The Secret Library Podcast

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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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 29, 2016

Kim Krans comes from the Wild Unknown. 

This is how she introduced herself when I met her a couple of months ago. She was touring for the Wild Unknown tarot, the title that just minted her a New York Times Bestselling-author. (yes!) I wasn't sure what I thought I would learn in the yoga studio where the workshop was happening that Friday night, I just knew I wanted to hear what the creator of that incredible deck had to say. 

What followed was a conversation about where the creative impulse comes from, how to stay clear when using tarot as part of your personal growth, and why being an artist matters so much in this crazy time we live in. 

I was transfixed. And I knew I wanted to have her on the show. 

While you may know her beautiful deck, what you might not know is this: Kim started out wanting to be a writer. She wanted to go to an entirely different school with creative writing as her focus. So she has a lot to say about getting around writer's block, getting words down on paper, and how to get out of your own way. 

I can't think of a better note to leave you all on at the end of 2016. This episode is my holiday gift to all of you. 

Full Show Notes | Sponsored by Muse Monthly & Story Arcana

Dec 22, 2016

Sarah Selecky is back! It's time to get into revision...

I must admit, I was a little nervous to have this conversation with Sarah Selecky. As a NaNoWriMo winner five times over who then went on to leave each of those novels untouched in drawers and on hard drives, I am not a great champion of revision as an easy process. Sarah is back, having finished her own first novel draft and into the revision process herself.

It was a total joy to discuss how she approaches revision. It felt so much lighter and more enjoyable than how I've felt about re-writing in the past. If you have revision fears or think you'll never write something that's really worth revising, this will be a conversation that will light you up as it did for me. May we all move on to second drafts together...

Full Show Notes | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Dec 15, 2016

Susannah Conway knows how books get made.

Having authored two and co-authored a third, Susannah has seen the process through, from proposal to publication, three times. She shares about the creation of proposals, how the book evolves from idea to finished manuscript, and how different it is working on a written book versus one that is primarily about the images. I left this conversation so inspired, particularly having learned how much leeway there is to let the idea evolve once you get a book deal. You'll learn how the idea for Londontown and for This I Know changed from what she first envisioned to what finally got published, and how her publishers supported these changes. We talk about writing from the middle, the way books change us, and how to give a project space when you still have the rest of your life happening alongside writing.

And for all you journalers out there, Susannah is a huge champion of journaling as the foundation of her writing life, so get a peek inside her relationship to her magical moleskines as she creates books. If you've ever dreamed of a book proposal and wondered what it's like once you've got the deal, this will shed the light you've been looking for.

Show Notes for Episode 29 with Susannah Conway:

  • On writing different types of books - collaborations and alone (1:48)
  • Beginning Londontown and the philosophy behind it (3:00)
  • The trouble with covers & inside working with a sales team (4:30)
  • Photographing London and how locals see the city (5:15)
  • The evolution from proposal to finished book (6:00)
  • Working with a publisher that trusts your vision & the role of the book creator (8:30)
  • Seeing London through Susannah's camera (9:15)
  • Falling in love with Londoners (9:55)
  • Ethics of street photography (10:40)
  • The "real" city vs. the tourist city (11:30)
  • Go beyond Leicester square! How to get a feel for the city (12:15)
  • Making NYC her own and learning to blend in (13:40)
  • The book as an FAQ for the question "Where shall I go?" to cut down on e-mail (14:45)
  • The contrast of This I Know, a book that was primarily written (15:15)
  • The pressure of a book deal and getting the words down (15:30)
  • Writing as a job and work as a commitment (15:55)
  • A book deal from a blog post (16:40)
  • Writing a proposal & figuring out what the book was going to be (17:55)
  • Figuring out chapters, structure and writing (18:30)
  • The challenge of non-fiction and book deals (16:40)
  • Holding the details lightly (19:15)
  • Writing from the middle (19:45)
  • The joy of writing with Scrivener & the pain of tracked changes in Word (20:15)
  • Balancing a whole life outside of writing with a book project (22:40)
  • Editing down photographs for a book (24:15)
  • How much time a project deserves (24:15)
  • Journaling's relationship to writing a book (24:55)
  • Tarot's relationship to creative process & emotional support (27:00)
  • Fiction and tarot's potential guidance (27:15)
  • On writing from personal experience vs. fiction writing (28:00)
  • Choosing to go with strengths in writing & where her writing comes from (29:00)
  • Non-fiction and the desire to feel less alone (30:15)
  • How blogging changed her world and built community (30:45)
  • The vulnerability of books versus blogging (31:40)
  • Being critical of our own work (33:45)
  • Done vs. perfect (34:00)
  • Judging a book by its cover (34:30)
  • Hint on Susannah's next course (35:50)
  • Fantasy reading escapes (36:25)
  • No wireless! (37:45)
  • Book & Ink window (38:30)
  • Books as drugs (39:30)
  • Current gorgeous covers (41:20)
  • Kindle vs physical books (42:00)
  • Forthcoming books (42:25)
  • Self-publishing vs. going with a press (42:45)
  • Working with an agent (44:55)
  • Yearning for a written book (45:55)
  • The platform & what publishers want (46:50)

