Podcasts for Writers

I had so many lovely comments on my Helpful Blogs for Writers blog post that I thought I’d write about another resource which I’m also finding invaluable – Podcasts! I feel like writing podcasts are becoming more and more popular and I’m so happy about that. I love a podcast – it’s so nice to have something fun and engaging to listen to whilst on a walk or long journey. A lot of them have useful tips in too.

This is by no means exhaustive and I’m always looking for new recommendations so let me know.

1. In Suspense Pod

Podcast link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6MJVV1m3CKK-UmrU6WVOdw

Twitter: @InSuspensePod

If you follow me on Twitter @RhiBarnsley then you will have seen me go on about this podcast before. I found this on YouTube randomly one afternoon and I’ve listened to every episode they’ve put out. It’s presented by Lauren North and Lesley Kara who are both fantastic authors in the psychological suspense genre.

Each episode focuses on a different aspect of writing (including writing in later life and whether writing courses are helpful). Most of the guests are in the suspense/thriller genre but even if you aren’t writing or interested in the genre, the tips and discussions on the podcast will be helpful. Highly recommended!

2. Honest Authors’ Podcast

Podcast link: https://t.co/MceYaeq3F8?amp=1

Twitter link: @HonestAuthors

This was recommended to me by another author on Twitter and I’m so glad. The Honest Authors’ Podcast is presented by best-selling authors Holly Seddon and Gillian McAllister (both in the suspense/thriller genre).

Each episode either features a guest or a discussions between Holly and Gillian where they discuss their own writing and answer questions. They have a huge amount of episodes available on so many different topics. They recently did an episode where they had an agent round table which was fascinating. Another great podcast to add to your list!

3. The Write and Wrong Podcast

Podcast link: https://linktr.ee/writeandwrongpodcast

Twitter: @WriteandWrongUK

I have only just come across this podcast but I’m really enjoying listening to the episodes. Each episode features a guest from the writing world – including authors and agents from a range of genres. The podcast is hosted by writers Emma-Louise and Jamie. The podcast is fairly new but they already have lots of great content up. Well worth giving them a listen and showing them some support!

4. JoinedUp Writing Podcast

Twitter: @JUPodcast

Podcast link: https://joinedupwritingpodcast.wordpress.com/

I think this is the longest running podcast on the link – 7 years! Hosted by crime writer Wayne Kelly, this podcast has 154 episodes so you are sure to find something you like. The podcast features interviews with agents, authors, editors, publishers and more.

5. Write-off

Podcast link: https://shows.acast.com/write-off-with-francesca-steele/episodes/

Twitter: @francescasteele

From the longest running podcast in this post to the shortest running. Write-Off is presented by award-winning journalist and writer Francesca Steele. Episodes feature authors who talk about their experience of rejection and self doubt. As a writer who hopes to one day be published, self doubt is already something I’m experienced so I think this is great idea for a podcast.

That’s it for now although I’m sure there are loads out there which I haven’t come across yet. Feel free to drop any links below and I’ll update the post.

Happy writing (and listening),


Helpful Blogs for Writers

Authors are, in my experience, so generous with their time. I’ve been working on my novel for a few months and have come across incredibly helpful tips and blogs from authors. A lot of these have valuable advice, particularly when it comes to finding an agent and the publishing process.

I approach writing my novel like I approach any task at work. I research it as much as I can. I spend a lot of time researching what makes agent submissions successful with the hope that one day I will be successful too. Quite a few of these are from thriller writers (because that’s my genre) but the tips are useful no matter what genre you are writing in.

I’ve rounded up some of the best blogs below:

1. Phoebe Morgan

Phoebe Morgan is an editor at Harper Collins and an author in her own right (in the thriller genre). Her most recent novel The Wild Girls is due to be published later this year and is fantastic (I read an ARC via NetGalley). Her blog has useful tips detailing her journey and how she got published. My favourite articles are those demystifying the editing process here and how to get a literary agent here.

2. Charlotte Duckworth

She doesn’t update it anymore but Charlotte has some great posts on her blog. Charlotte is also a thriller writer. Her most recent novel is The Perfect Father. My favourite posts are How I got my book deal here and Things that make me cry about publishing (and things that don’t!) here.

