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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 …
 
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 Accel…
 
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 …
 
WHOA heading into fall like 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…
 
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…
 
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 …
 
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 th…
 
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 Magi…
 
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-je…
 
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 …
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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 en…
 
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. E…
 
We made something amazing. It’s called the Blueprint for a Book Summer Challenge, and it’s coming your way starting July 1, 2022 in the form of 10 episodes that could guide you through the steps for a creating a blueprint for the book you’ll write this fall—or for revising the one that’s just not quite coming together. The episodes will all drop in…
 
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 podc…
 
As a bonus this week, we’re sharing “The Bulletproof Writer” from the Write Now Podcast—because this past few weeks have NOT been a perfect time for me to write, with guests and celebrations and also setbacks and discouragements. Not only is that often true, it’s pretty much always true. The challenge is to write anyway, and Sarah offers help and c…
 
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 everyt…
 
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 …
 
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 …
 
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 wa…
 
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 int…
 
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…
 
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 a…
 
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 bac…
 
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 fr…
 
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 versi…
 
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 answe…
 
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 …
 
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 kn…
 
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 h…
 
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 …
 
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, …
 
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 un…
 
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 wh…
 
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 w…
 
Hey writers—KJ here, and we have a treat for you this week. A bonus episode, filled with all the writer-y advice and details and aspirational riffs that you’ve come to expect from us, but this time in the form of—an entirely different podcast. We’re dropping an episode of Book Dreams into your #AmWriting feed so that you can discover something new.…
 
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 op…
 
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 i…
 
“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 o…
 
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 rel…
 
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 Accel…
 
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 Dal…
 
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 frantical…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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…
 
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 w…
 
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 Leha…
 
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