Show Notes with Links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Dec 8, 2016

Gary Wilson has been writing fiction for decades.

He was the first person I thought of speaking to when people started asking me to talk about structure on the show. He's the author of two novels and has also taught fiction at the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University. Gary is one of my favorite people and I was thrilled to have the excuse to chat books and writing with him. We go through how it is to structure a book, letting the idea inform how you write it, what it's like to have one book interrupted by another story, revision, and his writing routine & the importance of "ass time" in writing.

For all of you who've had ideas but haven't shaped them into books yet, this will be a great conversation to give you the lay of the land that's coming. Think of this as a map- complete with some pitfalls you'll be able to look out for along the way. I'm so thrilled that people asked for this conversation since I learned a lot from having it! Keep asking for topics in the comments and I'll do my best to find the right guest to address them. Happy listening!

Show Notes for Episode 28 with Gary Wilson:

  • Structuring a novel with autobiographical elements (2:15)
  • The interaction between memory and imagination (4:45)
  • The unreliable narrator (6:15)
  • Differing story arc structures (8:30)
  • Different types and roles of narrators (9:30)
  • Narrative voice in a novel (10:15)
  • Finding the voice when writing a novel (10:45)
  • When an image takes hold and won't let go (12:00) 
  • The evolution of the novel and blatant structure choices (14:00)
  • Conscious vs. unconscious choices in writing (15:00)
  • Writing from personal experience in fiction and the transformation that takes place (16:00)
  • The line between fiction and memoir (17:45)
  • Artistic and emotional components to writing (19:45)
  • Teaching memoir and fiction together (20:30)
  • Where it's possible to get lost when writing fiction & staying true to the story (22:15)
  • The process of revision and the creative & critical hats (27:00)
  • The current project & tricky points (31:45)
  • The daily routine, discipline & saving a marriage (32:15)
  • Making progress (38:00)
  • On knowing the ending when beginning a novel (40:30)
  • Comedy or tragedy (41:30)
  • Finding subliminal themes once the book is written (41:45)

Show Notes with Links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Dec 1, 2016

Lucy Bellwood writes seafaring comics.

When I saw Lucy speak at XOXO this past September, I was absolutely smitten. Not only has she turned her love of tall ships into two crowdfunded comics, she is also incredibly honest about what it takes to live the life of a creative person. She spoke about finances, dreams, and how having a big year can mean recognition and happiness, but that money still plays into the conversation. It was an incredible speech. I knew I had to have her on the show.

Thankfully, Lucy is a great sport and was absolutely game to chat. She shared about what it took to do two Kickstarter campaigns, how she is able to create with the support of Patreon, and she's also an inspiration when it comes to building community around the arts. I could have talked to her all day, but I know episodes over an hour are a little scary to commit to. I know you're not going to want to miss any of this conversation. I give you the delightful Lucy Bellwood...

