205 episodes

Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

amwriting.substack.com

#AmWriting amwriting.substack.com

    • Books

Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

amwriting.substack.com

    Episode 204 #HowtoGetPastWritersBlock(slowly)

    Episode 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.

    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.

    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.)

    KJ: Hello it’s KJ here and this is going to be a slightly longer than usual pre-roll announcement. Jess, Sarina, and I want you to know that Sarina and I recorded this episode, an interview with Laura Zigman, just as the covid crisis was just beginning to hit. We do mention it, but probably not in the way that we would now. And on that same note, this week our sponsor Author Accelerator is giving their time over to our effort to encourage you to support your local independent bookstore during this. Remember, Amazon is not going to have any trouble making money while we're all shut up in our houses. But your bookstore is - if you want them to still be there when this is all over and it will be over and we will want them - please do the less convenient thing and support them now.  Here's how when you're looking for some new books (for example Laura Zigman’s Separation Anxiety) call your favorite independent bookstore and see if they're offering curbside pickup or home delivery, many of them are. Hopping in your car getting out there and just letting them drop that book in your window is entirely still possible for a lot of us. The mail is at least still coming, or check the website to see if they have an online store. If they don't consider purchasing your books via Bookshop.org. Bookshop is the new site designed to give away 75% of their profit margins to independent bookstores. We have a small presence on Bookshop, I'll try to include that in the show notes for

    • 46 min
    Episode 203 #HowtoWorkAnyway

    Episode 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.

    Hey, fellow potential carriers. Welcome to our #Howtoworkanyway episode.

    Will it be the first of many, or outdated and boring in no time at all?

    We can only hope for the latter and probably do a lot of sighing, but hey, as long as we're all going uber virtual, let me suggest spending some of your screen time at authoraccelerator.com Get matched with a book coach, or look into becoming a book coach. The side gig many of us are perfect for, complete with social distancing. If you've got some unexpected downtime maybe now is a good time to set yourself up to do something new.

    That recording now it's recording. Yeah, in a... It is the part where I stare blank and so I remember what I supposed to be doing. Alright, let's start out award has...

    I'm gonna wrestle some papers. Okay, now one to it is a one-to-one OneNote. I'm delete.

    And this is a hanging Ting-

    A-team writing is the podcast about writing, all the things under all the circumstances, fiction, non-fiction, proposals, pitches emails. This is in short as I say a very weak the podcast about sitting down and getting your work done, and I'm justly I am the author of The Gift of Failure in the forthcoming addiction inoculation. That'll b

    • 38 min
    Episode 202 #WebsiteRevampHowto

    Episode 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 (kjdellantonia@gmail.com or reply to this.

    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.)

    KJ (00:00):

    Hey #AmWriting listeners, this is KJ and this is my seventh time attempting to record this pre-episode discussion of something really cool that's being authored by Author Accelerator, our sponsor. I think you all know that I loved working with Jennie Nash on revising my manuscript for The Chicken Sisters. Well, if you'd be interested in working in a small group with Jennie, she is offering a Rock Your Revision small intensive workshop for fiction writers ready to revise manuscripts this summer, July 16th - 19th of 2020 in Santa Barbara, California. If that interests you, if it sounds like something you'll be ready for, if it sounds like something that having it scheduled might make you get ready for (and I think that will work) head on over to author accelerator.com click on the retreats and summits link, and then scroll on down to Rock Your Revision to learn more. Is it recording now?

    Jess (01:05):

    Now it's recording.

    KJ (01:06):

    Yay.

    Jess (01:06):

    Go ahead.

    KJ (01:08):

    This is the part where I stare blankly at the microphone like I don't remember what I'm supposed to be doing.

    Jess (01:12):

    Alright, let's start over.

    KJ (01:13):

    Awkward pause. I'm going to rustle some papers. Okay. Now one, two, three. Hi, I'm KJ Dell'Antonia and this is #Am writing the podcast about writing all the things and getting them out into the world. And that's all I'm going to say about that this week.

