The Worried Writer Episode #37: Caroline Mitchell ‘I dictate the first draft’

My guest today is Caroline Mitchell. She’s an ex-police detective turned USA Today bestselling thriller author. Her latest book, Silent Victim just became a global bestseller when it hit number 1 on Amazon in the UK, USA and Australia. Caroline brings her real-life experience as a police officer to her writing and she also has an incredible work ethic – something I really admire.

Caroline reveals the ‘what if’ questions that kicked off her latest thriller, her writing process and the secrets behind her amazing productivity!

Find out more about Caroline and her books at carolinemitchellauthor.com

Or follow her on Twitter or FaceBook.

In the introduction I give an update on Beneath The Water and mention the blog tour which is starting next week.

 

If you’ve bought the book – a massive thank you!

I really appreciate your support and, if you could spare a few moments to leave me a review, that would be amazing.

Reviews really help other readers to discover my work and they are also an important sign of success within the industry, looked at by publishers and promotional services such as BookBub. Basically, reviews will help me to sell more copies of Beneath The Water which will in turn make it more likely that I will get another publishing deal.

SHOW SPONSORSHIP

In the three years I’ve been doing a monthly show, my listening figures have grown – which is fabulous – but that has increased the cost of the hosting service. Plus, each show takes around five hours to research, record and edit. There are lots of things I would like to do with the website and show to provide more content and value to you and your support would help me to do so, as well as ensuring the show continues.

When I asked which you would prefer, the majority said ‘Patreon’ rather than corporate adverts within the show.

So, although I feel a bit embarrassed about it (it’s hard to ask for help!), I have set up a Patreon account for The Worried Writer. Click here to go to my PATREON PAGE.

I would like to cover my hosting costs every month so that the show can be a sustainable part of my business. You can support the show for as little as a dollar per month and if you become a silver subscriber ($2 per month) you will have access to an exclusive patron-only audio extra mid-month. This will be a (short) ‘just me’ mini-episode with a quick business, writing, or productivity tip.

Also, after a very nice listener (thank you, Andy!) asked to send me a one-off payment as a tip, I set up a PayPal button, too. So, if you would prefer to support me via a one-off payment of whatever amount, there is that option, too: paypal.me/worriedwriter

Thanks so much!

LISTENER QUESTION

This month’s listener question comes from Amy. She asked:

‘I know you shouldn’t use info dump or too much background detail on your characters but how do you know what is too much?’

If you have a writing, productivity or publishing question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, please get in touch via email or Twitter or leave a comment on this post.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

IN THE INTERVIEW

Caroline’s inspiration:

‘Given my experience in the police I also enjoy writing a good crime thriller with various detectives involved and I take experience from the people I used to work with and the characters I met on a day-to-day basis.’

‘I do a lot of research as well.’

On self-publishing

‘I found it all fascinating.’

On getting an agent:

‘Don’t give up. Just keep trying and maybe prove yourself first is sometimes the best way if it’s possible…’

On writing everyday:

‘It is a very strong work ethic. I think it’s because when I was in the police any officer or anyone in the emergency services will tell you, you work very very long hours, you don’t really have breaks very often and I used to be on call as well… So I would go home after a twelve hour shift and then be on call, so the call could come in at two or three in the morning and I would get up out of my bed and deal with the victim and with that for maybe five, six, seven, eight hours. ‘

‘It was that strong work ethic which transferred to my writing. So when I was still in the police I wrote my Jennifer Knight series. I would get up at half five in the morning and I’d write on the train commute to work which was an hour and if I could get a lunch break, which was rare, I would just eat a sandwich while I was writing and then I’d write again on the way home… ‘

‘I was really really determined, I really wanted to leave my job and I was totally committed to it and I think you have to be.’

‘When I left, I seem to have kept that work ethic up but it’s much easier now because I love what I do.’

‘It’s really hard when your writing and working full-time, that’s really really tough…’

‘I pretty much carry my laptop around me most of the time, when I go anywhere I bring it with me and I don’t tend to take days off and I enjoy it so yeah, the books keep coming.’

On productivity:

‘Social media is the demon of procrastination.’

‘For me it comes into goal setting, word count and everything is set. I have a diary where I write everything I’ve done and if I don’t keep up one day I have to make it up the next day.’

‘Goals, deadlines and plotting is the answer… And having an app on my computer to stop me going on Facebook during the day.’

‘I’m producing a book every six months but the last couple of years I’ve been writing three books a year which is hard going.’