Show Notes for Episode 27 with Lucy Bellwood:

  • Making a dream into a book (2:30)
  • How much the public persona has on the private persona (3:00)
  • The first time on a tall ship (5:00)
  • The resurgence of sail-powered vessels (6:00)
  • Becoming a cartoonist (8:00)
  • The emergence of web comics (12:00)
  • Growing up as an artist (14:30)
  • The camps of people who succeed as artists (16:00)
  • What training you need to be an artist (17:00) 
  • Having a drawing group and meeting your creative needs (19:00) 
  • Talking about the work vs. making the work and Kickstarter (21:15) 
  • Creative work and analytic work don't play well together (23:15)
  • Financial aid, day jobs, & the creator club (23:30)
  • Doing a Kickstarter right before graduation (25:45)
  • Making the Kickstarter video (28:00) 
  • The outcome of the Kickstarter (29:00)
  • Building community and the importance of connection (32:00)
  • Creating knowing people are watching (34:30)
  • Working for non-profits & life expenses as an artist (37:45)
  • Learning to trust support & being vulnerable (40:15)
  • Having a public persona as an artist (42:15)
  • Social media for artists & the addictive process of sharing vs. making (43:00) The business of commercial art (44:30)
  • Creative seasons (45:15)
  • The luxury of uninterrupted time (47:00)
  • The discipline of promotion vs. creation (48:30)
  • The nasty critic and never doing enough (49:45)
  • Creativity through the generations (50:45)
  • Looking forward at a career in the arts (52:00)

Full Show Notes with Links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Nov 29, 2016

This week, we have a letter from Dal, who is interested in learning about book proposals...

I share how book proposals work, and recommend a guide that will help her get all the way through its creation, should she need one at all. Listen up to learn if you need a proposal and how to make that happen. 

Show notes | Sponsored by Pretty by Post

Nov 24, 2016

Theresa Reed is the Tarot Lady.

As a tarot lover, I was delighted to learn that Theresa Reed was coming out with a tarot book- and that it was also a coloring book. So cool! And so many things we could talk about on the show. Coloring book creation, picking the images to use, what it takes to create a coloring book? We go into it all. 

Speaking with Theresa was a complete treat. We talk tarot, different learning styles, why mindset is the most important part of reading tarot AND even dive in to how Theresa uses tarot to plan her year and her creative projects. This one is a super fun episode that is both practical and goes into the woo- my favorite combination!

Show notes for Episode 26 with Theresa Reed:

  • Why a coloring book? (2:20)
  • Learning hands on (5:00)
  • Choosing the images for the coloring book (7:15)
  • The process of producing the coloring book (12:00) 
  • Working with a team (17:45)
  • The full production timeline (18:30)
  • Having a consistent approachable style (20:00)
  • Talking smart vs. talking to help people (20:45)
  • Learning to become a good tarot reader (23:00)
  • Yoga, meditation and tarot as a team (25:00)
  • Challenges of being a professional tarot reader and support that helps (26:45)
  • Learning to detach and let go (28:15)
  • Boundaries (30:00)
  • Using tarot in the writing process and planning out the year (31:00) t
  • Tarot & astrology for business (35:30)
  • On planning the year in October (38:20)
  • On Theresa's nightstand (40:30)
  • Musical Oracles & song recall (43:30)

Full Show Notes with Links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Nov 17, 2016

Getting an agent can be intimidating.

It doesn't have to scare you away from meeting the right person. Terra Chalberg of Chalberg & Sussman talks to us this week from inside the literary world. I am so grateful for her generosity and willingness to share her process of connecting with authors and choosing who she'd like to work with as an agent. This conversation is a must-listen for anyone considering going the traditional publishing route. If you've ever wondered how to get an agent and what it takes to get your manuscript into the hands of someone who can help you get your book out there, this episode will give you the guidelines.

Learn how to query an agent so they'll read your message rather than deleting it right away. Learn what you might be doing that turns agents off immediately. AND learn something you can be doing right away that will help agents find you. (It's not what you think- I was surprised, and delighted, to learn how Terra finds many of her authors.) Get ready to understand the agents' world a whole lot better. I know it will help you understand next steps so much better.

