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Writer On The Road

Updated 13 days ago

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Do you have a story to tell? Here at Writer on the Road, it’s the journey that matters. Regardless of where you are on your writing journey, Writer on the Road will inspire you to take your dreams and make them happen. So sit back and enjoy the show as I bring you guests who know what it’s like to go it alone and who are willing to reach out to the rest of us by sharing their stories; authors, publishers, entrepreneurs—people at all stages of the writing journey, just like you and me. It’s time, dear listeners, to answer the question for yourself: do you have a story to tell?

Read more

Do you have a story to tell? Here at Writer on the Road, it’s the journey that matters. Regardless of where you are on your writing journey, Writer on the Road will inspire you to take your dreams and make them happen. So sit back and enjoy the show as I bring you guests who know what it’s like to go it alone and who are willing to reach out to the rest of us by sharing their stories; authors, publishers, entrepreneurs—people at all stages of the writing journey, just like you and me. It’s time, dear listeners, to answer the question for yourself: do you have a story to tell?

iTunes Ratings

5 Ratings
Average Ratings

Not really about books

By audiofilly - Mar 06 2019
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It's really all about politics. For myself, I would rather listen to a straight-up political podcast which might conceivably express both sides of any issue. I will be skipping this from now on

One of my favorite podcasts

By BrodieEDU - Mar 27 2018
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Writer on the Road is one of the best podcasts about writing a book. I have learned a great deal about the writing process and the many helpful tips that are provided by Melinda and her awesome guests.

iTunes Ratings

5 Ratings
Average Ratings

Not really about books

By audiofilly - Mar 06 2019
Read more
It's really all about politics. For myself, I would rather listen to a straight-up political podcast which might conceivably express both sides of any issue. I will be skipping this from now on

One of my favorite podcasts

By BrodieEDU - Mar 27 2018
Read more
Writer on the Road is one of the best podcasts about writing a book. I have learned a great deal about the writing process and the many helpful tips that are provided by Melinda and her awesome guests.
Cover image of Writer On The Road

Writer On The Road

Latest release on Mar 09, 2020

All 162 episodes from oldest to newest

The Aussie Indie Podcast Launch Episode

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Introducing a new direction for Writer on the Road Productions, including our Publishing and Podcast activities. Although we've always been about bringing to our listeners the latest and best Indie publishing advice - as exemplified by our Business of Writing Podcast Series, Author Success Stories Series and magazine, plus our courses and workshops - we're now doubling down on the talent in our own part of the world. Australasia has a plethora of talent in the Indie publishing space and it's our aim to form community where we encourage each other, share our knowledges and work towards supporting ourselves financially through our writing. And, one day, we even hope to have our own conference. But, first steps are small steps. You can join us in our new adventure by signing up to our newsletter here:

Mar 09 2020



#161 Mel & Sam in Orlando: Audio Matters & What You Need to Know For Your Writing

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Podcasts are the new blogs.

And, as an author, the best way to reach your audience to promote your novels and stories is through audio.

If you’re not guesting on podcasts, it’s time to start.

Audio is king, is the key message we bring away from our Podcast Movement Conference in Orlando, Florida, as we wind up our America trip and get ready to head back to Oz.

And audio is only going to get bigger.

Think Google podcasts, Google searches, and anything else Google you want to throw in this sentence.

And Smart Speakers. One in five Americans already use one.

And a fun fact to finish, for the first time in history, nearly 40 percent of podcasters are women. Yay to us.

You can support us on Patreon here.

