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Pain by Elsie Robinson Imagine discovering that one of the highest paid, most well known journalists in the world, whose voice dominated the Hearst media empire for more than 30 years, who wrote something like 9,000 published articles… has basically disappeared from living memory. That’s the story of Julia Scheer and Allison Gilbert’s biography: Li…
 
Ever feel like some things are just outside your ken? I’m that way with literary magazines. And I’ve never found the right retreat or residency, or applied for a grant, and I know sometimes it’s just that I don’t think I belong in that world. But worlds don’t usually just reach out and drag you in. That’s a fave theme of ours around here—you can’t …
 
Many of you have heard me (this is obviously KJ) whine about my revision in process. Well, I’m here to report that it’s done, and successfully. Below is a full description of the process, and in the episode you’ll hear me talking about it with Jennie Nash. I detail everything except the Peeps that fueled me, and I decided it was wrong to leave them…
 
Sometimes your first book is a gateway. For me—KJ—it was Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos, a book I wrote in 2006 with Susan Straub. Susan was the expert and I was a rising writer with a lesser expertise riding on her coattails. We pitched the book before I had many bylines at all—but adding the words “is the author of the forthcoming book…” …
 
I (KJ here) adore Nanowrimo. Tell me it’s impossible to write a whole novel in a month, especially a month with Thanksgiving in it, and I will set out to prove you wrong. My first novel, The Chicken Sisters started as a NaNo project, as did Playing the Witch Card (which is probably coming out in Fall 2023). I… cannot NaNo this year (yes it’s a verb…
 
Listeners, we’re sharing this interview again because if you’re not already subscribed to Theodora’s substack, you should be. We sent you a taste of it this morning on top of this episode. We adored talking to TT, as we like to call her around here—but now that she’s revved up her Substack, every single time we’re texting back and forth about its b…
 
Listeners, you KNOW we got granular with this one because there are just plain so many links! Terena Elizabeth Bell has been writing all her life. Her first short story was published in a literary magazine when she was in college—almost thirty years ago, and she’s published many since and won multiple awards. She’s also written for more than 100 pu…
 
If you’ve listened to any of us for any time at all you know we love Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. People often attribute to KJ a piece of advice she learned from Laura: People are a good use of time. We think of Laura every time we start to call ourselves “too busy” and then rem…
 
Alexis Hall describes himself as a genrequeer writer of kissing books. You may know him as the author of Boyfriend Material and Rosalyn Palmer Takes the Cake, both of which we’ve talked about here. But like recent guest Emily Henry and so many others, those successes were far from his first rodeo. Head to his website, quicunquevult.com, to see the …
 
Kids, this interview with Gretchen Rubin is just too good not to share again. Find more about Gretchen, and sign up for her always interesting newsletter, here. Want to know which tendency you are? Take the quiz here. And which tendency would you attribute to your hosts? Answers coming soon… (or maybe in the episode…) Don’t forget that Author Accel…
 
THIS EPISODE. “Overnight success” Emily Henry reminds us that she’s not—she published three sad-and-serious YA novels before she embraced her real calling and wrote the book she craved—Beach Read, which she says “I never expected to send to anyone.” This discussion was so true to our hearts (KJ writing, Sarina co-signing). It’s hard to for some of …
 
WHOA heading into fall like Hope you’re feeling the fall mojo more than we are. Struggling here, which is a bummer because usually fall is the season that gives when it comes to forward momentum. We, a subset of three, can’t tell if this is a mood that’s overtaken us all, or if it’s life stage specific when you have kids leaving the house, or if it…
 
It’s time to put this baby to work. What now? You’ll just have to listen. This is the last episode in the 10-part Blueprint for a Book Series. Start with Step 1, do the work (we’ll give you an assignment every week), and in 10 weeks, you’ll have a solid foundation for a first draft or revision of your project that will help you push through to “the…
 
If you’re not excited to dive in, something’s wrong. You’ve got a why, a point, an audience. You’ve thought market, found a way to drive your book forward. Found the one or two sentences that describe every chapter or scene and made yourself consider why those chapters or scenes belong and now—you should feel ready to write. But are you? Sometimes …
 
Writing is, sadly, not like reading. Plenty of writers, including all of us on this episode, write a few hundred thousand words before we figure that out. Because in some ways, writing words about characters you’ve invented is easy. They go for coffee! They banter! And writing words about your non-fiction topic of choice, or the hike you took in th…
 
People don’t behave logically, but they are illogical in logical ways. What makes you want to turn the page? You know how it is with some books—you just can’t put them down. Fiction, sure, thrillers, mysteries, but that’s not all. Non-fiction books can be page-turners too, even when they don’t seen to have a story. What makes The Life-Changing Magi…
 
The structure of a book is only inevitable in hindsight. Non-writers don’t usually notice structure unless it leaps out at them—reverse chronology, say, or an epistolary narrative. But structural choices loom huge for non-fiction writers and are no less important for memoir and fiction (although straight chronological is the white-shirt-and-blue-je…
 