Show Notes for Episode 25 with Terra Chalberg:

  • Themes in looking for stories (2:45)
  • Going from film to publishing (3:30)
  • Film vs. publishing and taking risks on new stories (6:40)
  • Starting Chalberg & Sussman (7:15) 
  • Becoming an agent (8:45)
  • Publishing contracts (11:15)
  • How to get your foot in the door with a query (& how to lose an agent right away) (12:30)
  • Knowing that an author and a book is the right fit (14:45)
  • Tips on connecting with potential agents (17:00)
  • The importance of having a platform (19:00)
  • Where Terra finds a lot of authors (so cool!) (19:30)
  • Why blogging is still worth it (20:15)
  • Questions to ask an agent you're considering working with (22:30)
  • The editorial process with an agent (25:30)
  • Timing on when to get an agent (26:15)
  • Next steps once you're working with an agent (27:15)
  • The inside story on publishing houses (28:30)
  • Books Terra is excited about (29:00)
  • Book trends and rising to the top (32:00) 
  • Becoming a runaway bestseller (33:00) 
  • Upcoming books Terra is excited about (35:40)
  • Making time to read (37:00)

Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Nov 10, 2016

Are you in a media bubble?

I knew I wanted to have Meghan Dowell on the show when I met her. We talked about how our access to media and reading changes who we think we are. I was hooked. We talk about everything from print media to bookless libraries to the #syllabus movement that expands study to social media. If you're ready to get your mind blown by all the possibilities for reading out there, you'll be pumped this week. 

As someone who could stay in school forever and be perfectly happy, I was more than delighted to learn about how universities collect books and how they address the unique needs we have for learning today. If you are into Google and a good old fashioned book, you'll be pumped. Get ready to take your reading to the next level. 

Show notes for episode 24 with Meghan Dowell:

  • The ability to find books and how libraries are organized (1:45)
  • The difference between public and academic libraries (2:30)
  • Collecting for academic libraries and the Hashtag Syllabus movement (3:00) 
  • DIYing a degree and making the ivory tower more available (7:15)
  • Librarians on Jeopardy? (8:45) 
  • The path to being an academic librarian (10:00)
  • The romantic notion of the library vs. tech evolution (14:00)
  • Evolution of the library catalogue and collecting electronically (15:15)
  • Collecting books with space limitations and print vs. digital (16:45)
  • Libraries without books (17:30)
  • Device debates (18:30)
  • Book hoarders anonymous (19:30)
  • The impact of algorithms and information access on personal image (20:30) 
  • How our search choices put us in Filter Bubbles (23:00) 
  • The existential crisis around being an informed reader with all that content (28:30) 
  • Picking books as a librarian aware of all those books (30:30) 
  • Finding books we wouldn't have found otherwise (32:30) 
  • What Megan is reading now (35:40) 
  • The blue book librarian joke (37:15)
  • How many books are Americans actually reading annually? (38:45) Mentioned: Research on the length we want to read
  • On finishing books and letting them go (40:00)
  • On spoilers and knowing the endings (41:30) 
  • Pairing books with drinks (44:20) 

Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Nov 8, 2016

Marissa writes in this week because she's taken the plunge into the spiritual world, but it sounds a little bit like she's drowning in it. I talk about my own experiences with spiritual practice in this episode, and you can find links to my suggested books in the show notes.

Sponsored by Pretty by Post

Nov 3, 2016

Heidi Fiedler has worked on over 300 Children's Books.

Can I just say 300 books? 300 titles! As Heidi made clear on the show, she did not write all 300 of these books. She has emphasized that children's books are shorter than adult books. Even so, she's been a developmental or series editor and was involved with significant aspects of all 300. We have a lot to learn from this lady.

Whether you are into writing children's books or not, her insights on structure and planning out books for continuity, plot, and to keep things engaging and exciting are essential for any writer. We also explore the ways visual elements and words have to work together in all books, not just those for kids. 

