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The truth about writing books. By speaking to authors and other book lovers, I'm diving into the mystery that is the book world today. From writing to editing to publishing and all that goes into the creation of a book – all of it is open for discussion on the show.
 
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Most people don't have to face all their worst fears in a single week. Raynor Winn and her husband were left homeless when an investment went bad. Within days, her husband Moth received a terrifying medical diagnosis that predicted a dramatic decline. What did they do? They decided to wild camp (that's camping without campgrounds or rules, for ...…
 
Most people have heard the rhyme about Lizzie Borden and forty whacks of an axe. But most don't know the case behind the rhyme and the trial that enthralled the nation in the late 1800s. Well before there was OJ, there was Lizzie Borden. Cara Robertson first wrote about the trial in undergraduate school at Harvard and the story stayed with her. ...…
 
Mike Hembury has a permission slip for you In speaking with Mike about his novel New Clone city and the wild ride of a story that it is, he mentioned that when he writes, he likes to cut out all the boring bits. This struck me as a piece of true freedom: as writers, some scenes feel like taking vitamins, thinks that have to be included, but wha ...…
 
I've loved Jasper Fforde for years and years. Ever since Lost in Austen, I was hooked on his witty book-nerd stories. A little bit sci-fi, a little bit fantasy, and a whole lot wacky dry British wit, it was an easy sell to see him speak at the Edinburgh Book Festival. But when he spoke about the devastating experience of writer's block he endur ...…
 
Point of View is Everything Christopher Castellani told me this as we discussed the ins and outs of writing his latest novel, Leading Men. Not only does he believe that POV is everything, he went so far as to write a book on the topic in order to get it right for his novel. With so many books out these days with shifting POV and the tricky ques ...…
 
I love getting meta on the show. Lauren Wilkinson was so much fun to talk to, not only because American Spy is such a satisfying read, but also because she was more than willing to dive into deep topics like figuring out what it means to tell the truth when writing fiction. I adore talking about craft on this show, but sometimes even more than ...…
 
Sometimes the siren call of ambition is just too seductive to resist. When Theresa Reed's publisher pitched TWO books for her to write last year, she thought "Sure- I can do that." What followed was a year of early mornings, a schedule that eliminated her social life AND a near meltdown when a draft got eaten by the cruel technology gods. Learn ...…
 
When you don't sweat the small stuff and just write I was lucky enough to get connected to Caroline Wright and immediately wanted her to come on the show. She has that groovy job so many of us have dreamed of, food stylist, recipe creator and big glossy cookbook author. Swoon! However, there's much more than meets the eye to Caroline. Several y ...…
 
Bigger isn't always better for writing. Of course, we'd all love a movie deal for our books or a huge advance, but the actual process of writing isn't about making everything bigger and better. Paul Jarvis lives in the woods in Canada and has managed to make a successful living centered around writing for nearly twenty years. In this conversati ...…
 
I honestly think of a more intimidating character to write than Anne Frank Not only is she an actual historical figure, she's also known and beloved by generations who've begun writing diaries -as I did- after reading hers. David Gillham had an idea for a book based on Anne Frank but taking an alternative historical approach, one in which Anne ...…
 
I thought I'd never do a solo episode But after nearly 3 years of the show, it was time. Through the process of interviewing nearly 150 writers, I've learned a lot about the process of writing and publishing books, but I've never talked about the process of writing my own novel. Moving into a new year, here are the goals and plans I'm putting i ...…
 
Talking to Ryder Carroll was a particularly meta experience As both the creator of the Bullet Journal Method and author of a book with the same title, we not only got to talk about the process of writing a book about Bullet journaling, we also got to talk about using the Bullet Journal method in the process of writing a book about, you guessed ...…
 
As writers, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can take care of our words. On the other side, we don't spend nearly as much time thinking about how words can take care of us as well. For the past 4 or 5 years, I've been picking a word for the year to guide me along in both my living and my writing. Since we work with language after al ...…
 
What if you didn't have to be a scientist to write science fiction? Guess what people, Mary Robinette Kowal is about to blow your mind. She has the most incredible background I have heard on the show so far: Jim Henson Puppeteer, Voiceover actor, and Hugo-award-winning Science Fiction author. YES. There is nothing I love more than writers who a ...…
 
It's obvious: I love having Mary Laura Philpott on the show. I just couldn't wait to talk about her essay collection, I Miss You When I Blink, coming in spring 2019, so we dive into the experience she's having now: the book is finished and in the pipeline for publication, and the Messy Middle is in full effect. We talk about the feelings having ...…
 
A.J. Jacobs has been on my wishlist of guests for ages. From The Know-It-All to The Year of Living Biblically, I have loved reading along through his lifestyle experiments that took on challenges I wish I was dedicated enough to undertake: reading the entire encyclopedia? Following all the rules in the Bible for a year even as a non-religious p ...…
 
