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#AmWriting

English, Arts, 1 season, 416 episodes, 5 days, 1 hour, 2 minutes
About
A show about writing, reading, and getting (some) things done. Jessica Lahey writes the Parent-Teacher Conference column for the New York Times' Well Family and is the author of "The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Children Can Succeed." KJ Dell'Antonia is a columnist and contributing editor for the New York Times' Well Family. In their podcast, they talk about writing short form, long form and book length, give tips for pitching editors and agents and constantly revise how they tackle the ongoing challenge of keeping your butt in the chair for long enough to get the work done.
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400: Trusting Your Gut on a Complicated Plot

Today, I (Jennie) am excited to welcome novelists Caroline Lovett to the show.  She's a very prolific author who's novels have landed on the New York Times bestseller list, the USA today bestseller list, and have been optioned for films, translated into many languages, contents for magazines, and won all kinds of awards. Caroline is also the co-founder of A Mighty Blaze, an organization that began during the pandemic to promote independent bookstores and authors who lost their book tours.  It's since grown into an organization of 35 professional creative volunteers, connecting writers and readers online in a variety of ways, including a podcast. Today, I'm talking with Caroline about her new novel Days of Wonder  and specifically about the dual timeline and how she learned to trust her gut to make the story work. You can find her at CarolineLeavitt.com Humans of New York
5/17/202437 minutes, 29 seconds
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399: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Self Publishing

As a hybrid author with a long history of both self-publishing and traditional contracts, I’m often asked about this choice. How I decided to self-publish, and is it still a good idea?  This is question for the ages! Or, well, since 2007.  The answer is that it’s complicated. My own feelings about self-pub have surely evolved over the years. This March I celebrated my ten-year anniversary as a self published author. I had a great return on my efforts right out of the gate, so I’ve always been a fan. Unfortunately, though, self-publishing ate my life. It’s a lot of work, so I’m not quite as gung-ho as I used to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible idea. To help you decide, I’ve identified several questions you can ask yourself to help figure out if self-publishing is for you.  #1 Does this book have an easily defined “shelf” in publishing land?  Self publishing is not for every book. It works well when the genre has a built-in readership who already knows what it wants. For example, mystery lovers know how to shop for a mystery. They know how to spot one, and they usually don’t need an NPR interview with the author to entice them.  If your book can fit comfortably and familiarly beside its cousins in the genre, give yourself ten points in favor of self publishing.  #2 Do I have a built-in readership I can reach via email or social media?  If your book does not have an obvious, built-in readership, but you have a built-in following, then self-publishing might make sense for you.  For example, if agents and publishers are telling you that your topic is too niche for them, but you already know how to reach the exact reader you need, then maybe you should trust your gut. Perhaps you’re the leading expert in crafting origami holiday decorations, with an instagram following of a hundred thousand people. Or maybe you travel the nation speaking on a particular topic. Or you’re part of a well-defined group—like education influencers, or architecture nerds. There are certainly some instances of an author knowing better than the publisher whether a book will sell.  #3 Do I have the patience to learn how publishing platforms fit together? I’m convinced that anyone can learn the ropes of self publishing. But you have to want to learn them. I enjoyed learning how to self publish. Then again, I also used to enjoy doing my own taxes. So maybe I’m a special breed of nerd.  Before you start, figure out which bank account you’re going to provide for payment information, and get ready to provide your tax ID number. You’ll need to set up at least one platform, like KDP or D2D (Draft 2 Digital.)  If you hate business, math and admin work, make sure to be honest with yourself about all the red tape you’re going to have to cut as a self-published author. And to those who say “I can just hire this stuff out,” I’m not sure that’s a great idea. Yes, there are hybrid-style publishers who will take your money and fill out the forms on your behalf. But many of them overcharge and overpromise. Self publishing is, by its very nature, a DIY effort.  #4 Can I source the editorial and design help that I need to get this right?  Hiring freelancers is often a fun part of this job, but it’s great to have a plan.  Editorial work can vary vastly in quality, and the problem is that you won’t be able to tell who’s competent just from a website or an email exchange. That’s why the first question I ask editors is: are you willing to do a two page sample edit? And I don’t hire anyone who says no. It’s not that I expect anyone to work for free, but two pages is just a few minutes time. And finding an editor who jives with your style is hard.  Furthermore, you need to be very clear about what you expect the editor to do. Is this a developmental edit? Will she be advising you on pacing and plot holes? Or is this a copyedit—meant to find errors, awkward phrasings and repetitions, and basic inconsistencies? Or is this a final proofread? Each of these services will be priced differently.  Cover design, unlike editorial work, is easier to evaluate from a portfolio online. Note that cover designers tend to be very genre specific. So you need to find someone who has designed covers close in nature to the one you need. Before you even get started, make a Pinterest board of covers in your genre that you admire.  It’s also worth noting that not all competent writers are born with the right vocabulary for discussing cover design. If you feel this is a weakness of yours, try to find a designer who seems willing to give you the time and attention you need. #5 Am I ready to bear the full responsibility for launching my book into the world?  The best thing about self-publishing is that the author has complete control. But that’s also the worst thing about it! If you fall in love with a cover, but it’s not a good fit for the genre, there’s no one to play devil’s advocate. Or, rather, you will have to work hard to find collaborators you trust to help you make the big decisions. And you’ll have to course-correct all by yourself when you realize you’ve gone astray.   Conclusion: with great power comes great responsibility. So be ready! Self-publishing can be life-changing, but it’s best if you go in with open eyes and an open heart.  ~Sarina
5/10/202410 minutes, 16 seconds
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398: His Years of Writing Eloquently: The Return of A.J. Jacobs

He’s back! He’s back! One of my favorite writers, an early and generous mentor, the fantabulous A.J. Jacobs. We interviewed him last when his book, The Puzzler, came out, and he’s back to talk about his new book, The Year of Living Constitutionally: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Constitution’s Original Meaning. Links from the Pod: A.J.’s website My Outsourced Life article Party like it’s 1789! My weird enlightening month living strictly by the U.S. Constitution in The Guardian Thanks for listening to this week’s episode! If you enjoy what we’re doing here at the #AmWriting Podcast, make sure you’re subscribed to get our episodes straight to your inbox (and hey - maybe forward it to someone else who may enjoy). Subscribe now
5/3/202456 minutes, 7 seconds
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397: Starting Energy v. Finishing Energy: How the work gets done, start to finish.

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the how hard it is to finish a project and how different that energy is from the wonderful, euphoric, sometimes manic starting energy. Here’s some advice from Jess, Sarina, and Jennie on how authors manage their lives and relationships and work amid the ups and downs of writing projects.  AmReading:  Sarina: She’s been loving the Orphan X series by Greg Hurwitz Jennie: Her fave read this week is Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano Jess: Finally got around to listening to Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt and KJ convinced her to download The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray. She also started The Sicilian Inheritance by return guest Jo Piazza.  Hey, it's Jennie Nash, founder and CEO of Author Accelerator. I hear so many people tell me that book coaching sounds like their dream job, and they wish they could do it, but they can't because ___________. Fill in the blank, whatever it is: They don't have an agent, they haven't written a bestseller,  they don't have a Ph.D., they weren't an English major, they don't know enough about the publishing industry--whatever the thing is. And I can tell you that I see people overcome these things every single day. I have a presentation on this, on imposter syndrome. It's the single biggest barrier keeping most people from saying YES to their dream job. Come check it out at bookcoaches.com/imposter. That's bookcoaches.com/imposter.
4/26/202440 minutes, 24 seconds
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396: Daring to Kickstarter with Rachael Herron

If you do not already know Rachael Herron, host of the Ink In Your Veins Podcast (formerly known as How Do You Write) and author of 13-ish novels (including 2 thrillers under the not-exactly pseudonym RH Herron), soon-to-be two memoirs and a few assorted books as well as many many blog posts and essays about writing… well you’re lucky because now you do.  The thing to know about Rachael Herron for today’s purposes is that she’s published her books both independently and with traditional publishers. She’s even retrieved the rights to traditionally published books from over a decade ago and re-published them herself—even while enthusiastically traditionally publishing her thrillers. Even with all that experience and knowledge under her belt, she still decided she just HAD to go out and publish something new. She’s independently publishing her newest book, Unstuck: An Audacious Hunt for Home and Happiness—but first, she decided to run a Kickstarter to help her do it.  Did Rachael have any idea how to run a Kickstarter? She did not. Did she know if she’d meet her goals? Nope—although, as you’ll hear in the episode, she had a bunch of good reasons to think she just might. If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of using Kickstarter to fund a book yourself, this is the episode for you. We talk about why Rachael decided not to seek a traditional publisher, how she decided to try Kickstarter and what it took to get it done, as well as what I call “mistakes we made so you don’t have to”. We talk about the highs—hitting her goal in a matter of hours and getting to create “stretch goals” so raise even more, being chosen as one of Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love”—and the lows, like almost setting goals in the wrong currency, which would have meant she’d essentially be paying people to take her book and overpromising speed and needing to tell people things were not actually live… yet.  And we get way into the weeds on who this might work for and who might want to look for another way to get what they want. If you’re thinking oh, her platform is big, no wonder this worked for her—we talk numbers, and I bet you’ll be surprised. And her final piece of advice is so important that I’m going to lay it right down here:  Write the book first. Links from the pod Find Rachael’s Kickstarter, which runs through April 22, 2024, HERE.  Follow Rachael on Instagram HERE and subscribe to her EXCELLENT email about writing HERE. Support her on Patreon HERE.  Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter, Monica Leonelle & Russell P. Nohelty Joanna Penn episodes on Kickstarters How to Be Old, Lyn Slater Lulu.com Bookfunnel Hey, it's Jennie Nash, founder and CEO of Author Accelerator. I hear so many people tell me that book coaching sounds like their dream job, and they wish they could do it, but they can't because ___________. Fill in the blank, whatever it is: They don't have an agent, they haven't written a bestseller,  they don't have a Ph.D., they weren't an English major, they don't know enough about the publishing industry--whatever the thing is. And I can tell you that I see people overcome these things every single day. I have a presentation on this, on imposter syndrome. It's the single biggest barrier keeping most people from saying YES to their dream job. Come check it out at bookcoaches.com/imposter. That's bookcoaches.com/imposter.
4/19/202451 minutes, 30 seconds
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395: Episode: 395 Who Owns an Idea?

The idea for Sarina Bowen’s thriller, The Five Year Lie, is an incredible and suspenseful hook for a story – and she first heard it from a writer friend. In this episode, Jennie Nash interviews Sarina about the concept of who owns an idea and how this particular idea made its way through Sarina’s brain and onto the flap copy of her forthcoming book.  Things Mentioned in This Episode Lauren Blakely The Best Men by Sarina Bowen and Lauren Blakely The Five Year Lie by Sarina Bowen – preorder it wherever books are sold Sarinabowen.com Hey, it's Jennie Nash, founder and CEO of Author Accelerator. I hear so many people tell me that book coaching sounds like their dream job, and they wish they could do it, but they can't because ___________. Fill in the blank, whatever it is: They don't have an agent, they haven't written a bestseller,  they don't have a Ph.D., they weren't an English major, they don't know enough about the publishing industry--whatever the thing is. And I can tell you that I see people overcome these things every single day. I have a presentation on this, on imposter syndrome. It's the single biggest barrier keeping most people from saying YES to their dream job. Come check it out at bookcoaches.com/imposter. That's bookcoaches.com/imposter. Find out more here!
4/12/202431 minutes, 30 seconds
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Flashback Friday: Writing While #Broken

Hey #AmWriters! It’s been almost three years since our interview with Jenny Lawson first aired, but we know the struggle is REAL - so we thought this is the perfect time to bring this episode back out for a listen. Whether you’re struggling with getting the work done or feeling like maybe you’re not really a writer, this episode may be just what you need to remind you why you’re here. Happy listening! Writing is hard. In this episode, we talk imposter syndrome, editing, the right headspace for reading your own stuff, why you might need a “nice” agent, reading your work aloud to friends, recording audiobooks in the closet, being years late on a deadline, sending your editor proof of life and the deep inner conviction that people only buy your book because they feel sorry for you. #ohyeah. #AmReading Jess: Win by Harlan Coben Jenny: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian Note: Bookriot Podcast KJ: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry Jenny’s Bookshop: The Nowhere Bookshop, San Antonio, TX The Fantastic Strangelings Book Club books: Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones Swallowed Man by Edward Carey Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas The Did Bad Things by Lauren A. Forry Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby Find Jenny at The Bloggess! Hey, it's Jennie Nash, founder and CEO of Author Accelerator. I hear so many people tell me that book coaching sounds like their dream job, and they wish they could do it, but they can't because ___________. Fill in the blank, whatever it is: They don't have an agent, they haven't written a bestseller,  they don't have a Ph.D., they weren't an English major, they don't know enough about the publishing industry--whatever the thing is. And I can tell you that I see people overcome these things every single day. I have a presentation on this, on imposter syndrome. It's the single biggest barrier keeping most people from saying YES to their dream job. Come check it out at bookcoaches.com/imposter. That's bookcoaches.com/imposter. Check it out here!
3/29/202438 minutes, 36 seconds
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394: Things Jess Learned This Month, Ep. 394

Hey hey Jess here!  I had a couple of great learning opportunities this month, so in the interest of flattening learning curves, I took notes for all of you!  First up, I took a call from a company interested in working with me to boost my platform, and I was curious about what they do and how they do it. While I won’t reveal what company I talked to, I will tell you about all the things I learned on that call. Companies that promise to boost platform are proliferating, and I was curious about how it all works.  Second, I was on a panel about monetizing platform at the Institute for Independent Journalists conference on freelancing and learned SO much from my co-presenters. I have subscribed to all of their newsletters because they are very cool writers, all.  Frankie de la Cretaz, Out of Your League: Dispatches from the intersection of queer sports and pop culture. Tim Herrera, Freelancing With Tim: Demystifying the world of freelance journalism. Morgan Sung, Rat.House: an exploration of social platforms and how they shape our real world culture, from dissecting the creator economy to unpacking chronically online discourse. Sa’iyda Shabazz at Autostraddle.com Jaeah Lee: independent journalist and a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine AmReading James, Percival Everett The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow  I hope this week’s episode provides some useful information, and at the very least, leads to some of your new favorite writers!  During the pandemic, there was an explosion of people who wanted to write memoir, and many of those writers are now struggling to make sense of their drafts and figure out how to approach the marketplace. It's a great time to be a book coach who specializes in memoir, and in March 2024, Author Accelerator is launching a certification course to give memoir coaches the skills, tools, and experience to meet writers where they are. Our year-long program is robust and intense. I'm inviting any listeners of this show who are interested in our coaching program to sign up for a one-on-one session with me to strategize about whether or not this course is right for you. Just go to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to sign up for a time that works for you.
3/22/202433 minutes, 22 seconds
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393: I want to sell books. But I'm also writing what I want to write. Episode 393 with Jo Piazza

You KIDS. If you’re not already following Jo Piazza, queen of the highly suspicious influencer side-eye, what even are you DOING on Substack and Instagram? Go follow her now. We’ll wait. Okay, now listen while we talk about Jo’s many-booked career that includes freelancing, narrative non-fiction, journalistic memoir (the kind where a reporter manages to get paid to interview people to try to help her with her problem), writing novels with co-authors and novels alone. Just LOOK at the list below and tell me you don’t think you’ll get something out of listening to this woman (who has also made multiple podcasts and we’ll list those below too.) Press play now.  BUT BEFORE YOU DO: Pre-order The Sicilian Inheritance and get all things Jo on Substack free forever. You’ll love the book (or if the dual narrative historical feminist fiction is not your vibe I guarantee you’ll find someone who will)—BUT ALSO this is actually a great offer, bc as you can see Jo’s likely to be filling the place with entertaining and informative content for a long time to come. I already have the book and I still pre-ordered because that’s a deal. Jo’s Website: jopiazza.com Jo’s Books The Knockoff (with Lucy Sykes) Fitness Junkie (with Lucy Sykes) How to Be Married If Nuns Ruled the World Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win We’re Not Like Them (with Christine Pride) You Were Always Mine (with Christine Pride) Celebrity, Inc Love Rehab AND The Sicilian Inheritance Jo’s Podcasts Committed Under the Influence She Wants More Fierce The Pod Club Also mentioned Pam Jenoff Fiona Davis The Secret Book of Flora Lea, Patti Callahan Henry Kristin Harmel #AmReading (or #AmEnthusing bc you can’t stop Jo once she gets going) Virginia Sole Smith’s Burnt Toast Substack Sara Petersen’s In Pursuit of Clean Countertops Substack Momfluenced, Sara Petersen Ghost Story (narrative Podcast) Roy Kent’s standup show The Women, Kristin Hannah During the pandemic, there was an explosion of people who wanted to write memoir, and many of those writers are now struggling to make sense of their drafts and figure out how to approach the marketplace. It's a great time to be a book coach who specializes in memoir, and in March 2024, Author Accelerator is launching a certification course to give memoir coaches the skills, tools, and experience to meet writers where they are. Our year-long program is robust and intense. I'm inviting any listeners of this show who are interested in our coaching program to sign up for a one-on-one session with me to strategize about whether or not this course is right for you. Just go to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to sign up for a time that works for you.
3/15/202445 minutes, 50 seconds
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392: How to Be a Good Literary Citizen: Volunteer at a Writing Conference

Whenever I see a writer on social media incessantly talking about their own work, their own book, and their own launch, the thing that comes to mind is this: “They’re not being a good literary citizen.” Being a good literary citizen is, among other things, showing up for the community you are a part of, uplifting other writers, and doing what you can to make sure that all voices are heard. We often think that the time to help others is after you’ve made it, but in this episode I’m talking to a writer who is doing this in a big way before she herself has made it into the spotlight. For years she has volunteered at the Thrillerfest conference – and this year, she was asked to become a paid director of the event. I think you’ll find her story inspiring. Links from the Pod: Thrillerfest Samantha Skal, Book Coach Tessa Wegert’s Shana Merchant series starts with Death in the Family During the pandemic, there was an explosion of people who wanted to write memoir, and many of those writers are now struggling to make sense of their drafts and figure out how to approach the marketplace. It's a great time to be a book coach who specializes in memoir, and in March 2024, Author Accelerator is launching a certification course to give memoir coaches the skills, tools, and experience to meet writers where they are. Our year-long program is robust and intense. I'm inviting any listeners of this show who are interested in our coaching program to sign up for a one-on-one session with me to strategize about whether or not this course is right for you. Just go to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to sign up for a time that works for you. Find out more here!
3/8/202432 minutes, 25 seconds
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Flashback Friday: How Do You Write a Non-Fiction Book in less than a Year?

Hey #AmWriters, Jess here! There's a very specific reason I wanted to re-up this coaching call with Emily Edlynn. I did an interview with AJ Jacobs day before yesterday, but it's not going to drop until May. I love AJ Jacobs, I know you love AJ Jacobs, and I’m really excited for you to hear our interview - but in that interview we talked about writing nonfiction books in less than a year. It is possible to do! We had a coaching call with Emily Edlynn 100 episodes ago and I wanted to re-up it because her book is out. She did it! She completed the task. She knew the assignment. Her book, Autonomy-Supportive Parenting, came out at the end of 2023. So I'm very proud to replay this episode and let you know that the P.S. on that episode was success! I hope you enjoy it. And WAY TO GO, Emily! Our guest on this episode has a problem—a good problem, yes. An enviable problem even. One that she herself is delighted to have: she’s sold a non-fiction book on proposal. And now she has to write it. 60,000 words, researched, organized and ready for the editor while also fitting in her day job, raising 3 kids with her partner and all of the other curveballs life likes to throw you. In this “coaching call” episode, Jess and I (it’s KJ writing, as it often is) help long-time listener Emily Edlynn figure out how much time to spend in what areas: book structure, research, interviewing, drafting, editing—and then how to set yourself up to allow for getting a major project like this completed on time. (We all know how KJ loves a good burn chart - check out episode 175: #HowtoUseaBurnChart). We talk about motivating yourself, strategies for staying on track or picking back up after the unexpected happens. (You can read Emily’s email to us at the bottom of the shownotes.) Most of us spend more time working on short term projects than longer ones, and when we do get involved with something that stretches out for months or years, it’s usually with other people and external deadlines, whether it’s a major work endeavor, a house remodel or a Ph.D. dissertation. Books—even books with agents and editors—require major solo mojo to get from start to The End—and then revise the result of that. It’s yet another of the many many things that aren’t easy about writing. But it can be learned, and it can be done. Emily doesn’t have any trouble using the time she has to write—but if you do, here are some ideas based on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, which are all about knowing how you best meet inner and outer obligations (of which writing a book is weirdly both). Obligors need outer accountability. Set yourself up with a friend or your agent, give them your goals and arrange weekly check-ins. Questioners need reasons, so make that burn chart and put up a full calendar where you can see it and always have an answer for “but do I really need to do this now?” Upholders probably need nothing more than a plan—but make sure your inner upholder understands that this is a priority. Rebels benefit from regular reminders that this is hard, that most people can’t do it and that achieving this goal is a rebellion against everything that stands in its way—and many also like a plan that involves beating the clock. Anything that lets a rebel say “I’ll show you!” is rebel jet fuel. Gretchen appeared on Episode 107 of the podcast, and you can take her “Four Tendencies” quiz here. Emily’s email: I am a psychologist by training who started writing for an audience in 2017 when my career hit a crossroads with a move for my husband's job. My parenting blog led to writing freelance when possible, including a weekly parenting column for Parents since 2019. In April, I signed a contract with a small, independent publisher, Familius, to write a parenting book. The full manuscript is due May 1. I have never felt so lost! I thought there would be more editor interaction over the year, but she basically said "See you in a year unless you need me!" (I have asked more from her, but have realized she is going to give me broad strokes and not much else.) I have scoured all the places for resources on "how to write a nonfiction book" but besides some of your episodes, what I find is either about self-publishing or marketing, not the process of writing a nonfiction book (that's not a memoir). I'm trying to narrow this down to one question, which probably can't be "how do I write a nonfiction book in a year with no structure, in the time I have?" For context, I spend half my working week doing therapy in a private practice and supervising graduate students. I'm also writing a new blog post once a month to keep my newsletter subscribers engaged, and my weekly column. Oh, and did I mention attempting to raise 3 children in the process? I currently clock about 8 hours a week of writing time . . . and then I read relevant books when I can almost daily. I did find a virtual writing group with two other psychologist authors, which has been helpful. Since you probably aren't aiming to answer "how do I write a book in a year?" maybe narrowing it down to, "How do I manage my time with a professional job that pays the bills, little interaction with an editor (this seems different in the fiction world or even the nonfiction Big 5 world), to complete a 60,000-word nonfiction, researched manuscript in a year?" Do you think you can help me?? Links from the Pod How to Get an Agent Episode Emily’s website, www.emilyedlynnphd.com #AmReading Emily: The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel Wow No Thank You by Samantha Irby KJ: Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, Anonymous Jess: The Secret History by Donna Tartt Podcast: Lili Anolik’s Once Upon a Time at Bennington College During the pandemic, there was an explosion of people who wanted to write memoir, and many of those writers are now struggling to make sense of their drafts and figure out how to approach the marketplace. It's a great time to be a book coach who specializes in memoir, and in March 2024, Author Accelerator is launching a certification course to give memoir coaches the skills, tools, and experience to meet writers where they are. Our year-long program is robust and intense. I'm inviting any listeners of this show who are interested in our coaching program to sign up for a one-on-one session with me to strategize about whether or not this course is right for you. Just go to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to sign up for a time that works for you.
3/1/202451 minutes, 45 seconds
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391: Why You Should Take a Plot-walk

✍️ Writers: when you’re stuck on a plot, go outside and take a walk with a friend. You’ll still be stuck, but you will get your steps in for the day, and have someone to bitch to. Follow us for more plotting tips. Here all week. Sometimes Sarina and I take an ordinary walk. Most times, actually. But sometimes, part way up the first hill, Sarina says, Ok, so I have this problem. And then we’re off, trying to figure out why a character would make a certain choice, or how to get someone from point A to point B. And then I will say, ok, I have a problem. And occasionally it’s that simple, but for me, the problem is usually that I have made my plot so ludicrously over-complicated that it cannot even be explained, let alone reduced to a single problem. Which is a different problem.  And then we try to fix THAT. Either way, there’s a point here, which is: putting the problem, or the plot, into words in itself can help solve it—or reveal what’s really wrong—and also, it can really help to get a new perspective. In the episode, we talk about how and why to do this (it doesn’t have to involve a walk or a dog or a hill), who you can enlist (apparently Kristan Higgins does it with her husband, only he’s not actually allowed to talk) and most importantly, we discuss getting past the all the voices in your head telling you not to, and and note that the louder those voices are, the more likely it is that maybe you need to talk this over with someone before you go any further. A few things we referenced: the summer planning series, Blueprint for a Book Challenge, which included a LOT of talk about why it’s a good idea to voice what you’re planning to do before you do it. Links from the Pod: Becca Syme  Jennie’s book The Last Beach Bungalow Sarina’s book Rookie Move Otter (voice recording app) #AmReading KJ: The Mistborn Trilogy, Brandon Sanderson Wreck the Halls, Tessa Bailey Sarina: The Intern, Michele Campbell Jennie: Debbie Millman’s Design Matters (Podcast) The Creative Act, Rick Rubin  During the pandemic, there was an explosion of people who wanted to write memoir, and many of those writers are now struggling to make sense of their drafts and figure out how to approach the marketplace. It's a great time to be a book coach who specializes in memoir, and in March 2024, Author Accelerator is launching a certification course to give memoir coaches the skills, tools, and experience to meet writers where they are. Our year-long program is robust and intense. I'm inviting any listeners of this show who are interested in our coaching program to sign up for a one-on-one session with me to strategize about whether or not this course is right for you. Just go to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to sign up for a time that works for you.
2/23/202441 minutes, 56 seconds
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390: Coaching call with author, educator & speaker Katie Kinder

Jess here. I love love love coaching calls, and opt to talk rather than trade emails when someone needs a comprehensive education in speaking career building. I met Katie at a recent speaking event and she grabbed my attention on stage right away. She had that…something that speakers need on stage to hold the attention of a large audience.  Katie was generous enough to allow me to record our call so you all can learn along with her! Here’s to flattening learning curves! Links from the Pod Katie’s website Katie’s book, Untold Teaching Truths Katie at the Accutrain 50 in 50 panel, from my live Thread of the event: During the pandemic, there was an explosion of people who wanted to write memoir, and many of those writers are now struggling to make sense of their drafts and figure out how to approach the marketplace. It's a great time to be a book coach who specializes in memoir, and in March 2024, Author Accelerator is launching a certification course to give memoir coaches the skills, tools, and experience to meet writers where they are. Our year-long program is robust and intense. I'm inviting any listeners of this show who are interested in our coaching program to sign up for a one-on-one session with me to strategize about whether or not this course is right for you. Just go to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to sign up for a time that works for you.
2/16/202448 minutes, 34 seconds
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389: How to Create a Substack that Delivers (for you and your readers) Episode 389 with Dan Blank

Wanna start—or fix—your email/Substack? We GOT YOU. Dan Blank is, truly, THE GUY when it comes to helping writers identify our audience, find ways to reach them and also feel great about the process. Before you do anything else, go subscribe to his Substack. I’ll wait.  The Creative Shift by Dan Blank Helping writers and creators share their work and connect with readers in meaningful ways. Digging deep into marketing, book launches, and platform development. Get my weekly newsletter every Friday. Ok, those Substack links are BIG. But brace yourself, there’s more of them. In this episode, which you must go listen to, Dan, Jennie and KJ talk about the three ways to approach a Substack, why you should have an email list no matter what, finding your role (inspiring, entertaining, teaching) and—most importantly—not heading out there with something that’s half baked.  Our message today is: BAKE THE THING. What do you believe above all? What do you want to explore? What do you want to share? Who do you want to come hang? Answer those questions, and Substack—some version of it, which may or may not involve $$ and trust me we get into that—is YOURS.  Today instead of books, we have Substack follow recommendations! (and you DO NOT have to use Substack to get these emails. If you don’t, they’re just emails. Subscribe!) KJ’s REC’s Free and gonna stay that way: Welcomes $$, plenty that is free and lovely Crone Sandwich A weird newsletter about all the midlife things: kids, parents, food, sex, holidays, rage, and sweating at night, by the author of Waiting for Birdy and We All Want Impossible Things. By Catherine Newman ★ I would do it differently. ★ A newsletter about design and life by design journalist Emily Grosvenor, author of Find Yourself At Home: A Conscious Approach to Shaping Your Space and Your Life. By Emily Grosvenor Worth every $$ Publishing Confidential News and analysis about the book publishing industry that you won't read anywhere else.  By Kathleen Schmidt Dinner: A Love Story A newsletter devoted to the family meal, however you define "family" and however you define “meal.” Written by the NY Times bestselling author of the Dinner: A Love Story book series including, most recently "The Weekday Vegetarians."  By Jenny Rosenstrach Vanderhacks Little ways to take your day from great to awesome By Laura Jennie’s RECS Inkygirl by Debbie Ridpath Ohi Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people. Her posts include nuts & bolts tips about the craft and biz, behind-the-scenes process, bibliophile comics. Austin Kleon Weekly art, writing, and creative inspiration from the author of Steal Like an Artist and other bestsellers. Dan’s RECS Dear Somebody A short weekly note chronicling five things worth remembering, including a look into my process, reflections on motherhood, and creative inspiration. By Meera Lee Patel Draw Your World I believe everyone is an artist, including you. I share motivation & inspiration to look at the world around you to find the perfect thing to draw to express who you are and the moment you are in. From bestselling author of the Draw Your Day book series. By Samantha Dion Baker Create Me Free Writing about the complex relationship between art and mental health, not just art as therapy, but also the myriad ways mental health symptoms impact artistic process, content, medium, and productivity. By Kathryn Vercillo The Art & Business of Book Coaching Helping book coaches build effective businesses so they can give writers a fighting chance in an unpredictable marketplace. (Secretly great for writers to learn how to level up, too.) Posts every Friday.  By Jennie Nash During the pandemic, there was an explosion of people who wanted to write memoir, and many of those writers are now struggling to make sense of their drafts and figure out how to approach the marketplace. It's a great time to be a book coach who specializes in memoir, and in March 2024, Author Accelerator is launching a certification course to give memoir coaches the skills, tools, and experience to meet writers where they are. Our year-long program is robust and intense. I'm inviting any listeners of this show who are interested in our coaching program to sign up for a one-on-one session with me to strategize about whether or not this course is right for you. Just go to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to sign up for a time that works for you. Find out more here!
2/9/202457 minutes, 29 seconds
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388: What’s on the Cutting Room Floor?

Deciding what to leave in and what to take out is something every writer has to face; from the moment they start conceiving of an idea to the moment when it goes to press. What strategy do you bring to those decisions? In this episode, I (Jennie Nash) chat with book coach and author Suzette Mullen about the scenes she left out of her forthcoming memoir, The Only Way Through is Out. She has a document you can download and read along with five cut scenes, plus see her reasons for cutting them. You can find it at: https://www.yourstoryfinder.com/books Links from the Pod: Suzette’s website Books we mention on this episode include: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, Jessica Brody Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace, Jennie Nash You've heard us talk about Author Accelerator's book coach training program, and now they're offering a unique chance to peek inside a successful book coaching business and see what it really looks like. Grab the FREE 52-page mini magazine, From Lost Lawyer and Empty Nest Mom to Thriving Author and Book Coach -- How I Built My Book Coaching Business, HERE. You don't even have to hand over your email! You can read about book coach Suzette Mullen's journey as a writer, a book coach, and a human -- and on February 6 at 9am PST / 12 EST, you can join Author Accelerator CEO Jennie Nash and Suzette for a conversation about Suzette's journey. The sign-up for the February event is on the same page where you download the magazine.
2/2/202430 minutes, 44 seconds
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387: The Art of Manifesting for Tired and Skeptical Authors

I think of myself an analytical person. Fine, a cynical one. So when my friends began talking about manifesting as a way to improve one's writing career, I struggled to wrap my head around it. Even if I was privately fascinated.  First, let’s define our terms. Manifesting, in this context, refers to the practice of thinking aspirational thoughts with the intention of encouraging them to become reality. It's based on the belief that our thoughts, energy, and focus can directly influence the physical world and attract specific outcomes or experiences. This concept often aligns with the Law of Attraction (See: Atkinson, Wattles, Byrne, etc), which suggests that positive thoughts bring positive results and negative thoughts bring negative ones. In other words, by visualizing our desires, affirming them through positive statements, and believing in their eventual realization, we can 'manifest' these desires into our lives. It's not just wishing; proponents argue it's about aligning ourselves mentally and emotionally with the desired outcome, thereby making ourselves open and prepared for the opportunities and resources needed to achieve success. Appealing, right? I thought so, too. Who doesn’t want to write a letter to the Universe, name her desires, and watch them come true?  But first I had to overthink it. I was raised to believe that hard work was the secret sauce, and if I haven’t achieved my goals then I probably haven’t been working hard enough, or writing well enough. Right? Besides—if happy thoughts can bring success directly to my doorstep—like fruit flies to an overripe banana—does this mean that failure is always my fault, too? If I tell the universe I deserve to hit the New York Times bestsellers list in 2024, and then the universe doesn’t deliver this shiny bauble… does that imply that I’ve failed myself with my own negativity? Furthermore, if that’s true, then isn’t manifesting the ultimate in privileged thinking? Some of us face hardcore challenges that make getting through the day awfully difficult. It feels disingenuous to those who are struggling to assume that any obstacle can be cleared by positive energy. My inner critic pounced, and my exploration of manifesting almost ended there. Almost. But then I had one more uncomfortable thought, and came to realize that this part of the struggle is actually the whole point, because it gets to the heart of writers’ fears.  After all, show me a writer who has never wondered whether writing is not the most self-centered job in the world. Show me a writer who believes that writing is always the most valuable and useful thing she can do with her time. That’s just not how writers are made. Self-criticism is actually crucial to the work. You can’t edit your work if you’re not willing to second guess your own decisions. In fact, balancing the impulse to create with the impulse to delete is, psychologically , the guts of this job. Furthermore, when I sit down at my keyboard every day, it’s with the understanding that making up stories for a living is already a privilege. Previous success doesn’t exempt me from the knowledge that writing always serves the writer first, before it ever serves the reader. The act of composing a story (or a screenplay or a poem or an essay) is always self-indulgent before it gets the chance to be an indulgence for someone else.  I struggle with this. Not daily, perhaps. But often enough to make asking the universe for more success into a fraught endeavor. Does the universe really care if I hit the USA Today bestseller list for a twenty-fifth time?  And yet… Here I sit at the keyboard, giving my precious time and attention to this career, whether the universe cares or not. So don’t I owe it to myself to do the best job I possibly can? If there’s anything more self-indulgent than a career in authorship, it’s squandering that career in authorship.  Next, I invite you to consider the conditions under which great writing gets done. Do we do our best work when we’re A) sitting here convinced that nobody cares, and nobody will ever read our work or when B) we bathe in the warmth of great possibility, open to the joy of discovery and ideation?  Yeah, it’s that second one, isn’t it?  It turns out, for me anyway, that manifesting and writing have a whole lot in common. They both share the Rumpelstiltskin-like quality of making something out of nothing. They both require unwavering belief in the possibilities, whether the current reality reflects a blank page, or an empty checking account.  In other words, even if I’m not quite ready to believe that a few hours’ work on a vision board will cause money to cling to me with the static electricity of socks right out of the dryer, a writer already understands that ideas prefer an open mind and a receptive heart. I also know that ideas are critical for excellent and prolific writing. And excellent and prolific writing is a crucial step toward earning royalties.  It is, in short, a positive feedback loop that I already understand on a gut level.  Meanwhile, as I toil at my desk, there are over a hundred spots on the New York Times bestsellers list every week. Someone has got to fill them. There’s almost no point to working fifty hours a week as an author unless I believe that one of those slots can be mine.  Ergo, the only way of catching one of them in my greedy little hand is to manifest that reality out of blank pages and sunshine and the unwavering belief that I’m allowed to ask the universe for all the marbles. A halfway dream is a waste of time and notebook paper. Dear Universe, let’s call a spade a spade. My life is already an exercise in literary optimism. I can acknowledge the privilege of this job while still reaching for that next tier. I can open my vulnerable soul wide enough to speak my most ambitious desires out loud. I can let those yearnings see the light of day in much the same way that I give fictional people their own hopes and dreams. It’s not even as hard as I feared.  Yours in gratitude,  —Sarina. P.S. Universe: if you could also deliver me a first class plot twist for this proposal I’m writing, I’m all ears.   You've heard us talk about Author Accelerator's book coach training program, and now they're offering a unique chance to peek inside a successful book coaching business and see what it really looks like. Grab the FREE 52-page mini magazine, From Lost Lawyer and Empty Nest Mom to Thriving Author and Book Coach -- How I Built My Book Coaching Business, HERE. You don't even have to hand over your email! You can read about book coach Suzette Mullen's journey as a writer, a book coach, and a human -- and on February 6 at 9am PST / 12 EST, you can join Author Accelerator CEO Jennie Nash and Suzette for a conversation about Suzette's journey. The sign-up for the February event is on the same page where you download the magazine. 
1/26/202411 minutes, 6 seconds
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386: Episode 386: Under the Weather Productivity

“It doesn’t have to be good, it just has to happen” - Seth Godin, The Practice “F*ck it, I feel like sh*t” - Jess Lahey Hi everyone! Jess here. We actually managed to get Sarina, Jennie, KJ and Jess together for an episode even though Jess and KJ have been under the weather. All December and January, the group text thread has been moaning and groaning about feeling awful and needing to work but feeling awful. So what do you do when you are not at your physical or mental peak and working becomes more difficult? Do you push on through and grind it out? Sometimes. Do you close the computer and recline in your bed with your hot tea and tissues? Sometimes.  Here are our thoughts on working when under the weather.  #AmReading Jennie  Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb documentary  Avid Reader: A Life by Robert Gottlieb Jess  Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me by Ada Calhoun Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun While we have your attention, we’d love our listeners and readers to help out the Institute for Independent Journalists Foundation in their work, “…to track the demographics of the nearly 3,000 journalists laid off in 2023, and to understand the implications for our field” by taking this census. From the IIJF: The project aims to take a census of the journalists laid off or bought out in the last year-plus, uncover any trends, and assess the impact on newsroom demographics headed into a pivotal election year. Results will be published in Nieman Reports and shared through IIJ Foundation channels, including conference presentations and webinars. We’re aiming to collect data through mid-February and release results in March. As you know, the IIJ is a one-year old organization whose mission is the financial and emotional sustainability of freelance journalists of color, entirely led by BIPOC women. The IIJ Foundation is our nonprofit arm. You've heard us talk about Author Accelerator's book coach training program, and now they're offering a unique chance to peek inside a successful book coaching business and see what it really looks like. Grab the FREE 52-page mini magazine, From Lost Lawyer and Empty Nest Mom to Thriving Author and Book Coach -- How I Built My Book Coaching Business, HERE. You don't even have to hand over your email! You can read about book coach Suzette Mullen's journey as a writer, a book coach, and a human -- and on February 6 at 9am PST / 12 EST, you can join Author Accelerator CEO Jennie Nash and Suzette for a conversation about Suzette's journey. The sign-up for the February event is on the same page where you download the magazine.
1/19/202441 minutes, 45 seconds
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385: What I Think About When I Think About Job Offers

Jess here. We have talked about the lure of shiny objects, those glowing opportunities on the horizon that may (or may not) be worth the potential downsides. We have all fallen victim to the hypnotic glare and some of us have even been blinded and temporarily lost our way. So how do you decide whether a job offer is a shiny object, a worthy endeavor, or both? How do you decide if it’s the right time, right boss, right idea, right direction? And once you have done that, what else do you have to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line? Well, it so happens I’ve been weighing all of these factors over the past month, and I wanted to share my thought process with you in case it’s helpful.  Mentioned in the Podcast: The Author’s Guild American Society of Journalists and Authors PS: Find Special Care Instructions here You've heard us talk about Author Accelerator's book coach training program, and now they're offering a unique chance to peek inside a successful book coaching business and see what it really looks like. Grab the FREE 52-page mini magazine, From Lost Lawyer and Empty Nest Mom to Thriving Author and Book Coach -- How I Built My Book Coaching Business, HERE. You don't even have to hand over your email! You can read about book coach Suzette Mullen's journey as a writer, a book coach, and a human -- and on February 6 at 9am PST / 12 EST, you can join Author Accelerator CEO Jennie Nash and Suzette for a conversation about Suzette's journey. The sign-up for the February event is on the same page where you download the magazine. Find it here!
1/12/202432 minutes, 29 seconds
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384: Unapologetically Re-creating our Abundant Zone of Genius

Writers, some thoughts: first off, I HATE the word of the year I declared in this episode. I chose… poorly. It’s such a weak work, so unadventurous, so poky. So I have already reframed, and searched long and hard for a word that basically means, I am never ever making another TikTok again no matter what anyone says, and the result is unapologetic. For the moment. I’m not superthrilled, bc I would rather have a positive active word that one that starts with a negation, but that’s where I am for the moment. (Got a better idea? Reply to this email, I haven’t inked this into the old bujo yet!) I considered NotSorry, in honor of Sarah Knight’s glorious anti-self-help books, which I reference in the episode, but I think I’ll rock unapologetic better. Well, that was very important. TO ME. #notsorry This is our annual goal setting episode. We focused mostly on WOTYs (word of the year), possibly because it was mid-December when we recorded and I for one have STILL not figured out exactly wtf I’m trying to do with myself next year other than write another book and attempt to sell it. Jennie gives some brilliant advice about thinking quarterly, which I am totally taking. Sarah dials it back (which is still a lot) and Jess reminds us all to stick with goals that make us happy not just to achieve, but while we’re doing them. While we’re at it, we re-visit our yearly advice to distinguish between goals we can control (write the book, query the book) and goals we cannot (sell the book to a trad publisher). The first get milestones, steps and our full attention. The second… we recognize may need to shift with the sands. I once wrote a little mini workbook about that with a worksheet—both attached below. Amwriting Goal Setting Workbook 101KB ∙ PDF fileDownload Download #amwriting Writergoals Pdf Worksheet 329KB ∙ PDF fileDownload Download And now, on to the links! Jennie’s new substack—get ON that.  Pre-order The Five Year Lie RIGHT NOW. Our WOTYS RESERVE UNAPOLOGETIC (and know how I feel about changing it? You guessed it baby.) ABUNDANCE RECREATE ZONE OF GENIUS  Links! The One Thing, Gary Keller with Jay Papasan I MEANT to mention I Would Do That Differently, Emily Grosvenor’s new substack and seriously, my new motto, but it never came up. Still, she was a guest on episode 342 and I suggest you check it out! Writers, KJ here. I’m sitting with my new Muse Machine, a deck of 150 open-ended, creative prompt cards designed to spark inspiration across various tasks, from writing to painting from one of my very favorite idea-sparkers and kick-in-the-pantsers, Gretchen Rubin. I don’t like writing prompts (because I hate the idea of intentionally writing stuff I know I won’t use) but these are different. They’re meant to get you thinking in a different way, which means you might get “take a nap” or “can it be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside?” Whatever it is will set your mind spinning. (And they would make a fun gift for the other creatives in your life, too!) Get 10% off until 12/31 with code MUSEPARTNER10. Learn more here. Are you looking to kick your 9-to-5, and work for yourself? How about if you could set your own rates and read books all day? Author Accelerator might just be able to help you out! By now, you’ve probably heard us talk about book coaching, an exciting career where you can help writers bring their dreams to life through support, feedback, project management, and accountability at each step of the writing and publishing process. It’s like being a literary personal trainer for writers! Through Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification program, you’ll learn the key editorial, project management, organizational, and people skills needed to launch your own thriving book coaching business. To find out if book coaching is the right career for you, Author Accelerator is offering a 5-day challenge to help you envision your new chapter. In their $99 One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan, you’ll narrow down your business idea, ideal client, ideal service, and more. Interested? Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast to learn more. Take me there!
12/29/202345 minutes, 51 seconds
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Flashback Friday: Become a #BetterStrongerFaster Writer with Becca Syme

Crew, we love us some Becca Syme over here. We will listen to any podcast she’s on, sometimes twice. We (okay, me) watch her YouTube channel while we work out. We read her email newsletter religiously. Because she gets writers and writers. She gets that while we may all be trying to do what looks like the same thing, we all do that thing differently and what works for one of us doesn’t work for all of us.  So obviously we were super-excited to get to talk to her, and we’re delighted to re-share this very very inspirational interview with you as we head to the end of 2023. Who wouldn’t want to write better and faster? I can’t even imagine. Our guest this week is Becca Syme, creator of the Better Faster Academy, author of Dear Writer You Need to Quit as well as other books in the Quit series and the author of the MatchBaker series of cozy mysteries (with such glorious titles as “Vangie Vale and the Murdered Macaron”). Her superpower is helping writers find what they do best—their strengths—and do more of that instead of worrying about trying to “fix” the things we aren’t naturally good at. Links from the pod The Clifton Strengths Test The Ted Lasso blog post Better Faster Academy The Quitcast on YouTube #AmReading Becca: Mandy M. Roth Yasmine Galenorn Rajani LaRocca DEVS (TV show) Sarina: Unguarded by Jay Hogan (part of Sarina’s World of True North) KJ: The Shit No One Tells You About Writing (podcast) Writers, KJ here. I’m sitting with my new Muse Machine, a deck of 150 open-ended, creative prompt cards designed to spark inspiration across various tasks, from writing to painting from one of my very favorite idea-sparkers and kick-in-the-pantsers, Gretchen Rubin. I don’t like writing prompts (because I hate the idea of intentionally writing stuff I know I won’t use) but these are different. They’re meant to get you thinking in a different way, which means you might get “take a nap” or “can it be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside?” Whatever it is will set your mind spinning. (And they would make a fun gift for the other creatives in your life, too!) Get 10% off until 12/31 with code MUSEPARTNER10. Learn more here. Are you looking to kick your 9-to-5, and work for yourself? How about if you could set your own rates and read books all day? Author Accelerator might just be able to help you out! By now, you’ve probably heard us talk about book coaching, an exciting career where you can help writers bring their dreams to life through support, feedback, project management, and accountability at each step of the writing and publishing process. It’s like being a literary personal trainer for writers! Through Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification program, you’ll learn the key editorial, project management, organizational, and people skills needed to launch your own thriving book coaching business. To find out if book coaching is the right career for you, Author Accelerator is offering a 5-day challenge to help you envision your new chapter. In their $99 One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan, you’ll narrow down your business idea, ideal client, ideal service, and more. Interested? Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast to learn more.
12/22/202344 minutes, 10 seconds
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Flashback Friday: Episode 293, how to build a literary life with Zibby Owens.

