The Worried Writer Episode #51: B.P. Walter ‘I Need A Map To Follow’

My guest today is Barnaby Walter, who writes under the name B. P. Walter. His debut novel, A Version of the Truth, is a dark psychological thriller published by Avon.

It has been called: ‘Beguiling, surprising and sometimes shocking.’

Barnaby is an alumni of the Faber Academy and currently works in social media coordination for Waterstones in London.

Follow B.P. Walter on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

 

IN THE INTRODUCTION

Become a PatreonThank you so much for supporting the show on Patreon. I wouldn’t still be doing the podcast without you as, much as I love podcasting, it does take a lot of time and some money to produce and I wouldn’t be able to justify it as part of my business.

Massive thanks to new patrons and to everyone supporting the show. Thank you so much!

Join our growing Patreon community at The Worried Writer on Patreon.

If you want instant access to the audio and to become an insider member of the podcast, you can sign up for just $2 a month via the link above. (You can support me for as long or a short a time as you like – cancel any time).

LISTENER QUESTION

I answer the following listener question…

Holly asked:

I’ve now got a ‘finished’ manuscript and I know the next steps will be to send it out to readers, agents and ultimately publishers. However, I can’t bring myself to let anyone read it – even my very supportive husband!  I just seem to have a real worry about anyone reading my fiction (which is a bit of a contradiction in terms for someone who wants to be a novelist…) The fear of being judged or finding out I have no talent is really holding me back, but I know I won’t improve my draft or my writing generally unless I get some feedback. Do you have any strategies for getting over this wall?

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).

WRITING UPDATE

This month I’ve been editing The Silver Mark and I sent it out to my ARC team last week. I’ve already had some feedback – good feedback – which is, as always, a massive relief!

Those who have been listening a while may already know this, but my Crow Investigations series is something I decided to do independently, another step along the hybrid publishing path and, so far, it’s gone really well. Far better than I hoped, I’ll be honest, which is very exciting indeed. I’m in the process of signing a deal for the audio rights, too, so The Night Raven will be truly hybrid with a traditional deal for the audiobook.

I think a large part of The Night Raven’s success is down to the amazing cover and, in case you are hybrid or independent (or thinking about it!), I want to recommend the agency I used. It’s called Books Covered and the art director is Stuart Bache who has many years of experience in the traditional industry. He has designed covers for authors such as John Le Carre and Stephen King and he is absolutely brilliant to work with. www.bookscovered.co.uk

 

RECOMMENDED

Barnaby plans his books and recommends the following book for getting to grips with story structure.

Stealing Hollywood by Alexandra Sokoloff

Barnaby also did a creative writing course at the Faber Academy and he recommends it highly. His tutor at the academy was Rowan Coleman.

 

 

IN THE INTERVIEW

On his book industry day job and how it affected his dreams of becoming an author:

I started for Waterstones as a weekend bookseller when I was fifteen or sixteen years old… Now I work in the head office doing social media coordination… Surrounded by the industry, the traditional publishing world, being surrounded by a lot of success… And on the other side of it, knowing that some books don’t do very well…

Knowing the astonishing the highs which are possible – and it’s very exciting to see a book catch fire like that, I think in part inspired me. Not that I thought I could achieve that, but seeing people be so passionate about story was amazing.

The other side, it meant I knew how difficult it was for any book, even once it’s published, to even make it to a bookshop shelf… Simply there’s just not enough space… It’s a fight, really. It didn’t stop me, thankfully, I didn’t shrink away in fear.

 

On the Faber Academy:

I had an idea for a third novel, but I was conscious that I had never been taught creative writing… So I read in the back of a lot of books, I quite like reading acknowledgements in the back of novels, particularly if you’re trying to get published… The things they say are often really interesting and the Curtis Brown and Faber Academy courses kept cropping up… I was so lucky, my employer made it possible for me to got to the Faber academy and change around my working schedule to make it possible for me to attend on Thursday mornings… I felt I needed some kind of guiding hand, a route through the darkness.

The Faber Academy was a very important turning point when I was trying to do this thing we call writing. It gave me tools, almost like an armoury, to approach it in more of a methodical way… It helped me realise that it wasn’t this strange potion making, this mystical magical thing that nobody knows how it works… It helped me to find my formula, my own mystical alchemy. And by sharing it with other writers and by being guided by a brilliant tutor, I had the wonderful writer Rowan Coleman…  She’s such an incredible inspiration to her class because she really, clearly loves what she does and the art of storytelling and that really helped me get to grips with the story I wanted to tell. The WIP I did while at the academy was the one that ended up getting published.

I can’t even say how helpful it was because it’s so buried in the fabric of what I do… If anyone is considering it I would say go for it.

