If you’re an aspiring author and want insights into what’s involved in launching a book into the world, this is the podcast for you. Maggie Smith, author and blogger, interviews debut novelists from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association discussing not only the inspiration behind their book, but also their insights into the writing process, the best advice they ever got, and the joys and sometimes pitfalls they encountered on their path to publication.
174: Kimberly Nixon- Author of Rock Bottom, Tennessee
This week’s podcast is with Kimberly Nixon (Rock Bottom,Tennessee, indie-published, April 2022). Using an apocryphal family legend about her grandmother as the springboard, Kimberly set out to tell the story of an impoverished woman during the depression who went to prison for robbing trains. We discuss the delicate balance of giving yourself permission to change characters and details to further the narrative while also honoring your family’s memory, how critique partners and mentors were crucial to her writing journey, and how she thinks of the first draft as an outline or sketch and her subsequent revisions as coloring in the lines to make the story come alive.
Kimberly Nixon is an emerging author of biographical fiction. She was blessed with a plethora of family stories, featuring strong, determined—and sometimes wild—characters. She wrestles these personalities into her works of fiction. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writing Association, Alliance of Independent Authors, and the Writer’s League of Texas. Kimberly lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Paul most of the year and travels for adventure when she can.
To learn more about Kimberly, click here.
173: Kris Spisak - Author of The Baba Yaga Mask
Our latest podcast episode features Kris Spisak (The Baba Yaga Mask, Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, April 2022). Kris, the previous author of three non-fiction books on writing, always knew her first novel would center around Ukraine, the country of origin of her grandparents and extended family. Little did she know that the initial concept would take 8 years to come to fruition and then, through an odd set of circumstances, would be published only 5 weeks after everyone in the world was talking about Russia’s invasion of that country. We discuss how, at first, she was reluctant to capitalize on the news cycle but then realized the release of her book provided her with a unique opportunity to share her knowledge of the Ukrainian people—their customs, history, folk tales, and historical significance. She was even able to turn speaking events into opportunities to partner with charitable organizations, resulting not only in greater visibility for her novel but donation opportunities to help the country she loves.
Kris Spisak’s debut novel was inspired by her family’s experience in the post-WWII Ukrainian diaspora and has been called “A complex, poetic tale” by Kirkus Reviews. She wrote her first three non-fiction books— Get a Grip on Your Grammar: 250 Writing and Editing Reminders for the Curious or Confused (Career Press), The Novel Editing Workbook (Davro Press), and The Family Story Workshop (Davro Press)—to help writers of all kinds sharpen their storytelling and empower their communications. Kris has been spotlighted in Writer’s Digest and The Huffington Post for her work as an editor and author dedicated to helping other writers. When not working on her own projects, she is an active speaker, workshop/webinar leader and career strategist.
To learn more about Kris, click here.
172: Zoe Disigny - Author of The Art of Traveling Strangers
Listen here to our interview with Zoe Disigny (The Art of Traveling Strangers, Mascot Publishing, February 2022). Hear her story of initially querying agents with a 20,000 word manuscript, her thoughts on how her own self-perception changed during the writing of her novel, how she went about choosing a hybrid publisher, and how she was able to enrich her book through weaving in knowledge from her previous career as an art historian.
Zoe Disigny holds a master's degree in art history and taught college courses throughout her career. She also worked as an art gallery director, a lecturer for The Norton Simon Museum of Art, and recently as a Road Scholar lecturer.
Zoe has led numerous art tours in Europe and, at one point, established a business in Paris offering art history adventures for American tourists.
Ms. Disigny's short story ONLY AN ART CLASS was published in The Potato Soup Journal in 2020, and her writing appears in the Pulpwood Queen's WORK IN PROGRESS: a collection of excerpts Anthology, edited by Mandy Haynes and published in 2021.
Zoe produces a newsletter called "For Lovers of Art and Travelers at Heart." When not traveling, Zoe and her artist husband divide their time between the mountains and the beach in Southern California.
To learn more about Zoe and sign up for her newsletter, click here.
