Writers20Q Podcast 15 – Philippa Ballantine

Fantasy Writer

Philippa Ballantine is a writer of fantasy novels from New Zealand and you can find her work on her . This is quite a long interview as we were having such a good chat and she had so much to say about lots of details do to with being an author.

I am listening to her novel Chasing the Bard now and enjoying the story Seeing as I was born in Stratford upon avon I feel I have a tenuous – very tenuous link to Shakespeare himself. So I like the way that Shakespeare is woven into the story as a fictional character. Philippa reads the story well and it is entertaining. You can get it by going to

Pip long hair

She is going down the traditional route of getting published alongside the new and exciting podcasting of novels and electronic Books to use on the likes of the Kindle and the iPad.

Although from NZ Philipa is in the U.S. for most of this year to promote her work at conventions and signings. In the interview she also tells us about a course she is giving in fantasy writing. On Saturday 19th February, Philippa Ballantine will be at Borderlands Books reading from the as yet not released Spectyr, and signing books. Afterwards will probably find a local pub and kick back. Philippa says  ”I hope some of you can make it out. Borderlands is a great store, and my favourite place to shop in San Francisco.”

About Philippa Ballantine

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Philippa has always had her head in a book. For this she blames her father who thought Lord of the Rings was suitable bedtime reading for an eight year old. At the age of thirteen she began writing fantasy stories for herself.

She first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Political Science and then a Bachelor of Applied Science in Library and Information Science. So soon enough she found herself working in the magical world of libraries where she stayed for over a decade.

Her first professional sale was in 1997, and since then she has gone on to produce mostly novel length fiction. In 2006 she became New Zealand’s first podcast novelist, and she has voiced and producedWeaver’s Web, Chasing the Bard, Weather Child and Digital Magic as podiobooks. Her podcasts have been short listed for the Parsec Awards, and won a Sir Julius Vogel award.

Philippa is the author of the Books of the Order series with Ace- the first of which Geist was released in October 2010. Spectyr (June 2011), Wrayth (2012) and Harbinger are to follow. She is also the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series with Tee Morris. Phoenix Rising will debut in May 2011.

When not writing or podcasting, Philippa loves reading, gardening, and whenever possible traveling.

Writers20Q Podcast 14 Stacey Keith



Stacey is the famous author of the book ‘Drive Your Woman Wild in Bed’ tells me how she skived off from school so she could write her first novel. I was flabbergasted to hear that she was only 19 when you wrote her self help sex book and described some of the difficulties in getting the book published. It is totally amazing that she was able to do that and not get ripped off by the published and agents, it seems it wasn’t easy though.

Stacey is of the old school in as much as she writes long hand with pen and paper. I find that totally weird seeing as it is so easy to use a computer and the writing has to go on a computer at some point anyway. It must be really difficult to do any editing when it is all on paper. But the important thing is that you get the ideas and the story out of the head and made real. I suppose my problem is that I am such a tech head geek. When asked about where she saw her writing going in the next five years Stacey was enthusiastic about the possibility if having control of the publishing, perhaps through self-publishing. Especially seeing as the publishing houses now expect authors to get out and promote their own work to a large extent also.

Stacey Keith has been on more than twenty talk shows, including “Montel Williams,” “Geraldo Rivera,” “Real Personal with Bob Berkowitz,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” and “Joan Rivers.” In addition to hundreds of radio interviews, Stacey has lectured throughout the United States and the University of Toronto. I really enjoyed talking to her about her writing and I would love to see her move to a second stage of her writing career now that her children are getting grown up. In her blog she has plenty to say and also performs a agony aunt role with answering peoples’ questions about various topics.

During the interview I mention that I have recently self published and information eBook, and I did it though Lulu.com. I was stunned how easy it was to set it up. I exported the eBook out of Scrivener into the correct ePub format. I got an ISBN from Lulu.com and it will be going live on the iBookStore and I think the Amazon Kindle store too. Delighted that it was possible and the next thing for me to do is to promote the book, I think that is certainly the bigger job.

Writers 20Q Podcast 13 John Oehler

John Oehler Thriller writer

John Oehler - Adventure _ Thriller Novelist, Papyrus, Tepui, Aphrodesia. Fast-paced adventure_thrillers wrapped in history, art, and science..png

My wife was sitting on the bus coming back home from Girona and in the next seat was a guy talking to a friend about his writing and his stories. I was fortunate that she spoke to the guy and asked him if he would be interested in appearing on a podcast for writers. Well the long and short of it is that and I worked out a time to record a conversation about writing.