Show Notes for Episode 23 with Heidi Fiedler:

  • 300 Books ?!? (1:45)
  • Trends in children's books and the need for narrative (3:30)
  • The visual element (4:15)
  • The incredible number of books out there and how to stand out (5:00)
  • Non-fiction in children's books (5:30) 
  • The evolution of children's books (7:45)
  • The blurring of the genre lines and the end of dry writing (8:45)
  • Reading to learn and the experience of reading for kids (9:30)
  • Heidi on writing her own books (11:40) 
  • Brainstorming and making an idea into a book (13:30)
  • Thinking about the effect a book will have on the reader (15:15)
  • The tension between thinking about the reader and forgetting about them to keep writing (17:00)
  • The editor/writer tension split (18:45)
  • Book Mapping as a planning tool & fix for continuity and plot holes (20:00) 
  • Lists to make while working on a project (27:15)
  • Reflecting on your own work at the beginning & getting feedback (28:00)
  • The importance of reading aloud (29:15)
  • The collaboration between illustration and text for children's books (30:00)
  • Submitting a children's book to a publisher (31:15) 
  • Having control and giving up control as a children's author (34:00)
  • The connection of writing and Instagram (for writers who don't get twitter) (35:30)
  • The visual and its impact on print books and building the writing & reading community (38:00)
  • Covers and the impact on sales(41:00)
  • Writer and editor costumes and modes (43:30)

Full show notes with links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Nov 1, 2016

This week's letter comes from Kristy, a self-confessed serial dater who'd like to settle down a bit and get to know herself. Listen up to get my full thoughts, and check out the show notes for the books I recommended to Kristy.

Sponsored by Pretty by Post

Oct 27, 2016

Sometimes we all need a good laugh.

Mary Laura Philpott was the perfect person to talk to about humor. Her book, Penguins with People Problems, began as a small personal project that made enough people laugh that it was turned into a book. She's just as funny in this interview and I had a blast talking about everything from her book to the book tv show she does and the biggest list of recommended reads I have ever had anyone share on the show. We also dive into social media for book nerds and her tips for getting the word out about your work. You will want the show notes for this one. 

Show Notes for episode 22 with Mary Laura Philpott:

  • On writing humor (1:30)
  • Blog to tumblr to book (1:45) 
  • The cure for vulnerability is a bird (3:45)
  • The beauty of taking a risk (4:15)
  • Book people have a sense of humor - how many fucks can you put in a book? (5:00)
  • The insides of a publishing house (6:30)
  • 365 penguin drawings and sustaining a topic (7:30)
  • The beauty of a smaller following (8:30)
  • It's all Donald Trump's fault (9:30)
  • Inhaling vs exhaling (10:00)
  • Healing through creativity (10:30) Penguins with parenting problems (13:00) 
  • Seeing the physical book & the cover (14:30)
  • Drawing people's problems as penguins (15:20)
  • Working under your own name & personal vs. professional (16:45) 
  • Introversion and anonymity (17:30) 
  • Reality television is not real (20:15)
  • The bookstore world at Parnassus Books (22:45) 
  • Book recommendation extravaganza pairings (23:45) 
  • Reading & watching crime stories (36:45) 
  • Inhaling TV for writing (38:00) 
  • Doing social media for the book world (39:30)
  • The conversational aspects of social media (41:45)
  • Tips for book nerds & introverts (42:30)

Show notes with all book links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Oct 25, 2016

Logan writes in this week looking for trivia and weird knowledge. I love this sort of thing- reading for the absolute joy of it. Listen up for some hot tips and check out the show notes for links to the books I suggested.

Sponsored by Pretty By Post

Oct 20, 2016

Colette Lafia is an author, librarian, and spiritual director.

We could have talked for hours. Between the influence of her early study of poetry on her writing today, to the struggle of remembering why she's writing when a publisher turns down a proposal, there's so much to relate to in this interview. Colette is a fantastic example of how living a life with many moving parts can feed you as a writer. We talk about the wonderful messages in children's books and how adults can get so much out of those stories and how certain themes stay with us our whole lives. 

If you need support or motivation to keep going in your writing journey, look no further than this conversation. It will leave you refreshed and ready to get back to it, while reminding you that none of us is alone in this process. 

