a second shortlisting with Laila’s Story. The junior (21 and under) prize went to Abaan Zaidi (UK) for her fabulous In the Light of the Crescent Moon

It was a hard fought competition this year with around 400 entries from across the world, so it’s no mean feat to be shortlisted, let alone win. 

The ebook is already available on Amazon (link below), with the hard copy to follow shortly. Buy it here: HG Wells Short Story Competition, Anthology 2018: Peace

I’d also like to thank Norah Perkins of Curtis Brown for being our guest speaker. I’m sure all our authors really benefited from her words of wisdom. Afterwards I noticed a fair few having a quiet word with her in the corner. 

Find out more about Norah and Curtis Brown here.

Hopefully, HGWSSC will have a video up of her speech soon along with pictures from the day and video readings from our shortlisted authors. Norah’s session is well worth listening too – it is very enlightening.

Finally, we announced next year’s theme: Time.

Close to HGW’s literary heart, of course, but entrants are free to interpret it any way they choose. Closing date for entries will be 8th July – a little earlier this year to allow us, well, more time to go through the growing number of entrants we receive year on year.

Want more HGWSSC updates? Need to find out what the entrance criteria and rules are?  Click and follow here.

 

My second piece of news is that I’m very pleased to announce that Thanet Writers have today published a fourth piece of my work. From the Diary of Jane Pugin is a re-imagining of the death of Augustus Pugin with a horror twist.

I’m delighted to see this one published – its one of my personal favourites and came to me as a result of a) some homework from Inspirations Writers Group and b) a particularly good bacon sandwich I was eating outside the café on the clifftop behind his home. You can find it here in the free stories section or, see it in all its technicolour glory, on line at Thanet Writers.

 

Quick NaNoWriMo update, anyone? I’m roughly 35k in and I have five days to go. That’s 3k per day which feels achievable, although I’ve just spent the last two hours sorting out HGWSSC stuff, posts about FtDoJP being published and general blogging! Friday is also going to be less than 100% productive as I have a couple of meetings to go to…

D’oh. So that’s more like 3,750 per day to be sure! Hmmm…

I’m reasonably pleased with it so far. Just blasting it down does seem to work for me. The story feels good – but will need a fair bit of refinement. As will the characters, and, well – everything actually. It’s very much a first, very rough, draft!

But, my coffee is in front of me, so its back to a steaming keyboard I go.

3k+ coming up.