Social networking and the writer

We discussed the use of social networking for writers and how to build an audience or a fan base by talking to people on line. Drip feeding bit of story to the public and getting them hooked on your stories. Seeing as the Independent film making community are doing great with the use of Facebook and Twitter.

Used Ladies underwear

Smelly knickers

John and I talked about all sorts of thing to do with writing and among them was the story that was on NCIS recently on TV which had used ladies underwear as the subject matter. I was a bit miffed because I had written a story / sketch based on the very same subject. I’d heard about vending machines with used underwear in from a guy that had visited Japan. I was amused by what he had told us about and I started into a story involving knickers. We were talking about cultural differences, east and west. Anyway my story is more comedy sketch than murder mystery. This came up in conversation and also tied in with what John had to say about perfumes.

Continue reading

March was mad

I was looking at the list of podcasts I produced during March and there was less than half of my normal output, you would think that there was a certain amount of PodFade. However that was not really the case, as it was mostly down to external factors beyond my control. I lost over a week to having no power and no internet, I can’t record an interview when there is no electric in the house. I did go to my sister in law to get internet on a few ocasions but that is no help for recording as there are kids and noisy dogs in the house.

Following the week with no electric there was, certainly as far as I was concerned, too much time in the garden trying to sort out the devastation the storm left behind. Our garden is full of mostly cork trees and a few pines. Five of the pine trees fell down and all  of the cork trees lost branches, such was the weight of the snow. I still hate gardening, even if I get to use a chainsaw.

I did have interviews arranged during the month and the people were unable to keep the appointment. One of them seems to be very busy and the other had a bad cold. These have been re scheduled but has left us without the interview content. That is the problem with the fact that the shows rely on content coming in from external sources.

I did do something different last month also with the production of the Mac20Q ramble as a video. I enjoyed that experience because I did it with green screen in Final Cut Express. Of course it does take longer to arrange such a production, but I thought it came out well enough that I will do more of those. Good to have the video posted out in varoius places too all pointing back to the show notes for the audio podcast. I have bought a set of LED lights to illuminate the green screen and I will post a picture of the set in the studio shortly.

The lack of podcasts was overall for the Answer20Q network and I think I will have to do some catching up. Also though I will have to get a schedule. I plan to chose a day of the week for publishing a Mac20Q podcast and do that once a week. The Video 20Q can be a every other week and the others I will aim for one a month and I’ll see if I can ramp it up when the summer is over.

During the summer I work in a camp site, a bit of cash is nice,  I improve my Spanish and get to practice my German speaking too. It does mean though that the podcasting lessens during the summer also.  I have started work for this year already but until the end of May it will probably only be weekends. That works out quite nicely and I am not looking forward to the working 10 hours each day in a reception that has no air conditioning. The owners are too tight to look after the staff at this place. At least maybe I can write a script or two in the quiet moments. It is a shame though that it will have to be as today written using a Windows computer and a Spanish keyboard which has a few extra characters and a few in different places.

Funny thing about camp sites is that you get used to seeing people walking to the showers in the dressing gown and a toilet roll in the hand. Maybe I should think about a story involving a camp site as a location. I have seen one or two other funny things here.

I have started work on a story /  comedy sketch that I want to make as a short movie. Writing it first in Scrivener as a narrative as the first draft and for the second draft I will make it into a screenplay- script. I will perhaps keep doing that in Scrivener but I might try using Celtx which is dedicated script writing software. Planning to send the script to my son who is a professional cameraman because I can envisage him helping me both with the camera part of the filming and with the acting side of it. I need 3 actors for the job and I could see two of my sons and a friend filling the roles nicely.

I have not  written a screenplay before so I am also in the process of learning how to do that, luckily I found a web site that shows the correct way of doing it as per the industry standard and gives good practice type of tips too. After I have the short film made I will publish the script also on Video20Q.

Screenwriter and Film maker Clive Davies-Frayne


Clive has an interesting approach to writing, particularly with his choice of tools to do the job. He told me he use Excel to start with to outline the characters, moving on to using scrivener and then on to Final Draft, which is the industry standard for presenting the movie when makng the film. Final Draft gives the timings for the movie apparently.

The , where people can see clips from Clives’ movies and there is also a , The blog is published with a new post every Sunday morning – European time, which I then discuss with readers on .

