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.
RSS Feed
The Secret Library Podcast





All Episodes
Now displaying: Category: general
Jul 17, 2018

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 convenient in-between-isode. That's a word now - I just decided. Also coming this week: the video version! We know you want to see the covers.

Full show notes with links to the books we discussed here.

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!
Jan 25, 2018
Paula Priamos is no stranger to suspense.
She spent her childhood in courtrooms thanks to her father's career as a defense attorney. She learned the language and the pacing of this world and dove into the underworld connected to the law when she wrote her first book, a memoir about her father's life and death called The Shyster's Daughter. In her second book, Inside V, Paula moves to fiction to tell a dark twisting story about a couple thrown into chaos by an accusation and subsequent trial.
In this episode, Paula and I discuss writing thrillers, character development, and how to keep suspense in a story as you write it. I was particularly taken with her desire to subvert cliche in characters by looking at how we expect certain tropes to behave: the other woman, a man accused of sexual assault, the young accuser and all the other figures that appear in the book.
If you've thought about writing thrillers, this episode will have you on your way. There is no shortage of readers out there who love to read them, so if thrillers are calling your name, listen up and get writing!
Jan 18, 2018

Chloe Benjamin is equally adept at creating myths and busting them.

The Immortalists has enjoyed a tremendous amount of buzz, listed as one of the most anticipated books of 2018 on more than one list. This is the kind of buzz usually reserved for debut novels or novels from household name authors. Chloe is, instead, a second-time author following a first novel that sold well, but on a more modest scale.

In the publishing industry, like any other industry, there are many myths, and not just the ones that live inside of books. One of them is that you can't expect to sell a second book if your first wasn't a blockbuster. Chloe broke this myth herself with The Immortalists. We discuss this myth in this episode, along with many other things: our shared love of bathrobes and a debate about the advantages of executive assistant jobs while writing books.

Chloe is living proof that things don't always proceed the way "they" say they will. She's written a gorgeous book that deserves every bit of attention it is getting and I hope you leave this episode just as inspired as I was after our conversation.

Jan 4, 2018

Joanna Penn is a prosperous writer.

Yes, you read that correctly. I wanted to begin the New Year with an episode guaranteed to inspire. Once I connected with Joanna, I knew she was the one to share with you first in 2018. Not only is she day-job free, Joanna Penn makes a solid six-figure income from writing and travels extensively to places that fascinate her to research her books.
Before you glaze over, I promise you – this is far from a get rich quick scheme. It took Joanna four years to build up enough income from writing books and speaking to walk away from the job that was crushing her creative spirit. She works very hard and writes continuously to keep new titles up to sell. She has learned so much from building a business as a writer, deciding not to publish within traditional publishing and going the indie author route, and choosing to write books that are fun for her to write. This episode was like an invitation to consider what is possible to accomplish for writers.
A big proponent of developing a successful author mindset, I know Joanna will challenge you to dream bigger about living a great life as a writer. Our conversation definitely lit a fire under me and I have been writing like a maniac ever since. May it do the same for you. Happy listening!
Dec 28, 2017

Anu Partanen never planned to move to the United States.

She was very happy living as a journalist in Finland until she fell in love with an American, and ended up moving to NYC so they could marry and be together.

Once moving here, Anu became even more aware of the advantages her home country had provided: universal high-quality health care, childcare, maternity leave, elder care, and on and on. For the first time, she was presented with bills and policies that didn't make sense to her. As a journalist, she began researching the differences between the US and the Nordic countries, expanding her research to include policies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well as Finland. The result was the book, The Nordic Theory of Everything.

I read this book in late 2017, wooed by the topic of social change. I was blown away and immediately knew I had to speak to the author. Our conversation explores the potential impact on writers and people in creative fields and how the way the US treats people could be the reason countless people choose not to pursue a career as a writer. Thankfully, we also find hope in this conversation, as well as actions people can take (in addition to seeking Finnish citizenship) to improve life as a creative professional.

I'm so grateful to release this episode in the last slot of 2017, just in time for us to make big changes that support more and more writing in the New Year. Happy listening!

Dec 21, 2017

Everyone has heard the classic trope write what you love. In some cases, I have felt a bit bullied by this concept. "How am I supposed to know what I love most?" I have wondered. I think the best thing you can do to figure this out is to listen to this conversation with Mark Frauenfelder and listen to how he followed what was fascinating to him and wrote books and articles about these things along the way.

