Listen in as author Linda Sivertsen (aka Book Mama) brings together the world’s most beloved bestselling authors to chat about writing, publishing, deal-making, spirituality, activism, and the art of romancing creativity. Now streaming on American Airlines, these up-close conversations are a fan favorite, downloaded millions of times, and frequently profiled on “Best Podcast” lists (i.e., The Motley Fool’s “10 Best Podcasts for Women”) while gracing the "Popular Podcasts, Books" (formerly Literature) page of iTunes/Apple Podcasts nearly every day since the show's launch in 2015. Join Linda (herself an award-winning, bestselling author, writing coach, and ex-ghostwriter + magazine editor) and her celebrity co-hosts for deep, funny interviews w/ top authors on breakout success to staying power. Heart-centered encouragement, street-smart advice, and insider success (and failure!) stories for every writer and creative type. Biggest mistakes, best shortcuts, behind-the-scenes agent, press, and publishing stories help you gain the courage to get your book, blog, ballad, or biz birthed into the world. Guests include Elizabeth Gilbert, Marie Forleo, Van Jones, Cheryl Strayed, Nia Vardalos, Terry McMillan, Joel Stein, Deepak Chopra, Tom Hanks, Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, Candice Bergen, Meg Wolitzer, Austin Channing Brown, Dean Koontz, Ann Patchett, Maria Shriver, Steven Pressfield, Anita Moorjani, Tosca Lee, Brené Brown, Lee Child, Anne Lamott, Rob Bell, Dani Shapiro, Gabby Bernstein, Martha Beck, Seth Godin, Danielle LaPorte, Marianne Williamson, Arianna Huffington, Mary Karr, Gretchen Rubin, #1 NYT Fantasy Authors (and besties) Tomi Adeyemi & Sabaa Tahir, US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and former WME super-agent Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. If you’ve ever wished you could sit down with your favorite writers over coffee to ask them how they do it, year after year, book after book, consider this your new, not-so-guilty pleasure. Take your dreams from idea to done with us. The Beautiful Writers Podcast. Where inspiration is constant, and swearing, optional (although highly appreciated). Find out more: https://www.beautifulwriterspodcast.com
Elizabeth Gilbert & Marie Forleo: Behind the Bestsellers
"I'm glad I'm not competitive," Elizabeth Gilbert said when listing her dear friend Marie Forleo's assets and calling her a "quintuple threat" before adding how incredibly loyal, decent, and giant-hearted she is. It's with that kind of feel-good sisterhood that we kick off this first episode of the Beautiful Writers Podcast for 2021. Two #1 New York Times bestselling authors, celebrating their healing from the same major surgery, their recent paperback releases (Marie's Everything is Figureoutable and Liz's City of Girls), jaw-dropping manifestation tips, warp-speed book proposal-wrangling, and a chopping-block editorial practice that Marie's book and Glennon Doyle’s Untamed benefited from that may leave you sprinting for your delete key. You mean there are secrets to opening your page-turner? Holy smokes. But don’t take my word for it. “Auntie Liz” is layin’ it down and you'll want to take notes.
Also to be had? A whole lot of laughter, good-natured swear words, and light-hearted wisdom. Because it's a new year, and isn't it high time for lightness and brightness as you communicate with “the soul of your book”? I thought so, too. Amen, and happy 2021!
Linda (aka Book Mama) xo
For more info, go to BeautifulWritersPodcast.com
“Best-Of” Part 4 Episode
It's here—our 4th annual Beautiful Writers Podcast "Best-Of" episode! Just in time to save your creativity in the New Year from all that binge-watching and doomscrolling. It's been a year—2020 (hence why this Summer episode's dropping in Winter). I don't have to tell you what kind of havoc the pandemic has unleashed on our best-laid writing plans and schedules. Fortunately, my interviewees dish all about their time and focus challenges and share their best workarounds. Okay, not Deepak Chopra. He meditates practically all day and has penned ninety books, so whatevs. But the rest of us mere mortals could use a Writer's Survival Guide.
We've got mega-bestsellers, often paired with their dear friends, even besties. Cheryl Strayed & Nia Vardalos. Terry McMillan & Laura Munson. Humorist Joel Stein. Dr. Jane Goodall & Keely Shaye Brosnan. Dani Shapiro & Gabby Bernstein. Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Patchett. Anita Moorjani & Kelly Noonan Gores. Poet Laureate of the U.S., Joy Harjo. Deepak Chopra & his former book publicist, author Arielle Ford. And Random House publisher Chris Jackson, and one of his "superhero" authors, Valarie Kaur.
Just because we're living in urgent times doesn't mean we let go of our dreams. No! They're more critical than ever. For that reason, I've broken the show up into three parts—Time, Habits, and Vision—to help you get your head on straight and move through this upcoming year living like you mean it (I'm quoting Terry McMillan here).