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[00:00:48] Hello and welcome to the final episode of our very special mini series about our trip through the United States of America. We're finishing off the mini series with an episode about Podcast Movement, the podcasting Conference where we are currently visiting in Orlando Florida. You can support our efforts over at [00:00:48][0.0]
[00:00:51] Sam: It's been really interesting everyone. We've got lots of statistics that I can write up for you when we get home. But one of the things that has really struck us is how very popular podcasting is and how that's going to increase definitely. [00:01:09][17.9]
[00:01:09] Mel: That's been the key message here and we've been talking about how even though we've got a sizeable chunk of listening people listening to podcasts there are still it's still an untapped space. There are only eight hundred thousand active podcasts globally so it's still a space even though it's really popular with listeners. It's not so popular created yet so lots of room to get in on the action. [00:01:28][18.3]
[00:01:28] Sam: Writer on the Road is still in the top 10 percent of podcasts which is exciting times in terms of our downloads. But there was a real divide between I think professional broadcasters and individual podcasters which was interesting. And then again another divide between non-fiction podcasters and the very exciting growth area of audio fiction which we'll talk about later in the show. It's one of my key interests, definitely. [00:01:56][27.5]
[00:02:10] Mel: I'm going to start with a session we had our own James Cridland from downtown Brisbane. I listened to a talk with James today on Google Podcasts and how that is really going to take off. [00:02:23][12.9]
[00:02:27] Mel: We went to a session the other day that shows that even though Apple Podcasts have a slow percentage growth rate they had so many to begin with that their raw growth numbers are still more than anyone else combined. But as we saw with James today Google podcasts is trying to creep into that space. [00:02:41][14.4]
[00:02:42] Sam: The exciting thing is that, as James explained it to us, is that Google is a service or Google podcast is a service that gets podcasts on to smart speakers, Google assistant in Australia. Google Smart Speakers have a sixty eight percent mark to market share in America one in five Americans have a smart speaker . [00:03:06][24.0]
[00:03:11] Mel: What's really exciting for us is Google Search. Google searches are going to bring our podcasts up so much more easily. Google is actively doing all the work for us. So the examples I gave I was talking to Sam about how this is really good for audio is it. I've Natasha Lister so anyone who is looking for an anything about Natasha Lester our podcast is going to come up right at the top of the pile. [00:03:41][29.7]
[00:03:41] Mel: So the thing that I wanted to talk about today everyone is get yourself on to podcasts to make sure your name is out there. I guess in the audio waves because Google is going to be prioritizing that as as podcasts become more popular and audio becomes more popular. [00:04:03][21.1]
[00:04:05] Mel: I definitely think we were we were going to a talk with Rob Walsh from Lypsen yesterday and he emphasized the fact that people still think that blogging is like an effective promotional strategy but the numbers he gave us were 42 percent of people read blogs monthly and 32 percent of people download podcasts there's not much of a audience difference. However there were like a thousand times more blogs and there are podcasts so it's a lot easier to get lost in the crowd with blogging whereas podcasting as we were talking about. Well it has a really large audience there aren't as many individual podcasts so it's hard if you do get lost in that crowd. And so as operational strategy going into a smaller space where there are fewer shows dominating people's attention is a more effective way for you to get your name out there especially since Google is just integrating your podcast players you can play them straight through google search they're implementing ways if you type like podcast with Natasha Lester. It'll come up in the like you can play it straight from Google and they're putting their little play on every Android phone that people get. [00:05:12][66.9]
[00:05:13] Sam: So it's really it's getting a lot easier for people to access podcasts on different devices. Apple podcasts obviously it's already pre installed in every iPhone with me gives it a lot of visibility and so it's a medium. So it's growing as people become more aware of it and numbers go up and listenership. [00:05:28][15.5]
[00:05:29] Sam: 70 per cent of phones are Android. Seventy eight percent. [00:05:34][5.0]
[00:05:40] Mel: And those Android phones these podcasts are going to be in there just through google searching. You don't even need an app anymore. So even though Apple podcasts are still providing the main downloads that is going to change and I reckon even by the time we're here next year. And the interesting thing is once you've got professional broadcasters and we've got we've seen a lot of really important people in suits wandering around here these guys are throwing lots and lots of dollars at. At the podcast medium which which is exciting. [00:06:11][31.6]
[00:06:12] Mel: We were talking people yesterday who've been hired to create branded podcasts for a lot of big brands. And so I think yeah that's right. Companies are starting to get in on the action and everyone saying no don't do it and you're just doing it because you feel like you have to. But people are starting to do it and it's starting to go hopefully with big brands and with big companies. What is interesting as well the way that it's interacting with an indie space but yeah it's definitely becoming more in the public eye. [00:06:36][24.1]
[00:06:37] Sam: And then moving on from that as well. Google podcasts. I think it's because it's on our mind today but it gives us worldwide access. [00:06:46][9.3]
[00:06:47] Mel: So sometimes in America only you can only get your word out in America or maybe England as well. Whereas I think the exciting thing is now giving worldwide access to our voices is huge plus there's going to be a native transcription service which which again gives us the written word to be able to repurpose and and use which which we do to a certain extent as well. But Google's going to be doing it all for us. We've got speech to text and I know Joanna Penn knows a lot about that. And I think Joan has been here for the last three or four days and she has I think follow up been following the whole industry thing. So she'll be really on top of all that. I was more interested in Okay what can we do for you guys in Oz how can we get your your books out our books out how can we in our neck of the woods start to spread the word internationally. And I think this whole Google podcast thing is right up there. [00:07:47][59.7]
[00:07:47] Mel: I'm lucky that I'm with podcasts websites. And the guys there I've kept my website really up to date despite me not because if I looked on my website and I've got apple podcasts and I've got Google Play so they're really looking after us. And getting word out I think. [00:08:02][15.0]
[00:08:03] Mel: And I feel like we're definitely we're so excited about all these new stats and things we're learning that we're firing them at you. So now how are we going to implement this into the future of Writer on the Road. [00:08:12][9.5]
[00:08:13] Sam: Let's talk about that when we get home Writer or on the Road will continue as normal. We'll still have our long form interviews. I want to get word out about as many of you as I can. Got a bit of a backlog of interviews to get through because I sort of knocked off before we came away. [00:08:26][13.7]
[00:08:27] Mel: And I think that long form long form interview is what people want to hear as soon as I mentioned that I was running a writing podcast and it was about books I had people giving me invitations to go on their podcast to talk about books to talk about my writers to do all this kind of thing. [00:08:44][16.7]
[00:08:45] Mel: And I thought this is where we've got a real interest point. We. I think a lot of our authors are starting to be a little bit better known in America. Yes. Which is really exciting. But the other thing that I want to do is audio fiction. [00:09:00][15.3]
[00:09:00] Mel: Yes, branching out a little bit. So we're still keeping that long form interview format branching out into developing some of our own work as well. [00:09:07][6.2]
[00:09:07] Sam: Well one of the things that's really struck me everyone and I think we should talk further about this as writers we are front and centre as content providers. [00:09:15][8.1]
[00:09:23] Sam: Well one of the one of the themes that ran through the whole four days here is how to tell a good story with a good character. And I thought hang on this is second nature to us it's what we've always done it's second nature to you guys. How about we come up with some idea where we start to get some of your fiction and we start to to read some of your stories or perform some of your stories perform our stories getting getting your name out there getting our name out there because we're writers it's what we do best. Which brings me to a little hobby or little my my latest hobby horse and it's a little production called Mama's Little Helper - big announcement. [00:10:02][39.1]
[00:10:03] Mel: You heard it here first at Writer on the Road. Well I was a little helper. [00:10:06][2.6]
[00:10:07] Sam: I need six romance authors and I need six romance older romance authors two to act doors to co write an audio drama with me and it's about half a dozen women being hooked on Valium in the 1960s and how their husbands locked them up in a mental institution. [00:10:25][18.1]
[00:10:26] Mel: It will feature murder mayhem and true crime podcast. So make sure you stay tuned. [00:10:31][5.1]
[00:10:33] Sam: And of course they all escaped from the mental institution and they all killed their husbands when the murder happened as they should. But the actual podcast takes place while the actual story drama takes place when these women are in their 90s and they've all created these ideal lives for themselves. And lo and behold it starts to unravel. [00:10:52][19.7]
[00:10:54] Mel: And these six women will do anything to protect their reputation. Definitely. And that's when the fun starts. So if you know of anyone who wants to participate in that it's it's again getting our names out there yelling getting our writing out there showcasing what what we do best as writers and that is tell a good story. [00:11:16][22.0]
[00:11:17] Sam: Yeah definitely one of the takeaways from this conference is that you can use podcasts we can use podcasts promote our work through interviews and through promotional activity we can also use it to get our own work out there because audio fiction is gaining traction and it's gaining popularity as a way to tell stories. So it's good practice for like writing your novels and that's also a good way to go get smaller more independent stories out there that you might not be able to get through the publishing world really. So yeah yeah. [00:11:44][27.5]
[00:11:45] Mel: And I think I think that's enough for now. I think there's lots of stats I'll write them up as I said Joanna's really good and doing this and I hate to pass the buck but I'm reading my notes here and it's really really interesting because we talk about downloads and we talk about the top 10 percent of of downloads per episode is only three thousand a month. Okay so. Those top 10 per cent of podcasts aren't getting the downloads by the hundreds of thousands that we keep hearing about. [00:12:18][33.4]
[00:12:19] Mel: This is median. By the way not me. No it's not just the fun little sticks texting the media and top 10 percent. Yeah. [00:12:24][5.5]
[00:12:25] Sam: Yeah. It's very easy to become I guess disillusioned when you hear broadcasters mentioning True Life podcasts and and the downloads. Yeah. As an aside I walked out of a few toy. I walked out of a true crime thing this morning because it's almost it's almost become cowboy country where a lot of these journalists are taking on the role of investigator but they're also taking on the role of I think trial judge. It was it was a little bit ugly. Oh yes we've solved this crime and yes we've got the perpetrator cornered and yes we're supporting the victim but these guys aren't trained and so it really scared me from a from a legal perspective is it going to be exploring and mother's little hope. [00:13:10][45.7]
[00:13:11] Mel: I believe we're going to have some true crime podcast is tracking down these elderly women who have escaped from a mental asylum. [00:13:16][5.7]
[00:13:17] Sam: So are so today's they go everyone it wasn't a total waste going to this true crime podcast because we will use it in our own fiction I love us all right. [00:13:26][9.1]
[00:13:27] Mel: That's the end of us for today that's the end of us for our adventures in America. We are writing a book as you know. The book will come out in paperback and e-book and then we're hitting the road this summer not only to promote the book but to talk to you guys live. Podcasting is something that we're going to get into and our first trip is down to Melbourne to see our beautiful Janine Kimberley across the sea dairy Fraser and Clare Connolly over in South Australia and then back up I think will come back up through Broken Hill. I think back up to Brisbane you rotter on the road is something that is just going to be a laugh a minute I'm sure. [00:14:03][36.1]
[00:14:03] Mel: Excellent. Yeah before we go Mel do you have one fun fact Fun anecdote or fun adventure to sum up our America trip for our listeners. [00:14:11][7.7]
[00:14:12] Sam: Yes the one fun fact that I would like to sum up is that we went go cutting last night and someone put a helmet on my head and I drive my go kart like I turn my caravan she came 40 seconds behind anyone except me. [00:14:24][12.4]
[00:14:25] Mel: Yes I came last same came second last. And Felicity came third last. So the Hammo's are on the road again... [00:14:25][0.0]

Aug 16 2019



#160 10 Minutes with Sam & Mel: Tall Ships, Hamilton & a Research Sabbatical

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It’s time to write. And research. Join us as we enter the research and writing phase of our NYC journey. Let’s call it a writing retreat where we meet people who give generously of their time and knowledge with no expectation of return.

If you love history and the gilded age, then this one’s for you. Think tall ships, maritime history, old mansions and sticky buns.

Meet Pamela Grimm, author of Destiny’s Gold and Destiny’s Freedom. Pamela is an amazing historian and a person I had the privilege to meet whilst in NYC. Enjoy ten minutes with Pamela this episode with a full interview to come when we return to Oz.