171: Sarah Branson - Author of A Merry Life
Here’s our latest podcast with Sarah Branson (A Merry Life, Sooner Started Press, April 2022). Our discussion ranges from what it’s like to build a world that’s set 300 years in the future but still keep it character-driven (“Like historical fiction that just hasn’t happened yet”) to a wise coach’s advice to Sarah about marketing an indie book (“No one can buy a book they haven’t heard of”) and why she decided her very long book was really a series of four and then chose to release them all within a single year.
Award-winning author Sarah Branson was a midwife for close to thirty years, helping families welcome their little ones into their arms in the hospital, at a birth center and at home. Now she writes tales of action, adventure, revenge, and romance featuring airborne pirates. Her stories are set against the backdrop of an Earth changed by fires, floods, and pandemics, but are firmly rooted in the strength and resiliency of the human spirit.
Sarah first started conjuring stories of pirates when her family hopped a freighter to Australia when she was seven. She has since grown up, traveling extensively across the US and the globe. She raised her family in Michigan and still longs to swim in Sturgeon Bay and Little Traverse Bay. She has a deep appreciation for people’s strength and endurance and fully believes that badass women will inherit the Earth and the Earth will be better for it.
Her debut novel, A Merry Life, was chosen as the 2022 Connecticut Adult Fiction winner by the Indie Author Project and was named a 2022 Book of the Year finalist in the action/adventure and science fiction categories by the Independent Author Network. It is the first book in the series Pirates of New Earth. Books 2 and 3: Navigating the Storm and Burn the Ship are available now. The exciting conclusion of the series, Blow the Man Down is slated for February 2023. Sarah lives with her husband in Connecticut.
To learn more about Sarah, click here.
170: Maggie Giles - Author of The Things We Lost
Listen here to our newest podcast with Maggie Giles (The Things We Lost, Rising Action, April 2022). We discuss how her book’s concept is a twist on the Sliding Doors trope of “what if our lives had gone differently” and took her seven years to write, how she took a chance and signed with a novice publisher as their very first author, and how it’s imperative that writers discuss with their significant other that writing is not a hobby, but a job and a passion and requires us to devote time to it like any other goal we want to achieve.
Maggie Giles is a Canadian author who is usually daydreaming about fictional characters. Always looking for a new creative outlet, Maggie dove into writing a novel head first. She has been a member of the Women's Fiction Writers Association since 2014 where she works as their Social Media Director. She lives in Collingwood. The Things We Lost is her first novel. Her second, Twisted, will be releasing with Rising Action September 19, 2023.
To learn more about Maggie, click here.
169: Jen Gilroy- Author of The Sweetheart Locket
This week’s podcast is with Jen Gilroy (The Sweetheart Locket, Orion Dash/Orion Books, March 2022). Unlike most of our guests, Jen has been publishing since 2017 but in the romance category, so we discuss what’s involved in switching to a new genre while still holding tight to your unique creative voice. As a writer who thinks strategically about her career, Jen shares insights into how British and American audiences differ, what she’s learned from working simultaneously in two genres with two different agents, and the authors who she looked to for inspiration while composing this dual-time-line story.
Jen Gilroy writes women’s fiction for Orion Dash and sweet western romance for Harlequin Heartwarming—uplifting stories about women finding home, family and new beginnings–and finding themselves too. She’s a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award.
A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate in geography, focusing on British cultural studies and social history, from University College London. She worked in higher education and marketing before becoming a full-time writer. She now lives in small-town Ontario, Canada with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound. When not writing, she enjoys reading, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.
To learn more about Jen, click here.
Intriguing, informative and sticks to the point
I love this podcast. Author Maggie Smith is a thoughtful reader and a close listener. She lets the interviewees talk and keeps the conversation on track. The focus is appropriately narrow: Women authors who’ve recently published their first novel, with discussion of both the book and the journey to publication. The 28-minute bite-sized segments are both filling and nutritious and I always come away feeling inspired to write, which is my number one gauge for a good podcast about writing.
Top Notch- so interesting to hear how authors did it
The authors on the podcast are high quality and Maggie Smith does a great job with hosting. Always fascinating to hear how other writers did it!
Insightful, informative. Highly recommend!
Maggie’s conversations with a diverse assembly of authors offers valuable insight into the creative processes of writing and editing one’s work. I love that a variety of publishing methods and literary genres are covered amongst these interviews. This peak behind the curtain, from those who’ve successfully brought their books to life, is very reassuring to this aspiring novelist!