Here’s a little bit of blurb about about Filmutopia :

Clive Davies-Frayne is a screenwriter and producer, whose company Filmutopia Ltd develops and produces feature films for cinema. So far, Clive has written and directed half a dozen short films, including one which won a UK Royal Television Society award.. and also two feature films. The first “Punx,” never completed due to funding issues… the second “No Place” was made in HD with a $750,000 budget was completed in 2005, but has spent the last four years mired in distribution issues…

Filmutopia was founded after “No Place” was completed, when Clive decided to walk away from his previous production company and a nine year business partnership, in order to change dramatically the way his movies were made, in particular the business strategies adopted. Clive admits “Everything I ever learned about how to make movies, I learned by first getting it completely wrong”

Filmutopia’s latest movie project, “Smoke” is a comedy and is currently in the development phase… the projected budget, €6M.

“After making movies the indie way for years and seeing little in return for my efforts, I decided to look at different way to make, finance, market and distribute movies. My passions are movies and the movie business… I don’t see the two as contradictions. All I want to do is entertain people and make a profit in the process.”

Writers20Q Podcast Karen Sperling

What was so great about talking with Karen was that she is into so many things, like myself she can’t stop herself being interested in a variety of interests. She has published a book called   which is available now as an eBook and will be going into print very shortly. It is not her first book either, as karen has written a number of manuals for the Application Painter or PainterX. Karen also is an artist and amazingly like the same styles of art as myself too. Both of us  really like the German expresionists, the surrealist and we both have an appreciation for the talent of Picasso.

You really must have a look at her . She is conveying a dream world as art and with them being in black and white it reminds me of the work by Giger the artist that created the creature in the movie Alien. Karen is having an exhibition this month of her art work and if you live near enough you are invited to go and have a look.

Karen also writes screen plays for movies and has a script for a romantic comedy, where does she find the time to do all these things?

Highly Toxic

Gallery Godo
6749 San Fernando Rd.#C  Glendale, CA 91201
Opening Night: September 25, 2009
7 pm to midnight - Please join us! http://gallerygodo.net/

Show Sponsor is GoDaddy – I use GoDaddy for all my domains and hosting. I use the deluxe hosting for $7.99 a month and have a number of my domains on the same hosting. It is a huge bargain where other hosting companies will let you only have one domain or perhaps two on a hosting and probably charge more for it too. Godaddy is for me the best place to get domains and I am happy to recommend it to you. If you put in the code POD146 when you get to the check out you will get 10% discount off your order. I tested that out and it works.

Creative writing podcasts

I found these podcasts on iTunes and they are really useful to listen to. I  am always listening to podcasts while walking the dog and listening to some with interviews of writers is brilliant.

In this series Alan Ayckbourn talks about the economy of play writing. Jane Rogers talks about her work as a novelist. Poet and presenter Ian MacMillan has a light hearted look at the use of repetition in his poems.

There are eighteen episodes to listen to and they cover a variety of topics.

All in all a set of podcasts well worth listening to. .

Writers20Q Podcast 6 Chris Graue

Chris Graue has a and has a film production web site called .  Chris likes to write collaboratively and has made some TV and film scripts.

He tells me that he though it would be a silly thing to do, to put up a novel on Twitter but says that it has improved his writing due to the constraints of getting it into 140 characters. The other thing is that it is hard to find the start of the novel, and harder the longer it gets, because Twitter puts up the last tweet at the top of the pile and you have to read from the oldest page to the newest and also from top to bottom.

Comedy is an area that Chris like working with and wants to work towards making TV and film scripts that get produced for public consumption, perhaps with him acting and directing the final work too.

Chris must be a bit shy because this is the picture he gave me of himself. I wonder why he is wearing crown, or is that just a funny punk hairstyle?

The Sponsor of the show is GoDaddy who I use for my domains and web hosting. It is a good place to get your own space online and the only thing that bugs me is the number of steps you have to take to get to the check out. Easy enough though to ignore all the extras and just get what you have on your order, a domain name and or some web hosting.
I have numerous domains bought at GoDaddy and all hosted on my hosting account which I have been using for at least 3 years. If you put in the code POD146 when you get to the checkout you will get a 10% discount on your order.