3. Allie Reynolds

Allie is a recent debut thriller writer (her novel Shiver is great). Allie has a great post on how she found her agent and includes the query letter she sent (incredibly valuable!) here.

4. Laure Van Rensburg

Laure has a debut novel, The Downfall, coming out in 2022. Laure’s blog has some super useful posts such as How to find an agent here and Submitting to agents here.

5. The Story Grid

The Story Grid, created by Shawn Coyne is a model of story telling. It’s really useful for learning about how to structure your novel and there are some great posts (and podcasts) where they look at the method in practice.

6. Holly Craig

Holly is a writer who has a very helpful blog about the writing process. She is currently in the process of editing her novel with her agent. My favourite posts of hers are Who should edit your work? here, From MS Submissions to Contracts: How I made it there here and a useful post on submitting to agents with a template query letter here.

7. Stephanie Wrobel

Stephanie is the author of The Recovery of Rose Gold. Her website has some useful posts for writers including where to get query letter / novel feedback here and a whole series on how she found her agent here.

8. Nicola Martin

Nicola is the author of Dead Ringer. She publishes some super helpful posts on writing. My favourites are 6 Things to know if you want to write a novel this year here and How to get your book published here.

If you know any other helpful writing blogs, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. I hope this post proves useful for any other aspiring writers.

Until next time,


Writing the middle part of a novel sucks

On 1st February I wrote “I’m at the 50k mark at the moment and am struggling to get through the clunky middle part of the novel.”

It is now the evening of 14th February and I’m at 61,000 words. So 11k words in around 14 days. I’ve slowed my pace slightly this week. I’ve really struggled. The middle part of the novel is by far the hardest. When we start to write we have an initial idea, and we usually have an idea of how the story will end. But the messy journey of how to get there is the hard bit. I map out my plot with post it notes but I’ve had to change them so many times whilst writing this middle section.

I reckon I have another 10k words left and then I’ll be writing the main climax of my novel. I’ve already written my epilogue and the last few chapters, I just have the main action scenes left and the lead up to it. There’s one point I’m really struggling with at the moment. I need to spend some time figuring out how to fix the plot.

My course with the Faber Academy has been going well. The course has new topics every 2 weeks. So far we’ve all introduced our books and have done work on openings. Openings are so hard. I’ve changed mine so many times, and I also keep changing my mind about whether or not I want to include a prologue. I asked people on Twitter and the general answer was that prologues were fine as long as there was a good enough reason for them.

Because now is potentially the most free time I’ll ever have, I’m also doing another course alongside the Faber Academy one. I’m currently enrolled on the 6 week Curtis Brown Creative Writing a Psychological Thriller with Erin Kelly. Yes, I did question myself when I decided to do two courses at once. But the CBC course only lasts 6 weeks and after all, I have the time which I’ll never have again. The CBC course has been really good so far as it’s so specific to the genre I’m writing. They also have fantastic resources. I definitely recommend.

I’ll check back in again soon. I’m thinking of making a list of my favourite author blogs to follow. Some are so generous with the information and help they give out.

Hopefully the next time I write here, I’ll have almost finished my first draft! (I’m already getting excited to edit).


My Writing Routine

My current writing place

I love reading routines of writers. It’s so interesting how differently writers write. On the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course we all has to describe the place we write. Mine is pictured above. It’s a small foldable desk in the bedroom of my flat in central London. On the walls I have post stick notes of all my chapters which I stare at constantly, especially as I do my day job from this desk due to the pandemic.

I try and write almost every day. On weekdays, I will try and write 1,000 words after work. I usually do this between 9pm and 10pm. Sometimes I don’t quite manage 1,000 but I try and make those days few. I try not to write much longer than an hour so I still have some of my evening to watch TV or read.

I’ve planned out my chapters so this helps. Sometimes I still get writers block or find some chapters much harder to write than others. I’m at the 50k mark at the moment and am struggling to get through the clunky middle part of the novel. I can’t wait until I’ve finished the first draft so I can edit and redraft. I change the structure constantly. Some chapters don’t work and sometimes I realise I need something more. Sometimes I think of new plot points I hadn’t considered.