Writers, if you're paying attention at all, you've heard from Zibby Owens in the past 2 years. She's the host of the Moms Don't Have Time to Read Podcast and the creator of Zibby Media, which at this point includes a magazine, a publishing house that's having a great month with, among other books, The Last Love Note, which KJ highly recommends and an LA-based bookstore. In 2022, Jess talked with Zibby about how she launched her literary life--and as that life gets bigger and bigger, we thought it was time to share her story again.  Ever want to know “how she did it”? This episode is our little version of How I Built This, in which we ask Zibby Owens—whose name you surely know by now—about how she turned a desire to be part of the world of books into a one-woman mini book empire. Zibby Owens is the host of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read, a daily podcast featuring interviews with authors that has over 900 episodes. She’s also a Bookstagrammer with 16K followers, the host of a second podcast—Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Sex—the editor of two anthologies, Moms Don’t Have Time To and Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids—KJ contributed to that last one—and now the CEO of Zibby Books, a new publishing home for fiction and memoir. She’s a regular contributor to Good Morning America, she’s been called “America’s Top Bookfluencer” and she has two books coming soon: Princess Charming, a picture book, and Booked, a memoir. She’s also got four kids, and they’re kids—elementary and middle school age, not a bunch of independent high schoolers wandering around But. Five years ago Zibby was none of those things (except a mother of four). And that’s what I want to talk about. She’s built a massive literary life, a community, a reputation in just a few years, and—after totally owning the fact that she has help with her kids (heck, not just help, they’re completely gone every other weekend because, divorce sometimes works like that) and also that this isn’t how Zibby earns a living— we go back to the beginning and talk about what it took to get there. Because no matter who you are, you can’t wake up and say, I think I’d like to be America’s Biggest Bookfluencer, and whip out your Amex card and make it happen. You can’t even take your Kardashian self and decide this is what you want and ask your assistant to set it up. This takes work and desire and passion, and we dig into how Zibby started, and how she made things take off. Links from the pod: Lee Carpenter: Red, White, Blue and Eleven Andre Agassi: Open Zibby Books Zibby Books Ambassadors (at bottom of Zibby Books page) #AmReading Zibby: Going There by Katie Couric Hungry Hill by Eileen Patricia Curran The Husbands by Chandler Baker The Last Season by Jenny Judson & Danielle Mahfood KJ: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow Jess: Speaking of Race by Celeste Headlee It's that time again! Every year Jennie Nash and the Author Accelerator team put together a holiday bundle worth hundreds of dollars for folks who enroll in the Book Coach Certification Program ahead of the new year. Enroll this month to receive a $150 gift card to Better World Books, access to their $99 course the One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan Challenge, a copy of Jennie’s Blueprint book in your genre, and MORE. And did we mention you can now pre-enroll in Author Accelerator’s Memoir Certification Program? The course opens in March 2024, but if you enroll this month, you’ll get $600 off the cost of enrollment – which is certainly something to be jolly for! When you enroll in the Book Coach Certification program, you’ll gain access to a thriving community of friends and colleagues, more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets to teach you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and the tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. So, whether you’re looking to expand your writing skills or start your new year with a new career, there is no better time to start your journey. Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast to get your special offer.
11/24/202344 minutes, 47 seconds
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When Inner Dialogue Isn't "Telling" and When It Is in Memoir and Fiction

Hey writers—I’m in a funny phase of novel drafting right now where I’m really only doing the prewriting—which is an odd style of drafting wherein, for me, I basically write only dialogue and statements of movement and the very most important bits of inner dialogue. (As in, no one is opening car doors or setting down their coffee cups, and there are also no quotation marks, and they could be anywhere as far as setting is concerned.) Writing this way keeps my eyes on the prize—basically it’s what do I need to know to really write this scene, which kind of tricks me into what does the reader really need to know. I’ll add some of the set dressing later, but I find that when I write this way, the end result is tighter and cleaner. Here’s an example I found that ultimately became Chapter 3 of Playing the Witch Card. It’s actually pretty accurate: Flair is desperately shutting door on what she’s done, locking up wildly as if she could lock it inside, back door, Josie never comes to front, running from a ghost, you know better than to make a joke like that in Rattleboro Well did you No Just of herself How was day Sucked Customers 2 if you count Loretta What did she want? She comes in all the time actuall and when she does it’s usually a little better, I think it’s all that Halloween horror That’s what people are here for but then my customers all prefer the alley it’s part of the mystique Yep those rebel tattoos that x percent of the population has But not you When I think of something I want tattooed on me you’ll be the first to know Sometimes that’s my job, do you want to know what tattoo you should have I do not. Stop it. Change subject Loretta wanted me to make Halloween cookies And I suppose you said no. you should. If anything would change your luck I kow you hate it. But I don’t see how you’re going to be here and not be part of it. Met by lucie on the doorstep. I’m going back to Chicago. What happened today Stupid Halloween, stupid party Parties are nothing but halloween’s a big deal around here. Your mom just got asked to do something for the Rattlebones. Even lucie looked up at that Really? Everyone wants to do that, Annabel’s always telling people that her mom practically runs it but I don’t think she gets to be out there---could I help? She says she’s not doing it I don’t want to You have to I’ll think about it If I can’t do that for Halloween I want to go back to Chicago Not happening, we agreed, you’re here until we both go visit at thanksgiving (and she was hopeing not to do that) I’ll think about it I guess you’re doing Halloween I hate you. I’m not. But she knew she would. There’s actually zero interiority in here, which forced me to add it later but only where the dialogue didn’t already convey it. Which leads me to today’s replay, which is one I needed: what’s the difference between showing—in internal dialogue—and telling? Bc we don’t want to info dump, and yet also our characters need to reflect on their past or think things they don’t say. This episode is me, Sarina and Jess talking about the difference. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it was to me! Original show notes The whole “am I showing, or am I telling” inner debate can be tough in every part of a novel, memoir or nonfiction-with-elements-of-memoir draft. You don’t want to “tell” about the action. You don’t want to “tell” about the setting. And goodness knows you don’t want to “tell” what the character is feeling. Except when you do. Sometimes a little telling, in the form of inner dialogue, is exactly what the reader needs to feel a part of the story, not just the happenings. Sarina, Jess and KJ are all in for a conversation about how to immerse a reader in emotions, reactions, fears, self-doubt and even self-deception. Got an inner dialogue question you’re wrestling with? Try sharing it in our Facebook group—and for other burning questions, small and large, email us at [email protected]. We can’t respond to every email, but we might answer your question on an upcoming show—or even invite you on for a little coaching. Links and quotes from the pod: From In Her Boots: “Jasmine was still a little leery of the animals, so I set out to charm her with them. **Here’s what my editor said here:  Maybe Rhett could think here about how the animals always made her feel good and she wants to impart some of that to Jasmine, who is stretching so far outside her comfort zone to help Rhett? This could be a nice friendship moment to show Rhett caring about Jasmine.** After we fed the entire crew—which would make any human popular—I gave Jas Brownie’s curry comb and showed her the places where he loved to be scratched, and together we groomed the little pony to a sheen, Jas brushing while I pulled his mane and tail. Jas ran inside and emerged with a bandana that we tied in his forelock, giving him a rakish look suited to his personality, and at the same time we both pulled out our phones.” Here’s the revision: “Some barn time would absolutely help me feel better. If Jas was a little more comfortable with them, I knew she would feel the same way, and I wanted that for her. I didn’t care about the Maggie part of it. I’d overheard her on the phone with Zale last night, and I wanted her to know that the farm was a refuge for her no matter what. After we fed the entire crew—which would make any human popular—I gave Jas Brownie’s curry comb and showed her the places where he loved to be scratched, and together we groomed the little pony to a sheen, Jas brushing while I pulled his mane and tail. Jas ran inside and emerged with a bandana that we tied in his forelock, giving him a rakish look suited to his personality, and at the same time we both pulled out our phones.” From We Are Not Like Them: p. 113 “I’m relieved to see that the crowd really is peaceful, so many faces filled with righteous conviction and purpose. Nonetheless, my cynicism kicks in. Ain’t nothing changed but the music. All the clever signs and chants, the people who showed up just so they could post it to their social media, what does it add up to?” From Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake: p. 161 “She laughed and then hoped he’d meant her to.” p. 179 “Rosaline didn’t want to jinx it, and possibly she was reading too much into one ambiguously encouraging look from Marianne Wolvercote, but she thought she could do okay this week. Possibly even well? After all, she had a strong concept. And the part of her that used to do homework under test conditions was now secretly rather glad to get to practice in an unfamiliar kitchen.” Also mentioned: Beach Read by Emily Henry Talia Hibbert #AmReading Jess: The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson KJ: We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza Sarina: The Enneagram in Love: A Roadmap for Building and Strengthening Romantic Relationships by Stephanie Barron Hall It's that time again! Every year Jennie Nash and the Author Accelerator team put together a holiday bundle worth hundreds of dollars for folks who enroll in the Book Coach Certification Program ahead of the new year. Enroll this month to receive a $150 gift card to Better World Books, access to their $99 course the One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan Challenge, a copy of Jennie’s Blueprint book in your genre, and MORE. And did we mention you can now pre-enroll in Author Accelerator’s Memoir Certification Program? The course opens in March 2024, but if you enroll this month, you’ll get $600 off the cost of enrollment – which is certainly something to be jolly for! When you enroll in the Book Coach Certification program, you’ll gain access to a thriving community of friends and colleagues, more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets to teach you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and the tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. So, whether you’re looking to expand your writing skills or start your new year with a new career, there is no better time to start your journey. Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast to get your special offer.
11/17/202339 minutes
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383: How to Restart Your Work after an Unplanned Pause

Ok, we probably don’t feel as cheery as that little subtitle sounded after we’ve been away from a project for a while. Most of the things that yank us away from our work unexpectedly aren’t good things. (There must be exceptions?) In my case, I got sick, and then I overdid and got sicker, and the result is a project I haven’t touched in a week. Which is SO not that bad or that long—sometimes things happen and it’s a month or more before we can get back into the work—but it made me think about what I do when I’m forced to stop and re-start.  Forgive yourself. Might you have been able to do better? Maybe. Would a real writer have managed to work through whatever it was? Maybe. And maybe, if you’d really had to, you would have. Or maybe not—sometimes even people with deadlines and editors and fans clamoring need to put their work aside for a while, because sometimes you just cannot. Or sometimes you do anyway, and maybe, as I once did, you turn in an article during one of the worst weeks of your life thus far and it includes a recipe for Miso Roasted Cod in which you forget to include the miso, which is published because apparently there were no backstops at this particular entity, thus ending your recipe writing career forevermore. (Obviously that worked out ok, but 21 years ago I would have told you my life was over.) Let it go. You needed time. You took it. It’s for the best. Check in. Is it really time to get back to this? Can you look ahead and see yourself getting back into whatever routine is in the cards for you now, or are you setting yourself up to disappoint yourself? Look, only you know. Some people write at the worst times. Some people wait for better times. Sometimes those are the same people at different points in their lives. It is okay to hunch over a laptop under circumstances when people think you should be doing something else, and it is okay to decide to re-read all of Anne of Green Gables even when the waters are calm again. Do your commit-thing. If it’s time and you’re ready, do whatever you do when you start something. Tell a friend, tell the world, stick a post-it on your desktop, re-up your timer app on your phone, make a list or a plan or a mood board, make a promise, light a candle, stand outside and scream up at the clouds to tell them you’re back in the game, babies! Allow for some prep-time. Maybe you need to read over your project or your outline. (Or maybe you shouldn’t, because going in an unexpected direction could be a great thing.) A thinking-walk or drive could be good, or a re-read of your favorite motivational or craft book, or even just a page of it. If you’re a pre-writer, start there and let yourself hit a downhill before you start actually sticking in all the punctuation.  Start somewhere easy. Maybe that’s right where you left off. Maybe it’s a scene you’ve been writing in your head. Maybe it’s the end or a new beginning.  Go all in. Once you open the file, stay in the file. You’re out of practice. This will be harder than it was last time. Your text messages, your laundry, that annoyingly long pinkie nail, all will beckon. (Actually it’s ok to go trim the nail. But you do NOT NEED YOUR PHONE to do that.) Set a timer, throw your phone across the room, handcuff yourself to your desk, do whatever you do. Maybe for a teeeeeny bit less time than usual. But do it. And then stop even if you’re rolling. Every day this will get easier if you just do the thing.  You might need to go back and forgive yourself again. Maybe this is harder than you thought. Maybe it feels like you’ve lost the thread. Maybe you don’t feel like you’ll ever, every get it going. What would you say to a friend right now? Bet it’s nicer than whatever you’re saying to yourself. You will keep going. Be kind. SAVE THIS POST. The time will come when you need it again. And so do I.  It's that time again! Every year Jennie Nash and the Author Accelerator team put together a holiday bundle worth hundreds of dollars for folks who enroll in the Book Coach Certification Program ahead of the new year. Enroll this month to receive a $150 gift card to Better World Books, access to their $99 course the One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan Challenge, a copy of Jennie’s Blueprint book in your genre, and MORE. And did we mention you can now pre-enroll in Author Accelerator’s Memoir Certification Program? The course opens in March 2024, but if you enroll this month, you’ll get $600 off the cost of enrollment – which is certainly something to be jolly for! When you enroll in the Book Coach Certification program, you’ll gain access to a thriving community of friends and colleagues, more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets to teach you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and the tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. So, whether you’re looking to expand your writing skills or start your new year with a new career, there is no better time to start your journey. Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast to get your special offer.
11/10/202316 minutes, 31 seconds
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382: How Sarina's Reading Journal Makes Her a Better Novelist: Episode 382

Hi. 🙋‍♀️ My name is Sarina, and I’m a bit obsessive about stationery products. I’m always on the lookout for a good excuse to buy new pens or a new notebook. But bear with me, because this one is 100% valid: every year I buy a new reading journal, and I use it well.  The journal itself is nothing special. It’s just a 200 page B5 (or composition book sized) notebook where I keep track of all the books I’ve read. (Or, in many cases, books I started and did not finish. I’m a big DNFer, because life is short and there are too many books to cover.) At the front of the journal I keep a list of the gems—the books I want to recommend. Plus a long list of things I want to read.  But 99% of the pages are given over to my thoughts about the books themselves. Sometimes I only write two lines, and sometimes I cover two pages.  When I first began tracking my reading like this, three years ago, I wasn’t very precise about what I wrote down. It was only after I formed a structure for my notes that the process became truly useful to me as a novelist. These days I always note some very specific things. Here they are, and here’s why they help:  1. Genre After I note the title and the author, I write down the genre.  Okay—sue me—I actually have a cute set of self-inking stamps that flag the genre. A scary face for thrillers, a dinosaur for anything magical, and hearts for romance. But it would work just as well to write “thriller” at the top of the page.  Then, as I read, I make specific notes about the subgenre. Is it a domestic thriller with romantic elements? Is it a romance with a subplot of suspense?  We’re always told that our books have to fit in one specific spot on the shelf, or they’ll be unsellable. But the more you force yourself to notice, the more fluid genre appears to be.  Here’s an example: I love Karen Slaughter’s Girl Forgotten. It’s a procedural, because the main character is a US Marshall. But here’s the catch—it’s literally her first day on the job. So she doesn’t know what she’s doing. And there’s an element of the crime that’s deeply personal to her, which gives the book more of a domestic (girl with a problem vibe.)  Don’t let them put you in a box, at least not until it’s time to actually package the book.  2. Structure Next, I make notes about the book’s structure. Is it single POV, or multi? Past tense? Present? First person or third? Do all the chapters take place in a linear timeline? And I write down which characters have POVs, as they occur.  The thing is, I’ve been reading novels for many decades now, and I thought I was well versed with all the possible structures. But by forcing myself to note them down, I see more about each book’s structure than I ever had before. And once in a while I learn some brand new tricks from a close analysis of structure.  Example: the psychological thriller Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wroblet has a really diabolical structure that kind of blew my mind.  3. Predictions If I’m reading a book with elements of mystery or suspense, I always stop at 35% or 50% to write down how many suspects there are. Who am I mean to suspect?  And—crucially—I take a guess at the perpetrator or other secrets yet to be unveiled.  I've learned a surprising amount by doing this. For a mystery or thriller, there are usually 3 to 5 suspects. Once in a while, I come up on a book with so many more, like The Last Party by Clare Macintosh.  But what's really been interesting is how often I am correct about who the villain is! You’d think that my ability to guess the outcome would hamper my enjoyment of a book. If I'm able to guess the suspect halfway through, doesn't that mean the author failed?  Nope. The truth is actually the reverse—some of the books where I’d figured it out early turned out to be my favorites. And sometimes I’m right at 40% but the author changes my mind before I am finally vindicated. **Rubs hands together maniacally** Bottom line—making guesses like this has helped me understand what readers of plot-driven books are really there for—to match wits with the author. Besides, a poorly executed twist is much worse than no twist at all. 4. Setting I always write down the setting. And if I get through the book and have trouble remembering what city we were in, that’s telling, too.  5. Post-it for Quotes Lately, I've been putting one 3 x 3 full stick post-it on each book’s page. Then I try to write a couple of chapter openers on that sticky note.  Personally, I find that opening chapters is tricky for me, so I'd like to keep this top-of-mind as a way of observing how other people do it.  Sometimes I use the sticky note just for a particular turn of phrase that I enjoy, or some other bit of writing that I appreciate.  I guess the point of this exercise is to demystify great writing for myself. Sometimes the best writing is the simplest, and I could make myself crazy imagining that all effective writing sounds like Shakespeare.  6. Flaws Usually, I write a no holds barred review in just a few sentences. It's worth, noting that nobody is ever going to see this book. It's for me and me alone so I don't have to save anyone's feelings when I write: "great set up terrible execution." Or, "saggy in the middle. Couldn't stick the landing." “WHERE WAS HER EDITOR?” But then, the way to make this truly useful is to write down what I might have done differently myself. At what point in the narrative should the author have taken a different turn?  If you can fix someone else’s book, you can learn to fix your own.  7. What’s the Point? Finally, I try to jot down the book’s main point. This book is about trusting your community. This book is about the lengths women will go for bodily autonomy. This book asks how much we owe our families. Etc.  In conclusion I promise you that I don't write down every single one of these things for every single book. Some books, frankly, aren’t worthy of such attention.  But when I manage to dig into a novel, in such a way that most of these questions are answerable? Those notes become invaluable to me. Writing them down makes the lesson stick. And by forcing myself to view novel from some of these frameworks, I have learned many valuable lessons about my own writing.  If the idea of being a book coach niggles at you every time you hear anything about our sponsor, Author Accelerator, I have good news: they’ve fully revised and updated both the fiction and non-fiction book coach certification program. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. But maybe you’ve got no doubt it’s a great program—you’re just not sure if book coaching right for YOU, or if you can pull it off. Well, Author Accelerator wants it to be the right call for you, too. They’re offering a $99 5-day challenge all about getting your business idea out of your head and onto the page—but #AmWriting listeners get it for half off. Head to bookcoaches.com/podcast and enter the code PODCAST at checkout for 50% off. bookcoaches.com/podcast And if you’re asking yourself—so why charge for the challenge, if they want it to be right for me too? Because if you pony up, you’ll really DO it. So if it’s time to stop dreaming and start acting, there you go.  I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids—and it works. 
10/27/202313 minutes, 16 seconds
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381: How to Find the Right Speaking Agent: Ep 381

Jess here, with detailed answers to the questions raised in the #AmWriting Facebook group about finding, contracting, and working with a speaking agent.  I have tried both going it alone and managing my own speaking career and working with an agent on an exclusive basis. Both paths can work, both require a big investment of time, and both have their own obstacles.  Keep the questions coming in the FB group or by email, and we will keep answering them!  My landing page at the American Program Bureau website If the idea of being a book coach niggles at you every time you hear anything about our sponsor, Author Accelerator, I have good news: they’ve fully revised and updated both the fiction and non-fiction book coach certification program. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. But maybe you’ve got no doubt it’s a great program—you’re just not sure if book coaching right for YOU, or if you can pull it off. Well, Author Accelerator wants it to be the right call for you, too. They’re offering a $99 5-day challenge all about getting your business idea out of your head and onto the page—but #AmWriting listeners get it for half off. Head to bookcoaches.com/podcast and enter the code PODCAST at checkout for 50% off. bookcoaches.com/podcast And if you’re asking yourself—so why charge for the challenge, if they want it to be right for me too? Because if you pony up, you’ll really DO it. So if it’s time to stop dreaming and start acting, there you go.  I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids—and it works. 
10/20/202335 minutes, 52 seconds
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380: National Novel Planning Month (that should be a thing)

I’m a fan of NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month, in which the plan is to write 50,000 words of a novel in November. It’s about 1666 words a day, a little more if you take off for Thanksgiving, and it’s do-able to get to 50K words. But realistically, most people’s result, even if they “win” isn’t a draft of a novel. It’s usually the rambling draft of the first half or two-thirds at best. Because even if your preferred method of writing is to “pants” (As opposed to plot), getting a novel draft to actually END is perhaps the most difficult part. Even the “murky middle” is easier to draft than those concluding scenes.  But NaNoWriMo can—and has, for many people—end in an actual draft that becomes a novel. There’s something about the energy of the month and the challenge of imposing those 1666 words on days that are already full of countless things that really works for many of us. The Chicken Sisters began (after years of noodling) as a NaNoWriMo project in 2018, and plenty of other authors also attribute their first drafts to NaNo. I drafted Playing the Witch Card during November, too. The key is to make a plan and stick to it (and not abandon it if it bleeds into December, either). There’s nothing I love more than making a plan—so here are my keys to NaNoWriMo success. First: Recognize if this is for you. For me, the combined challenge of confining the draft to a month and the ridiculousness of making it November—hello, Thanksgiving, all the things—actually makes me more determined. Tell me I can’t do a thing and watch my dust. I love the sheer ridiculousness and arbitrariness of shoehorning this in. It fits perfectly into the model of things I’ve achieved in the past. So that’s the question: when have you been successful at seeing a project through to the end? Did it look like NaNoWriMo? Or maybe it was similar, with more or less accountability. Did it have a set schedule, did you tell people about it or keep it secret? Do you thrive on self-imposed deadlines or loathe them? If this whole game feels wrong or burdensome to you—but you still want to draft a book—then quit this right now and make your own game, but don’t let yourself off the hook. The reason most people never write a book, even if they dream of doing it, is… they never write a book, they just dream of doing it. Go ahead and reject NaNo if it’s not for you—but use this moment to find a way of getting it done that is. (You might give Sarina’s Episode 352, how to write a novel in 3 months, a listen.) Second: It’s not cheating to know what your book is about, it’s smart. If sitting down on day one and writing it was a dark and stormy night and going on from there has worked for you, go for it. Most of us need more (and if you’ve never FINISHED a book by starting off that way, it’s safe to guess you need more). In a perfect world, you’d go through the processes we describe during summer 2023’s Idea Factory (Episodes 366-373) AND the Blueprint for a book series (Episodes 322-330).  If nothing else, you should know these three things: What’s the book about (the plot), why are you writing it/why does the world need it (the emotional arc) and where does the story start, peak and then end. Those last can be vague if you prefer—the killer traps her and her dog in a mountain cabin, she manages to escape and returns for revenge—or much more specific if you know who the killer is, or why the couple splits and then reunites. On the one hand I do better with specifics; on the other, those specifics are nearly always wrong. So go figure. Third: You need a plan for what you will write when. Most of us noodle around wildly in the beginning of a book and then get stuck in the middle and hit that 50K without grappling with the end. I try to force myself to stick to a schedule: Week one: the beginning, Week two: the first half of the middle, Week Three, finish the middle and Week four: write to the end. If I’m not there—and I never am, it’s impossible—I “prewrite” to the next place I need to be. That means a scrawl of what needs to happen and it’s truly gibberish. Because I love y’all, and because I don’t think people often imagine writers are exaggerating when we talk about “shitty first drafts”, here’s a picture of some pre-writing/outlining from my current project. The bar is LOW. Why why why, indeed. Fourth, let’s say I get to 50K and the end of November—yay!—but I didn’t write The End. Keep going forward—do not revise until you’ve ended this draft somehow unless you’ve successfully finished other novels by revising before you hit the end. It doesn’t have to be the right ending. It probably isn’t the right ending. But until you write it (or at the very least pre-write it but it has to include the actual things that happen and are felt and said, not just end this somehow), you can pretend everything is going in the right direction when it probably isn’t. When we revise before we finishing, we’re almost certainly revising the wrong thing.  And if you don’t “win?” Revise that schedule, re-make the rules, take a mulligan and keep going until you do. Don’t abandon that book. Even if it’s the worst book ever. We all write the worst books ever, and sometimes we fix them and sometimes we don’t, but until you prove to yourself that you can finish a draft, you’ll never write a better one. Finally, keep this mantra in mind. Cross-stitch it on a pillow, put it on a post-it, get a tattoo. Good writing comes last. Don’t polish that sentence until you know it belongs, don’t perfect that scene until it’s earned its place in the book.  One last word on NaNoWriMo: If you want to do it, if you wish you could do it, if you’ve always dreamed of doing it… do it. It’s 2 hours a day for 30 days. You can find them. You can make it happen. But… you’re the only one who can.  If the idea of being a book coach niggles at you every time you hear anything about our sponsor, Author Accelerator, I have good news: they’ve fully revised and updated both the fiction and non-fiction book coach certification program. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. But maybe you’ve got no doubt it’s a great program—you’re just not sure if book coaching right for YOU, or if you can pull it off. Well, Author Accelerator wants it to be the right call for you, too. They’re offering a $99 5-day challenge all about getting your business idea out of your head and onto the page—but #AmWriting listeners get it for half off. Head to bookcoaches.com/podcast and enter the code PODCAST at checkout for 50% off. bookcoaches.com/podcast And if you’re asking yourself—so why charge for the challenge, if they want it to be right for me too? Because if you pony up, you’ll really DO it. So if it’s time to stop dreaming and start acting, there you go.  I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids—and it works. 
10/13/202322 minutes, 3 seconds
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379: A Million Little Pieces that can Make or Break a Speaking Engagement: Episode 279

Hello #AmWriters! Jess here. I have been getting a lot of messages via the #AmWriting Facebook group and email about details that can make or break a speaking engagement. I like having a podcast episode to point these people to, so here’s the podcast episode I wish I’d had before I received my first invitation to speak.  We talk negotiation, fees, contracts (while remembering that while I went to law school I remember precious little so this is not legal advice), problem-solving, bad hotels, great hotels, flights, and reimbursement. Plus a lot more.  As always, I hope this is useful to you, and happy speaking!  If the idea of being a book coach niggles at you every time you hear anything about our sponsor, Author Accelerator, I have good news: they’ve fully revised and updated both the fiction and non-fiction book coach certification program. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. But maybe you’ve got no doubt it’s a great program—you’re just not sure if book coaching right for YOU, or if you can pull it off. Well, Author Accelerator wants it to be the right call for you, too. They’re offering a $99 5-day challenge all about getting your business idea out of your head and onto the page—but #AmWriting listeners get it for half off. Head to bookcoaches.com/podcast and enter the code PODCAST at checkout for 50% off. bookcoaches.com/podcast And if you’re asking yourself—so why charge for the challenge, if they want it to be right for me too? Because if you pony up, you’ll really DO it. So if it’s time to stop dreaming and start acting, there you go.  I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids—and it works. 
10/6/202349 minutes, 2 seconds
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378: Six Seasons in One Episode: Cookbooks as Memoir with Gesine Bullock-Prado, Ep 378

I’ve been wanting to talk cookbook writing with Gesine Bullock-Prado for some time now, and was thrilled to get the chance to sit in her home and baking school in what was once Freegrace Tavern, built in 1794. Portraits of Freegrace and Jerusha hang in the entryway, overseeing (and judging?) all visitors to the house (pic below). You can find Gesine at her website, where you will also find information about her baking school, Sugar Glider Kitchen. Warning: her classes sell out almost immediately, so you’d better sign up for her emails and have good reflexes. Of course you can find My Vermont Table at all the usual places, but please choose your local independent bookseller if you can. If your fall could use a little witchy reading fun, you should hop online or over to your favorite bookstore and order a copy of KJ’s latest, Playing the Witch Card. Think grown-up Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic, with a family deck of troublesome Tarot cards stalking a new generation. You’ve listened to KJ talk about getting the work done—now go check out the result, and pick up a copy for a friend, too. Guaranteed fall vibe, no pumpkin spice necessary. Bookshop.org Amazon Barnes&Noble Still North Books and Bar Enrollment is now open for Author Accelerator’s new and improved fiction book coach certification program! Turn your love of reading into a career you love with a self-paced program you can access from anywhere. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids.  Learn more and enroll now at bookcoaches.com/podcast.  More interested in nonfiction? The nonfiction certification program launches next month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast and sign up for their newsletter to stay in-the-know.
9/29/202346 minutes, 5 seconds
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377: Writing for Tweendom: Jamie Sumner on writing difficult topics and the glory of middle grade fiction

Jess here! Jamie Sumner and I talked over the summer about her middle grade books, mainly because I’m a fan. She does not shy away from difficult topics - substance use disorder, financial insecurity, physical disability, autism, and anxiety. She’s been on the show before (here’s her first interview) but I had to have her on to talk about her new book, Maid for It, out September 5, 2023. Jamie’s website: https://jamie-sumner.com #AmReading Jamie: The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid Jess: The Fires of Vesuvius by Mary Beard Pompeii by Robert Harris If your fall could use a little witchy reading fun, you should hop online or over to your favorite bookstore and order a copy of KJ’s latest, Playing the Witch Card. Think grown-up Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic, with a family deck of troublesome Tarot cards stalking a new generation. You’ve listened to KJ talk about getting the work done—now go check out the result, and pick up a copy for a friend, too. Guaranteed fall vibe, no pumpkin spice necessary. Bookshop.org Amazon Barnes&Noble Still North Books and Bar Enrollment is now open for Author Accelerator’s new and improved fiction book coach certification program! Turn your love of reading into a career you love with a self-paced program you can access from anywhere. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids.  Learn more and enroll now at bookcoaches.com/podcast.  More interested in nonfiction? The nonfiction certification program launches next month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast and sign up for their newsletter to stay in-the-know.
9/22/202355 minutes, 11 seconds
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376: Flinging a Fall Book out into the world

Sarina’s on the struggle bus. Jess is back to non-fiction and killing it on TikTok. KJ’s in book launch mode and also killing it on TikTok. Want to help share Playing the Witch Card with the world? Everything you need is here (and this is also something every author should do, every time). Also, BUY MY BOOK. (This is KJ, can you tell?) You’ll like it. I promise. So will your mother, daughter, sister, partner and next door neighbor.  Bookshop.org Amazon Barnes&Noble Still North Books and Bar #AmReading KJ: Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson (for more about my Barnes and Noble visit, check out my free #AmReading weekly email of book recs—and subscribe! #AmReading i know I'm not supposed to love this place but TL;DR: you need to shop in a big bookstore sometimes or you’ll never stumble across anything new and SOME OF YOU HAVE NOT YET PRE-ORDERED Playing the Witch Card so DO. Signed Copies Barnes&Noble Amazon… Read more 8 days ago · 5 likes · 2 comments · KJ Jess: Think Again, Adam Grant That’s it for the shownotes! (She who takes the screenshot times the screenshot…) Enrollment is now open for Author Accelerator’s new and improved fiction book coach certification program! Turn your love of reading into a career you love with a self-paced program you can access from anywhere. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids.  Learn more and enroll now at bookcoaches.com/podcast.  More interested in nonfiction? The nonfiction certification program launches next month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast and sign up for their newsletter to stay in-the-know. Check it out here!
9/15/202344 minutes, 49 seconds
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375: Reinvention Marketing: Selling Your Book for Years After Pub Day

Hi #AmWriters! Jess here to talk about what I’ve been up to this summer and hoping some of it proves helpful for you. That’s why we started this podcast years ago - to flatten the learning curve for other writers.  Here I am, almost a decade out from the publication of The Gift of Failure and I have this new book, The Addiction Inoculation, on a topic that can be scary to some people (substance use disorder! eeeek!) as you know, I’m always looking for ways to get books in the hands of new readers, get information into the heads of people who need to know it, and keep my speaking career afloat. This summer, I did a massive marketing re-invention because the speaking engagements that have been going particularly well are not about one book or the other, but both. I’ve been using The Gift of Failure as a Trojan Horse to get the Addiction Inoculation substance use prevention content out to audience members who need to hear it but who might be reluctant to attend a talk advertised solely as ABOUT SUBSTANCE USE PREVENTION.  Behind the scenes moment, I just texted Sarina and KJ in our group chat:  Anyway, back to marketing. I came up with some new ideas and while researching those, stumbled upon a conference aimed squarely at the people doing substance use prevention work on the ground. I decided to go to the conference to meet them and get my book into their hands, and I tell you all about how it went.  I wanted to share what I learned and some strategies that were helpful to me as well as a reminder that the success of our books does not hinge on pub day. Sure, a great pub day is helpful and can get you on one of those coveted lists, but there’s a lot to love about the slow burn book, the perennial seller, the evergreen content. #AmReading: The Woodkin by Alexander James Never Enough by Jennifer Breheny Wallace Erasing the Finish Line by Ana Homayoun Middle School Superpowers by Phyllis Fagell Growing Up in Public by Devorah Heitner Raising Empowered Athletes by Kirsten Jones Calm the Chaos by Dayna Abraham Hi! KJ here, invading Jess’s shownotes to say BUY MY BOOK. Playing the Witch Card, out 9/12/23 in US and UK. You’ll like it. I promise. So will your mother, daughter, sister, partner and next door neighbor.  Bookshop.org Amazon Barnes&Noble Still North Books and Bar Looking for Workshops Against Empire? There's been a change of plans--that will be offered in November now.  Visit susandefreitas.com to learn more. Enrollment is now open for Author Accelerator’s new and improved fiction book coach certification program! Turn your love of reading into a career you love with a self-paced program you can access from anywhere. With more than 100 hours of training, videos, case studies, and worksheets, Author Accelerator’s program teaches you the key editorial skills, client-management strategies, and tools needed to help writers reach their goals and to help you start a thriving book coaching business. I’ve been through this, and I can tell you that this is more than just an online course. You’ll take the skills you learn and apply them with real-life clients through three practicums designed to help you practice helping authors go from confusion to clarity with their novel idea. Yes, you work with real writers, yes it’s terribly nerve-wracking—but the author I worked with during one of my practicums just got a book deal with that project! This is real, kids.  Learn more and enroll now at bookcoaches.com/podcast.  More interested in nonfiction? The nonfiction certification program launches next month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcast and sign up for their newsletter to stay in-the-know. Srsly - head there now! Discover Sarina Bowen and her book marketing fun (and other neat goodies) on TikTok! Find her here!
9/8/202335 minutes, 41 seconds
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374: From Idea to Execution: Building a Book

Hi all! Jess here! Welcome to a new season! We are back with our usual #AmWriting content and I’m incredibly excited about this episode.  Seven years ago, I was speaking in the school library of a small elementary school in California - the entire event was a favor for a friend - and met a reader named Kirsten Jones. I love small events because I get to spend so much time talking with the audience members at the book signing. One of the last people to get her book signed was Kirsten, a former NCAA athlete and aspiring writer. She had this idea, she said, a Gift of Failure but for the parents of athletes. YES, I said. Write the book. We need this book. Please let me know how I can be of help to you so this book can be in the world.  Seven years later, here we are. Raising Empowered Athletes was born August 8, 2023.  In this episode, Jess and Kirsten talk about the journey from a beautiful, scary, secret idea whispered to another writer at a book event to publication day and everything in between.  Links:  Kirsten’s website  Raising Empowered Athletes at Bookshop.org If your fall could use a little witchy reading fun, you should hop online or over to your favorite bookstore and order a copy of KJ’s latest, Playing the Witch Card. Think grown-up Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic, with a family deck of troublesome Tarot cards stalking a new generation. You’ve listened to KJ talk about getting the work done—now go check out the result, and pick up a copy for a friend, too. Guaranteed fall vibe, no pumpkin spice necessary. Find your copy here! Fiction writers! If you’ve set a goal of finishing a publishable draft in a year’s time, and are looking for an in-depth resource to help you through each step of the writing and publishing process, Author Accelerator certified book coach Susan DeFreitas has an exciting new offering you don’t want to miss. Workshops Against Empire includes five courses on story structure, crafting scene, mastering POV, querying and pitching, and more, with the goal of helping you reach YOUR goal with confidence. It’s an immersive program that’s available in a variety of formats and price points, including a self-paced DIY course bundle. To learn more about the course - and the year-long group coaching program coming next year for fiction writers - visit bookcoaches.com/podcasts to sign up for a free sneak peek with Susan DeFreitas and Author Accelerator CEO Jennie Nash that promises to include tips you can use now to finally finish that work in progress. Find out more here! Want to know more about what Jess is up to? Check out her IG (and cute doggo pics for an easy cheer-me-up!) Jess is here!
9/1/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 39 seconds
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373: Never Carved in Stone: Letting Ideas Evolve

In our Idea Factory wrap-up, Jennie and I talk about the ways ideas need to change and evolve throughout the writing process—while you develop them and even in between drafts. Don’t let the idea take charge—the writer has to keep running the show. Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace is out now! I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work. Get your copy now! Want to read the first chapter of Playing the Witch Card? Then subscribe to KJ’s #AmReading email and be the first to get a sneak peek at her latest! #AmReading
8/25/202330 minutes, 13 seconds
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372: Ideas and Nonfiction: Your Book Idea Contains Multitudes

That first non-fiction book may seem easy—it’s your THING, the thing you know—but you still have to hone it down. Is it advice, information, the story of how you learned what you know? Inspirational, confrontational, aspirational? And then comes the next book. And the next. And it still always comes back to the idea. Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace is out now! I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work. Get your copy now! Are you following Sarina on Instagram? It’s full of writing inspiration with stickers and trees tracking her goals (no seriously, check it out). Find her here!
8/18/202337 minutes, 21 seconds
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371: When Good Ideas Go Bad (the most common mistakes writers make)

You’ve no doubt heard people say of non-fiction books “that should have been an article”. Not every idea can sustain an entire book or story. Many things that feel like ideas are really set-ups: what if there was a school for dragon riders? Yes, absolutely, cool, but the who and the what happens and the why do we care never go away. In this episode, we talk about turning the flicker of an idea into a full light bulb, and rescuing an idea that didn’t turn out to be quite enough. Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace is out now! I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work. Get your copy now! Have you checked out #AmReading? It’s KJ’s weekly email on books and bookish enthusiasms, and you’ll find everything from a surprising take on who’s doing the best Austen adaptations now and why to a book for anyone who felt saved and seen by their favorite childhood authors. You’ll love it! #AmReading
8/11/202340 minutes, 38 seconds
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370: Memoirs for the Marketplace: A Blueprint for Success

Part two of the memoir conversation: yes you do need an idea for a memoir. Gotta narrow things down, figure out what you want to share and why and most of all, why anyone would want to read it. There’s a difference between a memoir, and a memoir that the market will embrace—and we tell you how to find it. Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace is out now! I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work.  Get your copy now! Hey you! Are you following KJ on TikTok? YES, KJ. Please do so now. It's here!
8/4/202348 minutes, 50 seconds
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369: You Are the Protagonist (memoirs need ideas too) with Rachael Herron

But wait, isn’t a memoir a book about my life? What do you mean, I need an idea? We mean, you need an idea. Because your whole life is… really not book material. But one thematic chunk of it? One recurring event, one series of catastrophes, one relationship, one moment that changed everything?  Now you’re talking—and so are we, to the amazing Rachael Herron, host of the How Do You Write Podcast, author of Fast Draft Your Memoir and leader of a recurring, very hard to get into multi-week class of the same name. We talk about what does and doesn’t serve as memoir material and how to get from a vague glimmer of an idea to something that will carry you (and your reader) through chapter after chapter, and we quote a line from Cami Osmond: In memoir there’s the what and the so what.  Go where the sparkle is. A few assorted links from the pod: The Art of the Book Proposal, Eric Maisel Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert Broken, Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr Devotion, Inheritance, Hourglass, Slow Motion, Dani Shapiro Bittersweet, Susan Cain I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams A Life in Stitches, Rachael Herron I Miss You When I Blink, Bomb Shelter (Memoirs in Essays), Mary Laura Philpott  Essays that start light, then hit hard: Episode 312 with Mary Laura Philpott Still Writing, Dani Shapiro The Shepherd’s Life, James Rebanks Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace Is coming August 1, 2023. If you’re seeing this in July 2023, there’s a fantastic event available only to those who pre-order: a live—or recorded—deep dive into the four key steps of memoir writing, with a chance for Jennie Nash to select you for a live Hot Seat coaching session to review your work and an entry to win the Grand Prize: a written review of your Blueprint and an exclusive 50-minute strategy session with Jennie. I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work. Find all the details for the book and the pre-order event at bookcoaches.com/podcasts. Head here for deets! Hey you! Are you following Jess on TikTok? Find her here!
7/28/202344 minutes, 39 seconds
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368: How to Decide if Your Book Idea is Solid (or Solid Enough)

This is the third in our 2023 Summer Idea Factory series. Jennie Nash is back, and this time, she and I are talking about the process of testing out ideas, talking through them, and spending enough time with them to figure out if they’ll sustain you through an entire book—and if you want them to.  Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace Is coming August 1, 2023. If you’re seeing this in July 2023, there’s a fantastic event available only to those who pre-order: a live—or recorded—deep dive into the four key steps of memoir writing, with a chance for Jennie Nash to select you for a live Hot Seat coaching session to review your work and an entry to win the Grand Prize: a written review of your Blueprint and an exclusive 50-minute strategy session with Jennie. I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work. Find all the details for the book and the pre-order event at bookcoaches.com/podcasts. Head here for deets! Are you on TikTik? Check out Sarina’s feed for plenty of examples of great book promotion fun! Find Sarina here!
7/21/202335 minutes, 27 seconds
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367: The Airport Game (or, how to come up with 8 ideas on a 3 hour long flight)

THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING EVER. Jennie Nash and I (KJ here) are talking ideas this summer: getting them, keeping them, taking them from baby spark idea to big-enough-to-hold-a draft idea. In this episode, I lay out my favorite technique for forcing myself to do two things: thing of something beyond the single spark I’m attached to at any given moment and take all of the sparks I can generate and push them harder until they get to a point where they might just stand on their own. I hope you like it as much as I do. If you play the airport game, I’d love to hear about it! Just reply to this email and tell me how it went.  Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace Is coming August 1, 2023. If you’re seeing this in July 2023, there’s a fantastic event available only to those who pre-order: a live—or recorded—deep dive into the four key steps of memoir writing, with a chance for Jennie Nash to select you for a live Hot Seat coaching session to review your work and an entry to win the Grand Prize: a written review of your Blueprint and an exclusive 50-minute strategy session with Jennie. I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work. Find all the details for the book and the pre-order event at bookcoaches.com/podcasts. If you’re big on scrolling Instagram, why not give Jess a follow? Warning: addictive puppy pics ahead! Find Jess here
7/14/202347 minutes, 16 seconds
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366: Welcome to the Idea Factory (Good Writing Comes Last, Part 2)

Writers, I have IDEAS. Usually a lot of them. 99% of them go nowhere. You can feel me bubbling over with ideas in every episode and even in the title of many episodes. There is so much I always want to say. Like me, Jennie Nash is an idea cannon. So between us, we come up with a lot of plans. This is all to say that first: this episode, and the 7 “Idea Factory” episodes that follow, are the result of one such idea. At the beginning of this year, I (It’s KJ here) was deciding on what to do for what I hope will be my fourth novel, and Jennie and I got to talking, as we often do, about the difference between a “spark” and an actual, full on IDEA. In this episode, we talk about what makes a full idea and why it’s so fantastic, in memoir, fiction and non-fiction, to have that idea in hand before you start writing a book—or why, when you hit a wall in drafting, the answer often involves going back and figuring out what that idea was in the first place.  It’s the first of 8 Idea Factory Episodes that will take us through my process for coming up with ideas, kicking their tires, and letting them evolve in fiction as well as involve sitting down with guests to talk more in depth about non-fiction and memoir ideas (because yes, you need an “idea” even for a book that’s based on your own life. Every time I sit down to write, I wish it were easier. One of my most common thoughts is that I wish there were an instruction book. I was a gold star student back in the day. Just tell me how many words to write and about what, teach! I’m on it. Sadly writing doesn’t work that way—but Jennie Nash’s books, Blueprint for a Book and Blueprint for Nonfiction, really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach. They give me tools to figure out the answers to questions that I’ve been known to avoid, like “why now” and “why does the reader care”.  But even more than that, the Blueprints serve as a reminder that while writing a book is hard, it’s do-able. It’s not magic, and there’s no muse. There’s just going at it, again and again, until you get it done. Blueprint for a Book and Blueprint for Nonfiction are available on Amazon and you can pre-order her newest: Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace—coming August 1. Pre-order that one, and there’s a super cool bonus. Preorder now Pssst: if you love #AmWriting, kick in some $$ to support us and get bonuses and appreciation. Lots of appreciation! Subscribe now
7/7/202339 minutes, 34 seconds
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365: How to Start a Novel (and keep going) Episode 365

I did a call with a writer this week who really is just getting started, with a few short stories finished and dreams of the future, and after we talked at probably unnecessary length about the fundamental truth that writing is hard and you have to actually DO it, not just think about it and plan for it, so annoying, she asked me how I start a new project*.  This episode is my answer, pretty much—because I’ve just done exactly that. My first outline document for the book I’m working on is dated 2/15; I opened a scrivener doc in March, there were 3 chapters in early April and I’m heading to the finish line on the first draft as I write (which would be quite fast for me so please do note that it’s a very very very first draft).  So I have just started. Here’s how. And here are links to last year’s Blueprint for a Book series, in which Jennie Nash and I talked about all the stages of starting all the things: Find Your Why: Blueprint for a Book Step 1 What's Your Point? Blueprint for a Book Step 2 Who Will Read My Book? Know Your Market: Blueprint for a Book Step 3 Your Jacket Copy is Your Promise to the Reader: Blueprint for a Book Step 4 There Must Be Change: Blueprint for a Book Step 5 What's the Structure of Your Narrative? Blueprint for a Book Step 6 How to Drive that Narrative Forward: Blueprint for a Book Step 7 One Outline to Rule Them All (Even if You Hate Outlining): Blueprint for a Book Step 8 But Does this Book Work? Blueprint for a Book Step 9 How to Go From Planning a Book to Writing One: Blueprint for a Book Step 10 And—starting next week—a whole summer series on getting the IDEA, refining it, testing it, poking it and revising it. You’re gonna love it.  *And then she asked how to get an agent because… we are who we are, and everyone asks that! LINKS The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction, Erik Bork Save the Cat Writes a Novel, Jessica Brody Blueprint for a Book, Jennie Nash #AmWriting Prewriting Episode 178 #WriteFaster Rachael Herron’s How Do You Write Podcast episode 376 with David Ellis If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Show me more! Do you get KJ’s Box of Chocolates email—for erratic doses of books and enthusiasms? If not, what are you waiting for? Sign up here
6/30/202324 minutes, 24 seconds
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Summer Reading for Writers (plus a #FlashbackFriday: Episode 269)

Two years ago, Jennie Nash and I (this is KJ) got into a debate about what was the best, most helpful book for a writer’s bookshelf. Almost instantly we realized that we couldn’t choose just one (although if we could, I suspect it’s Save the Cat Writes a Novel for me and Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit for Jennie, but even as I write that I’m having second thoughts in favor of Big Magic but I’m just SO ANNOYED with her right now because of the whole take-back-my-book thing) and, yeah.  Anyway. It’s summer reading time, and to my summer reading list I’ve added a few books about writing, starting with Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act: A Way of Being and, yes. Twyla Tharp’s book (it’s taken me this long to get over my resistance but JENNIE IS ALWAYS RIGHT about these things) and adding, for a practical note, Save the Cat Strikes Back by Blake Snyder and The Trope Thesaurus from Jennifer Hilt. (Want my non-professional summer reading list? Subscribe to #AmReading.)  If you’re looking to add to your own professional summer reading, you can’t do better than going back to the series of summer episodes that Jennie and I recorded as a result of that first debate. They’re all listed and linked below, along with the books we discussed, and I’m putting the first of them (Episode 269) here—in which we debate, yes, Big Magic versus The Creative Habit. Since then, Jennie’s published two Blueprint for a Book books: one each for fiction and nonfiction and, coming later this summer, memoir. They’re all EXCELLENT and highly recommended as well. Working Bookshelf Episodes: Inspiration (Big Magic versus The Creative Habit) Plotting (Save the Cat Writes a Novel versus The Situation and the Story) Productivity (Productivity with Deep Work versus From 2K to 10K) Up Your Game (The Practice versus The Bestseller Code) When You're Stuck (The War of Art versus Dear Writer You Need to Quit) Getting Published (The Essential Guide to Getting Published versus 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might) Writing While White (The Anti Racist Writing Workshop, Craft in the Real World, Writing the Other) When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This (Start with Why versus How to Write an Autobiographical Novel) Writer Comfort Reads (Bird by Bird versus Making a Literary Life) Editing (Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative versus Blueprint for a Book) If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Show me more! Hey - are you following Sarina on Instagram? It’s a great place for romance goodness (and check out her (Surprise!) billboard at 34th and 7th Ave!). Find Sarina here!
6/23/202330 minutes, 50 seconds
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364: Satire: writing just below "over-the-top" with Jane Roper Episode 364