 

On the submission process:

So many times in this industry you are ready for the next step or for things to get better, or you think ‘my God this is the next step, this is it’ … Each time you get an email which says can we have the full manuscript or can we have an exclusive on this title or whatever, you think ‘oh wow, it’s really going to happen’. And then it doesn’t. It’s hard not to feel as if you’re back to square one.

 

On writing when working full-time:

I find it really difficult… Trying to cram in the thing that’s most important to me, but squeezing it into little bits of time here and there is quite upsetting really. Because it’s the thing that you want to devote your full attention to and to do the best you possibly can… but you really have to slot it in.

I try to write a little bit in the evenings and I write every lunchtime for an hour.

The main hassle for me is that I spend my entire day in front of LED backlit screens so when I get home the last thing I want to do is spend more hours in front of a laptop screen.

Weekends are when I’m most productive because I can do bits and have breaks… I would struggle to give tips because I don’t have it figured it out.

I would say do what fits in the rhythm of your own life and don’t get too hung up on trying to get a routine if your current situation doesn’t lend itself to a routine yet.

I don’t focus on the amount of words I’m doing or pages or anything like that. A lot of it can be research or thinking which doesn’t lead to a thousand words a day… I do try to think about the book each day and think about how it could progress and to think about any of the nitty gritty problems in the plot and try to untangle them.

 

On plotting:

I need a map to follow. When I have an idea for a book… I then have to write it down step by step. I normally write down a chapter breakdown, with a plot synopsis.

Just having it makes me feel in control of the process rather than the process being in control of me.

I quite often cast my characters with actors. I cut out their pictures from publicity stills or whatever and I copy that to a cast list with every character and their age, job, where they figure in the plot and have their picture next to that. It helps me visualise them when I’m laying it out and that probably comes from my film studies days.

 

On writing process:

I can write at home, I can write in a coffee shop, I’m not too sensitive or particular, really. Complete silence would probably be the worst thing. If there’s nothing, I put on rain sounds or something in the background. Something to generate white noise so it’s not pin drop silence which can create an echo chamber in your head.

 

On the three act structure:

‘Once you’ve got structure to build on, the building on it becomes a lot more enjoyable.’

 

On life post-publishing:

‘It introduces a new level of consciousness and anxiety into the process’

‘It’s very strange… When you’re writing you think of it as the dream. You think something really stupid, you think once this happens all my problems will be solved and I’ll be forever happy.’

‘You just collect other problems and stresses… Which isn’t to diminish the wonderful feeling of having done it. It is wonderful but it’s not a one-sided thing.’

‘The feeling of anticlimax… Your life, quite often, doesn’t change.’

‘The week of publication when there’s a lot of focus on you and your book, I actually found that trickier than I expected… I’m a natural introvert and I’ve spent decades making sure I’m not the focus of attention in a room full of people.’

 

 

Thanks for listening!

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.

The Worried Writer Ep#42: Victoria Walters ‘There Was A Lot of Rejection’

My guest today is author and blogger, Victoria Walters. Her debut novel, The Second Love of my Life, saw Victoria labeled an ‘Amazon Rising Star’ and was called ‘Brilliant and superior women’s fiction’ by Heat magazine. Victoria’s new book, Random Acts of Kindness, has being released in a four-part series by Simon & Schuster.

It has just been packaged as a single ebook and given a new title, Summer At The Kindness Cafe, and is out this month. Pre-order here. The paperback is out next year.

We talk about the challenges and benefits of writing in a serial format, Victoria’s road to publication and her writing process.

You can find out more about Victoria and her books at victoria-writes.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

IN THE INTRODUCTION

I give an update on my writing life in July, including my writing progress and plans for releasing my new novel in October.

Also, I talk about my decision to accept my own writing process (and my lack of planning/outlining!).

Do let me know if you would like me to talk about how I write novels without outlining.

I also give a shout-out to my new supporters on Patreon (thank you!). The latest audio extra gives tips on creating and naming characters. You can access it, and the previous four extras, for as little as $2 per month.

For more information, see The Worried Writer on Patreon.

LISTENER QUESTION

I answer two questions this month:

Ian Howlett asked:

When you’re in writing mode, how many words do you produce in the average day (if there is such a thing as an average day!)? I’m thinking specifically about non-fiction, since that’s what I write.

Julie Cordiner asked:

Please do you have any tips for how to step back and look holistically at the plot, character arcs and historical setting? I’m getting too close to it! Thank you.

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

On writing a four-part series:

‘I had about a month to write each part… So that was tricky.’

‘There was always something happening, I either had editing to do or one of the parts was coming out and I had reviews to tweet or whatever. More activity than usual.’

On writing:

‘I’m an only child so a lot of my childhood was using my imagination and making up stories…’

‘I do try to write a bit each day, but I’m not really strict about it… I find that quite stressful, I’d rather write when I’m feeling okay to write. I think when I try to force myself then I just start hate the book I’m writing so I’d rather do it when I’m in the best mood.’