‘I dictate the first draft so I get it out really quickly. I can get a first draft out in five weeks. It is rubbish, though, then I have to go back and edit it all and fix it. But I find the dialogue is much better when I dictate because basically it’s all dialogue and then I go back and I put in the setting and the scenery and the descriptions and it’s like a painting, it’s just layer upon layer.’

‘If I’m dictating I can do 10 or 15,000 words in a weekend because I’m just telling the story.’

On process:

‘If I get stuck with anything I go for a good long walk… I can be heard mumbling to myself as I work out these plots that refuse to budge.’

The dreaded editorial letter:

‘I struggle to open it for about a day… I can hardly look at it.’

On the writing life:

‘I’m the luckiest person in the world.’

Advice to those who want to write:

‘Constantly work on your craft, never stop learning… And don’t give up!’

Recommended:

Caroline uses various tools to help her to block out distraction (social media!) and focus on her work.

Freedom – blocks websites and apps on your devices and computers (PC and Mac). I use and love this one, too!

RescueTime (Mac only). This tracks the time you spend on websites and applications, giving you accurate details on how you spend your day.

Dragon software for dictation.

Joanna Penn’s advice on dictation.

Caroline recommends listening to motivational tracks (some available on Spotify).

Caroline’s writing advice can be found on her blog.

 

Thanks for listening!

[I just realised that I forgot to update you on my progress with dictation. To be fair, that progress has been minimal this month (I have just bought the software). I am going to make a proper effort to try it in March and will report back next month!]

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More

The Worried Writer Episode #36: Joanna Penn ‘The Healthy Writer’

The Healthy Writer by Joanna PennMap Of Shadows by J.F.PennJoanna Penn is an award-nominated New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, writing thrillers, supernatural crime and fantasy under the name J.F. Penn.

I consider Joanna my unofficial mentor and I’m personally very grateful for the information and encouragement she puts out into the world. If you aren’t aware of Joanna’s wonderful website and podcast The Creative Penn or her non fiction books such as Business For Authors, do check them out.

Joanna has been on the show before but today we are talking about her new book, The Healthy Writer. It’s an important topic for everyone, whether you are writing full time or not, as writing is a sedentary (sometimes stressful!) job and there are plenty of ways it can mess up our physical and mental wellbeing.

I highly recommend the book. It’s full of sane, non-judgemental advice which is tailored for the particular health issues writers face such as back pain, RSI, eye strain and loneliness.

The Healthy Writer is available in print and ebook with audio coming soon!

Joanna’s site and podcast for writers: thecreativepenn.com

J.F.Penn author site: jfpenn.com

Joanna’s previous appearance on The Worried Writer – Episode #08 ‘I Measure My Life By What I Create’.

Twitter: @thecreativepenn Facebook: The Creative Penn

Writing update:

In the introduction, I talk about my new novel Beneath The Water, which lands in shops next week. Here’s a little bit about it and a pre-order link!

Beneath The Water is set in both Arisaig on the west coast of Scotland in the present day and amidst the medical community of Edinburgh in 1847. Stella Jackson is broken-hearted after her fiance leaves, and she runs away to Scotland to stay with her best friend, but she ends up working for the mysterious Jamie Munro. It’s a Gothic love story set in a stunning part of the world with a historical strand which explores the background to some of the medical breakthroughs we take for granted today such as obstetric anaesthesia.

If that sounds like your cup of tea or you just want to support my writing career(!) please do check it out. It’s published on Thursday 8th February in ebook, paperback and audiobook.

In other book news, the audio version of Stop Worrying; Start Writing is up for sale. It’s available on audible (free with a one-month free trial or one credit) or through Amazon. I narrated it myself so if you can’t get enough of my voice and think hearing my tips on self-doubt and procrastination might work for you, it’s available for your listening pleasure! Audible link : Amazon link

Also, I am keen to get some reviews on the audio book, so if you would be willing to leave an honest review after listening, do email me as I have a limited number of free review copies available.

In writing news, I’m waiting to hear whether my latest rewrite of my supernatural thriller is ready for submission to publishers and getting ready to dive back into my current shiny new project. It’s been on hold for the last week or so while I’ve been doing publicity stuff for BTW, but I’m determined to make February a high word-count month.

Also, a quick word on the audio quality of the this episode – my side of the interview doesn’t sound quite as clear as usual, I’m afraid.

