#151: Venting

In episode 151 of the Write for Your Life podcast, me and Donna talk about World Book Day (in the UK and Ireland), where are all the grandparents in fiction, falling e-reader sales, and a controversial blog post by an ex MFA tutor who may or may not be talking nonsense.

Visit the page for episode 151 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#149: A Dream That's Being Sold

In episode 149 of the Write for Your Life podcast, me and Donna talk about the TV show, Vikings, and oversmizing. More importantly, we also cover podcasting woes and talk for quite some time about that wonderful phrase, authorpreneurship. Expect minor ranting.

Visit the page for episode 149 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#148: Intended Entendres

In this somewhat delayed Valentine's episode, me and Donna talk about 'my Dad, the pornographer' and his incredible writing system, speech marks or not for writing dialogue, and various outlining techniques for writing a book. About that delay. I'm afraid we had some microphone issues that we thought were Skype issues, which led to a lot of editing to get it into a listenable state. Many apologies. Hopefully you don't mind too much.

Visit the page for episode 148 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#147: Those Rascals!

In episode 147 of the Write for Your Life podcast, me and Donna talk about personality tests, Harper Lee's upcoming novel being published (finally!), testing a book idea before you start, A is for Angelica and piracy, working on more than one project at a time, and a mischievous knight of the realm.

Visit the page for episode 147 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#146: Reality Whistles

In episode 146 of the Write for Your Life podcast, we cover Helen McDonald's H is for Hawk winning the Costa prize and the harsh reality of publishing poetry. Plus, should you copyright your work before submitting it? Can robots write novels? Finally, we talk about the stuff no one tells you about book publishing!

Visit the page for episode 146 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.


Last weekend, I found myself at a grubby reclamation yard. Not in a revelatory, momentous, personal kind of way. I simply mean I was there. In person. At the reclamation yard.

This is important because I was there with my wife and not my children, who are beautiful, all-encompassing creatures who fill my days with joy and nonsense. When I am with them, they have my full attention.

This is also important.

We went to the reclamation yard because we wanted to buy a wood burner on the cheap and we’d dropped the boys off at my parents, so we could get stuff done. It's a strange place, the reclamation yard, three portacabins jigsawed together beneath a corrugated roof that looks like it could go at any minute. It is cold, damp and full of curiosities.

We quickly found the wood burners. We stood by the wood burners. We talked about the wood burners. We had questions about the wood burners. My wife left to find the man. It is almost always a man.

While I waited, I looked around at shelves and shelves of tat and treasures. In that brief, solitary moment, all I saw was stories. Stories, stories everywhere. Stories and questions.

That piano, with its broken-teeth keys and filthy lid. Where did it come from? Who did it belong to? Why did they stop playing?

I took out my phone, swiped up to access the camera, took a picture.

I left my position by the wood burners and started walking. My mind wandered with me.

I found doors. Dozens of doors. Doors that must have opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and closed, thousands and thousands of times.

Who did that one belong to? The blue door. The blue door on its own amongst the other, more plain-looking doors. Whose door was that? Was blue their favourite colour? Maybe they hated that door. Perhaps they’d wanted to paint it red, but someone else wanted it blue. Was there an argument? A fist fight?

I kept going, noticed a group of chairs, none of which matched.

One chair had a name on it.

Harry Redshaw.

Who was Harry Redshaw and why was he so special? Maybe he was chairman of his local bowls club and when he retired, they put his name on a chair. Or did he die in-post? Was his wife so struck with grief that one night, six months after his death and under a thin moon and thinner clouds, she walked to the bowls club, found the chair with his name on it and sat for a while, whispered sweet nothings to the stars?

I continued. Kept my head up. Kept looking and finding.

A collection of curios. Odds and ends. Objects and memories.

Charles and Diana.

Who would own a tray like this? My auntie. She might have owned a tray like this. Would she have had it on display? Probably. Though not in her best room. No, she’d have put it on the drawers at the bottom of the stairs. By the family photos. Near the front door. I miss my auntie.

I do miss my auntie.

By now, I’d walked full circle, passed every nook and cranny at the reclamation yard. It took no more than five minutes.

In that time, I remembered everything I’ve ever known about writing. That will and wanting is never enough. Stories can’t be forced. They must be found. Found and reclaimed.

Thirty seconds later, my wife returned. She didn’t trust the man. He wanted way too much. We didn’t buy a wood burner.

#145: That's Great News for Denmark

In episode 145 of the Write for Your Life podcast, me and Donna talk about her most loved and hated things of 1993 and Mark Zuckerberg's lame book club. We also look at True Detective, which is great and gave me the willies, but its (mis)representation of women made me feel very uncomfortable. Oh, and we also talked aboit how to start working on your second drafts!

