If you’re new to podcasts you might like to check out my favourites: The Book Show, Grammar Girl, I Should Be Writing, Litopia, Pen on Fire, Writers & Company, Writers on Writing, Writing Excuses, The Writing Cast, The Writing Show and On The Page (the latter recently moved to a subscription podcast although you still get the first 15 minutes free) – all available from the iTunes podcast store and their websites directly.
Some of you will have heard of NaNoWriMo which stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and the idea is to write at least 50,000 words in the 30 days. It’s been going 11 years now and thousands of people have ‘won’. Whilst you don’t actually win anything as such, you do have a chunk of a manuscript at the end – OK so it may not be Shakespeare but it’s yours to polish, buff and shine until it’s ready to go somewhere. I did it for the first time in 2008 and had a 53,000-word first-draft lad-lit. I enjoyed the experience so much that I started another novel the following January finishing the 46,000-word first draft in the October, just in time for NaNoWriMo 2009, during which I wrote a 117,000-word chick lit which I’ve since edited four times and has just gone off to agents. I also wrote a script in April this year in conjunction with their sister website www.scriptfrenzy.com – and whilst it didn’t inspire me to switch to scriptwriting, it was an interesting exercise and I quite like the story that came out of it so I may well turn that into a novel, although not for NaNo this year as one rule is to not have written a word before 1st November so I won’t cheat. (I ended up writing 51,300 Nov 2010 and have a lot of adding/editing to do to it!)
Other websites I’d recommend include www.jbwb.co.uk, which includes information on markets, competitions and writing-related links and www.nanowrimo.org which I mentioned a moment ago. www.youwriteon.com is a great site for getting critique. For every story or novel extract you read and give feedback on, you get a credit so someone else can read your story or novel extract. The critique I had was invaluable for the novel I’ve just sent off and a story I’ve submitted to a competition.
The Writers & Artists Yearbook (W&AY), Writers Handbook and the Writers’ Market are three must-have books for writers. They contain industry contact names and addresses as well as tips by established authors. My favourite is the W&AY which I buy every year and I get updated versions of the others every other year. They are published yearly and the 2011 editions are now available around the £10 to £15 mark, depending on where you buy them from.
I would also recommend buying or subscribing to writing magazines. Sister magazines Writing and Writers News are monthly and whilst, Writing Magazine is available in the shops (chain stores such as WH Smiths sell it or you can order it from your local newsagent) Writers News is subscription only and they are cheaper when bought as a package directly. Another monthly available over the counter or by subscription is Writers’ Forum. All three of these have competitions; Writing and Writers News have themes and deadlines whereas Writers Forum has an open theme and non-specific rolling deadline. One of my former tutors, short story writer and novelist Sue Moorcroft is the Writers Forum short story judge and her website is www.suemoorcroft.com. For fans of historical fiction and poetry, do take a look at another of my tutor’s websites, www.judithallnatt.co.uk – her first novel, A Mile of River, set in the scorching summer of 1976, was Radio 5 Book Review’s Book of the Month in April 2008 and she shared the radio stage with one of my favourite authors, Will Self. Sadly Simon Mayo no longer hosts the podcast but I would recommend the Radio 3 ‘Arts & Ideas’ and Radio 4’s ‘Books & Authors’ with Sky Arts presenter Mariella Frostrup. Other writing magazines include quarterly Mslexia which is a magazine for women writers only, although I know they do have male subscribers. Another is New Writer which as the name would imply, is targeted at new writers. It’s been going for more than 100 issues was bi-monthly but changed to quarterly a while ago.