I could have easily talked to Ada Palmer for Six Hours. You might wish I had after listening to our conversation. Ada is the author of the Terra Ignota series, a science fiction epic saga that stole my will to read anything else the entire time I was in the clutches of the first book. I cannot wait for my next long flight to continue the journe ...…
 
Ever caught yourself thinking "I could never write like that?" when reading a published book? It's so important to remember that a lot goes on behind the scenes between writing "the end" and seeing the book out in the world. It's hard to remember that beyond the drafts the author goes through, there are also rounds of edits that follow. This we ...…
 
By Day, Sarah St. Vincent is a researcher and advocate, but by night and early morning, she is a novelist. Sarah St. Vincent studied law at the University of Michigan and now works for the US Program of Human Rights Watch, specializing in national security, surveillance and domestic law enforcement. At the same time as working in this important ...…
 
With hundreds of audiobooks narrated, Rachel Fulginiti was the perfect guest to lead us through the wild world of audio. This episode will take you through the entire process, from finding potential narrators to audition, how to hire them, pricing, the timeline from booking to recording to receiving the finished product. Full of tips to get the ...…
 
Every year November 1 brings the same question to writers: to NaNo or not to NaNo? Tasha Harrison and I dive into NaNo 2.0: tips and hacks for writers looking to do more than just bang out 50,000 words of a brand new project. Already working on a book? Great. We'll walk you through ways to approach the madness of NaNoWriMo so you come out the o ...…
 
When Alexandra Franzen first wrote her novel, So This is the End, she wasn't ready to publish it with the wide world. She released it as a gift - a free download she gave to her mailing list. She was terrified it really wasn't that good. A torrent of replies came in, sharing how much the book had moved them. She got braver and put it up for sal ...…
 
When I found out Susan Orlean's latest was called The Library Book it took me exactly 2 minutes to invite her on the show to discuss it. Bless her, she said yes less than 5 minutes later. This book is SO GOOD. Granted, I am an easy sell with a podcast called The Secret Library. But this book has arson, crazy characters, scandal, history, and ev ...…
 
When I did 100 readings a few years ago, a friend asked if I could read for her writing project instead of her life. We tried it out and were amazed at the results. After exploring a bit, I discovered that the very brilliant Jessa Crispin had been reading tarot for writers for years. Her book, The Creative Tarot has been a favorite ever since a ...…
 
This conversation was absolute and total heaven. Much like Simon Van Booy's latest book, the story collection "The Sadness of beautiful Things," this episode covers a wide variety of topics. However, even as we moved from beginnings, to endings, to the thought and work it took to get various stories right, we kept coming back to one central the ...…
 
When Allie Rowbottom lost her mother to cancer, she dove headfirst into writing. Having already completed an MFA and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, Allie was no stranger to writing but something changed after her mother died. She felt an increased urgency to tell the story her mother had invested many years of her own life writing: the story of t ...…
 
How to Write Non-Fiction Non-fiction books are a different animal than fiction, with as many reasons to write them as there are categories. With more people than ever wanting to reach a wider audience, the appeal for writing nonfiction is clear. Show favorite Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn was the perfect guest to speak about how to write non ...…
 
I saw Amy Alkon speak at the LA Times Festival of Books and was delighted with her talk on her book, Unf*ckology, which breaks down the science of building up courage. Here, I thought, was a person who can address this fear so many people have of calling themselves writers. I was right in guessing she'd have a lot to say on the topic, but we we ...…
 
Confession: I am intimidated by poetry. If you look over the back catalog of the show, you will find a dearth of poetry represented. partly this is because I have such an abundance of novelists, essayists, and other more mainstream-length books to discuss with people. But, to be fair, I haven't gone digging for poetry. I feel vastly uneducated ...…
 
Reading and Writing History When the Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta was announced for a reprint from Penguin, I was so excited to see that Diana Gabaldon wrote the foreword. In speaking with Diana both about this novel from history as well as her experience writing fiction set in a historical setting, I was hit with a variation on the c ...…
 
Donal Ryan is the best argument for staying hopeful about writing. In this conversation, we discuss how Donal Ryan stayed optimistic as his first few books were rejected nearly 50 times before he broke in to get one published. Once he did, he was long listed for the Booker Prize. We have all heard these stories: of Stephen King impaling rejecti ...…
 
How I love speaking to writers who also teach writing! Lucy Tan is that delightful hybrid: a novelist who also knows how to speak about the process of writing so clearly you can follow along in her footsteps. She is so smart, both in her writing and her advice about how to get it done. Lucy began her novel, What We Were Promised, inside the saf ...…
 
We're going steady on a podcast! So... we've had Mary-Laura Philpott (or MLP as we like to call her around here) on recommending books seasonally for the past few seasons and we decided it was time to give her a bonus episode slot. We know you are all busy and want a quick listen, so here it is! All your July reading recommendations in one conv ...…
 