Making friends is all part of life’s journey and how lucky are we to stumble across experts in all facets of maritime history; from bookshop owners to local historians to people who just want to help us on our journey, including our amazing Airbnb hosts in Rondout, in Down-town Kingston, New York. Listen out for our interview with Joe and MaryAnn  next episode.

In the meantime, enjoy ten minutes with us as we reflect on our month in NYC and what it means to travel with purpose.

You can support us through Patreon here.

You can find out more about the amazing Pamela Grimm and her novels here.

You can listen to our interviews on Travel Writers Radio here.

As always, thank you for your support and interest.

Mel, Sam & Liss

Aug 08 2019



10 Minutes with Mel & Sam in NYC: Living Like Locals and Dastardly Budget Discussions

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International travel, book buying, theatre attendance and writerly adventures all need budgetary considerations if one wants to survive for an extended period in the greatest city in the world.

Having comfortable shoes is also a good idea.

In this episode we chat about the importance of keeping an eye on the budget on a daily basis, discussing plans ahead of time and knowing when it’s time to slow down and enjoy the free stuff.

We also chat with our Airbnb Superhost, Michelle, who gives us some tips on how to choose the perfect holiday accommodation to meet your needs, and be legal.

You can find out more about our journey and the behind the scenes writing of our book, Living Like Locals in NYC, here.

Aug 01 2019



#158 10 Minutes with Sam & Mel in NYC: A Night at the Theatre

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The writing life can be tough sometimes and this week was no exception as we busied ourselves attending two theatre pieces; Antigone in Ferguson and Mojada.

You don’t need to know your Greek myths but it helps if you want to fully appreciate the political statement each piece makes.

The intention of original Greek theatre is to allow an audience to purge their emotions, and in both cases, Sam & I blamed the emotion of the theatre experience as we cried.

After such intense emotional connection it’s always good to have somewhere to go to debrief. In our case, we think we’ve found the perfect oasis in the Library Hotel on Madison Avenue – there are four hotels in the NYC Library Hotel collection, but for book lovers, it’s got to be Madison Avenue.

Listen to my conversation with Rob Rawlins, General Manager of the Library Hotel, at the end of this episode to find out why.

You can link to our Patreon account here for tidbits and essays about our adventures, and maybe even receive your free digital copy of Mel & Sam in NYC, available 1st October, 2019

You can find out more about The Library Hotel Collection here.

Jul 25 2019



#157 10 Minutes With Mel & Sam in NYC: Writin’ Along On Our Pushbikes, Honey…

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Writing the road less travelled is turning out to be the path of our NYC ’10 Minutes With Mel & Sam’ journey. Exploring the greatest city in the world on foot, by bike, train and ferry is opening up adventures we never deemed possible all that time ago when we were planning our adventure.

But, as luck halos our heads, we’re following in the tradition of great writers we can only dream of emulating, as we cross literary paths with the greats: Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouak, F. Scott Fitzgerald and who knows who else.

Fun facts:

  • NYC is not as flat as you think
  • Biking around Central Park is easy, sometimes
  • The Hudson river is where the trendsetters hang out
  • Squirrels in Central Park are sad on Mondays
  • You don’t need a helmet to ride a pushbike in NYC

We talk about none of these things in this episode, but we meant to…

Jul 20 2019



#156 10 Minutes with Mel & Sam in NYC: Bookshops Aren’t Meant to be Like That

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Join us in NYC to celebrate the creative freedom of being able to work from anywhere, starting with the greatest city in the world.

We explore the opportunities in the world of theatre, books and writing, combined with travel, good food and the occasional drop of Long Island wine.

In this episode we set the scene for what’s to come, discuss what makes a good bookshop, and chat with the writers of the off-Broadway musical, Assistants, about how to succeed at the hardest of creative endeavours, producing theatre.

Jul 16 2019



#155 Never Give Up On Your Publishing Dreams, with Cassie Hamer

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If at first you don’t succeed at this thing called writing…keep writing, and learning, and writing some more.

Cassie Hamer, author of  After the Party, has put in the hard yards, earning her Masters in Creative Writing, and then unlearning most of what she’d been studying for years as she searched to find voice.

And lucky for us, she found it with her debut novel.

Cassie opens up about the fears, doubts and joys of success as a published author. We even get a sneak preview of the joys of lunching with her editor.

In this episode, we cover a range of topics which can be summed – sort of – as follows:

  • Publishers want to publish your book
  • literary versus popular fiction
  • the value of Higher degree Creative Writing courses
  • what it’s like to meet your editor for lunch
  • a writing place of your own
  • finding and trusting your writing voice
  • rejection is part of the writing life
  • celebrate your wins
  • what is your next book?
  • writing is a personal journey

You can find out more about Cassie and her writing here.

You can find out more about Author Success Stories Magazine and TIPS For Writers here.

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Mel Today have with me the beautiful Cassie Hamer. Hi Casey.

Cassie Hi Mel. I love your podcast. You have such great warmth and enthusiasm and it really is lovely to be speaking with you.

Mel I'm really excited everyone to introduce a new writer and the book, 'After The Party. Now I had no idea what to expect but when I read it, it was thirty two young children at a birthday party.

Cassie I have three young children myself and they're 6, 8 and 10 and I have hosted quite a few parties here at my home on their behalf. I always find that kids parties are constantly teetering on the edge of total disaster because you have so many children they're so hyped up there are games of competition. There's far too much sugar causing total chaos. So I thought what what it a scenario into which to put an inciting incident. So as you say the party is a complete disaster the laser WAKES UP LIKE NOTHING'S READY TO GO. SHE'S ABOUT TO HAVE 33 children land on her doorstep which they do. And it continues to be disastrous. And she makes it through though she struggles through until the end and reads It's a relief that there will be kids and picked up and taken home. Well, all except one little girl who she discovers hiding in a dog kennel. And at first Lisa thinks well the mom's just running late. No problem. This is true and she gets a note and the note is from Ellie's mother and the note explains that in fact she's not coming back to pick up the child at all and that she's asking Lisa to take care of this child and then laces put into these massive conundrum what do I do. And the story takes off from there.

Mel It's really interesting because when I set out to to research for this interview Cassie I wasn't quite sure where this novel was going to fit. And one of the reviews that I read is this reviewer thought it was going to be a romance and I thought oh we must have another book here but it's not it's far. I think it's far deeper than that. It's got a lot of elements in it. We can all relate to it. We all cringe away from from some of the things that happen in it. But basically this book has a lot more depth and resonance than then just a quick story doesn't it?

Cassie I think I think it did. Well thank you very much for saying that but. I love books that have lice and chives and I think. Women in particular we are complex creatures. We are interested in a range of different things. One minute we can be talking about the dash in the next minute we're talking about the state of the planet and politics and we are not we cannot be pigeonholed. And my reading interests are pretty eclectic. They like to read across a range of genres. But I have to say my absolute literary. Goddess is Leon Moriarty. And reading her books was just a complete light bulb moment for me. And I don't claim in any way to have her ability because I think she is quite remarkable. But I did read from her books the concept that you can be quite serious subjects. I do it with a lightness of touch and that's absolutely what I set out to do with the party. I had written two scripts previous which were very serious and very sad. And I think that was a hangover from the fact that I had study a master's in creative writing at university and I think I was writing what I thought I should write you know art and writing degrees at universities have a very low tree end. And that's really just not me. I'm just not that really stupid serious substantial person. I like to love. I like to have fun. I also like to joke about politics and serious issues. And I think that's what I was trying to achieve with the body.

Mel This book does have some big questions in it. Who is in charge of the upbringing of a child.

Cassie Yeah. And when we talk collective responsibility to children I guess.

Mel As a teacher we I come across this issue all the time. How far do we go and where are the boundaries.

