12 September 2013

#96: Throwing tripe at a wall

In this week’s Write for Your Life podcast, me and Donna talk about the author who sued her publisher, the Man Booker Prize 2013 shortlist, and the most stylish people in publishing. Iain also talk about the demise of Very Meta and whether we should all be more careful about taking on too many projects. It’s a bumper episode. Listen up.

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Publishing industry, meet YouTube

Last week, the excellent news and features site, Publishing Perspectives, posted two articles about video and publishing, with a specific focus on YouTube. Though very much well-intentioned, I thought that both pieces were good examples of what’s wrong with the industry.

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22 August 2013

#93: The fleshy middle

In a feisty and thought-provoking episode of this week’s Write for Your Life, me and Donna talk about the writing tools of famous authors. Things hot up when we move on to the publishing industry, YouTube and why they always seem to be one step behind. And then the spice continues when I talk about a site called Patreon. Should we ask our readers/fans to become patrons and support our work with actual money? Listen in and let us know what you think.

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18 July 2013

#89: Her friends call her Bobby G

With Donna still away, I’m joined once more by Manuela Boyle, at least, for the first two-thirds of the show anyway, before she had to nip off on a literary expedition, never to return. Topics include JK Rowling being outed as ‘debut’ author, Robert Galbraith, and the idea of social accountability. Are you more likely to follow through on a project if you tell people you’re going to do it beforehand? Listen in to find out. Enjoy the excellent sound effects.

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2 May 2013

#81: Author envy and what to do with it

I’m joined by Donna Sørensen to talk about that horrid thing called author envy. You know, where we decide that everyone else has got a better book deal, website and marketing budget than we have. Of course, the grass is always greener and the challenge is in turning that envy into something exciting, positive and far more useful than sitting in your pants and getting upset. Headphones on. Get ready to go green.

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Author envy, vlogger envy

In my latest vlog, I talk about how sometimes every other author (Hilary Mantel) seems to get all the prizes and awards and shiny things while you’re covered in double baby sick. And how that’s very much like constantly counting your YouTube and web statistics.

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Why cycling to Paris is like writing a book

In this week’s vlog I talk about the time I cycled from London to Paris to raise money for the Stroke Association. Turns out that it’s a lot like writing a novel. Painful yet ultimately rewarding. Much chafe cream is needed.

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4 April 2013

#78: Writing that second novel

I’m joined by author Lily Dunn whose fantastic debut novel, Shadowing the Sun, was published in 2008. We chat about the various trials and tribulations that come with writing a second novel, especially when parenthood comes along at the same time. Other topics include the publishing process, working with a mentor, and taking a postgraduate writing course. Headphones at the ready. Off you go.

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Depressing books

I’m vlogging again and this is my first attempt at using the fancy cut scene style as favoured by half of YouTube. What do we really mean when we say a book or other piece of art is depressing? And when we do say it, why is it often meant as a negative thing? Watch on to find out what I reckon.

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22 March 2013

#77: Performing, writing, editing, and going through the change

This week I’m joined by Nathan Filer, whose hotly anticipated debut novel, The Shock of the Fall, is published by HarperCollins in May. We cover lots of topics, hence the catch-all episode title, but the general theme is about how we both got published and the effect publication has on you as an author and a person. I also recorded a reflection/extension to the episode on my other podcast, Chat Broome, which you can find in the show notes below. Enjoy!

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8 March 2013

#75: The blog is dead, long live the podcast

I fly solo this week and have an important announcement to make! I also talks about Chat Broome, my exciting new podcast project, and put the blogging world to rights with what is very close to being a rant or diatribe. Well, it’s not really, but there are some important points to consider if you’re a writer and you’re thinking of setting up your own blog. Oooh, statistics! I also talk statistics. Not many people do that. It’s a big one folks. Get your headphones!

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17 February 2013

#73: Being an author and public speaking

This week, I’m joined by Robert Mills, design studio manager, copywriter, and author of Designing the Invisble. Having recently begun speaking at conferences about his work and book, Rob is in the perfect position to chat about being an author and speaking in public. It’s one thing writing your thoughts down and quite another to build on those ideas and articulate them to an audience, but it’s absolutely worth doing. Same goes for creative writers too, a topic I cover in this episode. Go on. Get your headphones. Make a brew.

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21 December 2012

#69: 21 lessons learned from four years of blogging

I fly solo this week to celebrate four years of Write for Your Life by sharing some of the blogging lessons I’ve learned in that time. From taking it seriously to sticking at it, not making money and meeting ace people, there should be plenty in it for bloggers and writers of all shapes and sizes. Headphones on. Get listening.

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7 December 2012

#67: How to take your writing seriously

This week’s Iain is joined by Joanna Penn, author of the Arkane series of thrillers and ace blogger over at The Creative Penn. Iain and Joanna talk about their writing plans for 2013 and provide seven ways that you can start to take your writing more seriously in the coming year. It’s an episode packed with advice, tips and other goodies too. Go fill yer ears!