The book is The Society of Shameand one of the many, many ways you can tell it’s satire is that it keeps making people who don’t get it mad. Satire is fiction, hopped up on humor and then amped up by all the things that seem like they couldn't quite happen and yet you know they might. (Another commonality of good satire? The most outrageous bits are often the ones that come straight from the headlines.  The author is Jane Roper, who is also the author of a memoir, Double Time: How I Survived–and Mostly Thrived–Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins, another novel, Eden Lake, numerous personal essays and humor pieces, and a very eclectic Substack, Jane’s Calamity.  She MAY be the first graduate of the famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop to appear on the pod, and we talk about that, as well as the parenting memoir ghetto. But mostly we’re focused on satire—what it is, how it’s really playing with fire, and why it still needs heart.  A few other satires mentioned: Dietland, Sarai Walker The Startup Wife, Tahmima Anam #AmReading Jane: The One, Julia Argy Daughters of Nantucket, Julie Gerstenblatt KJ: Ms. Demeanor, Elinor Lipman Find Jane on Instagram - @writerjaneroper If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Show me more! If you love #AmWriting, kick in some $$ to support us and get bonuses (and appreciation!). Subscribe now
6/16/202341 minutes, 31 seconds
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363: How to Hate Your Work and Also Sell It-- at the same time. Episode 363

Howdy from KJ’s office, where I’m trapped because outside these doors, an angry child lies in wait, ready to tell me all I’ve done wrong as a parent over lo these many years. Good thing I had Jess and Sarina to keep me company while we talk about marketing, selling, navigating the socials, blurbing and asking for blurbs and reading blurbs and oh, still writing the whole time. Links from the pod: The Flying Pig The Chain, Adrian McKinty On Good Authority, Anna David The Eragon series, Christopher Paolini Good As Gold, Sarina Bowen Jess’s daily videos  I’m not linking the dumb lounge chair I’m sorry. #AmReading Jess: On Good Authority, Anna David KJ: Yellowface, R.F. Kuang (The Plot, Who Is Maud Dixon, The Writing Retreat) (note—I wrote more about this in the #AmReading Substack HERE —link also below.) Sarina: We All Want Impossible Things, Catherine Newman Ghosts of the Orphanage, Christine Keneally #AmReading If you love writers behaving badly Give me ALL the writers behaving badly. Stealing, plagiarizing, stalking, stabbing one another in the back—in books, mind you, not in my real life—and I will read them, savoring every shadenfreudian moment. (Apparently that’s not a word but it should be and I’m leaving it… Read more 11 days ago · 3 likes · 2 comments · KJ If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Show me more! Hey! Hey you! Are you looking for more book recs? You are going to want to check out KJ’s Bookstagram and her many reasons why you want to pick up that book… Find it here!
6/9/202338 minutes, 21 seconds
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362: Talking Fat Talk and Substack Success: Episode 362 with Virginia Sole-Smith

SO. Virginia’s Substack—here it is right here—which also features a podcast, went from 700 people to 4500 people to 28K subscribers. BEFORE her new book, Fat Talk, hit the NYT best-seller list. Wouldn’t you like to hear how? We’ve got you covered. Replicating her success? Well, that’s never the way it works. But everything we learn helps.  Links from the pod: FAT TALK: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture @v_solesmith on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America #AmReading Virginia: Momfluenced, Sara Petersen More Than You’ll Ever Know, Katie Gutierrez How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, Angie Cruz KJ: Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Show me more! Hey reader - have you followed Jess on TikTok yet? She publishes videos daily and might just be the resource you need. Find her here
6/2/202355 minutes, 31 seconds
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Flashback Friday: Episode 288 with Joni Cole

How do I find a writing group and what if they’re mean? That’s a question we get asked a lot, and we always encourage writers to reach out in our Facebook group or boldly throw it out there anywhere else online that you hang out and see what happens. You don’t even have to trade pages to be a writing group. You look for the kind of support and camaraderie you need. But if you’ve ever thought of hying yourself off to your local version of Grub Street or our local spot for in-person writer-ness, The Writer’s Center to find your people—or possibly starting an in-person writer-connection-thing of your own, then you’ll want to listen to my conversation with Joni Cole, founder of said Writer’s Center and the author of Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive—which is just freshly out in a revised version, which is why we’re bringing this convo back to you now! This new version has half a dozen new chapters, plus new interviews with famous authors who share their own feedback stories--from the inspiring to the deranged. The new chapters cover issues such as: -- how to overcome imposter syndrome;  -- how to catch yourself when you're resisting feedback that you really need to hear;  -- how to receive and offer feedback on particularly difficult or delicate story material; -- and one whopper of a story on how to negotiate with your publisher when you absolutely hate their proposed cover of your book (See chapter entitled "Fifty Shades of Writing").  Joni is also the author of Good Naked, and the This Day series, which collects diary entries from women all across the United States on a single day, and the host of the podcast Author, Can I Ask You. Joni and I talk starting writing groups, running them, keeping it positive and making sure you don’t lose your own work in the process of helping others. Links from the pod Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway The Place Between Breaths by An Na #AmReading Joni: Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch American Dialogue by Joseph J. Ellis Less by Andrew Sean Greer Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses (KJ and Jennie discussed Craft in the Real World in Episode 275: Writing While White (or otherwise part of the historically dominant paradigm)) KJ: Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit Find Joni: jonibcole.com The Writer’s Center in White River Junction, VT Are you itching for a career change but struggling to figure out that next chapter? By now, you’ve probably heard us talk about book coaching—how much we love being coached, and how much I loved my coach training.  Book coaches help writers bring their dreams to life through support, feedback, project management, and accountability at each step of the book writing and publishing process.  Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, organizational, and people skills needed to launch your own thriving book coaching business. To find out if book coaching is the right career for you, Author Accelerator is launching a new 5-day challenge to help you envision your new chapter. In their $99 One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan, you’ll narrow down your business idea, your ideal client, your ideal service, and more.  Enrollment opens May 15th and runs through the end of the month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcasts and enter the code PODCAST at checkout to get 50-percent off the One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan Challenge. bookcoaches.com/podcasts  Trying to find your TikTok Groove (or just looking for more happily-ever-afters for your TBR)? Make sure you check out Sarina’s TikTok Check it out here Psst: if you subscribe to the shownotes, you’ll get #AmWriting episodes straight to your inbox. Double points if you subscribe with $$. Subscribe now
5/26/20231 hour, 1 minute, 11 seconds
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361: Scrivener Tips: It's only taken Jess 361 episodes to deliver on her promise

Jess here. I know, I KNOW. I’ve been meaning to get to this for ages but who has time to just sit and watch videos about software? Not me. However, last week Sarina told me about some of her Scrivener tricks and I realized it’s time. I put my butt in the chair and scrolled through ALL of the Scrivener YouTube videos (for Mac) and searched on #scrivener #scrivenertips and a few other hashtags on TikTok, and I have to admit, I learned a lot. I’m no guru, but I’ve solved some problems I was having with the app. I hope my time spent learning this stuff can flatten your learning curve so you can get on with the words!  Links: Scrivener Scrivener on YouTube Are you itching for a career change but struggling to figure out that next chapter? By now, you’ve probably heard us talk about book coaching—how much we love being coached, and how much I loved my coach training.  Book coaches help writers bring their dreams to life through support, feedback, project management, and accountability at each step of the book writing and publishing process.  Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, organizational, and people skills needed to launch your own thriving book coaching business. To find out if book coaching is the right career for you, Author Accelerator is launching a new 5-day challenge to help you envision your new chapter. In their $99 One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan, you’ll narrow down your business idea, your ideal client, your ideal service, and more.  Enrollment opens May 15th and runs through the end of the month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcasts and enter the code PODCAST at checkout to get 50-percent off the One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan Challenge. bookcoaches.com/podcasts  Have you followed Jess on IG yet? There’s cute puppy pics, educational reels, and of course - little glimpses into life in Vermont. Check it out here! Not subscribed to our shownotes yet? You should be—sometimes we send surprises! And we’d love it if you choose to $$ support the pod. Subscribe now
5/19/202331 minutes, 27 seconds
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360: Summoning My Accountability Buddies: Because Sometimes Writers Need Deadlines, ep 360

Jess here. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I know how my brain works, which is to say it doesn’t, unless a hard and fast deadline looms large in my calendar. I’ve been known to tell my agent or editor to expect chapters on a given day, or I plan to have a completed book proposal to her by X date three weeks hence, but this spring, I’ve decided to call in my writer reinforcements.  I summoned KJ and Sarina to a study room in the Howe Library in Hanover, NH on a very rainy day in late April because I needed their help. I needed them to hold me to dates and words and pages, and without being prompted, they pulled out their planners and dutifully asked me what dates to circle in brightly colored ink. I now have deadlines, and actual human beings to bug me about them, for various stages of my novel-in-progress, and I will not - can not - let them down.  This, dear listeners, is what accountability buddies are for.  Come along for the ride and, as a bonus, learn about all kinds of Scrivener tools and tricks I plan to employ along the way.  “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” - Terry Pratchett Links: Scrivener, in case you are one of the unconverted.  #AmReading Jess: Sarina Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers series (and Jess’ comfort reads) Underland by Robert Macfarlane A review of Underland by Robert Macfarlane (by Terry Tempest Williams) in the New York Times.  Sarina: Happy Place by Emily Henry KJ: The Candid Life of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel Sarina’s progress trees: Jess’ Accountability Bunny: Accountability buddies: Are you itching for a career change but struggling to figure out that next chapter? By now, you’ve probably heard us talk about book coaching—how much we love being coached, and how much I loved my coach training.  Book coaches help writers bring their dreams to life through support, feedback, project management, and accountability at each step of the book writing and publishing process.  Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, organizational, and people skills needed to launch your own thriving book coaching business. To find out if book coaching is the right career for you, Author Accelerator is launching a new 5-day challenge to help you envision your new chapter. In their $99 One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan, you’ll narrow down your business idea, your ideal client, your ideal service, and more.  Enrollment opens May 15th and runs through the end of the month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcasts and enter the code PODCAST at checkout to get 50-percent off the One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan Challenge. bookcoaches.com/podcasts  Do you get KJ’s Box of Chocolates email—for erratic doses of books and enthusiasms? If not - what are you waiting for? Sign up now Not subscribed to our shownotes yet? You should be—sometimes we send surprises! And we’d love it if you choose to $$ support the pod. Subscribe now
5/12/202333 minutes, 17 seconds
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359: Dealing with Goal Fatigue What to Do When the Goals Aren't Getting You Anywhere, Ep. 359

Dana Bowman is the author How to Be Perfect Like Me and Bottled Up: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery. She was the 2016 recipient of the Kansas Notable Book Award, making her the only podcast guest to share that distinction with me. What else do we share? The experience of feeling a level of exhaustion with the goals we’ve set for ourselves and the need to find our way back into the work.  Links from the Pod Clifton Strengths The highly competitive Kansas Notable Book Award! Jon Acuff Becky Blades episode #347, Start More than You Can Finish: Redefining failure #AmReading Dana: Vacationland, Meg Mitchell Moore Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, Katherine Morgan Schafler Four Tendencies, Gretchen Rubin KJ: The Society of Shame, Jane Roper Mentioned: Life in Five Senses, Gretchen Rubin Are you itching for a career change but struggling to figure out that next chapter? By now, you’ve probably heard us talk about book coaching—how much we love being coached, and how much I loved my coach training.  Book coaches help writers bring their dreams to life through support, feedback, project management, and accountability at each step of the book writing and publishing process.  Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, organizational, and people skills needed to launch your own thriving book coaching business. To find out if book coaching is the right career for you, Author Accelerator is launching a new 5-day challenge to help you envision your new chapter. In their $99 One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan, you’ll narrow down your business idea, your ideal client, your ideal service, and more.  Enrollment opens May 15th and runs through the end of the month! Visit bookcoaches.com/podcasts and enter the code PODCAST at checkout to get 50-percent off the One-Page Book Coaching Business Plan Challenge. bookcoaches.com/podcasts  Do you like book recs and achievement stickers? Sarina Bowen’s Instagram might be right up your alley! Check it out here! Not subscribed to our shownotes yet? You should be—sometimes we send surprises! And we’d love it if you choose to $$ support the pod. Subscribe here!
5/5/202343 minutes, 41 seconds
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Flashback Friday: Jodi Kantor Chases the Truth

Jess here! This week, I’m coming to you from somewhere in Indiana, tired but happy. Getting out on the road and speaking to students, teachers, and communities is both exhausting and incredibly invigorating, and this week I got to speak to a classroom of student writers, kids who are just learning about the basics of researching, writing, and even podcasting. There’s nothing I love more.  When I’m in these classrooms, and especially when I’m talking to kids looking to change the world by writing for their school papers as they dream about breaking big stories like the Harvey Weinstein saga, I always recommend Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey’s essential text, Chasing the Truth: A Young Journalist’s Guide to Investigative Reporting.  Enjoy!  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 version will be out this November. Now, Jodi and Megan offer the lessons of their investigation - the process involved and the rules that governed its publication - to student journalists so they may be inspired and informed. I (Jess) got to talk to Jodi Kantor about the book they created for those young journalists, Chasing the Truth: A Young Journalist’s Guide to Investigative Reporting. Links from the Pod: #AmWriting Facebook group If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com If you love #AmWriting, kick in some $$ to support us and get bonuses and appreciation. Subscribe now
4/28/202341 minutes, 35 seconds
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358: Intoxication for Inspiration: Do drugs and alcohol unleash the muses? Episode 358

As a former member of the “write drunk, edit sober” club, I thought it might be interesting to look at the research on alcohol, weed, stimulants and their effect on creativity so we can figure out what’s working for us, what’s not, and weigh the pros and cons of intoxication for inspiration. I cite a few studies in this episode and, for the #AmReading segment, share a few of my favorite books on the topic of writing and intoxication.  A fun article about the Delphic Oracle in the New York Times Research Cited: “Alcohol Benefits the Creative Process: being moderately intoxicated gets people to think ‘outside the box.’” “Cannabis Use Does Not Increase Actual Creativity but Biases Evaluations of Creativity” Heng, Y. T., Barnes, C. M., & Yam, K. C. (2023). Journal of Applied Psychology, 108(4), 635–646.  "Neurocognitive, Autonomic, and Mood Effects of Adderall: A Pilot Study of Healthy College Students" Weyandt, Lisa L., Tara L. White, Bergljot Gyda Gudmundsdottir, Adam Z. Nitenson, Emma S. Rathkey, Kelvin A. De Leon, and Stephanie A. Bjorn. 2018. Pharmacy 6, no. 3: 58. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy6030058 #AmReading: Books on intoxication, writing, and recovery mentioned in the episode The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing Home Before Dark: A Biographical Memoir of John Cheever. by His Daughter by Susan Cheever Note Found in a Bottle: My Life As a Drinker by Susan Cheever Drinking in America: Our Secret History by Susan Cheever The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery by Neil Steinberg and Sara Bader If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Are you looking for some fun reads to pass the time between episodes? Then you should check out KJ’s Bookstagram! Show me the Books!
4/21/202336 minutes, 4 seconds
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357: The Anxious Writer: Turning fears into superpowers. Episode 357

Actually, there is no action without anxiety. We all feel it, and we’re all driven by it—and almost no one is completely at peace with it. Morra Aarons-Mele, author of The Anxious Achiever and Hiding in the Bathroom: How to Get Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), has been working for years to normalize those feelings and the spectrum on which they appear to bring mental health struggles out into the open and encourage people to rethink the relationship between their mental health and their success. We talk about harnessing every degree of anxiety and finding ways to keep going—and even go better—when things get hard. LINKS FROM THE POD The Anxious Achiever Hiding in the Bathroom: How to Get Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home) The Anxious Achiever Podcast Morra Aarons-Mele Using tropes and genres like a pro: Ep 334 with Alexis Hall #AmReading Morra: Robertson Davies The Deptford Trilogy, The Cornish Trilogy Which sent us onto a tangent that included: Peter Orner, author of Still No Word From You, Katie Crouch, author of Embassy Wife, Andy Borowitz of The Borowitz Report, Sarah Stewart Taylor, author of A Stolen Child and The Drowning Sea who appeared on the podcast in episode 298 and Lisa Christie’s The Book Jam, which hosted the event KJ refers to along with her podcast, Shelf Help, and then another podcast, This Jungian Life. KJ: The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Hey listener - have you followed Jess on TikTok yet?  Find her here!
4/14/202339 minutes, 59 seconds
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356: Writerly Tech: the hardware, the software and the why. Episode 356

We’ll admit it. We like our writerly gear. We get a little rush from visiting our favorite Vermont stationery store together. (In fact, we just did this last week.) But in all seriousness, we spend a lot of time on this job, so it’s good to figure out what works for us. Today Sarina takes us through her novel-writing tech stack. She covers hardware, software and the “why” behind the tools she chooses.  Links for some of Sarina’s tech:  Scrivener Keychron K series Keyboard Inexpensive ergonomic mouse Campus binders with removable pages and extra paper Remarkable 2 Otter.ai app What’s in your tech stack? Let us know in the Facebook group! If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Out of #AmWriting episodes and in need of another podcast? Check out A Bookish Home. I’ve been a guest, and it’s a delight.  Librarian and writer Laura Szaro Kopinski interviews a different author each week, so you can  Add to your TBR list while getting the inside scoop on the winding road to publication.  Coming up this spring will be Amy Poeppel, Sarah Penner, Maggie Smith and many more. Find it here on Apple podcasts or search it on your pod player of choice. Show me A Bookish Home
4/7/202318 minutes, 35 seconds
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355: In My Expert Opinion: Pitching, Prepping, and Nailing Interviews for TV and Radio

Becoming an expert takes years of work and many of you have asked how you can take that expertise out for a spin in the media. I don’t blame you. From the moment the my first Atlantic article, “Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail” went viral in 2013, I was eager to get on television and radio so I could talk about my work, stir up interest in my topics, and hopefully maximize my chances of selling a book on the topic. One decade and two books later, I still pitch producers all the time about a range of topics, and I’ve learned some things.  Sit back, relax, and let’s talk pitching, prepping your topic, and securing media spots on television and radio so you can become one of those go-to experts producers seek out over and over again.  If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Out of #AmWriting episodes and in need of another podcast? Check out A Bookish Home. I’ve been a guest, and it’s a delight.  Librarian and writer Laura Szaro Kopinski interviews a different author each week, so you can  Add to your TBR list while getting the inside scoop on the winding road to publication.  Coming up this spring will be Amy Poeppel, Sarah Penner, Maggie Smith and many more. Find it here on Apple podcasts or search it on your pod player of choice. Show me A Bookish Home
3/31/202338 minutes, 49 seconds
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354: Good Writing Comes Last: the form and function of a solid book outline, episode 354

Jess here, because I hate outlining. Hate it. It sounds boring and feels like an assignment, writing stripped of all flow and joy. I asked KJ and Sarina to help me with this problematic mindset, because my novel in progress clearly needs a solid outline and yet every time I go back to work on it, I feel irritated, frustrated and blocked.  Thank goodness for my accountability buddies, because they came through for me in this episode. In fact, the moment we logged off the Zoom call, I got back to work, refreshed, refocused, and engaged in the process of storytelling.  Resources Jennie Nash and Author Accelerator Save the Cat Writes a Novel #AmReading Jess: I’ve been watching Daisy Jones and the Six on Amazon Prime and re-listening to the audiobook, which features Jennifer Beals as Daisy. I needed more Taylor Jenkins Reid, so I finally downloaded the audio of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which I’m really enjoying. (Also mentioned: Carrie Soto Is Back, Malibu Rising) KJ: Amy Poppel’s The Sweet Spot If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Hey you - yea, you! Are you following Sarina on Tiktok?  Find her here! Out of #AmWriting episodes and in need of another podcast? Check out A Bookish Home. I’ve been a guest, and it’s a delight.  Librarian and writer Laura Szaro Kopinski interviews a different author each week, so you can  Add to your TBR list while getting the inside scoop on the winding road to publication.  Coming up this spring will be Amy Poeppel, Sarah Penner, Maggie Smith and many more. Find it here on Apple podcasts or search it on your pod player of choice.
3/24/202337 minutes, 28 seconds
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Sensitivity Reader Reboot: looking your topic from all the angles, with Jordan Shapiro and Jazz

Recently, someone on Twitter asked if sensitivity readers are still a resource writers utilize and where to find them. Yes indeed, sensitivity readers are still a great resource, and since we interviewed Jordan Shapiro and a sensitivity reader he worked with on his book, Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad. I hope you enjoy this re-airing of episode 266 the #AmWriting podcast.  Hey all, Jess here. When I agreed to read and blurb Jordan Shapiro’s new book, Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad, I was struck by the attention he paid to inclusivity and the language he used to describe it. When I mentioned it to him, he told me he’d used a sensitivity reader named Jazz to ensure he got the language right. Sensitivity readers are becoming more of a norm in publishing. Jodi Picoult has tweeted about how much she depends on hers to get her descriptions, language, and representation right in her books articles like this one in the Guardian and this one in Vulture are great primers on the topic. We asked Jordan and Jazz to join us to talk about the experience of working together to create Father Figure. #AmReading Jazz: What's Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She by Dennis Baron Jordan: Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro KJ: Conjure Women by Afia Atakora Jess: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Out of #AmWriting episodes and in need of another podcast? Check out A Bookish Home. I’ve been a guest, and it’s a delight.  Librarian and writer Laura Szaro Kopinski interviews a different author each week, so you can  Add to your TBR list while getting the inside scoop on the winding road to publication.  Coming up this spring will be Amy Poeppel, Sarah Penner, Maggie Smith and many more. Find it here on Apple podcasts or search it on your pod player of choice. Show me A Bookish Home
3/17/202347 minutes, 23 seconds
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353: Unraveling Nonfiction Research and Writing: Episode 353 with Peggy Orenstein

This week, Jess and KJ talk to journalist, author, and lifelong knitter Peggy Orenstein about research, nonfiction writing, expertise, and examining the unexamined in ordinary life. Peggy’s newest book is , Unraveling: What I Learned About Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World’s Ugliest Sweater. Peggy’s TED Talk: What Young Women Believe About Their Own Sexual Pleasure Why Fish Don’t Exist, by Lulu Miller Etymology of the term “woolgathering” Etymology of the term “spinster”  The Revolutionary Power of a Skein of Yarn, Unraveling excerpt in the New York Times.  Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind and Omnivore’s Dilemma #AmReading Peggy: KJ’s Playing the Witch Card, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver Jess: Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz and The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo KJ: Geneology of a Murder: Four Generations, Three Families, One Fateful Night by Lisa Belkin Also mentioned: The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at www.mainelymemoir.com Have you followed Jess on IG yet? You really should! Find her here! Out of #AmWriting episodes and in need of another podcast? Check out A Bookish Home. I’ve been a guest, and it’s a delight.  Librarian and writer Laura Szaro Kopinski interviews a different author each week, so you can  Add to your TBR list while getting the inside scoop on the winding road to publication.  Coming up this spring will be Amy Poeppel, Sarah Penner, Maggie Smith and many more. Find it here on Apple podcasts or search it on your pod player of choice. Show me A Bookish Home
3/10/202341 minutes, 34 seconds
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352: How to Write a Novel in Three Months, Sarina-Style (Episode 352)

Hey all! Today Sarina brings you a fun but tricky topic: how to write a novel in three months.  Should you do it? Maybe. It depends on the book. Not every book can or should be written in 90 days.  But if you’re game to try, Sarina gives you:  4 things you need to know about the book before you start 5 tips for writing scenes more quickly 3 things to try when you’re stuck Links from the Pod The Astronaut and The Star, Jen Comfort 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, Rachel Aaron Otter.ai Becca Syme’s Quitcast and her book Dear Writer, You Need to Quit.  If you love a good writing retreat—especially one that comes with good solid coaching and the chance to meet others who are working on similar projects—here’s one to check out. This fall, three Author Accelerator certified book coaches are offering Mainely Memoir, a retreat for women writers in historic Biddeford, Maine, held over three days in the gorgeous Maine woods in September, with one-on-one coaching both before and after the retreat. It’s the perfect opportunity to give yourself the gift of time and focus so that you can make real progress on your memoir this year. Find out more at Find out more here If you love #AmWriting, make sure you subscribe to get bonuses and appreciation. Subscribe now Calling all freelancers! On March 9 and 10, the Institute for Independent Journalists is offering an online freelance journalism conference with 12 information-packed interactive sessions on everything from pitching, negotiations, and contracts to podcasting and developing new revenue streams. Speakers include editors for The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, Wired, The Verge, The Emancipator, and more. Registration costs $69 for 12 live, interactive sessions, delivering 15 hours of learning. For more information and to register, see: theiij.com All sessions will be recorded and available to view for one month after the conference. The IIJ is a new organization whose mission is the financial and emotional sustainability of journalists of color. Everyone is welcome at the IIJ’s public programs, like the conference, although some future opportunities will be limited to BIPOC freelancers.
3/3/202330 minutes, 13 seconds
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351: A Workbook for Your Story: Episode 351 with Adrienne Young and Isabel Ibañez

True confession time: Sarina and I have always wanted to make something like this. I’m talking about The Storyteller’s Workbook, which is a gorgeous combination of structural writing guide and writing bullet journal created by Isabel Ibañez, the author of Woven in Moonlight and Written in Starlight, a fantasy YA series that’s a hit with TikTok and Time Magazine both as well as a designer whose work you’ve seen while drooling in the paper sections of stores like Anthropologie and Adrienne Young, the New York Times and international bestselling author of the Sky and Sea duology and the Fable series whose first “adult book”, Spells for Forgetting, came out last fall. (That’s in quotes because who are we kidding, adults read the heck out of her earlier work.) The episode is fun, all about making something like this—and Adrienne and Isabel’s writing processes, the examples they share and the ways the book reflects how they really work. But what you’re really here for is to see what it looks like—which is, in a word, gorgeous. If you’d use something like this, you can’t do better—the paper is nice, too, suited for any kind of pen, there’s not going be bleed-through, it lays flat… all the things.  So here it is! #AmReading Isabel: Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries, Heather Fawcett (she also mentioned The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and Uprooted by Naomi Novik)  Adrienne: Hell Bent (sequel to Ninth House), Leigh Bardugo KJ: A Dangerous Business, Jane Smiley Find Isabel & Adrienne on Instagram at: @IsabelWriter09 & @Adrienneyoungbooks Is 2023 going to be the year you finally click through and start exploring the idea of becoming a book coach? Author Accelerator’s coach certification program is good stuff, kids, I’ve done it. We’re talking editorial, project management, client intaking, and emotional skills along with the support you need to make a goof it. Wondering if you have what it takes? Here, they made you a quiz. Go see! Take the Book Coach Quiz Do you get KJ’s Box of Chocolates email—for erratic doses of books and enthusiasms? Sign up here! Calling all freelancers! On March 9 and 10, the Institute for Independent Journalists is offering an online freelance journalism conference with 12 information-packed interactive sessions on everything from pitching, negotiations, and contracts to podcasting and developing new revenue streams. Speakers include editors for The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, Wired, The Verge, The Emancipator, and more. Registration costs $69 for 12 live, interactive sessions, delivering 15 hours of learning. For more information and to register, see: theiij.com All sessions will be recorded and available to view for one month after the conference. The IIJ is a new organization whose mission is the financial and emotional sustainability of journalists of color. Everyone is welcome at the IIJ’s public programs, like the conference, although some future opportunities will be limited to BIPOC freelancers.
2/24/202342 minutes, 24 seconds
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350: Writing Three Books Without Typing a Word: Episode 350 with Leslie Hooton

As Leslie Hooton told me, “Some writers have a stroke of luck, I had a stroke at birth,” which left her paralyzed on one side of her body. Thanks to Dragon dictation (not sponsored, we’re just fans!), she’s learned to train her Dragon and “penned” three novels including her most recent release, After Everyone Else. As Jess hosts this episode, we delve into plenty of tangents on dictation, deleted text fragments, inspiration, and the wisdom of Wendell Berry. It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. - Excerpt from “The Real Work” by Wendell Berry #AmReading Leslie: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swan and Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt Jess: Unraveling: What I Learned About Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wood, and Making the Ugliest Sweater in the World by Peggy Orenstein Leslie’s links: Her website Her Facebook Her Instagram If you’ve been intrigued by all the talk you’ve heard about book coaching over the years here at #Amwriting, maybe this is your year to explore becoming a coach yourself. Author Accelerator is GOOD AT TEACHING YOU TO DO THIS. And supporting you in making a business or side-gig out of it, we swear. Here, they even made you a quiz to see if you have what it takes. Quizzes are fun, people! Go check it out! Take the Book Coach Quiz Pssst: Do you follow Sarina on Instagram? Find her here! Calling all freelancers! On March 9 and 10, the Institute for Independent Journalists is offering an online freelance journalism conference with 12 information-packed interactive sessions on everything from pitching, negotiations, and contracts to podcasting and developing new revenue streams. Speakers include editors for The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, Wired, The Verge, The Emancipator, and more. Registration costs $69 for 12 live, interactive sessions, delivering 15 hours of learning. For more information and to register, see: theiij.com All sessions will be recorded and available to view for one month after the conference. The IIJ is a new organization whose mission is the financial and emotional sustainability of journalists of color. Everyone is welcome at the IIJ’s public programs, like the conference, although some future opportunities will be limited to BIPOC freelancers.
2/17/202336 minutes, 21 seconds
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349: How to Write (More than just) Erotica: Episode 349 with Rachel Kramer Bussel

STOP. Do not think to yourself, well, I don’t want to write Erotica—why is this podcast/book for me? This conversation, and the book, How to Write Erotica, that inspires it, goes far beyond any pre-imagined specifics you have about writing scenes, stories and books focused on which bit of bodily anatomy goes where—because to write good erotica, you have to come back to the heart of writing any story (fiction, memoir, what-have-you: why this story, why this character, why now? Guest Rachel Kramer Bussel knows what makes good story, and this conversation is applicable to any writing that appeals to our senses (as all writing should) and challenges our ability to tell our truths (ditto). Links from the Pod Starr**cker Magazine on Twitter Take Me There anthology Fetlife.com Addition, Toni Jordan A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo Cheesy Boots in Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women #AmReading City of Likes, Jenny Mollen Spoiler Alert & Ship Wrecked, Olivia Dade Rachelkramerbussel.com eroticawriting101.com @raquelita on Twitter Is 2023 going to be the year you finally click through and start exploring the idea of becoming a book coach? If you’ve been intrigued by all the conversations we’ve had about book coaching over the years here at #Amwriting, maybe this is your year to make it happen. Author Accelerator’s Book Coach certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, client intaking, and emotional skills necessary to launch your own book coaching business. I’ve done it, and even after years as an editor for the New York Times, I expanded my skills dramatically, and my approach to helping others with their books, and writing my own, is so much better. The best part: no publishing experience is necessary to be good at this work. Are you curious to see if you have what it takes? Head to bookcoaches.com/podcasts now to take Author Accelerator’s free quiz to find out if you have the skills and characteristics needed to launch your own book coaching business and get paid to read books all day! Take the Book Coach Quiz If you love #AmWriting, kick in some $$ to support us and get bonuses and appreciation. Subscribe now Calling all freelancers! On March 9 and 10, the Institute for Independent Journalists is offering an online freelance journalism conference with 12 information-packed interactive sessions on everything from pitching, negotiations, and contracts to podcasting and developing new revenue streams. Speakers include editors for The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, Wired, The Verge, The Emancipator, and more. Registration costs $69 for 12 live, interactive sessions, delivering 15 hours of learning. For more information and to register, see: theiij.com All sessions will be recorded and available to view for one month after the conference. The IIJ is a new organization whose mission is the financial and emotional sustainability of journalists of color. Everyone is welcome at the IIJ’s public programs, like the conference, although some future opportunities will be limited to BIPOC freelancers.
2/10/202348 minutes, 57 seconds
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348: Are You Ready to Pitch? The Answer is in Your Query. Episode 348 with Julie Artz

Your query letter—or your jacket copy—KNOWS. It knows if you’ve got a whole story in there, if there’s an arc of change, if there are stakes, if there’s a why now and a why this and a why her/him. You just have to be willing to listen. Julie Artz, query coach extraordinaire, and KJ talk about mistakes writers make in our queries—and more importantly, the problems queries can reveal about our stories. DOWNLOAD JULIE’s 5 STEP QUERY LETTER AUDIT! Julie's 5 Step Query Audit Links from the Pod Podcast: The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Blog: Jet Reid’s The Query Shark Podcast: Queries Qualms and Quirks Previous episodes: Ep 343: Friends Don’t Let Friends Write Books Without Hooks Summer Blueprint Step 4: Your Jacket Copy is Your Promise to the Reader #AmReading Julie: The Book of Delights, Ross Gay Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver KJ: Inciting Joy, Ross Gay “You Just Need to Lose Weight” and 19 Other Myths about Fat People, Aubrey Gordon (also mentioned— Maintenance Phase Podcast) Julie Artz @julieartz on twitter and Instagram Is 2023 going to be the year you finally click through and start exploring the idea of becoming a book coach? If you’ve been intrigued by all the conversations we’ve had about book coaching over the years here at #Amwriting, maybe this is your year to make it happen. Author Accelerator’s Book Coach certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, client intaking, and emotional skills necessary to launch your own book coaching business. I’ve done it, and even after years as an editor for the New York Times, I expanded my skills dramatically, and my approach to helping others with their books, and writing my own, is so much better. The best part: no publishing experience is necessary to be good at this work.  Are you curious to see if you have what it takes? Head to bookcoaches.com/podcasts now to take Author Accelerator’s free quiz to find out if you have the skills and characteristics needed to launch your own book coaching business and get paid to read books all day! Take the Book Coach Quiz Do you follow KJ’s Bookstagram?
2/3/202348 minutes, 4 seconds
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347: Start More than You Can Finish: Redefining failure with Becky Blades in Episode 347

Okay, some us (hand up here) start ALL THE THINGS. But some of us don’t like to start what we don’t think we will finish (and even those of us who start a lot sometimes beat ourselves up for that).  But if you don’t start stuff you cannot finish stuff. So: here’s Becky Blades, author of Start More than You Can Finish (which—and this is a big deal—was recommended by the Next Big Idea Book Club — and you can listen to five ideas from the book by clicking that link) on why we should… start. More than we can finish. And HOW. And also, how to learn to love not finishing what we start. Links from the pod: Becky and her daughter in McSweeney’s: A GUIDE TO MIDWESTERN CONVERSATION: ELECTION EDITION Becky’s daughter’s book (A Guide to Midwestern Conversation, Taylor Kay Phillips) #AmReading Becky: You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey and The World Record Book of Racist Stories, Amber Ruffin, Lacey Lamar Think Again, Adam Grant The Science of Stuck, Britt Frank KJ: The Real Work, Adam Gopnik StARTistry, the newsletter If you’ve been intrigued by all the talk you’ve heard about book coaching over the years here at #Amwriting, maybe this is your year to explore becoming a coach yourself. Author Accelerator’s Book Coach certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, client intaking, and emotional skills necessary to launch your own book coaching business—and it’s so much more than an online course, as it comes with amazing opportunities for community and connection. With more than 135 certified book coaches and counting, Author Accelerator is helping people around the world launch thriving book coaching businesses to guide writers through each step of the writing and publishing process. If you’re curious to see if you have what it takes? Head to bookcoaches.com/podcasts now to take Author Accelerator’s free quiz to find out if you have the skills and characteristics needed to launch your own book coaching business and—as Jennie likes to say-- get paid to read books all day! Take the Book Coach Quiz Have you followed Jess on TikTok yet?
1/27/20231 hour, 1 minute, 31 seconds
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346: Thousand Miles to a First Novel: Episode 346 with Kristen Mei Chase

On this week’s episode, Jess and KJ talk to Kristen Mei Chase, an OG mommy blogger, journalist, former professor, podcaster, CEO of the Cool Mom Picks Network, and now, novelist. Her book, Thousand Miles to Graceland comes out on January 24, 2002, and we discuss the long road to publication for her (very personal) story.  #AmReading Kristen: Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You KJ: Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake Jess: Reading has been all disappointment recently so she names no names, but she remains optimistic and just started The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.  Order signed copies of Kristen’s book here! If you’ve been intrigued by all the talk you’ve heard about book coaching over the years here at #Amwriting, maybe this is your year to explore becoming a coach yourself. Author Accelerator’s Book Coach certification program teaches you the key editorial, project management, client intaking, and emotional skills necessary to launch your own book coaching business—and it’s so much more than an online course, as it comes with amazing opportunities for community and connection.  With more than 135 certified book coaches and counting, Author Accelerator is helping people around the world launch thriving book coaching businesses to guide writers through each step of the writing and publishing process. If you’re curious to see if you have what it takes? Head to bookcoaches.com/podcasts now to take Author Accelerator’s free quiz to find out if you have the skills and characteristics needed to launch your own book coaching business and—as Jennie likes to say-- get paid to read books all day! Take the book coach quiz!
1/20/202344 minutes, 14 seconds
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Flashback Friday -- Episode 71: Building relationships with booksellers with Mary Laura Philpott

Hello #AmWriters! Someone in the #AmWriting Facebook group asked about the best ways to connect and build relationships with bookstores, so we decided to revisit this older episode with bestselling author and Emmy-winning television host Mary Laura Philpott. Drawing on her many years working at Parnassus Books and launching her own books into the world, we talk about the benefits of working with your local bookseller in time for publication day.  Got a writer-dilemma we could help with? Wanna come on the pod and talk it through? Hey, there’s a goal! Whatever you’re trying to do, maybe we can help you find the action items to get you there. Email us—[email protected]—and let’s talk. HEY NOVELISTS—Did you finish NaNoWriMo? Would you like to know what to do next with that pile of words you worked so hard to create?  Here’s a group of Author Accelerator certified book coaches dedicated to walking you through the process of finishing your draft or tackling revision—and they have put together a host of free resources to get you started. Check out  www.nanonowwhat.com to learn more about these fantastic book coaches and how they can get you from NaNo success to a draft that’s ready to pitch or publish. Writers, I’ve got exciting news from Author Accelerator. Applications for Author Accelerator's new 2-year scholarship program for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color opens this month! The Author Accelerator team developed this scholarship as a way to amplify diverse voices and perspectives that are under-recognized in the publishing world. The newly launched Author Accelerator Book Coach Certification Scholarship provides one year of professional mentorship and feedback for up to three students of color as they complete the Book Coach Certification program and one subsequent year of career coaching and mentorship as they launch their business.  If you’re Interested in Applying,  the scholarship window opens November 15th and will close January 15, 2023. The program will kick off in March 2023.  To learn more, visit bookcoaches.com/equity.
1/13/202347 minutes, 44 seconds
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345: When it comes to goals, boring is good. Episode 345: Goals--or not--for 2023

A few assorted 2023 goals that I have no doubt I can achieve: Finish this box of Wheat Thins Take down holiday decorations before July. Read … some books. Let the dogs in. Hey, look at that. Already I can check off #1. Jess, Sarina and I just aren’t feeling the goals this year. Oh, we have them. But they’re mostly “do that again” or “yeah, stick with that” kinda things. . I’m gonna write another book. Jess is going to promote her speaking and work on her fiction. Sarina is going to write… four books. I think. Don’t hold her to that, it’s just what I remember. More than me, anyway, but happily it’s not a competition.  And then we have dreams for the ways all of that will be received, which we know aren’t goals because they’re out of our control. We’ve figured out that part—good goals have action items, are achievable and can be checked off. You either wrote a book or you didn’t. You either pitched 60 agents or you didn’t, completed the online French course or not, went to the art class or stayed home. Did you “draw more” or “become a writer” or ““watch less Netflix”? Who the heck knows? But did you write 500 words, or spend 30 minutes researching agents, or read a chapter or sign up for a class? That you can check off. Want to hear more about that? Here are a couple of tools we’ve come up with over the years. Goal Setting Pdf 101KB ∙ PDF File Download #amwriting Writer Goals Worksheet 132KB ∙ PDF File Download So, we’ve got that. And we set those. But as it turned out, none of us is aiming for the moon this year, or even forming a team for future moon launches. We’re kind of just all trying to hold tight and enjoy the ride. So my question is—is that just us? Because we’re a bit settled, and have family things to cope with, and need to recover from the recent whirlwinds? Or is no one feeling big goal energy this year? Spill, kids, and if you ARE swinging for the stars, we will cheer you on.  5. Buy more Wheat Thins. Got a writer-dilemma we could help with? Wanna come on the pod and talk it through? Hey, there’s a goal! Whatever you’re trying to do, maybe we can help you find the action items to get you there. Email us—[email protected]—and let’s talk. HEY NOVELISTS—Did you finish NaNoWriMo? Would you like to know what to do next with that pile of words you worked so hard to create?  Here’s a group of Author Accelerator certified book coaches dedicated to walking you through the process of finishing your draft or tackling revision—and they have put together a host of free resources to get you started. Check out  www.nanonowwhat.com to learn more about these fantastic book coaches and how they can get you from NaNo success to a draft that’s ready to pitch or publish. Writers, I’ve got exciting news from Author Accelerator. Applications for Author Accelerator's new 2-year scholarship program for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color opens this month! The Author Accelerator team developed this scholarship as a way to amplify diverse voices and perspectives that are under-recognized in the publishing world. The newly launched Author Accelerator Book Coach Certification Scholarship provides one year of professional mentorship and feedback for up to three students of color as they complete the Book Coach Certification program and one subsequent year of career coaching and mentorship as they launch their business.  If you’re Interested in Applying,  the scholarship window opens November 15th and will close January 15, 2023. The program will kick off in March 2023.  To learn more, visit bookcoaches.com/equity.
1/6/202336 minutes, 21 seconds
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344: 2022 in the Rear View Mirror: Episode 344

We make a point of setting goals every year—and, even more importantly, actually looking back to see whether we achieved them, and why. We’ve talked a lot in past years about the importance of setting the right kind of goals (you can get a short PDF on goal-setting and a worksheet below)—by which we mean goals you can control. You can’t sell your book to a publisher—that’s not a goal within your control. Get an agent, make a best-seller list, same. But you can finish the book, get help with the query, revise, edit, spend X time, write X words, write the proposal—without anyone else having to make a choice that fulfills your dreams. Goal Setting Pdf 101KB ∙ PDF FileDownload Download #amwriting Writer Goals Worksheet 132KB ∙ PDF FileDownload Download We try to make our goals mostly dreams we can fulfill ourselves, and then add in the big, out-of-control payoffs in sort of a different section.  But even given that, we make mistakes. My goals last year were weirdly TOO specific (a more usual problem is that they be too vague) and as it turned out, in several cases although I still wanted to achieve the overarching goal, the specific goal I set didn’t interest me any more. This year I plan to give myself a little more leeway. Jess’s WOTY (word of the year) last year was Evaluate. Mine was Play. Sarina’s was WIP. Jess and Sarina nailed theirs. I… kind of forgot mine. But looking back, I lived up to it. I traveled more for fun than I have in many many years—partly because post-Covid and older kids, but still, it would have been easy to just go no, that’s TOO MUCH WORK. But I didn’t, I got out there, and I have the memories of the camel ride, the vintage shopping trip, the hike outside San Fransisco, the baths in Asturias, the road trip down the East Coast, the heat in Austin and the crowds watching the World Cup in the plaza in Marrakech to prove it. Thinking of it all makes me think of the new rule form fave guest Laura Vanderkam’s Tranquility By Tuesday: Effortful before Effortless. Sometimes “Play” is also kind of hard work. But it’s worth it. I’m sending out a discussion thread for next year’s WOTYs. You’ll get a preview of mine there (I’m already living by it) and hear from Jess and Sarina on the next episode! Or come chat—details below. Links from the Pod Gifts for Writers Epic (short story by Sarina and Elle Kennedy) Jezebel’s Creepy Stories for Halloween Rachael Herron’s 90 Days to Done Masterclass @katherineroystudio’s reel on how picture books are made #AmReading Sarina: Every Last Fear, Alex Finlay Jess: Desert Star, Michael Connelly KJ: A Letter to Three Witches, Elizabeth Bass Join KJ’s subscriber chat Available exclusively in the Substack app Join chat HEY NOVELISTS—Did you finish NaNoWriMo? Would you like to know what to do next with that pile of words you worked so hard to create?  Here’s a group of Author Accelerator certified book coaches dedicated to walking you through the process of finishing your draft or tackling revision—and they have put together a host of free resources to get you started. Check out  www.nanonowwhat.com to learn more about these fantastic book coaches and how they can get you from NaNo success to a draft that’s ready to pitch or publish. Want to BE one of those book coaches? Our partners at Author Accelerator have super-fun BONUSES for anyone who signs up book coach training before the end of 2022. Learn more at bookcoaches.com to find out if 2023 will be the year you launch a book coaching business or level up the one you already have.
12/30/202243 minutes, 26 seconds
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Flashback Friday -- Episode 251 How to give your fun read a solid, poke-in-the-gut point with Anna North

My motto for 2023 is “good writing comes last” but it might as well be “story first”, which is why we’re re-sharing this interview with Anna North, author of three novels, most recently Outlawed—the January 2021 Reese’s Book Club pick. Outlawed has a powerful theme and message and what we call, in the interview, a “poke-in-the-gut point”—but it also has, first and foremost, a can’t-put-it-down story. We recorded this in January 2021, and it deserves a listen any time. Bummed that there’s not a fresh episode this week? We’ve got you! Hang tight until Tuesday for a bonus episode: NaNoNowWhat. If you finished NaNoWriMo—of have a draft desperately in need of completion or revision—this is the episode for you.  KJ talks to a group of Author Accelerator certified book coaches about the process of finishing your draft or tackling revision. Can’t wait? They’ve also put together a host of free resources to get you started. Check out  www.nanonowwhat.com to learn more about these fantastic book coaches and how they can get you from NaNo success to a draft that’s ready to pitch or publish. Writers, I’ve got exciting news from Author Accelerator. Applications for Author Accelerator's new 2-year scholarship program for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color opens this month! The Author Accelerator team developed this scholarship as a way to amplify diverse voices and perspectives that are under-recognized in the publishing world. The newly launched Author Accelerator Book Coach Certification Scholarship provides one year of professional mentorship and feedback for up to three students of color as they complete the Book Coach Certification program and one subsequent year of career coaching and mentorship as they launch their business.  If you’re Interested in Applying,  the scholarship window opens November 15th and will close January 15, 2023. The program will kick off in March 2023.  To learn more, visit bookcoaches.com/equity.
12/23/202247 minutes, 46 seconds
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343: Friends Don't Let Friends Write Books Without Hooks. Episode 343

Hooks, tropes, high concept. Comps. The publishing world tosses those phrases around like juggling balls, and I for one (as usual it’s KJ here) had a hard time understanding them for ages, especially the idea of a hook.  But now I get it. A hook, in short, is the thing that gets someone—agent, editor, reader, movie-goer, etc—to say, following a one or two sentence description of the book: SOLD. Fiction, non-fiction: same deal.  So a hook COULD be high-concept. (What if a kid wished to be Big? What if you woke up and discovered your whole life was a TV show with you as the unwitting star?). It could also be a mix-and-match situation with a pair of comps or a single comp (Cujo, but a cat).  Or it can steal from something high concept: The Princess Diaries, but with the Japanese royal family (Tokyo Ever After). Groundhog Day, but in Brooklyn with a girl in the ‘80’s whose dad is now sick (This Time Tomorrow).  Sometimes the hook is right there in the title. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Dial A for Aunties. The Gift of Failure. The thing about a hook is that it’s rarely the full story. It’s a “come for the X, stay for the Y situation”: you pick up the book because you love a good restaurant reality show family battle, but then it’s the small town story that keeps you reading. Or it’s just that there’s a lot more to the story—as Sarina says, the whole “but then what happens?” A hook does not make a book—and a lack of hook does not mean a bad book. It’s just a whole lot harder to tell you what a book without a hook is about, and therefore to sell it. It can be done. But I, for one, am not doing it again.  Have you written a book with a hook—or without one? Wondering if you’ve got hold of a hook or a trope? Is there a particular hook (hello, “but in publishing”) that always gets you? We’re chatting in the comments—or head for the chat itself to see what else we’re talking about. You can also find us on Facebook. Join KJ’s subscriber chat Available exclusively in the Substack app Join chat Books and Links from the Pod: The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Podcast A Very Merry Meet Cute, Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone The Bromance Book Club, Lyssa Kay Adams In a Holidaze, Christina Lauren Beach Read, Emily Henry Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains, Bethany Brookshire Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America, Leila Philip Listen, World: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman, Julia Scheeres & Allison Gilbert The Chain, Adrian McKinty The Plot, Jean Hanff Korelitz Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her, Girl, Forgotten Episode 71 Building a Relationship with Your Bookstore #AmReading Jess: Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America, Leila Philip Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains, Bethany Brookshire Ghosts of the Orphanage (March 2023), Christine Kenneally KJ: A Very Merry Bromance, Lyssa Kay Adams All I Want for Christmas, Maggie Knox Witchmark, C.L. Polk Sarina: Pieces of Her, Karin Slaughter The Night Shift, Alex Finlay HEY NOVELISTS—Did you finish NaNoWriMo? Would you like to know what to do next with that pile of words you worked so hard to create?  Here’s a group of Author Accelerator certified book coaches dedicated to walking you through the process of finishing your draft or tackling revision—and they have put together a host of free resources to get you started.  Check out  www.nanonowwhat.com to learn more about these fantastic book coaches and how they can get you from NaNo success to a draft that’s ready to pitch or publish. Want to BE one of those book coaches? Our partners at Author Accelerator have super-fun BONUSES for anyone who signs up book coach training before the end of 2022. Learn more at bookcoaches.com 
12/16/202248 minutes, 16 seconds
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342: It Turns Out What I Really Want to Write About is... Episode 342, from memoir to marketable, with Emily Grosvenor

Sometimes you have to start with a memoir (that you never publish) to figure out who you are and where you’re going. Today’s guest has a nice impressive bio—but 8 years ago, she was just a writer staring at a screen and working on, as many of us do when we first start, a memoir.  Emily Grosvenor is the editor of Oregon Home magazine, Willamette Week’s design publication Nester. She’s also written for The Atlantic, Salon, Good Housekeeping, and others.  But ALSO like so many of us, she started as a generalist, freelancing from the familiar “write what you know” place. New place, children, parenthood, cooking, trying to navigate finding adult life or living with a partner? Write about it. But a funny thing happened on the way to that memoir: She realized she didn’t want to keep living in that space. And when the memoir didn’t sell, Emily found the opportunity to write about something she really wanted to explore—and figured out how she fit into the market.  Links from the pod Foundry Media Literary Agency “exploded” Sarah Susanka’s Your Not-So-Big Life Seth Godin’s Purple Cow Pia somebody, Badass Your Brand Bonus: Rachael Herron’s Fast-Draft Your Memoir in 45 Hours (because that might be the way you plow your way through what you need to write to find out what you want to write) Sign up for Emily’s Design Shift Newsletter HERE. (Our episode on email lists 151: #StartHereforEmailLists) Emily on Instagram @EmilyGrosvenor Book: Find Yourself at Home: A Conscious Approach to Shaping Your Space and Your Life #AmReading Emily: Marie Kondo's Kurashi at Home KJ: Start More than You Can Finish, Becky Blades Join KJ’s subscriber chat Available exclusively in the Substack app Join chat HEY NOVELISTS—Did you finish NaNoWriMo? Would you like to know what to do next with that pile of words you worked so hard to create?  Here’s a group of Author Accelerator certified book coaches dedicated to walking you through the process of finishing your draft or tackling revision—and they have put together a host of free resources to get you started. Check out  www.nanonowwhat.com to learn more about these fantastic book coaches and how they can get you from NaNo success to a draft that’s ready to pitch or publish. Want to BE one of those book coaches? Our partners at Author Accelerator have super-fun BONUSES for anyone who signs up book coach training before the end of 2022. Learn more at bookcoaches.com to find out if 2023 will be the year you launch a book coaching business or level up the one you already have.
12/9/202252 minutes, 29 seconds
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341: Talking TikTok (and Reels too): Episode 341 on Video content--the Why, the How To, and is it Worth the Time Suck?