I want to believe I can change. Show me how. The “arc of change” is famous in fiction, and it’s much the same in memoir–but there’s a change and shift in non-fiction too. Change is what pulls the reader from the beginning to the end of every narrative book. Without the promise of change, your reader feels like they’re going nowhere, and they won’t …
 
How do we make our ideal reader say Oh—THIS is the book for me? In our first two episodes, we dug down into why we write and how to share that why with the reader. In the last episode, we hung a quick right and got really practical about that reader and how to reach her–in other words, we talked about the market and why it’s important to understand…
 
In the first two Blueprint steps, we went high level, talking about your why and your point, and why those are key things to consider in writing the book you want to write–that will reach the readers you want to reach. In this episode, we get practical. Because while you need a why and a point to reach readers, you also need to know something about…
 
I’m writing this book because I want people to read it. Step 2 in the Blueprint for a book challenge only sounds easy. In Step 1, we talked about your why. For Step 2, we invite you to find your point – which is what you want your reader to feel or know or do when they are done. It’s not the same thing! If you want to get all AP English on this, we…
 
We sit down to write because we have something to say. It’s beginning! This Episode marks the beginning of the 10-part Blueprint for a Book Series. Start here, do the work (we’ll give you an assignment every week)—and in 10 weeks, you’ll have a solid foundation for a first draft or revision of your project that will help you push through to “the en…
 
It’s the things-that-aren’t in the episode edition of your weekly #AmWriting email! First off, about 60 seconds in, I mention (this is KJ, it’s nearly always KJ) a podcast I like. But then I flake off to look up the name… and forget to ever mention it again. It’s the Crappy Friends Podcast with Kristan Higgins and Joss Dey. And it’s FICTION GOLD. E…
 
We made something amazing. It’s called the Blueprint for a Book Summer Challenge, and it’s coming your way starting July 1, 2022 in the form of 10 episodes that could guide you through the steps for a creating a blueprint for the book you’ll write this fall—or for revising the one that’s just not quite coming together. The episodes will all drop in…
 
This episode is for you if: you’re starting, re-starting or sparking a freelance career with a focus on something you’re passionate about OR you’ve ever thought the heck with this, I’m striking out on my own. Sometimes the best way to find a publication that reaches the readers you want is to start one. That might mean starting a Substack or a podc…
 
As a bonus this week, we’re sharing “The Bulletproof Writer” from the Write Now Podcast—because this past few weeks have NOT been a perfect time for me to write, with guests and celebrations and also setbacks and discouragements. Not only is that often true, it’s pretty much always true. The challenge is to write anyway, and Sarah offers help and c…
 
It’s hard to start. It’s hard to finish. It’s hard to choose. Sometimes writers (especially those who have had to step back from a professional journalism job for family or other reasons) have all the ideas and in some sense, all the time to execute them, and the result isn’t wild productivity, but a frustrating spinning of wheels—because if everyt…
 
Oh yeah we’ve been there. Heck, we are there. Pigeonholed. Safe in our little bunker. Maybe just a tiny bit typecast. Jumping genres can be exciting, scary, nerve-wracking. But it can be done. Everybody gravitates to one genre or another when we get started. Maybe nonfiction feels a little less threatening—or maybe it feels too hard and fiction is …
 
I don’t think we’ve ever talked about middle grade on #AmWriting, which was why I was so delighted to talk to Jamie Sumner, author of Roll With It, One Kid’s Trash, Tune It Out and the forthcoming, literally any day now The Summer of June, which you should order for your kid’s beach bag right now. (And if you happen to be in Nashville, scroll down …
 
Some of us, which might be all of us, have spent a decent amount of time writhing in the throes of writer envy lately. Can’t IMAGINE what we’re talking about? Never opened Facebook to see news of yet another Netflix deal, or celebrated a friend’s fantastic New York Times review while just a little bit kind of secretly asking yourself where yours wa…
 
Jess here. On this week’s episode, I talk with New York Times bestselling author Kristen Green about her first book, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle and her new book, The Devil’s Half-Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South’s Most Notorious Slave Jail. We go int…
 
Shownotes up front—but scroll down, there’s an announcement! Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture. She is the author of 2 books so far in the Tita Rosie…
 
Jess here. A.J. Jacobs has long been my inspiration for both writing and writerly mentorship, so I was thrilled when his forthcoming book, The Puzzler: One Man’s Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, from Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning of Life landed on my doorstep. I adore A.J.’s work and this book might be a new favorite. We talk a…
 
Fave return guest alert! We talked to Mary Laura Philpott in episode 71–#YouandYourBookstore, back when she was a Parnassus Books guru. And then in Episode 150: #NeverReady, when MLP (as we like to call her) launched her first book of essays, I Miss You When I Blink, into the world—and then again, for episode 163 #BookTourReality. And now she’s bac…
 