Cassie Yes. With Lisa and her sister Jamie. What inspired me to do that is that when I became a mom it was probably a surprise to me as to how maternal I felt not only to my own children but to everyone else's children. Now I'm not a particularly wonderful mother by any stretch of the imagination besides my three daughters. But I do have a great affinity for children. And if I see a baby in a shopping center on that person you will run up and try to wangle my way into holding the baby within five seconds of the mother do have a great sense that all children deserve love and deserve a safe environment that as we know that is just not the reality. And. I'm very interested in the foster care system and the out-of-home care system. I think there are many wonderful people in it. But I also think there are some children that fall through the cracks. And I just can't think of a worse do to a child take them out of their own home in a vulnerable situation and then to put them in an even more vulnerable situation does seems unconscionable to me. And that's something I wanted to injecting.

Mel You've done your Masters in Creative Writing and the idea that literature has to be serious. And I wouldn't mind unpacking that a little bit because once you've done I guess are higher studies course like that. And once you've started to do your own writing and we're going to talk a little bit about some of the literary competitions and things that you've entered with your short stories. What does it take to to find your own voice through all that?

Cassie It takes a lot of writing basically and it takes the personal journey of arriving at the point where you actually don't care about what other people think of your rating choices or your writing choices. Nothing makes me more cross now than genre snobbery and I see it everywhere you look at the literary pages about major newspapers. They're full of wonderful books of course they're wonderful books. They're of a very particular genre. And that's usually literary fiction or it's crime fiction. Now why is crime fiction which is very commercially popular considered more worthy of being in literary pages and women's commercial fiction which you almost never see in these review pages. It makes me very cross. I have to say and I think it's a throwback to patriarchy and sexism in that crime and literary novels have traditionally been mainly reached by and for men. But I think this is huge appetite for women's stories written by women and believing in to domestic experiences. And I think when really well written the mystic experience is a fascinating area to explore because as you said before you took this thing relatable and I think we often read because we want to learn more about ourselves. And I think fiction does allow us away to explore that and develop our feelings of empathy I suppose.

Mel I hear what you're saying because popular fiction has been debated for a very long time.

Cassie I think we all know that it does feel right.

Mel Sam just bought the Norton's Anthology of Literary Theory. I studied that when I was at Uni. Theory has just exploded in the last 20 years as we as we break off into all these different factions of literary theory and what makes a good story and what doesn't. And it's really interesting that the debate is still happening in our media because we've been very spoiled here right around the road. We had people like Rachel Jones and Natasha Alistair and always guys Alexander they're all fighting very hard for everyone's rights to write not only good stories but deep and meaningful stories as well.

Cassie Yeah I think so. You mentioned before was that before writing this book I had done a lot of short story writing and short stories saying in Australia has a very literary focus. There aren't many kind of commercial short stories compilations so I think through that I did try to hone my ability to write in that way. And that experience now informs the way in which I write the longer form fiction. I must say that. It's lovely to be free of kind of the shackles of literary fiction and I think. I've finally found my voice and my natural voice and I know that because it's not such a struggle to sit down and write. Writing in a literary or literary style does not come naturally to me. Whereas writing a book like after the party was just the title. It was so enjoyable to sit down at the computer every day and and ash it out. And that was quite a different experience to the short stories which require so much plumbing of your emotional bits and stripping back and considering every word. And I do love a really well-written short story but I also like the freedom of the longer form allows you as a writer.

Mel And it's that whole thing of finding your voice I think and it's interesting because what we used to joke about in literary fiction and I'm pretty sure that the joke is still around is that you write the story and then you go back and you stick in the metaphors and similes as a customer later I don't know.

Cassie But I mean certainly with short stories The brilliance comes out in the editing. There's no doubt. I mean that's probably true of all fiction. I would have to say I had an interesting analogy the other day where a writer said that that the story itself is perfect so the story itself exists in your subconscious and it's already perfect and your job as a writer is dust to uncover it. And so your first draft is kind of word vomit where you just get it all out. It is your second job is chiseling away and actually sculpting and uncovering a beautiful piece of artwork that lies underneath. I just really like that analogy.

Mel Yes it's true isn't it it's finding the story. I hate editing every one of these oh that's why I love Dragon Dictation. I can just tell my stories and then move on to the next one. I think we should all get someone else to edit our stories for us.

Cassie Oh I agree. It is no doubt that After the Party would not ever have seen the light of day unless I got the manuscript assessment on it. After I'd done the first draft and if I could make any recommendation to an emerging writer it would be to get someone. Who is not a friend or family member to read your work and. You have to get totally unbiased and critical feedback and you really need to consider that feedback carefully. Whether you accept that or redacted is your decision in the end. You need to have valid reasons as to why you did it. The feedback of a qualified professional.

Mel And manuscript assessment they look you do have to get a qualified professional to to take that on board and we're talking about structural made it's right at the very beginning of editing process because sometimes you too close to your story and you don't see it. Now you said you've written three novels. And did you go. Did you get the first to assist as well.

Cassie Yeah I did. One of the reasons was that I at the time that I write them particularly have many contacts in the writing world and there really was no one who I could just ask to do it. So I did my research and found some amazing professional editors who both of them books wanted to give me a report. Which was extremely useful just detailing major issues with the book with after the party. I took it to an editor called Kim Swagel and she came back to me not only with an overall report but she'd actually annotated the entire manuscript which if you know anyone who knows anything about editing will understand that there is a huge amount of work. And it was an unexpected if a surprise but she was really direct as well and to write things in the margin like what is this story. Where is this story going. It doesn't belong in this story. So she was very clear about where the problems were. And after I gave myself a few minutes to just. Inhale and exhale and you know have a little mental breakdown of that. She's absolutely spot on and I would be a fool if I don't follow her recommendations. So yeah I'm so grateful to her doing that. I just think it was priceless really. I know these assessments are expensive and it is involved to be able to pay for one day if you can muster the funds to do it. Give it to yourself as a birthday present or a Christmas present. It's absolutely worthwhile.

Cassie We were over it. I put it out to be published but I hired a professional group to do that.

Cassie It's quite frightening how many pairs of eyes can look at a manuscript and you will still never see the same things. And yes it is pricey but editing is one of the areas. On which I just might think you can scheme. I think it's essential. I've not yet heard of a writer who can produce an immaculate first draft and just don't think that person exists unless it's Tim Winton or someone like that. But. I just think it's almost impossible to do.

Mel I would say do we want to meet them anyway. Do we want to hear about those perfect people aren't they. I'm going to suggest not. So you've actually done it a little bit backwards. Employing people. Now you've done it a little bit back to front. You've actually written your manuscript you've got the assessment. Then you started pitching it is that correct.

Cassie Yeah that's correct. So what happened was that I wrote the manuscript in 2016. I gave my self six months to do it because at the site at the time I was studying a teaching qualification and I had six months left on that degree but I was only going one subject so I did have quite a bit of time on my hands so I bashed out this in six months for him to give me the report rewrite quite a substantial portion of it and then started to query agents which was a completely soul destroying. Eight months of my life I would say I'll send it out plentiful agents and I was just looking at the numbers that I a third of them never responded to of them expressed some interest but ultimately didn't pick it up and the risk said nigh night basically no. So that was a really. Difficult period. But I mean I guess by that point I'd actually been through a fair bit of rejection and it is part of the writing life and I think you probably get better at dealing with it the more it happens to you. And so after all the agents had passed on. I wasn't particularly shocked or surprised by that but I still really liked manuscript and when I reread it I wouldn't completely cringe and look for runaway and solve in the bathroom.

Cassie So far it's actually not that bad. I'm still going to persist with this thing. So. I decided to leap on in the process of meeting the publishers and put it out into the beautifully named slush piles of Australia. And it was going towards the end of that process again which had been pretty much an epic failure. When I realized that Rachel Jones whose books I love and I'd read. The art of keeping secrets which I would classify as a women's general fiction novel and it was published by Harlequin and I traditionally knew Harlequin as a romance imprint and had assumed that I wouldn't be interested in my book because it's not a romance book. This is a love story but it's very much a subplot. I don't realize that Rachel was published by Harlequin. You know what. Maybe maybe they might be interested. So I set it all with very low expectations and heights and then a few weeks later I actually got an email from them and I just assumed it was going to be another rejection. So with a very heavy heart I opened it and it said oh your manuscript has been put in the queue to be read by an editor.