Hey #AmWriters! Jess here. I recorded a bunch of videos to answer all of your questions about creating video for book marketing but in the end, I figured an entire episode needed to happen in order to really get into the topic.  I started creating daily videos based on the content in The Addiction Inoculation because I wanted to the information out there, and if it sold some books or rustled up some speaking invitations, great. At the time I’m writing these show notes, I’m 63 videos deep, and yes, it’s a massive time suck. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of patience through plenty of mistakes but the experience has been a net gain for me overall in terms of education and exposure.  I hope this flattens the learning curve for you, and please report back in the #AmWriting Facebook group if you have anything to add or advice to offer!  Links  The #AmWriting Facebook Group Jess on Instagram Jess on TikTok Jess on Twitter Listeners, the team at Author Accelerator knows that all kinds of people can make good book coaches. It’s not necessarily people who have had massive success as writers themselves. It’s not necessarily people who have secured agents, book deals, degrees, or awards. It’s people who really could spend all day talking about books, who get excited by the idea of lifting up other writers, and who are ready to back up their passion for writing with skills, training, and hard work. If that might be you, join the Author Accelerator team for two days of exploration on November 30 and December 1, 2022, to find out if 2023 will be the year you launch a book coaching business or level up the one you already have. Head to bookcoaches.com/dreamjob to learn more.
12/2/202236 minutes, 2 seconds
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340: How to Tell Someone Else's Story: Episode 340 with Allison Gilbert

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: Listen World: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America’s Most-Read Woman. The story of this podcast is how Allison came to enlist Julia and finish the project, which came from the discovery of one of Robinson’s poems (and please note this was not a woman who was best known for her poems) in her mother’s papers thirty years ago. We talk about Elsie—whose writing secrets and mantras sound like things you could hear any day on the podcast—as well as the process of defining the project, finding a co-writer and shifting your own work, and even your own bio, in order to become the writer of a new kind of book. Links  First, our new mantra: It is the Parked Profile, not the Divine Spark, which is the secret of success. (i.e.: Keep your butt in the chair and your head in the game.) Elsie’s Writing Manifesto and Top 5 Quotes on Writing. A novelization of another famous women of the era: The Personal Librarian  Fab reviews of Listen, World: Wall Street Journal New York Times Washington Post Allison’s colleague and co-author, Julia Scheeres Allison’s website #AmReading Allison: Lab Girl, Hope Jahren The Successful Woman, Dr. Joyce Brothers KJ: Out of the Clear Blue Sky, Kristan Higgins Also mentioned—The Crappy Friends Podcast Listeners, the team at Author Accelerator knows that all kinds of people can make good book coaches. It’s not necessarily people who have had massive success as writers themselves. It’s not necessarily people who have secured agents, book deals, degrees, or awards. It’s people who really could spend all day talking about books, who get excited by the idea of lifting up other writers, and who are ready to back up their passion for writing with skills, training, and hard work. If that might be you, join the Author Accelerator team for two days of exploration on November 30 and December 1, 2022, to find out if 2023 will be the year you launch a book coaching business or level up the one you already have. Head to bookcoaches.com/dreamjob to learn more.
11/25/202248 minutes, 39 seconds
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339: Lit Mags, Grants and Residencies: a best-we-can how-to for an always changing but more approachable than we imagine world. Episode 339 with Patrice Gopo

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 be published unless you write something, etc. If you want to be part of a literary world you have to find it and start looking around for a door.  This podcast is ALL about finding doors. And knocking, and however you want to extend the metaphor—and it was great. As I’ve said before, you can tell a practical podcast by the number of links that end up in there, and there are a ton of useful links below.  And let me add to all of it my favorite old school book on a similar topic, Making A Literary Life from Carolyn See. I hope this talk with Patrice inspires you to get OUT THERE. About our guest: Patrice Gopo is an award-winning essayist and the author of books for adults and children. Her essay collection, All the Colors We Will See, was Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her debut picture book, All the Places We Call Home, was inspired by one of the essays in her collection. She’s the child of Jamaican immigrants, but she was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska—which gives her a pretty unique perspective on everything from racial identity formation and immigration to weather and life in the great outdoors. She’s had essays in a ton of publications, including Catapult, Charlotte Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and AFAR Magazine, and her essay “That Autumn” received a notable mention in the Best American Essays 2020—which is HUGE. She’s also the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award—and I’m telling you all these details because literary magazines, grants and residencies are exactly what we’re planning to talk about. Links from the Pod Literary Mama Relief: A Journal of Art and Faith Publisher’s Weekly Lit Mag Database Funds for Writers database Clifford Garstang Poets & Writers: Literary Magazines Lit Mag News! Creative NonFiction Classes (Patrice mentioned teacher Lisa Olen Harris)  North Carolina Arts Council Patricia Gopo’s Grant Application Tips PatriceGopo.com Writing Resources St. Nell’s Humor Writing Residency National Endowment for the Arts Sustainable Arts Foundation #AmReading Patrice: Nothing Special, Desiree Cooper When Stars Are Scattered, Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop, Felicia Rose Chavez KJ: A Rather Haunted Life (Ruth Franklin's biography of Shirley Jackson) Writers, I’ve got exciting news from Author Accelerator. Applications for Author Accelerator's new 2-year scholarship program for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color opens this month! The Author Accelerator team developed this scholarship as a way to amplify diverse voices and perspectives that are under-recognized in the publishing world. The newly launched Author Accelerator Book Coach Certification Scholarship provides one year of professional mentorship and feedback for up to three students of color as they complete the Book Coach Certification program and one subsequent year of career coaching and mentorship as they launch their business.  If you’re Interested in Applying, the scholarship window opens November 15th and will close January 15, 2023. The program will kick off in March 2023.  To learn more, visit bookcoaches.com/equity.
11/18/202252 minutes, 5 seconds
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338: The 30-Day Revision: Episode 338 How KJ Revised a Novel in 30 Days/189 Hours and approximately 72 Chocolate-Covered Peeps

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 out.  So, in addition to a lot of butt-in-chair time and a surprising number of hours spend really just staring the at screen, I should own that I also ate a lot of Halloween peeps and most of a bag of fun-sized $100,000 bars. And I would have eaten the whole bag but someone else beat me too it, and they owe me big. Here it is in writing, THE LONG VERSION: How to do a substantial novel revision in 30 days The Overview I had a long, rambling, completed draft of a book with a solid plot and decent thematic/internal story. The magic system was unclear and the romance undeveloped, and I had too many side-characters and too many scenes that weren’t doing more than one job. Because it’s a seasonal book, I couldn’t take my time with a revision without getting pushed another full year out. So we were shooting for publication in less than a year—and we needed to leave some time, tbh, for me to get this wrong and have to fix it again. Thus: 30 days to a revision that involved nearly a full rewrite, even though the characters, story and in particular the plot excitement of the ending would stay the same. What the hell did I sell? At the time, I thought I sold a solid, almost-ready 102K draft.  Looking back, I see I sold an idea (Grown-up Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic with a stolen set of family Tarot cards with powers and a mission of their own) and a rambling, creaky proof-of-concept draft with a solid plot at its core and characters my editor liked and wanted to spend time with. What this was: Same basic plot, both inside and out. I’ve done revisions that required altering a major plot point or removing characters. This did not. Same characters. Same themes, but narrowed and clarified. A few thoughts on that—the draft I sold was, in my mind, intentionally “edit-able”. There comes a point in a draft when editing it is hard. When what you have is both very polished and tightly wound, the editor may be able to see what’s wrong, but pulling it out will be more painful for the writer, because you’ve locked down all the story elements to intertwine and all the language, etc. This wasn’t that—when I yanked out scenes, they were at least flabby or tangential. I didn’t have to feel too bad about it. And the story wasn’t quite locked in as well. So none of this was unexpected. I know this editor likes to edit and is really good at it. That said, it WAS a … third or fourth draft or fifth, I can’t remember. I’d done a lot of work on it. When I let go of it I thought it was pretty darn good. When I got it back I was like, OMG I can’t BELIEVE I gave this to anyone, it’s so long and there are scenes that don’t go anywhere and it takes forever to get to the point. And in many ways I had done too much writing work on a story that wasn’t ready to be written (although some of that is necessary for me to find the story). So a) I thought this was a lot better than it was and b) even after you sell a book, sometimes there is substantial work still to be done and that is fine, it doesn’t mean you’re terrible and the story is crap and the editor is staring at it and thinking, I cannot believe I bought this horrible piece of junk. (Or so I kept telling myself, over and over and over.) And c) apparently what you go out with can be (and will be) far, far from perfect. Even if you think it is. All that said, some editors don’t edit. I was talking with another writer at a party recently, a NYT best-seller who broke out on her seventh novel, and has written 2 more since, told me that she doesn’t get edited any more. That may be because of her skill and experience (and if so, I am so not there and can go back to feeling terrible about this draft) but I’ve heard the same from newer novelists. And debut novelists, although that situation is a little different, as our debuts are usually the product of a longer period of work and often working with paid editors or readers. I knew this editor and knew what to expect. If I was submitting to an unknown editor, I would submit something that—to me—was ready to go. Which, I should say, does not mean that it won’t get the same big editorial treatment, so it’s important to be ready for that and accept it. It also doesn’t mean it wouldn’t need it. The goal for this go-round. Major notes from my editor: it’s too long, and it drags. The magic system is unclear. The motivations of several major secondary characters who move the plot are unclear. The love story is an afterthought. There’s too much of one secondary character and not enough of 2 others. Too much internal monologue, too many conversations in parts that should be action. The deep backstory (i.e where the magic comes from) should be super-clear to me but mostly unseen by the reader. Minor notes: Some scenes don’t work hard enough. Magic should be more magical. The stakes are high, but make it more clear what they are. More descriptions of the cute town and shop. My editor suggested a fresh structure of the first half of the book that moved it more quickly, which was very helpful. There are two inciting incidents, and we moved things so one of them happens very very quickly (the return of the magic) and the other later, after the first had more time to develop (the magic goes badly). I had two calls with my editor, the first before she wrote her (10 page!) editorial letter and the second after I’d read it. I didn’t do any revision in between—I re-wrote the flap copy and worked on their author questionnaire (and if you’ve never done one of those, they’re quite long). We also wrote the tagline. Both of those—the flap copy and the tagline—were really helpful in reminding me what it was I was doing here, especially the tagline, which ended up on a post-it on my desktop: Flair is done with magic. But magic isn’t done with her. I needed to cut at least 10K words, make the magic, the plot and the motivations of the characters around it clear, bring the romance forward and take out a lot of action (and a few tertiary characters and events) that were obscuring the main story. An aside: I think we’re either writers who stuff too much into the story (and write long) or writers who get right to the point (and write short). Whichever you are, outlining a favorite book in your genre or one that really did whatever your goal is (page-turner, thought-provoking, slow burn) successfully for you can really help. How many additional characters and plotlines were there? Which did you remember at the end of the book? How many did you really love, or really contributed to the book’s success with you? Did they move the plot and the inner story or just one or the other? I did this during my revision and found it really helpful. Again. For me, outlining—or at least thinking about specific elements—of books I hope to be like on some level is always a good move. The numbers Original: 102K/330 pp 36 chapters Revision: 83K/298 pp 30 chapters 30 days/189.5 hours of butt-in-chair. This does not count anxiety dreams, walks to think through problems or time spent staring at other people and nodding while thinking about book. Longest day: 11 hours (I had 2 11 hour days and 5 10 hour days) What did that look like? 7-8 hours before dinner, with a substantial dinner stop that often included a walk or short bike ride, then back at it until 11 pm or so. I’m a natural night owl, so that’s not that hard for me. Shortest: 1.5 (I traveled 3x during the 30 days, so I knew in advance that there would be several days when I did very little.)  The shortest “real” day—as in, I didn’t drive for 8 hours or spend a full day in family activity—was 6 hours. I’d consider that a normal day, and if I hadn’t been in a rush I would say that’s about ideal. Average: 6.3 The mechanics I made one big decision first thing: I decided not to work in the draft, even though it had (relatively few) line notes from my editor. Instead, I decided to return to Scrivener. The big advantage to Scrivener is the ability to move from chapter to chapter easily—as in, when you realize you’re quoting something said in an earlier chapter, it’s in the outline off to the side and easy to pop up and see, or if you realize you’ve forgotten something, ditto. That’s really tough in 300 pp in Word, or even if you pull out each chapter and work on them separately in Word. And the risk of choosing an old version is high for me.  This worked really well, and I would do it again on any revision where I didn’t need to be following line notes in Word. The ease of moving around a doc in Scrivener cannot be beat. I also decided not to pull out each chapter, put it in Scrivener and plan to revise it. Here’s why—there was a LOT in this draft that wasn’t going to make it into the final. At a minimum I needed to cut 10K/15pp. But truly, so much needed re-writing as much as revising—or maybe I should say, there was a lot of new material that needed to fit in. It would be easier to take what I needed from the old draft and add it to new stuff than to cut things, especially things I liked. Most of the scenes I needed had been written, but interspersed with scenes I did not. It was MUCH easier not to even look at those scenes again unless, say, I began writing a conversation and thought –they’ve done this before. Then I’d go dig it out.   Instead, I tackled it bit by bit, taking out the part I planned to work on and creating a Scrivener folder for it. I divided my book into about 6 sections—broadly, the beginning, the beginning of the middle, the midpoint scenes, the beginning of the end, the big action at the end and then the end. I planned for it all to end up in Scrivener and to compile it out from there. I often did the editing in Word by pulling out, say, three chapters that needed to become 2, dumping them into a fresh word doc (that way I got my editor’s comments, too), giving it a name and working in there by also opening a dumping ground word doc next to (on desktop) or behind (laptop) it. I’d pull out a huge chunk, put it in the dumping ground and then go snatch lines or paragraphs as needed. This also gave me confidence, because the original always remained whole. I could always go back and get something if I needed it. Those Word docs looked like this: I drafted new material in Scrivener. Once or twice, I duplicated a chapter so that I could try something and see if it worked but easily go back to a previous version, which Scrivener also makes easy. I did some smaller chapter revisions in Scrivener too, although often I did them in Word and then pasted the result into Scrivener. I created multiple outlines (about which more in the next section), and often—especially as I got closer to the end—included target word counts, and I really paid attention to those. I have a tendency to repeat things, especially in dialogue, and keeping an awareness of where I was in the scene/chapter in terms of middle and approaching end helped me move things faster. Why are my fingers not moving? [Wait - there's more! Continue reading at our Substack here]
11/11/202251 minutes, 20 seconds
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337: Publishing's Secret Side-Door: Episode 337 Writing Object Lessons and Books-for-series with Maria Teresa Hart

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…” to my pitches opened a lot of doors. The book itself was shorter and much differently formatted than standard non-fiction. Many writers get started this way, with gift books, guides and other non-fiction books that follow existing formats or fit into existing series. (The fiction version would be work-for-hire chapter books or books within a fandom—and we’d love to talk about that if you have guest ideas.)  Maria Teresa Hart is a writer and editor who works most often in food and travel, with a series of impressive bylines that range from the New York Times and The Atlantic to VICE and Business Insider, but she came on the pod to talk about the experience of writing a book for a publishing house within an existing series. Her book, Doll, is part of Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series. We talk about how that happened, what it was like and how an experience like this can become an doorway into larger opportunities in publishing.  LINKS Maria Teresa Hart’s book, DOLL, is a pop-culture feminist critique of doll history and culture, from Raggedy Ann to Barbie to android sex dolls. Find it HERE. Readers of Jane Friedman’s The Hot Sheet (if you’re not a subscriber, I recommend it, find it HERE) can read an interesting piece about work-for-hire in fiction fandoms in the 9/28/22 issue. High Heel, Summer Brennan Object Lessons Series objectsobjectsobjects.com Object lessons essay series in The Atlantic  Maria Teresa’s essay on Bidets 33 1/3 series 33 1/3 WEBSITE Barbie movie AmReading Maria Teresa: The Witches of Willow Cove, Josh Roberts How to Be Eaten, Maria Adelmann KJ: The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck https://www.mariateresahart.com, Twitter: /maritehart, IG: @mariathart Don’t forget that Author Accelerator is your one-stop for getting a coach on board to help you with your work, no matter where you are in the drafting game. Need a pro? Click here. And if you’ve considered becoming a book coach, here’s your link: Click here. Also…. you know we here at #AmWriting tend to think working with a book coach or developmental editor is the gold standard for getting help with your project. But that’s not always in the cards—and even if it is, doing as much as you can before bringing in help is often a smart approach. (Although throwing small amounts of $$ at things for years until you’ve spent as much as you would have if you’d just gone all in is not…. so if that resonates with you go find a book coach already!) The women of Pages & Platforms have created a course they call Story Path after years of going through this process on their own, and helping many clients fix their stories and finish their books. They saw how many people struggled with getting from a zero draft to a professional, working draft and made Story Path to help other writers get to “the end” faster.  Here’s what you’ll get in the course: You’ll have the tools you need to understand what type of story you’re telling and how to use it to satisfy readers You’ll finally be able to have an objective means to evaluate important aspects of your story You’ll map a plan to a complete professional draft that will have readers eager to turn the page You’ll have the confidence to keep on the path! The developmental editors of Pages & Platforms provide 20 multimedia lessons, worksheets, exercises and quizzes to help you apply your knowledge to your work-in-progress, monthly live group coaching calls and 12 months of access to the course materials. Here’s some feedback from a real student when she first started (she’s now querying her completed novel!): “Already ‘Story Path’ has proven invaluable, and we’re barely halfway through the course! It’s given me (an aspiring novelist stalled on bringing my rough draft in for a landing) the tools, frameworks, and inspiration needed to confidently tackle both my ending and effective revision of a complete ‘professional draft.’ Hawley, Ramirez, and Campbell probably saved me from tons of angst and flailing around. I highly recommend this course!” —Carolyn Cowen, novelist  This one is NOT FREE. But putting your $$ where your mouth is can be very very motivating. So if it sounds like it’s for you, get all the details and register HERE. We’re an affiliate, so we do make a little something if you decide to sign up —but please know that we only team up with people and businesses we trust!
11/4/202237 minutes, 57 seconds
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336: Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo (and how to make the most of it) 336

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), because my next set of revisions, with an accompanying deadline, will be heading my way in the last week of October. But Jess can and will!  So I offered Jess my favorite advice on a successful NaNoWritMo—the KJ version, at least. Here’s how I approached last year’s NaNoWriMo, and it worked pretty well in the end: My first novel clocks in at around 107K, my current WIP draft is at 99K. I favor long, convoluted sentences. I like to express things in sets of three—reasons the character is reacting as she is, emotions that are bombarding her, the ways her body responds— or even five: lists, smells, tastes, memories, expressions and as I have just demonstrated, I tend to use a lot of punctuation while I’m doing it. I do this from the very beginning. If I’m writing a scene, I write a whole scene. The people move, they eat, they smell and taste and feel, they think about their backstory: the whole shebang. Historically, that’s meant two things. First, when November 30 rolls around, I’ll have 50,000 words—but I’ll only have a draft of about half of my story. Second, I’ll have put in a lot of time writing those long sentences and and elaborate scenes. The terrible truth about my first drafts is that the writing tends to be pretty good. The dialogue flows, the action moves, there’s humor and pathos and feeling in the way the characters interact with one another. It’s the story that usually sucks. Getting to The End, not The Middle I suspect that to some extent it will always be this way for me. I plot, then I write, then I discover that the plot doesn’t create room to bring the character to the place where she needs to be and I have to go back and do it all over again. But I also suspect I could do that initial finding my way to a character arc and plot that weave together in a way that satisfies the whole a lot more efficiently if I just wrote fewer words. Make a Plan To do that, I need a plan that forces me out of my usual loquacious style, and here it is: I divide my 30 days and 50,000 words into a beginning (6 days, 10K) , a middle (18 days, 30K) and an end (6 days and 10K again). World-building and character riffing are fine as long as I stick to the schedule.  Write Some, Pre-write Some or Just Say What Happens Next, I pay attention to time and word count. If I’m lingering and I need to move along, I throw down some plans and some prewriting. Conversation about the Halloween event here. Town history TK.  Some prescient line that recurs at end. So that’s my weird NaNoWriMo plan: write fewer words, but get more of the whole picture on the page, with the goal of finding my way to “the end” instead of “the middle”. I know (and you know) that it won’t really be the end. There will be much, much work ahead—but I’ll have a draft. It will be a terrible draft, as it should be, but it will help me do the work I find hardest: not writing the scenes but finding the story. If I’m lucky I’ll be putting flesh on the bones; if I’m not, I’ll be rebuilding a scaffolding, not taking down a whole house. And here, from the archives, is a NaNoWriMo Prep list I created a few years back.  Kj's Nanowrimo Prep Checklist 219KB ∙ PDF FileDownload Download Here’s a fun calendar Sarina found: Nanowrimo 2022 Calendar 50k Purple 107KB ∙ PDF FileDownload Download And a link to How to Do the Blueprint for a Book Challenge. A few useful past episodes: #NaWhateverWriMo, Episode 181 #SupporterMini 1: #Prewriting #AmWriting Jess: A Little Too Late, Sarina Bowen Mad Honey, Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan All Good People Here, Ashley Flowers *for loving the audio version KJ:  We All Want Impossible Things, and What Can I Say?, Catherine Newman  Reluctant Immortals, Gwendolyn Kiste Don’t forget that Author Accelerator is your one-stop for getting a coach on board to help you with your work, no matter where you are in the drafting game. Need a pro? Click here. And if you’ve considered becoming a book coach, here’s your link: Click here. Also…. you know we here at #AmWriting tend to think working with a book coach or developmental editor is the gold standard for getting help with your project. But that’s not always in the cards—and even if it is, doing as much as you can on your own is always a smart approach.  The developmental editors of Pages & Platforms, Anne Hawley and Rachelle Ramirez, want to share their top tips for editing your own work in a FREE webinar Monday 10/31/22. YOU WILL LEARN: Why marketing categories or “genres” don’t help you write a good working story, and what does. The three most common structural problems with novels and memoirs and how to start solving them. The importance of good working scenes, and how to fix scenes that don’t work.  Learn more HERE. We’re an affiliate, so we do make a little something if you decide to sign up for additional services. But this is FREE. And please know that we only team up with people and businesses we trust!
10/28/202241 minutes, 5 seconds
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How Butter Makes Everything (Including Books) Better: Writing Can't-Stop-Won't-Stop Fiction with Theodora Taylor (Flashback Friday)

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 brilliance. “Butter” has joined our official #AmWriting lexicon. So, enjoy a favorite that you might have missed when it originally rolled out over the holidays last year.  Notes on the Pod: Who doesn’t want a craft book that’s fun to read and will help you plan your fiction (or memoir), write that fiction, revise that fiction and then sell that fiction? This week we talked to Theodora Taylor, author of more than 50 novels and one brilliant book about writing that made Sarina and I (KJ) go SQUEEEE and then text back and forth frantically for a couple of hours. It’s all about the “Universal Fantasies” that give our story-loving brains the things we need when we read—and how to spot those in your own writing to help you tell people what you’re all about, use them in drafting and revising and just generally make sure they’re everywhere in everything you write—literary, commercial, genre, short stories, novellas—everything. We read Harry Potter for Hogwarts fun and the hero’s journey—but we also are in it for the universal fantasies of “crushed underdog proves self to loathsome family” and “ordinary person turns out to be special” and “loyal friends can be better than family” and so on—and the thing about those elements is that they appear everywhere. You could find a book in any genre that scratches those itches, and those feelings are a big part of what we’re reading for. As Theodora says, they’re what makes your book taste good. They’re the butter. 7 Figure Fiction: How to Use Universal Fantasy to Sell Your Books to Anyone Facebook group: 7 Figure Fiction https://theodorataylor.com https://7figurefiction.com #AmReading Theodora: Beastars Manga by Paru Itagaki KJ: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova Sarina: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
10/21/202244 minutes, 2 seconds
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335: How to Work with Small Presses and Literary Magazines—Episode 335 with Terena Bell

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 publications, including The Atlantic, The Guardian, Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Playboy, MysteryTribune, and Santa Monica Review. Platform-o-rama, right? But she could NOT find a publisher for her debut novel or debut short story collection. As she puts it: It wasn't for want of trying. Her novel was turned down by 64 agents. That novel, RECURSION, and Terena’s short story collection, Tell Me What You See were both purchased within two weeks once Terena decided to turn to the small presses associated with the lit mags she’d been a part of for so long. We talk about the glories AND problems with small presses, how to be sure you’re talking to a small press and not the kind of hybrid publisher we often warn you about (there are legit hybrids, but be careful out there, many take advantage of writers who don’t understand what they offer), finding the right small presses and literary magazines and what it’s like to be a more literary and experimental writer. It’s a great episode with a lot of information we haven’t covered before.  BONUS: Read Previous guest Joni B. Cole’s When Is It Smart to Submit Your Work to a University Press? (You’d Be Surprised!) Big Literary journals Duotrope, The Submission Grinder Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference SMOL Fair Readings NYT article on how Billie Eilish’s platform didn’t sell her book CamCat Books Justine Bateman’s book, Fame: The Hijacking of Reality, which her platform also didn’t sell. The 10 National Book Award Finalists for 2022 include 4 books of short stories. Beacon Press: an American left-wing non-profit book publisher. Soho Press: a New York City-based publisher founded by Juris Jurjevics and Laura Hruska in 1986 and currently headed by Bronwen Hruska. It specializes in literary fiction and international crime series. Best Short Stories of 2022 Malarkey Books Authors Guild Model Contract  Brooklyn Book Festival FSG—Farrar Straus Giroux does/does not take unagented submissions Submittable The controversy surrounding Roxane Gay’s PANK ThrillerFest Find Terena at www.terenabell.com or on Twitter @TerenaBell #AmReading Terena: Edith Wharton’s A Glimpse of the Moon, A Son at the Front , and The Custom of the Country Night Rider, All the Kings Men, both by Robert Penn Warren KJ: The Letters of Shirley Jackson, as well as the four book omnibus that has Sundial in it (and Alexis Hall’s Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble and Glitterland)
10/14/202252 minutes, 4 seconds
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335: How Productive Writers get it done (by listening Flashback Friday with Laura Vanderkam) (Replay of Episode 116)

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 remember that much of what fills our time is a choice, and if we want to do it, we’ll find a way to get it done.  One glorious result—we’re all much better at saying “yes” to the things that are important to us and “no” to the things that would get in their way. Because we always benefit from a re-read of Laura’s books, we’re bringing this earlier interview out and sharing it again.  Laura also has a new book out: Tranquility by Tuesday:  9 ways to calm the chaos and make time for what matters. The idea is genius: upgrade your Tuesday, upgrade your life. The nine rules here really do offer big impact from small change. We can’t recommend it highly enough! Also on the horizon: If being a book coach –and you know we love book coaches here--sounds like a dream,  but you have no idea how you will run your business or get clients, our friend and sponsor Jennie Nash is hosting an event this month for you.  In Find Your Zone of Genius as a Book Coach, Jennie will share the top reasons people resist starting a new endeavor, and how to fight through those negative thoughts. She’ll also show you  how to brainstorm your way to a zone of genius to your book coaching business.  This is a live working session that will not be recorded - because Jennie wants to workshop with YOU on your idea. It’s happening October 27th, 2022 at 1PM Pacific, 4PM Eastern. Head here for more info!
10/7/202244 minutes, 2 seconds
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334: Using tropes and genres like a pro: Ep 334 with Alexis Hall

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 evidence. (Why is it called that? You’ll have to listen to find out.) Alexis has written, and still writes, everything from paranormal and fantasy to billionaire romance to rom-com, with the recent addition of genre mystery and historical fiction. We talk tropes, dialogue and leaning into the the thing you do best then revising for the rest. (And we did it all with a kitten climbing around on my desk, adding to both the joy and the challenge.)  Sarina and I (this is, as usual, KJ) have long hoped to talk to Alexis because he is so prolific and also so willing to take chances. When we finally did, what we heard was someone who doesn’t see himself the way we see him—successful, talented, charming and able to convey all of that on the page. That shouldn’t be a surprise, because he often writes characters with that same block—they’re successful and delightful but see themselves as flawed in some way. That may be almost too generic to be considered advice (after all, we’re often told to write a “misbelief” into our characters)—but I found it striking, because along with the many other emotional journeys Alexis writes, he writes this one often and well: that of a self-perceived fuck-up accepting that they’ve transcended that earlier self and become someone capable and worthy of love.  I’m calling that out here because as we talked to Alexis, we talked about his brand being clever banter and an uber-confident writer’s voice—but I think that emotional journey is part of his brand as well. So this episode left me thinking about how brand is more than the way a book or a writer looks and sounds. It’s also the way the book feels. And when you think about it that way—that the emotional arc and feel are part of the brand as well—I think it may help silence any voice in your head complaining that things are repetitive, or that you’ve “ done that before” or that something has been done by others. We tell our own stories and the stories that we hold most closely, in fiction, in non-fiction, in whatever we’re working on. Indirectly, directly. Again and again. I hope this episode helps you think about what your story is and how you’re telling it. LINKS!  Alexis’s books in general are all here. But you can pre-order Paris Daillencourt Is about to Crumble on Amazon here and Bookshop.org here. Follow Alexis on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram. #AmReading Alexis: ARC of Kate Clayborn’s Georgie, All Along Sarina: Dark Matter, Blake Crouch KJ: Carrie Soto Is Back, Taylor Jenkins Reid Don’t forget that Author Accelerator is your one-stop for getting a coach on board to help you with your work, no matter where you are in the drafting game. Need a pro? Click here. And if you’ve considered becoming a book coach, here’s your link: Click here. And— this is KJ with a question. Do you own In Her Boots yet? Have you read it yourself, or given it to a friend who’d love a fun story about figuring out who you are as opposed to who you think everyone wants you to be—that also delivers a literary hoax, farm life and an ex who can’t seem to find the exit? If you don’t have it on the shelf yet, now’s the time!
9/30/202236 minutes, 26 seconds
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Which Kind of Writer Are You? Flashback Friday with Gretchen Rubin (Replay Episode 107)

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 Accelerator is your one-stop for getting a coach on board to help you with your work, no matter where you are in the drafting game. Need a pro? Click here. And if you’ve considered becoming a book coach, here’s your link: Click here. Writers, do you read Sarina Bowen? If you don’t, you should—first off because her books are killer fun, and secondly because every one is a masterclass in pacing, characterization and plot—and if you think plotting romance is easy because “we know what’s going to happen” then call me again after you’ve tried it. Her latest is A Little Too Late. Find out more at SarinaBowen.com.
9/23/202246 minutes, 52 seconds
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333: Very Serious About Fun Reads Ep 333 with Emily Henry

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 us to give ourselves permission to write fun books in a world where “things we like” and especially “things women like” are often dismissed as less worthy. Sarina reminded us of this George Michael quote—when asked when he was going to “write serious music” his response was “You don’t understand. I’m very serious about pop music.” And KJ immediately demanded that everyone read This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch which is, instead, a book about exactly what we just said. That you should read. Immediately. We’ll wait. So how do your get very serious about writing fun reads? Emily’s insight on how to turn the seemingly small internal battles that our kind of fiction often hinges on is perfection: “you have to make things realer than real life”. For more, hit play. Links in the Pod #AmWriting Episode 302 with Katherine Center #AmReading Emily: Miss Aldridge Regrets, Louise Hare The Bodyguard, Katherine Center The Change, Kirsten Miller  Sarina: The Bodyguard, Katherine Center Upgrade, Blake Couch (Emily then shouted out Dark Matter and The Letty Dobesh Chronicles with its Good Behavior TV adaptation) KJ: This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch, Tabitha Carvan Thank You for Listening, Julia Whelan  Emily Henry on Insta: @emilyhenrywrites Join Emily’s newsletter: Get My Grocery List
9/16/202234 minutes, 49 seconds
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332: How to Plan for Fall When You Don't EVEN Know... Episode 332

WHOA heading into fall like  Photo by Gareth Harrison on Unsplash 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’s just that that the weird weather is taking its toll. A suggestion, if you too are grasping at momentum straws? Change it up. Have a ridiculous adventure. Sarina and I (KJ here as always) teamed up with another friend and some assorted partners and went… to the Hilton Garden Inn to hear their “house band”.  Because when you tell me the Hilton Garden Inn has a house band, I say, bring it on. It fully lived up to the promise of the phrase. The band was a couple of talented guys, an enormous amp and a repertoire of songs ranging from originals to Thin Lizzie to… I don’t know. It would probably have all been quite loud for my old ears, except that we were outside, overlooking the bus station, and the band was… in the parking lot. The waitress had bright red hair and a constantly changing wardrobe and strongly recommended the salmon. Everyone was trying very hard, no one seemed to know what we were trying hard for, and high levels of absurdity were reached. I know, not EVERYONE has a Hilton Garden Inn House Band. But perhaps there is something, somewhere to go where humanity transcends our urge to mock ourselves and just plays The Boys Are Back in Town in the parking lot for people eating chicken fingers and jalapeño poppers. Which were excellent. Links from the pod: Leuchtturm monthly B5 planner Sarah Stewart Taylor Nanowrimo #AmReading Jess: Carrie Soto Is Back, Taylor Jenkins Reid Thank You for Listening, Julia Whelan Sarina: Girl, Forgotten, Karin Slaughter Jess also mentioned Michael Connelly and Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon KJ: Also a Poet, Ada Calhoun Also mentioned, and Jess is now reading: The Last Chairlift, John Irving
9/9/202237 minutes, 21 seconds
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331: How to Go From Planning a Book to Writing One: Blueprint for a Book Step 10

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 end”. It’s not too late to go back to the beginning and blueprint your book! Find details on the challenge HERE. YOUR ASSIGNMENT Fiction and Narrative Memoir: Revise everything! Go back through all the steps and make them as solid as you can. Try think about your reader, the logic of your plot, and the emotional arc of the story. If you are doing the Summer 2022 challenge, you have until September 8th to turn in your complete workbook. Use that time to revise everything! For Nonfiction and Memoir/Self-Help  Revise everything! Go back through all the steps and make them as solid as you can. Try to think about your reader, the transformation they seek, and the outcome you are going to bring them to. If you are doing the Summer 2022 challenge, you have until September 8th to turn in your complete workbook. Use that time to revise everything! (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 10. Revise everything! LINKS Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Barbara Boyd takes a tough love approach to coaching. She coaches nonfiction writers on topics that include leadership, finance, marketing, human resources, health and wellness, agriculture, real estate, technology, and memoir.  Barbara has coached close to 100 writers through writing more than 200 books - including Jennie Nash’s Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book. She was certified by Author Accelerator in January 2021. You can learn more about Barbara at www.barbarajboyd.com. For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com Have you been inspired by the Author Accelerator Book Coaches during this summer podcast takeover? Book coaching is a fantastic thing to do as a side gig to support your writing or as a whole new career. Author Accelerator trains and certifies book coaches and supports them as they help writers bring their books to life. You can learn all about book coaching at bookcoaches.com/abc. We’d love to have you join our community.
9/2/202253 minutes, 18 seconds
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330: But Does this Book Work? Blueprint for a Book Step 9

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 we fool ourselves. We think we’ve got all the pieces, but we’ve glossed over the fact that two chapters in our TOC are really about the same thing or the reason the villain took the ship hostage is … because she was feeling grumpy? Today we talk about hunting for those weak spots (when really you just want to run right past them with your eyes averted, and oh yeah we get that). This is the ninth 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 end”. Find details on the challenge HERE. ASSIGMENT Fiction and Narrative Memoir: Download the Ten Point Inside Outline Checklist HERE. Go through it to check your Inside Outline to make sure it is meeting all the requirements. If you find things that don’t hold together, that’s your clue about what you need to revise. Keep revising the Inside Outline until it’s as solid as possible. If you aren’t planning to use a book coach to review your whole Blueprint, this is the moment when it can make good sense to bring in a critique partner Give them your Inside Outline and the Ten Point Inside Outline Checklist and ask them to put your outline to the test. Nonfiction and Memoir/Self-Help: Download the Seven Point Outcome Outline Checklist HERE. Go through it to check your Outcome Outline to make sure it is meeting all the requirements. If you find things that don’t hold together, that’s your clue about what you need to revise. Keep revising the Outcome Outline until it’s as solid as possible. If you aren’t planning to use a book coach to review your whole Blueprint, this is the moment when it can make good sense to bring in a critique partner Give them your Outcome Outline and the Ten Point Inside Outline Checklist and ask them to put your outline to the test. (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 9. The Outline Checklist) LINKS You are a Badass, Jen Sincero Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty Bomb Shelter, Mary Laura Philpott Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Jen Braaksma is a writer, teacher and book coach in Ottawa, Canada. Her next YA fantasy, Evangeline’s Heaven, is coming August 2022. She has the word “passion” tattooed on her wrist—literally—and she’s passionate about helping writers put their best work on the page. Find out more HERE. For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com Have you been inspired by the Author Accelerator Book Coaches during this summer podcast takeover? Book coaching is a fantastic thing to do as a side gig to support your writing or as a whole new career. Author Accelerator trains and certifies book coaches and supports them as they help writers bring their books to life. You can learn all about book coaching at bookcoaches.com/abc. We’d love to have you join our community.
8/26/20221 hour, 58 seconds
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329: One Outline to Rule Them All (Even if You Hate Outlining): Blueprint for a Book Step 8

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 the Sierra Nevadas—same same. It’s writing the right words, in the right order, that’s the challenge. DAMN IT. In this episode, we introduce our favorite not-an-outline-if-you-hate-outlining but yeah ok let’s talk about that tool: the Inside Outline for fiction and the Outcome Outline for nonfiction. Long detailed outlines not for you? You’re golden—this demands the fewest possible words describing every scene or event that drives the reader through the book (Hello, Step 7, how we missed you).  Love a long detailed outline? Get ready to boil that down to its essence before you build it back up. Here’s the thing: this is supposed to be hard. It should feel impossible.  Because you can’t write everything. You have to choose. This is the eighth 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 end”. Find details on the challenge HERE. YOUR ASSIGNMENT Fiction and Narrative Memoir: Download the Inside Outline worksheet HERE and create your Inside Outline. Don’t cheat! Following the rules is what makes this powerful. Nonfiction and Memoir/Self-Help Download the Outcome Outline worksheet HERE and create your Outcome Outline. There are fewer rules for the Outcome Outline, but you have to be crystal clear about your logic.  (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 8. The Inside Outline or the Outcome Outline.) LINKS Rachael Herron’s How Do You Write Ep 301 with Isabel Cañas Bittersweet, Susan Cain We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth, Jennifer Risher The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES A fan of true crime (#ssdgm) and mysteries of all kinds, Samantha Skal’s book coaching motto is “it’s time to get out of hell and finish your book”. Her magic gift is decoding agent rejections and helping writers produce and present their very best work. Find out more HERE.  For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com. This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
8/19/202248 minutes, 54 seconds
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328: How to Drive that Narrative Forward: Blueprint for a Book Step 7

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 Magic of Tidying Up work even for people who never actually tidy up? The page-turning, reader-driving illusion that somehow they will. The Five Love Languages? The drive to figure out—which one am I, and which one are you? Narrative drive is a key element of success in everything from romance (sure, you know the ending, but how are they going to get together?) to memoir to, yes, successful how-to. Your reader should be constantly asking, and then what happened, which means you should be, too. And everything has to contribute to that drive, whether it’s a plot development or an emotional twist. That’s how you pull the reader through each and every chapter. This is the seventh 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 end”. Find details on the challenge HERE. YOUR ASSIGNMENT Fiction and Narrative Memoir: Create a “Because of That” story summary. The Pixar rubric is in your workbook. Nonfiction and Self-Help/Memoir: Draft a table of contents. If you already did that in the last step, refine it. Tables of contents can hold the code for your entire book, so don’t just toss it off!  Write two or three sentences to describe each chapter. (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 7. This is the page (or pages) with my Because of That Story Summary.) LINKS The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, Dan Gemeinhart The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Sara Gentry is a Math Ph.D. turned writer, book lover, and book coach. As an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach, Sara has been trained to help writers craft the story they’ve been wanting to tell. Thanks to her mathematical background, her book coaching strengths include planning project management, analyzing a story’s cohesiveness, and evaluating where a book might fit in the current marketplace. She works with writers across genres and age groups. She has a soft spot for KidLit and humorous adult fiction. Find more at easierwithacoach.com. For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
8/12/202251 minutes, 39 seconds
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327: What's the Structure of Your Narrative? Blueprint for a Book Step 6

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-jeans of structure—relatable, easy to execute and nearly always appropriate). Will there be alternating timelines or POVs? A prologue? Who’s telling this story, and why, and how? When does it start and when does it end? If you’ve done the exercises up until now, you know why you’re writing and who you’re writing for. You’ve thought about the market–where your readers are and what they want. You’ve drafted some back of the book copy in the hopes of reaching those readers–and to remind yourself of the promise you’re making to them. And you’ve thought about the change that propels readers through a book, which is a sneaky way into thinking about theme. This is where we get ready to start the actual writing of your story. This is the sixth 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 end”. Find details on the challenge HERE. YOUR ASSIGNMENT Answer the following questions: For fiction and narrative memoir:  Where is the narrator standing in time? What period of time does the book cover? Where does the book start and end? Does the reader know things the protagonist does not, and if so, how? (This is a good chance to check to make sure that your POV serves your story.) For nonfiction and memoir/self-help: Choose a structural prototype from this worksheet. Download HERE Answer the questions for that prototype. (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 6. This is the page (or pages) on structure.) LINKS Wild, Cheryl Strayed The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai In the Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado The Part that Burns, Jeannine Ouellette The Art of the Book Proposal, Eric Maisel Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron Cooked, Michael Pollan Tribe of Mentors, Timothy Ferriss Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb Moms Don’t Have Time To , Zibby Owens A Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott Quiet, Susan Cain The People We Meet on Vacation, Emily Henry Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Suzette Mullen is an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach who helps nonfiction writers write books that bring light and hope to the world. Suzette has a particular interest in building community for LGBTQ+ memoir writers. You can find out more about Suzette, her writing, and her book coaching services at yourstoryfinder.com. For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
8/5/202248 minutes, 48 seconds
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326: There Must Be Change: Blueprint for a Book Step 5

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 come along for your ride.  In fiction and memoir, the change comes to the protagonist (and offers the reader the promise that they, too, are capable of change. In non-fiction, change may come to the narrator, to a real-life figure, or be offered to the reader, but it has to be there. It isn’t enough that the advice is sound or that a story is true. We still need to feel that journey from one way of being to another.  This is the fifth 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 end”. Find details on the challenge HERE.  YOUR ASSIGNMENT Write out the answers to the following questions: Fiction and narrative memoir:  Answer the following questions: Who is your protagonist? (If you’re writing memoir, it’s you.) What do they want at the start of the story? What is their arc of change – their transformation journey? What do they know or believe or understand at the end of the story that they didn’t at the start? How are they different? What stands in the way of the protagonist getting what they want, externally and internally? Are they telling the tale? Will there be other POV characters? Nonfiction and Self-Help/Memoir:  Define the arc of change – the transformation journey – for your reader.  What do they know or believe or understand when they pick up your book? Be specific. What do they know or believe or understand when they finish your book that they didn’t at the start? Be specific. (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 5: CHANGE.) LINKS The Story Grid Story Genius, Lisa Cron The terrible cat/rich dude movie: Nine Lives Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, Oliver Burkeman How to Stop Time, Matt Haig Boyfriend, Sarina Bowen The Premonition, Michael Lewis Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Savannah Gilbo is a certified developmental editor and book coach who helps fiction authors write, edit, and publish stories that work. She loves working on commercial fiction for all age ranges, but her favorite genres include fantasy, science fiction, and romance. Savannah became a certified Author Accelerator in 2019 and has been helping writers (full time) ever since! Find more at savannahgilbo.com.  For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com. This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
7/29/202247 minutes, 21 seconds
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325: Your Jacket Copy is Your Promise to the Reader: Blueprint for a Book Step 4

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 where your book will sit on the shelf if you want the right readers to find it. In this episode, we’re going to talk about what happens when one of those potential readers picks your book up off that shelf–and turns it over. That means we’re talking jacket copy! You might have heard writing advice that basically says, quit daydreaming about what your cover will look like before you’ve written your book–but we’re not talking about the cover art. Jacket copy is important and drafting it now will help you find your story. It’s the promise you make to the reader–so the sooner you write it, the harder you can focus on keeping it–or changing it. Plus, it’s useful in a whole lot of ways. Like your point, your jacket copy is probably something you will come back to again and again as you write your book—but every time, it will help you hone your mission and clarify why you’re still sitting in that chair, typing away. This is the fourth 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 end”. For the details on the challenge, and to sign up for weekly encouragement, bonuses and the chance to win a blueprint critique, head to authoraccelerator.com/amwritingblueprintchallenge.  YOUR ASSIGNMENT Write jacket copy for the book you want to write. Study the jacket copy of the comp titles you found in Step 3 to get a feel for how it should sound. Make it no more than 250 words. (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 4. This is Jacket Copy.) LINKS The Bohemians, Jasmin Darznik Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth, Jennifer Risher Making Numbers Count, Karla Starr & Chip Heath Made to Stick, Chip Heath & Dan Heath Miss Independent, Nicole Lapin The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Podcast Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Michelle Cox loves helping women in midlife and people in recovery tell their truths through fiction and nonfiction. She’s an Author Accelerator certified book coach, having undergone the rigorous training needed to become certified in fiction and nonfiction. She’s also the creator of Addicts to Authors “You Should Write a Book: Let’s Find Your Story©” program and the Fearless Midlife Writers Book-coaching© program. She has nearly three decades of experience as a professional writer, editor, journalist and writing coach. You can find her at bookcoachingworks.com. For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
7/22/202243 minutes, 13 seconds
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324: Who Will Read My Book? Know Your Market: Blueprint for a Book Step 3

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 those readers–where they hang, what they’re looking for, and how you can become a part of it. In other words, it’s time to talk about the market. This is the third 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 end”. For the details on the challenge, and to sign up for weekly encouragement, bonuses and the chance to win a blueprint critique, head to authoraccelerator.com/amwritingblueprintchallenge.  YOUR ASSIGNMENT There are several things to do this week, most of which involve some time hanging around a bookstore. You’re welcome! Find a working title for your book. Name your genre (fiction) or category (for memoir or nonfiction.) Find at least two comp titles that help put your book into context. Write one paragraph on your ideal reader – not just about the demographics that define them, but about what they feel/need. (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 3. This is the page (or pages) about my readers.) LINKS Seressia Glass Episode, How to Love Writing What You Can Sell Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, Oliver Burkeman The Wild Edge of Sorrow, Francis Weller Episode on books on nonfiction proposals The Art of the Book Proposal, Eric Maisel Florida Woman, Deb Rogers Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Rona Gofstein is an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. She specializes in helping writers of genre fiction who have never given up their dream of being an author develop, write, and revise their novels. She writes contemporary romance and will be launching a new series and pen name later this year. She desperately needs her morning coffee, thinks reservations are the best thing to make for dinner, and believes that one day she will find the magic planner that will keep her perfectly organized. Find out more about Rona HERE. For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
7/15/202245 minutes, 11 seconds
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323: What's Your Point? Blueprint for a Book Step 2

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’re talking about the theme. Or from the non-fiction perspective, maybe you want to consider this your thesis—but they really come down to the same thing. Every book is, at heart, an argument for something – for a belief, a way of life, a vision of the future, a way to solve a problem, a way to make a friend, a way to lose your soul. Finding your argument (and this is something you will probably revisit, hone and clarify along the way) will help you find your book. This is the second 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 end”. For the details on the challenge, and to sign up for weekly encouragement, bonuses and the chance to win a blueprint critique, head to authoraccelerator.com/amwritingblueprintchallenge.  YOUR ASSIGNMENT Name your point. It may sound like a billboard or a bumper sticker and that’s okay. That’s what you want for this step.  This is an easy assignment so use the opportunity to revisit your why from Step 1, and to revise your point as many times as you need to until it feels just right. Next week you’ll have more to do. (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 2. This is the page (or pages) with my point. ) LINKS The Enneagram Jessica Lahey, The Addiction Inoculation Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Jasmine Guillory’s new Beauty and the Beast, By The Book Kerry Savage book coach Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book TODAY’S COACHES Dani Abernathy is an author and Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach who helps novelists write the stories they need to tell. Specializing in fantasy, soft sci-fi, and YA, Dani merges how story works with how people work, creating books that give readers the opportunity to have more empathy for themselves and others. She is a Capricorn, INFJ, and Enneagram 4 who believes that honest stories can change the world. Find more about Dani HERE. For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com. This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
7/8/202249 minutes, 18 seconds
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322: Find Your Why: Blueprint for a Book Step 1

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 end”. For the details on the challenge, and to sign up for weekly encouragement, bonuses, and the chance to win a blueprint critique, head to authoraccelerator.com/amwritingblueprintchallenge.  Start with why. That’s the title of one of Jennie Nash’s favorite books and TED talks: Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, and it’s what a good book coach will always bring you back to if you get ahead of yourself. Why are you writing this? Fiction, memoir, non-fiction: we always have a reason. There is something we want to say, and someone we want to hear it. Knowing what that is gives your writing power. Readers feel it when something raw and real lies underneath your words, whether those words are about an intergalactic dinosaur battle or improving your chess game. LINKS Bookriot Leaf Your Troubles Behind: How to Destress and Grow Happiness Through Plants, Karen Hugg Know My Name, Chanel Miller Bomb Shelter, Mary Laura Philpott Nanette Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation, Hannah Gadsby Jenny Lawson Mae Respicio Glennon Doyle Brené Brown Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir) Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book YOUR ASSIGNMENT Write one page on why you want to write this book. Consider external motivators such as money and the admiration of colleagues, and internal motivators such as anger, jealousy, or wanting to prove to yourself (or someone else) that you can really do this.  Be honest with yourself: knowing your why can fuel your fire to keep writing, especially when the going gets tough (and it will get tough!) (Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Go HERE to select fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 1. This is the page (or pages) with my why. ) TODAY’S COACHES For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE.  For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com. Our summer project is all about starting a book, but if you have a memoir or novel draft that you’re in the process of revising, Author Accelerator has a free treat for you—Ready Set Revise, a three-hour workshop that will help you evaluate your manuscript, figure out where you are in the process, and hopefully make it all less painful. Friday, July 8, noon – 3 pm PT / 3 – 6 pm ET  They’ll explain how best to think about revision, talk about the things writers most often get wrong, and put you into a small group with a coach who coaches the kind of books you write.  It’s a great chance to get yourself in the right headspace to do this right. For details and to sign up, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
7/1/202245 minutes, 26 seconds
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321: 321 What Do You Want to Achieve this Year--and are you half-way there?