Sometimes the line between memoir and novel is thinner than others. Keith Gessen came on the show this week to discuss his latest novel, A Terrible Country. Drawing on his own experience caring for his grandmother in Russia after graduating from college, Keith originally set out to write a much bigger book than the one he ended up with. He had ...…
 
The best books don't center around perfect characters doing easy things. I am so excited to share this week's episode as each of these conversations was so much fun to record. Edan has been on the show before, but I wanted to have her back to talk about her love of writing difficult characters within the framework of her latest novel, Woman No. ...…
 
Rebecca Makkai didn't set out to write about the AIDS Crisis in Chicago. This is what I love about writing. There is the saying, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." I would say that it's just as true that "Books are what happen when you're busy making outlines." In speaking with Rebecca Makkai this week about her latest novel ...…
 
Michelle Kuo got a call one day, telling her that her favorite student had been arrested. After college, Michelle Kuo joined Teach for America and moved to the Arkansas Delta. She taught in a school that focused on teaching underserved youth who had been expelled from other schools. Her time there was transformative, both for Michelle and her s ...…
 
Sometimes you just want to write a lot of characters. Chibundu Onuzo wrote her first novel surrounding two characters, so when it came time to writer her second novel, she wanted a lot of people in there to play with. In addition, she shifted into third person, a process she compared to Scooby Doo or Nancy Drew trying to figure out how to open ...…
 
There is very little I love more than getting away. For anyone who loves to escape, this is your episode. Stephanie Rosenbloom and I talk about Alone Time, her book on solo travel. Through the four seasons, she travels to four cities (including her hometown for a staycation) and shares what she finds by traveling alone. As a fan of solo travel ...…
 
Sometimes you just have to dive into an idea and get it done. A little over a year ago, many of you will remember that Scott Carney came on the show to talk about his book What Doesn't Kill Us. Toward the end of that conversation, he dropped a little bit of knowledge that made a light go on in my brain. "If you write 500 words a day 5 days a we ...…
 
I LOVE this pairing. I just have to say that at the outset. Speaking with Amber Rae and Madeline Miller was an incredible privilege. I think you'll find this week's episode filled with Wonder, which is no surprise given the title of Amber Rae's book, Choose Wonder Over Worry. But this theme is woven through both conversations, from Amber's proc ...…
 
It's funny how themes emerge when guests get paired together. Most often, the date I schedule a guest appearance is based on their book pub date and so we get these funny coincidences when I sit down to write the show notes. Both Catherine Isaac and Tom Rachman have written books that have a troubled father-son relationship at the center, and b ...…
 
Have you ever been told you can't expect to make money writing books? Me, too. Having heard the refrain that books don't make money over and over, it was my distinct pleasure to speak with two writers who have built careers with books and writing at the center: Chris Guillebeau + Tom Hodgkinson. I have been reading each of their work for years ...…
 
A writer is faced with so many dilemmas when creating a book. Two of the most common that I encounter in my coaching practice? "Do I go for traditional publishing OR publish as an indie author?" And "How can I write about the people in my life without damaging those relationships?" Writing is not for the faint of heart, not only because you hav ...…
 
I don't know how else to say it. This episode is long. But it's so good that we couldn't stand to cut anything out of it. As soon as I knew that Sarah Selecky's book, Radiant Shimmering Light, was coming out in Canada this week, I knew she was episode 100. And then I had to talk about the amazing books coming out this spring with Mary Laura Phi ...…
 
ML Longworth has one of the greatest writing stories I've heard so far. After the tech company her husband worked for in Silicon Valley was sold in the last 1990s, ML Longworth tried something bold. Before leaving for a family vacation in France, she typed the following search term into a browser: computer-jobs-France. What followed was a serie ...…
 
Elaine Castillo broke my brain with something she said on the show. The book she ended up publishing, her debut novel America is not the Heart, was not even close to the same length as the book she wrote. Let me say this again: Elaine Castillo sold her debut novel to a big 5 publisher and then got to spend a year and a half editing it because t ...…
 
Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon wrote the book on Being Boss. Back in January 2015, Emily and Kathleen launched a podcast called Being Boss. It was for women business owners and creative entrepreneurs. The show quickly grew from a small posse of listeners into a sensation, and then a movement. The exploration of what it meant to be boss cre ...…
 
Kit De Waal didn't start writing until she was 40. I love a hot debut novel from a bright young thing as much as the next person, but there is something I love even more about a late-to-writing career trajectory. Now that I'm on the other side of 40, I feel particularly fired up whenever I read books by those who didn't start as writers the mom ...…
 
This week, we dive into the mysterious lure of Sweden and its literature. As a lover of languages, I have long been fascinated with the art of translation. I am delighted to have Henning Koch on this week, who has translated Fredik Backman's work including A Man Called Ove as well as the acclaimed Every Moment We Are Still Alive. In addition to ...…
 
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