Visit the page for episode 145 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#144: Very Sexy Podcast

In episode 144 of the Write for Your Life podcast, me and Donna discuss the world's top sexy creative pursuits, writing myths and what not to say to writers, baby steps at learning Danish, and do writers repeat small writing exercises? Why yes. Yes they do. Like Morning Papers, Newspaper Blackouts and Index Card Shorts. Grab your headphones. Hit the playboard.

Visit the page for episode 144 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#143: Everything Comes in Fours

In this week's somewhat delayed episode of the Write for Your Life podcast, I talk to Donna about some extreme wind, what pages to include on your author website, Kickstarter and the Stacey Jay kerfuffle, Mark Zuckerberg's brand new book club and, seriously, who's controlling our channels? It's a good one. Listen up.

Visit the page for episode 143 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

How to subscribe to my website

Fun title, eh? For those of you who are already subscribed and going about your lives as if this isn’t really, really important, then do feel free to carry on with what you were doing.

However. Two things.

First, some people may or may not know how to subscribe to the site. I’ve messed with it a lot over the last couple of years and things have moved, stuff has changed.

Second, it seems I’ve made a royal mess of the RSS feed. Basically, when I moved the site to the marvellous Squarespace, I effectively didn’t read the instructions and pressed the wrong button. It wasn’t their fault. Feedpress, the service that handles the feed, it wasn’t their fault either. I just wasn’t paying attention. I’m a giant nit.

Effectively, in October, I abandoned around 600+ subscribers in cold web space. I’ve tried to find a way to get them back, including various forums, help desks and some occasional shouting into the breeze. Nothing has worked. As far as I can tell, they are gone. I hope that they are okay.

All of this makes it a sensible time to point people to the following details. If you were one of the abandoned, my arms are open and I would like you back. I’m sorry.

These are your options:

You can also subscribe to my newsletter, which I will be starting up again shortly. It contains occasional me-news and plenty of links to useful writing, reading and related internet paraphernalia.

And I’m on Twitter as, you know, me, too. Feel free to find my face. Follow it.

#142: Make and Share

In the first Write for Your Life episode of 2015, me and Donna look back at some highlights from last year and then forward to the writing changes ahead, which include me writing one novel instead of two, her allotting tasks to physical space and both of us making and sharing more of our work. Which I think you should do too.

Visit the page for episode 142 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#141: The Little Match Girl

In this Christmas special episode of the Write for Your Life podcast, I say a few thank yous before sending you off on a journey with The Little Match Girl via some marvellous music from friends of the podcast, Native and the Name. Happy holidays folks!

Visit the page for episode 141 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#140: Big Brother-in-law

Episode 140 of the Write for Your Life podcast saw me and Donna talk about Christmas cards, family holidays, Zoellagate (again), publishing short stories, style guides for companies, and creating a style guide for your fiction. We're taking a break next week as our usual release day is Christmas Day. Hope that's all right.

Visit the page for episode 140 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

#139: Your Sister, the Ghost Zombie

Apologies for the delay in posting the link to last week's episode of the Write for Your Life podcast. We talked about writers and mistakes in job applications, the huge fuss over Zoe Sugg's ghostwritten debut novel, changes to the Pulitzer Prize, and the importance of celebrating our small victories as writers.

Visit the page for episode 139 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.

Full-time at Cornerstones Education

If you listen to the Write for Your Life podcast, which you absolutely should, you may have heard me say on episode 138 that I am back in full-time employment. I thought I should confirm as much here.

And yes, it's true.

On 1 December, I became a full-time employee at Cornerstones Education. They were my main client since going freelance in April, they're a great company and I'm very happy about how it's all panned out. It's the right place to be for me and my family.

That's not to say that I didn't love being a freelance writer. And I was all right at it too. I did it for nine months and I was never short of work. I worked on interesting projects for interesting clients and I was able to pay the bills. But sometimes the stars align and, life-wise, there is only one clear option.

My new role at Cornerstones is interesting, challenging and I am using all the skills I've developed since leaving university 11 years ago. The company writes, produces and sells a creative curriculum for primary schools. I’m now Curriculum Editor. It’s a big responsibility, but I’m enjoying it.

What does it all mean?

For me, all sorts of things, but you don’t need to worry about my mortgage or whatever. For you, it will hopefully add another angle to what we talk about on the podcast and what I write about here on the site.

Speaking of which.

After jazzing everything up to make the site look all freelance writery, I might well scale it back again. I’ve been toying with putting the blog back on the homepage for a while, so I might do that. We’ll see.

#138: Secret Snuff Hole

In this week's episode of the Write for Your Life podcast, me and Donna talk about pronunciation wars, the #wfyl hashtag, performing at spoken word events, writing workspaces and my new gold iPad. We also venture onto the problems with Kindle Unlimited for indie authors, and that voice in your head when you're writing.

Visit the page for episode 138 on 5by5 to listen, subscribe and find show notes.