Of all the people to have a tech failure with, my heroine for both creativity and professionalism would not have been my first choice. I was utterly mortified when an update to my recording software meant things weren’t working properly when I jumped onto Skype to chat to Joanna Penn. However, I tell you this as I like to share the warts and all experience with you and also to demonstrate that even when things go wrong, it’s not the end of the world. In this instance, Joanna couldn’t have been nicer about it and she even offered to record the interview on my behalf so that we could still go ahead.

As is so often the way with putting yourself out there, people are usually super-supportive and nice and forgiving. On which note, I hope you forgive the difference in audio!

In the interview:

Joanna on writing:

‘As writers, we need to lean into that muse.’

 

‘Being a writer can just be a cranking wheel of content creation instead of the dream job we want it to be.’

On the importance of focusing on health:

‘In 2016 I realised that I had to change my physical health… I had reached the point where I was in enough pain to change.’

 

‘I just considered my body as vehicle for my brain.’

 

‘I discover that the best brain hack possible is good nutrition, good sleep, exercise – these things will make you more productive, more creative, more happy and those are the best hacks we can do for our brain. I really had to learn the connection between my mind and body.’

 

On loneliness as a writer:

‘Social media is great but when we moved to Bath I started friend-dating.’

 

‘I started my podcast in 2009 so that I could talk to people.’

On co-writing with Dr Euan Lawson:

‘I’m a control freak so I had final say!’

 

‘If you want to co-write, one of the parties has to be the alpha.’

 

‘Co-writing is a trend because it’s so much easier now… You can work with something like Bundle Rabbit which will deal with the payments.’

On dictation:

‘Destroyer of Worlds was dictated and that is award-nominated so I can certainly say that dictating a first draft does not affect the quality of your final product which I think a lot of people worry about.’

 

‘It’s a bit like health – you will not get fit in one day and you won’t become a master dictator in one day.’

 

‘Don’t replicate what you would have done with typing… Just start by doing a bullet point kind of outline.’

 

‘You are dictating first draft writing, do not try and dictate anything that is final draft.’

Also, I pledge to try dictation and Joanna challenges me to report back! Tune in next month and I will let you know how I get on.

Recommended Resources:

Fool Proof Dictation by Christopher Downing

Dictate Your Book by Monica Leonelle

The Writer’s Guide To Training Your Dragon by Scott Baker

Healthy Writer Tips on The Creative Penn

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast in iTunes and makes it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Read More

Focus On Your ‘Why’ To Supercharge Your Productivity

Desk with open notebook - writing

So, it’s almost the end of January and the optimism of New Year’s Eve has probably fizzled. It’s completely normal to have ups and downs in your motivation and energy levels, so don’t beat yourself up!

However, a drop in drive is a good time to check over your plans and goals and make sure you know your ‘why’ for each one.

If you set goals which you truly want to achieve (not things you just think you ‘should’ want to do) then getting re-energised should be simple.

It’s time to take a hard look at your list and think about WHY you set those particular goals.

For example, if you wrote ‘finish my novel in 2018’, then think about why that is important to you. Your ‘why’ can be financial, personal, emotional, whatever… It doesn’t matter (and you never need to tell another living soul) but it has to be real and true.

Be as specific and as honest as you can about your motivation and, ideally, write it down.

This process can be liberating, too, as it can help you to weed out goals in which you aren’t properly invested, giving you more focus for the things which are truly important.

It’s important to remember that your list doesn’t have to remain static and it’s not ‘cheating’ to alter your priorities.

If you go back to your list and find that you no longer care about something on it or that you have changed your mind about the value of a particular task, then you can cross it off with a clear conscience. Equally, you might find that your ‘why’ has changed for a particular goal and by recognising this, you give yourself a lovely jolt of enthusiasm for the project.

Now, pick your main goal and imagine you have already achieved it. Spend time in this daydream, imagining it fully and allowing yourself to feel the sense of excitement and achievement. Now, bring yourself back to the present and recognise that the only way to get from here to there is a matter of taking action TODAY.

BONUS TIP!

If you are stuck on your current book and finding it hard to be productive, then you can use the ‘why’ question to reignite your passion for your story.

Get out your journal and freewrite your feelings on your WIP. Think about what excited you about the idea in the first place, list the fun things in the book or scenes you are looking forward to writing.

Write down WHY you want to write this particular story. Is it a topic which really interests you? Is the theme close to your heart?

Or, is your ‘why’ to do with your ideal reader and the experience you want to provide? Do you want to write something super-fun that will be a bright spot for your reader, cheering them up after a bad day? Or do you want to leave them curled in a foetal position, sobbing?