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. Every week, a couple of people write in with stories of awful friends and angsty dilemmas and towns that are too-small-for-the-both-of-us and there is a novel in every question and a whole lot of shadenfreudy entertainment in the answers provided by best friends Kristan and Joss. It’s a fun, I’m just here for the hang situation. Want more? Sarina just texted me that she forgot to tell y’all her BIGGEST achievement so far this year: she writes first thing. I’m going to take credit for this one. I’m a big fan of eat-the-frog first (I exercise first thing, then write, for the same reasons) although I can’t remember what I said that finally got her to actually do it, but she just gave herself a big, justified pat-on-the-back for this one. “I have felt as though I had lots of free time this month because I didn’t spend half the day in avoidance.” That’s a gift you can give yourself too! Overall note from the episode? There are lots of reasons to check in on your goals. To cheer. To re-assess and decide—do I even want this? If I do, what do I need to go to get there? To wonder—really? Why? Maybe I don’t need to organize that drawer. Maybe I need to throw its contents away.  To remind ourselves of what we’ve done, and what we still hope to do. It’s all even more meaningful that we all figured out the universal truth that landed in March 2020: we don’t even really control the goals we think we can control. But if life gives us a chance to make a choice to do a thing… better grab it! So… how go your goals so far this year? In honor of this episode, we’ve started our first thread discussion. If you’re on our email list, you’ll get an invite shortly after the episode airs. Otherwise, head to amwritingpodcast.com and look for the thread to tell us—is 2022 half-over, or half-to-go? What will you do with the rest of your year, and what have you done so far? Links from the Pod Gen the bookworm on Instagram #AmReading Sarina: The Mutual Friend by Carter Bays—Sarina shouts out the omniscient narrator, and KJ notes the head-hopping omniscience in The Arc. Jess: Mr. Nobody, Catherine Steadman KJ: The Murder of Mr. Wickham, Claudia Gray BETTER SIGN UP SOON!! It’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE. And quickly. Sign-ups end July 8. PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
6/24/202246 minutes, 6 seconds
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320: 320: How to Create Your Own Market

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 podcast—hello out there, Burnt Toast, one of the best examples I can think of of doing exactly that.* Or it might mean doing something both a little bigger and a little more old school. When Valerie Kathawala decided to write about her passion, wine, she had to start from scratch—as in, she took a job at a local wine store. She stocked shelves, studied labels and wrote the in-house wine magazine, which led to bylines at other small publications and built up from there. For her it was wine, but I was so excited to talk about how to build up a freelance career now, as opposed to 20 years ago. (I think y’all know us well enough by now to know this is not an episode about wine.) But Valerie wanted more. So she and a partner started TRINK, “the first and only English-language digital publication dedicated to the "German-speaking wines" of Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.”  They commission articles, pay writers and publish (digitally) in “volumes”. Are they making bank? Sadly, not yet, but they are self-supporting and growing fast. Volume 12 is coming soon. Whole story is in the podcast, and sorry-not-sorry if it inspires you to start something of your own.  #AmReading Valerie: After Nature, W. G. Sebald KJ: Bittersweet, Susan Cain  TrinkMag Follow Valerie on Instagram @Valkatnyc HEY LOOKY LOOKY: Starting July 1, it’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! I am so excited about this. 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE. PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator. *Virginia Sole Smith on bodies, fatphobia and diet culture, a topic that’s very hard to cover in traditional journalism because the pubs that reach the people who are interested sell advertising to the culprits—take a look, bet you learn something. 
6/17/20221 hour, 3 minutes
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319: But Everything is so SHINY: Episode 319, Coaching journalist Alison Myers on restarting a writing career.

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 everything is possible, how do you choose? What if you choose wrong? Everything looks like a shiny opportunity, but when you write the first few sentences, it turns out the shiny thing was just a gum wrapper. It blows, and it can go on for a long time (and even forever)—because when you’re used to externally imposed topic and deadlines, it’s hard to shift into creating your own—and putting in the time you need to finish them and turn them into something real. KJ talks to former CBC national reporter and occasional freelancer Alison Myers about harnessing your strengths and the way you work best to get things done instead of starting and stopping a million things. Here’s what Alison said in her email:  Hello from Canada, the country that used to be known for being polite and apologetic but more recently seems to be inspiring people around the world to be horn-honking jerks.  You have no idea how relieved I was to hear you both talk about writing for an audience on a recent show. I used to be a big deal radio reporter before I had kids so I’m used to writing and performing for the sake of other people (i.e., feedback). I always stacked it up to what must be the raging dissatisfaction of my massive ego, that evil thing I'm supposed to suppress. As cliché as this sounds, you guys made me feel like less of an asshole for wanting people to read my words.  I have ideas coming out the wazoo and can write well when I commit to it. My problem is it has no purpose (read: audience). I have 52 untitled documents open with half-written essays that I haven't finished because I don’t know where this is all going. They’re like a million bowls of soggy cereal waiting for someone to pour them down the train. There’s no structure, no roadmap and, most importantly, no one on the other end waiting to receive.  Alison agreed to come on and talk through her version of Shiny Thing Syndrome (which manifests differently than the one Jennie Nash and I talk about here). There’s a LOT of useful stuff here about getting your writing habit started or restarted and how to get to where we all want to be—you know, butt in chair, head in game. Links from the pod Becca Syme episode, her website, Clifton Strengths Gretchen Rubin episode Laura Vanderkam Jess and I on the “not today, muse” episode Hugo Lindgrin, Be Wrong as Fast as You Can KJ on being on time George Saunders’ Substack Writers and Lovers, Lily King The Menopause Manifesto, Dr Jen Gunter (read about her take on Goop here.) @allmyinklings on IG  COMING JULY 1: It’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE. PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator. 
6/10/202257 minutes, 11 seconds
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318: Yes You Can Write In More Than One Genre. Here's how: Episode 318 flips the shelves.

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 your starting place of choice. Maybe you’ve been writing rom-coms but are sure you have a thriller in you, or the other way around. Are you giving up everything you’ve learned, or everything you’ve gained if you’re published? That would be no and maybe kinda but not necessarily in a bad way, in that order.  This week we’re tackling the question of genre-hopping, in part because Sarina’s going thriller, KJ’s tackling magical realism and Jess is drafting fiction, and in part because listener and thriller writer Aggie Thompson sent us this plaintive missive:  I am a thriller writer, published by Forge/Macmillan, and my debut -- I DON’T FORGIVE YOU -- came out summer 2021. My second book is coming out this July – ALL THE DIRTY SECRETS – and I am currently waiting to hear back from my editor regarding my proposal for my the third book. Which means I refresh my email more than a couple of times a day. And I am at my wits end as to what to do with myself. I don’t want to work on book no. 3 in case the answer is no, or even a yes – but needs lots of work. So start something new, right? But what I am yearning to write is waaaaayy off genre. Something light and funny where no one gets killed. Maybe it’s coming out of the pandemic, or just some personal stuff I have dealt with over the past two years, but I long to write some comfort fiction. My question – when is it “safe” to veer out of your genre? And if it is never safe, when is it wise? I’m not getting any younger! I feel like I have so many other books in me. But it took so long to get to where I am, I don’t want to blow the momentum I have started building up as a D.C.-domestic thriller writer either. Anyway, any wisdom or insight would be greatly appreciated. We talked why, when and how to play the genre-hopping game. We referenced our Seressia Glass episode (because it’s always ok to consider the market). And then we admitted that sometimes, it’s better to have a little piece on the side but mostly stick with your main squeeze. (This outdated reference, with its totally terrible relationship advice, brought to you by the voices in KJ’s head, who are apparently speaking from a bad noir film from the forties.) In reading, Sarina also veered wildly off genre with Tell Me Everything (which makes total sense when you think about it).  KJ caused herself to question all her writing skills with the brilliantly interior literary page-turner Kaleidoscope. And Jess soothed her soul with the new Christina Lauren: Something Wilder. Sarina’s butt is way out of the chair this week as she travels with her oldest kid. KJ’s is locked in place wrestling with revision—and Jess is gardening and thinking, gardening and thinking. There are lots of ways to keep your head in the game! COMING JULY 1: It’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE. PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
6/3/202242 minutes, 38 seconds
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317: How Writing Middle Grade is Different, and How It's Not: Episode 317 with Jamie Sumner

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 for a link to an event next week.) Jamie and KJ talk about the mechanics of writing and pitching middle grade fiction, touch on the horrors of your first edit letter (and what you absolutely must not do when you get it) and then dive deep into what really makes this genre and its readers special—and it’s not what you think. Hard topics with hope, depth that’s distractible, and the limits of characters with temporarily limited agency who are all about finding ways to control their own destiny—but who, by the end of the book, are probably physically in much the same place as where they began. That means the endings are necessarily open-ended—which young readers apparently love. Links from the pod KJ’s thing in Tiffany’s blog Jason Reynolds The Bridge Home, Padma Venkatraman #AmReading Jamie: The Christie Affair, Nina De Gramont A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket KJ: Poison for Breakfast, Lemony Snicket jamnie-sumner.com Twitter: jamiesumner_ IG: jamiesumner_author If you’re listening in real time and in Nashville, join Jamie on Saturday, June 4 at Parnassus Bookstore to launch The Summer of June with readings, free plants and lots of book love. Find out more here. Or pre-order a signed copies of The Summer of June through Parnassus Books HERE. COMING JULY 1: It’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE. PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.
5/27/202250 minutes, 51 seconds
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316: Living with Writer Envy. Episode 316: We wanted to call this conquering it but we can't.

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 was? Well, bully for you. Go listen to another podcast this week. Meanwhile, we’re owning all the envy—and if you think being successful in any way dials that green monster button down, think again. There’s always a higher bar to reach. What does help? Age, wisdom, beauty (ok I just threw that one in) and a couple of other ideas we put out there at the end of the episode. Come hang. Links from the pod Colleen Hoover The Bookworm Box Sulphur Springs  Ryan Holiday Bookstore  Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus Mary Laura Philpott Episode 312, Essays That Start Light, Then Hit Hard Emily Henry’s Beach Read Michael Lewis Nora Goes Off Script, Annabel Monaghan #AmReading Jess: Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus KJ: The Bohemians, Jasmin Darznik Sarina: Part of Your World, Abby Jimenez COMING JULY 1: It’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE. PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator. 
5/20/202248 minutes, 20 seconds
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315: When Your Agent Doesn't Like Your Idea as Much as You Do: Episode 315 with Kristen Green

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 into the process of writing a research-intensive historical nonfiction book, particularly when that book requires the author to investigate and implicate her own family in the darker parts of the story.  We also discuss the birth of The Devil’s Half Acre, a tale that involves a lot of challenges including parting ways with one agent and finding another. More than anything else, we discuss the need for authors to believe in themselves and their story.  COMING JULY 1: It’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE. PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator. 
5/13/202247 minutes, 55 seconds
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314: How to Write a Cozy Mystery (the rules are changing): Episode 314 with Mia Manansala

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’s Kitchen Mystery series: Arsenic and Adobo and Homicide and Halo-Halo.  I was excited to talk to Mia because I read my way through hundreds of cozies well into my early adulthood, and I thought I knew the genre pretty well—but in coming back to it recently, I could see that things have changed. Just like in romance, there’s far more of an effort to balance reality with the deeply unlikely yet also deeply satisfying elements of the genre that are the reasons we come: Protagonists we love, puzzles to solve and justice to serve and peace to restore—until the next book! Links from the Pod Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Joanne Fluke #AmReading Mia: Like a Sister, Kellye Garrett  Secret Identity, Alex Segura  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon Under Lock & Skeleton Key, Gigi Pandian Dial a for Aunties, Jesse Q. Sutanto Four Aunties and a Wedding, Jesse Q. Sutanto KJ: The Arc, Tory Henwood Hoen Find Mia at: Facebook, Twitter, IG = @MPMtheWriter or www.miapmanansala.com HEY! We’re gonna do a BIG DEAL SPECIAL THING THIS SUMMER: The #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge. 10 episodes, 10 weeks, 10 assignments—Fiction, Memoir and Non-fiction. Play along all summer, put in a few hours every week and you’ll be ready to take your book to the next level by fall, whether it’s a little baby idea or a big unwieldy draft that’s keeping you up nights. Details TK—sign up HERE to join in. The podcast—and the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge—are sponsored by Author Accelerator, where you can get matched with the right book coach to help you move that project even faster—OR study to become a book coach yourself. To find out more, click HERE.
5/6/202244 minutes, 41 seconds
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313: One Man's Quest to Find the Next Big Book Idea: Episode 313 with A.J. Jacobs

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 about the book, yes, but we also discuss where the ideas come from, how to stay curious and the effect that curiosity has on the writing, and the work of crafting proposals that resemble the final book.  Links: A.J. Jacobs: https://ajjacobs.com Kevin Roose: https://www.kevinroose.com The Unlikely Disciple World Jigsaw Puzzle Championship Great Vermont Corn Maze KJ here—and I am now a certified Author Accelerator book coach! If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit www.bookcoaches.com to learn more.
4/29/202257 minutes, 54 seconds
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312: Essays that start light, then hit hard: Episode 312 with Mary Laura Philpott

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 back with a new book of essays: Bomb Shelter: Love, Time and other Explosives. (Read an excerpt here. And here. And then go order the book here.) The difference? Blink was, as MLP says, a book of essays that, together, became a memoir. Bomb Shelter is a memoir that took on the form of a book of essays—essays that went deeper than those shared in Bomb Shelter, that cut so much closer to the heart and were so much harder to write, and to share.  Links from the Pod: marylauraphilpott.com Mary Laura’s newsletter Bomb Shelter #AmReading MLP: The Arc, Tory Henwood Hoen The Mutual Friend, Carter Bays Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting, Clare Pooley KJ: Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus Olga Dies Dreaming, Xochitl Gonzalez Jess: Girl in Ice, Erica Ferencik Also mentioned: The Sober Diaries, Clare Pooley Mitchell’s Book Corner Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang KJ here—and I am now a certified Author Accelerator book coach! If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit www.bookcoaches.com to learn more.
4/22/202251 minutes, 3 seconds
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311: Where Should Your Energy Go NOW? Episode 311--everything evolves with Jess and KJ

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 from the Pod Sana, a rehab in Stowe Vermont For info on the Sana Scholarship Fund Oliver Burkeman 4 Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus The Harvey Foundation KJ’s boots on Instagram #AmReading  KJ: How to Stop Time, Matt Haig Jess: Explorer Booksellers, Aspen Colorado The Bookworm, Edwards Colorado Boulder Bookstore, Boulder Colorado Trailblazer, Dorothy Butler Gilliam KJ here—and I am now a certified Author Accelerator book coach! If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit https://www.bookcoaches.com to learn more.
4/15/202242 minutes, 51 seconds
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310: Jodi Kantor Chases the Truth: Episode 310 is a Primer on Investigative Journalism

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 version will be out this November.  Now, Jodi and Megan offer the lessons of their investigation - the process involved and the rules that governed its publication - to student journalists so they may be inspired and informed. I (Jess) got to talk to Jodi Kantor about the book they created for those young journalists, Chasing the Truth: A Young Journalist’s Guide to Investigative Reporting. Links from the Pod: #AmWriting Facebook group KJ here—and I am now a certified Author Accelerator book coach! If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit https://www.bookcoaches.com to learn more.
4/8/202238 minutes, 5 seconds
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309: Nonfiction Masterclass: Combining Narrative Structure, Lived Experience and Geopolitics in Episode 309 with Scott Carney and Jason Miklian.

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 answering this question.  I’ve known Scott for a while, as I became a fan of his work about a decade ago when I read The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers and later became one of those crazy cold plunge people after reading his books, What Doesn’t Kill Us and The Wedge. I’m new to Jason Miklian, though, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this venerable academic, writer, photographer, researcher, breakbeat DJ, and world record holder (for the fastest drive across North America). In this episode, we talk about choosing narrative structure, finding your subjects, discovering the most relevant stories, and creating a comprehensible, cinematic story out of an incredibly complex topic.  The highlight of this podcast for me? Being reminded, “I don’t need to be the world expert on everything, I just need to be the world expert on the people whose stories I’m telling.”  Ka-boom. Blammo.  I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did.  Hey—have you been spending small amounts on short term classes, watching videos and using up every possible opportunity for free feedback? Reworking the same pages over and over in your writing group? Are you starting to feel like you’re stuck in one stage of the process? Maybe it’s time to consider making a bigger investment in your career and working with an Author Accelerator Book Coach. No one can guarantee that you’ll write a book that will snag an agent or a excite an editor. But a coach can help you move forward, finish a book or proposal you’re proud of and approach the next stage of the process like a pro. I kmow it helped me! If that sounds like something you need, visit https://www.authoraccelerator.com to get matched with a coach who can help you.
4/1/202248 minutes, 50 seconds
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308: How to Love Writing What You Can Sell: Episode 308 with Seressia Glass

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 her website— tales of overcoming the odds to achieve love and acceptance–universal desires for everyone no matter who or what they are. Second? They’re all books readers want. Books, in other words, that will sell. I heard Seressia say briefly on another podcast that she and her agent had strategized about exactly that. On the pod, we dive more deeply into the balance between writing what you love, and writing what people will read. We also talk about super-agent Jenny Bent (travel back in time to listen to her on Episode 24 of the pod), Marlon James, the brilliance of Seressia’s pinned tweet and more. Links from the Pod: 7 Figure Fiction The “butter” episode with Theodora Taylor #AmReading Seressia: Island Queen, Vanessa Riley The Dating Playbook, Farrah Rochon KJ: The Sweetest Remedy, Jane Igharo (also mentioned Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo) Jess: The Almost Legendary Morris Sisters, Julie Klam (also mentioned The Stars in Her Eyes) IG: @seressiaglass https://seressiaglass.com I just finished Author Accelerator’s book coaching course and submitted my materials—and let me tell you, I learned a ton. If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit bookcoaches.com to learn more.
3/25/202247 minutes, 57 seconds
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307: How to Be on Bookstagram Episode 307 with #bookmarkedbya

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 know about bookstagramming, from how she got started to how she chooses books to how she prefers to interact with authors (kinda not much!).  Abby on: Instagram: @bookmarkedbya Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/90454496-abby-kincer #AmReading: (none for KJ) Abby: The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan “I loved it and I wanted to throw it out the window.” The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton The People We Keep by Allison Larkin Sarina: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides The Other Woman by Sandie Jones I just finished Author Accelerator’s book coaching course and submitted my materials—and let me tell you, I learned a ton. If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit https://www.bookcoaches.com to learn more.
3/18/202246 minutes, 6 seconds
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306: Does Your Author Website Answer the Right Questions? Episode 306 with Anne Le Tissier

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 her website and offer ideas for making it more professional without learning to code or spending big bucks—because there are some absolute must-haves, more than a few must-nots, and one important question to answer. Listen—and then go poke around on your own site! Links from the Pod AnneLeTissier.com Authors Guild Squarespace Blogspot Mailchimp Mailerlite Flodesk Newsletter Ninja #AmReading Anne: Word by Word: A Daily Spiritual Practice by Marilyn McEntyre KJ: The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman Sarina: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica Twitter: @AnneLeTiss IG @AnneLeTissier I just finished Author Accelerator’s book coaching course and submitted my materials—and let me tell you, I learned a ton. If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit https://www.bookcoaches.com to learn more.
3/11/202240 minutes, 57 seconds
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305: But what if my old boss is pissed? Episode 305: Workplace Memoir with Cate Doty

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 editor at The New York Times, where she covered the news of food, weddings, business, New York, and more.  To write Mergers and Acquisitions, Cate had to look at what was in some ways an obvious story—I fell in love at the NYT while working on the Wedding pages!—to the real story of growing up in an iconic newsroom and learning about what makes relationships get as far as the wedding pages—and then get past that one day. She had to find ways to dig into her past, and to write about real people she still loves and respects (and a few she doesn’t). And she had to accept that writing about the NYT probably means you’re not working there again. And then she had to answer all my questions about it! You’re going to love it. Links from the pod: Jenny 8. Lee’s memoir The Fortune Cookie Chronicles The little church around the corner #AmReading Cate: Kaye Gibbons: Ellen Foster, A Cure for Dreams, Charms for an Easy Life Having and Being Had, Eula Biss Learning in Public, Courtney E. Martin KJ: Arsenic and Adobo, Mia P. Manansala Other books we mentioned: To Tell You the Truth, Gilly MacMillan Admissions: A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie / The Sunday Philosophy Club books Find out more about Cate: https://www.catedoty.com and follow her on Instagram: @CateDoty I just finished Author Accelerator’s book coaching course and submitted my materials—and let me tell you, I learned a ton. If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I spent five years as an editor with The New York Times—but I still had a lot to learn about helping writers through the process of taking a book from idea to manuscript, and I loved learning it with the Author Accelerator team. What they taught me has changed my approach to editing completely. I didn’t just learn how to help a writer move from one stage of the process to the next—I learned how to help them appreciate how far they’ve come and feel excited about what’s coming next, see their strengths and how they can build on them and trust me to guide them into the hard work that lies ahead. If you’d like to learn more about coaching fiction or non-fiction, you need to visit https://www.bookcoaches.com to learn more.
3/4/20221 hour, 3 seconds
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304: Sometimes You Can't Go with the Flow: Hacking Writing Energies in Episode 304 with Jess and KJ

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, we talk about when you can—and can’t—go with the flow. How we handle it when other ideas beckon, but a deadline demands our attention. What we do between projects and why. And why KJ puts a meal plan on the fridge every week, while Jess asks “what do we feel like eating?”—but that does NOT mean Jess can’t make a plan and stick to it, or that KJ never follows the muse. (Although, re: dinner: I don’t CARE what you feel like eating. This is what we’re having.) As always, if you’ve got a pressing writerly question you’d like us to answer or that you might be willing to work through on the show, email us: [email protected].  Links from the Pod: Special Care Instructions blog post Jess’ video on Instagram KJ’s dumb headphones A Soft Murmur web app Inventing Anna 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron Blueprint for a Book by Jennie Nash Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You'll Ever Need by Jessica Brody Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Outlander Lady: Diana Gabaldon #AmReading Jess: The Vortex: A True Story of History's Deadliest Storm, an Unspeakable War, and Liberation, Scott Carney and Jason Miklian KJ: The Secret to Superhuman Strength, Alison Bechdel Hey—have you been spending small amounts on short term classes, watching videos and using up every possible opportunity for free feedback? Reworking the same pages over and over in your writing group? Are you starting to feel like you’re stuck in one stage of the process? Maybe it’s time to consider making a bigger investment in your career and working with an Author Accelerator Book Coach. No one can guarantee that you’ll write a book that will snag an agent or a excite an editor. But a coach can help you move forward, finish a book or proposal you’re proud of and approach the next stage of the process like a pro. I know it helped me! If that sounds like something you need, visit authoraccelerator.com to get matched with a coach who can help you.
2/25/202249 minutes, 25 seconds
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303: Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Episode 303 with Sarina, Jess and KJ

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 until you find yourself wanting to think about ideas differently—about what you want to write or say, but also how you’d like it to be received and by who. In this episode, we talk ideas from scrawled capture (where and how) to evaluation and expansion. Do we wait for the time to be right for an idea, or run with it and hope for the best? Who do we turn to when we’re not certain what we have or what to do with it? And when do we decide to settle down with one for a few weeks or months or years, and why?  Links from the pod Episode 299: How to Sell Any Book to Any Publisher with Sue Shapiro Episode 301: Do Morning Pages Work? KJ Charles: How to Write a Book When You Can’t Write a Book “Every book you read is a choose your own adventure that the author has already played.” Are you serious about writing a nonfiction book this year? Author Accelerator is offering a nonfiction book incubator starting February 28th. There are only a few seats in this intensive program because you will get 1:1 coaching on every single step of the process AND you will have the chance to pitch your proposal to a pool of agents and publishers at the end -- a fabulous opportunity. Apply for the program HERE -- and get a strategic session with Jennie Nash to kickstart your work. We think Jennie and her book coaches are terrific -- tell her we sent you!
2/18/202245 minutes, 16 seconds
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302: Writer De-Snobbification: Episode 302 with Katherine Center

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 what you love in a book and how to find it in your own work, from analyzing other books to the importance of the reading journal, and then we get into the craft of writing books that satisfy the readerly urges you share, embracing unifying tropes, finding the compelling hook and how to ground a story that seems to big to be true by creating real characters with relatable problems in familiar settings. I took some serious notes here, people. I’m going to have to listen again! #AmReading Katherine Center : Something Wilder, Christina Lauren (Also mentioned The Unhoneymooners) Book Lovers, Emily Henry Sarina: The Long Game, Rachel Reid (sequel to Heated Rivalry) KJ: Boyfriend Material, Alexis Hall Are you serious about writing a nonfiction book this year? Author Accelerator is offering a nonfiction book incubator starting February 28th. There are only a few seats in this intensive program because you will get 1:1 coaching on every single step of the process AND you will have the chance to pitch your proposal to a pool of agents and publishers at the end -- a fabulous opportunity. Apply for the program HERE -- and get a strategic session with Jennie Nash to kickstart your work. We think Jennie and her book coaches are terrific -- tell her we sent you!
2/11/202241 minutes, 16 seconds
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301: Do Morning Pages Work? Episode 301: Is this, or is it not, the Artist's Way?

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 way and me in what I still have to concede was more than a little half-assed. And now, having recorded the podcast, and kinda-sorta-promised to try this again later, I write these show notes still unconvinced. I already do creative things. I don’t think I need to free up my creativity. Is there really anything WRONG with only wanting to do the thing if it makes a thing—something someone might read, in the case of writing, but in other arts as well? That’s how I am. I’ll knit a hat, but I’m not just gonna sit here and knit. I like to draw but I like to share what I drew. And there’s no better art than making beautiful, tasty cookies and cakes. I get it. Perhaps that’s a very Puritan approach to creativity, but I don’t feel like I only have “permission” to do it if it’s useful. I feel like it’s only fun if it ends in something. I go back and forth on whether that’s a good thing. Well, these are unusual shownotes. Do you like Morning Pages? Do you do them? Every day, some days, always at the same time… how? What do you think comes from it? We’d love to hear your answers in the #AmWriting Facebook Group. Links from the Pod The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron Video: Julia Cameron discusses morning pages The prewriting concept comes from the excellent book From 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron Becca Symes, The Quitcast Atomic Habits, James Clear #AmReading Sarina: Loud is How I Love You, Mercy Brown KJ: Apples Never Fall, Liane Moriarty KJ also mentioned The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman and Major Labels, A History of Popular Music in Seven Genres by Kelefa Sanneh Are you serious about writing a nonfiction book this year? Author Accelerator is offering a nonfiction book incubator starting February 28th. There are only a few seats in this intensive program because you will get 1:1 coaching on every single step of the process AND you will have the chance to pitch your proposal to a pool of agents and publishers at the end -- a fabulous opportunity. Apply for the program HERE -- and get a strategic session with Jennie Nash to kickstart your work. We think Jennie and her book coaches are terrific -- tell her we sent you!
2/4/202236 minutes, 39 seconds
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300: ALWAYS WIPS Episode 300--Podcast #Goals, Translating Earnings, Talking $$ and Craft and Interview Skillz

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 opera singer who got stuck in the closet. Here’s a This American Life Opera about it. It’s a TOTALLY WORTH IT rabbit hole down which I am sending you. “Hustle” episode: How to Get Work as a Freelancer Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott Rachael Herron’s Annual Money Episode The free NFT book dude #whatpublishingpaidme Reading with Babies Toddlers and Twos ARTIFACT, 30 Seconds to Mars Tanya Eby #AmReading Jess: Sarina’s latest, The Best Men The Latinist by Mark Prins—read the print version Superhot Wing Man on YouTube Sarina: The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor KJ: All the Feels by Olivia Dade Jess recommends: The Stand-In by Lily Chu
1/28/202250 minutes, 39 seconds
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299: How to Sell Any Book to Any Publisher-- Episode 299: More Info Than You Ever Thought Possible with Multi-genre author and teacher extraordinaire Sue Shapiro

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 including self-help and fiction. She’s a poet, an essayist and a teacher of such generosity and enthusiasm that I could probably just stop talking right now and let her go and you’d still end this podcast going man, I learned so much! Her latest book is The Book Bible: Sell Your Manuscript—No Matter What Genre—Without Going Broke or Insane, and there is no one more qualified to write it.  The Book Bible should be taught in the first session of every writing program or MFA. It’s a how-to on getting published, but also a primer on the industry as a whole—an industry every writer should understand, ideally early in their career. We talk about learning hard lessons, the dream of “becoming a writer” as opposed to “becoming a poet/novelist/literary figure” and how many, many different ways there are to make this particular sausage.  Links from the pod: The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks Amy Klein, The Trying Game Samantha Wextein, agent Jess’s 3 part blog post: When Opportunity Knocks (part 1, part 2, part 3) Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Susan Shapiro KJ’s book coaches: Jennie Nash and Susanne Dunlap Email Sue at: [email protected] LOOK! Sue hosts an online event at The Strand: How to Publish in Any Genre 1/22 at 6 PM. #AmReading Sue: Black American Refugee, Tiffanie Drayton  KJ: The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream, Jeannie Zusy Jess: The Latinist, Mark Prins Find Sue: susanshapiro.net IG: @ProfSue123 Twitter: @SusanShapironet Are you serious about writing a nonfiction book this year? Author Accelerator is offering a nonfiction book incubator starting February 28th. There are only a few seats in this intensive program because you will get 1:1 coaching on every single step of the process AND you will have the chance to pitch your proposal to a pool of agents and publishers at the end -- a fabulous opportunity. Apply for the program HERE -- and get a strategic session with Jennie Nash to kickstart your work. We think Jennie and her book coaches are terrific -- tell her we sent you!
1/21/202249 minutes, 39 seconds
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298: How to Travel for Research (even before you sell the book)--Episode 298 with Sarah Stewart Taylor

“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 of her books. We talk about why research travel matters, when and why Sarah chooses to use real neighborhoods or locations in her fiction, how she spends her time (hint—you have to suck it up and be a tourist) and why it’s so important to “get extra”.  #AmReading Sarah: Matrix by Lauren Groff Ilaria Tuti - Flowers Over the Inferno, The Sleeping Nymph Jess: Once there Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult KJ: Louise Erdrich, The Sentence Also mentioned: narrator Davina Porter Class with KJ! I’m teaching a 4 week long online class I call “Cry Harder: Taking the Reader on an Emotional Roller Coaster” through the Flying Books School of Reading and Writing on Thursday nights from January 20th through February 10th.  Emotional journeys are at the core of every story, whether it’s Die Hard or Fried Green Tomatoes—and they can easily get lost in the excitement of creating and pulling off that external plot.  We’ll talk about finding the emotional arc in other writers’ work as well as your own; how to infuse a book with emotion after the plot is already established, when to “show” emotion and when it’s important to go right ahead and “tell”; and how to make sure the emotional arc doesn’t disappear when the plot gets hot and heavy. Students are welcome to submit a synopsis and 10 pages from a work in progress for class discussion and feedback, but it is not required. Writers of all experience levels are welcome. Details HERE, and I’d love to see you there! Are you serious about writing a nonfiction book this year? Author Accelerator is offering a nonfiction book incubator starting February 28th. There are only a few seats in this intensive program because you will get 1:1 coaching on every single step of the process AND you will have the chance to pitch your proposal to a pool of agents and publishers at the end -- a fabulous opportunity. Apply for the program HERE -- and get a strategic session with Jennie Nash to kickstart your work. We think Jennie and her book coaches are terrific -- tell her we sent you!
1/14/202253 minutes, 38 seconds
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297: How to Build a Platform in a Zillion (Not) Easy Steps: Episode 297, A coaching call with Alison Zak

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 relatively small existing “platform”. What is a platform, you ask? Well, it could be an offline community, a reputation, an academic or business space that you’re prominent in, or your reach as a professional writer in other’s spaces (i.e. the NYT, ESPN, McSweeney’s—but it’s more probably a question of online reach. As in, followers on email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or for a blog or podcast. Numbers are important, but intensity and engagement matter too, as do being an active part of the community you want to reach, even if it’s led by others. We talk building platform and how to explain the platform you have to publishers who might think only numbers matter. Links from the pod Episode 127: #AmBranding with Carol Blymire The Creative Shift Podcast: Does Social Media Sell Books? The Creative Shift Podcast: Leigh Stein episode 1 - Behind the Book Launch of a Novel The Creative Shift Podcast: Leigh Stein episode 2 - Focus on What You Can Control. Find Alison at: alisonzak.com Instagram: @animal_asana Twitter: @animal_asana Newsletters we like: Gretchen Rubin Mary Laura Philpott #AmReading Be the Gateway by Dan Blank Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl Are you serious about writing a nonfiction book this year? Author Accelerator is offering a nonfiction book incubator starting February 28th. There are only a few seats in this intensive program because you will get 1:1 coaching on every single step of the process AND you will have the chance to pitch your proposal to a pool of agents and publishers at the end -- a fabulous opportunity. Apply for the program HERE -- and get a strategic session with Jennie Nash to kickstart your work. We think Jennie and her book coaches are terrific -- tell her we sent you! 
1/7/202239 minutes, 38 seconds
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296: [announcer yells] GOALS: Episode 296

Words of the Year from 2021/New words for 2022 Jess: 2021: Organize 2022: Evaluate KJ: 2021: Flow 2022: Play Sarina: 2021 Generous 2022: TBD Links from the Pod: Oh. What. Fun. by Chandler Baker Jetpens Scrivener Hoopla Libby/Overdrive Last week y’all heard me—KJ—rave about the coaching certification I’m working towards with our sponsor Author Accelerator. I have learned so much—about my own work, and how to help others’ with theirs. I spent five years editing others’ work at the New York Times, and I’m a good editor—but no one ever taught me how to help other writers feel excited about those edits before. (At the Times we kind of went in for the “my way or the highway” approach, with a solid dose of “if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen”.) And I’ve never understood story as well as I do now. If that all makes you intrigued to set some goals around starting up a book coaching career of your own, learn more at bookcoaches.com or sign up with our affiliate code HERE. (And if you want to see what kind of (pretty dang limited) coaching I’m offering, click HERE.)
12/31/202137 minutes, 36 seconds
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295: Heck of a Year: Episode 295 is 2021 in review

What did we notice evolving in the industry? What worked and what didn’t in our own writing lives? Here’s our take. We’d love to hear yours—check in via the #AmWriting Facebook group. Links from the pod Findaway Voices acquired by Spotify Penguin Random House/Simon Schuster merger Storytell acquired Audiobooks.com The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris Reading Apps like Radish The Shrink Next Door Our best lessons from 2021: KJ: You only need one plot. Sarina: Write the flap copy first. Jess: My best writing comes from what I’m immersed in and I need the freedom to write about those things. (Blog post: Look at the Sky, Grown and Flown: Parenting Creative Children.) Y’all heard me—KJ—rave about the coaching certification I’m working towards with our sponsor Author Accelerator. I have learned so much—about my own work, and how to help others’ with theirs. I spent five years editing others’ work at the New York Times, and I’m a good editor—but no one ever taught me how to help other writers feel excited about those edits before. (At the Times we kind of went in for the “my way or the highway” approach, with a solid dose of “if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen”.) And I’ve never understood story as well as I do now. If that all makes you intrigued to set some goals around starting up a book coaching career of your own, learn more at bookcoaches.com or sign up with our affiliate code HERE. (And if you want to see what kind of (pretty dang limited) coaching I’m offering, click HERE.)
12/24/202145 minutes, 52 seconds
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294: Butter Up Your Writing: Episode 294 Using Universal Fantasy to Write Better and Sell More with Theodora Taylor

Who doesn’t want a craft book that’s fun to read and will help you plan your fiction (or memoir), write that fiction, revise that fiction and then sell that fiction? This week we talked to Theodora Taylor, author of more than 50 novels and one brilliant book about writing that made Sarina and I (KJ) go SQUEEEE and then text back and forth frantically for a couple of hours. It’s all about the “Universal Fantasies” that give our story-loving brains the things we need when we read—and how to spot those in your own writing to help you tell people what you’re all about, use them in drafting and revising and just generally make sure they’re everywhere in everything you write—literary, commercial, genre, short stories, novellas—everything.  We read Harry Potter for Hogwarts fun and the hero’s journey—but we also are in it for the universal fantasies of “crushed underdog proves self to loathsome family” and “ordinary person turns out to be special” and “loyal friends can be better than family” and so on—and the thing about those elements is that they appear everywhere. You could find a book in any genre that scratches those itches, and those feelings are a big part of what we’re reading for. As Theodora says, they’re what makes your book taste good. They’re the butter. 7 Figure Fiction: How to Use Universal Fantasy to Sell Your Books to Anyone Facebook group: 7 Figure Fiction https://theodorataylor.com #AmReading Theodora: Beastars Manga by Paru Itagaki KJ: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova Sarina: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle Hey! Know what else a great craft book is good for? Helping you give better advice to fellow writers—or be a better book coach! I just finished Author Accelerator’s Fiction Book Coaching course, and I learned a lot about my own writing—and of course about helping others with theirs. I was an editor for many years but I still doubted my ability to help with a whole book until I finished the course, and learned not just about editing but about coaching—helping someone through the process of writing a book, which is challenging in so many ways that aren’t just about the words and the pages. If that sounds fun to you, find out more about the coaching course at bookcoaches.com. 
12/17/202141 minutes, 55 seconds
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293: How to Build a Literary Life: Episode 293 with Zibby Owens

Ever want to know “how she did it”? This episode is our little version of How I Built This, in which we ask Zibby Owens—whose name you surely know by now—about how she turned a desire to be part of the world of books into a one-woman mini book empire. Zibby Owens is the host of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read, a daily podcast featuring interviews with authors that has over 900 episodes. She’s also a Bookstagrammer with 16K followers, the host of a second podcast—Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Sex—the editor of two anthologies, Moms Don’t Have Time To and Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids—KJ contributed to that last one—and now the CEO of Zibby Books, a new publishing home for fiction and memoir. She’s a regular contributor to Good Morning America, she’s been called “America’s Top Bookfluencer” and she has two books coming soon: Princess Charming, a picture book, and Booked, a memoir. She’s also got four kids, and they’re kids—elementary and middle school age, not a bunch of independent high schoolers wandering around But. Five years ago Zibby was none of those things (except a mother of four). And that’s what I want to talk about. She’s built a massive literary life, a community, a reputation in just a few years, and—after totally owning the fact that she has help with her kids (heck, not just help, they’re completely gone every other weekend because, divorce sometimes works like that) and also that this isn’t how Zibby earns a living— we go back to the beginning and talk about what it took to get there. Because no matter who you are, you can’t wake up and say, I think I’d like to be America’s Biggest Bookfluencer, and whip out your Amex card and make it happen. You can’t even take your Kardashian self and decide this is what you want and ask your assistant to set it up. This takes work and desire and passion, and we dig into how Zibby started, and how she made things take off. Links from the pod: Lee Carpenter: Red, White, Blue and Eleven Andre Agassi: Open Zibby Books Zibby Books Ambassadors (at bottom of Zibby Books page) #AmReading Zibby: Going There by Katie Couric Hungry Hill by Eileen Patricia Curran The Husbands by Chandler Baker  The Last Season by Jenny Judson & Danielle Mahfood KJ: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow Jess: Speaking of Race by Celeste Headlee Hey cupcakes, KJ here. Tonight I chatted with a writer who has a memoir that might—or might not—be ready to pitch. It’s hard to know the answer to that as a writer without getting some professional feedback (and you don’t want to pitch before you’re ready). So of course I pointed them toward Author Accelerator’s book coach matching services. The right coach can help get your project ready and then help you pitch it to the right agents. It’s an investment—but you’ve already invested HOW many years in this? I say go for it. And if you’d like to be the one to help writers make that leap, look into book coach certification. I loved the process—and I love knowing how to really help.
12/10/202144 minutes, 45 seconds
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292: A Busload of Books: Illustrator Robbi Behr and Writer Matthew Swanson Take Their Work and Their Family on the Road in Episode 292.

