Writer? Four podcasts you should be listening to…

Recommended podcasts for writers Podcasts only really appeared on my radar when Serial was a huge hit a couple of years ago. The wonderful thing about podcasts is that although some are very professional, it’s a  medium that almost anyone can create content for. Your podcast might be one person sitting in front of a microphone, or a group of people in a studio or based mostly on recordings made in the field. You need no permission, no significant budget, no fitting in with other people’s agenda.

I wrote a year or so ago about some of my favourites and those are still worth checking out, but there are some for writers that I’ve subscribed to and never miss. The writers among you might find them helpful too.  I listen via Itunes but as far as I’m aware these are available in all the other podcast clients such as Sticher.

  • Top of the list – although it’s in no particular order – is The Bestseller Experiment. Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux, already knowledgeable in the areas of fiction and publishing and screewriting, decided that in a year they would write, produce and publish a bestselling novel. Not just a novel, but a bestselling one. Each week they update on how that’s going and interview guests about the writing and publishing process. Well worth dipping into – the John Connolly interview was great as were the two more recent ones with bestselling self-published author Susan Kaye Quinn. The latter to even got me thinking about the viability of being a hybrid author – traditionally published for one series of books, but self-publishing a series of shorter novellas…
  • Next up is The Creative Penn. Joanna Penn is a well-known and successful self-published author who manages to combine incredible productivity with a genuine passion for helping others to achieve their potential. Whether you want to go the indie author route or are seeking a contract with a Big Five publisher, there’s a lot to learn from Joanna, especially in terms of thinking of yourself as a creative entrepreneur and understanding the business of writing and being an author.
  • Another favourite podcoast is The Worried Writer. Sarah Painter is a writer who shares her experiences of fear of failure, anxiety about her writing and how she’s managed to find strategies to shut her inner critic up and get on with the writing. While I’ve been agonising and procrastinating over the edits of Death Will Find Me, I have found this podcast an immense support and it’s really helped me to have a bit more confidence in my work. Sarah has also published a book – Stop Worrying; Start Writing – based on the podcast and I can highly recommend that too.
  • How Story Works is new and excellent. Bite-sized podcasts from best-selling author and screenwriting teacher Lani Diane Rich which unpick the structure of writing – understanding the mechanics is vital to the process of writing a novel.  The rules can guide you and understanding them makes breaking them more likely to be successful.

If there are writing podcasts that you think I should check out do leave a note in the comments. Likewise, if you produce a podcast that you think I should check out.

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At last…!

Finished! That’s it – the revised manuscript has been sent to the agent who suggested some tweaks and said that “all being well, we can move forward in a positive way”. I have rewritten chunks, edited the rest and I think the novel is better for it. It has taken far longer than it should have, for all sorts of reasons, but it’s finally done. I hope he likes it. But if not, I have other plans – I am firmly of the conviction that if you have a back-up plan you’re less likely to need it than if you don’t have one.

Why has it taken so long? Well, save for some relatively-minor-in-the-scheme-of-things family-crisis stuff, I think one of the reasons is that because I’m just setting out as a writer, as yet un-agented and unpublished, and so my writing is currently nothing more than a time-consuming hobby. That’s not to say that the only worthwhile writing is that which generates income, but it does mean that in my case  it has to take a backseat to ‘proper work’. So this novel, with its lengthy, and probably still incomplete, gestation seems to have taken forever to finish. I’m sure the next one will be faster, and if I’m being paid for it – ah, the aim of being a professional writer – I’ll be able to justify prioritising it over other things.

So, now it’s just a question of waiting, which is hellish for me as I am probably the least patient person I know. But as I find it hard to read fiction when I’m writing, it’s a great time to catch up on some of the teetering pile of novels on my bedside table.

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A quick update…

Life lately, May update Crikey, long time no see. How’s tricks?

It’s been while since I was here, albeit a while where ‘write blog post’ has been a constant fixture on my to-do list. Then again, so has ‘go to the gym’ and ‘replace bathroom sealant’ and those haven’t happened either.

By far the most pressing thing on my list has been ‘finish editing manuscript for prospective agent’ and I’ve still to tick that off. Until I have, I’m having trouble committing to anything else, even writing a blog post. When I’m not editing, I’m distracted because I know I should be.