Again, allow yourself to picture having finished the story you want to write. Imagine the best possible result (why not, after all?) and write it down. If you are anything like me, you will resist this. It will feel like hubris. You will think ‘oh, but that will never happen’ and ‘I bet I will make a mess of this great book idea’. But, remember, this is completely private. And it is just day dreaming. Allow yourself a lovely, positive fantasy in which you have finished a book which you are really pleased with and which sells really well and brings you international acclaim etc etc…

And now get back to work!

For more productivity tips, inspiration and writerly support, why not check out my book?

Stop Worrying; Start Writing: How To Overcome Fear, Self-Doubt and Procrastination

Now available in audio! Free with a one-month Audible trial

 

 

 

 

[Image Credit (desk): Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash. Image Credit (love): Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash]

Read More

My 2018 Writing Goals

This is my third year of setting my goals in public. I have been making plans – both personally and professionally – for a long time, but the added accountability of putting them ‘out there’ definitely helps me to stay on track!

In case you’re interested, the previous posts are here: January 2016 and January 2017.

If you would prefer not to put your goals on the internet (eek!), finding an accountability partner can also work really well. You just need a friend or acquaintance who is also trying to achieve concrete goals, and then you set a regular meet-up (or schedule regular emails) in which you will set your tasks and report on your progress. It really helps!

Using a combination of public accountability, private accountability partners, and my own beloved system of tracking with both a paper planner and a bullet journal, 2017 was my most productive year, yet. I want to maintain this focus and, as always, improve!

So, 2018…

Writing

I know I always say this but here goes… I will prioritise creation this year. I say ‘creation’ rather than ‘writing’ because, while I want to keep novels as my main focus, I also want to encourage myself to try different forms and to create, finish and publish all kinds of things (including non-fiction for this site).

In concrete terms, my writing goals are:

  • Write two new novels.
  • Write (at least!) six articles for the Worried Writer site.
  • Try writing something in a different form (for fun!) eg. Radio play or a short story.

I also want to get more efficient with my other tasks (such as email, admin, marketing) to free-up more time for writing.

I think that batching similar tasks, keeping a firm grip on my to-do lists and using a timer will help.

Also, I want to be more aware of my attention (and when it is fragmented), as I want to develop my ability for sustained, deep focus. I’m halfway through Cal Newport’s Deep Work and it makes a compelling argument for the importance of this last goal.

 

 

Publishing

  • Beneath The Water is up for pre-order and is out on February 8th from Lake Union. Create a marketing plan (and follow through!) including guest blogs, interviews, and giveaways.
  • Get a new publishing deal with either my supernatural book or WIP.
  • Publish new urban fantasy (the first in a series!) through Siskin Press (aiming for October).
  • Get print rights back for The Secrets of Ghosts and publish paperback myself.
  • Get better at marketing and work on my mindset issues around this topic.

 

Learning

I had some great training on performance and presentation with The Scottish Book Trust in November 2017, and I’d like to do more ‘real life’ learning in 2018.

I also need to consolidate the information I learned through Mark Dawson’s Ads For Authors course and do more testing on various ads.

 

 

Creativity

I did a little bit better at scheduling time off for ‘refilling the well’ in 2017 but there is still room for improvement. Particularly in scheduling full days in which I leave the house and visit a gallery or similar…

 

 

Health

I really want to focus on my health this year. Since my children no longer require walking to and from school every day and my job involves lots of sitting, I am keenly aware that my general fitness is declining. So, this year:

  • Increase walking to an average of 10,000 steps per day. I’ve been tracking my daily walks (in mileage) for a while, but by switching to total daily steps I’m hoping to encourage myself to just move a bit more/take regular screen breaks.
  • Do some longer walks and hill walks.
  • Continue playing badminton and add in yoga class (or schedule time to do yoga/stretching at home).
  • Do breathing exercises every day.

Also, as I truly believe this vital for health and happiness, but I’m pretty terrible at taking my own advice…

Schedule time off that is just for relaxing (or socialising or reading quietly on the sofa) WITHOUT GUILT!

 

If you are interested in improving your health and wellbeing, I’d heartily recommend The Healthy Writer by Joanna Penn and Dr Euan Lawson. It tackles the health issues specific to writers in a practical and friendly manner. I’m very excited to have Joanna Penn back on the podcast next month to discuss this important topic further.