On a weekend I try and write 2k words a day. It’s easy at the moment as we can’t make plans due the pandemic. I’ll stick a writing podcast on or some music and just write.

So far, writing little and often is working. Since I started doing this at the start of January 2021, I’ve written 30,000 words. If I keep going at the same pace I should have a 90, 000 word novel by mid March. That excites me.

I still have a long way to go. Lots of editing and I’m sure the structure will change. My goal is to have my novel is a shape ready to query agents by the end of summer 2021. That’s the same time as my Faber Academy course finishes. Fingers crossed.


1/3 of the way through…

In November, I posted this:

“If I am successful, the course doesn’t start until 20th January, so I’ll have almost two months between the courses. In an ideal world, I’d like to have gotten to 20k words before the course starts, but we shall see…”

Firstly, as you’ll see from the end of the last post, I was successful. I will be starting the Faber Academy Writing a Novel Course (online) on Wednesday. I am so excited to be doing another one of their courses. It’s so nice being surrounded by other writers in the same position. The critiquing we do on each other’s work on these courses is invaluable. I can’t wait to further progress my novel with a new cohort of students and learn from some brilliant tutors. I chose the online version as I need a bit more flexibility despite living in central London.

Secondly, I said I’d like to have gotten to 20k words before the course started. As of yesterday, I have over 30, 000 words. I have really amped up my writing since the new year. I started the new year with 16k and have almost doubled that in the space of 17 days. Lockdown helps. There aren’t many distractions and I have nothing to do at the weekend. I’m writing little and often, most nights for 30mins – an hour after work. That is what is making the biggest difference to my word count. By spending an hour of my time after work writing instead of on Netflix, I’m adding 2-3k words a week just though this.

I have set out a timetable for my novel. I hope to have finished my first draft by the end of March. Assuming my total novel will be around 90k words (the average for the thriller genre), I will need to write 6k words a week. This is ambitious but I am determined to finish my novel this year. By finish, I mean in final draft form and ready to submit to agents.

I’m feeling good about my progress so far and have found witting is really helping to keep my spirits up during these hard times. I’ve also been reading a lot more and have discovered some wonderful books.

I’ll update this blog again once my course has started! My current goal is to reach 42k by the 1st February. Watch this space…


Faber Academy Kickstart your Novel – Course Review

It’s been a while since I posted on the blog! I had about a month away from writing after finishing my course to think about next steps. I’m now back to focusing on my writing and my novel.

I finished the Kickstart your Novel course in November and thought I would post a review up on here. I think it’s a fairly new course (my cohort was the second lot) and as it’s all done online it’s great for these pandemic times we are living in.

The course is meant as a precursor to the well-known 8 month long Writing a Novel course. Originally I applied for the Writing a Novel course but was unsuccessful. The tutors recommended that I take Kickstart your Novel instead (which is not selective) to work on my novel idea.

I found the course fantastic. It was 8 weeks long but I felt I progressed so much. The people on the course were all at different stages. Some had ideas and some had started writing their novel. I would say everybody that came to the session had an initial idea. I don’t think it’s necessary to already have a novel idea but it will make the exercises easier and you will benefit more from having other people comment on your work.

The course covered the basics of writing and also included a session on writing a synopsis with tutor feedback (which I found invaluable). It does involve 5-7 hours a week of work but this can be more or less depending on how long the writing takes you.

After finishing the course, I applied for the Writing a Novel course and am pleased to say I got a place. I definitely think my novel is in a much better place now and I will benefit from the course more. I start at the end of January and can’t wait!

I hope my review was helpful and if anybody is thinking about doing the course feel free to comment or message me on my Instagram @rhiwritesabook. I would encourage people to go for this course if they don’t quite feel ready for the longer commitment. These courses are a lot of work alongside a full-time job – it’s better to gauge how you would cope with the work with a shorter course rather than being tied to 8 months.