Chris also has a MySpace page called

Writers20Q Podcast 5 Matthew Wayne Selznick

Matthew is the author of Brave Men Run and Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights. Sci Fi fantasy type fiction but with a grounding in the real world. I listened to the podcast of the book Brave Men Run which I downloaded off iTunes and enjoyed the story. I got addicted to it. You know what it is like when you can’t put down a good book – same here but with it being read to me by the author.

I had a great chat with Matthew and we discussed the writing as well as the audio podcast end of things. Matthew highly recommends the giving away of the book as a free podcast in order to build an audience and a brand.

he has been able to get a publishing deal through this type of promoting because the publishing company will see that part of their work is done if an author already has a following that will probably buy his or her books.

I recommend that you support Matthew by having a look at Cloudy Days and Hazy Nights web site. You can become a member and get additional material to what we will find in the free podcast copy of the story. The free podcast will also be about a month behind the members only version. So if you are patient ??

Writers20Q Podcast 4 Abbie Clarke

abbieI am so pleased that I chatted with Abbie Clarke about writing. She is just getting started as a writer and tells me that when she gets home from work will write for a couple of hours for the novel she is working on.

I persuaded her to get a blog set up to start building her brand and get known as a writer. .

I found it refreshing talking to a young person that has creativity in mind and a desire to produce something for public consumption.  I think that a writer has to develop a thick skin though because there will be lots of rejection notices from publishing house before it finally get taken and a book gets published. But if you stick in there and keep working at it then it will work out eventually.

In the interview I talk about the audiobook route that people like Matthew Wayne Selznick, Scott Sigler and JC Hutchins have taken. Seems to work well for them, as on the back of their podcasted books given for free they have developed a following and have got sales of printed materials and book deals. I am tempted to go that route myself, though I am not sure what sort of story would suit my Brummie accent.

Enjoy the podcast with the interview of Abbie Clarke.

Writers20Q Podcast 3 Scrivener

The developer of Scrivener

I got talking to Keith Blount the developer of , the excellent writers software for the Mac.

He tells me that he is a wanna be writer and a coder but not necessarily in that order. Used to be a teacher in primary school and gave up the high life to be a code monkey.

Talking about Scrivener

The idea behind Scrivener is that you write the long novel in chunks and you can use Scrivener to organise the whole thing. there are loads of ways of looking at the work. You can just concentrate on the small bit you are working on. You can see all of the small bits in an outline mode or you can see them on a corkboard view. Lots more information from Keith about Scrivener in the podcast.

He changed to Mac and was looking for a decent laptop and was blown away by the iBook and the retail store experience helped him to make the decision to buy. I have a number of questions for Keith in the interview about how he uses his Mac and you can listen to the podcast to get more.

Win a copy of Scrivener

The question to answer is Is there something spooky in the Text Menu

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Coming soon to Writers20Q

Keith Blount

I have one interview completed with the developer of the writers software Scrivener, Keith Blount. I heard about this software originally from Andy Inhatko who is a tech writer for the Chicago Sun Times and he writes blogs, articles for magazines and web sites. He was pleased to be using Scrivener because he could focus on the writing and then export it out for whichever publication, knowing that it would in the right format for that destination.

So I bought Scrivener after trying it out on my Mac for a couple of weeks. I really like using it. You can go full screen and block out all the distractions. There a number of super features in the software all designed to help you organise your writing, outlining tools, a corkboard area to keep the writing and the research.

One neat trick is that after you have bought it you can have it on more than one machine you own. I have the iMac and the MacBook, I can’t use both at the same time  so it makes sense to be able to have on both of my machines and not have to buy 2 licences. It is what I call sensible licencing.

Abbie Clarke

I have interviewed Abbie about her writing and it is a breath of fresh air to talk to a young enthusiastic writer who is just getting started with her creative writing. I just have to edit the interview and get it ready to turn into a podcast. and has started to publish her writing on it. Check it out.

Matthew Wayne Selznick

Matthew is the writer of an audio book entitled Brave Men Run. I listened to it during the last week. I found it to be enjoyable and I contacted Matthew to see if he would come on this show. Totally delighted to announce that I will be interviewing him next Tuesday. I will be asking questions about going the audio book route and how it might be leading to sales of eBook versions and print versions. I will also ask about what sort of help he needed to be able to get good production values on the podcasted audio book. I will be asking about he latest work which is called Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights and I want to find out what he is planning next.

