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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: May, 2018
May 31, 2018
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 week, in a year you'll have a book." Boom. When Barry was editing the episode, he mentioned how bummed he was that we hadn't gotten to continue that part of the conversation a lot longer. This, my friends, is that moment expanded into a full episode.
 
Scott has recently created a course called The Fine Print, that's much in the same vein. He let me have a sneak peek and we had a long chat about my favorite tips and guidance that he shares. What I loved is that we cover really practical things like how to promote your book whether or not you have a traditional publishing publicity team supporting you, the ins and outs of contracts and going from a magazine article to a book to an ongoing project that can live at the center of a writing business. There's a nice discount code in the episode for anyone who wants to check out the course.
 
In addition, I spoke with Harmon Leon + Ted Rall about their book, Meet the Deplorables, which had Harmon Leon embedding in fringe communities leading up to the Trump election. We spoke about his interest in extremist communities and how he has built his own career around gonzo-style journalism, an interesting case study based on what Scott and I discussed in part one. Ted Rall joins as well to talk about his contribution of political cartoons and how he worked to expand and bring the material to life in his work.
 
This week promises to be an epic listen, especially for those writing nonfiction, so enjoy!
May 24, 2018
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 process surrendering to the way her book wanted to be written despite the outline she had carefully planned before starting. And Madeline Miller talks about the 5 year process she has learned it takes her to try everything out, hit the "trench of despair" and then let go to find the true voice. This became the book that is Circe.
 
I doubt either of these guests would be disappointed to hear that I found them to be sorceresses like Circe in their own right, spinning gold onto paper, with Amber revealing dark parts of her life and how she came out the other side and Madeline going inside one of the most misunderstood characters in modern mythology and finding a heroine in the exiled goddess most famous for turning Odysseus's men into pigs. (Spoiler alert: they TOTALLY deserved it.)
 
This episode is a knockout. Cannot wait for you to hear it. Happy listening!
May 17, 2018
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 both of them write novels that allowed them to explore topics that were very deep and personal.
 
For Catherine Isaac, who had written for years in the UK as Jane Costello, the shift in topic and tone that lead to You, Me, Everything was significant enough that she had to change the name she wrote under in order to make the switch. Her book, one that deals with deeper and more challenging themes than her previous series, was one she felt she needed to write, even if she had to set aside an author brand she'd been building for years. In our chat, we talk about the desire to go further in her writing as well as the politics of pseudonyms. SO much to learn from this one!
 
I've adored Tom Rachman ever since The Imperfectionists, so it was a special treat to get to talk to him about his latest novel, The Italian Teacher. His challenge in writing it was the desire to cover a character's full life from beginning to end. We discuss the powerful father-son relationship that lives at the center of the book, his own existential concerns about becoming a parent and how writing this book helped him open up to being a father, and finally what good fiction strives to convey about what being human is really about.
 
We do really deep in this episode, which is something I enjoy so much. I hope you have a great time listening. As always, share your thoughts with me on twitter @carodonahue or on our FB page. I love hearing from you!
May 10, 2018
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 and was long inspired by books like The $100 Startup and How to Be Idle. These books found me at a particular period in my life when it hadn't occurred to me that I could make choices in life that allowed me to build a career in writing that was not one based on poverty.
 
So when I had the chance to speak to both of them for one magical episode, I knew it was meant to be. In this essential pair of conversations, we talk about how books can create a larger body of work that you're proud of, and can help you create community, a movement, and create work your proud of. We'll also dive into mistakes both Tom and Chris made in the early parts of their careers and what skills they have found essential to living a successful creative life.
 
Never has a practical talk been more fun. I can't wait for you to listen to two renegades who have inspired me to ask "who says?" about so many aspects of what a successful life looks like. I hope you get fired up and motivated to take your writing dream further after listening - I know I did.
May 3, 2018
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 have to tell the truth on the page, but also because it requires so many decisions that force you to look very closely at who you are and what values you stand for.
 
I was delighted, therefore, to realize that this week's pairing of authors is all about staying strong through a book's dilemmas: Ezzie Spencer, who you'll remember from Episode 42, talks about how traditional publishing took her by surprise and all the choices she had to make beginning with her Australian book release all the way up to being distributed in the UK, the US and beyond. She is open and honest about how her relationship to the book has changed, both from needing to replenish after the first book launch and how she now feels the book has a life of its own, which allows her to start writing something new. I adore chatting with Ezzie, and know you'll love hearing from her again.
 
Our second guest, Meaghan O'Connell, recently published her first book, And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready, to wide acclaim. (Many of you will have heard Mary Laura Philpott raving about it on last week's episode and then saw me freaking out about how much I loved it all over the internet). Meaghan talked with me about the process of writing such a vulnerable story, how it impacted her marriage to write so frankly about postpartum depression, and the irony of wanting to escape your baby to write about that same baby. If you were once a baby or know anyone who's had one, this book is a must read. I'm delighted she was able to join us and share more about writing this incredible book.
 
Happy listening everyone!
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