Can you hear me calling? Social media sites for authors – Ep 38 FREE podcast for writers

In some ways, this episode might show its age. We recorded it five years ago, with our friend Adam Waters who’s worked for TV, news organisations, social media organisations and various digital setups. We saw a piece he wrote about how authors can effectively use social media… which mentioned platforms and networks we’d never heard of. So we stuffed him in a sack and brought him to our microphone.

We begin with Toyah. Because: hair. Also because she’s singing about putting a call out into the universe, looking for people who can hear. That’s what we’re all doing, and that hasn’t changed. And while some of the networks and platforms Adam mentions might not now be so prominent, others are still viable and vibrant and it’s interesting to hear the different ways they operate. Some are better for text, some for pictures, some for building relationships with select and personalised groups, some are better just for ‘putting yourself out there’, broadcasting to the world. 2020’s versions might have different names, but the way people interact with them won’t have changed.

My co-host is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.


PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Where should your novel begin? Ep 37 FREE podcast for writers

What should go on your book’s opening pages? Is it true that you should begin with action? Should you introduce the characters first? Explain the world? Perhaps write a prologue? What kind of beginning might inadvertently mislead the reader?

That’s what we’re discussing in today’s episode.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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How to write in the holidays and at other disrupted times – Ep 36 FREE podcast for writers

So, Peter asked, why begin this show with The Time Warp from Rocky Horror?

Because we’re talking about how to keep writing over the holiday season and in times of disruption.

He wasn’t convinced. By The Time Warp, I mean.

I tried again. Remember the beginning of Rocky Horror? A couple arrives at a house. Nothing will be as they expect. All plans are out of the window. Isn’t that a teensy bit like trying to keep hold of your writing routine when everything is changed around you? (Or, Roz, is it simply a thin excuse for playing The Time Warp?)

Whatever, when we made this episode in 2016 we had no inkling of how much change we’d be slammed with in 2020. Nevertheless, we hope the advice will be useful.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

 

 

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How to get followers for your blog – Ep35 FREE podcast

You start a blog about your writing, or maybe about the books you read… but who will read it? How can you spread the word? How often should you post? That’s what we’re talking about in today’s episode.

A caveat – this show was recorded in 2015 so some of the platforms may work slightly differently now. And there may be new ones! But the principles are timeless and will probably hold for as long as there’s an internet.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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After the red pen – a pain-free way to tackle beta reader comments

Last month I was preparing for beta reader comments on the manuscript of my third novel, Ever Rest.

I’ve now received them, so I thought it might be useful to write a follow-up post for how I tackle them.

I was very lucky – and relieved – that the verdict was overwhelmingly positive. The book works. Nevertheless, each reader found minor queries, which is entirely expected.

Some are easy to solve – a change of word or phrase. They won’t upset the flow. But some will be more disruptive, requiring explanations to be unpicked, dialogue to be altered, scene choreography to change.  Those notes are more stressful.

But I have a strategy!

1 – Merge everything

My first step is to merge all the comments onto one Word doc. Not every query needs to be acted on, unless the reader is a specialist in a factual area, then their comments obviously have extra weight. But I pay serious attention if more than one person raises a particular problem.

Then I get to work. I split the edit into two phases.

2a – the factual and literal stage.

I chop in the new material, amend inaccuracies, add clarifications. Change events if necessary. I keep it rough and obvious. I change the text colour to red so I can instantly see it needs better treatment, like a sore thumb.

2b – the flow stage.

Here’s where I integrate the change properly, re-edit the scene, consider if the characters’ reactions should change, decide if there are more consequences to be stitched in later.

In phase 2b, I might decide that some of the 2a additions aren’t necessary. They might be too literal. Or they might need more oblique treatment. Sometimes a reader’s pain point is not caused in the place they registered it. Like sciatica, it might be referred from elsewhere.

This two-phase system allows me to give all the comments a fair hearing, to accept that something needs to be adjusted, without panicking about the wreckage it might leave, without worrying about the wrong things at the wrong time. It often brings me to better insights, to better understand what I’m making.

