What can you do less of in 2024?

January 10, 2024

Sometimes we should resolve not to add more to our lives, but to make space by taking things away. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I used to make them, but I rarely kept them. The New Year, falling as it does in the middle of winter, season of damp grey days […]

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Word Count 65: Best SFF of the year, British indie bookshops blossoming, book launch tips

December 19, 2023

Plus an online kerfuffle illustrates why publishers and agents should do more to support debut authors, and young Grabbity under a Christmas tree. Hi there, The festive season is truly upon us, which means that there is a four day weekend in the offing for us Brits. I’m taking a couple of weeks off to […]

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The wonky relationship between hard work and success

December 13, 2023

A little bit of housekeeping before we get cracking on this week’s post: I’m taking a break over Christmas, so my next newsletter will arrive in your inbox on 10 January.  If you find yourself at a loose end over Christmas, why not take a look at some of my fiction or essays over at […]

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Word Count 64: Katherine May on boundaries, Julian Simpson on how to write action sequences

December 5, 2023

Plus James Capel’s end of year round-up, Word Count’s book list, and Copurrnicus watching some dolphins. Hi there, Bit of a short email this week because technically I’m on holiday. My husband had a bit of time to use up before the year end, so I’m taking a week off to lounge about, sew, and […]

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Three books to kickstart your writing

November 29, 2023

Develop your craft faster with some good advice about structure, story and character. Years ago – nay, indeed, lifetimes ago – I worked in an admin role at a popular music school that taught guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals to predominantly young men (though there were more women taking the vocals courses). I […]

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Word Count 63: Draft Zero’s ‘game of the scene’, Michael Marshall Smith on writing for TV

November 21, 2023

Plus resilience, Dan Sinykin’s Big Fiction, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Zaslav dicking about, and birthday boy Copurrnicus on a treadmill. Hi there, As I’m sitting here on a lovely, sunny day, gazing out of my office at the robin perched in our apple tree, I’m feeling really rather chirpy. Perhaps it’s down to having had a […]

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What does it really mean to be resilient?

November 15, 2023

The very first Grist session will be held on Monday 27 November at 19:00 GMT, and we’ll spend the hour talking about the ‘emotional wheel’ and Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi’s The Emotion Thesaurus. If you’d like to come along, upgrade to paid on Substack and you’ll get an email with the details of how to […]

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Fieldwork: Adding improv to the mix

November 14, 2023

What do you do to get yourself back in the game after an enforced break from a creative project? It’s been a while since I last wrote about Fieldwork, the short film script I’m writing for the i-COMET project, largely because over the summer I was either interviewing ecologists or checking their transcriptions, which isn’t […]

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Word Count 62: Grist date announced, become a beta reader for Tag, Argleton out on Thursday

November 7, 2023

Plus Arts Council, BFI and Uncertain Kingdom funding, Big Comedy Conference, Realms of Imagination, and guest cats Archie & Sid. Hi there, It’s an absolutely glorious day here in the Home Counties as I write this. I’m continuing my 18-month long campaign to attract more birds to the garden, and have been delighted to see […]

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Introducing Grist, a different kind of author training

November 1, 2023

Hone your observational skills and fire up your imagination. Earlier this month, I wrote about the nature of practice for writers and what we can learn from footballers and musicians. That post has stuck in my head ever since, like a soundless earworm. I keep thinking about what that practice should look like. What activities […]

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Word Count 61: The Story Loom, The Lovecraft Investigations

October 24, 2023

Plus Black Women’s Non-Fiction Manuscript Prize, what it takes to become an agent, the light at the end of the frog, and an update on Grabbity’s eyes. Hi there, I’m back at my desk after a week off to recover from Ada Lovelace Day, and my brain’s not quite working yet. I could have done […]

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Celebrate the wins

October 18, 2023

There’s less than a week to go until my conversation with the award-winning author and screenwriter, Lauren Beukes, so now would be a great time to get your FREE tickets!  Lauren and I will be chatting about her new novel, Bridge and the experience of seeing The Shining Girls adapted for tv (if you’ve not […]

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Word Count 60: Writerly practice, US author income survey

October 10, 2023

Plus congrats to Dr Lucy Rogers, behind the scenes of Ghosts, and build your confidence. Hi there, Today is Ada Lovelace Day, which means that I’m writing this last weekend, in a quiet moment, a bubble inside the panic. The run up to big events is always stressful and every year I ask why I […]

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What writers can learn from football players and musicians

October 4, 2023

Before we crack on with today’s newsletter, just a quick reminder that I’ll be chatting with award-winning author and screenwriter Lauren Beukes about writing, how she uses her journalistic skills to help her research her books, the impact that moving to the UK had on her writing, plus much, much more!  Join us at 19:00 […]

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Word Count 59: WGA strike breakthrough, Discoveries 2024 open…

September 26, 2023

Plus David Koepp on his Jurassic Park first draft, WGGB calls for residuals, Bookshop.org to branch out into ebooks, killer Barbie stats and more. Hi there, It’s a gorgeous autumnal day as I write this, with the sound of power tools humming outside as the neighbours get a new fence and shed put up. Good […]

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