 

Community

  • Get better at sending out my newsletter and increase the size of my reader group/mailing list.
  • Continue with monthly episodes of the podcast and add a Patreon account to help with the running costs (with perks such as extra content).
  • Get to more real-life author meet-ups for fun, friendship and support.
  • I intend to do at least one author event (in which I read my fiction – meep!) or workshop (in which I talk about strategies for overcoming fear, self-doubt and procrastination).

I am also planning on attending my first professional conference. I keep swithering between the traditional book events such as ScotsWrite or an RNA event, and one of the more business-focused ones like The London Book Fair.

 

Your turn! What are your goals for 2018?

Let’s make it a good year! 

Read More

The Worried Writer Episode #35: Lisa Hall ‘We’re Living The Dream’

My guest today is Lisa Hall, author of the bestselling psychological thrillers Between You and Me and Tell Me No Lies, which Heat magazine called ‘breathlessly fast-paced and cleverly unsettling’. Not content with a successful career as an author, Lisa has also crossed the divide to the other side of the business by founding a new publishing imprint, Manatee Books.

You can find out more about Lisa and her books at www.lisahallauthor.co.uk or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

In the introduction I give a recap on my progress during 2017.

It was a good year – my most productive so far, in fact – but I am keen to improve and to make 2018 even better.

2017

In 2017, my main writing goal was to write two new novels and to finish, edit and publish the Worried Writer book.

I managed one new first draft, two lots of major structural rewrites on ‘old’ drafts (including Beneath The Water which is out next month!), and I wrote and published Stop Worrying; Start Writing.

I also narrated the audiobook version, which was very enjoyable but also quite tricky and time-consuming!  It will hopefully be up for sale by the end of the month.

My supernatural thriller is almost ready to go on submission to publishers. This is always a nerve-wracking time and I’m very grateful that I have other projects to distract me…

I got The Garden of Magic made into an audio book and created a short story giveaway for my reader group sign-up.

Phew!

Highlights

I’m trying to get better at celebrating small successes, so listed some of my highlights from 2017:

  • Talking about overcoming fear and self-doubt on The Creative Penn podcast. You can listen here or watch the video on YouTube.
  • The Worried Writer being featured in Mslexia magazine.
  • Getting a new publishing deal with Lake Union with Beneath The Water.

 

2018

I give a brief overview of my goals for 2018, but will put up a more detailed ‘Writing Goals’ post on the 2nd January.

Are you setting goals for 2018? I would love to hear about your plans, too.

Comment below with your goals, or get in touch with any questions on goal-setting, defining success, or productivity.

 

In the interview:

Lisa’s schedule:

‘Because I’ve got three children I have to cram quite a lot in those hours in the middle of the day. When I’m writing I aim for 2000 words a day… I try not to do anything in that period when the children come home from school and go to bed.’

 

‘I do work Saturdays and Sundays. Especially when I’m on a deadline or I’m in the zone… Even I only get 500 words down then I don’t feel so guilty about taking the rest of the day off and spending it with the kids.’

 

‘The first couple of hours in the morning I do admin stuff. With Manatee Books there’s a lot of admin… I keep hours in the afternoon free for writing. I mean, it doesn’t always balance-out! It balances out eventually, but it’s quite hard.’

 

‘I’ve always got a to-do list… So I can work through and I know exactly what needs to be done every day and then I tag my wordcount onto the end.’

 

Writing process:

 

‘I quite often go for a run if I get stuck.’

 

‘I hate the thought of editing and when I get my edit notes, I don’t want to open the email… But once I make a start I’m okay.’

 

‘I’m a massive planner… I can’t write any other way.’

 

‘When I’m working on a book it’s like the idea for the next book can’t fully come through until that book is finished… It’s like my brain won’t let me think about the full story so I do worry that the idea won’t come, but it’s been like this every time.’

 

On starting a publishing company:

‘I’ve had a really good experience with my road to publication and the way HQ have handled things for me… And I know there are people out there who don’t have such a good experience so I wanted to set up something where hopefully we give every author a good experience… It’s really really exciting when you sign the contract but I feel like that excitement should keep going all the way through… I just want everyone to have a lovely experience. We’re living the dream after all!’

 

‘One day I might run out ideas but even if I can’t write I’ll still get to be involved in books, in publishing and be surrounded by brilliant stories and that’s all I really want.’

 

‘We are open for submissions. Liz is always on the lookout for good crime novels. I prefer the more commercial crime novel but she is all about the quirky… I work on the women’s fiction side of it which I really love… I’m looking for good chick lit, nice holiday reading and I’m really on the lookout for a good bookclub read. Um, bit of romance – not too saucy.’