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3 December 2012

#66: Writing for children

This week Iain is joined by widely-published children’s author and his real-life mother-in-law, Kathryn White. Kathryn talks about how she started writing for children, why she likes using animals as characters, and provides an insight into her writing process. Lots of good advice and a must listen to anyone with an interest in children’s fiction. Get it in your lugholes! And don’t panic, the crying stops after the first few minutes!

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23 November 2012

#65: Prolificness and why we should never say should

In this week’s episode of the Write for Your Life podcast, Iain is joined by author, Emma Newman, to talk about suspect writing advice and prolificness. If you’ve ever read that you absolutely MUST write 1000 words every day and it’s made you want to break down and cry, this is the episode for you. Pop your headphones on and get listening.

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16 November 2012

#64: New dawns

The Write for Your Life podcast is back! In this first episode of season three, I talk to Myke about my life-changing last six weeks, which include one published novel, two newborn babies and one stinky, fat redundancy. Myke also says something inexplicable about octopuses, but don’t worry about that. Oh yeah, book signings too! I’ve had my first ever book signings and share my experiences so far. Expect erotica and hobbits. What are you waiting for? Get listening!

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31 August 2012

#63: Any questions?

In this, the last episode of season two of the Write for Your Life podcast, me and Myke answer questions from listeners. Topics covered include traditional versus self-publishing, knowing when you’ve got a good story idea, and whether you should expect to make money as a writer. Thanks so much for listening these past few months and see (hear!) you on the other side!

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16 August 2012

Writing and publishing is all about teamwork

Stephanie Thwaites, children’s agent at Curtis Brown in the UK, published a lovely post about rejection this week on her blog.

It begins:

It’s all about rejection. No, not online dating, but publishing: according to an editor I was chatting to last week, it’s an industry of rejection.

Personally, I’m a little tired of all the negativity around publishing. I think it’s time we all pulled together and tried to do things differently and push things forward. So I confess to letting out a gentle sigh when I read that first paragraph.

But I needn’t have worried, because Stephanie’s post isn’t really about rejection at all. Instead, it’s a great reminder that, for every book that gets published, there is a team of hardcore fans behind it, willing it on and making it happen.

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31 July 2012

I was supposed to be a professional footballer

I played my first competitive, 11-a-side football match when I was seven years old. It was on a full-size pitch and my team needed special permission from the league, because the minimum age was eight. The age limit was there for my safety, but I didn’t care because I was big and tall and really good at football.

Two years later, I was playing competitively twice a weekend. On Saturdays, I played for one team, on Sundays another. A scout from Notts County, a professional football club here in England, came to watch one of our games. He asked 10 of us to attend trials the following week.

Aged nine, I went to the trials, where there were more than 1000 other children. After two days, there were just 24 of us left. I made the cut, abandoned my previous Sunday team and became part of Notts County’s first ever squad for under 10s.

Many kids have trials with professional clubs and some stay with the team for a couple of years. I played for Notts County until I was 16. I was team captain three out of the seven years I was there. I won trophies. I travelled the country. It was both a pre- and post-pubescent sporting career.

But something happened in that final year. When asked about it, I’ve sometimes said that the problem was that I’d become more interested, like most teenagers, in girls and underage drinking. But that was never the truth.

The real problem was that I was supposed to be a professional footballer, but being a professional footballer was not what I wanted to be.

After playing competitively throughout my childhood, sometimes four or five times a week, by the time I was 15, the magic had worn off. I didn’t want to do it any more. I didn’t care if it didn’t happen. Being a professional footballer.

And so, of course, things went wrong. I stopped putting the effort in and fell behind my teammates. They all wanted it far more than I did. It was still their dream.

Then, on one blustery Nottingham evening after training, I was taken to one side, along with my Dad, and told that, unfortunately, I wasn’t going to make it.

It was hard to hear. But also a blessed relief.

By no chance or coincidence, roughly a year before I left Notts County, I wrote my first batch of poetry. It was nothing special, and it was part of my regular schoolwork, but the feedback I received lit something inside me.

A new, entirely different dream began to emerge. I wanted to be a published author.

I wrote more poetry and soon persuaded my far-more-talented-than-me friends to let me join their band. I was the singer, of sorts. I did my best to write lyrics, hold a tune and avoid complete embarrassment.

But it wasn’t until I moved to sixth form college and studied English literature that the dream began to take shape. Most authors remember the book that made them want to write and I’m no different, although it may seem an odd choice.

It was Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye and I can still remember, not the reading of the book itself, but the way I read it. For the first time, I analysed every sentence like a writer. If a particular passage dazzled me, I wanted to know why. So I read it again and again until I thought I’d figured it out.

That change in mindset was profound. I stopped reading for pure enjoyment and started learning my craft. I wanted to one day write a book that other people would read and be moved by.

Because that, for me, is what writing is all about. It’s not about the thrills, spills and turning pages. It’s about creating a world, having something to say, and telling a story. It’s making people laugh. Making people cry.

And that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To move people by creating something that no one else has ever created and by putting words in an order that no one has or ever will again. That’s the crux of all of it.

The digital version of A is for Angelica is published tomorrow. I was supposed to be a footballer. But I’m not, I’m an author. That was and is my dream. Until a few hours time. When it comes true.

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