    Sarina (01:37):

    Really? Well, I'm Sarina Bowen and I write long things, primarily genre fiction and I've written 30-odd romances and my newest one is called Sure Shot. If I ever finish it.

    KJ (01:50):

    I can't wait for it. Okay. I am KJ Dell'Antonia, the dithering other voice on the other end of the microphone. I am the author of the novel, The Chicken Sisters coming out this summer and the book How To Be a Happier Parent as well as the former editor of the New York Times' Motherlode blog. And those are the things that I do and it's just me and Sarina today.

    Sarina (02:23):

    It is. We're here to work on KJ's launch sequence.

    KJ (02:26):

    Yes. And if we sound a little odd, we are (as we often are) working in our local libraries. So, yes. Sarina, as we all know, has many, many, many past identities and for all I know is also cat woman when we're not together. But one of those past identities is helping people, specifically authors, with their websites. So that's our plan today. We're going to go over my website and talk about how I can shift it from being a website, primarily designed for a parenting author to a website designed for an author in general. And the way we're going to do this (if you want to take a look) by the time you hear this, I will have changed it. So we're going to take a lot of screenshots. So if you'd like to see what we're talking about and we will describe it cause you're probably in your car. But if you do want to just head over to the show notes at amwritingpodcast.com and there will be pictures, screenshots of this website as it is today before the dramatic changes that I'm going to make to it. I mean, it's a good website somebody made it for me and I can change it and you know, there's nothing wrong with it other than that there is absolutely no mention of my nove,l

    • 40 min
    Episode 201: #Creatinga(Fictional)DysfunctionalFamily

    Episode 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.

    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.

    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.)

    KJ (00:01):

    Hey listeners, KJ here, if you're in with us every week, you're what I like to call people of the book. And some of us book people discover somewhere along the way that not only are we writers, we're people with a gift for encouraging other writers. Maybe that comes out in small ways for you, but for some of you it's a calling and an opportunity to build a career doing work you love. Our sponsor, Author Accelerator, provides book coaching to authors like me, but also needs and trains book coaches. And if that's got your ears perked up, head to authoraccelerator.com and click on become a book coach. Is it recording? Now. It's recording.

    Jess (00:44):

    Now it's recording.

    KJ (00:44):

    Yay!

    Jess (00:44):

    Go ahead.

    KJ (00:46):

    This is the part where I stare blankly at the microphone, trying to remember what I'm supposed to be doing.

    Jess (00:50):

    Alright, let's start over.

    KJ (00:51):

    Awkward pause. I'm going to rustle some papers. Okay. Now one, two, three. Hey, I'm KJ Dell'Antonia and this is #AmWriting. #AmWriting is the podcast about writing all the things - short things, long things, fictional things, non-fictional things, something in between kinds of things, which I don't know that we really recommend, it depends on where you're writing for. But in any case, as regular listeners know and any new listeners are about

    • 40 min
    Episode 200 #ShouldYouStartaPodcast

    Episode 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.)

    KJ (00:00):

    It's episode 200! Hey fellow writers, it's KJ here at the beginning of episode 200 of #AmWriting. Alright, pat on the back for us. So I have to tell you, normally I write out my promos for our wonderful sponsor, Author Accelerat

    • 39 min
    Episode 199 #HowtoLovePromotingYourWork

    Episode 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.

    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.

    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/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.)

    KJ (00:00):

    Hey listeners, KJ here, if you're in with us every week, you're what I like to call people of the book. And some of us book people discover somewhere along the way that not only are we writers, we're people with a gift for encouraging other writers. Maybe that comes out in small ways for you, but for some of you, it's a calling and an opportunity to build a career doing work you love. Our sponsor, Author Accelerator provides book coaching to authors (like me) but also needs and trains book coaches. And if that's got your ears perked up, head to authoraccelerator.com and click on become a book coach. Is it recording?

    Jess (00:41):

    Now it's recording.

    KJ (00:43):

    Yay.

    Jess (00:43):

    Go ahead.

    KJ (00:44):

    This is the part where I stare blankly at the microphone like I don't remember what I w

    • 45 min

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