 

Lisa’s advice to other authors:

‘Building an author brand is a slow burn and you need to be patient.’

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast in iTunes and makes it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More

The Worried Writer Ep#34: ‘Check In With Your Goals’

In this ‘just me’ episode I recap my progress over 2017, give tips learned from my recent ‘performance and presentation’ training, and answer a listener question about getting a trilogy published…

Writing progress:

As the end of the year approaches, I start thinking about next year – mainly because I tend to go into hibernation mode during this time but I absolutely love the fresh new start of January and get far more excited by the new goal setting and planning of a new year.

I’ve tried to recognise that I go into a bit of an energy slump in December and have scheduled a light month. However, I’m a bit behind on some of my November goals, so I want to really push myself this week to get as much done as possible before I wind down for the year.

I have revisited my goals from January this year and I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved, but if I can tick a couple more things off the list then even better!

I encourage you to check in with your goals on a regular basis – but definitely at large junctures like quarterly or at the beginning, middle and end of the year. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or like I’m not getting much done it can be either encouraging to see what I have actually managed or the kick up the backside I need.

This year I planned to write, edit and publish Stop Worrying; Start Writing in all formats. The ebook and print versions are done and the audio should scrape in under the wire, I hope!

I also did extensive structural rewrites on Beneath The Water (now available to pre-order – meep!), finished and rewrote my supernatural thriller, and have almost finished the first draft of a new novel.

In writing terms, it’s probably my best, most productive year yet but I am still aware of how much more I am capable of or, more accurately, how much more I want to do. I think I have to be happy with my own process, but also to push myself a bit and keep trying to refine my work habits. It’s a tricky balance.

This year I also planned to do some real life events, meeting up with author friends who live around the UK and beyond, and I managed a couple of lovely lunches – hurrah! I also made strides with my business training by completing the SPF 101 course and ‘advertising for authors’, both from the excellent Mark Dawson. I’ve started to experiment with ads with some success, so that’s pleasing. I’ve also been building my mailing list, although I have a lot more to do in that area.

This month, I was lucky enough to get attend a Performance and Presentation training day put on by the Scottish Book Trust. There were workshops from Jenny Lindsay, a spoken word poet, and Alex Gillon, a voice coach.

It was an intense day and quite hard in places, but the workshops were incredibly powerful and useful.

 

Lessons learned:

Mindset is important!

  • Remember why you are doing this (to share your work).
  • The people in the audience are not out to hate you or have a bad time and they won’t be hyper-critical if you make little mistakes or seem nervous.
  • Think of it like talking a group of people you’ve just met in the pub. You don’t know them well, but they seem nice.
  • ACT FINE. You don’t have to be super-confident or to feel fine, you just have to act fine.

Practical tips:

  • Walk the space beforehand.
  • Insist on a sound check.
  • Warm up with stretching, shaking out the tension in your body and do some breathing exercises before you go on.

Perform!

The other big takeaway for me was the idea of really performing the piece. Having only presented non-fiction, I hadn’t appreciated how much feeling and variety you need to put into a piece of fiction to make it come alive. It’s no good just reading the text nice and clearly; if you want your listeners to experience it properly, you have to act with emotion and use different voices for the different characters and so on.

I am so grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for the opportunity and feel more confident than I did at the thought of reading my fiction to an audience. I’m still terrified, of course, but it helps to know there are techniques and tips I can follow.

Listener Question:

This month’s listener question is from Georgia. She wrote:

I am currently learning how to edit my first draft of my very first novel! I am planning on making it the first of three in a series. I would like to try to get it traditionally published…

However, I have a full-time job and am worried that even if I did manage to get a deal for all three, trying to write to a deadline alongside a full-time job would be too much. Would it be better to write all of the series and then try and get it published? Or would publishers be reluctant to buy a series all in one go?

Thanks so much for the great question, Georgia!

My advice is to start querying as soon as book one is ready. Traditional publishing is very slow so you will have time to finish your second and maybe even third while you wait to hear from agents and publishers. A publisher might not want to buy a trilogy so it is a good idea to make sure book one can stand alone, too.

 

If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, please email me or find me on Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

 

I can’t believe that the next show will be out in 2018!

I have a fabulous interview with psychological thriller author and publisher (Manatee Books), Lisa Hall, to share with you, and will also discuss my goals for 2018.

Thank you so much for your support this year and I wish you a happy winter holiday!

 

 

Thank you for listening!

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes or whichever podcast app you use. Reviews and shares really help the visibility of the show.

 

Read More