This episode is a big one, clocking in at two hours (it's been a while, and I've missed you). But it may just be my favorite one yet. These authors are too good to cut; you can only imagine how long this episode was ten edits ago! Take your time. Listen in sections. Savor them. A whole lot of love went into making this for you. I can't wait to see the beauty you create.
Tomi Adeyemi & Sabaa Tahir: YA Superstars on Living & Writing Heroically
Two of the top-selling YA Fantasy authors of ALL TIME give us a master class on earning, output, and living as epic a life as the stories they’re writing. On this fifth birthday of the Beautiful Writers Podcast, these #1 New York Times bestselling novelists—Nigerian-American Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance) and her dear friend and mentor, Pakistani-American Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes series)—astound with their frank, nothing-is-sacred admissions. Still only in their twenties and thirties respectively, these women have nevertheless learned to stay disciplined and committed to a story long after it’s lost its spark, faced brutal rejections and failed deal-making, and even stared down the “evil eye,” giving them fierce determination. Homeschooling during a pandemic while on deadline? No problem. Who says you can’t write a battle scene while setting the table and yelling at the kids to wash their hands?
TIME Magazine’s list of “100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time” includes two books apiece by Tomi and Sabaa. Imagine that! Keeping company with titles that go back as far as the ninth century (The Arabian Nights) and include classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, The Fellowship of the Ring, A Wrinkle in Time, and several of the Harry Potters, our guests, with their black and brown heroic characters—created long before the Black Panther movie electrified audiences—have written stories that will stand the test of time.
Tomi and Sabaa tell us what it’s like to write a series where girls in their ancestral countries finally feel seen; how they feel deserving of making seven figures, and what it takes to embody the courage to walk away from major publishers or movie studios if the soul of their stories is compromised. They reveal whose music pumps through their veins on the regular to enable them to wake up every day and be their own heroes.
However, that doesn’t mean that Tomi and Sabaa don’t have to rest up and HEAL from all their epic world-creation. Or that dating is easy when you feel the need to hide what you do from strangers. Or that being black or brown at this time in history doesn’t bring radical weight and urgency. World-changing is never uncomplicated. But when film companies like Paramount (which first optioned Sabaa’s books—she’s since changed course in a “secret,” exciting development), and Disney/Lucasfilm (which are developing a franchise from Tomi’s books—only the third one after Star Wars and Indiana Jones), it’s the little things that keep them grounded: the puppies, chocolate, the welcome interruption of UPS deliveries. Of course, kids, siblings, and parents pulling focus and busting their chops always remind them of what matters—and that even characters fleeing a maniacal king or empire still need to eat and sleep and will laugh, have crushes, fall in love, and be annoyed with the person they love.
This is an episode I’ll go back to again and again when I need a shot of confidence. This is the show I’ll share with my grandkids. “Oh, you think you can’t do that thing you want more than anything? Listen to this!”
Valarie Kaur & Chris Jackson: A World-Changer and Her Superhero Publisher
Chris Jackson, legendary publisher and Editor-in-Chief of One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House, is here with Valarie Kaur, one of his star authors—or, as he prefers to see his writers, who include Trevor Noah, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jay-Z, and Mira Jacob, “superheroes.” After all, changing the country is not for the faint of heart, and Chris looks for formidable fighters. Kaur’s unique superpowers as a civil rights activist, lawyer, filmmaker, and author—with degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale—have helped her win policy changes on the multiple fronts of hate crimes and racial profiling, immigration detention and deportation, solitary confinement, surveillance and Internet freedom, and more. But it was her speech in Washington DC at the Metropolitan AME Church in the wake of the divisive 2016 election—a speech where she invited us all to midwife a new nation waiting to be born from the darkness—that catapulted her into the spotlight. It garnered 40 million views and led to this stunning new book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.
What an incredible read! Van Jones calls it “a miracle, a blessing, a new paradigm.” Elizabeth Gilbert says: “In a world stricken with fear and turmoil, Valarie Kaur shows us how to summon our deepest wisdom.” I couldn't agree more and couldn’t put it down.
Chris Jackson’s list at One World includes some of the most talented writers, humanitarians and activists in the world, including numerous National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners. His mission is to bring to the forefront novelists, memoirists, journalists, poets, and artists whose fresh voices challenge or even subvert the status quo and help us reframe how we see our rapidly transforming world. Chris's own writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Callalloo, The Atlantic(.com), and other outlets.
You could call Chris and Valarie literary soulmates. Their story, which you’re about to hear, will be a soothing balm for any writer feeling alone and unseen—wondering if and when the rest of their superhero team will ever hear the call. In fact, Valarie had been writing this book for nearly two decades before meeting Chris and had a truckload of journals to prove it. As you’ll see, it was worth the wait!