Show Notes for Episode 21 with Colette Lafia:

  • How did the books begin? (3:00)
  • Poetry's influence on all writing (3:45)
  • Creating a friendship with a trappist monk and then writing the book(4:30)
  • Writing about surrender (6:30)
  • How to know books want to be written through you (7:30)
  • The timeline of lived experience to finished book (8:45)
  • What it's like when a personal story gets published (10:30)
  • The healing element of writing about shadow topics (11:15)
  • Defining what success means for a book and the writer (12:00)
  • Boundaries around writing about vulnerable topics (14:00)
  • Vulnerability and balancing writing about self and for others (15:45)
  • Having a support team along the way (16:45)
  • The challenge of re-writing and the introduction (17:45)
  • Book proposals (19:00)
  • Finding a publisher (19:30) 
  • Having faith in the process (21:30)
  • The conundrum of the editorial calendar (23:00)
  • Dealing with rejection from a publisher & persevering (24:45)
  • What's driving your writing? (25:30)
  • The empowerment of the self-publishing option being available (25:30)
  • Going the distance in writing a book (27:00)
  • Colette's ongoing writing process and the platform you need in non-fiction (27:45)
  • Keeping writing fresh through exploring other genres and working in the children's library (32:45)
  • The love of children's lit among adult readers (33:15)
  • Leading retreats and being a spiritual director to connect with people (36:00)
  • Processing vs. living in writing (37:00)
  • Mining and finding new layers in your own experience (37:45)
  • What Colette is reading now 

Show Notes with Links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Oct 18, 2016

This week, Jane writes in feeling quote overwhelmed about being pregnant and living far away from her family. She wants to know everything there is to know about babies for she and her partner expect their little one.

Listen up to find out what NOT to read in this situation. Also, check out the show notes for links to the books I suggested. 

Oct 13, 2016

I've known Michelle Wetzel since we were in high school together (not so) many years ago. I've been watching the trend and evolution in the world of young readers who create bookstagram accounts and rack up the follower counts into the thousands. Michelle is a high school librarian in Wayne, PA just outside Philadelphia, so she was the perfect person to turn to as I've wanted to dive into the world of young adult readers. 

If you want to know where the cool kids get their books, this is the episode for you.

Show notes for Episode 20 with Michelle Wetzel:

  • Love for the nerds (2:00)
  • Not enough time to read in high school (3:00)
  • One book, one city at the high school level (3:30) 
  • Fiction vs. Non-fiction in academics (4:30)
  • High school trends (6:00) M
  • Bookstagram and the high school demographic (7:30)
  • Student reading clubs and reading lunch (8:45)
  • Action book club (9:15) 
  • Trends in YA (11:00) 
  • Cover design in YA (12:30)
  • eBooks vs physical copies in the school library (13:45) 
  • Knitting and reading (15:45)
  • Audiobooks in other languages (17:00) 
  • Digital magazines reading (19:00) 
  • Traveling with devices vs. hard copy (19:45)
  • Digital reading for kids (21:15) 
  • Kindle vs iPad reading (22:30)
  • Buying print books versus checking them out (23:45)
  • Reading physical books as a parent (24:45)
  • The commonalities of the high school book junkies (25:00)
  • Library volunteers (26:20)
  • Bringing reading out into the community (27:00) 
  • Trying to find YA that's not depressing (28:30) 
  • Fan fiction & how to find it (31:45) 
  • Harry Potter as the cure for grad school (34:00)


Full Show Notes with links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Oct 11, 2016

I'm loving this week's letter from Jess. She's looking for something to read that is both practical and woo-woo. I've got a few fun suggestions on the show. Check out the show notes so you can read along with her

If you enjoy these minisodes, please write in to get your own prescription. Also, feel free to leave practical woo-woo titles in the comments so Jess gets even more book love.

Sponsored by Pretty by Post

Oct 6, 2016

Stunt journalism is an amazing practice for writing from personal experience. In this episode, you'll learn how to do stunt journalism and how writing can expand your perspective and enjoyment of your own life. Erin Jourdan has taught this process to hundreds of people, both online and in person, with life-altering results. 

She's got not only anecdotes but current scientific research that we discuss about how writing about your life can change it for the better. This was such an exciting conversation and it made me want to run out and start a stunt writing project immediately. I know you'll feel the same way. 


