Sunday 25 March 2018

Podcasts - Share Your Favourites...

I know podcasts are very popular, and I have listened to a few writing-related ones, but I never seem to have the time to listen to them regularly, so I know I'm missing out on a lot of interesting and useful information.

I was catching up on a couple this afternoon...

So often now I hear podcasts mentioned on radio programmes, and elsewhere, that I thought they were younger than they actually are.

So many,
so little time...
Apparently the first podcast was created back in 2003. There was an interesting interview (in the Guardian from 2016) with Christopher Lydon; who along with software developer and Harvard colleague Dave Winer produced the first podcast.

If you want to create podcasts there's lots of information on the web. Here's some handy expert tips via Wired magazine.

Just as there are thousands of blogs about a wide variety of topics, there's just as many podcasts available, and of course finding the good ones can be difficult, so here's where you can help spread the word.

Concentrating just on podcasts that are about writing or writing related, I'd like your personal recommendations for those we should all be listening to-no self-promotion! 

If there are enough suggestions I may create a page on the blog for your recommendations, so please use the comments form at the bottom of this post to share details of your favourites, and a little bit about what it is that keeps you going back.

Even if you don't have a podcast to suggest you're still welcome to comment.

To start us off, here's my recommendation; the AskALLi podcasts from the Alliance of Independent Authors. They have four different shows so there's something for varying skill levels.

So over to you; who should we be listening to?

image from

Sunday 18 March 2018

Writers and Data Protection...

Many places in the UK have had another fall of snow; not as heavy as it was at the start of March, but still snow, very cold and windy.

I'm at my desk in the warm, thankfully.

Data, it's everywhere: mailing lists, buying from online stores, and subscribing to newsletters.

Coming soon...
On the 25th May 2018 new data protection laws apply, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) apply to EU countries. These replace existing UK Data Protection laws...

The Society of Authors were aware these new regulations could effect authors (and writing related organisations) but all the information seemed to be geared to businesses.

A couple of days ago the latest SoA Supporters Newsletter arrived, and it included an update. and a link to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to read the guidance.

The link small organisations section is useful.

You need to look at the information for how it applies to your individual circumstances. If you have any doubts get appropriate legal advice.

Lots of authors have mailing lists, and some may sell their books themselves; writers' groups have membership details, so these data regulations may apply.

The ICO have lots of pdf links within their pages, and you will need to take a little time to find which bits you need to read.

If you look at the Guide to GDPR you'll find links to basic sections. And yes, you'll find useful links within links.

If you're using a mailing list service such as MailChimp, or similar, you aren't going to have the personal data of those who sign up to your mailing list*, but if you're doing your own mailing list and have the details then you need to know what rules apply to you, and how to store data correctly.

So if you also run a small business outside of your writing life, that needs looking into as well to ensure you're complying.

As consumers it's likely we'll all be receiving emails from businesses we might have shopped with online to confirm we still want them to send us information, receive newsletters and such. I know I've received half a dozen in the past couple of months, and likely even more will be getting in touch before the 25th May if their existing permissions need updating...

The ICO will be continuing to expand the information, so more may be added before May.

(* see this MailChimp article as there may be circumstances where you need to take action.)

Image from Pixabay.

Monday 12 March 2018

Still Not Enough Hours...

My plan (this year) to use my diary better to keep a track of deadlines, as well as meetings/appointments, has shown me I'm very busy two weeks of every month, and have one week clear and another partially filled.

March is probably the exception as I'm doing my reading role for the writers' club's national competition which takes up some of those free days...

Despite all that I've resumed draft 2 of the work in progress.

Making progress
at last...
As I revealed on Facebook- apologies writer friends who already know this- I'm trying a slightly different method for the rewriting and additions in this draft.

When I started writing my first (abandoned) novel I kept my chapters separate, so each chapter was in its own document. I was using a Brother Word Processor with floppy disks then- that's how long ago it was!

Then a few years ago someone suggested it was better to keep novel chapters all in one document.

Actually I did find that really helpful for the first draft. I made progress through my chapter outlines better, so repeated the process with another longer story that was blocking (the next one in the queue).

When I started the 2nd draft (yet again) I wasn't totally happy. There seemed to be so much that I needed to correct: a major plot point; missing scenes, and secondary characters that had arrived later in the 1st draft but also needed to appear earlier, while some of these extras had missing motives too. It was overwhelming me.

So rather than give up I decided to try each chapter as a separate document, allowing me to concentrate on what I needed to do in each one as I work through.

It surprised me how everything suddenly seemed manageable just by focusing on a smaller piece of the whole- which was the total opposite to writing my 1st draft.

Late last year I was seriously thinking maybe I was only okay at producing the ideas and writing the first draft, but the past weeks I've learnt my characters will not allow me to abandon them or their story.

Confidence is just about restored...

Thursday 1 March 2018

Snow and More Snow but Inspiration Too...

It's rather cold and snowy in my part of Nottingham.

Where's that come from?
Where does the road start?

Usually we escape or just get a light fall that melts the moment it stops, but yesterday evening it started snowing and didn't stop; today hasn't been much better as the cold wind keeps blowing the snow everywhere...

Sadly the bad weather meant the writers' club had to cancel the regular meeting yesterday evening (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Friday) I'm not going to attempt the journey to Leicester for the RNA chapter.

I always take pictures of the snow (when we do get it) as it can be very useful to refer back to when I'm writing a story set in winter. It can help with description and recalling the thoughts and maybe memories that go with the moment- at least that's how it works for me!

Not sure how helpful these pictures will be this time!

Wednesday evenings (when I'm not at the writers' club) I'm usually on Twitter for #writingchat between 8-9 pm (GMT), so for a few minutes before and after the session I catch up on the tweets and images. There were quite a few snow pictures of course.

That was when I had one of those YES moments, when I saw a particular image, an empty snow strewn street in Stamford.

The best way to describe it is a sensation, as if an invisible pebble has dropped inside me somewhere and the resulting ripples are the possibilities. I've learnt that for me it's a visual trigger and somewhere in my subconscious cogs are turning. It won't necessarily be used straight away, but could be months or even years to come, but it will be used.

Some of those moments will immediately create a scene which will be the starting point for a story to develop from, others find their way in later as with my current WIP.

I was researching the history of Goose Fair in the local studies library for a story project- it was a long time ago and my writing has improved a lot since then- and I came across a book of newspaper cuttings and there was a recollection of an unusual weather event. I noted it down, although I lost the piece of paper with the details on, the event stayed in my memory.

Very many years later one snowy winter travelling up the motorway a local news report mentioned a rider who had been thrown off their horse and injured, of course the horse had gone back to its stable, and the rider located, but sadly it had not ended well.

These two separate events though years apart clicked and the synergy produced an image. (It's actually part of the back story of my WIP but I only discovered that much later.)

You can still read that very early story from the Goose Fair research- I did say I've learnt a lot about writing since then, didn't I?

Sadly the ' and " " symbols have turned to little squares, as it was loaded onto the site in 2003, and clearly doesn't format well with modern systems. You have been warned, it's here.

Hope wherever you are the bad weather hasn't given you too many problems. Stay safe...