Cassie And I think my hopes went up from zero to one and then a few weeks on from that I got another email asking me to come in for a meeting with the senior publisher and the publishing assistant. And at that point I forwarded it to my husband and I said a few swear words and said this might actually be a real thing. And it all went from there. The meeting went really well I was quite shocked by how much they seemed like the manuscript to the point where I was thinking I would actually tell you about the same book because I just had so many bad things about it that I really believe that someone. Was finally going to champion it. But I think as I said in the acknowledgements finding a public shot is a lot like blind dating. You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince or in my case my princesses. But you know when you get rejected it's not or it's not often because of the quality of the work. It's just because it's not what they're looking for at that moment. So they've already got too much.

Cassie And while it's very hard not to take it personally. Rejection isn't always a reflection of the manuscript that you've submitted. Yeah and it's interesting isn't it because at any stage any time alone that compendium you could've given up. Oh easily. But the only person who would have lost down would be myself. I mean the rest of the world doesn't care about my writing and my manuscript. And I think the thing that kept me going was the thought of being. A really old woman. And thinking to myself. Why didn't I just keep trying. Why didn't I just have another guy. And I just didn't want to regret not having given it everything. And the other thing is that I just really like writing and I think even if after the party hadn't been published I still would have been writing anyway. Just because it is something that gives me great pleasure and satisfaction and I think. You have to start doing it for that reason because there's not a lot of money in it. So you have to genuinely love it because it takes up a lot of time.

Mel It takes up a lot of your your mental space as well as you as you worry this thing through. I'm going to ask everyone because I'm a complete sticky book. Talk us through the meeting with the publisher. I don't think I've ever asked anyone that question before.

Mel What's it like walking into a meeting. I know I know you're in Sydney shaking your boots getting off the bus at George Street and the publisher. I know Harlequin are really champion Australian waters. I have a lot of Hollywood movies on the podcast when you walk in and you meet someone you we...

Jun 05 2019



#154 Grand Narratives & Epic Adventures: The Real Meaning of Romance, with Elizabeth Ellen Carter

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Welcome to the world of pirates, love, blackmail, ill-gotten gains, treason and trickery. And that’s on a good day.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance author who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures.

Carter is known for her meticulous research.

My husband jokes that it’s five minutes of writing and twenty five minutes worth of research per half hour…it could be half an hour on looking at what the liquor licensing laws were in t66he early eighteen hundreds or or checking the etymology of vagrancy to make sure that it’s accurate.

In this episode we learn about the difference between a privateer and a buccaneer.

The answer? A privateer has a letter of remit from the government. They behave exactly in the same ways as a pirate in the way they were used to supplement the Royal Navy.

More importantly, we learn what it takes to write a historical romance that has readers begging for more.

You can find out more about Elizabeth and her novels here.

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Mel Today I've got with me the beautiful Elizabeth Ellen Carter. Good morning Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Good morning Mel. Thank you very much for having me on the show.

Mel It's an absolute delight everybody I'm really excited. Elizabeth is an award winning an award winning historical romance author and I called her novels with permission of Elizabeth. What is it Alina. This is the kind of novel that I grew up on Elizabeth I'm so excited to be talking to you about it today.

Elizabeth Thank you very much. How you got into that because I got a novel when I was 17 from a girlfriend of mine in high school and it was the classic 1980s bodice rippers but the that the history in it it was set during the war of the Roses. I can remember the name it was Rose of rapture by. Brandywine Rebecca Brandywine and. It was a complete revelation. And I thought one day I'm gonna write a novel and if if it makes people feel it good. Go as as I felt reading this. So being swept away by the by the passion by it by the history by. By the really excellent universe creation then. Then I'd be very satisfied indeed.

Mel I have to read this out because I just went yes these are my kind of novels love blackmail ill gotten gains treason and trickery.

Elizabeth Oh yes yes. And that's on a good day.

Mel I'm going to go through all this at the moment because it's just so cool. Your newest book and I don't know whether it's part of your heart of the course's Sea resort stands on its own. It's called The Wolf of Wolf Street the pirates of Britannica. I just love it.

Elizabeth Thank you. I have been with them with the encouragement of my publisher Katharine Levesque. She has invited me to participate in this fabulous universe. So I have invented and ancestor from from the heartache of family. Gabriel hada. And he and his brothers are from other heroes of this particular adventure.

Mel That's so you everybody.

Elizabeth The heart of the course series the hero I guess is a privateer Captain Kit Hardaker and they're set from 1810 to 1816 on the Barbary Coast.

Mel Now I'm particularly interested in that a year on I'm having a pirate obsession myself at the moment. If they turned out to be really really popular for you they they have.

Elizabeth And again the encouragement from Luke from Catherine to pursue that. I was absolutely delighted with one review where I wrote the reviewer said this has to be turned into a series. And and and again it goes back to what we were talking about Earl. On the edge. So they they feel that they're at the center of the action then. Then that's just brilliant. So plug. So that has also been a great discipline. As an author as well because prior to. We're working on a series of standalone. So to commit to a series. And what's also interesting about the half the course says is the third book is a prequel to the first two. So at the end of Book 3 shadow of the core says is the beginning of.

Elizabeth The first book captive of the Course says the told from the different characters point of view.

Mel You are known for your research.

Elizabeth Yes. My husband jokes that it's five minutes of writing and twenty five minutes worth of research per half hour. That's right. I've I've got to. And it's interesting because I would become aware of that and it's how I approach lots of different things in life. I've got to. Almost like pull all the toys out of the toy box first and examine what I have. In order to create effectively create a universe. So yes it could be half an hour on looking at what the liquor licensing laws were in the early eighteen hundreds or or checking the etymology of. Vagrant and vagrancy to make sure that is accurate. So it's it's little things like that if I can't believe it. As as a reader I can't expect.

Elizabeth My readers to read to buy into that as well. So I love doing the research.

Mel And research is something we're going to explore more fully today everybody because this is a period of time that interests me. So if you're not interested in parts and Barclays you might as well go away now.

Mel It's not the stuff I want to talk about as well. But first of all what's the difference between a privateer or a buccaneer and a part right.

Elizabeth Semantics really. A privateer has a letter of remit from the government. So from that so they behave exactly in the same ways as a pirate in a way they were used as a de facto Navy they were used to supplement the the Royal Navy in. In.

Elizabeth Particular spheres.

Elizabeth So. So they were supposed to be doing it for the Crown and the Crown took a great amount of taxes from from their plunder but the privateers.

Elizabeth Plundered as well as any pirate.

Mel Yeah. Wasn't done Rhett Butler wasn't he approved here in Goma. Yes yes he was because he was also running a black market operation to to to help.

Mel Resource the south.

Mel Now the Barbary Coast is notorious notorious for pirates and all that kind of stuff. Now I've got another beautiful author Pamela grim who is also writing pirate stories and her sea captain is a female. So the Barbary Coast. Tell us about it and why we all know it.

Elizabeth The Barbary Coast. Well it's where we get the the word barbarian from. And that she refers to beards that the Barbary Coast is the coast of North Africa. It was. Controlled by the Ottoman Empire for quite a few hundred years and they use the North African coast Tunisia Libya Morocco as a base of operations to raid Europe. And that continued for many many centuries and not a lot of people realized that the American navy only came into existence because they I think it was Thomas Jefferson worked out that they were paying 10 percent of their GDP in tribute to the Barbary Coast pirates. So rather than them paying for that that money could go into the Navy and the the classicU.S. Marine songs from from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli relate to that in particular and in the end it was around 1830 where the Pirates of the Barbary Coast were finally. Squelched. And and the French did that. And that's why we've got French speaking North Africa. And that was done too. But to finally end the slavery what is also interesting too is that people don't realize that the Barbary Coast pirates rated as far north as Iceland. They they used an island just in the Bristol Channel called Lundy as a base of operations and that they raided all across Cornwall and Dorset in Ireland. Absolutely incredible. And that's the setting. The early sic early 16 hundreds is the setting for the De Wolf of Wall Street.