Show Notes for Episode 19 with Erin Jourdan:

  • What is stunt journalism? (1:45)
  • How memoir is a loaded term (5:00)
  • Cultural differences and awareness around stunt journalism (6:15)
  • Categories of stunt journalism (7:15) Mentioned:  Marie Kondo | The Box prompt
  • Pretending to be a journalist (10:00)
  • Emotional spelunking (12:15)
  • Having a passport (13:30)
  • Local stunts & mental travel (16:15)
  • The impact and evolution of the stunt writing process (17:15)
  • How writing can change your life (19:00)
  • Emotional barometric pressure (19:30)
  • Further information and eBook with Stunt Writing prompts (21:00) 
  • Storytelling as a therapeutic modality (22:00)
  • Theories on why writing benefits the brain (23:00)
  • Gratitude journaling (25:00)
  • The impact of publishing/sharing fiction vs. non-fiction or personal experience writing (26:00)
  • Getting it onto the page alone vs. in community (28:30)
  • The benefits of sharing work in a safe group (29:45)
  • Fiction feedback vs. personal writing feedback (31:00)
  • Expanding from a scene to a full book on the next level (33:00)
  • Hot spots (34:45) Mentioned: Nona Caspers
  • Writing should be available to everyone (37:45)
  • Community stunts  and making your world bigger with writing (39:30)
  • Take publication out of the equation when you're writing (40:30)
  • Writing as therapeutic and spiritual (42:00) 
  • Writing and memory (42:45) 
  • The role of accuracy in non-fiction, memoir, and personal experience writing (43:30) 
  • Expanding your point of view through stunt writing (45:30)

Full show notes with links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Oct 4, 2016

Hello! Welcome to another Dear Book Dr. Minisode. 

This week's letter comes from Genevieve who's asking about dating and love. It's a tricky subject, since I don't think there is any easy answer and there's no way to guarantee results in the dating realm. With that said, I do think there are books that can help along the way and I can share resources that helped me when I was dating. 


Show notes with links to suggested books | Sponsored by Pretty by Post

Sep 29, 2016

Natashia Deón is a wonder.

When Julia Callahan gave her incredible ability to build networks and community back in Episode 10, I was impressed. But in reading her book, Grace, and speaking with her, I am now in love. Natashia is a novelist, criminal defense lawyer, law professor, and a mom. How does she do all these things? Even she doesn't know. If you've ever wondered how it feels to "make it" in writing- to publish a book, win a prestigious fellowship, and get a glowing New York Times Review, this conversation is for you.

From the writing process to community to fears around writing and what it feels like to get your published book in your hands for the first time, we covered it all. I just know you'll love her as much as I do.


Show Notes for Episode 17 with Natashia Deón:

  • Finding time to write (2:00)
  • Mythbusting the writing retreat (3:45)
  • The structure of Grace (4:45)
  • Getting into criminal defense (7:15)
  • Pen Emerging Voices Fellowship (9:45)
  • The MFA (10:45)
  • How long it took to write a book (11:45)
  • Dirty Laundry Lit (12:30)
  • Curating Dirty Laundry (15:45)
  • Building literary community and giving back (16:00) 
  • How writing benefits everyone (18:20) 
  • When do I get to say I'm a writer? (19:15) 
  • Why are we so hard on ourselves as creatives? (21:00)
  • Going from writer to "author" (22:30)
  • Never get the galley in public (23:15)
  • On writing a tough subject (25:30)
  • Taking real life work into fiction (26:45) 
  • Writing about history so it feels alive in the present (29:30)
  • The impact of slavery on our current reality (30:00)
  • How we can look at contemporary issues as related to history (32:00)
  • The importance of language in our society (33:30)
  • International viewpoints on freedom and where we're trapped (34:45)
  • How the nation is losing its voice and the two party system (37:30)
  • The difficulty of "we" (38:45)
  • Can I be a writer like this? (39:00)
  • The next project & being open (41:30)
  • The New York Times Review experience (42:00)
  • On the critical self and perpetually moving the bar (44:00)
  • Deserving vs. begin grateful (45:30)
  • What Natashia is reading now (47:45) 

Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Sep 27, 2016

Oh girl. This episode is close to my heart. This week's letter comes from Megan, who has just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. 