Where should your energy go? KJ here, and in this episode Jess and I catch up on what’s worth it and what isn’t when it comes to travel, the importance of getting over any (non-pandemic-related) hesitation around taking the time for conferences and work events and also, in our usual digressive fashion, covers, paperback launches and boots. Links fr…
 
New York Times investigative journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults in 2017 and harassment and won a Pulitzer Prize for their efforts. Their book about the Weinstein investigation, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, came out in 2019 and the film versi…
 
Like all great stories, The Vortex: A True Story of History’s Deadliest Storm, an Unspeakable War, and Liberation was born out of writerly curiosity and a deceptively simple question: Why would India build a wall around Bangladesh? I (Jess) spoke with co-authors Scott Carney and Jason Miklian about their collaboration and the work involved in answe…
 
Urban fantasy. Paranormal romance. Historicals. Plus the occasional billionaire, and now a rom-com, complete with a cute graphic cover that tells you exactly who you’ll be rooting for and what to expect. What do all of these things have in common, besides being written by todays’ guest, Seressia Glass? Two things. First, they’re all—as she says on …
 
Abby Kincer is a reader and a bookstagrammer, a fun person, an enthusiastic consumer of bookish socks and t-shirts, a user of filters, a wearer of glasses, a possessor of many tote bags and—that’s what I know about her! Because her Instagram is bookstagram through and through, and that’s why she’s here. We asked Abby everything we ever wanted to kn…
 
Crew, Anne Le Tissier is a listener with a question: What should I have on my website—and how can I get there without breaking the bank? She’s also the author of six traditionally published inspirational titles, some out of print, a speaker and the creator of a rather genius non-blog blog idea that I may just have to steal for myself. We critique h…
 
Y’all, it’s an uber-informative, down in the trenches episode about writing memoir when it feels like your topic is on the lighter side—but of course, no truly successful memoir ever stays on the surface. Cate Doty is the author of Mergers and Acquisitions: Or, Everything I Know About Love I Learned on the Wedding Pages. She is a writer and former …
 
Here’s the deal: Jess and I (KJ here) have been rolling with different energies lately. She’s letting the spirit move her. Being inspired. Putting time into other creative projects and inviting that to feed her soul. I’m stepping over other projects, telling the spirit I’m not home right now and keeping the spotlight in one place. In this episode, …
 
Your first book, we’ve all found, is usually something you’ve been mulling for a while. You second might be the same—so the question, how do you get you ideas, seems both confusing—I don’t know—and unnecessary—I have lots. Nonfiction, essays—when we first get started we’re bursting at the seams. What to write next isn’t a problem—until it is. Or un…
 
Here’s Katherine Center, author of soon-to-be 9 bittersweet comic novels that have been described as “the best medicine for human souls,” on her relatively late-in life discover of romance novels: “I felt like I’d discovered chocolate cake after a lifetime of eating boneless skinless chicken breasts.” We dig deep into the process of figuring out wh…
 
KJ here. Sarina wanted to try Morning Pages, the most famous ritual from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way—a book that, tbh, has never, ever floated my boat, just as my resistance to morning pages—in my mind, a variation on journaling, which I have also never liked—has been strong. But Sarina wanted to try it. So we did, she in a fairly systematic w…
 
Hey writers—KJ here, and we have a treat for you this week. A bonus episode, filled with all the writer-y advice and details and aspirational riffs that you’ve come to expect from us, but this time in the form of—an entirely different podcast. We’re dropping an episode of Book Dreams into your #AmWriting feed so that you can discover something new.…
 
300 is a lot of episodes, and we have recorded them. Things we’ve learned—the most famous guests aren’t necessarily the one that have the most to teach us—UNLESS you ask the right questions. WOTY Recap: Jess: Evaluate KJ: Play Sarina: WIP Links from the Pod Everyday Calendar, by Simone Giertz (there is no link on MOMA, sorry!) It was actually an op…
 
How, HOW has it taken us this long to bring you the amazing Sue Shapiro? Sue teaches what is unquestionably THE class on publishing personal essays—her motto is “Instant Gratification takes too long” and her students’ success record is astounding. She’s the author , co-author or editor of 16 books in genres ranging from memoir to middle-grade and i…
 
“Just a little jaunt to Ireland to research my next book.” If that sounds like a dream to you, we asked Sarah Stewart Taylor—author of The Mountains Wild, A Distant Grave and the forthcoming The Drowning Sea, all set in Ireland and the somewhat-less-glamorous Long Island—to explain how she made that dream a reality, even before she sold the first o…
 
Alison Zak has just been “jolted from being a writer to being an author” with the interest in her non-fiction book proposals—but with that interest came questions about… The dreaded platform problem! That was the subject line of the reader email that caught our attention, and the problem is follows: you’ve got a great non-fiction proposal—but a rel…
 
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