In this conversation we talk about the day job that Mark escaped to write and it is the worst day job for a writer I have yet heard of. In addition, learn about how Boing Boing was founded. The original office space for the zine version sounds like my version of heaven and I'm sure it will to you, too.

Above all, Mark is an incredible role model for making a living from curiosity, enthusiasm, and being willing to dive into a world you don't entirely know yet. His fascination with a variety of topics and being willing to write about them just because he loves learning is both infectious and a great example to the rest of us. If we follow his lead, I think we are in for a lot of amazing books to hit digital and physical shelves very soon.

Dec 7, 2017

Sandra Scofield is like a warm hug from writing itself.

For ages, I've loved Sandra Scofield's The Scene Book with its reassuring composition notebook cover and its practical advice about writing great scenes. When I learned that Sandra had a new book about writing coming on, I knew I had to have her on the show. Her latest, The Last Draft, tackles that tricky topic of revision and polishing your work until its ready to be read by others.

I adored talking with Sandra because her approach is so generous and comforting to the writer. She grants permission to explore the world you want to build in your story fully and gently guides us through the process of working through your draft. Those who love analog and stepping away from the computer at points to reflect will feel at home with Sandra.

Sep 21, 2017

Paul McVeigh wrote a story in an afternoon that took twenty years.

How is that possible? We gather images over time, trying to figure out how they fit together. Paul had pieces of a story that didn't quite fit until suddenly, they did. And then the story came out almost all at once in a single sitting. How do you know when it's time to write a story? And how do you know when to give up on an idea? These are questions that have plagued so many writers and my clients. Paul was the perfect person to discuss them with. Having written fiction, theater, comedy, and a writing teacher himself, Paul has a breadth of experience and a sensitivity to this topic that will blow you away. His debut novel, The Good Son won countless awards and becomes a favorite of everyone who reads it.

This conversation was both deep and funny, an incredible dive into the places where writing comes from and how to know when you've got a story that won't let you go. This promises to be one you'll listen to more than once. I have been waiting and waiting to share this one! I'm so glad it's time for you to hear it.

Full show notes post with links

Jun 1, 2017

Jade Chang looked at the economic crash of 2008 and saw a novel.


This is just one of the many miraculous things about her. While the rest of us were running around like maniacs and freaking out, Jade started to see an idea come into form. What if a family lost everything in that crash? What would that look like? What if this character she had in her head was a self-made man who was crushed under the weight of what happened at that time? The answers to these and many other questions became The Wangs vs. The World, out in paperback this week and one of the most noteworthy books of last year. 

I knew I had to speak to Jade after reading the book and laughing, feeling touched, amused, and heartbroken throughout reading it. It is a very special book for certain. So when I was lucky enough to meet her at a book event she led the q+a for, I grabbed the chance to invite her. I know I say all the episodes of the show are my favorite, but this one is absolutely my favorite as I share it with you. I had been dreaming about a discussion on character, and this one got so deeply into all of the aspects of character I find fascinating. I hope you all love Jade as much as I did. She's a wonder. 

Show Notes | This episode brought to you by The Story Intensive

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

Sep 7, 2016

Book Prescriptions are back. When I first launched the Book Dr. site, I responded to people's letters asking for books to help them with their life situations and any conundrums they were facing. 

As the site has grown and the podcast has been added to the content, I decided I missed these book letters, so here they are again in audio form!

This week's letter comes to us from Arthur, who's had a book idea for a long time and is having a lot of trouble getting started...


Listen up on iTunes | Show Notes Here | This episode sponsored by Pretty by Post

Jul 14, 2016

Milda Harris, novelist, is also a mother of twins and has written over 8 novels. She makes me feel like an enormous slacker, if we're being honest. 

Get ready for another show-notes-heavy episode. If you're listening on iTunes, make sure to visit where you can check out links to all the resources Milda and I talked about for the self-publishing world. 

Remember the show notes from Sam Potts' episode? These are like those. 

Milda and I talk about writing for the YA market, how she keeps motivated and organized when writing a series (genius tips on this), and on her current project: a serial novel that she's publishing a chapter at a time through the election this November. 

Milda and I used to co-host a show way back in 2007, before people knew what podcasts were. It was still fun and it was excellent to have a reunion.