Can a marriage survive nearly a quarter century of co-writing? I (Jess) present exhibit A on the side of yes, absolutely: illustrator Robbi Behr and writer Matthew Swanson. Robbi and Matthew met in college, have been partners in life and publishing ever since, and they (along with their four kids) are about to embark on their greatest adventure yet.  Robbi and Matthew have written over seventy books, initially with their own publishing house, and now with Random House (Knopf). Matthew writes the text, and Robbi creates the illustrations for their delightful picture and middle grade books. One of their favorite parts of being author/illustrators, however, is the part where they get to meet kids and talk about their work and the creative process.  Next year, the whole family will board a refurbished school bus and travel across the country to speak at Title I schools in all fifty states, giving away 25,000 copies of their books as they go.  Here’s a video about the adventure.  It’s an audacious, massive undertaking, and we are proud to be supporters of the Busload of Books Tour! If you’d like to support them too, go to BusloadofBooks.com to donate, stay abreast of their adventures, and find out where they will be speaking in your state.  Links from the pod The Most Dangerous Writing App Robbi and Matthew’s books The Daily Minute Robbi and Matthew’s YouTube Robbi’s and Matthew’s Instagram Got a burning question about a writing life issue? Something on your mind you’d love for us to help you with? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer everyone, but if we think we could be useful to you (or know someone who can) and if your issue is of interest to other listeners, we might invite you to come on the podcast for a little coaching. Think you’d be pretty good on the other end of a coaching call? Then you should consider becoming a certified book coach through Author Accelerator’s book coach training program. It’s everything you need to know to begin working with clients on writing, planning, revising and querying (and then learning more and getting better with every new client and with Author Accelerator’s support and team behind you). Choose a fiction or nonfiction specialty, study with a cohort and design a new business or side-gig that works for you. Learn more at bookcoaches.com.
12/3/202150 minutes, 40 seconds
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291: How Do You Write a Non-Fiction Book in less than a Year? Episode 291: Coaching Call with Emily Edlynn

Our guest on this episode has a problem—a good problem, yes. An enviable problem even. One that she herself is delighted to have: she’s sold a non-fiction book on proposal. And now she has to write it. 60,000 words, researched, organized and ready for the editor while also fitting in her day job, raising 3 kids with her partner and all of the other curveballs life likes to throw you. In this “coaching call” episode, Jess and I (it’s KJ writing, as it often is) help long-time listener Emily Edlynn figure out how much time to spend in what areas: book structure, research, interviewing, drafting, editing—and then how to set yourself up to allow for getting a major project like this completed on time. (We all know how KJ loves a good burn chart - check out episode 175: #HowtoUseaBurnChart). We talk about motivating yourself, strategies for staying on track or picking back up after the unexpected happens. (You can read Emily’s email to us at the bottom of the shownotes.) Most of us spend more time working on short term projects than longer ones, and when we do get involved with something that stretches out for months or years, it’s usually with other people and external deadlines, whether it’s a major work endeavor, a house remodel or a Ph.D. dissertation. Books—even books with agents and editors—require major solo mojo to get from start to The End—and then revise the result of that. It’s yet another of the many many things that aren’t easy about writing. But it can be learned, and it can be done.  Emily doesn’t have any trouble using the time she has to write—but if you do, here are some ideas based on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, which are all about knowing how you best meet inner and outer obligations (of which writing a book is weirdly both). Obligors need outer accountability. Set yourself up with a friend or your agent, give them your goals and arrange weekly check-ins. Questioners need reasons, so make that burn chart and put up a full calendar where you can see it and always have an answer for “but do I really need to do this now?” Upholders probably need nothing more than a plan—but make sure your inner upholder understands that this is a priority. Rebels benefit from regular reminders that this is hard, that most people can’t do it and that achieving this goal is a rebellion against everything that stands in its way—and many also like a plan that involves beating the clock. Anything that lets a rebel say “I’ll show you!” is rebel jet fuel. Gretchen appeared on Episode 107 of the podcast, and you can take her “Four Tendencies” quiz here.  Emily’s email: I am a psychologist by training who started writing for an audience in 2017 when my career hit a crossroads with a move for my husband's job. My parenting blog led to writing freelance when possible, including a weekly parenting column for Parents since 2019. In April, I signed a contract with a small, independent publisher, Familius, to write a parenting book. The full manuscript is due May 1. I have never felt so lost! I thought there would be more editor interaction over the year, but she basically said "See you in a year unless you need me!" (I have asked more from her, but have realized she is going to give me broad strokes and not much else.) I have scoured all the places for resources on "how to write a nonfiction book" but besides some of your episodes, what I find is either about self-publishing or marketing, not the process of writing a nonfiction book (that's not a memoir). I'm trying to narrow this down to one question, which probably can't be "how do I write a nonfiction book in a year with no structure, in the time I have?" For context, I spend half my working week doing therapy in a private practice and supervising graduate students. I'm also writing a new blog post once a month to keep my newsletter subscribers engaged, and my weekly column. Oh, and did I mention attempting to raise 3 children in the process? I currently clock about 8 hours a week of writing time . . . and then I read relevant books when I can almost daily. I did find a virtual writing group with two other psychologist authors, which has been helpful. Since you probably aren't aiming to answer "how do I write a book in a year?" maybe narrowing it down to, "How do I manage my time with a professional job that pays the bills, little interaction with an editor (this seems different in the fiction world or even the nonfiction Big 5 world), to complete a 60,000-word nonfiction, researched manuscript in a year?" Do you think you can help me?? Links from the Pod How to Get an Agent Episode https://www.emilyedlynnphd.com #AmReading Emily: The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel  Wow No Thank You by Samantha Irby KJ: Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, Anonymous Jess: The Secret History by Donna Tartt Podcast: Lili Anolik’s Once Upon a Time at Bennington College Want a “coaching call” of your own? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to respond to every email, but we might answer your question on an upcoming episode—or invite you into the hotseat like Emily. Think you’d be pretty good on the other end of a coaching call? Then you should consider becoming a certified book coach through Author Accelerator’s book coach training program. It’s everything you need to know to begin working with clients on writing, planning, revising and querying (and then learning more and getting better with every new client and with Author Accelerator’s support and team behind you). Choose a fiction or nonfiction specialty, study with a cohort and design a new business or side-gig that works for you. Learn more at bookcoaches.com.
11/26/202150 minutes, 25 seconds
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290: What Not to Do, Self-Pub Edition Episode 290 with Cate Frazier-Neely

Hi all! Jess here. I met performer and voice educator Cate Frazier-Neely through a mutual friend earlier this year, at a Sungazer concert. I was at the concert because my son is a massive fan of Sungazer bassist and YouTuber Adam Neely and Cate was there because she’s Adam Neely’s mom. When the topic of conversation turned away from my son’s hero worship of her son and toward writing and publishing (doesn’t it always?) she revealed she’d made ALL THE MISTAKES when self-publishing her first book, and, of course, I sensed an opportunity for an episode. As this is a podcast all about flattening the learning curve for writers, I asked her to come on and tell us all the ugly details about publishing her book so we could learn from her mistakes.  Links from the Pod Cate Frazier-Neely: https://www.catefnstudios.com Episode 185: #AudioExplosion with Tanya Eby Meditations to Feed Christmas by Cate Frazier-Neely The Authors Guild We had such a great time chatting we didn’t even get a chance to discuss what we’ve been reading! Want a “coaching call” of your own? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to respond to every email, but we might answer your question on an upcoming episode—or invite you into the hotseat! Think you’d be pretty good on the other end of a coaching call? Then you should consider becoming a certified book coach through Author Accelerator’s book coach training program. It’s everything you need to know to begin working with clients on writing, planning, revising and querying (and then learning more and getting better with every new client and with Author Accelerator’s support and team behind you). Choose a fiction or nonfiction specialty, study with a cohort and design a new business or side-gig that works for you. Learn more at bookcoaches.com.
11/19/202139 minutes, 35 seconds
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289: Why Can't I Finish My Novel? Episode 289: A Coaching Call with Ophir Lehavy

Why can’t I finish my novel? KJ here, and when I saw that heartfelt cry in our Facebook Group, I knew we had to answer. Because finishing is hard, y’all. It’s harder than starting. It’s harder than showing up to the page. There comes a moment in so many projects when the wheels are spinning but the Matchbox car just isn’t going anywhere. Ophir Lehavy is a coach herself, working with students to help them find ways to get their work done and feel more successful about it—so she knew the benefits of having someone else try to help you tease out the things that are getting in your way. There are many reasons for feeling stuck or stymied, but they often boil down to two things: feeling unable to take time away from other things, or being able to take the time—but not knowing what to do next.  We talk about both, and drill down hard on moving from one stage of a project to another, when the rhythm and goal have changed and you can’t simply keep doing what you’re doing—and come up with strategies to get Ophir, or anyone who’s stalled out, back on the road.  If you’ve got a coachable problem, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer every email, but if your question is one that many listeners share and we can help with, we’ll try to answer it on the podcast, and we might even invite you on so we can really dig in. Links from the pod: Julie and Julia: The book and the movie. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff How to Write an Autobiographical Novel & Edinburgh by Alexander Chee Jennie Nash’s Blueprint for a Book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody #AmReading Ophir: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende KJ: The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu And—got a burning question about a writing life issue? Something on your mind you’d love for us to help you with? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer everyone, but if we think we could be useful to you (or know someone who can) and if your issue is of interest to other listeners, we might invite you to come on the podcast for a little coaching. Finally, KJ here with a little news about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program. I’m in the middle of it! You might remember this bonus episode, where Jennie Nash and I discussed “Shiny Thing Syndrome” and I was dubious about whether working with other writers as a book coach was a great side gig or a distraction for ME. Since then, I’ve been trying on the coach role in a number of small ways, and I’ve decided to go all in. This program is absolutely everything you need to get started from the editorial, coaching and business perspectives. It’s also entertaining and inspirational and makes me want to leap in right away. Learn more at Bookcoaches.com. (Want to see what I’m doing? Click here.)
11/12/202148 minutes, 40 seconds
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288: Non-Toxic Feedback: Building workshops and writing groups. Episode 288 with Joni Cole

How do I find a writing group and what if they’re mean?  That’s a question we get asked a lot, and we always encourage writers to reach out in our Facebook group or boldly throw it out there anywhere else online that you hang out and see what happens. You don’t even have to trade pages to be a writing group. You look for the kind of support and camaraderie you need.  But if you’ve ever thought of hying yourself off to your local version of Grub Street or our local spot for in-person writer-ness, The Writer’s Center to find your people—or possibly starting an in-person writer-connection-thing of your own, then you’ll want to listen to my conversation with Joni Cole, founder of said Writer’s Center and the author of Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive, Good Naked, and the This Day series, which collects diary entries from women all across the United States on a single day, and the host of the podcast Author, Can I Ask You. Joni and I talk starting writing groups, running them, keeping it positive and making sure you don’t lose your own work in the process of helping others. Links from the pod Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway  The Place Between Breaths by An Na #AmReading Joni: Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch American Dialogue by Joseph J. Ellis Less by Andrew Sean Greer Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses (KJ and Jennie discussed Craft in the Real World in Episode 275: Writing While White (or otherwise part of the historically dominant paradigm)) KJ: Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit Find Joni: jonibcole.com The Writer’s Center in White River Junction, VT
11/5/202158 minutes, 44 seconds
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287: I Have This Idea...Structuring Non-fiction and Memoir: Episode 287 Coaching Call with Emily Henderson

The hardest part about writing a book is … all of it. Or, arguably, whichever part you’re doing. For our guest on this episode, listener Emily Henderson, it’s something like “I know what I want to write about, but I don’t know how. Structuring memoir or non-fiction (or, for that matter, fiction) is hard, y’all. And I think it gets talked about less in many ways that other elements of craft. We have this illusion that you come up with an idea and then you write it and it’s the writing that’s hard. But taking that idea and even getting it into a writeable shape is also hard. Are you writing a how-to book? A chronological story? A series of essays? An exploration of a big idea through a smaller lens? You may not know until you try. We talk about exploring all the iterations and then—ironically, since what Emily hopes to do is explore her “Covid project” of running every street in Santa Barbara—we helped Emily build a NaNoWriMo-style “project” around finding her book’s structure and getting some words on the page. In the process, we talked structural failures, revisions and the importance of choosing a book and topic that you want to live with for a few years. Talked about on the pod (again): The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel #AmReading Emily: Sue Grafton’s alphabet series C is for Corpse Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy KJ: Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris Theft By Finding also by David Sedaris Jess: The Secret History by Donna Tartt Boyfriend by Sarina Bowen (and then we list all of our favorite Sarina Bowen books and discuss the importance of finding a book that’s your particular flavor of ice cream) Find Emily: emilykathleenwrites.com IG: @Emilykathleenwrites Want a “coaching call” of your own? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to respond to every email, but we might answer your question on an upcoming episode—or invite you into the hotseat like Emily. Think you’d be pretty good on the other end of a coaching call? Then you should consider becoming a certified book coach through Author Accelerator’s book coach training program. It’s everything you need to know to begin working with clients on writing, planning, revising and querying (and then learning more and getting better with every new client and with Author Accelerator’s support and team behind you). Choose a fiction or nonfiction specialty, study with a cohort and design a new business or side-gig that works for you. Learn more at bookcoaches.com.
10/29/202145 minutes, 22 seconds
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286: Breaking into Television Writing: Episode 286 with Will Morey

Hello listeners! Jess here.  I had the chance to interview one of my former students, Will Morey, about his career as a writer. He has always been talented, and even way back when I knew him in high school English class (actually, since he was eight) he has dreamed of working in movies and television. We talk through his entire career, from a high school screenplay about vampires to working in professional theater, to helping create (and this was a new word for me) “Mockbusters,” or close-but-not-quite versions of big Hollywood blockbuster films, to working as a “Conform,” (another new word to me) to breaking through and writing animated features such as Spy Kids: Mission Critical and Dragons: Race to the Edge and Dragons: Rescue Riders. He’s currently querying literary agents for a novel he completed this year and in true #AmWriting fashion, we had to talk about how he selected the agents he has decided to reach out to and why.  At its core, this is a discussion about an education in writing for television and how the “little jobs” are often incredibly valuable as learning experiences in an industry with its own process, language, and expectations. And a walk down memory lane for Jess and Will.  Links from the Pod Will Morey on Twitter: willofmars Will Morey on Instagram: @will_of_mars #AmReading We did not do #AmReading because, to be honest, Jess was using her own personal version of Zoom and we’d bumped up against our time limit.  And—got a burning question about a writing life issue? Something on your mind you’d love for us to help you with? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer everyone, but if we think we could be useful to you (or know someone who can) and if your issue is of interest to other listeners, we might invite you to come on the podcast for a little coaching.  Finally, KJ here with a little news about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program. I’m in the middle of it! You might remember this bonus episode, where Jennie Nash and I discussed “Shiny Thing Syndrome” and I was dubious about whether working with other writers as a book coach was a great side gig or a distraction for ME. Since then, I’ve been trying on the coach role in a number of small ways, and I’ve decided to go all in. This program is absolutely everything you need to get started from the editorial, coaching and business perspectives. It’s also entertaining and inspirational and makes me want to leap in right away. Learn more at Bookcoaches.com. (Want to see what I’m doing? Click here.)
10/22/202140 minutes, 8 seconds
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285: When Agents Ask You to "Revise and Resubmit": Episode 285 with Mindy Carlson

Querying and submitting is a jungle, campers—and yet if it’s done right, it can not only work out happily in the end, but seem as if it were meant to be. “Meant to be” after a year of additional work, anyway. Mindy Carlson has just signed a 2 book deal with Crooked Lane Books. The first, Her Dying Day, comes out June 7, 2022. I asked her to come on to talk about her road to publication--because she revised and resubmitted her novel not just once but twice before signing with her now agent. Said agent was one of her top choices and among the first she submitted to, but it was a long road to that happy ending. Mindy tells the whole story in this episode, in which we also talk revisions, when editors know what’s wrong—but not necessarily how to fix it, writing conferences, thriller plotting and more. Links from the Pod The Big Thrill (the online magazine of the International Thriller Writers Association) Mindy’s interview with Anthony Horowitz Episode 229 #Interviewing with NPR's Celeste Headlee #AmReading Mindy: The Family Plot by Megan Collins Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto KJ: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin And—got a burning question about a writing life issue? Something on your mind you’d love for us to help you with? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer everyone, but if we think we could be useful to you (or know someone who can) and if your issue is of interest to other listeners, we might invite you to come on the podcast for a little coaching.  Finally, KJ here with a little news about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program. I’m in the middle of it! You might remember this bonus episode, where Jennie Nash and I discussed “Shiny Thing Syndrome” and I was dubious about whether working with other writers as a book coach was a great side gig or a distraction for ME. Since then, I’ve been trying on the coach role in a number of small ways, and I’ve decided to go all in. This program is absolutely everything you need to get started from the editorial, coaching and business perspectives. It’s also entertaining and inspirational and makes me want to leap in right away. Learn more at Bookcoaches.com. (Want to see what I’m doing? Click here.)
10/15/202147 minutes, 17 seconds
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284: When Inner Dialogue Isn't "Telling" and When It Is in Memoir and Fiction: Episode 284 with Jess, KJ and Sarina

The whole “am I showing, or am I telling” inner debate can be tough in every part of a novel, memoir or nonfiction-with-elements-of-memoir draft. You don’t want to “tell” about the action. You don’t want to “tell” about the setting. And goodness knows you don’t want to “tell” what the character is feeling. Except when you do. Sometimes a little telling, in the form of inner dialogue, is exactly what the reader needs to feel a part of the story, not just the happenings. Sarina, Jess and KJ are all in for a conversation about how to immerse a reader in emotions, reactions, fears, self-doubt and even self-deception.  Got an inner dialogue question you’re wrestling with? Try sharing it in our Facebook group—and for other burning questions, small and large, email us at [email protected]. We can’t respond to every email, but we might answer your question on an upcoming show—or even invite you on for a little coaching. All links and quotes from the pod are below—but first, did you know that making a podcast is not free? (We know, the nerve of people, wanting to be paid for their production or platforms or tools. You’d think they needed to eat or something.) Our sponsors pay for our production, but the time and effort we put into creating #AmWriting is supported by you, lovely listeners. If you’d like to chip in for more interviews, coaching, career and craft advice and all the #AmWriting things, click the yellow button. (Until I proofread this, that said “lick the yellow button”. Don’t do that.) Support us! With cash! Links and quotes from the pod: From In Her Boots: “Jasmine was still a little leery of the animals, so I set out to charm her with them. **Here’s what my editor said here:  Maybe Rhett could think here about how the animals always made her feel good and she wants to impart some of that to Jasmine, who is stretching so far outside her comfort zone to help Rhett? This could be a nice friendship moment to show Rhett caring about Jasmine.** After we fed the entire crew—which would make any human popular—I gave Jas Brownie’s curry comb and showed her the places where he loved to be scratched, and together we groomed the little pony to a sheen, Jas brushing while I pulled his mane and tail. Jas ran inside and emerged with a bandana that we tied in his forelock, giving him a rakish look suited to his personality, and at the same time we both pulled out our phones.” Here’s the revision:  “Some barn time would absolutely help me feel better. If Jas was a little more comfortable with them, I knew she would feel the same way, and I wanted that for her. I didn’t care about the Maggie part of it. I’d overheard her on the phone with Zale last night, and I wanted her to know that the farm was a refuge for her no matter what. After we fed the entire crew—which would make any human popular—I gave Jas Brownie’s curry comb and showed her the places where he loved to be scratched, and together we groomed the little pony to a sheen, Jas brushing while I pulled his mane and tail. Jas ran inside and emerged with a bandana that we tied in his forelock, giving him a rakish look suited to his personality, and at the same time we both pulled out our phones.” From We Are Not Like Them: p. 113 “I’m relieved to see that the crowd really is peaceful, so many faces filled with righteous conviction and purpose. Nonetheless, my cynicism kicks in. Ain’t nothing changed but the music. All the clever signs and chants, the people who showed up just so they could post it to their social media, what does it add up to?” From Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake: p. 161 “She laughed and then hoped he’d meant her to.” p. 179 “Rosaline didn’t want to jinx it, and possibly she was reading too much into one ambiguously encouraging look from Marianne Wolvercote, but she thought she could do okay this week. Possibly even well? After all, she had a strong concept. And the part of her that used to do homework under test conditions was now secretly rather glad to get to practice in an unfamiliar kitchen.” Also mentioned: Beach Read by Emily Henry Talia Hibbert #AmReading Jess: The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson KJ: We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza Sarina: The Enneagram in Love: A Roadmap for Building and Strengthening Romantic Relationships by Stephanie Barron Hall GO GET A BOOK COACH! Or learn to be one. Seriously, if you’ve been thinking about it, what are you waiting for? Authoraccelerator.com or bookcoaches.com. Just take a look. 
10/8/202137 minutes, 21 seconds
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283: Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Episode 283: Turning situations into books with Heather Chavez

Welcome to what I think we’ll designate as a fresh new season of #AmWriting! We are mixing it up a bit this fall. It’s KJ here, and I’ll be doing some great interviews on craft and getting the work done. Jess has some interviews up her sleeve as well, and Sarina will be joining us regularly for what I like to think of as “Masterclass” episodes on craft and process. We’ll also be doing some “coaching calls” with listeners who’ve written in with a burning question that one or more of of can help with—so if you’ve got something on your mind about your writing life, let us know at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer every email, but if your question strikes us as something where we can helpfully weigh in, we’ll answer it—and we might just invite you to be a guest on the pod while we do. BUT TODAY, enjoy my interview with Heather Chavez. Heather is the author of one amazing, fast-moving, can’t put it down heck of a ride thriller: No Bad Deed. Listen to this hook: A woman pulls over to help when she sees a man beating up another woman by the side of the road. He turns to her and says, you let her die, I let you live. And OF COURSE SHE DOESN’T.  I asked Heather to join me to talk about ideas, and hooks, and most importantly the difference between an idea, a premise, a situation—and an actual, honest to gosh plot that becomes an entire, satisfying book. (The road between those points is so long, ammirite?) We had a great time talking about that process, and I hope you enjoy it.  Links from the Pod Heather:  https://heatherchavez.com, Twitter: iamHRChavez, FB: heatherchavezauthor, and IG: @iamhrchavez Heather’s books: No Bad Deed and (for preorder) Blood Will Tell #AmReading Heather: The Family Plot by Megan Collins For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing Where I Left Her by Amber Garza KJ: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez OUR FANTASTIC SPONSOR Author Accelerator matches writers with certified book coaches! Head to authoraccelerator.com if you’re ready for top-level feedback on your draft, outline or idea in fiction, non-fiction and memoir. The service is free (and it might not be free forever….) and done entirely by hand so that each author is matched with a coach who connects to the project. Get matched today!
10/1/202139 minutes, 34 seconds
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282: Episode 282: 40 Years of Procrastination with Joy Imboden Overstreet

The author I’m interviewing today, Joy Imboden Overstreet, holds the distinction of having procrastinated on writing her first book longer than any previous #AmWriting guest—about 40 years. She is also the writer whose essay on her son’s unusual business venture enabled me, in my role as an editor at the NYT, to publish the paper’s first illustration of a personalized vibrator, and I will forever be grateful to her for that. But wait, I hear you saying. Forty years? Forty? How did Joy manage to make it happen? Don’t worry—that’s exactly what we talk about in the episode. The backstory: Back in 1975, Joy created a workshop program in the San Francisco Bay area on the her book’s topic: finding freedom from obsessing about food, weight and body size. When she sold the business to her partner to go to graduate school in public health in 1980, she fully intended to write a book based on her work, but—spoiler—things happened, and then more things happened (including a pretty thriving freelance career) until she woke up and realized her 80th birthday was only two years away and the book still only existed in her head. So she sat right down and typed it out and it was super easy. The end. This is where I pause for Joy to laugh really hard. So, Joy pulled it off, and in this episode she walks us through what it took to finally get her butt in the chair, and how—and with whom—she kept her head in the game.  A word about what we DON’T talk about—this isn’t a podcast about body perception or our beliefs around it, so while we necessarily touch on Joy’s personal journey, there’s nothing shaming or promoting of diet culture in the episode (or in Joy’s book). We’re focused on Joy’s accomplishment: going from “someday I will write a book” to “the end.” Links from the pod: Joy’s book: The Cherry Pie Paradox: The Surprising Path to Diet Freedom and Lasting Weight Loss Author Accelerator’s book coach matching service Joy’s essay in the New York Times: When Sex is a Family Business #AmReading Joy: The Extended Mind by Annie Murphy Paul How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk Improve Wisdom—Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up by Patricia Ryan Madson KJ: The Husbands by Chandler Baker The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner Lots of love for our sponsor, Author Accelerator, in this episode! Joy and KJ both talk about our coaching experiences and how even when we work solo, the time we spent getting that intense support really helps. If you’d like to be matched with a book coach, visit Author Accelerator—or if book coaching sounds like the right career or sidegig for you, head to bookcoaches.com to learn about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program.
9/24/202146 minutes, 2 seconds
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281: Episode 281: Writing with the Door Open (Stephen King May Be Wrong)

Stephen King says: Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. In this episode, we dare to ask if maybe that’s not always the case. Does having to put your idea into words and get it into another person’s head weaken it--or force you to make it strong? Links from the pod: The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction by Erik Bork Great Stories Don't Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction by Larry Brooks Libro.fm #AmReading KJ: The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell Jess has criticisms: A Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz And—got a burning question about a writing life issue? Something on your mind you’d love for us to help you with? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer everyone, but if we think we could be useful to you (or know someone who can) and if your issue is of interest to other listeners, we might invite you to come on the podcast for a little coaching. Finally, KJ here with a little news about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program. I’m in the middle of it! You might remember this bonus episode, where Jennie Nash and I discussed “Shiny Thing Syndrome” and I was dubious about whether working with other writers as a book coach was a great side gig or a distraction for ME. Since then, I’ve been trying on the coach role in a number of small ways, and I’ve decided to go all in. This program is absolutely everything you need to get started from the editorial, coaching and business perspectives. It’s also entertaining and inspirational and makes me want to leap in right away. Learn more at Bookcoaches.com. (Want to see what I’m doing? Click here.)
9/17/202141 minutes, 35 seconds
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280: Book Launching Fun with Jess

By popular request, it’s the 2021 The Addiction Inoculation Launch Story! Jess fills us in on the weirdness and craziness that was a mid-pandemic non-fiction book release. Her advice includes: don’t try to do too much, target your energy—and ask for help making choices when you don’t know what to do when. We talk balancing an outside and an inside publicist, working with local booksellers for signed copies and larger orders, the challenges of a world with far fewer speaking opportunities and just generally what went right and what could go better next time. Links from the pod Nicole Dewey Media Mail via Paypal #AmReading Jess: The Guncle by Steven Rowley On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King Horns by Joe Hill Sarina: Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall KJ Recommends: Battle Royal by Lucy Parker We are so grateful to our sponsor, Author Accelerator, and the writing community they’ve built! If you’ve considered becoming a book coach as a side gig or possible fresh new career, I—as in KJ—can’t recommend their coaching course highly enough. I’m doing it now, and even people who already have coaching businesses have joined in to build skills and connections. Plus it’s super fun. Head to bookcoaches.com for more details, or visit authoraccelerator.com to for their free book coach matching service.
9/10/202142 minutes, 29 seconds
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279: Episode 279: Collaborating, Revising and Proposing--What We Did On Our Summer Vacations

Jess and Sarina are back! After a hard-working summer and an August of anxiety (don’t tell us you didn’t feel that too), we talk about how we got all the things done and all the things we have planned, with a fun diversion into how and where to end a chapter to create the illusion of a break while keeping the reader hooked. Plus, a summer reading review that will absolutely add to your #tbr. Links: Sarina’s new co-author, Lauren Blakely Sarina’s latest best-seller: Waylaid The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction by Erik Bork. KJ thought she’d brought that book up on a Writer’s Bookshelf episode, but it turns out she didn’t—so it may turn up again in a future show. #AmReading Jess:  The Stand-In by Lily Chu, Wilding by Isabella Tree, and Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy  KJ:  The Guncle by Steven Rowley, Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry, and Having and Being Had by Eula Biss Sarina:  The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews, Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez, and The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (KJ tossed in The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave.) And—got a burning question about a writing life issue? Something on your mind you’d love for us to help you with? Email us at [email protected]. We can’t promise to answer everyone, but if we think we could be useful to you (or know someone who can) and if your issue is of interest to other listeners, we might invite you to come on the podcast for a little coaching.  Finally, KJ here with a little news about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program. I’m in the middle of it! You might remember this bonus episode, where Jennie Nash and I discussed “Shiny Thing Syndrome” and I was dubious about whether working with other writers as a book coach was a great side gig or a distraction for ME. Since then, I’ve been trying on the coach role in a number of small ways, and I’ve decided to go all in. This program is absolutely everything you need to get started from the editorial, coaching and business perspectives. It’s also entertaining and inspirational and makes me want to leap in right away. Learn more at Bookcoaches.com. (Want to see what I’m doing? Click here.)
9/3/202142 minutes, 23 seconds
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278: Editing

For that moment when you’ve hit the finish line—and now you’re going back to the beginning and starting all over again in a different hat. In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, it’s Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative versus Blueprint for a Book.  In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 10 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator hand-matches writers with book coaches who have been rigorously trained to provide motivation and inspiration and give writers the support we need to stop making excuses and get the job done. Find out more, and get book coach Jennie Nash’s weeklong find-your-foundation writing challenge at authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Author Accelerator also trains book coaches to build their own successful coaching businesses. For more on becoming a coach, go to https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
8/27/202126 minutes, 15 seconds
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277: Writer Comfort Reads

Sometimes you just need to spend a few hours with someone who really gets you—without actually having to talk to anyone.  In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, it’s Bird by Bird versus Making a Literary Life. Writer comfort reads from authors who know how we feel and can express it so well. In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 9 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator, where you can become as a book coach to build a side gig, or a full time career. Author Accelerator’s book coaches come from all backgrounds. They’re talented editors who’ve learned through rigorous training and ongoing education to coach writers through every step of the process, providing feedback, encouragement and tough love. Learn more about becoming a coach at https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
8/20/202126 minutes, 2 seconds
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276: When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This

Sometimes you find yourself asking—over a draft, or a failed draft, or a sagging outline or just during a really long drive—why exactly you do this thing we do. This week, we turn to some favorites to help answer that question. In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, it’s Start with Why versus How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.  In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 8 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator hand-matches writers with book coaches who have been rigorously trained to provide motivation and inspiration and give writers the support we need to stop making excuses and get the job done. Find out more, and get book coach Jennie Nash’s weeklong find-your-foundation writing challenge at authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Author Accelerator also trains book coaches to build their own successful coaching businesses. For more on becoming a coach, go to https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
8/13/202133 minutes, 34 seconds
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275: Writing While White (or otherwise part of the historically dominant paradigm)

Everybody, no matter what box we check or refuse to check on the census, sees life most easily from our own perspective while knowing there are many, many others. How do we write books that reflect the world we live in and all the people we live among—without claiming to speak about experiences we have not and cannot have? In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. There’s no competition this week, because the books we found on this topic are all helpful, whether you’re a white writer working toward change or a writer who identifies in another way, ready to point your colleagues towards some books that will help them evolve—or a writer who fits into any category (that’s all of us) who wants to be sure her characters who don’t fit that same mold ring true. Because you can’t only write books about yourself. Or maybe you can, but those are called memoir—and you still better be able to see other POVs. This week’s books: The Anti Racist Writing Workshop Craft in the Real World Writing the Other In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 7 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator, where you can become as a book coach to build a side gig, or a full time career. Author Accelerator’s book coaches come from all backgrounds. They’re talented editors who’ve learned through rigorous training and ongoing education to coach writers through every step of the process, providing feedback, encouragement and tough love. Learn more about becoming a coach at https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
8/6/202137 minutes, 36 seconds
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274: Getting Published

Sometimes you just want to make that thing happen. In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, it’s The Essential Guide to Getting Published versus 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might (which, KJ insists, is WAY more helpful than it sounds). In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 6 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator hand-matches writers with book coaches who have been rigorously trained to provide motivation and inspiration and give writers the support we need to stop making excuses and get the job done. Find out more, and get book coach Jennie Nash’s weeklong find-your-foundation writing challenge at authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Author Accelerator also trains book coaches to build their own successful coaching businesses. For more on becoming a coach, go to https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
7/30/202122 minutes, 15 seconds
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273: #Writing Books for When You're Stuck

Sometimes writing is hard, y’all. Well, mostly it’s hard (and it’s a fun job and we enjoy it)—but sometimes you’re just really stuck and you don’t know why. You need help—and we’ve got books that offer it. In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, it’s The War of Art versus Dear Writer You Need to Quit.  In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 5 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator, where you can become as a book coach to build a side gig, or a full time career. Author Accelerator’s book coaches come from all backgrounds. They’re talented editors who’ve learned through rigorous training and ongoing education to coach writers through every step of the process, providing feedback, encouragement and tough love. Learn more about becoming a coach at https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
7/23/202128 minutes, 35 seconds
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272: Sometimes Writers Need to Up Our Game

KJ and Jennie truly go head-to-head in this one, because KJ loves a book Jennie loathes. Can she talk her around? In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, we’re upping our games with The Practice versus The Bestseller Code.  In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 4 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator hand-matches writers with book coaches who have been rigorously trained to provide motivation and inspiration and give writers the support we need to stop making excuses and get the job done. Find out more, and get book coach Jennie Nash’s weeklong find-your-foundation writing challenge at authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Author Accelerator also trains book coaches to build their own successful coaching businesses. For more on becoming a coach, go to https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
7/16/202127 minutes, 36 seconds
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271: #Productivity: Write More Better Faster Yes Please

Who doesn’t want to write more faster and better? And who doesn’t get stuck spinning the old wheels once in a while?  In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, we take on Productivity with Deep Work versus From 2K to 10K.  In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 3 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator, where you can become as a book coach to build a side gig, or a full time career. Author Accelerator’s book coaches come from all backgrounds. They’re talented editors who’ve learned through rigorous training and ongoing education to coach writers through every step of the process, providing feedback, encouragement and tough love. Learn more about becoming a coach at https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
7/9/202128 minutes, 54 seconds
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270: #Plotting Your Heart (and Book) Out

You CAN write a book without a plot (check out Anne Tyler’s Redhead By the Side of the Road if you doubt me, I swear to you that the most plotty thing that happens in it is the protagonist making a sandwich and yet you still want to keep reading). But if you’re not Anne Tyler (and I’m not), you ‘re going to need a nice plot arc to keep your pages turning—but not at the expense of your character’s emotional journey. How to get to both? How about a little help from a nice book?  In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, it’s Save the Cat Writes a Novel versus The Situation and the Story.  In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 2 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads  10. Editing  This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator. Author Accelerator hand-matches writers with book coaches who have been rigorously trained to provide motivation and inspiration and give writers the support we need to stop making excuses and get the job done. Find out more, and get book coach Jennie Nash’s weeklong find-your-foundation writing challenge at authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Author Accelerator also trains book coaches to build their own successful coaching businesses. For more on becoming a coach, go to https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
7/2/202131 minutes, 49 seconds
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269: Finding #Inspiration on the Writer's Bookshelf

Cage match! KJ’s favorite book on finding writerly inspiration versus Jennie Nash’s favorite of same. In our new summer series, The Working Bookshelf, KJ and guest host Jennie Nash pull their favorite writing books off the shelf and debate: which is better and why—until invariably, they get distracted and just start talking about the topic at hand. Funny, fresh and full of frank advice, when KJ and Jennie get going they’re hard to stop. This week, it’s Big Magic versus The Creative Habit. In a new twist, you can also watch these episodes on YouTube. Find Episode 1 HERE. And, for your looking-forward pleasure, here’s the whole series, dropping once weekly all through the summer of 2021. 1. Inspiration 2. Plotting 3. Productivity 4. Up Your Game 5. When You're Stuck 6. Getting Published 7. Writing While White 8. When You Don't Know Why You're Doing This 9. Writer Comfort Reads 10. Editing This special season of the #AmWriting podcast is sponsored by Author Accelerator, where you can become as a book coach to build a side gig, or a full time career. Author Accelerator’s book coaches come from all backgrounds. They’re talented editors who’ve learned through rigorous training and ongoing education to coach writers through every step of the process, providing feedback, encouragement and tough love. Learn more about becoming a coach at https://www.bookcoaches.com/.
7/2/202125 minutes, 36 seconds
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268: #SummerReading: Whose List Looks Like Your List?

Whose summer #TBR looks like yours?  Call it a game, a competition or just an excuse to talk about books: this week we’re doing something new. Each of us will share 6 summer reading recommendations—some we’ve read, some we’re stockpiling for when our own vacations arrive. Your job is to pick whose list looks most like yours—which of us would you let choose the books for YOUR next vacation? (Fellow fans of the Bookriot podcast, yes, this is absolutely blatant theft—ahem, homage. Love you Jeff and Rebecca!) The Lists: KJ Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews  Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie  Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch  The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz  The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner  Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford   Jess A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter  The Weight of Air by David Poses New Girl in Little Cove by Damhnait Monaghan (pronounced Downith),  Dear Ann by Bobbie Ann Mason  Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell  Fox and I by Catherine Raven Sarina Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid  Finlay Donovan is Killing it by Elle Cosimano  Life is Too Short by Abby Jimenez Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall  Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert  Valedictorians at the Gate by Becky Munsterer Sabky  Also mentioned Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto  Bookriot Podcast Episode 447: Summer Draft Results and Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens  Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzles) on Twitter VOTING: If you receive the shownotes by email, vote by replying. Otherwise, send your picks to [email protected] NEXT WEEK Our summer series, The Working Bookshelf, starts! Every week, KJ and Jennie Nash choose two beloved writing books on a variety of topics, from productivity to editing, and debate: which is better? Which helps more? Which should be on your shelf?  Jess and Sarina will be back in the fall, and we have a great new series up our sleeves. Sign up for our weekly emails HERE so you won’t miss it. #AmWriting is, as always, sponsored by Author Accelerator. Our advice this week: Follow founder Jennie Nash on Instagram for her breakdowns on book coaching lessons learned from We Should All Be Millionaires. No matter where you are in your writing journey, there’s something there for you. Find out more about getting a book coach HERE or learn more about becoming one HERE. 
6/18/202136 minutes, 17 seconds
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267: #Summer Writing Plans

Summer is… here? Nigh? Here and nigh? The sun is frequently shining, the end-of-year festivities are doing their kinda-post-pandemic-kinda-not thing and soon, if you’re a family type, you’ll have kids home for the duration—and if you’re not, the great outdoors will still be calling, making it harder to work than when you’re hunkered down during a snowstorm. We talk summer writing goals and the challenges of meeting them, share summer podcast plans and get generally excited for changing it up and taking some breaks. Jess shouts out the Spotify Deep Focus Playlist, and KJ vague-reviews a book that didn’t stick the landing. (If you’re dying of curiosity, send an email and we’ll share the title, but we decided long ago that we’re a podcast for literary love, not lit crit.) #AmReading Jess: The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren Sarina: Annabeth Albert Rachel Lacey Eli Easton Garrett Leigh Autoboyography by Christina Lauren KJ: Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers  The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai  As always we’re sponsored by Author Accelerator—THE place to find a book coach or become one! KJ here, and I think I’m a book coach addict. I have an editor waiting for this revision and an agent who’s always happy to read and I’m STILL tempted to call up a coach and say, please, hold my hand! I’m resisting (because I’ve ALREADY DONE THAT for this book, twice) but you shouldn’t. A book coach could help you set the right kind of goals for the summer, or be ready and waiting when you get back into gear in the fall—or, spend some time this summer setting up your book coaching side gig. New seasons, fresh starts, love them all. Find a book coach HERE or learn more about becoming one HERE. 
6/11/202140 minutes, 43 seconds
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266: #Sensitivity Readers with Jordan Shapiro and Jazz

Hey all, Jess here. When I agreed to read and blurb Jordan Shapiro’s new book, Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad, I was struck by the attention he paid to inclusivity and the language he used to describe it. When I mentioned it to him, he told me he’d used a sensitivity reader named Jazz to ensure he got the language right.  Sensitivity readers are becoming more of a norm in publishing. Jodi Picoult has tweeted about how much she depends on hers to get her descriptions, language, and representation right in her books articles like this one in the Guardian and this one in Vulture are great primers on the topic.  We asked Jordan and Jazz to join us to talk about the experience of working together to create Father Figure. #AmReading Jazz: What's Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She by Dennis Baron Jordan: Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro KJ: Conjure Women by Afia Atakora Jess: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert  As always we’re sponsored by Author Accelerator—THE place to find a book coach or become one! KJ here, and I think I’m a book coach addict. I have an editor waiting for this revision and an agent who’s always happy to read and I’m STILL tempted to call up a coach and say, please, hold my hand! I’m resisting (because I’ve ALREADY DONE THAT for this book, twice) but you shouldn’t. A book coach could help you set the right kind of goals for the summer, or be ready and waiting when you get back into gear in the fall—or, spend some time this summer setting up your book coaching side gig. New seasons, fresh starts, love them all. Find a book coach HERE or learn more about becoming one HERE. 
6/4/202145 minutes, 33 seconds
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265: Everybody Suffers, Not Everybody Can #Write About it with Stacy Kim

Stacy Kim is a freelance writer who’s beginning to see some real success in her career, with bylines in Real Simple, The Washington Post, Wired and more. We talked to her about getting started as a writer, finding her topic and her expertise, and learning that it’s not enough to have a story—you have to give the editor a reason to want you to share it, and the reader a reason to want to read it.  Links from the Pod: Sue Shapiro’s classes (highly recommended) Stacy’s essays and other work: Lighthouse Method in Real Simple hoarding in WashPo I found Korean culture sexist and stifling. Then my kid fell in love with K-pop: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/05/07/korean-culture-teenager-fan/ A visit to Seoul during Covid changed my opinion of a country I once despised https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/seoul-korea-covid-pandemic-america-b1816535.html wired Got Done List #AmReading Stacy: If I had Your Face by Frances Cha Miracle Creek by Angie Kim Ethan Cross, Jeffrey Selingo KJ: Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger Sarina: Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal And check out Stacy’s website www.lifejunctions.com In this episode, we talk—indirectly—about owning your expertise. It’s a challenge for many of us to admit we know things, that we’re good at things, that we have experience to offer. If your experience is as a reader and editor, maybe it’s time for you to turn what you have to offer into a real business by becoming a book coach. Just imagine enrolling in the classes, meeting a cohort, learning all the ways coaches are editorial and emotional support for writers and then starting to line up your first clients. Students working with Author Accelerator say they begin to book authors before they’re even done with the course, and often end up being booked months in advance. Sound like fun? AGREED. Go to bookcoaches.com to learn more. 
5/28/202144 minutes, 15 seconds
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264: Being #Edited (is a Very Good Thing)

We love being edited. We love editors. But truth: sometimes being edited is hard. Sometimes you need to interpret things differently, ask questions or push back. In this episode, we talk about how to do that, what makes a good editor and how to find one, how to be edited in your freelance work and—my favorite—why you can’t say your editor is wrong.  #AmReading Jess: Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet from Itself by Chloe Angyal Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome  Sarina: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert KJ: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid If you reply to this email I’ll tell you what book Jess didn’t like :).  Thinking about hiring an editor—aka a book coach? I’ve worked with two from Author Accelerator now (and I PAID THEM, it’s not a perk of being sponsored :)) and they were wonderful. As we say in the episode, the best editors represent your readers, and they know what those readers are here for and how you can give it to them. Author Accelerator book coaches are those editors. Find them here—or, if you know you’ve got exactly that editor within you, head here to find out more about becoming a book coach yourself.
5/21/202143 minutes, 25 seconds
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263: No, Really, It's #Fiction: Writing novels that reflect (but differ dramatically from) your life with Emma Gannon

Emma Gannon is a best-selling author, a podcaster, a journalist, writer of fiction and non-fiction and just general woman-about-town, as known for her writing about the new world of work as she soon will be for her fiction. Her debut novel, Olive, centers on a journalist who loves her career and the many other things that fill her world, friends, fun, family—and is in the process of owning her sense that children won’t be one of those things. Emma, like her protagonist, is happily without spawn—and that’s what we’re talking about on the pod. No, not deciding whether to have kids, you know us better than that—but turning your personal life into fiction—advantages, disadvantages, and what comes next.  #AmReading Emma: Animal by Lisa Taddeo The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self by Martha Beck Jess: High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out by Amanda Ripley KJ: Would I lie to you by Judi Ketteler Find our guest, Emma Gannon, on Twitter at @emmagannon, her website www.emmagannon.co.uk, and check out her podcast—Ctrl Alt Dlt.  Hello, your dream job is calling! Click here to revel in some success stories from Author Accelerator’s book coach certification program and imagine where you could be next year—if you sign up now. 
5/14/202138 minutes, 47 seconds
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262: #Breaking into Food Writing and Redefining Success with Reem Kassis

Our guest today is a wildly successful food writer who’s fresh off an appearance on Fresh Air—and who never “should” have written a cookbook at all. (Read on for a recipe.) Here’s her bio, in her own words: I grew up a Palestinian in Israel. I went to an American missionary school and by the grace of whatever gods were looking down on me and sheer grit, I came to UPenn for undergrad, where I struggled initially, but kept going until I graduated in the top of my class and went on straight to do my MBA at Wharton. From there, McKinsey, The London School of Economics, The World Economic Forum and, by any measure, a fast track, prestigious career. But I felt disillusioned when I realized I was following the herd and living someone else’s version of success, not mine. So I turned my back on the whole thing and decided to write a cookbook. But she did (The Palestinian Table) and now she’s written another (The Arabesque Table). We talk about the nitty gritty of cookbook publishing along with the things she didn’t know (and how that helped), why you should just ask and how to convince yourself—and others—that you know what you need to know to make this happen. #AmReading Reem: Beyond the North Wind: Russia in Recipes and Lore by Darra Goldstein The Mountains Sing by Mai Phan Que Nguyen Your Turn: How to Be an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims KJ: My Kitchen Year : 136 Recipes That Saved My Life: a Cookbook by Ruth Reichl Cook’s Illustrated Chinese Recipes Sarina: Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook by Kristen Miglore Find Reem on Instagram: Reem.kassis RECIPE! Quick and Easy Bseeseh (Nut and Date Snacks) Makes 25-30 balls Ingredients 1 cup (51/4 oz/150 g) unhulled sesame seeds 14 oz (400 g) date paste (see Note) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (choose one whose flavor you like) 1/4 cup (1 oz / 30 g) pistachios (or any other nut you like), coarsely ground 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon Method 1. Line a large plate with parchment or wax (greaseproof) paper and set aside. 2. In a large frying pan, dry-roast the sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until aromatic and toasted, 7–10 minutes. You’ll know they are toasted when you start to hear some seeds popping and smell the nutty aroma of sesame and notice the color darken slightly. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plate, and set aside to cool completely.  3. In a large bowl, combine the date paste, olive oil, pistachios, cinnamon, and cooled sesame seeds. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Wearing disposable food gloves is the easiest way to do this.  4. Take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll between your palms to form a ball, then place on the lined plate. Repeat to make 25–30 balls.  5. Store the balls in an airtight container, with layers of parchment beneath and between. Although they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks, I recommend storing them in the fridge. They taste just as delicious when firmer and cooler. Note from Reem: Date paste can be found in any Middle Eastern grocery shop. You could also buy very soft Medjool dates and work them into a paste with your hands. If you do, I recommend wearing gloves and using some oil, otherwise it can get quite sticky. To get 14 ounces (400 g) of date paste you will need roughly 25 large Medjool dates. Addendum from KJ: There are lots of recipes for date paste online, and most seem to involve soaking the dates first overnight then popping them in a food processor or blender. I’m guessing that’s probably because your dates are unlikely to be “very soft.” And—hello, your dream job is calling! Click here to revel in some success stories from Author Accelerator’s book coach certification program and imagine where you could be next year—if you sign up now.
5/7/202144 minutes, 20 seconds
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261: Really #Funny, Real and Funny: Rom-Coms, plotting and finding characters with Mhairi McFarlane

Plotting and pantsing, loving your genre, voice, self-doubt… what didn’t we talk about with Mhairi McFarlane? And she has such a lovely Scottish accent to do it in, too. We know you’ll love this episode.  #AmReading Mhairi: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (aka El Piso Para Dos in KJ’s Spanish version) Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls Sarina: The Price You Pay for College by Ron Lieber (from episode Turning Data into #Narrative)  Re-reading Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley KJ: Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez Follow Mhairi on Twitter: @mhairimcf In this episode we talked a lot about finding ideas, chasing them around and pinning them down. Jennie Nash from our sponsor, Author Accelerator, has a list of the idea process, in this case for non-fiction books:  I had an idea, which came to me in the form of six words in a very specific order… and which stuck in my mind long enough to ping against a memory… which caused me to think about the connection between those two things (this new thought, this old memory)… which prompted me to land on the idea of a process… which suggests some sort of order or structure or shape… which led me to believe I had something to say… which prompted me to put a title on a blank page and start writing this blog post… which I already have a strong feeling is going to become a book. In fiction, it goes somewhat differently—at least, I can’t see where “process” fits in—but the two things pinging against one another in your brain rings true for me for sure. Sign up for their free email Writing Challenge to help you plan what your book will be about, how to structure it, where it starts and ends, and who your target readers are and what they are looking for—and you’ll also be on the list to get emails from Jennie that somehow always manage to be just what I need when they arrive.  Have you checked out the Writing Class Radio podcast? Writing Class Radio is a podcast of a writing class.  If you love stories and get inspired by hearing other people tell their stories and want to learn a little bit about how to write your own stories, then this podcast is for you. Check it out here or search for it in your pod-player.
4/30/202140 minutes, 39 seconds
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260: #Writing Without Knowing Where You're Going with Kristin Van Ogtrop

Working on an essay collection? Dreaming of becoming a literary agent? We were all over the map with Kristin Van Ogtrop, agent at InkWell Management, author of the essay collection Did I Say That Out Loud: Midlife Indignities and How to Survive Them and former editor of Real Simple Magazine (which KJ mistakenly attributed to Conde Nast but is really part of the Time Inc. empire). Midlifers, essayists, job-hoppers—this is for you! Mentioned on the pod The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker Nalini Singh, #AmWriting episode The Power of Writing as Play The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante #AmReading Kristin: American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser Jess: Bombshells by Sarina Bowen  The Happy Ever After Playlist and Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez KJ: Brood by Jackie Polzin Find Kristin on Instagram and Twitter as @kvanogtrop  or at her website www.kristinvanogtrop.com Your dream job is calling—can you hear it? Check out these success stories from Author Accelerator’s book coach certification program and start imagining what your life could look like this time next year.  And have you checked out the Writing Class Radio podcast? Writing Class Radio is a podcast of a writing class.  If you love stories and get inspired by hearing other people tell their stories and want to learn a little bit about how to write your own stories, then this podcast is for you. Check it out here or search for it in your pod-player.
4/23/202141 minutes, 24 seconds
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259: More Q, More A: Organizing research, handling would-be writer friends, finding great editors and writing classes and the kicker: How Do You Become Liz Gilbert?