Writing the Opening Pages

Well, it’s been a while. I had intended to write weekly blogs but as you can see, that didn’t turn out the way I had intended. I’ve had a busy few weeks with the Faber Kickstart Your Novel Course. We had sessions on setting, tense, point of view, structure and writing a synopsis. I’ve found all of sessions incredibly useful, but the session on structure was particularly useful. Everybody in the course was tasked with reading the same novel (Attica Locke – Heaven, My Home for those interested) and we had to dissect the structure of the book. It was a really interesting exercise and has directly helped me structure my novel idea. I’m sure the structure will change as my novel develops, but I definitely have a better idea of the “rising action” and “obstacles” in my novel now.

The course comes to an end next week. At the moment we have been given two weeks to write the opening pages of our novel (1,500 – 2,000) words for feedback from the rest of our peers. Luckily, I’ve already written part of my novel. I had started working on my novel idea before the course. I think before the course I was on 5k words. I’ve added to that throughout the course and I’ve currently got 11,113 words. I’ve reworked the beginning and think it should be ready to post. I’m both excited and scared to see what other people think. I know there are some people on my course who are starting their novel writing from scratch over these two weeks – I feel for them!

Once the course ends, I’m hoping to reapply to the online 8 month “Writing a Novel” course. I originally applied before the “Kickstart Your Novel” course but was unsuccessful. I now understand why I was unsuccessful and believe I am now in a much better place to make an application and continue serious work on my novel. Fingers crossed.

If I am successful, the course doesn’t start until 20th January, so I’ll have almost two months between the courses. In an ideal world, I’d like to have gotten to 20k words before the course starts, but we shall see…

Character Character Character

This week on the Faber academy Kickstart Your Novel course, we are focusing on character. Character is always an area that I have struggled with. I tend to place a lot of emphasis on plot and narration, and so character and dialogue is left behind. This is silly of course, believable and realistic characters are a cornerstone of any novel.

The course suggested we complete these detailed character questionnaires for our central characters. The idea is that you won’t use all the information in your novel, but you will know your characters more in-depth as a result.

I’ve completed one for my main character currently and it did make me really think about her background. I do think some of the things I thought about will be useful in the novel (for example, her happiest memory).

I’m glad we have explored this topic as it was one where I felt I needed guidance. It was also helpful to have a tutor forum where we could ask questions about character. I feel more confident with the main character in my novel now. I’m not sure if I’ll complete a full questionnaire for all characters, but maybe the other main character. I do need to work on my supporting characters. I only have three characters in my novel at the moment which is too few.

Kickstart Your Novel – Week 1

I’m currently enrolled onto the Faber Academy Kickstart Your Novel course with Caroline Smailes. I always find courses a good idea – by no means are they necessary in your writing journey (and let’s be honest – they are pretty expensive!), but for me they provide extra motivation to write in the form of accountability. There are deadlines each week and specific tasks which motivates me to get writing done – almost as it’s a homework task. Without this impetus, it’s easier to just spend my time watching another episode of Bones or endlessly scrolling through instagram.

I believe the course is fairly new, and was created as a bridge between their “Getting Started: Beginner’s Fiction” course and their 6-month Writing a Novel course. I took the former in October 2019, vowing to actually write a book once it was over. Clearly that did not happen. I did enjoy the course but found it focused more on general writing concepts and exercises about a myriad of different topics. The Kickstart Your Novel course seemed more appealing as the end-result is an opening of a novel, and so (hopefully and from the course outline), the exercises will be more focused on progressing a singular idea or novel. Faber also state that the course is good preparation for their 6 month course, which I do hope to apply to after this course ends.

I’m currently on the first week of the course, and we just had our introductory zoom with the tutor. The exercises this week are all over why we choose to write and where we get our ideas from. Luckily I’ve always found it fairly easy to come up with an initial idea – it’s turning initial ideas into something with substance and structure that I struggle with.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the course. Here’s hoping I finish the 8 weeks with a better outline for my novel and make a succesful application to the 6 month course which starts in January.

About this Blog

Well, hello.

My name is Rhiannon (but as you may have guessed, I go by Rhi). I started this blog because, as you may also have guessed, I’m trying to write a novel!

It’s definitely not an easy process but I decided to chronicle the highs and lows of trying to write a novel. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be a best seller and this blog will be a hidden gem!