353 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 KJ

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 215 Ratings

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

    Talking TikTok (and Reels too): Episode 341 on Video content--the Why, the How To, and is it Worth the Time Suck?

    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.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit amwriting.substack.com/subscribe

    • 36 min
    #WriterGifts!

    #WriterGifts!

    I know. I know. Long term listeners know what’s coming first but this first gift combo is an #AmWriting favorite for a good reason. The three of us own the same journal and nearly identical (save for the color of the elastic fastener and monogram) custom leather Fillion and we love them so much.
    Our favorite calendar/journal is, and has always been, the Leuchtturm1917 monthly planner with 136-page dotted notebook pages. We love everything about it - the monthly pages, the number of dotted pages, the weight of the paper, the pocket for stickers in the back - oh, it’s so good. Sarina keeps a very eager eye out each year and two of our favorite days are the “what are next year’s colors?” discovery day and the day Sarina hands over the new beauties in our color of choice. Sarina’s planner is a thing of beauty so here’s a pic of what her month usually looks like (stickers are for completing the day’s word goal):
    What’s a Fillion, you ask? Well, about ten years ago I bought a gorgeous tri-fold leather holder for a journal at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and a very happy love affair was born. I actually met the woman who makes these lovelies, Lesha Shaver (pic below), owner of Little Mountain Bindery, and she’s currently making a custom leatherbound book for a lucky someone on my holiday list this year.
    There are tons of options for the Fillion, but ours is the XL trifold with our initials in Huxley font. You can fit two notebooks in there if you want, plus the optional magnetic pocket is great for stickers, ruler, stencils, that sort of thing. I’ve been giving this Fillion to people as a thank you gift for years (for example, everyone who has blurbed my books has one with their initials and their favorite color elastic cording).
    In plucking the proper url to link in this post I just discovered Lesha has created a deluxe Fillion box set and now my mouth is watering.
    Given that we have our journals, now we need to have a very serious conversation about pens. I have choices, of course, but Sarina has OPINIONS. Her current favorites are:
    * Uniball Jetstream retractable fine (.7mm) ballpoint pens in black.
    * Pentel EnerGel RTX medium point (.7mm) retractable liquid gel pens in assorted colors.
    * Pilot Frixion light pastel highlighter with erasable ink and chisel tip 3-pack.
    I happen to love my black Sharpie ultra fine point pens, but that’s just me. They do bleed through most journal pages, so I understand if you are offended.
    Here’s the thing about the Pilot Frixion pens: they erase using the heat generated by the friction of he eraser on the paper and it’s a perfect erase. I took Sarina’s Frixion pen obsession to a whole new level and bought the big 24 set. Looooook how pretty….
    If our pen choices don’t turn your crank, look around at one of our favorite sources for pens and other addictive office items, JetPens or MochiThings. I apologize in advance.
    Other fun things I’ve kept on a running list this year:
    Bulk blank notebooks with kraft paper covers (I keep the tiny ones, 10 for $24) in my pocket or wallet at all times because I’m 52 and starting to forget things.
    This adorable Kaweco fountain pen in smooth sage. It’s tiny and light, and I love it. I linked the medium nib but it comes in lots of versions. The ink is specific to this pen and comes in lots of colors, too.
    I am terrible with glasses. Mine get left all over the place (there are three pairs of glasses in my woods, right now, sitting on stumps or logs I can’t locate) and I scratch them far too quickly. That said, this soft but upright Tät Tat glasses (or whatever) case really helps. I keep it on my nightstand and consequently I’ve managed to hold on to at least one pair of unscratched prescription glasses. Mine’s grey-blue.
    Oh, and since people ask me all the time about my glasses, they are Warby Parker Ainsley in Marzipan Tortoise.
    Did you know Sarina made her own journal for

    • 10 min
    How to Tell Someone Else's Story: Episode 340 with Allison Gilbert

    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.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit amwriting.substack.com/subscribe

    • 48 min
    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

    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.



    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit amwriting.substack.com/subscribe

    • 52 min
    The 30-Day Revision: Episode 338 How KJ Revised a Novel in 30 Days/189 Hours and approximately 72 Chocolate-Covered Peeps

    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 exp

    • 51 min
    Publishing's Secret Side-Door: Episode 337 Writing Object Lessons and Books-for-series with Maria Teresa Hart

    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

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
215 Ratings

215 Ratings

scifiwrito ,

Blueprint Step 5 Ep

Huge fan of this show, such a help for writers of all levels. Really enjoying the blueprint series, and this episode was great - loved guest Savannah Gilbo’s commentary. Knowing how to create a characters depth and arc is key. Thanks!

lrg1124 ,

Amazing

An amazing podcast for writers and anyone interested in improving their craft !

jcegoldstein ,

Your virtual writing friends

Great podcast, one of my favorites! These 3 hosts are varied in their work so it has appeal for a variety of writers, relatable,

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