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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 SecretLibraryPodcast.com 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.