Mel Now there is so much written about pirates there is so much research you can do you can go right down the I guess a tunnel of research and not come out again. Tell me about some of the color that you can bring into those stories because it's so rich isn't it.

Elizabeth It is. And that's one of the reasons why I really enjoyed it the heart of the Course says series. Technically it's a regency but because it's set in Sicily in North Africa there is a home of. An entire fresh perspective that you can bring to the genre. Sicilian culture is is is so so rich and so historic because it was a very important piece of land that was fought over by the Phoenicians the ancient Greeks the Romans the Byzantine empire the Ottoman Empire. All the way through. So it say here a different culture that you're bringing to the very traditional English Regency period as well.

Elizabeth So that's a lot of fun.

Mel I love Georgia to higher everyone we've had our beautiful Melinda Sara Mallory Hammond on here who writes Regency romances and we're going to have her on again and she's appeared on escape to the country which we can't get here in Australia but I'm going to keep trying.

Mel But as you say there is there's a whole genre around that Regency romance and you've made this part of it your own. But by taking the Barbary Coast approach haven't you.

Elizabeth And that's it. And Georgia Hey I was a little bit of an inspiration as well. Her very first novel was set during the Elizabethan period. And and.

Elizabeth To my embarrassment I can't remember the Beaujolais I think is the name of that particular one and that was a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun reading that. And yet Georgette Heyer best known for a regency also dabbled in in different time periods as well.

Mel And that's something that I want to talk to you about because you have dabbled in different time periods. I think I found one in 10.

Elizabeth Seventeen something like that it was definitely the 11th century yet I've gone as far back as 235A.D. the high point of the Roman Empire.

Mel Do you have a favorite. I guess a favorite period because once you start going across history no I only teach high school history so what I've heard of everything that you've mentioned but I don't know anything about any of it in depth. Do you think you specialize or do you think you'll keep jumping around and coming up with different things.

Elizabeth I'll keep jumping around. I've stuck in the Regency period because sort of again sort of quite right. I've got to be consistent in that time period. But I do plan to do a sequel to the Roman novel. I'd like to go back to medieval England because there's there's a a series that that I want to do set in the early 13th century which again is a blend of romance. And. And.

Elizabeth Crime and murder mystery. So I love the combination of the two.

Mel And this is real fodder for for the writer's brain and the ideas and as you said you've got your new series coming up. Do you find that your readers follow you.

Elizabeth They do. And I'm very blessed in that regard. Every new release there's an exploration of the back catalogue as well. So I'm. Thrilled that I've got a readership that enjoys time hopping as much as I do.

Mel I found a seer offenders a lady in the Demick books drop yesterday and I actually read the Alice network. Have you heard of that. No no. KATE.

Mel KATE someone I've forgotten her name as well. And I picked up this book and my point is she wrote about well will one then she read about what will do and then I went back and she had a whole series of different time periods as well. And I'm wondering whether that's a bit of a trend now that we're now following authors. Not like I want to read bodice ripper so I'll only read them across you know across all this.

Elizabeth You think we find out and we keep it. I hope. I hope that's the case because there's. I think if you start with you enjoy history and if you know.

Elizabeth If you get a consistent experience as a reader from one particular author I think I think they I think people will follow you across. John Rose. Philippa Gregory is another example of that. Of course she's best known for her Tudor period but she's also written in the late 17th hundreds as well. And also in the 20s and 30s if I recall as well. So I think if there's that consistent voice and that consistent experience all the way through. Yes I do think readers will follow you.

Mel Yeah. And I think once you build a world and trust your author with the research that you actually learn about a world so your readers have trusted you to do the research and does that come from your journalism background.

Elizabeth Yes it does. Because and and also from that very first bodice ripper run that I read. It presented a different view of Richard the Third. And of course sort of prior to that. Well no you know evil evil king Richard. This particular also presented him in a more sympathetic light and actually gave an all an alternative villain. To the murders of the princes. And from that it sort of. It was sort of. OK. OK. This is this is something that I can really see. So it's something that I've tried to bring into all of my books.

Mel Yeah. Now you talk about Dragon Blade prop publishing is that Kathryn Leveque or is that your own brand.

Elizabeth No that's Catherine Alibek.

Mel I was a bit confused there I just assumed you were an indie publisher but clearly not.

Elizabeth No I'm a hybrid. I got my back catalogue back from an earlier publisher. Every year there are a number of different. Collaborations. That are self published. My most recent self published one is a sweet little novella called The Promise of the bells. And that came from a know a concept of reimagining legendary characters in a regency setting so I chose the Dick Whittington and his cat.

Mel And that was a lot of fun. I could find out you can find out about these everyone on Elizabeth's website it's got a little heading there called blue stocking bills and I didn't even know what that was about that bunch of authors.

Elizabeth Australian New Zealand the United States all with a passion for history and different time periods. And we do at least one this year it'll be two anthologies. The most recent one they've done was one set of set for Valentine to a Valentine's in Bath and there's another one we've got planned for October.


Mel Now something that frustrates me like anything now I'm talking to you you’re clearly so good at your research is you build worlds you do everything yet romance novels and especially historical romance novels bodies readers get written off as rubbish and yet if a man writes that he becomes a hero and he's a marine he writes of maritime history and he's fantastic. Are you finding that your readership like I think people like us automatically respect our romance authors because we know the work behind it.

Mel But you're finding as a wider research is still being written as a bodice ripper not that anyone says to my face but I think it comes from a misunderstanding of what romance is.

Elizabeth And once I explain to people that that romance has a very very long history the word actually comes from Romans and it refers to the narrative structure that narrative structure we see in great epic adventures like Beowulf like Ivanhoe and where there's there's a hero's journey. And there's a a strong narrative arc that evolved in too much of Alaric romances again Ivanhoe is a perfect example of that then in more recent times perhaps the late eighteen hundreds to the early 20th century romance simply became a word to describe a love story. But once I explain that no the romance has a young as a wide and noble history. It's like the light goes on for a lot of people.

Mel I fought very long and hard for this everybody I work and all boys schools and I constantly say Oh that is so romantic and like I go away.

Mel Got nothing to do with romance and I give them that speed and I say romance has a grand tradition and I and I make them go and look it up and then we start to build out what romance is and they get a real surprise because in today's language it's about boys kissing girls isn't that what that's it.

Mel But just about every John Wayne movie he ever made has a romance in it.

Elizabeth Big and and you can call those romances because it follows a hero's journey. And there is there is a romantic romance arc in it because for rum looking at it from purely the hero's point of view he's got to have something to fight for. And and it's it's fighting for a principle and it's also fighting for the for the woman he loves. And. Gosh if if we if we appreciated that. The difference that men and women bring to two relationships. And within that that. That pure romance way I think would be a whole lot better off.

Mel I agree with you. And this is going to bring I want to bring in now your you've been likened to Daphne de Murray and now she is not known. I think she's only written one or two romances.

Elizabeth The other thing she wrote everything she wrote were grand sweeping sagas.

Elizabeth What they they were. I'm sort of very honored to be compared tribute to Mario. I like.

Elizabeth To broaden the romance. I think the the love story arc is is beautiful and necessary because it would be a romance without it. But to me the acknowledgement of feelings only goes part of the way to the promise that romance brings and that is the happily ever after. So I do like to. Bring the hero and heroine through some kind of trial that they have to work in partnership together as as a couple to be forged by fire to give that happily ever after. True authenticity. You know feeling feelings are amorphous. They they come and they go. But if you've got stakes together and work work in partnership together and that is proven through the story then to me that justifies the happily ever after.