We love answering your questions! If we missed yours, head over to the Facebook group or reply to this episode and we’ll try to get there next time.  Links from the pod: early episodes on How to Get an Agent, Planning your work, Keeping Organized, and Getting Unstuck Semikolon sticky notes Evernote Best online writing classes: Rachael Herron, Better Faster Academy, Grub Street, New School, Writers Digest University, Gotham Writers, Writers Studio, UPOD Academy, Sue Shapiro #AmReading Jess: Last Call by Elon Green KJ: Super Host by Kate Russo And—love us, love our sponsors! If you’ve been dreaming of a book coaching career, you know you want the guidance of Jennie Nash and the crew at AuthorAccelerator. You’ll find everything you need at bookcoaches.com/amwriting. 
4/16/202146 minutes, 58 seconds
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258: Writing While #Broken: Talking Depression, Anxiety and Writer's Block with Jenny Lawson

Writing is hard. In this episode, we talk imposter syndrome, editing, the right headspace for reading your own stuff, why you might need a “nice” agent, reading your work aloud to friends, recording audiobooks in the closet, being years late on a deadline, sending your editor proof of life and the deep inner conviction that people only buy your book because they feel sorry for you. #ohyeah. #AmReading Jess: Win by Harlan Coben  Jenny: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian Note: Bookriot Podcast KJ: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry Jenny’s Bookshop: The Nowhere Bookshop, San Antonio, TX The Fantastic Strangelings Book Club books: Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones Swallowed Man by Edward Carey Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas The Did Bad Things by Lauren A. Forry Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby Find Jenny at The Bloggess! And have you checked out the Writing Class Radio podcast? Writing Class Radio is a podcast of a writing class.  If you love stories and get inspired by hearing other people tell their stories and want to learn a little bit about how to write your own stories, then this podcast is for you. Check it out here or search for it in your pod-player. Need a new gig in the writing world? Have you considered becoming a book coach, but never known how to get started or been able to envision what that might look like for YOU? Author Accelerator can help. Sign up at bookcoaches.com to get a free mini course on what book coaching is, who makes a good book coach, and how you can make money helping writers soar.
4/9/202138 minutes, 34 seconds
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257: Become a #Better Faster Stronger Writer with Becca Syme

Who wouldn’t want to write better and faster? I can’t even imagine. Our guest this week is Becca Syme, creator of the Better Faster Academy, author of Dear Writer You Need to Quit as well as other books in the Quit series and the author of the MatchBaker series of cozy mysteries (with such glorious titles as “Vangie Vale and the Murdered Macaron”). Her superpower is helping writers find what they do best—their strengths—and do more of that instead of worrying about trying to “fix” the things we aren’t naturally good at. Links from the pod The Clifton Strengths Test The Ted Lasso blog post Better Faster Academy The Quitcast on YouTube #AmReading Becca: Mandy M. Roth  Yasmine Galenorn  Rajani LaRocca  DEVS (TV show) Sarina: Unguarded by Jay Hogan (part of Sarina’s World of True North) KJ: The Shit No One Tells You About Writing (podcast) Have y’all heard about the Writing Class Radio podcast? Writing Class Radio is a podcast of a writing class.  If you love stories and get inspired by hearing other people tell their stories and want to learn a little bit about how to write your own stories, then this podcast is for you. Check it out here or search for it in your pod-player. KJ here, popping in to tell y’all about what happened for me with Author Accelerator two weeks ago. I needed a fresh “cold read” of a book that everyone close to me has now read about twelve times, so Author Accelerator set me up with a brand new coach. For $2k (yes, you have to pay for expertise) she read my 320 page manuscript in a weekend and answered all my questions (I had some very specific things I needed help with). I’m wrapping up a revision for my new editor now and I couldn’t be happier. I love that they could do that for me—and I still love the thought that maybe I could become that coach for someone else. If that turns you on, too, head to bookcoaches.com to learn more—or if you’re looking for editorial eyes, check in at authoraccelerator.com. (And reply to this email if you’d like to know more about my coach, who was great!)
4/2/202142 minutes, 28 seconds
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256: Your Q's, A'd: Stealing ideas, asking for blurbs and the elusive "platform"

It’s part one of… who knows? As we answer questions from our email and our Facebook group (if you’re not part of that, jump in HERE). We answered questions about working with experts, talking about WIPS (nonfiction and fiction, both), sucking up to influencers, being told your platform sucks, Goodreads etiquette and the always popular can you make a living writing (yes, but not quickly or easily).  If your questions is still unanswered, no worries—we’ve got more in the queue for upcoming episodes. And feel free to ask us anything, via Facebook, by replying to this if you’ve received it as an email or by emailing TKPOD EMAIL LINK. #AmReading Jess: Yellow Bird by Sierra Crane Murdoch KJ: A Cup of Silver Linings by Karen Hawkins Jess here, to rave about all I continue to learn at The Great Courses Plus. I’ve been on a Jamestown kick, a Victoria kick, a great women in writing jag, and even traveled to Ireland recently in a travel video and again through a course on paganism in Europe. Who knows what I will be learning next week. Sometimes I listen to random classes just to see if I like the topic, and if not, who cares! Try another! You can get a month free if you use the link thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting. Go forth and learn something!
3/26/202139 minutes, 31 seconds
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255: Episode 255 The Power of Writing as Play with Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh is a romance writer. Or, she was a romance writer until she decided she wanted to write a thriller. Jess and Sarina had so much fun talking about genre hopping and writing the books that speak to you. There’s no requirement that we stay in our lanes, Nalini reminded us. We also took some time to lament our dearly missed in-person writers conferences and Nalini gushed about the joy of afternoon teas with her superfans.  Sarina often points to Nalani’s email newsletter as one of the best she’s read, so we are linking to it here and you should absolutely sign up. She offers bonus content and glances behind the scenes of her life as a writer in New Zealand. Finally, Nalini reminds of the power of play in writing. She wrote her thrillers as exercises in play, something with no deadlines attached, and offers this sage advice:  “Don’t be afraid to write the book that wants to be different from all the rest.” With that, go forth and play with your words, but go visit Nalini Singh’s website first. #AmReading Nalani: The entire J.D. Robb backlist Sarina: Darkroom by Kate Willoughby (part of Sarina’s World of True North) Jess: Simon v. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli KJ here, popping in to tell y’all about what happened for me with Author Accelerator this week. I needed a fresh “cold read” of a book that everyone close to me has now read about twelve times, so Author Accelerator set me up with a brand new coach. For $2k (yes, you have to pay for expertise) she read my 320 page manuscript in a weekend and answered all my questions (I had some very specific things I needed help with). I’m wrapping up a revision for my new editor now and I couldn’t be happier. I love that they could do that for me—and I still love the thought that maybe I could become that coach for someone else. If that turns you on, too, head to bookcoaches.com to learn more—or if you’re looking for editorial eyes, check in at authoraccelerator.com. Jess here, to rave about all I continue to learn at The Great Courses Plus. I’ve been on a Jamestown kick, a Victoria kick, a great women in writing jag, and even traveled to Ireland recently in a travel video and again through a course on paganism in Europe. Who knows what I will be learning next week. Sometimes I listen to random classes just to see if I like the topic, and if not, who cares! Try another! You can get a month free if you use the link thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting. Go forth and learn something!
3/19/202135 minutes, 11 seconds
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254: Episode 254 How to Prep a NonFiction Launch the Jess Way

Jess’s new book, The Addiction Inoculation, launches April 6th, and we talk about all the things she’s done to set herself up for feeling like she’s done everything in her power to make this launch a good one. We discuss the differences between launching fiction and non-fiction, first book vs. second book, non-covid v. covid, when to hire a publicist, turning a book into a speaking career and (as always) more.  #AmReading Sarina: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade Jess: 1619 by James Horn (watching: Jamestown on Amazon Prime) KJ: You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar Spring is coming (slowly here in New England) and we’re excited about the whole idea of change and new beginnings and birds and grass and—stuff like that. What does that have to do with #AmWriting? Maybe it’s time for a new beginning for you as a book coach? Just imagine enrolling in the classes, meeting a cohort, learning all the ways coaches are editorial and emotional support for writers and then starting to line up your first clients. Students working with Author Accelerator say they begin to book authors before they’re even done with the course, and often end up being booked months in advance. Sound like fun? AGREED. Go to bookcoaches.com to learn more. And at the beginning of the episode, we listened to Jess talk about all the things she loves about The Great Courses – and we think you’ll like it too! Whether you want to learn ASL, deep dive into Russian literature, or study more about the history of getting to where we, as humans, are today; The Great Courses has a topic for you. You can find out more by visiting https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting.
3/12/202140 minutes, 17 seconds
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253: From Breakout Article to Book: Writing about #Nothing and Everything with Olga Mecking

Today's guest, Olga Mecking, is a freelance journalist who’s enjoyed exactly the version of success many freelancers dream about. She went from publishing her own work on her blog to pitching outside publications, gradually reaching bigger and bigger audiences until her article The Case for Doing Nothing in the New York Times became a breakout success and led to a book contract for her new book Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing. I know you’ll enjoy this interview—we go deep into building a freelance career and the nuts and bolts of making that happen. We’re shaking things up a little this week, and I interviewed Olga solo, which made a nice break for me from the novel revisions I’m working on, or at least staring at, this week. One thing Olga and I talk about is what it was like to go from writing articles to writing an entire book—and part of the answer was, painful! But it’s still the dream for many writers. If you’ve got a book in you and you’re struggling to bring it out, you should absolutely check in with our sponsor, Author Accelerator, where they can match you up with a book coach who suits your work no matter where you are in the process. And if it’s the book coaching part of that that intrigues you, Author Accelerator also trains its book coaches in everything that goes into working with writers and running a book coaching business. You can find out more about that at bookcoaches.com/amwriting. Links from the Podcast Olga’s freelance portfolio Olga’s original piece in Woolly Magazine is no longer available online. Susan Maccarelli’s Beyond Your Blog podcast is also no longer available.  Olga’s original article in the NYT: The Case for Doing Nothing Olga’s piece in Well Family: In the Country of Motherhood, Finding My Own Path Some great advice from Olga on freelancing at Forbes.com. Olga’s grandfather’s memoir of surviving the Holocaust, translated by Olga. #AmReading Olga: The Confession by Jessie Burton Oxford Key Mysteries by Lynn Morrison KJ: The Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey Follow Olga on Facebook, by joining her Facebook Group The Nikseneers or at her website: www.olgamecking.com And—love us, love our sponsors! If you’ve been dreaming of a book coaching career, you know you want the guidance of Jennie Nash and the crew at AuthorAccelerator. You’ll find everything you need at bookcoaches.com/amwriting. We hope you’ve heard Jess waxing rhapsodic about learning all the things over at The Great Courses Plus. Goodness knows what she’s learning about today….small business accounting? The Pacific Theater in WWII? Anything’s possible, because…Jess. If you’d like to learn something new today, you can get a free month of The Great Courses Plus at thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting.
3/5/202141 minutes, 25 seconds
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252: How to Write a Post-Covid Romance with Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai writes fun, joyful contemporary romances about smart, mature people who still struggle to find love. And by mature, we don’t mean old—I mean, these characters make good choices and try to understand themselves and other people, but it’s still not easy. We talk about those character choices, but before we dig in, we discuss Alisha’s decision to set her current book, First Comes Like, in a post-Covid world with special attention to what it’s going to be like as we emerge from a period of loneliness and loss—and still write a funny, entertaining, diverting romance.  #AmReading KJ: First Comes Like by Alisha Rai Sarina: Sweetheart by Sarah Mayberry Alisha: Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne Love at First by Kate Clayborn Find Alisha: On Twitter: @AlishaRai On Instagram: @AlishaRaiWrites On TikTok: @TheRealAlishaRai Wish you had someone to discuss settings and characters and possible post-Covid worlds with as you work on your current project? Or do you wish you could be that sounding board for other writers? Our sponsor, Author Accelerator, can help you find a book coach or become one. Find out more at authoraccelerator.com and bookcoaches.com/amwriting.
2/26/202130 minutes, 4 seconds
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251: How to give your fun read a solid, poke-in-the-gut point with Anna North

It’s a freewheeling conversation about writing fiction that tells a great story—and makes you think about the world beyond the story, with January Reese’s Book Club pick Anna North. Links from the pod:  Anna’s essay on the writing of Outlawed #AmReading Anna: In the Distance by Hernan Diaz How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang Jess: First Comes Like by Alisha Rai http://www.alisharai.com/ KJ: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo And—if you’re in the midst of a project and you with you had someone to help you balance story and that not-too-pokey-stick point, our sponsor, Author Accelerator, can help find the right coach for you—or help you become that coach for someone else. Find out more at bookcoaches.com/amwriting.
2/19/202147 minutes, 48 seconds
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250: Growing Thick Skin: Handling #Haters, Commenters and Bad Reviews

Does this ever get easier? That’s the question we’re often asked by newer writers in the process of putting themselves out there and worried about how their work will be received. We were unanimous—yes, it does, and you don’t have to spend five years reading every single comment on your writing (and parenting, and intelligence, and everything else) from New York Times readers to get to the point where you can manage even the reviews you most dread without letting them keep you up at night. We talk types of bad reviews, strategies for coping with them and how to arm yourself for everything your pub date can bring.  #AmReading KJ: Cobble Hill by Cecily Von Ziegesar Eliza Starts a Rumor by Jane L. Rosen Sarina: Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer Jess: Studly Period by Sarina Bowen (on audio) Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird In this episode, we talk about how Jennie Nash from Author Accelerator makes you write both your most dreaded review—and your best one—and how knowing what you fear before your book is even written can help you handle whatever comes. If you’d like to work with a book coach like Jennie, head to AuthorAccelerator.com—and if you think your talents lie in helping other authors prevent the worst reviews they fear, you should consider becoming a book coach. You can learn more about that at bookcoaches.com/amwriting. 
2/12/202144 minutes, 42 seconds
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249: Turning Data into #Narrative with Ron Lieber

In this episode, we go seriously pro, talking to Ron Lieber, the Your Money columnist for the New York Times and the author of The Price You Pay for College and The Opposite of Spoiled. Ron shares his system for writing information and data-packed chapters—or columns—while making them relatable and digestible. Pro tip: it starts with “strip-mining” the brains of the top five experts you can find—and, as Ron says, being in the business of asking uncomfortable questions. Other great moments—waterproof shower crayons and how to highlight a tweet without interrupting the reading of your audio-book.  Find all things Ron here. #AmReading Ron: Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal by Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel Jess: Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene KJ: The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers   So, did you know Jennie Nash grossed over $400K as a book coach in 2020? If that makes your ears perk up—and I bet it did—and you’re intrigued by the idea of working with writers, helping people realize their dreams and making money doing it, head to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to learn more.  Jess is at it again, learning all the things. This week, the former Latin teacher revisited the story of Julia, the daughter of Caesar Augustus and the Celtic warrior queen, Boudicca in the course, “Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women before 1400,” taught by Joyce E. Salisbury, Ph.D. She’s learning things and taking names. If you are interested in giving The Great Courses Plus a try, you can get a month free at thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting! Go forth, dear #AmWriters, and learn something new! 
2/5/202147 minutes, 11 seconds
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248: Mental #Chatter with Ethan Kross: Harnessing the voices in our heads for good

Our guest today, Ethan Kross, is one of the world’s leading experts on controlling the conscious mind. His new book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters and How to Harness it, sits at that enviable intersection between academic and commercial nonfiction, and in a way that seems to be exactly where Ethan himself—who teaches in both the business school and the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan—sits, right there in the place where all kinds of things intersect, doing research into the ways our mysterious selves affect the ways we behave on the inside and on the outside.  We talked to Ethan about what we call “writer chatter”—those voices in our head that tell us we’re not good enough, smart enough, anything enough to write the things we want to write, and then we branched off into his experience transitioning from academic writing to writing for a wider audience and what his inner voices had to say about that. In the end, Ethan reminded us that we don’t want to live without our inner voices—we need them in many ways—but we do want to shift those voices to our most positive “station.” His tips for doing that—using treasured objects and lucky charms, reminders of the ways we’ve been down this road before and encouraging the power of our own optimism—are going to help us get our inner chatterboxes on the right track.  #AmReading Ethan: A Promised Land by Barack Obama Eat a Peach by David Chang Sarina: A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore KJ: Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu We hope you’ve heard Jess waxing rhapsodic about learning all the things over at The Great Courses Plus. Goodness knows what she’s learning about today….small business accounting? The Pacific Theater in WWII? Anything’s possible, because…Jess. If you’d like to learn something new today, you can get a free month of The Great Courses Plus at thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting.  And I—KJ—spent an hour on Zoom this week with a pack of excited alums from Author Accelerator’s book coaching course, and it was so much fun to hear a little about their plans and talk about the ways being coached has helped me—immeasurably—with my fiction. If becoming a book coach has been niggling around the corners of your brain, poking you and demanding that you give it some thought, head to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to learn more. 
1/29/202146 minutes, 8 seconds
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247: #Writing All Over the Map with Jacob Sager Weinstein

This week Jess talks to Jacob Sager Weinstein, a writer who has done just about everything. He started out with highbrow aspirations, as he learned his craft from none other than Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates, and has worked as a journalist, screenwriter, comedy writer as well as a fiction and nonfiction author. In his travels from Princeton to HBO to the sewers of London (really!) Jacob has learned the art of the pivot as well as the secret to finding joy in just about every kind of writing project. His newest book is How to Remember Everything: Tips & Tricks to Becoming a Memory Master and Jess, the worst number rememberer on the planet, can attest that the memory tricks on pages 64-67 are brilliant and work beautifully.  Links from the pod Jacob’s webpage The Hyacinth Series How to Remember Everything #AmReading Jess: The Mission: How a Disciple of Carl Sagan, an Ex-Motocross Race, a Texas Tea Party Congressman, the Worlds Worst Typewriter Saleswoman, California Mountain People, and an Anonymous NASA Functionary Went to War with Mars, Survived an Insurgency at Saturn, Traded Blows with Washington, and Stole a Ride on an Alabama Moon Rocket to Send a Space Robot to Jupiter in Search of the Second Garden of Eden at the Bottom of an Alien Ocean Inside of an Ice World Called Europa by David W. Brown Jacob: All the Beverly Cleary. And by all of it, he means all of it.  And—love us, love our sponsors! If you’ve been dreaming of a book coaching career, you know you want the guidance of Jennie Nash and the crew at AuthorAccelerator. You’ll find everything you need at bookcoaches.com/amwriting. We hope you’ve heard Jess waxing rhapsodic about learning all the things over at The Great Courses Plus. Goodness knows what she’s learning about today….small business accounting? The Pacific Theater in WWII? Anything’s possible, because…Jess. If you’d like to learn something new today, you can get a free month of The Great Courses Plus at thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting. 
1/22/202144 minutes, 39 seconds
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246: Historical #Fiction the Only Way I Know How with Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins is best-selling, award-winning, and still having fun with all she does—in other words, all the things we writers aspire to when we sit down at the desk. But when she first got started, she “didn’t have a clue”—and that might have freed her to do exactly what she wanted to do.  We talk keeping history accurate but still making it entertaining, the joy of placing characters in a particular moment in time, bookshelf placement (“African American Literature”? “Men’s Health”?) and the pleasures of changing up your process for every new book. Am Reading Beverly: Shadows in Death by J.D. Robb Battle Ground by Jim Butcher Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse The Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews “If I could only have one author for the whole rest of my life it would be Ilona Andrews.” Sarina:  My Last Duchess by Eloisa James Dark Witch by Nora Roberts KJ: Wandering in Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins Beverly thought KJ definitely needed to watch the Love Between the Cover documentary KJ’s Brain Fart: While J.D. Robb is and always will be the great Nora Roberts, I have been enjoying the Writers, Ink podcast with J. Thorn and J.D. Barker lately. Barker writes thrillers, most recently with James Patterson. Our guest today LOVES TWITTER. Find her there in “Romancelandia” at authorMsBev And she hangs out on no less than three Facebook pages! But somehow she’s still getting her work done. #jealous. Hey readers! We can’t stop talking about our new sponsor The Great Courses. While Jess has been a fan for literally years, the rest of the #AmWriting crew are working to get caught up on all the great goodness they have to offer. You can find out more about them at https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting. And - as we move into 2021 working towards achieving new goals: if you find yourself asking ‘Is this the year I launch my own book coaching business?’, you know we cannot recommend Author Accelerator enough! Their book coaching course is everything you need to get started. Find out more at bookcoaches.com/amwriting.
1/15/202147 minutes, 37 seconds
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245: #Pitching with Passion with Lisa Levenstein

Hey kids, we’re getting back to basics this week with a down-n-dirty episode on pitching, focused on opinion pages everywhere. We’re talking to Lisa Levenstein, an academic, historian and feminist (and the Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program and Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina Greensboro) with two books under her belt: A Movement Without Marches: African American Women and the Politics of Poverty in Postwar Philadelphia and They Didn’t See Us Coming: The Hidden History of Feminism in the Nineties. Lisa took that expertise and those books and turned them into a growing career writing passionate freelance pieces of a kind that really appeal to editors—blending current issues with her special historic perspective on women’s issues. We talked about everything from subject lines to finding your topic to using one piece as a steppingstone to break into another market, and it was fabulous. Enjoy! Links from the pod Lisa’s piece on child care in WashPo. Lisa herself #AmReading Lisa: Big Friendship How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman Sarina: What Happens In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand KJ: The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal Have you checked out our new sponsor? Thanks to The Great Courses for coming on board. Jess has been a fan for literally years, while Sarina and KJ are planning to catch up. Find out more at https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting. And—is this the year you launch your own book coaching business? You know how much we love Author Accelerator, and their book coaching course is everything you need to get started. Find out more at bookcoaches.com/amwriting.
1/8/202138 minutes, 26 seconds
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244: Setting Writer #Goals for 2021

Last year’s words: Abundance. Practice. Magic. This year? Generous, Organize, Flow. It’s only now, writing these shownotes, that I see a pretty pattern… which is more that one of us chooses words she wants to embody, one chooses words she wants to shape her actions and the other seems to be counting on the muse in what may be a dubious way. Who’s who? It might surprise you.  Welcome to our 2020 year in review/2021 goals episode. We’d love to hear your plans for the year—and how last year went. Come visit us on Facebook and share! #AmReading / #AmListening Jess: Come Out Come Out podcast Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-And-Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson KJ: Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin Deep Work by Cal Newport Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing by Olga Mecking Frontier Follies by Ree Drummond Sarina: The Search by Nora Roberts The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry (Out of Print) Blindsided by Victoria Denault from Sarina’s new imprint Heart Eyes Press We’ve got a new sponsor! Thanks to The Great Courses for coming on board. Jess has been a fan for literally years, while Sarina and KJ are planning to catch up. Find out more at https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/amwriting. And—is this the year you launch your own book coaching business? You know how much we love Author Accelerator, and their book coaching course is everything you need to get started. Find out more at bookcoaches.com/amwriting.
1/1/202143 minutes, 34 seconds
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243: #Fact-based Fiction and Fiction from Facts with Mark Olshaker

A little #AmWriting behind the scenes: as we headed into this recording, Jess texted KJ: Here’s the lowdown on Mark: I have been a fan of Mark Olshaker’s writing since I first encountered it in 1995. He may be best known for his work with former FBI Special Agent John Douglas, his writing partner since 1995, who pioneered the behavioral crimes unit at the FBI and inspired the Jack Crawford character in Silence of the Lambs. Together they have written many books including Mindhunter, about the role of behavioral profiling in catching violent criminals. His work with Douglas has landed him on the bestseller lists, but he has also written five novels and his nonfiction and documentary work covers subjects as wide-ranging emerging infectious disease, forensic emergency medicine, bioterror, the Lindburgh baby, and victims’ rights. He is also an Emmy-award winning filmmaker, as if that’s not enough AND, in a topic near and dear to my heart, he wrote, produced, and directed the film Discovering Hamlet, about one of my favorite productions of Hamlet directed by Dereck Jacobi and starring Kenneth Branagh. He follows Branagh and Jacobi from first read-throughs to opening night in 1988 and it’s now my life goal to see this film. Mark began his career as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Wall Street Journal, NYT, WaPo, and USA Today and I am SO very excited to talk with him today! The result was every bit as fun as you’d imagine. We talked about finding the real story behind Silence of the Lambs, the “other kinds of detectives”—epidemiologists—and drawing a story based on taking a fact and running with it. Mark quotes Tom Clancy: “The difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction has to make sense.” Plus, our guest eviscerates Henry James. Links from the pod: Mind of a Killer PBS episode. The Killer’s Shadow and The Killer Across the Table MindhuntersInc.com #AmReading Mark’s favorite crime fiction: George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Ian McEwan Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren KJ: Plain Bad Heroines Emily M. Danforth Jess: Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow Great Books by David Denby As we say every week—we’re so proud to be sponsored by Author Accelerator and Dabble. If you’re wondering—why Dabble and not Scrivener? For us, it’s that plotting tool and the intuitive way it works, but others have weighed in—check that out here with a little Dabble v. Scrivener scoop. And if listening to all of our conversations about book coaching has made you think, hey—that’s the career for me—then you’ll want to head to Author Accelerator’s BookCoaches.com to see how you can make that happen. 
12/25/202045 minutes, 42 seconds
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242: Finding All the Voices: Writing Reflective #Nonfiction with Julie Lythcott-Haims

Writing nonfiction outside the memoir space usually means finding sources and stories that are not your own. Narrative, self-help, history, economics, social sciences, nature—no matter what your topic, this form of writing requires reporting, just as many freelance assignments do. So where do you go when you’re looking for sources? Often, your own backyard—and for lots of us, that can mean we inadvertently only talk to people who share our perspective, and sometimes our privilege.  Nobody knows that better than Julie Lythcott-Haims. For all her books, and most particularly for her latest, Julie has made it a point to draw from sources that reflect the diversity of our larger national experience. We talked about finding those sources, owning the need to seek out specific points of view and how you know when you’ve got it right. Links from the Pod Ed Yong’s article in the Atlantic about what he’s learned as he’s worked to diversify his sources: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/i-spent-two-years-trying-to-fix-the-gender-imbalance-in-my-stories/552404/ Adrienne LaFrance on gender bias in her own reporting: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/gender-diversity-journalism/463023/ Our Minisode on diversity in sources for non-fiction work, from light-hearted articles on favorite baby food flavors to seriously researched pieces for high-profile outlets. BIPOC, non-binary and women are outweighed by white men when it comes to who gets quoted in the news, whether the voice is adding an expert perspective or just a little local color. In it, we suggest the following: SheSource Informed Voices NPR’s Source of the Week and how to use it. Columbia University’s list of female, non-binary and BIPOC experts on the media HARO #AmReading Julie: The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs Jess: Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition by Patricia Churchland KJ: Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth Sarina and KJ have news! The Chicken Sisters is out tomorrow, 12/1. Today’s the last day to pre-order! Signed copies here, Bookshop.org here, Amazon here—and if you order from your local indie and fill out this form, I’ll mail you a signed bookplate. Sarina's novel Bittersweet, the first in her USA Today bestselling series, is currently free at all vendors. Farmers make the Earth move. Amazon: https://geni.us/FreeBittersweet Apple: http://geni.us/BsIbooks B&N: http://geni.us/bsbreach Kobo: http://geni.us/bskreach Google: http://geni.us/bsgreach Book-gift shopping? Grab KJ’s 12 Days of Books to Give (and Get) list here for everything you need for your Austen-loving brother, your thriller-hound mom and the friend who craves a cozy escape.
12/18/202045 minutes, 21 seconds
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241: Big #Booklaunch Day

Whew! This week, Sarina and KJ (that’s me writing as it usually is) both launched books—Sarina came out with Loverboy, second in KJ’d favorite Sarina series, The Company, while KJ FINALLY and after many many months got to see The Chicken Sisters come out into the world. Notice the different verbs there? That’s because our launches come from very different places, and we talk about that—as well as, of course, ALL the Reese Witherspoon Book Club backstory.  You can grab a copy of Loverboy in all kinds of ways:  🗝️ Audio https://geni.us/Audio-LB 🗝️ Amazon https://geni.us/Amazon-LB 🗝️ Apple https://geni.us/Apple-LB 🗝️ Kobo https://geni.us/Kobo-Lb 🗝️ Nook https://geni.us/Nook-LB 🗝️ Google https://geni.us/Google-LB And there are a bunch of ways to buy The Chicken Sisters. There’s YOUR Indie bookstore--and if you buy it there and fill out this linked Google doc, I'll mail you a signed bookplate for it. There's The Norwich Bookstore, which has signed actual copies. There's MY Indie: Still North Books. There's Bookshop.org. There's Amazon. There's Barnes and Noble. Links to the memoirs KJ mentioned:  White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood and the Mess in Between, Judy Batalion Year of No Clutter: A Memoir, Eve Schaub Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World, Brooke McAlary Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path, Erin Loechner #AmReading Jess: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard Sarina: Winter Street, Winter Stroll, Winter Storms, Winter Solstice by Elin Hildebrand KJ: Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth Thanks for listening! As a heads up if you’re book-gift shopping make sure you grab KJ’s 12 Days of Books to Give (and Get) list here for everything you need for your Austen-loving brother, your thriller-hound mom and the friend who craves a cozy escape. And did you know supporters of the #AmWriting podcast get a little something extra weekly? Whether it’s a Writer Top Five like Emails to Send During Your Book Launch, a #Minisode like Novel in #Process Part 1: Finding an Idea, or one of our new product reviews and other things we’re inspired to share, bonus stuff is ALWAYS dropping into their inboxes and pod-players. To get more #AmWriting for just a few bucks a month, click the button. Upgrade to Supporter And we love our sponsors! Check out Dabble Writing Software if you haven’t already, and visit BookCoaches.com/amwriting to learn more about Author Accelerator’s amazing book coach training (hello, holiday gift that keeps on giving) or for their free book coach matching service.
12/11/202053 minutes, 14 seconds
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240: #Editing for the Best Version of Your Vision with Tiffany Yates Martin

Who wouldn’t want a step-by-step process for revision? In her book Intuitive Editing, this week’s guest, developmental editor Tiffany Yates Martin, lays out an approach that will help keep you organized, although sadly there is no magic wand involved. We talked to her about the big picture questions she asks before diving into someone else’s work:  Is the main story question clear? Do the characters drive the story? Do we/the characters end up somewhere different than where we began? Where does the momentum flag (because it will, somewhere) and why? Then we deep dive into questions of finding objectivity in your own work, micro-suspense, suspense vs. tension, writing manuals and—most important of all—how important it is to know that all first drafts are terrible and revision is part of the work.  A few links from the pod If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein Stein on Writing by Sol Stein *FREE* Editorial Summit - December 6th #AmReading Tiffany: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett KJ: Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo Sarina: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Sarina and KJ have news! The Chicken Sisters is out! Signed copies here, Bookshop.org here, Amazon here—and if you order from your local indie and fill out this form, I’ll mail you a signed bookplate. Sarina's novel Bittersweet, the first in her USA Today bestselling series, is currently free at all vendors. Farmers make the Earth move. Amazon: https://geni.us/FreeBittersweet Apple: http://geni.us/BsIbooks B&N: http://geni.us/bsbreach Kobo: http://geni.us/bskreach Google: http://geni.us/bsgreach Book-gift shopping? Grab KJ’s 12 Days of Books to Give (and Get) list here for everything you need for your Austen-loving brother, your thriller-hound mom and the friend who craves a cozy escape. Did you know supporters of the #AmWriting podcast get a little something extra weekly? Whether it’s a Writer Top Five (like TK LINK), a #Minisode (like TK LINK) or one of our new product reviews and other things we’re inspired to share, bonus stuff is ALWAYS dropping into their inboxes and pod-players. To get more #AmWriting for just a few bucks a month, click the button.  Support #AmWriting And have you checked out our sponsors? If listening to Tiffany makes you think, that is my total dream job, you need to head to bookcoaches.com/amwriting to learn more about the side gig that could supply much-needed consistency to your writing income or become your full-time passion. And have you tried Dabble writing software yet? If you’ve been thinking about testing out a tool to go beyond the ordinary word processor and make your work easier, this is the one we recommend. We invited Dabble to sponsor the podcast because, in short, it’s awesome. It’s easy to use, it works offline and on, it’s always synced up and always available on all the platforms and it makes finding your way around in your manuscript easy and even fun—and it’s designed to minimize distractions and keep you going. Find out more, and do a free trial, at dabblewriter.com. 
12/4/202044 minutes, 28 seconds
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239: #Writer Gift Extravaganza

It’s the gifts episode! Here are the links you’re looking for:  KJ: Redbubble ❄️ Stamp blocks ❄️ Stamp blanks and stencils ❄️ Frixion Pens ❄️ Leuchterm planner Jess: Planner cover ❄️ Jess’s favorite sticky tabs ❄️  Sarina: Hedgehog Pencil Holder ❄️ Post-its that fit over planner months ❄️ Corkicle (it doesn’t come with the sticker, sorry… but actually I (KJ) have extras and if you asked me I could probably mail you one if I don’t get too many asks! Just reply to this email and I will see it.) #AmReading Jess: Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir KJ: The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow Sarina: The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod Zowie! Thanks for listening. If you want to check out our last gift episodes (and guides), click the years: 2019 2018 2017. If you’ve got other ideas we should know about, share them in the #AmWriting Facebook group. And if you’d like to subscribe to the shownotes email or support the podcast, click the button. Subscribe now To give a subscription as a gift, click THIS button! Give a gift subscription
11/27/202041 minutes
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238: Turning #Romance on Its Head with Lyssa Kay Adams

Every writer craves that high concept idea that leads to the breakout book, or in this case breakout series. For Lyssa Kay Adams, it came from that joke women often make about wishing their male partners read romance—and a moment in 2016 when she “just wanted to live in a world full of men who get it.” She created The Bromance Book Club, about a group of men who read romance to understand their relationships and their partners. That became her first novel, quickly followed by Undercover Bromance and Crazy Stupid Bromance, and we three have read and loved them all. We talk indie v. trad, breaking out, building a series, writing diverse worlds and more. Links from the Pod Jason Rogers’ Men’s Health article Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid Kobo Libra Overdrive #AmReading Lyssa: Just a Heartbeat Away by Cara Bastone Snapped by Alexa Martin Sarina: Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas Jess: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder Crazy Stupid Bromance KJ: Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo All Stirred Up by Brianne Moore Speaking of romance, we love you, our listeners. Our sponsorships pay for the production and hosting of the podcast, but you support the time and work we put into being there for you every week, both by following us, reviewing the pod and keeping in touch, and with your financial contributions. #AmWriting supporters get a weekly bonus in the form of a minisode, a Writer Top Five or a little backstage burst of whatever the three of us are talking about that week (like Sarina’s new product review plans. Want in on that? Click here.  Upgrade to Supporter And we love our sponsors! Check out Dabble Writing Software if you haven’t already, and visit BookCoaches.com/amwriting to learn more about Author Accelerator’s amazing book coach training (hello, holiday gift that keeps on giving) or for their free book coach matching service.
11/20/202040 minutes, 50 seconds
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237: #Reporting from the Economic Trenches with Lauren Sandler

It’s a new #AmWriting episode! There’s a style of creative nonfiction in which a gifted writer tells someone else’s story. The story of a house being built, or a life in the wilderness—or, in the case of Lauren Sandler, the story of a young single mother in search of housing during her first year of motherhood. Lauren’s subject—a smart, driven young woman caught up in the system because of her own history, and desperate for not just housing but an education, a career, and love and a life of her choosing—was unlikely to ever find a way to tell her own story without Lauren’s help.  “She chose me as much as I chose her,” says Lauren. We talk to Lauren about how that relationship was formed and how, although the act of observing something changes it, Lauren tried to let Camilla’s story unfold as though she weren’t there, even while her own daughter was demanding to know why they didn’t just let Camilla sleep on the couch. If you’re interested in long-form journalism, or just in the process of embedding yourself into someone else’s life, you’ll love this episode. Links from the Pod: Lauren’s latest book This Is All I Got: A New Mother's Search for Home Find Lauren on her website: www.laurenosandler.com #AmReading Lauren: The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante KJ: The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins Jess: Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy Thanks for letting us into your inbox. If you’ve got questions, comments, episode ideas, head to the #AmWriting Facebook group or email us at [email protected].  Want more #AmWriting? Support the podcast with just a click of the button below for less than $2 an episode, and get weekly Writer Top Fives like Top 5 Mindfulness Tricks For Better Writing Sessions or Minisodes like How an Editor Considers an Essay. Support #AmWriting Have you checked out Author Accelerator’s Book Coach training at bookcoaches.com/amwriting? Seriously, if every time you hear us talk about book coaching, you think to yourself—hey, I could do that!—you should. They have great programs for fiction, non-fiction and making your side-gig full time—and they offer tuition help for BIPOC coaches as well—more info on that at bookcoaches.com/equity. And if you haven’t tried Dabble yet, YOU MUST. Just go play with the storyline building tools. Trust us.
11/13/202044 minutes, 3 seconds
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236: #Shipping Your Creative Work with Seth Godin

We don’t have a lot of repeat guests, but Seth Godin can come on the podcast any time he wants. Seth is a fountain of wisdom about writing, pitching, selling, and building your audience, and his new book, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work, is a great addition to his (substantial) body of work.  Seth Godin is not only the master of the short pithy book of helpful advice, he’s the master of dishing out that advice straight from his brain to yours, as well. He does not have to stop and re-frame. He does not meander about his point. Not one bit. He’s a fountain of quick sentences that wallop you upside the head with their truth and clarity and demand to be written down. Here are just a few from this interview, which you won’t want to miss:  “Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions" “There is never enough reassurance from outsiders”  “Don’t let your audience expect another greatest hits album every time” “Be the boss of the process” “Creativity is an act of leadership” Jess, Sarina and Seth talked about getting the work out there to your readers. That’s it. Shipping the work. Sure, we also talked about how it gets done because we always do (and Seth reveals Isaac Asimov’s advice for getting 400 books written) but in the end, the work has to end up with your readers.  We did not talk books this week because we were on a tight schedule and Seth had so much wisdom to share, we skipped it. However, Seth recommended the documentary Double Take about the sculptor Elizabeth King, who is quoted in The Practice: “Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions.” Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here and don’t forget our sponsors and partners, Author Accelerator’s Book Coach training at bookcoaches.com/amwriting and DabbleWritingSoftware. They’re hand-picked because we LIKE them. So check them out. Finally—KJ here—Obviously, with The Chicken Sisters coming out in December, book marketing has been on my mind. One thing I learned in the last go-round when How to Be a Happier Parent came out is that it’s a bad idea to do it alone. There’s no way I could have done the whole launch by myself and you know, still had all my faculties intact. One piece of help I got was taking a course called How to Launch a Bestseller from Tim Grahl, a book marketing phenom who’s had dozens of clients on the bestseller list. He pushes my buttons a little—because no matter what anyone says, you CANNOT make a bestseller yourself and to believe you can is to set yourself up for failure—but his advice is solid. Another piece of help I got was from Sue Campbell, a book launch coach who helped me execute some of the monster-sized launch plan I put together based on Tim’s course. We had fun together and did some really fun things, like a quiz (find your parenting mantra). Sue was actually personally trained by Tim and now she’s launching a really cool thing. It’s a monthly membership that will give authors the resources they need to build an audience and the opportunity to pick Sue’s brain on a weekly basis.  Basically, Sue’s the perfect person to help you set and reach your goals for your author career. Membership in the club includes: Direct access to Sue Campbell, Book Launch Certified Coach and her team at Pages & Platforms team at a fraction of the cost to hire them privately. Mindset coaching to help you break through your marketing block and find your “clean selling” approach. Help with goal setting and attainment. Specialized coaching and workshops to get the knowledge and skills you need to market well and avoid wasting time and money. 24/7 access to a community of fellow authors. Access to special expert guests from time to time, including Tim Grahl. Another big benefit: this club is a flexible way to get marketing help when you need it. There’s no long-term commitment.  And she’s offering a free-month trial right now. There are live calls every Friday at 1 p.m. Pacific time/4 p.m. Eastern. I know for myself, having a community of like-minded people helps me make huge progress. (Heck, that’s what the #amwriting podcast and Facebook group is all about!) I highly recommend you give Sue’s Your Next 9000 Copies club a try. I’ll be there too. And this is, as you’ve probably guessed, an affiliate link for the #AmWritingPodcast, so use it and you support us too. But I wouldn’t recommend Sue if I didn’t believe in her.
11/6/202039 minutes, 4 seconds
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235: Writer #Tech We Love

Campers, this week we’re talking about a topic near and dear to all our hearts, but most particularly Sarina, whose productivity levels are epic and who is always looking for something that will help her ramp up. We talk hardware and software that makes the writing process easier, or at least more varied; handwriting-to-text, voice-to-text, AI, editing software, citation software and throw in a few other ideas for good measure. Links to everything we discuss are below. Post-It App: Capture Dragon Naturally Speaking Otter Rev.com Whitelines ProWritingAid Nebo BookEnds Dabble Scrivener #AmReading Jess: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer KJ: His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially—we hope you’ve been loving recent treats like the Minisodes from Jess: What Really Sells Books and KJ: Why I Love Plotting Books (and which to grab) and the Top 5 Things to Know About Using a Pseudonym. To join that team, click the button below (we’re kinda having a fall sale!): Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here and don’t forget our sponsors and partners! If you’re getting into NaNoWriMo this year, head over to the #AmWriting Facebook group to find your fellow-listener-lunatics—and consider trying out Dabble Writing software, which was specifically designed for plotting and writing fiction. Dabble is extending its free trial throughout the months of October and November, so you can try it out without any fear of losing your work, and it’s easy to export everything you’ve done right out at the end if it’s not for you. But we think it will be! Find out more at dabblewriter.com. And if what gets YOU salivating is the prospect of helping writers turn all those rough NaNo drafts into something that’s ready for their next level, , you should check out bookcoaches.com/amwriting, where our sponsor, Author Accelerator, offers the training you need to turn your passion for stories into a full-blown side gig or business. You’ll find all the info, as well as a free video series to help you decide if book coaching is right for you, at bookcoaches.com/amwriting.
10/30/202044 minutes, 37 seconds
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234: #Storybuilding with Jacob Wright from Dabble Writing Software

Have you ever, while banging out a document of any kind in Word or Pages or whatever, thought to yourself “Dang, this would be so much easier if ______.” Every writer has been there, but only a few rare souls actually go on to “I am going to make something that does that, darn it.”  Jacob Wright is that rare soul. Once upon a time, while drafting his own experiments in fiction, he pitched Scrivener on a mobile version, and when they declared themselves content with who and what they were, he set out to build it on his own—a simpler software specifically designed for story.  #AmReading Jacob: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson KJ: The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee Sarina: Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams Y’all, Dabble is free for all of October and November to anyone who wants to hook it up to a NaNoWriMo account and use it to plot and then draft your November 2020 magnum opus. (And there’s always a free 14-day trial, year-round.) And to help you get that plot right, we strongly suggest you check out the free writing challenge at Author Accelerator. When you sign up for the challenge, you will receive seven assignments targeted at defining what your book is about. Throughout the week, you will... Define why you are writing this book Discover the point of your story Develop your book jacket copy Describe your book in one killer sentence Brainstorm and select your book’s working title Start writing your book with our Two-Tier Outline workbook (for fiction) Swear you’ll be way ahead in the NaNoWriMo game. Or if what you hope for is to help other people get their NaNo drafts ready for the big time, check out Author Accelerator’s Book Coaching courses to learn more.  Want more #AmWriting? Support the podcast with just a click of the “subscribe” button below for less than $2 an episode, and get weekly Writer Top Fives like Top 5 Mindfulness Tricks For Better Writing Sessions or #Minisodes like How an Editor Considers an Essay. Subscribe now
10/23/202037 minutes, 45 seconds
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233: #TruthsAndMisdemeanors, Lacy Crawford on the gauntlet of legal & fact-checking

When I (Jess here) interviewed Lacy Crawford about her new memoir Notes on a Silencing, we discussed the complex and often contradictory goals of publishers’ legal departments and fact checkers at periodicals such as Condé Nast/Vanity Fair, where Lacy’s first serial excerpt was published. An article on nonfiction book fact checking (or the lack thereof) published in Esquire (by Emma Copley Eisenberg) made the rounds online in August, and many readers were surprised to discover that publishers don’t fact check the books they publish. In fact, a standard clause in nonfiction book contracts indemnifies the publisher when it comes to the author’s factual errors. What publishers do, however, is send the manuscript over to their legal departments to ensure they will not be held liable for defamation, an risk most authors mitigate by changing names or identifying details of some people in the book. Lacy explains how the goals of the legal department and the goals of fact checking are often at cross-purposes, and we come up with a few things authors should think about when selecting a excerpts for publications that will rigorously fact check.  Find Lacy Crawford: On her website: www.lacycrawford.com On Twitter: @lacy_crawford We had so much to discuss we skipped #AmReading, but Lacy’s first book, Early Decision, was a delight. It’s a satire about the high-stakes, high-stress process of college admission. Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast with $$$ on top of all the love and ears. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter Because we do things for our supporters! Like weekly Minisodes When There's No Muse, Keep Going and Top Fives like Top 5 Ways to Prep for NaNoWriMo. And we are working on supporter-only discussions that we expect to be killer. So come on in, the water’s fine. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here and don’t forget our sponsors and partners! Have you checked out Author Accelerator’s Book Coach training at bookcoaches.com/amwriting? Seriously, I am in for this (this is KJ). I’ve discovered I love helping people with their fiction just like I liked editing for the NYT, but I want to know what I’m doing before I start. So look for me at a training session near you, and check it out. They have great programs for fiction, non-fiction and making your side-gig full time—and they offer tuition help for BIPOC coaches as well—more info on that at bookcoaches.com/equity. And if you haven’t tried Dabble yet, YOU MUST. It has replaced Scrivener in our hearts in part because it’s so much easier to use—and in part because we love the way it plots. Free trials for everyone, no need to remember a code, just go here.
10/16/202044 minutes, 23 seconds
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232: Smart, #Versatile and Writing all the Things with Morgan Jerkins