‘I tend to write better in the mornings. By the time it gets to about three o’clock I start to think it’s time for Netflix now, surely!’

‘I don’t have a set wordcount… Some days I might write 1000 words, but some days I’ve written 10,000 words in a day, it all depends on the mood I’m in.’

‘For me, I like to write a first draft and then I edit it afterwards… I’m more productive when I just get it down on paper… Especially when I had these really tight deadlines for the serial, I couldn’t be really perfectionist about it because my editor just needed it.’

On publishing:

‘There was a lot of rejection.’

‘The most challenging part of being a writer is that you really don’t have much control over anything but your writing.’

‘All we can do is write the best book we can write.’

‘More than the self doubt, it’s the uncertainty of the business that worries me.’

 

On self-doubt:

‘Once you start talking to other authors you find out that we all feel the same way.’

‘Sometimes a bit of self-doubt is good… It can motivate you, push you forward a bit… I think I would worry if I started to think I was the best writer in the world.’

Victoria’s writing tips:

‘You’ve got to find what works for you.’

‘Reading is the best kind of learning for a writer.’

‘When I’m stuck, everybody just has a meal.’

 

 

Thanks for listening!

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.

The Worried Writer Episode #38: M.J. Ford ‘I Just Write As Hard And As Fast As I Can’

 

My guest today is Michael Ford, who writes under the name M.J. Ford. Michael has written and edited children’s fiction for Working Partners for several years, as well as working as a ghost writer on other projects. His debut novel for adults, Hold My Hand, is out this month from Avon and we talk about what it’s like to be published under his own name, his writing routine, and why others should consider writing for a book packager like Working Partners.

You can find buy Hold My Hand here, or connect with Michael on Twitter.

 

In the introduction I give a writing update and talk about the strategies I’ve been using to make progress while wrestling a second draft into shape.

SHOW SPONSORSHIP

I conduct my very first Patreon-supporters shout-out (yay!).

If you want to support the show (and get a mini audio extra mid-month, your very own shout-out, and my eternal gratitude) head to The Worried Writer Patreon Page.

Beneath The Water had a successful launch (phew), but now I’m on submission for my supernatural thriller and am back to obsessively checking my emails for news.

I share some good news about my second novel, The Secrets of Ghosts. I’ve secured the print rights back from the publisher, so I will be able to release the paperback later this year. Yay!

I also recommend the informative and honest Self Publishing Journeys podcast by Paul Teague for those interested in independent publishing or a hybrid approach to their writing career.

Another show I’ve been enjoying recently is The Honest Authors Podcast by Holly Seddon and Gillian McAllister. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the writing life of two successful (traditionally published) authors.

LISTENER QUESTION

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

On Working Partners

‘Working partners is a packager… Packers essentially do the same thing as a writer in that they sell manuscripts to publishers. The difference is that packagers tend to be collaborative creators… Lots of people work on a book, not just a single writer.’

‘At Working Partners we come up with storylines through brainstorming and those are enhanced and elaborated until they are quite detailed synopsises of several thousand words and after that we find a writer to write the book.’

‘We work a bit like a TV or film studio writer’s room.’

‘We look to exploit the content across all media so it’s not just books, it’s also TV and film, it’s video games, it’s live theatre shows… And we often produce series rather than standalone books.’

‘Working Partners are behind some of the bestselling children’s series in the UK and globally, things like Beast Quest, Animal Ark, Rainbow Magic…. These are all series which have been running for a decade or more… Although lots of writers may have worked on them, there has always been a core team at Working Partners team which keeps the editorial content consistent.’

‘It’s fair to say that everything I know about writing has come because of my experience there (writing for Working Partners) which is why I bang on about it so much. You know, being edited, editing, talking constantly about story and how story works, has really helped me on my own writing journey.’

‘If you’re fairly new to writing then working for Working Partners can be a good training ground.’

Michael’s writing process:

‘I’m quite regimented… In theory at least… I tend to have a few things on the go. I’m still editing for Working Partners and I’m also freelance writing for them… Because I only have really three days a week to write in and I don’t particularly like eating into my family time, I know that within those three days I have to meet a certain word count or something will have to give further down the line, you know sleep or seeing the kids.’

‘I start in the morning straight after the school run and I just write as hard and as fast as I can to meet that word count.’

‘Objectively I’m getting quite a lot of words written, they’re very rarely are in good shape… I’m not happy with them at all. I tend to burn out in the early afternoon and then I revisit that awful writing the next morning or that evening and try to lick it into some sort of shape.’

‘I tend to have lots of things on a go. Within a day I’ll concentrate on one book and the next day I might be doing something completely different.’

On working concurrently on several book projects:

‘It all comes down to knowing your character and slipping into their shoes as quickly as possible.’

Recommended:

On Writing by Stephen King

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for listening!

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.