Mel I think it is it Diana Gilbaldron and I'm not quite sure how you pronounce her name. She writes the most amazing heroines and heroes and I just love her novels. Tell us about the heroine that you put with kid Hardaker.

Elizabeth Oh she is she's great. She's great she's she's a bit of a blue stocking but she's a she's a realist there as well. And it was something that a reader actually mentioned that you know Kit was a man with no no past Sophia Green was a woman with no future and it was sort of this this balance between the two that I'd instinctively written but had articulated in that way and that's always a pleasant surprise. Sophia is an archeologist she works with her with her uncle.

Elizabeth And it's there that she and Kip begin to butt heads. They also butt heads because Sophia is is very protective of her young cousin.

Elizabeth Kit thinks the cousin is a bit of a flake and yeah she is. But but together there's an appreciation of recognition of their relative vulnerabilities and each of them have to take a risk in pursuing that romantic relationship.

Mel And they wouldn't be true romances if we didn't have settings of a grand scale. And I think that's what historical novels do best we have we have these amazing settings we have these amazing stories and we have lots of beautiful ships.

Elizabeth Oh yes yes yes. Kip has a schooner which is one of the smaller ships because that's it gets in and out of places. I've had great fun learning about seafaring learning about how to short sale much larger ships about fire ships. So to be...

May 26 2019



#153 How To Narrate Your Novel, with Renee Conoulty

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You’ve written your novel and now it’s time to narrate it.

Renee Conoulty is the author of novels and flash fiction that contain elements of dance, romance, and/or military life in a variety of genre – chick lit, women’s fiction, romantic comedy, contemporary romance, children’s books.

She also has a book on how to narrate your own novels and stories, Narrated by the Author. In this episode, not only do we have the pleasure of listening to Renee read her work, we chat the following:

⬩ The pros and cons of self-narrating
⬩ Affordable equipment options
⬩ Narration tips
⬩ How to edit and master with free software
⬩ Audiobook distribution options
⬩ All the dumb things she did so you can learn from her mistakes
⬩ And much, much more!

Did I mention there’s a workbook? It’s called Character Voices: a Workbook For Audio Narration. And a course that takes you through the whole process, step by step? Check it out here.

You can find out more about Renee, her stories and how to narrate your own stories here.

Last, if you want to lift your mood, how can you resist taking a peek at Swinging Through Life and Renee’s other stories, or better still, listen to her narrate them.

Read Full Transcript

Mel: And today I'd like to welcome Renee Conoulty. Rene is a swing dancer and writes stories of dance romance and the military life. And I used to love the old musicals where Fred Astaire danced around the light pole so I'm hoping you've got something like that in store for us today, Renee.

Renee: I've got lots of things in store.

Mel: I want to talk about your book on how we as authors can narrate our own audio books. You have a workbook and a course as well over at and we're going to talk through the process of narrating our own work which I know a lot of us are interested in but before we do that I’d like you to read some of your flash fiction. Renee, thank you very much for reading to us today and then talking this through the process of narrating it.

Renee: No worries. The story I was going to read today is from my latest book which is called Swinging Through Life which is a collection of twelve flash fiction stories. So flash fiction is around the 500 word mark. All these stories are pretty much bang on 500 words but I've got another flash fiction collection that sort of varies a bit up to a thousand. The story I'm going to read today is called Sing Sing Sing. I like titling my books and stories after swing dance songs. So that's the song some people might have heard. And the main character in this story is codename Jane. And she also features in my first novel don't mean a thing. But she's not. She's not the main character in that one. Okay. Sing sing sing. Music pulled through cost. Okay. And that's when you pause it when you're actually narrating And then you go back and you start again. Music poured through the car stereo big band swing and jump blues. 19 favorite playlist. Her brother teased her about her taste in music but she didn't care. She preferred music from before she was born. Music from before her parents was born were even better. And that's where I would also oppose it and go back and fix all my typos and spelling mistakes and things but I'll just keep going. Music from before her parents were born. Is even better. She belted out the lyrics tapping the jazz rhythm rhythm on the steering wheel. The only thing that put her in a better mood than singing was dancing. But that was a little difficult in the car. She just needed to keep it together until she got there. Then she'd be fine. She'd never lose control in front of a crowd. That trek ended and the next song began. The words caught in her throat. It had been met in 19 song. The song that first dance to the song that first made love to. The song. She needed the last song she needed to hear of this of all days. The day match was marrying that girl. She skipped to the next track in the shuffle playlist and dabbed at the corner of her eye prying him a scar hadn't smeared. Night and shouldn't be said she'd moved on months ago. Derek was wonderful and she was happy. She glanced at the empty at the empty seat beside her. She'd be happier if he'd been by his side. Now I've lost where I'm up to. OK here we go. Turn the page it went funny. She'd call the hospital again before she left home but she she'd call the hospital again before she left home. But he still hadn't been cleared for discharge. Surely overnight observation would have been done by now. It was after 6:00p.m. Night and stomach knotted. He'd hit his head quite hard when he'd come off his pushbike. Why wouldn't he wear a bloody helmet just because it's not the law in Darwin doesn't mean it's not a good idea. Footpath step has its two. She almost swung her car around and drove to the hospital instead. But even if she did there was nothing she could do to help. And people would notice if she wasn't at the wedding. Nineteen pulled into the familiar car park at Nightcliff JT should be back here again tomorrow for the Sunday afternoon dance class. Everyone said it was so sweet that they were getting married at the same place I'd met. She pulled the invitation from her handbag and double check the details. The ceremony wasn't due to stop for 20 minutes. Nate ain't tricked her makeup in the visor mirror then stepped out of the car and locked it. She wandered over to the concrete dance floor with a swing dance classes were held and stared across the water to the jetty. Big white boats surrounded the posts all the way along. They should be having the ceremony here on the cracked concrete slab. This was where I'd really met. Where she'd met Matt to. A warm home a warm hand grasped hers. Am I too late. Nineteen smiled at Derek. You made it. I snuck out didn't want you to have to arrive alone. This was where she finally understood real love. That's the end of that.

Mel: That is absolutely beautiful and brought back a few memories to a friend I used to live in Darwin. I know Nightcliff, it's really cool.

Renee: Well both they're doing swing dancing. Still every Sunday afternoon neither quick Jedi on that cracked slab of concrete. They're all real places.

Mel: Flash fiction is an interesting genre on its own and it's something that we do in school a lot. It really forces you to make every word count and in the circumstances that you were writing them I think you said it was the Australian Writers Centre monthly furious fiction competition. It's really what you want to roll with your writing of these scenes, hasn't it?

Renee: I had a little play around with flash fiction before and so when I saw the Australian Writers Centre was doing a furious fiction competition I thought this would be good fun. It's good writing practice. You get to write a story and actually finish a story. And that's like when you're writing a novel that can take quite a while so to be able to get that done in one or two sessions was really fulfilling. I decided well I don't want to just have a bunch of flash fiction sitting on my computer. So what could I do to make something. That would work with my brand. I decided from the very first furious fiction competition that I would incorporate swing dancing somewhere in those first year worth of stories and then by the end of the year I'd have something I could publish. So that's what I did which was quite a challenge.

Mel: Some months some of the friends they came up with but I managed to twist everything around in some way to get a swing dancing reference in yeah.

Mel: And it's a writing habit isn't it. When everything else is happening in your life and like in the Air Force you move around a lot as we spoke about before to the past being out to develop a routine something like this actually makes you commit these stories doesn't it.

Renee: It was just that that once a month. Even when I was having a rough time if. I would just make that time it's like Okay Friday night the email came in and I'll read through the writing prompts and have a think about it and brainstorm some ideas and sometime Saturday I'd sit down and I'd write out the first draft and then Sunday I would take some time to go through and edit that and fine tune and make every word count as you need to when you've got a 500 word limit. You don't have words just to play with you've got to make everything fit the story.