A book of essays. A memoir that’s truly a family history and an American history. And—soon—a novel. Morgan Jerkins talks starting a writing career as a millennial, the privileges necessary to survive (financially) in New York City while pursuing a writing career and fighting the urge to let other people decide whether to take your work seriously.  We cover so much ground in this interview, from #publishingpaidme to interviewing skills to figuring out how much of your self belongs in your work, that we barely even grazed the surface of how much Morgan’s current book, Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots, taught her—and teaches the reader—about Black American history and how hidden it still remains from most of us of any heritage. If you enjoyed Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration or Caste, you’ll love Wandering—and even if you didn’t, if you’re a fan of memoir, interested in family history and legend or are just a product of the typical white-centric education in American history and wish you knew more about the many other sides of the story, grab it.  Find Morgan Jerkins: On her website: www.morgan-jerkins.com and on Twitter: @MorganJerkins #AmReading Morgan: Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel by Bernardine Evaristo Temporary by Hilary Leichter Severance by Ling Ma Pachinko by Min Jin Lee KJ: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi Sarina: Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession by Sarah Weinman We talk a LOT about money in this episode—huge thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. We hope you’re enjoying supporter-only Minisodes like When There's No Muse, Keep Going and Writer Top 5s like Top 5 Tips to Getting a Great Interview. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But that doesn’t have to be you! The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here and don’t forget our sponsors and partners! Have you checked out Author Accelerator’s Book Coach training at bookcoaches.com/amwriting? Seriously, if every time you hear us talk about book coaching, you think to yourself—hey, I could do that!—you should. They have great programs for fiction, non-fiction and making your side-gig full time—and they offer tuition help for BIPOC coaches as well—more info on that at bookcoaches.com/equity. And if you haven’t tried Dabble yet, YOU MUST. Just go play with the storyline building tools. Trust us.
10/9/202046 minutes, 22 seconds
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231: #FindYourReaders with Dara Kurtz

It’s an age-old question: how do you build a platform big enough so publishers take notice? This week we interview Dara Kurtz, author of one self-published book and one traditionally published book. She shares her considerable, deliberate efforts to build her online readership for her site, Crazy Perfect Life, and translate fans of her website and Facebook group content into purchasers for her second book, I am My Mother’s Daughter. Buckle up and dust off your spreadsheet skills, because this woman loves data.  You can find out more about Dara on her website and on her podcast, Thrive.  #AmReading Dara: She’s re-reading her own book, which is helpful for doing media around publication, as well as The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer Jess: This is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home by Lauren Sandler and A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio KJ: The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper Thanks so much for listening! Just a reminder that our #AmWriting supporters get #BonusEmails every Monday like our Minisode: When There's No Muse, Keep Going which will be going out on Monday, October 5th. It's our thank-you for helping support the podcast you love for only $7 a month. Click the upgrade button to find out more! Upgrade to Supporter As always, this episode (and every episode) will appear for all subscribers in your usual podcast listening places, totally free as the #AmWriting Podcast has always been. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it with the shownotes every time there’s a new episode.  Get New Episode Emails To support the podcast and help it stay free, subscribe to our weekly #WritersTopFive email. This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator, the book coaching program that helps you get your work DONE. Visit https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwriting for details, special offers and Jennie Nash’s Inside-Outline template. Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
10/2/202042 minutes, 38 seconds
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230: So You Wanna Be a #Bookcoach with Jennie Nash

It’s—a podcast episode! With Jennie Nash, so you already know you’re going to love it and I don’t need to say any more. Sarina and I had a great time talking nitty gritty book coaching details with Jennie from a different perspective—what if you want to BE a book coach?  But don’t worry if that’s not of interest—this episode will still inspire you to take a professional approach to your work, whatever it is, to think about money and value differently and find some changes that will help you wherever you are and whatever you’re working on. As for book coaching—I (this is KJ) recently volunteered for the Women Fiction Writer’s Association’s fall pitch event, helping writers polish their 50 word pitches before they had a chance to pitch agents—and it was so much more satisfying than I thought it would be, for a lot of reasons. Helping people—yay. SO MUCH EASIER to see things in other people’s work than in your own, also true. And then there was the satisfaction of handing things back to the writers for them to work on. Like handing back a baby with a smelly diaper to its parent.  But I also just enjoyed the work a lot more than I thought I would. If you’ve had an experience like that, this is really the episode for you. Jennie talks about how valuable that work is, how we can come to understand it’s worth and feel good about charging for our services, why it’s good for everyone when this is done professionally and what it’s like to be a book coach, to have a book coach and to do that work right. Links from the Pod: Read Books All Day and Get Paid For It by Jennie Nash Bookcoaches.com/amwriting #AmReading: Jennie: The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas KJ: Queeny – Candice Carty-Williams Want more #AmWriting? Support the podcast with just a click of the “subscribe” button below for less than $2 an episode, and get weekly Writer Top Fives like Top 5 Mindfulness Tricks For Better Writing Sessions or Minisodes like How an Editor Considers an Essay. Subscribe now And don’t forget to check out Dabble Writing Software. If you’re following a bunch of twisty turny plot lines with the help of index cards or post it notes, Dabble is for you! Get a free trial at DabbleWriter.com
9/25/202040 minutes, 25 seconds
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229: #Interviewing with NPR's Celeste Headlee

It’s a madcap, free-ranging episode where we go from figuring out how to get your important work done (and quit doom-scrolling through your phone) to embracing that same phone for its best use: nourishing conversations with the people you love and then launch into some fantastic tips for interviewing experts (or podcast guests!) that you won’t want to miss.  Links from the pod and the scoop on our guest: Celeste Headlee is an NPR journalist and the author of three books:  Do Nothing We Need to Talk Heard Mentality Celeste talks about the danger of working from home with Mary Elizabeth Williams on Salon. You can find her at: CelesteHeadlee.com #AmReading Celeste: Studs Terkel’s Race helped me understand race (as a black jew) like never before KJ: Motherland by Leah Franqui Jess: Magical Thinking, Lust and Wonder, and Toil and Trouble by Augusten Borroughs Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially—we hope you’ve been loving recent treats like the Minisodes from Jess: What Really Sells Books and KJ: Why I Love Plotting Books (and which to grab) and the Top 5 Things to Know About Using a Pseudonym. To join that team, click the button below (we’re kinda having a fall sale!): Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here and don’t forget our sponsors and partners! Have you checked out Author Accelerator’s Book Coach training at bookcoaches.com/amwriting? Seriously, if every time you hear us talk about book coaching, you think to yourself—hey, I could do that!—you should. They have great programs for fiction, non-fiction and making your side-gig full time—and they offer tuition help for BIPOC coaches as well—more info on that at bookcoaches.com/equity. And if you haven’t tried Dabble yet, YOU MUST. Just go play with the storyline building tools. Trust us. And—have you checked out the Bookable Podcast? Audio explorations of the books you might want to read next, with a host who’s a veteran of a much-loved, much-missed NYC live monthly book event.
9/18/202046 minutes, 35 seconds
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228: #Embedded with Jeff Selingo

Not everybody wants an author hanging around their office all day. Our guest is a best-selling education writer Jeff Selingo, already an expert on college and higher education who took that one step further for his latest: Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions. Jeff managed to embed himself in three admissions offices to write this book, a feat that will boggle the mind of anyone familiar with the industry (and it is an industry, make no mistake). We talk pitching and selling the book, lining up the admissions offices and then dancing the delicate dance of writing honestly about people and places that have opened themselves up to your critical gaze, finding students to become part of your story and balancing the stories you tell—plus all the minutia of getting those stories, from consent forms to pseudonyms to not changing the outcomes by becoming part of the story.  #AmReading Jeff: The Dry by Jane Harper Jess: The Woods and Missing You, Harlan Coben H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald KJ: Life Is In the Transitions by Bruce Feiler Find Jeff at: His Website: www.jeffselingo.com On Twitter: www.twitter.com/jselingo On Facebook: www.facebook.com/JeffSelingo Via Instagram: www.instagram.com/jselingo Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
9/11/202044 minutes, 49 seconds
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227: The Joy of #Self-Promotion: promoting yourself and your work

It’s the topic every author seems to love to hate: self-promotion. Sharing our work on social media, pitching ourselves to podcasts and reaching out to friends and colleagues to ask them to boost us up in various ways can feel hard—but it shouldn’t. It’s part of the deal—and the people around you don’t mind. In fact, they want to know when you have a new book or article out, especially if you’re a regular and generous supporter of the good work the people around you are doing as well. We talk about getting past the emotional hurdle here, and then we talk about the how best to get the job done—best practices for self-promotion and a lovely list of “Glamour Don’ts” for those who are worried about getting it wrong.  Links from the Podcast sharelinkgenerator #AmReading Sarina: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton KJ: A Star is Bored by Byron Lane Jess: The Overstory by Richard Powers Have you checked out Author Accelerator’s Book Coach training at bookcoaches.com/amwriting? Seriously, if every time you hear us talk about book coaching, you think to yourself—hey, I could do that!—you should. They have great programs for fiction, non-fiction and making your side-gig full time—and they offer tuition help for BIPOC coaches as well—more info on that at bookcoaches.com/equity. And if you haven’t tried Dabble yet, YOU MUST. Just go play with the storyline building tools. Trust us.  And—have you checked out the Bookable Podcast? Audio explorations of the books you might want to read next, with a host who’s a veteran of a much-loved, much-missed NYC live monthly book event. 
9/4/202042 minutes, 43 seconds
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226: Writing #ownvoices while respecting others, with Lauren Ho

Lauren Ho is the author of the debut novel Last Tang Standing, which is getting HUGE buzz. It’s been called Bridget Jones meets Crazy Rich Asians, and it does deliver on that promise. Lauren is our very first guest to join us from Singapore, and it’s very late at night there but she managed to hold her own. We talk lawyers-turned-writers, selling a book from outside the US and UK, Goodreads reviews and the challenges and advantages of writing characters (not necessarily POV characters, but still voices that have a place in your story) from perspectives that aren’t your own.  #AmReading Lauren:  Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan A Good Family by A.H. Kim The White Coat Diaries by Madi Sinha KJ:  Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld Jess: Becoming Duchess Goldblatt (Anonymous) Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall Find Lauren at: Her Website: www.hellolaurenho.com On Twitter: www.twitter.com/hellolaurenho On Facebook: www.facebook.com/hellolaurenho Via Instagram: www.instagram.com/hellolaurenho Behind-the-scenes and only in the email this week:  KJ was a guest on the wonderful How Do You Write podcast with Rachael Herron, and truly had a blast and loved every minute of it and thinks you should listen to all the episodes (she does!). Jess shared this video of pandas being pandas and caused Sarina and KJ to loose many minutes of work. Lacy Crawford, whose book Notes on a Silencing has come up many times on the pod, got an apology from St. Paul’s, the private high school which covered up her rape and protected her rapists.  We appreciate you! We’re glad you get the shownotes every week, and if you’re also one of our gorgeous and wonderful supporters, you can expect a #Minisode on why KJ loves books about plotting fiction, which ones she adores and how she’s using them to drop into your podplayer Monday—and we’ve uploaded and categorized all of our previous Top 5s and Minisodes on our website, which means that if you want to explore advice on agents, or nonfiction, or marketing and promotion, you’ll find what you’re looking for right HERE.  And if you’d like to support the show, and get access to everything from our recent Top 5s (like business upgrades, tax tips and ways to hold yourself accountable to our Minisodes, like KJ on how an editor considers an essay, Sarina’s letter to her younger self and Jess on what really sells books, then click the button below to chip in! We’ve got a bit of a deal on this fall—a full year of support for just $56. That’s just a tiny bit over $1 an episode! Aren’t we worth it? Get 20% off for 1 year here
8/28/202053 minutes, 57 seconds
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225: Get #ComfortablewithWeird How visualization and imagery help writers connect with readers, with Julie Berry

Our guest this week is children’s fiction and YA author Julie Berry, and here’s why: she gave a talk at a conference about visualizing and imagery that Sarina has “been thinking about for 7 years.” That should tell you how much gold there is in this episode—all kinds of useful stuff about how we use images and senses to spark our own creativity and build a connection with our readers in every genre. We think you’ll love it.  #AmReading Julie: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare Beauty by Robin McKinley The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope The Secret Life of Trees by Robin Blackwell Black and British by David Olusoga Staying Power by Peter Fryer Sarina: Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn KJ: Tiny Imperfections by Alli Frank & Asha Youmans Find Julie at:  Her Website: www.julieberrybooks.com On Twitter: www.twitter.com/julieberrybooks On Facebook: www.facebook.com/julieberrybookspage Via Instagram: www.instagram.com/julieberrybooks Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
8/21/202038 minutes, 4 seconds
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224: From Mr. Rogers to #RealityTVJournalism with Andy Dehnart

We’ve got a great interview for you today with a freelance journalist who does a different kind of work than any of us ever have—out in the field reporting on his favorite subject: reality adventure TV on trips rife with travel and danger and expense reports. I think you’ll love it.  We talk about finding your topic and making that topic, well, topical by looking for what’s happening within the world you’re covering that reflects what’s happening outside of it. We also discuss MFAs (he’s a fan), email (not so much) and how to keep from “opening your email and letting somebody else dictate what you do with your time.” Links from the Podcast fresh.ink Longform on Twitter #AmReading Andy: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff The Secret History by Donna Tartt Jess: The Summer of ‘69 by Elin Hilderbrand The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson KJ: The Guest List Lucy Foley #TBR: The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor Find out more about our guest: AndyDehnart.com Reality Blurred Andy’s newsletter Find Andy on Twitter See Andy’s book recs on Bookshop And if you love the podcast, have you considered kicking in some cash? Our sponsors cover our production costs, but our time is basically sponsored by you, our loyal listeners. If we’ve added a little value to your day or week or year, please consider supporting us. How? Click the button. Support #AmWriting As we say every week—we’re so proud to be sponsored by Author Accelerator and Dabble. If you’re wondering—why Dabble and not Scrivener? For us, it’s that plotting tool and the intuitive way it works, but others have weighed in—check that out here with a little Dabble v. Scrivener scoop. And if listening to all of our conversations about book coaching has made you think, hey—that’s the career for me—then you’ll want to head to Author Accelerator’s BookCoaches.com to see how you can make that happen. Or if listening to the promo this week made you wonder about book coach Kemlo Aki, find more about her here. 
8/14/202049 minutes, 40 seconds
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223: #MythBusting: We take a bunch of myths about writing and tear them all up and throw them away

Write every day. Don’t read fiction while you’re writing fiction. My way or the highway. In a burst of frustration, we’re reminding ourselves—and you—that there’s no one way to get this job done, and if your way is counter to what some of the greats might tell you (we’re looking at you, Stephen King, even though we love you), that doesn’t mean it won’t work. A few links from the episode: Minisode: #AmQuerying: How to write a fiction query letter that makes an agent ask for more Becca Syme: https://betterfasteracademy.com/beccasyme/ Rachel Hawkins/Erin Sterling @LadyHawkins Me, Writing Books: MAN, I hope this is not stupid!! Me, READING books/watching TV/consuming basically any media: THIS IS SO STUPID I LOVE IT SO MUCH ONLY HAVE ROOM IN MY HEART FOR THE STUPIDEST OF THINGS, THANK YOOOUUU!!!!! July 17th 202023 Retweets355 Likes #AmReading Sarina: Notes of Silencing by Lacy Crawford Jess: Unacceptable by Melissa Korn & Jennifer Levitz Unspeakable Acts by Sarah Weinman KJ: Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett Our amazing sponsors: Dabble Writing Software, which I can’t wait to use to line up all my scenes and plot points AS SOON AS I START FIGURING OUT WHAT THEY ARE and which you should absolutely try. And Author Accelerator. Jennie Nash is doing a Facebook Live coaching of a memoir outline on August 14, 2020—that’s next week. I can’t wait, I love watching her do these. Sign up here, or just go learn more!
8/7/202043 minutes, 57 seconds
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222: #HomagetoJane with Sonali Dev

Hey campers—I hate reading you all a canned intro to our authors every time, so I’m winging it with our guest, Sonali Dev. I’m a fan of hers, so I feel like I know all the things. She’s the author of four straight-up romances, but her last-book-but one is the start of a series written in homage to Jane Austen, as is her latest, both set among the members of a politically ambitious Indian family in California. Why Jane Austen? Because, as Sonali says, “those were the first books I read about women wanting things and getting them. Instead of ending up crazy or dead.” We talk the pros and cons of writing from such revered material, whether readers are “looking for Lydia,” the need to make your heroine “likeable” (pro tip: the female Darcy is hard sledding) and supplying recipes for hungry readers.  Links from the pod:  Sonali Dev on IG Newsletter with a recipe booklet, recommendations, and a really bad joke. #AmReading Sonali: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan KJ: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory Perfect Happiness by Kristyn Kusek Lewis Sarina: Pale Rider by Laura Spinney The Great Influenza by John M. Barry Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
7/31/202043 minutes, 12 seconds
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221: #FeelingExposed in Memoir and Fiction

This week, Jess got a message from some family members who’d read the draft of her forthcoming book, The Addiction Innoculation. They had … thoughts.  Those thoughts turned out to be nothing drastic—but the emotional roller coaster Jess rode while waiting to hear more was a doozy, and got us all thinking about how much of ourselves is exposed when we write non-fiction with a memoir element, how real memoirists do it, and how often readers—especially those closest to you—read our fiction looking for hidden truths. It’s a fun conversation that also covers pool floats, parents, dream offices we probably wouldn’t use and more.  Links from the Podcast Yard Pods Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley Mrs. Everything by Jen Weiner KJ and Sarina’s Pool Floats #AmReading KJ: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown Jess: Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford Sarina: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
7/24/202043 minutes, 54 seconds
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220: #ComedicMemoir with Kari Lizer

Kari Lizer is best known for her work in television, as writer and co-executive producer of Will & Grace and the creator of The New Adventures of Old Christine. When her essays about parenting took the shape of a book, she found that her real life provided more than enough material for a comedic memoir. Aren’t You Forgetting Someone? has it all - chickens, Kate Middleton’s bangs, psychics, and the promise of happy endings. #AmReading Jess: Beach Read by Emily Henry Sarina: The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa Kari: Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout Subscription links and a transcript follow—but first, a preview of the #MinisodeMonday that will be dropping into #AmWriting supporter inboxes on Monday, July 20th: How an Editor Considers an Essay. Not joined that club yet? You’ll want to get on that. Support the podcast you love AND get weekly #BonusContent with actionable advice you can use for just $7 a month. Upgrade to Supporter As always, this episode (and every episode) will appear for all subscribers in your usual podcast listening places, totally free as the #AmWriting Podcast has always been. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it with the shownotes and a transcript every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails To support the podcast and help it stay free, subscribe to our weekly #WritersTopFive email. This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator, the book coaching program that helps you get your work DONE. Visit https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwriting for details, special offers and Jennie Nash’s Inside-Outline template. Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here. If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship. Transcript (We use an AI service for transcription, and while we do clean it up a bit, some errors are the price of admission here. We hope it’s still helpful.)
7/17/202034 minutes, 15 seconds
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219: Find Your Character's #WishSong with Susan Wiggs

We have trouble believing you haven’t already heard of our guest this week, Susan Wiggs, but just in case—she’s the author of many many novels, a multiple #1 New York Times bestseller and an overall amazing storyteller. Her current novel, The Lost and Found Bookshop, is on sale now and her most recent bestseller, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, is just out in paperback. We talk crafting a story, starting from the emotional journey versus the physical plot, building a character, choosing a setting and our collective addiction to writing books, and Susan reveals that she does indeed read fiction while she’s writing fiction—and it’s a good thing, too, because her reading list is long indeed.  Links from the Pod Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman This American Life, Promised Land (the “I Wish” song episode) #AmReading (all Susan, and you’ll see why) Aging in Place by Aaron D Murphy Being Mortal by Atul Gawande On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe House Lessons by Erica Bauermeister Untamed by Glennon Doyle The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
7/10/202043 minutes, 51 seconds
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218: The #Indie-TraditionalTradeoff

This episode springs from a question asked in the #AmWriting Facebook group (if you’re not in it, you should be): Sarina has talked about her decision to be independently published, but we’ve never heard from Jess and KJ about why they go the traditional route. We discuss the three things you should think about when making the Indie/Traditional call, why you need to think hard about airport bookstores and finding the print ratio—and the good and bad reasons for making this choice. #AmReading  Sarina: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall KJ: The Exit Strategy by Lainey Cameron Jess: The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor (listen to the #AmWriting episode with Sarah here) As we say every week—we’re so proud to be sponsored by Author Accelerator and Dabble. If you’re wondering—why Dabble and not Scrivener? For us, it’s that plotting tool and the intuitive way it works, but others have weighed in—check that out here with a little Dabble v. Scrivener scoop. And if listening to all of our conversations about book coaching has made you think, hey—that’s the career for me—then you’ll want to head to Author Accelerator’s BookCoaches.com to see how you can make that happen.  Here’s what we don’t always say: Man we love recording the podcast. But every hour spent on it is an hour not writing! Our production costs are now covered by our lovely (and carefully chosen) sponsors, but our time in pulling it all together is supported by you, our listeners. We’d love it if you joined that team (if you’re not already on it!)  Supporters get weekly #WriterTopFives like The Top Five (Free) Ways to Get Your Shiny New Book Cover in Front of People’s Eyeballs or #Minisodes like Don't Make the Same Mistakes Twice—and thanks to the magic of substack, those minisodes drop right into your pod-player once you’re set up. Want in? Support #AmWriting
7/3/202044 minutes
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217: #HowtoGetOnThatPodcast with Lauren Passell

You listen to podcasts. You love podcasts. (Perhaps we’re assuming here, but after all, we ARE a podcast.) And you’re a writer, with books or articles or ideas or other projects you want to get out into the world. Which just might mean you’ve imagined yourself as a guest on a podcast, sharing your work. (It’s the writer version of the sportscaster doing an imaginary play-by-play while a kid shoots hoops—we imagine ourselves being interviewed by our favorite podcasters.) This week’s guest, Lauren Passell, can help with that. She loves podcasts (she even created a weekly email that’s essentially a love letter to the big, the small, the great and the weird in the podcast world: Podcast, the Newsletter). And she loves writers. And she loves connecting writers with podcasts, so much so that she’s turned it into her business: TINK Media, a PR company specializing in podcasts. We talk about creating a podcast-worthy story, finding the right podcasts to pitch, perfecting those pitches and making your voice a part of the podcast world. It’s an amazing and useful episode. I think you’re gonna love it. Links from the pod Subscribe to Podcast the Newsletter and take the quiz ListenNotes.com Player.fm Pocketcast Stitcher [Castro] Friday Black, a short story collection by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah The United States of Anxiety: I Did Not Watch the Video #AmReading/#AmListening Jess: Longform CBC Podcasts: Finding Cleo, Someone Knows Something KJ: How Do You Write with Rachael Herron Lauren: Threshholds, produced by LitHub Articles of Interest, from 99% Invisible Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
6/26/202048 minutes, 51 seconds
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216: #TheBiggestBluff with Maria Konnikova

This week we talk to Maria Konnikova about her new book, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win. After a series of devastating health and financial setbacks, Konnikova, a former New Yorker staffer whose other books include Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock and The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Timeset out to understand how luck, skill and human behavior contribute to the trajectory of our lives. Though she’d never played a hand of poker in her life, she convinced Poker Hall of Fame inductee Erik Seidel to become her coach. Konnikova quit her job at the New Yorker and set aside a year to learn poker as a way to master her luck and her life. One career in professional poker and more than $300,000 later, Konnikova found at least some of the answers she sought. Links from the Podcast: Long Form Storytelling, The Grift Podcast Slate daily podcast, The Gist #AmReading Maria: Weird by Olga Khazan KJ: The Authenticity Project by Claire Pooley Jess: Sunny Days by David Kamp Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
6/22/202044 minutes, 41 seconds
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215: #TheSocialBookLaunch

This week, the How to Launch a Book series continues with everyone’s favorite: book launching on social media.  Twitter. Instagram. Canva. PicMonkey. Crello. Pinterest. Linked In. Head blowing up yet? We talk about planning your launch social media, how to use social media and image-creating apps to share and promote and why you shouldn’t feel one bit like you’re talking about your book too much when you’re launching it into the world. We also fall apart a bit, here and there, because these are falling apart times, and we feel it. #AmReading KJ: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens Jess: The Secret History by Donna Tartt How to Be an AntiRacist by Ibram X Kendi Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides Sarina: Pale Rider Laura Spinney Don’t forget to check in with our sponsor, Author Accelerator. They’ve got a special book coaching class happening in June on coaching historical fiction, which I would love to be a fly on the wall for—as well as introductory and master classes on book coaching, and, as always, the ability to match you with just the right book coach to help you move your work forward. As for us—we send out a MiniSode or a Writer Top Five every Monday to our supporters. Your support pays for the production and transcription of the podcast, and is the reason why, this week, you don’t also hear my conversation with the child who walked in while we’re recording. Also why there’s music and a fun opening. Because we hired a professional, because it’s good to do these things right.  So thanks for chipping in—and if you’d like to join us, click the button. Upgrade to Supporter
6/12/202046 minutes, 37 seconds
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214: Learning to Be #GenreFlexible with Catherine Newman

Why stick to any one genre? Our guest this week is Catherine Newman: memoirist, middle grade novelist, etiquette columnist and now the author of How to Be a Person: 65 Highly Useful, Super-Important Things to Learn Before You’re Grown-Up. While she’s at it, she writes a cooking blog, co-authored a book on crafts for kids and edits ChopChop, a kids cooking magazine. And she pens frequent funny essays for everything from O to the New York Times to the Cup of Jo website. In other words, she’s putting a pastiche of writing together and making it work with an insouciant disregard for any and all advice about self-branding or owning an niche or sticking to one topic or identity. In fact, I’d argue that “insouciant disregard” might just BE her brand.  This episode also includes the immortal words “I’ve never had to kill anything during the podcast before,” uttered by Jess—so that’s a reason to listen right there. But there are plenty of others—this is a real nitty gritty episode on building a career and getting things done. #AmReading KJ: Henna Artist by Alka Joshi Recipes for a Beautiful Life by Rebecca Barry Jess: Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver Missing You by Harlan Coben Catherine: Know My Name by Chanel Miller Sea Wife by Amity Gaige The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode. Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
6/5/202052 minutes, 39 seconds
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213: Book Launching Fun with #GoodreadsAmazonBookBub

When your book launches, you want to meet your readers where they are: anywhere people are talking about—or better yet, buying—books. Of course we want to support our local Indies (that’s why the links here are all to Bookshop.org)—but if there are readers on Amazon, we’re going to be there too. This week, we’re talking about how to get yourself set up on Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub—and why you absolutely should. For more info, check out our past Writer Top Fives on setting up your Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub pages. Usually, Top Fives and Minisodes go out to our supporters, but we’ve made these three available to everyone—because the info in them is so great, and maybe a little because this way, you can see what you’re missing. If now’s your time to sign up to support the podcast, click the button. Upgrade to Supporter
5/29/202047 minutes, 58 seconds
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212: Don't Just Say #TheBookWasBetter

She might just have the perfect job. This week, Jess and I interview Abbe Wright, Senior Editor at ReadItForward.com and co-host of The Adaptables, a podcast that hashes over every detail of the movies and shows that are adapted from the books we love.  Links from the pod: I wanted to break up. Then he got a tattoo of my name. Read It Forward Podcast The Adaptables The Longform Podcast Bookbento (Read It Forward’s Instagram) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng Normal People by Sally Rooney #AmReading Abbe: All Adults Here by Emma Straub Jess: Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller Nerve by Eva Holland Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui KJ: The Address Book by Deirdre Mask Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode.  Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
5/22/202042 minutes, 31 seconds
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211: #WriterGoals, Pandemic Version

Back in December 2019, we set #WriterGoals for 2020. We had no idea. This week, we go back in and revisit—which goals still stand? Which do we have to let go, and which just don’t feel right any more? Was there any point in setting these goals in the first place? In the end, we decide (not very cheerfully, it has to be admitted) that while our goals are necessarily changing, they’re always worth setting and revisiting. We’ll all be settling down to think differently about what we hope for in what’s left of 2020.  Are you revising your 2020 goals, or sticking to plan A? Head over to the #AmWriting Facebook group and tell us about it. #AmReading KJ: Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams The Body in the Garden by Katharine Schellman Sarina: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix Jess: Audible Original: David Sedaris, Themes and Variations Rat by Stephen King (found in the If It Bleeds novella collection) Hey—now is a great time to check out our sponsor, Author Accelerator, where you can launch a career as a book coach or get paired with the right coach to get your project moving.  And if you’d like to support the creation of #AmWriting, we’d appreciate your help! Supporters get weekly Minisodes or Writer Top Fives—and our undying gratitude. Want in? Click the button. Upgrade to Supporter
5/15/202041 minutes, 41 seconds
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210: #DontOverthinkIt

Our guest today is Anne Bogel, most recently the author of Don’t Overthink It, which came out on March 3, 2020. Followers of this podcast who’ve taken my advice may have checked out her podcast, What Should I Read Next, where she talks books, reading and recommendations with guests—because I’m a huge fan. Anne is also the author of I’d Rather Be Reading and Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, the host of a second podcast, One Great Book and the blogger behind the Modern Mrs. Darcy.com. We talk about genres, owning your expertise, finding your voice and launching a book in a global pandemic. Some favorite advice goes straight to the title of Anne’s latest book: don’t overthink it. Sometimes, the right idea for a book is the one that’s always with you, that you’re interested in, that feels easy and obvious to you because it is—but isn’t such a cakewalk for everyone else. #AmReading Anne: Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel (available July 21st, 2020) The Switch by Beth O’Leary, who also authored The FlatShare KJ: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers Jess: Wild Horses of the Summer Sun by Tory Bilski The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Cobin - - - Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode.  Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.
5/8/202044 minutes, 7 seconds
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209: #StartYourWriterThing

This week, it’s Jess and I (KJ) talking to Olivia and Meghan from the Marginally podcast, which we love for its frank conversations about challenges and setbacks and day jobs and the struggle to keep your butt in the chair (sound familiar?). We talked about finding your writing people, the joys of keeping that day job, and the things that grow from grabbing a friend and starting the thing you wish someone else would start.  #AmWriting Meghan: Followers by Megan Angelo The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel Olivia: Emma by Jane Austen (and all the movies) Independence Square by A.D. Miller  Jess: Wow, No Thank you by Samantha Irby KJ: Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
5/1/202054 minutes, 21 seconds
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208: How to Blend a #CozyThriller

Do mystery and thriller writers ever “pants” their stories? What’s it like to give a dark protagonist some elements of your own history? How much fun is it to fill a book with references to all of your favorite books ever?  We cover those things and more with author Peter Swanson, whose new book, Eight Perfect Murders, is a hybrid of psychological thriller and who-dunnit that all three of us loved. Also on the docket: we name our top three most terrifying children’s picture books.  FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST: https://www.peter-swanson.com #AmReading KJ: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore Storyworthy, Matthew Dicks Peter: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell Whether you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser, we know you consider yourself a writer. You write. Enough said. If you’ve plotted or pantsed your way all the way through any narrative, you know what a tough job that is—and you might be able to help somebody else do it, too. In addition to matching writers with book coaches who help you keep your butt in the chair, our sponsor, Author Accelerator, offers book coach training and certification. If that sounds like it might be the perfect gig for you, head to authoraccelerator.com to learn more. 
4/24/202038 minutes, 16 seconds
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207: #ProfessionallyMarried—for life

Hey #AmWriting Listeners. It’s April 13, 2020, and this episode, like the last, is a throwback to a simpler time, when we left our homes without masks and took baristas and lattes and a whole lot of other things for granted. So it may feel jarring that we’re not discussing the current situation, but at the time there was little to discuss—and we wouldn’t have, anyway, because our guests, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, had so much fantastic advice to share about co-writing, writing suspense and just writing in general. They were a blast to talk to, and we hope they’re hard at work on a new thriller via Google docs.  If you’re hard at work on a project—or would like to be—our sponsor, Author Accelerator, has some free resources for this tough time, including a free ebook—The brilliantly titled Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat, writing resources for families and an upcoming webinar with creativity coach Jennifer Louden that’s just what every writer needs: Why Bother? Why write this book, and why now? I’m already signed up for that one. Find more at authoraccelerator.com/spring2020writingresources. Greer Hendricks  and Sarah Pekkanen are the co-authors of New York Times bestsellers The Wife Between Us, and An Anonymous Girl. Their latest book is YOU ARE NOT ALONE, on-sale March 3. We're recording just before its release, and it's getting a TON of buzz. I loved a Bookstagram review that called it "intrusive, suffocating and creepy. In a good way."   Here's the background on these two: Sarah is a former journalist and the author of 8 novels--with Greer as her editor. They decided to collaborate, and the rest is history--that we will be digging into in depth on the podcast.  You’re going to be jealous. But in a good way.  LINKS FROM THE PODCAST A video of how Greer and Sarah collaborate. Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn Liane Moriarty Some of our favorite co-written things:  Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (They each took a character)  The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (They passed it back and forth)  KJ's: The Knockoff and Fitness Junkie, by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (They pass it back and forth, but Jo’s the plotter and Lucy provides the juicy stuff.)  FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR GUESTS: http://www.sarahpekkanen.com/ http://www.greerhendricks.com/ #AmReading Greer: Dear Edward, Ann Napolitano Sarah: Good Morning Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery, Catherine Gildiner KJ: The Worst Best Man, Mia Sosa Brooklynaire, Sarina Bowen Sarina: What Happens Next, Colleen Clayton
4/17/202042 minutes, 38 seconds
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206: #YouCanDoIt (even now)

Hey campers, KJ here. In this week’s episode, we talk to the brilliant Jessica Abel, a creativity coach extraordinaire, about how to get past whatever’s stopping you and develop a sustainable creative life. In so many ways, it’s a timely episode, and it WILL inspire you to get in there and get some work done. But it may also inspire you to wonder what planet we are living on, as we lightly discuss such exotic activities as driving children to school and going to work. Sorry. That was Planet February, also known as the good old days. We were prerecording for some planned travel that—well, you know the drill. As we press go on this episode, life has changed for all of us—but in every other way, this call to creative action is completely timely. So take a break from the news and revel in it. It’s also a great time to check out our sponsor, Author Accelerator, where you’ll find a free seven-day writing challenge that can help you narrow in on the project you want to write—and let me just say I love that thing. I do it over and over again whenever I lose focus or start a new project. You’ll find it at www.authoraccelerator.com/amwriting.  Here’s something else that might help: Jessica Abel’s What’s Stopping You Worksheet.  And be sure to follow her in all the places: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. She has more resources on her website as well.  No transcript this week. It’s all just too much. But here’s what we’ve been reading:  LINKS FROM THE PODCAST #AmReading (Watching, Listening)  Jessica: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, James Clear The Stone Sky, the last book in NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth series Jess: As Needed for Pain: A Memoir of Addiction, Dan Peres Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, Matthew Walker & Steve West KJ: What Happens in Scotland, Jennifer McQuiston Shout Out to the Get Booked podcast Thanks to everyone who supports the podcast financially. To join that team, click the button below: Upgrade to Supporter But it’s all good. The pod is free as it always has and always will be. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it every time there’s a new episode.  Get New Episode Emails Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here. If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship.
4/10/202044 minutes, 3 seconds
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205: How to Create #MarketingMojo

Hey writers—super-practical episode this week! Call it part two of the Sarina coaches KJ through her book launch series. This week, it’s the #MarketingMojo page—things you’ll need as you market your book no matter what the book is or when it launches. This is the road to creating things like back-of-the-book or flap copy, ad copy, social media post copy and more, for fiction and non-fiction both.  We go in deep in the podcast, but here’s a quick primer, starting with the easiest and building up to the biggest challenges. Sarina suggests creating a Google doc with the following:  Praise for the book/General praise for you and your work. Why? People buy things because of the emotions they’re expecting to feel. The praise you get from others—or the praise you’re hoping for, which is another way to approach this—is a shortcut to what emotions people have when reading your work. Short quotes from the actual book that say something in a few words that’s really indicative of the theme. Note—they can be shortened, condensed, or made more pithy as needed. You’re allowed to misquote yourself. A list of the conflicts, curiosities, tropes or other standout traits of the book. Cliffhangers? Puzzles? Thought-provoking questions? Identical twins, billionaires? Small towns and second chances? These are things that get people to pick up a book. List all you’ve got.  From there, you’re on your way to creating your taglines and cover copy. We give examples in the episode—or just flip over any book in your genre and take a look. #AmReading Sarina: The Weight of Ink, Rachel Kaddish KJ: Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers Jess: The Biggest Bluff, Maria Kornikova  No transcript this week, because of … things. All the things. Too many things. But the podcast is there and waiting! Enjoy, and stay safe. PS: It’s a great time to check out our sponsor, Author Accelerator, where you can launch a career as a book coach or get paired with the right coach to get your project moving. 
4/3/202046 minutes, 56 seconds
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204: ##HowtoGetPastWritersBlock(slowly)

Feeling a wee bit stuck? Struggling to get anything on the page? Well, we all are—and not only does this week’s guest know from writer’s block (her last book came out in 2004), but she gave a raging case of it to her protagonist in her new novel, which allowed her—and us—to really dig in deep into what happens when the words don’t come. Join KJ and Sarina as we talk to Laura Zigman, author of Separation Anxiety (a perfect book for this moment, all about how we’re all, every single last one of us no matter how weird or obnoxious or even put-together-seeming, just doing the best we can with what we’ve got) about writing funny, the edge between humor and empathy, and how life can get in the way of publishing even when it seems like you’re on the right track. #AmReading Jess:  The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, Eric Larson Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs, Jennifer Finney Boylan Podcast: The Long Form  Laura: Weather, Jenny Offill Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill KJ:  Separation Anxiety: A Novel, Laura Zigman Podcast: Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet So, we know it’s rough out there. It’s rough in here, too, but I guess, in a way I’ve personally never experienced before, we really are all in this together. And we’ll come through it together whether we like it or not. As I say in the intro, we recorded this just as the Covid19 shutdown wave was about to crash over us all, and we’ve got a few other episodes we recorded in anticipation of cancelled travel that just take us right back to the olden days—those are coming in weeks ahead, along with more timely episodes. Thanks for listening and for sticking with us. We feel supported by every one of you. If you feel like kicking a little into the production kitty, (and getting #Minisodes and #WriterTopFives) click the button. Support #AmWriting This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator—training book coaches and matching coaches and writers. Find out more: https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here. If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship. Transcripts can be found at amwritingpodcast.com. (We use an AI service for transcription, and while we do clean it up a bit, some errors are the price of admission here. We hope it’s still helpful.)
3/27/202046 minutes, 9 seconds
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203: #HowtoWorkAnyway

Well, fellow writers, when we recorded this we were just at the beginning of it all. It’s safe to say things have already changed—all of us have families at home, we’re all shut down, with noisy houses full of people trying in various ways to work online. We went from “trying to work anyway” through “I give up for a few days” and now we’re back to “trying to work anyway.” So this advice still applies—we’re setting small goals, giving ourselves schedules as best we can, and trying to strike that balance between cutting ourselves necessary slack and still trying to be who we want to be as writers.  It’s true that this keeps happening:  And when it does, we’re trying to find things we CAN do with absolutely zero attention span. Like share our friends’ books on Instagram. Or record a podcast about how crazy we feel. Which we will keep doing. So, same time, next week? Now’s actually a good time to check out our sponsor, Author Accelerator—get matched with a book coach, or send some of your forced isolation time becoming one! Here is a list of great writing-related resources that are all available for FREE. Those marked with F are great for fiction, M for memoir, and NF for nonfiction. Feel free to share them around! Author Accelerator's Writing Challenge – This mini course introduces you to the first six steps of our Blueprint for a Book process to help kickstart your next book or figure out what might be missing from your draft. F M NF The Inside Outline course – We're offering our renowned course on how to use an Inside Outline to transform your story for FREE until the end of March. Take your book to the next level and propel your draft forward. Use the coupon code SPRING2020 at checkout. F M The Outcome Outline course – The Inside Outline equivalent for nonfiction writers is the newest tool in our arsenal – and it can be yours for FREE. Use the coupon code SPRING2020 at checkout between now and April 1. NF Writing fun for families – Certified book coach Jen Braaksma put together some writing activities that you can download and use for yourself or with your kids. And for the aspiring book coach: Author Accelerator's The Basics of Book Coaching – This mini course introduces you to the world of book coaching, where it came from, who makes a good coach, and how you can get started, even if you've never edited before. If you've been thinking about dipping your toe in the water, why not now? We create transcripts of the podcast every week with the help of an AI. That means there are always mistakes. We usually try to clean them up, but I won’t lie. This one is particularly bad. But you can still find it at amwritingpodcast.com.
3/20/202038 minutes, 47 seconds
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202: #WebsiteRevampHowto

Hey listeners! It’s been a mad mad mad week here (all of you in the future, check the date), and I bet there too. Result: there are no shownotes for this episode. We’re talking about  revamping my website to get it in gear for my forthcoming second book. Here’s the image we mention—the before—and for the after (which is still in progress), head over to my site and see what you think. Any questions, shoot me an email ([email protected] or reply to this.
3/13/202040 minutes, 29 seconds
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201: #Creatinga(Fictional)DysfunctionalFamily

And you thought our shelves full of self help books were just to manage our own issues! Nope, there’s another use for them. Our guest this week, Kathleen Smith, is a therapist and writer and the author of Everything Isn't Terrible, a helpful and humorous guide to shedding our anxious habits and building a more solid sense of self in our increasingly anxiety-inducing world. It’s very useful, and we’re valiantly attempting to tame our own anxieties—but that’s not (much of) what we talk about. Instead, we’re focused on what’s really important—and within our control: Creating believable, dysfunctional characters and then helping them to grow and change. We talk about romance dynamics: the pursuer and the pursued, the over-functioner and the slacker—and how important it is that a couple be at a similar level of maturity (or, more likely, immaturity) to be believable. From there, it’s headlong into siblings, birth order and circumstance, family coping mechanisms and some of the ways to develop deeper conflict within our work. It’s such a great conversation.  Episode links and a transcript follow. Thanks for being with us! If you love the podcast, tell a friend. Right now. Just drop everything and go sit someone down and make them listen. And if you love the podcast, you can support it! There are perks. #SupporterMini episodes. #WriterTopFives.  Upgrade to Supporter LINKS FROM THE PODCAST Genograms: Assessment and Intervention Family Constellation, Walter Toman #AmReading (Watching, Listening) Kathleen: Bringing Down the Duke, Evie Dunmore KJ: Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman The Uncommon Reader: A Novella, Alan Bennett Sarina: 19 Love Songs, David Levithan Our guest for this episode is Kathleen Smith, author of Everything Isn't Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxiety, and Finally Calm Down. For more:  Website - KathleenSmith.net  Twitter - @fangirltherapy  Instagram - @kathleensmithwrites Free Anxiety Newsletter - https://theanxiousoverachiever.substack.com/ This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator—training book coaches and matching coaches and writers.  Find out more: https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here. If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship. Transcripts for all episodes are always available at amwritingpodcast.com.
3/6/202040 minutes, 15 seconds
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200: #ShouldYouStartaPodcast

It’s our 200th episode! In all that time, we’ve never missed a week and never regretted our choice to spend 40 minutes (ish) together—and with you. We love doing the podcast, so this week we thought we’d answer a few podcast-y questions we get a lot: should you start a podcast? Can a podcast help promote a book? Is there gold in them thare podcast hills?  We talk about all that and more—but here’s one thing you won’t find in the episode, in part because it seems so obvious now that we never think about it. The smartest thing we did, when we decided we were going for this podcast thing, was this: We made it about writing. That was not, back in 2016, an obvious choice. Jess had just written a best-selling book on parenting. I was the editor of the New York Times’ parenting section. Sarina wasn’t on board yet, and it was just the two of us. The obvious thing to create would have been a podcast about family life.  And we would be so, so sick of doing it by now. Or at least I would. (This is KJ writing.)  If you are going to start a podcast, either make it about something you love, and have always loved, and can reasonably figure you will continue to love—or make it so broad that it can encompass your changing interests and experiences. Very very few people really want to spend a lifetime talking about, just to offer a parenting example, breastfeeding. Some absolutely do, and if you are one of them, you know it. But for the rest of us, that’s an interest with an expiration date. Don’t start a podcast with an expiration date. (Note—that’s advice with an asterisk. Some podcasts are meant to end. They follow a single story, or offer a series of interviews around a single topic, and that’s it. We talk more about that in the episode.) To bookmark the best choice we made, I offer some of the worst advice I was ever offered, from a PR advisor who, reviewing my “platform” before the launch of How to Be a Happier Parent, put her finger on the podcast and said, that.  That doesn’t match.  That has to go. I didn’t listen.  Episode links and a transcript follow—but first, if you like the podcast, and this not-even-IN the podcast email, please forward it to a friend and suggest that friend might want to take a listen.  And if you’re that friend and would like the backstory for the podcast to drop into your inbox every week, click here. Get New Episode Emails Finally—we could use your help for those next 200 episodes. If you love #AmWriting (and if you’ve read this far, you know you do), kick in if you can. Support us, and get a weekly #WriterTopFive full of actionable advice you can use, access to all the past #WriterTopFives and even the occasional mini podcast.  Upgrade to Supporter LINKS FROM THE PODCAST The Tanya Eby #AmWriting episode Magic Lessons, the Big Magic podcast Dani Shapiro Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad, Nicole Weisensee Egan StoryBites Sarina’s podcast #AmReading (Watching, Listening) Jess: Epic, Sarina Bowen,  Audio from Pride and Prejudice KJ: Bunny: A Novel, Mona Awad Sarina:  This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator, the book coaching program that helps you get your work DONE. Visit https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwritingfor details, special offers and Jennie Nash’s Inside-Outline template. Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here. If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship. Transcripts of episodes are available at amwritingpodcast.com
2/28/202039 minutes, 59 seconds
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199: #HowtoLovePromotingYourWork

Our guest today, Dan Blank, sure seems like a man who loves his work. On his own podcast, the Creative Shift, he’s a warm and engaged interviewer. In his emails, he’s genuine and engaged. Is he selling his book and his services as an advisor to authors developing their platform and launching their work into the world? Sure, but it never feels like he’s selling. It feels like he’s sharing. Wouldn’t we all like to feel like that, and have our readers see us that way?  We were hoping Dan would share his magic sauce and we’d all go skipping off towards easy street down a rainbow path, but it turns out there’s some work involved here. So instead, we talked about process, from the way you manage your personal trolls to the way you manage your emails, and then we talked—buzzword alert—authenticity, and finding the things you genuinely want to share with the people who are a match for your work. (You can download Dan’s free guide, 5 Ways to Immediately Connect with Readers, here.) Episode links and a transcript follow, and that’s it for shownotes, because man has it been a couple of weeks. It’s been February for at least a year, right? And I thought January felt long. A few things you can do to help us out or get more #AmWriting: Review us in your podcast app. Join the #AmWriting Facebook Group Support us with a little cash, and get periodic #SupporterMini episodes (next week: #OutlineShortcut) and weekly #WritersTopFives every Monday that isn’t an unexpected school holiday that kicks my ass. FanFaves include Top Five Details to Flag in Your Publishing Contract and Top Five Ways to Win at Newsletter Subject Lines.  Upgrade to Supporter As always, this episode (and every episode) will appear for all subscribers in your usual podcast listening places, totally free as the #AmWriting Podcast has always been. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it with the shownotes and a transcript every time there’s a new episode.  Get New Episode Emails LINKS FROM THE PODCAST #AmReading (Watching, Listening) KJ:  Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid How Could She: A Novel, Lauren Mechling Red, White, & Royal Blue: A Novel, Casey McQuiston Sarina:  The Starless Sea: A Novel, Erin Morgenstern Dan:  Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts Bonus: Clementine, The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill Our guest for this episode is Dan Blank, and you can find more about him at We Grow Media. This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator, the book coaching program that helps you get your work DONE. Visit https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwritingfor details, special offers and Jennie Nash’s Inside-Outline template. Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here. If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship. The image in our podcast illustration is by TK Transcripts can be found at amwritingpodcast.com.