This episode is all about love: Love of ideas. Love for our histories and education—even when interrupted. Love for the systems that support us. And the ones that need to change. It’s also about taking action, even when we’re deeply afraid. Even when all we can do at the moment is love ourselves. Valarie now leads the Revolutionary Love Project, whose aim is to reclaim love as a force for justice in America. I can’t wait for you to get to know her and Chris. My guess is you’ll feel the love.
PS. To close out this episode, a big thank you, Ani DiFranco and Righteous Babe Records, for allowing us to use a song they produced for this book and the Revolutionary Love movement, coming this fall. It’s aptly called See No Stranger and features Ani DiFranco, Justin Tranter, Ivan Neville, Milck, Raye Zaragoza, Zoe Boekbinder, Princess Shaw, and Gracie and Rachel.
PSS. For more information & episodes, go to beautifulwriterspodcast.com. xo
Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Patchett: Longings—In Writing & Life
The world feels like it’s exploding. With Covid-19 and anti-racism protests both raging through our streets, I had a sensitive, maybe even a bold question to ask Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Patchett, two longtime literary idols of mine. How are a couple of white women so audacious as to write books where the majority of characters are not their race or gender? How does a woman, sitting alone in a room, put her mind and heart into the soul of a man? Or an African American (enslaved, or modern-day). Or an Amazonian tribesperson. A Japanese business mogul. A Peruvian general. A terrorist. An American soprano. A brother and sister over the course of five decades. Or—as in the case with Sue’s new book—the wife of Jesus? And, in today’s tumultuous times, amid discussions about cultural appropriation, would they even attempt to tackle these topics if they were starting over?
Do you remember where you were when The Secret Life of Bees came out (Sue’s first novel that sold 6m copies and became a film starring Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Dakota Fanning)? I’ll never forget being glued to my couch for two days. Bees was my gateway drug to Sue’s memoirs, including the revolutionary, Dance of the Dissident Daughter—a beautiful unfolding of a woman’s spiritual life in a most feminine way. She’s currently on tour—from her house—for The Book of Longings (on the New York Times bestseller list now). Perhaps you heard Ann and me chatting early last year when she was here (where we discussed several of her incredible books: Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and Nashville among them). Since then, Ann has released the New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the PULITZER PRIZE, The Dutch House, plus, Lambslide, for the kiddos.
Like these ladies, this is a deeply FUN and rich conversation. I loved hearing about where they get their audacity, and empathy, to write about lives so far removed from their own. Also, where they write, how they write (about others), researching strategies, thoughts on social media, and my favorite question of all: how they STEAL time away from loved ones to get ‘er done. We have some laughs about that one.
I’m so glad you’re here!
Dr. Jane Goodall & Keely Shaye Brosnan: Power of the Pen to Heal Mother Earth
Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace, is with us from the UK for a special eco-edition of the Beautiful Writers Podcast. I’m excited to celebrate the release of the Nat Geo film The Hope—showcasing Jane's lifetime of jaw-dropping conservation—with the use of stunning audio from the movie.
Joining us is our longtime mutual friend, Keely Shaye Brosnan, a fearless activist. Like Jane, Keely has been a leader in conservation for decades—involved in some of the most dramatic environmental wins of our lifetime (think Dolphin Safe Tuna Act, for starters). Excerpts from Keely's latest offering—the award-winning film, Poisoning Paradise (illustrating how agrochemical companies are treating the islands as pesticide-testing grounds for genetically engineered crops)—help bring this interview to life.
If you're like me, you fell in love with Jane as a kid, watching her climbing trees and grooming (and being groomed by!) wild chimpanzees in the Gombe forest like a female Tarzan. I felt similar magic the first time I met Keely. While profiling her over twenty years ago for my first book, she and her husband, actor Pierce Brosnan, showed me devastating film footage taken from a hidden camera onboard a fishing vessel. While I would never unsee the massacre of dolphins en masse (schools of tuna often swim under pods of dolphins, leading to all sorts of excruciating, high-stakes tragedy), Keely had my heart. Not only does she not look away, but she stands up and puts up one heck of a fight.
Both women are extraordinary writers. Jane's books are some of my all-time favorites: Reasons for Hope, Harvest for Hope, and Seeds of Hope, among them. While Keely's most known for her television writing, her book on gardening (in the works) is a poetic masterpiece—you can quote me on that. I loved hearing details of their passion for words, how they bust through writer's block, and get in flow.
As we all hunker down due to Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders at the time of this taping, Jane's viewpoint is unique. Her Roots & Shoots programs are global (with 2,000 groups in China alone!); she's intimately aware of the dire effects of the wild animal trade. But, as I anticipated, Jane continues to hold onto her signature hope for a better future. My hope is that we take this profound opportunity to reimagine how we want to treat our Earth Mother. We can't all be bigger-than-life eco-heroes, but we can all live #alittlegreener.
Until next time, stay safe, plant a tree, and write on!