Renee: And sometimes as a reader too we only want to read in snippets so that little story that you told it immediately created a picture for me. It took me to Darwin. I liked the idea of swing dancing because it's just pure romance. Yeah. And and people can flick through the stories and choose the ones that they want to in to comfort.

Renee: I also went on marketing that one I've mentioned if you want to retest if you want a story you can finish before your cup of coffee goes cold. Grab this one like you can. There's heaps of stories in there. You could sit there and you can read an entire story from start to finish. While you have the coffee you don't have to remember what happened for the next day. And carry on you can just slotted in when you've got a moment and it's great for people who don't do a lot of reading. To start with something short and sweet.

Mel: Don't make a mistake anybody you think these things are easy to write because they're not are they?

Renee: Like a lot of people when they start with flash fiction they just it's more like a vignette they just write. This is a little snippet of something but nothing actually happens. You've still got to sit down you've still got to work out character motivations you've got to have a goal for them you've got to have something happen they've got to want something in the story and they've either got to get the thing or not get the thing but you've got to actually. Still have a plot. And to work all that into 500 words you've got a limit you've got to introduce your character in 100 words or less and set the scene and then you've got to have obstacles or have things happen. Some some of my stories are stronger than others but yeah. Trying to fit them all in it's it's a challenge but you've got two collections.

Mel: Now look I know when I teach my writing workshops and I set the word limit because we're on it on time restraints. People can't do it. People get starting to write and they think the longer they write the better they are and I say well now you actually have to pull it back I want you beginning the land and I want you conflict I want all those conflict and then they start to get a bit cross because they want to just walk alone and keep writing was I will know we've got to have parameters here and this is with skill starts to come in doesn't it.

Renee: Definitely challenging. I'm lucky though that I tend to underwrite more than overwrite with my novels so it's a little bit easier for me to keep it concise I don't waffle when I'm talking but I don't feel quite as much good at writing.

Mel: You have novel out as well there are two collections. One's called Wife Mother Woman as well we've got a Swinging Through Life but we don't want it to move on to today. This is of interest to a lot of this is you know write your own audio don't you.

Renee: Yeah. So I've done that so far from my self-published titles. So the two flash fiction collections you mentioned there. I've also got a perma-free short story that I wrote for originally for the Romance Writers of Australia. One of the little gems competitions and it just missed out on getting into the anthology so I thought beauty I'll just publish that and I've done an audio version of that too. And I've also done audio version of my How to Make an Audiobook book because I figured well I might as well have an audio of that too.

Mel: I've had some fun researching here in preparation for my chat with you Rene and I found the book on how to write.

Mel: Then I found the workbook which is really interesting because it was how you mark up the manuscript and we're going to talk about that further and a few different things that you don't think of. You know documenting your technical record you know all these things that you think oh you just sit down and you talk but of course it's not that easy. And then you've put out this whole course now going to mention everybody this course is forty-nine dollars it would have to be the best value simply because you're talking about your own experiences and you're talking about the problems you had and then there was a riot.

Renee: There was a lovely expression there that made me laugh because it was all your stuff ups as well or something like that which you heard some of just then and as you can tell that's what happens when you sit down to record it doesn't come out perfectly. There's lots of editing and lots of other behind the scenes stuff that goes into a finished product.

Mel: When Sam does my podcast she spends an awful lot of time taking out ums and she says Mummy or your words run into each other. And it's hard to get rid of them. You know it's when you are reading your short story you'd stumble you'd stop and then you just repeat and keep going because you can edit all that out.

Renee: I would often do it often either leave a larger gap or I'd make a silly noise which helps with the frustration when you've made the same mistake four times in a row.

Mel: You go you make a silly noise I blow a raspberry and they show up really well on the audio files when you need to cut things out.

Renee: Yeah. And just for people who don't know anything about the equipment we'll talk about that in a minute. When you look at the audio it gives little vertical lines up and down and when you speak normally the vertical lines on up and down very much but when these forces it breaks and when there's loud noises it jumps really high and Semmelweis gets me to give a clap so that when she goes in she can go in and fix it two o'clock and snap your fingers or something it's like that like a if you haven't seen it if you can imagine a heart rate monitor with the bits that go up and down when your heart beats it's that kind of thing you know that you say on your screen we're recording an audio podcast here everyone and we're both during your fingers up and down kind of crazy women are we.

Mel: Let's start at the beginning. Equipment, okay people weren't in the right or people weren't podcast or people won't do any kind of audio because they're worried about equipment but it's not that hard is it.

Renee: No. I was a little bit worried about upfront costs and that sort of thing. So a budget was a consideration when I looked into it. I spent quite a lot of time researching before I got started. So all up so far I've spent about one hundred and sixty dollars and that was on the microphone and that's all I've had to pay for. I decided that I needed a decent microphone. But if you're just getting started you can do a practice run and try it out just with the headphones that come with your phone they've got a little mark built in and you can try it and see if you like doing it if you can handle doing the process if it's something you want to do have a listen back and if you do like it then go out and invest in a decent microphone. I wouldn't recommend using your phone headphones to do the final but it's a good way just to try out the process before you commit to lots of hours and a microphone that you probably won't use for anything else unless you do podcasting and microphones were a very interesting topic of conversation you can google them and you will get all kinds of advice.

Mel: I took my roadie Mike off my camera and I've been using that now for nearly three years then it now got specialist podcasting microphones which I didn't have then but very similar to my shotgun camera mike. Yeah.

Renee: Yep I've got a road. NTSB Mark. That's the one I picked up I picked it up atJ.B. Hi-Fi. They had a few different microphones that would do the job but this is one that I had heard of before and I hadn't actually planned to buy a microphone when I went in I'd gone in because my laptop died and I needed a new laptop but I did a little bit of a wander around the store and ended up coming out with a laptop and a computer like computer laptop and a microphone as well.

Mel: Yeah there's so many cool things out there and if you listen to me talk to Scott about what is it about Dragon Dictation.

Renee: You know you need a good microphone for everything else as well. And this is some of the things you can use it for. All right. Physical pros and cons of self-narrating now in I think was issue 3 of all the success stories make it seem we had a beautiful lady called Tina Dietz and she talks about how important it is to get in a professional Narrator And I know when Sarah Williamson's win Sarah Weems is just dumb got Nick from McLeod's Daughters who love with to narrate her Brigadier book which is really exciting.

Mel: I had a little listen to the audition too and I'm like oh I could listen to him all day.

Renee: We're romance writers really have fun. There is a time and a place for us to narrate our own stories isn't it.

Renee: Joanna Penn just mentioned that recently on her podcast as well. She's gone into the writing her own book she's just released her own self-narrated flash fiction. Oh short stories as well. And she had a podcast recently with seven reasons why we should narrate our own books. So it is definitely a topic of interest at the moment and a lot of her reasons were around branding and how a voice like even with you male I feel like I've known you for ages because I've been listening to your podcast. I hear your voice I feel like I know you I have I have a connection before we've even met which is a lot stronger than just writing somebodies books. Well when you hear their voice you do connect with the more.

Renee: I think that's really important. That's the number one reason everybody. Personal branding I think a reference in a pen at the bottom of the hour podcast chat today and also that Australian Writers Centre said that you can go in and have a go at writing and writing yourself everyone. But the reason I've gotten Rene on today because I know that you've done it and we can pick your brain because people know like and trust don't they. Once they know like and trust you they're going to go in and get your stuff. You're talking is like writing your own books does help to build that.

Mel: I had a go with Fiona McArthur everyone. She's got a book out on midwifery and she asked me to write that for her. But the trouble is I don't have a nurturing voice. I said you you're the voice that is that nurturing.

Renee: Come on let's get this baby out. VOICE I haven't got that I'm saying can step it up. It didn't quite work for I didn't think it was the right person for that. So it's really interesting you've got to find the right person. And yes everybody we can all have mic.

Mel: When you were...

Apr 09 2019