Writers20Q Podcast 02 – Yi Shun Lai

Click to listen to the podcast

This is the first of the Writers 20 Questions Podcasts with a set of questions more suited to asking writers. It follows on from the first podcast posted in here though which was the one where I am talking with Mike Smith, as is a friend of his.

Yi Shun Lai has worked as a writer / editor for 15 years and now is working for herself as in freelance and having the time to spend on a novel of her own. Seems that writers have to do the work and save money so that they can then have the opportunity to write for themselves.

I learned a few things during our chat and she was lovely to chat with. I do like friendly people, life is to short to have to deal with grumpy devils.

Yi Shun has worked on a book called sounds like fun. Started off as a web project but has moved on to print. Isn’t always good to have the paper in your hands to read.

At about out door activities and recreation. I don’t think it is possible to kayak in Central Park but check out the site to find out what Yi Shun says you can do there.

We talked about writers critique groups and getting past writers block. Of course there was some discussion about the craft of writing but more about editors and agents.

The Questions

1. Introduce yourself  and tell us where you are from?
2. Professional part time or just for fun?
3. Pen and paper or with a computer
4. Do you use specialised software for writers
5. How long have you been a writer?
6. What have you had published so far?
7. Do you have an agent for your work, what was it like getting one?
8. What about an editor, do you get your friends to read your work first?
9. What sort of writing do you do?
10. What would be your daily routine for writing, and have you ever suffered from writers block?
11. Do you think you will be able to make a living from being a writer?
12. Have you attended classes for creative writing?
13. Are you a part of a writers group, is it a valuable experience for you?
14. When you are writing do you listen to music, or do you prefer a locked away in a quiet room experience?
15. Would you consider using a voice recorder to record you telling the story and then writing it and building on it later?
16. What do you think of self publishing with places like Lulu where you can get a book printed quite cheaply?
17. There are some writers that do audio novels – for example JC Hutchins and his online audio novel Seventh Son. Another taking this route is Scott Zigler. Would that interest you at all?
18. What part of writing do you most struggle with?
19. Do you enter writing competitions?
20. Tell us about your latest work and where the listeners can get it? Do you have a web site that you use to promote yourself and your writing?

What questions have I missed? How could I improve the list. Use the form below to send me your suggestions.

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Writers20Q Podcast 1 SplatEric

Click on the picture to Listen

Mike has a MacBookPro as his main computer and has a Mac Mini connected to the TV. Mike is a writer and had taken the brave step of giving up a job in order to make his way in the world into being a writer. Has been using the mac for about 3 years before the writing he was a coder.
Connected to the computer he goes for wired mighty mouse the nipple scroll button is mentioned regards getting it cleaned. He rubbed the nipple on paper where I have blown into the gap around the edge of the button the get the gunk out, and has a brother HL5240 printer.

I guessed at Mike using and was 100% right. Well he is a writer and it seems that it was coded by a writer that could get what he needed from the word processor route. Mike says it is a cracking bit of software. likes the chaptering and versioning – templates for various things – make it easy to collate it and output the final work, and the price was good too. For script writing you might look at a free app and free is always good.

Mike has an extensive collection of iPods and it may have had a slight effect on the buying of an Apple computer. Mike is a Firefox person and once in a while will use Safari, he likes the plug ins with Firefox, like the debug tools and sage plugin

is mentioned by Mike because it connects to so many social networks, lately getting more integration added to it. Mike has recently changed to Tweetie for his twittering.

Mike as had a play with apps but is not a big user because of doing movies in . Found that the faces feature in iPhoto just takes time from him and his writing.

One of his writing projects is a web drama and has other things in the pipeline. We talk about how level the playing field is for aspiring writers to be able to get work out in front of an audience online. There is content coming out from the top down, as in the BBC’s and other institutions and also from the grass roots level of people like the young woman in the North east of England who has put out videos on YouTube showing people how to put on make up. Good content will always find an audience.

Mike acknowledges the steepness of the learning curve with and says he learns something new each time he has some editing to do.

Mike like features in and come in there as a favourite application especially when operating with iTunes. Fav for the iPhone is iExpenseit as a way to control what he spends, seeing as he needs to build an income with the writing.

The film where Tom Cruise is moving stuff around on a huge screen is something that would be in a wish list of computing equipment.
Sceptics Guide to the Universe podcast. gets a mentions and I tell him about podcasted novel called 7th Son.

Go now to watch the and have a look at .
Screenwipe a TV program about writers

ScreenFlow an application that I love using to make screencasts. Edits video as well