I’m just finishing phase 1. My manuscript now has new pieces, chopped in like rough surgery. But I’m excited about healing the joins. I know it’s now more authentic, effective, solid, reliable, which is what I want it to be.

PS I’m teaching a masterclass on back story at Jane Friedman’s online lecture hall! July 1st, book now!

PPS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

How do you integrate reader comments? Share below!

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What is writing talent? A bookseller and author-publisher discuss. Ep 34 FREE podcast for writers

What do we mean when we talk about writing talent? What are the magic touches in a piece of prose – or a whole book – that might make us describe a writer as talented? Do we mean the qualities that can’t be taught? And if so, what are they and why do they seem that way? Do ‘talented’ people have it easier, or have they simply discovered how to work and make the best of themselves? Is ‘talent’ actually within everyone’s grasp?

That’s what we’re discussing today.

My co-host is bookseller Peter Snell.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

 

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What is a holiday read? A bookseller and an author-publisher discuss. Ep 33 FREE podcast for writers

First, you must not skip the opening song. It’s one of my favourites. Dreamy. Romantic. Vintage. Nostalgic. These are also some of the qualities of a perfect holiday read, when you step off the everyday and look for something transforming. Even transporting.

Or do you?

That’s what we’re discussing in today’s episode. What makes a perfect holiday book for readers… and what writers might aim for if they want to woo them. Love is in the air. Booklove.

My co-host is independent bookseller Peter Snell.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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The book or the film? How storytelling differs in prose and live action. Ep 32 FREE podcast for writers

We recorded this episode as the TV-watching world was getting ready for the adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, from the novel by Susanna Clarke. Straight away, Peter and I were in dispute. Is it ‘NorRELL’ or ‘NORRell’? Nobody has to decide until it’s said out loud.

And that’s one of the key things about seeing a movie or TV show of a favourite book. It’s different from the version in your head.

We had a terrific time discussing dramatisations that weren’t like the original books, in good ways and bad. Some were simplistic. Some were surprisingly faithful to the spirit of the original or took it in a good new direction. We visited Frankenstein, the James Bond novels, Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd, Vertigo, The English Patient, Mash. Did you even know Mash was a novel?

We also deduce some lessons for writers. Storytelling doesn’t work the same across all these media. We unpick some interesting principles.

My co-host is Peter Snell, independent bookseller.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Devils for detail – dictionaries, grammar and editing considerations for authors. Ep 31 FREE podcast for writers

This is the pedantry episode! There’s a large part of the bookmaking process that’s about detail. The writer has to pay close attention to factual details or the plot might not work. There are also the details of grammar and spelling. But there isn’t just one correct way, there are subtle variations according to which variety of English you use (US? Canadian?), which dictionary you’re following (Collins? OED? Webster?). What about house style? Each publisher has their own. If you’re indie, you might set your own or discuss it with your editor. What even is house style?

That’s what we’re discussing in today’s episode.

Usually I say that Peter asks the questions and I answer them, but today we are each as opinionated as the other. (Who’s Peter? He’s independent bookseller Peter Snell.)

If you live for this kind of detail, you might also like this post – Love writing? Love the tools of the language.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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How to master back story – professional course at Jane Friedman

Back story is a vital element of novel and memoir, but tricky to use well. I’ve certainly been reminded of this when commenting on manuscripts at Pop-Up Submissions. On my first time there, several writers made the mistake of including it right at the beginning, bringing the narrative to a standstill.

But once you learn some tricks and become adept with back story, you have a versatile and exciting tool to add richness, depth and context… all the things that back story should do.

That’s why I’m teaching this course at Jane Friedman’s site on Wednesday July 1st, 1-2pm ET, 6-7pm BST, but if that time doesn’t suit you, a recording will be available.

The course is for writers of any work that contains a story arc –  fiction and memoir, genre and non-genre. Whatever you write, if you want to sharpen and hone your use of back story, this is for you. (Where have you seen Jane Friedman’s name before? She’s a powerhouse in the writing and publishing world. Also, she hosts my ghostwriting course.)

Follow this link to find out more about my back story course and book a place…. Hope to see you there!

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