And why is the editing not completed? After all, I have an agent that I’d really like to be represented by waiting to see it? That’s a great position to be in.

I suppose the problem is that I worry whether the changes I’m making are what’s needed. Some of the chapters I’ve edited have been rewritten three times. I’m getting there and by and large I’m pretty confident that the changes I’m settling on are the right ones. It’s a slow process though.

That’s one of the problems with first novels – to get the agent and the book deal it has to be perfect right off the bat. With subsequent books, you’re able to take soundings from your agent and editor from the start, even when it’s a germ of an idea, but in order to get the agent and the publisher you need to make it as good as it can be with hardly any input from others who know.*

While I’m making excuses, I do have to admit that I’ve lost some time due to family health problems, work happening on the house and The Son’s upcoming exams…

But I do have to get this finished. I’m actually planning how that’s going to happen (at last, I hear you cry – I’m sure everyone else already does that) by actually breaking it down into chunks and putting it into my diary so that it gets done. That also makes it feel like less of a mountain to climb.

I’m off now, but hopefully by the end of the month I’ll be back to tell you that the manuscript is polished up and that I’ve clicked ‘send’ on the email to send it to the prospective agent.

TTFN x

*Word to the wise – join a good critique group. The one I’m part of is amazing – positive and tough and funny and inspiring. If this ever makes it into bookshops it will be partly due to the perceptive comments of those writers.

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Life Lately….

Editing in Henri, Stockbridge - one of my favourite cafes for writing in So far, 2017 has been a curate’s egg of a year – good in parts. I spent most of January recuperating from the vile chest infection that laid me low for much of November and December. I coughed so badly that my neighbour, a doctor, turned up on my doorstep with a stethoscope in her hand to see how I was as she’d heard me hacking away through the wall…

I also heard back from the agents to whom I’d sent Death Will Find Me just before Christmas. They’d both asked to see the full version and one of them in particular I had high hopes of. As is the way of these things, that agent came back and said that she was passing on it. She gave me some useful advice and although I cross and upset for a bit I started to dig in and pay attention. Then – just as I’d given up all hope – the second agent got back to me and said that he liked the book but felt it needed more work. He suggested giving me some editorial notes and seeing how they helped and then: “all being well, we can move forward in a positive way”. Promising no?

So I’ve put on hold the plans I did have and I’m revising the manuscript – I’ve set myself a deadline of the end of March to send it back to him. It’s hard work because what looks like a small tweak in one place requires lots of tiny little tweaks in other places to make it work. Once I’ve sent this back to him I’m going to treat myself to a couple of days of writing – not editing, just writing – because I’m missing that lots at the moment. No idea what that will be although I do have an idea for a contemporary thriller that I’d like to explore.

So that’s all been rather exhausting, mentally and emotionally. In other news, we’re cracking on with the house and the woodburning stove is now installed in the sitting room – it’s a cosy, glowing, toasty thing of joy. Our garden here is a disaster zone still but the walled garden in Fife is a delight and I came away from it last week with lots of ideas for this summer. I’m trying to plan this year properly so that it doesn’t slip past with what feels like little to show for it and my goals for the first quarter are coming together although March is going to be busy if I’m to keep up.

But right now, apart from the pain of editing and the lingering lack of energy, I’m feeling pretty good about things. I hope you are too.

xox

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Shelf Notes – Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson

Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson. Full review on my website This is the second book in the Hampstead Murders series which kicked off last year with Death In Profile. This time a murder has occurred inside the Burgh House museum and, handily, Detective Sergeant Karen Willis happens to be on the scene with Peter Collins, her psychologist boyfriend. The author has created an intriguing cast of possible suspects and with a neat turn of the plot, another mystery comes to the surface. But could the two deaths be related, even though they happened decades apart? And where does Agatha Christie come in?

Like its predecessor, Miss Christie Regrets is a quick, easy read – Guy Fraser-Sampson certainly knows how to spin a yarn. If I was critical, I would suggest that some of the police procedural elements are a little repetitive and slow the pace down and the psychologist’s Lord Peter Wimsey delusions probably mean that in real life he would be on extended sick leave, but overall, this is a very satisfying contemporary crime novel with echoes of Golden Age detective stories.

You can read my interview with Guy Fraser-Sampson here.

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