Here's how to take care of yourself after you finish this amazing book. 

Show notes with links to book suggestions | Sponsored by Pretty By Post

Sep 22, 2016

Art Books are a category that we haven't explored on the show until now. Krysta Williams is a photographer and book maker and today we discuss the book as object, creating beautiful books, how photography collections get sequenced and how we feel about the future of physical books. (it's a positive discussion, don't worry)

In addition, we nerd out about photography, journals, and planners. Learn one of the coolest ways to modify a journal to make it your own that I have seen so far.

Show notes for episode 16 with Krysta Williams:

  • Books as objects (2:30)
  • Sadness over the demise of the darkroom (3:30)
  • How Krysta began making books (4:00)
  • The narrative of images (4:45)
  • Elements of book design (6:15)
  • Medium hopping (7:15)
  • Interacting with photographs inside of books (8:00)
  • Going from photo collection to book (9:15)
  • Printing photographs digitally (11:20)
  • The difference between digital files and printed images (14:30)
  • The subjectivity of photography and TRUTH in media (16:15) Mentioned:
  • Making books of other people's photography (19:45)
  • Laying out pages for a book (22:30)
  • Reasons to make a photography book (23:15)
  • Preserving photographs as memories (27:00)
  • Books as a way to make things official (28:00)
  • Talking about The Bridge on BBC (28:45)
  • Why you can't count on social media to preserve your images (30:00)
  • Millennials and book buying (31:30)
  • Beauty in one of a kind objects and analog (32:00) 
  • Journals and planner madness (34:00) 
  • Compulsive childhood bookmaking (36:00) 
  • Breaking in a new journal (37:00) 
  • Journal mods (38:15) Mentioned: modified cover- see above
  • The naughtiness of modifying books (40:00)
  • Marginalia and marking in books (42:00)
  • Turning corners down (43:15) 
  • Paper altars in journals (48:30)

Full show notes with links | Sponsored by Muse Monthly

Sep 20, 2016

How can I get back to me? This is a big question from this week's letter. 

Sheryl has gotten all of her kids off to school and suddenly has her time back to herself and doesn't even remember what hobbies she wants to pursue herself. 

Listen up to learn how Sheryl can take care of herself and to get a jump on taking care of YOU.

Show Notes for this Episode | Sponsored by Pretty by Post


Sep 15, 2016

Editing is one of the more mysterious parts of the book creation process. We all know that editing is necessary, but many of us resist doing it. Sending your manuscript to an editor can be terrifying- it might be the first time someone other than your closest confidants has seen it- if anyone at all has seen your book so far. 

Lindsay is both an editor and a writer, so she's able to talk about the process from both sides. Learn about the little errors that can give away a lack of editing, the difference between developmental editing and copyediting, and how to connect with the editor that's right for your work. 

Show Notes For Episode 16 with Lindsay Smith:

  • Editing for yourself versus someone else (3:00)
  • The things you miss in your own writing (3:45)
  • Standing out in the indie market (4:45)
  • Developmental vs. copyediting & common errors that writers make (6:00)
  •  The distraction of edits that aren't made (11:00)
  • The author-editor tension (13:45)
  • How to find an editor and pricing (17:00)
  • Lindsay's first experience with an editor (21:00)
  • Finding typos in books (23:00)
  • There's an editor who's a match for every writer (24:30)
  • Draft by draft- Lindsay's novel from first draft to publication (26:00)
  • The writing schedule (27:00)
  • Critique partners vs. beta readers (28:15)
  • Reading the whole book out loud (29:45)
  • Cover design (30:15) 
  • Timeline for indie publishing vs. traditional publishing (31:00) 
  • Finding your rhythm and season as a writer (32:30)
  • Getting somewhere with ideas to finish the book (35:00)
  • Writer's Block (36:00)
  • Shitty first drafts (36:45)
  • Getting to the final draft (39:45)
  • The danger of too many drafts or too many opinions (42:00)
  • The vulnerability of putting your work out there and why it's worth it. (45:30)

Full show notes with links here | This episode sponsored by Muse Monthly

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